Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. I was a Christian before, and now I am confused about the definition of the Holy Spirit. What is the Holy Spirit according to Islam? I would like to know the meaning of the Holy Spirit specifically in surat al-Ma'idah (5: 110). Jazakum Allah khayran.
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear brother in Islam, we commend your eagerness to get Islamic knowledge. We earnestly implore Allah to bless your efforts in this honorable way and help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.
Answering the question you raised, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
"The Holy Spirit mentioned in the above verse refers to the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel), also known as Jibraaeel; he is the message-bearer par excellence from Allah, the Lord of Glory and Grace; he is also the conduit of divine support and assistance bestowed on Prophets, Messengers as well as righteous people who strive in the path of Allah.
1. Thus we read in the Qur’an that the Prophets (peace be upon them all) are chosen by Allah by sending down the Holy Spirit with the revelations: “He sends down the Spirit from His command, upon those of His servants He chooses, in order to warn people of the Day of Meeting.” (Ghafir: 15)
2. We also read in the Qur’an that it (the Qur’an) was sent down upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) through the medium of Holy Spirit: “Say: The Holy Spirit brought it down from your Lord with the truth, to strengthen those who believe, and as a guidance and good tidings to the Muslims.” (An-Nahl: 102)
"And your Lord, He is indeed the August, the Compassionate. And it is a sending down from the Lord of the Worlds, brought down by the Trustworthy Spirit, upon your heart, that you may be one of the warners, in Arabic speech.” (Ash-Shu`ara': 191-195)
3. It is in the same spirit that we read in the Qur’an that the Holy Spirit was sent down to strengthen Jesus and assist him in his work: “We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear signs, and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit…” (Al-Baqarah: 253)
“Then Allah will say, O Jesus son of Mary! Remember My favor upon you and upon your mother; how I strengthened you with the Holy Spirit…” (Al-Ma'idah: 110)
4. Furthermore, we read in the Prophetic traditions: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Verily, the Holy Spirit has cast this idea in my heart: No soul shall die before its appointed time and without having exhausted the means of livelihood apportioned for it, so try to look for a livelihood as best as you can, but don’t seek it through unlawful means.” (Reported by Abu Nu`aym in Hilyah)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed to Allah to strengthen the famous poet Hassan ibn Thabit with the Holy Spirit in composing poems in defense of Islam: “O Allah! Strengthen him with the Holy Spirit.” (Reported by al-Bukhari)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) later on said about Hassan: “Verily Allah, the Glorious and Mighty, is strengthening Hassan with the Holy Spirit.” (Reported by at-Tirmidhi and Ahmad) “The Holy Spirit is with Hassan in his work!” (Reported by Abu Dawud)
It should be clear from the above that the Holy Spirit is the Angel Jibreel sent by Allah to assist His chosen servants in their divinely ordained missions."
Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: www.islam.ca
Allah Almighty knows best.
We know God through revelation and scripture. As described in the old testament God communicated with few people of us though angels, visions and rarely by talking direct to one of the prophets. No one saw God but we know him through the above. Thus our knowledge about what God want is through reading the scripture. In our life we know things through knowledge and science, if you are sick you take the medicine, you pray but you take the medicine. To know something is good or bad for you to make decision is to rely in science and knowledge with the moral aspects of God in making the decision whenever appropriate. There is no proof that the holy spirit will descend on you and tell what is right. However the Istahkra or asking God to guide you is not exactly a holy spirit but a vision can come to you of feeling that that God facilitate to you whatever right for you. So how can I know I am Al Mahdi Al Muntazer, through vision of some people I trust their visions, the ideas and plans God gave me, the physical description as God told his prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the world same circumstances as God described to us before the second coming of Christ in both Islam and Christianity.