The Holy Spirit, Jibril AS
Angel Jibril, also known as Gabriel, is one of the most important angels in Islam. He is mentioned numerous times in the Quran and hadith and have played a main role in the revelations received by the prophets.
Jibril is considered the chief of all angels, and is responsible for delivering the message of God to the prophets. He also has a unique relationship with Allah and is referred to as the "Holy Spirit" in the Quran.
Allah Almighty said: "Say, [O Muhammad], "The Holy Spirit has brought it [i.e., the Quran] down from your Lord in truth to make firm those who believe and as guidance and good tidings to the Muslims." (Quran 16:102)
Jibril's Role in The Revelations on All Prophets
Jibril AS played a key role in the revelations received by all the prophets. He delivered messages from Allah to Adam, Ibrahim, Musa, Daoud, Isa, and among others. In some cases, Jibril is even said to have physically appeared to the prophets to deliver these messages.
In the Quran, Jibril AS is mentioned in connection with the revelations received by several prophets. For example, in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 97, it is mentioned that Jibril brought down the Quran to Prophet Muhammad:
"Say, 'Whoever is an enemy to Jibril - it is he who has brought the Qur'an down upon your heart, [O Muhammad], by permission of Allah, confirming that which was before it and as guidance and good tidings for the believers.'" (Quran 2:97)
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The angel Jibril came to the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and said, 'O Musa! I have been sent to you by Allah to teach you supplications that you may recite.' Then Jibril taught Musa supplications that he may recite." (Sahih Muslim, Book 4, Hadith 1848)
Jibril's Role in The Revelation of The Quran to Prophet Muhammad PBUH
Jibril AS played a main role in the revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
Jibril is typically depicted as an angel with wings, often described as having a powerful and majestic appearance. However, it's important to note that there are variations in appearance of Jibril AS across different occasions and reasons of the revelations. The appearance of Jibril may have varied depending on the context of the revelation.
Jibril AS appeared to Muhammad PBUH first time while he was meditating in Hira' cave outside of Mecca and instructed him to recite the words that of the first verses of the Quran, Iqra’, which means Read. This event marked the beginning of Muhammad's PBUH prophethood and the first revelation of the Quran. He appeared in his original angelic form and said, "Read in the name of your Lord who created, created man from a clot. Read: And your Lord is the Most Generous, who taught by the pen, taught man that which he knew not" (Quran 96:1-5).
Jibril AS continued to appear to Muhammad throughout his prophethood, delivering new revelations and clarifying previous ones. In fact, it was through Jibril AS that the entire Quran was revealed to Muhammad over a period of 23 years.
Jibril AS is described as having a beautiful and awe-inspiring appearance, with large wings that fill the horizon. Jibril's wings have pearls and emeralds emanating from them, meaning that these precious gems were somehow visible or radiating from the wings of Jibril.
In Sahih Bukhari, it is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "I saw Jibril in his real form, with six hundred wings covering the horizon, and he was also described as having a very beautiful appearance." (Sahih Bukhari, Book 54, Hadith 455)
In another Hadith, it is mentioned that Jibril came to the Prophet Muhammad in the form of a man, but with extraordinary beauty and radiance. The Hadith says, "The Prophet saw Jibril in his true form, and he had six hundred wings, each of which covered the horizon. He had colors and beauty that no human being had ever seen before." (Sahih Bukhari, Book 60, Hadith 237)
In the Quran, there are also several verses that mention Jibril, but do not describe his shape in detail. For example, in Surah Al-Qadr (97:4), it is mentioned that the angels descend on the Night of Power, "and the Spirit by command of their Lord."
Jibril appeared again in his angelic shape during the journey of Al-Isra' and Al-Miraj, when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was invited to meet his Creator.
"And he certainly saw him (Jibril) in another descent at the Lote Tree of the Utmost Boundary. Near it is the Garden of Refuge - when there covered the Lote Tree that which covered [it]. The sight [of the Prophet] did not swerve, nor did it transgress [its limit]. He certainly saw of the greatest signs of his Lord." (Quran 53:13-18)
Jibril AS used to come with teachings and instructions to explain legislation, and according to some Islamic traditions, he appeared many times in the form of Dihia Alkalbi, a companion of the Prophet who was known for his handsome appearance. Other times he comes in a shape of a stranger man.
Hadith of Jibril explains the shape and appearance of Jibril AS and the mission he came for.
It is narrated in Sahih Muslim, Book 4, Hadith 129:
"On the authority of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. No traces of journeying were visible on him, and none of us knew him. He sat down close by the Prophet (peace be upon him), rested his knee against his thighs, and said, 'O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam.' The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) replied, 'Islam is that you testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you perform the five obligatory prayers, that you pay the Zakat, that you fast during the month of Ramadan, and that you make the pilgrimage to the House (the Ka'bah) if you are able to do so.' The man said, 'You have spoken truly.' We were astonished at his questioning him and then telling him that he was right, but he went on to say, 'Inform me about Iman (faith).' He (the Prophet) replied, 'It is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in fate (qadar), both in its good and in its evil aspects.' He said, 'You have spoken truly.' Then he (the man) said, 'Inform me about Ihsan (excellence).' He (the Prophet) replied, 'It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him yet (know that) He sees you.' He said, 'Inform me about the Hour.' He (the Prophet) replied, 'About that, the one questioned knows no more than the questioner.' So, he said, 'Well, inform me about the signs thereof (i.e. of its coming).' Said he, 'They are that the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress, that you will see the barefooted ones, the naked, the destitute, the herdsmen of the sheep (competing with each other) in raising lofty buildings.' Thereupon the man went off. I waited a while, and then he (the Prophet) said, 'O Umar, do you know who that questioner was?' I replied, 'Allah and His Messenger know better.' He said, 'That was Jibril. He came to teach you your religion.'"
Jibril's Role After the Revelation of The Quran Has Ended
After the revelation of the Quran was complete, Jibril's role shifted from that of a messenger to that of a protector. Jibril AS is responsible for protecting the Quran from any distortions or alterations.
In Surah Al-Hijr, verse 9, it is mentioned that it is God who has revealed the Quran, and it is He who will protect it:
"Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur'an and indeed, we will be its guardian." (Quran 15:9)
This verse is often interpreted to mean that Jibril, as God's messenger, is tasked with protecting the Quran from any distortions or alterations.
One of Jibril's roles after the revelation of the Quran ended was to descend to the Earth every year during the last ten nights of Ramadan, specifically on the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr in Arabic), which is considered one of the holiest nights in the Islamic calendar.
The Night of Power is mentioned in Surah Al-Qadr of the Quran, which states:
"Indeed, We sent the Qur'an down during the Night of Decree. And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit (Jibril) descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn." (Quran 97:1-5)
In this Surah, it is mentioned that Jibril AS, along with a majestic parade of angels, descends to Earth during the Night of Power. They come with the permission of Allah. That is why this is a highly significant night for Muslims as it is believed that during this night, the first verses of the Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). However, prior to its revelation to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, the Quran have existed in the "Preserved Tablet" (al-Lawh al-Mahfuz), which is a heavenly tablet in which Allah has inscribed everything that will occur until the end of time. The Quran is believed to have been inscribed on this tablet from eternity, as it is the word of Allah.
"Rather, it is a noble Quran * [Inscribed] in a Preserved Tablet." (Quran 85:21-22
Then, the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in pieces, and he would recite them to his companions, who would then memorize and apply them. After the Prophet's death, the Quran was collected and compiled into a single book form, which has been preserved to this day.
Jibril AS descends to Earth every year during the last ten nights of Ramadan, specifically on the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr), to commemorate the revelation of the Quran.
Muslims believe that the revelation of the Quran was a significant event in human history, and it is considered the most important source of guidance for Muslims. Therefore, the Night of Power is a time of great spiritual significance for Muslims, as it marks the anniversary of the revelation of the Quran.
Jibril's annual descent during the Night of Power serves as a reminder to Muslims of the importance of the Quran and its revelation. It is a time for reflection, prayer, and seeking forgiveness. The presence of Jibril and the majestic parade of angles during this night add to its spiritual significance and helps Muslims to deepen their connection with Allah and His message.