Why is Jibril Called “Ruh”?

Why is Gabriel called “ruh” (soul) in the Quran?

Like a loud and violent ringing of a bell — that was the way Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, described how he received revelation. His wife ‘Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, was the one to ask, and he ﷺ said the Word of Allah came to him in one of two ways at different times. 

The other way was through the angel Gabriel.

Sometimes, Gabriel came in the form of a man. His skin would be light, his hair jet black, and his clothes white.

But Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  also saw the angel Gabriel in his true form. He ﷺ described the archangel as having six hundred wings that covered the space from the sky to the earth. With one wing, he could turn an entire city upside down. 

In their first famous encounter, the angel descended upon the Prophet ﷺ in Ghar Hira, clasped him tightly, and said, “Recite.” Therefrom, Gabriel visited the Prophet ﷺ to deliver the Message.

Gabriel is only mentioned a few times by name in the Quran: Jibril. Other times, he is called “ruh.” 

“And verily it is the mighty sending down of the Lord of all Worlds of Beings. The trusted angelic Spirit of Life-giving Revelation brought it down. (The Quran Beheld, 26.192–93)

Most Quranic exegetes agree that ruh, literally “spirit,” in these instances refers to Gabriel. Sheikh Nuh Keller explains this is because:

He imbues people with a soul, because he is the bringer of the wahi (revelation). . . . He bears the soul-reviving scripture, without which humans would be like animals,  following the dictates of their nafs (ego), while religion brings them to life, rising to answer Allah’s call, each according to their resolve.

Sheikh Nuh Keller teaches a tafsir lesson with Kiflayn every Sunday. To subscribe to or find out more about the program, visit: https://kiflayn.com/product/highest-signs/

To purchase a copy of The Quran Beheld, visit: https://www.quranbeheld.com

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