Concerning the nafs of Allah

I am debating with a Christian and he said to me that God has a spirit. My question is: Does Allah have a spirit (a spirit like the spirit of man, angels and all other creatures). Is the spirit something that is created or what?

Praise be to Allah.

No one has the right to describe Allah except in the way in which He has described Himself or His Messenger (ﷺ) has described Him, because no one knows more about Allah than Allah, and no created being has more knowledge of his Creator than the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Say, Do you know better or does Allah?”[1]

“And follow not (O man, i.e., say not, or do not, or witness not) that of which you have no knowledge. Verily, the hearing, and the sight, and the heart of each of those ones will be questioned (by Allah).”[2]

The spirit or soul is not one of the attributes of Allah; rather it is one of the things that have been created by Allah. It is mentioned in conjunction with Allah in some texts by way of honoring, for Allah is its Creator and Sovereign, He takes it (in death) whenever He wills and He sends it whenever He wills.

What we say about the spirit is the same as what we say about the “House of Allah”, the “she-camel of Allah”, the “slaves of Allah” and the “Messenger of Allah”. All of these created things are mentioned in conjunction with Allah by way of honoring.

Among the texts in which the spirit is mentioned in conjunction with Allah is the verse (interpretation of the meaning):

“Then He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him the soul [lit. “His soul”] (created by Allah for that person).”[3]

This is speaking of Adam (عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ).

Allah also says concerning Adam (interpretation of the meaning):

“So, when I have fashioned him completely and breathed into him (Adam) the soul which I created for him [lit. “My soul”], then fall (you) down prostrating yourselves unto him.”[4]

And Allah says:

“She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her Our Ruh [angel Jibreel (Gabriel)], and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. She said: ‘Verily, I seek refuge with the Most Gracious (Allah) from you, if you do fear Allah.’(The angel) said: ‘I am only a messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son.’” [5]

Here the word “rooh” (spirit) refers to the slave and Messenger of Allah Jibreel, whom He sent to Maryam. Allah mentions him here in conjunction with Himself in the phrase roohuna (Our rooh or spirit) by way of honoring him. Here He is mentioning a created being in conjunction with his Creator.

In the lengthy hadeeth about intercession it says: “Then Moosa will come and will say: ‘I am not able for it; rather go to ‘Eesa for he is the spirit of (i.e., created by) Allah and a Word from Him.’”[6]

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (رحمه الله) said: Simply mentioning something in conjunction with Allah does not mean that that thing is a Divine attribute, rather specific created things may be mentioned in conjunction with Allah and their attributes are not divine attributes, according to scholarly consensus – as in the phrases, “the House of Allah”, the “she-camel of Allah”, the “slaves of Allah”. The same also applies to the phrase “the spirit (rooh) of Allah” according to the earliest generations of the Muslims and their imams and their common folk. But if something that is one of His attributes and is not an attribute shared by anyone else is mentioned in conjunction with Him, such as the speech of Allah, the knowledge of Allah, the hand of Allah, and so on, then this is one of His attributes.[7]

This principle was mentioned by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah in several places. The point is that things which are mentioned in conjunction with Allah are of two types:

1 – Entities which exist separately. These are mentioned in conjunction with Allah by way of honoring, such as the House of Allah and the she-camel of Allah, and also the spirit (rooh) of Allah, which is not a divine attribute, rather it is something that exists separately. Hence the Prophet (ﷺ) said, according to the lengthy hadeeth of al-Bara’ ibn ‘Aazib which describes how man dies and his soul or spirit (rooh) comes out: “It comes out flowing like a drop of water from the mouth of a vessel… and he (the Angel of Death) takes it, and when he takes it they (the angels) do not leave it in his hand for an instant but they take it and put it in that shroud with that perfume… and there comes out from it a smell like the finest fragrance of musk on the face of the earth, and they ascend with it…”[8]

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “When the soul (rooh) is taken, the eyes follow it.”[9] In other words, when the soul is taken the eyes follow it, watching to see where it goes. All of this indicates that the soul is something that exists separately.

2 – Attributes that do not exist separately, rather they need an entity to belong to, such as knowledge, will and power. If it is said, “the knowledge of Allah”, the “will of Allah” and so on, this is mentioning the attribute in conjunction with the One to Whom it belongs.

Ibn al-Qayyim (رحمه الله) said in his book al-Rooh:

… Does the rooh exist from eternity or is it something that is created?

Then he said: This is an issue which some scholars got wrong and many groups of the sons of Adam went astray concerning it, but Allah has guided the followers of His Messenger to the clear truth concerning it. The Messengers (ﷺ) are unanimously agreed that the soul is created and taught and trained. This is a basic belief in the religion of the Messengers (ﷺ), just as it is a basic belief in their religion that the universe is created, and that physical bodies will be resurrected, and that Allah alone is the Creator and everything besides Him is created.

Then he quoted al-Haafiz Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Marwazi as saying: There is no dispute among the Muslims concerning the fact that the souls (arwaah) that are in Adam and his sons and ‘Eesa and other sons of Adam are all created by Allah, who created them and fashioned them and made them, then He mentioned them in conjunction with Himself as He mentioned all His creation in conjunction with himself, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And has subjected to you all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth.”[10][11]

Some people may be confused about what Allah says about ‘Eesa (عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ) in the verse (interpretation of the meaning):

“The Messiah ‘Eesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, (“Be!” — and he was) which He bestowed on Maryam (Mary) and a spirit (Rooh) created by Him [lit. from Him].”[12]

They think, as the Christians do, that the word min (lit. from) implies being part of Him and that the Rooh (spirit) is a part of Allah. In fact the word min here implies that this Spirit comes from Allah, its starting point and origin is with Allah, because He is its Creator and Controller.

Ibn Katheer (رحمه الله) said:

The words in the verse and hadeeth, “a Spirit (Rooh) from Him” are like the verse (interpretation of the meaning):

“And has subjected to you all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth; it is all as a favour and kindness from Him.”[13]

“From Him” means that it is created by Him and comes from Him, not from Him in the sense of being part of Him, as the Christians say. Rather it is referring to the starting point of that soul, as in the first verse quoted. Mujaahid said that the phrase “And a Spirit from Him” means a Messenger from Him. Others said that it means love from Him, but the former is more correct, which is that he is a created being from a created soul, and the soul is mentioned in conjunction with Allah by way of honoring, just as the she-camel and the House are mentioned in conjunction with Allah in other verses (interpretation of the meaning):

“This she-camel of Allah is a sign unto you.”[14]

“And sanctify My House for those who circumambulate it.”[15]

And it says in the saheeh hadeeth: “Enter upon my Lord in His House”; it is mentioned in conjunction with Allah by way of honoring. All of this is of the same type and comes under one heading.[16]

Al-Aloosi (رحمه الله) said: It is narrated that a skilled Christian doctor of al-Rasheed debated with ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn al-Waaqidi al-Marwazi one day and said to him: “In your Book there is something which indicates that ‘Eesa (عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ) is part of Allah,” and he recited this verse to him (interpretation of the meaning):

“The Messiah ‘Eesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, (“Be!” — and he was) which He bestowed on Maryam (Mary) and a spirit (Rooh) created by Him [lit. from Him].”[17]

Al-Waaqidi recited the verse (interpretation of the meaning):

“And has subjected to you all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth; it is all as a favor and kindness from Him.”[18]

And said: Then that means that all things must also be a part of Him, exalted and glorified be He. The Christian ceased his arguments and became Muslim, and al-Rasheed rejoiced greatly.

And he said (رحمه الله): The Christians have no proof for their claim to be honouring ‘Eesa (عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ) with regard to the Spirit being mentioned in conjunction with God, because this is also mentioned with regard to things other than him. In the Gospel of Luke it says that Jesus said to his disciples:

“…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” Luke 11:13 (NIV)

In the Gospel of Matthew it says that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit when he was in his mother’s womb.

In the Old Testament it says that God said to Moses:

“Bring me seventy of Israel's elders … I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them.” Numbers 11:16-17 (NIV)

It also says concerning Joseph:

“So Pharaoh asked them, ‘Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’” Genesis 41:38 (NIV)

It also says in the Old Testament that the spirit of God descended upon Daniel… and there are other such verses.[19]

It says in the Gospel of Luke:

“and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Luke 1:41 (NIV)

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ [Messiah].

Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” Luke 2:25-27 (NIV)

This clearly shows that the Spirit is an angel who brings revelation, and that ‘Eesa (عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ), the “Lord’s Christ (i.e., Messiah)” is a servant of God. God is the One Who anointed him and made him the Christ or Messiah.

And Allah knows best.

Islam Q&A[20]


[1] [al-Baqarah 2:140]

[2] [al-Isra’ 17:36]

[3][al-Sajdah 32:9]

[4][al-Hijr 15:29]

[5] [Maryam 19:17-19]

[6] Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 7510; Muslim, 193

[7] End quote from al-Jawaab al-Saheeh, 4/414.

[8] See the report of this hadeeth in Ahkaam al-Janaa’iz ib by al-Albaani, p. 198

[9] Narrated by Muslim, 920.

[10] [al-Jaathiyah 45:13]

[11] End quote from al-Rooh, p. 144

[12] [al-Nisa’ 4:171]

[13] [al-Jaathiyah 45:13]

[14] [al-A’raaf 7:73]

[15] [al-Hajj 22:26]

[16]End quote from Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/784.

[17] [al-Nisa’ 4:171]

[18] [al-Jaathiyah 45:13]

[19] End quote from Rooh al-Ma’aani, 6/25.


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