Jibrail

According to the Koran, the angel who brought revelation to the Prophet is known by the name of Jibrail (2:98). The Arabic form of jibril, which is composed of jibr, meaning abd or servant, and il, meaning God. The word jibrail occurs three times in the Koran (2:97-98, 66:4). Jibrail is also mentioned as Ruh al-Amin (26:193-4), means the divine soul, and also Ruh al-Qudus (16:102), means the holy spirit. In hadith, Jibrail is spoken of as al-Namus al-Akbar (the great angel). The non-Koranic word namus is the Greek word nomos means law, the exact equivalent of the Hebrew is tora. Jibrail is also called rasul (apostle) through whom God speaks to His prophets (42:51).

In Koran, in two different places (53:1-8 and 81:15-25) reference is made to the appearance of the “mighty being” who transmitted to the Prophet the divine messages. In the former the Divine messenger is described as shahid al-quwa means one terrible in power i.e., a being glorious and majestic, who stood straight in the highest part of the horizon, then drew near and approached till he was at the distance of two bows or nearer, and transmitted the Divine message. The second passage also gives a similar picture.

The majestic and mysterious being who made himself visible to the Prophet and transmitted to him the Divine words was at first simply called by the symbolic name of Ruh al-Qudus (the holy spirit) in the Meccan period. “Say: the Holy Spirit has brought it down (nazzala, a verbal form corresponding to tanzil) with truth from they Lord, to confirm those who believe and to be guidance and good tidings to those who have surrendered (muslimin)” (16:104).

It is also called Ruh al-Amin (the Divine soul): “And verily this is a revelation (tanzil means sending down) of the Lord of the universe, which the Divine soul (ruh al-Amin) has brought down upon thy heart, so that thou mayest be one of the warner in clear Arabic language” (26:192-195).

Later, in Medina, the Divine soul comes to be identified as the angel Jibrail (Gabriel or Jibril). It must be known that the revelation is a three-person verbal relation, in which the initial point is God, the final point is the Prophet and the middle term is the angel Jibrail. In this sense, just as the angel Jibrail was a messenger (rasul) sent by God to the Prophet, the Prophet himself then acted as a Rasul Allah (God’s Messenger), acting as an intermediary between God and the world. Ibn Arabi (d. 638/1240) as does Rumi uses Jibrail-narratives that emphasize the Koranic theme that human beings have the potential for knowledge, and hence ontological status that the angels do not have.

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