The Title Ruh.(spirit)

In the same verse where Jesus is given the title of Kalimah, he has also been called Ruh (spirit).

"O People of the Book! Do not commit excesses in your religion, nor say of Allah, but the truth. Masih, I`sa (Jesus) alayhis salam, Son of Maryam (Mary) is no more than a Messenger of Allah and His Word and a Ruh ( Spirit) proceeding from Him." Quran 4/171. In the last verse of the chapter named Tahrim (Prohibition), the same title also occurs. "And Maryam (Mary), the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, We breathed into her from Our Spirit and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and His books and was one of the devout servants." Quran 66/12. A verse similar to the one above, is noted in the chapter entitled Al-Anbiyah (The Prophets) as follows : "And remember her who guarded her chastity, so we breathed into her from Our Spirit and we made her and her son a sign for all people." 21/91. The word Ruh literally means soul, spirit (in all senses), breath of life, revelation, mercy and a blow.

As the word Ruh has many meanings, the exegetes have differed as to its meaning as a title of Jesus. Imam Qurtubi (d.671/1227)has given the following meanings :

  1. Ruh is related to Rahmah , which means mercy, because Jesus was a mercy for the people, this is the reason for this title.
  2. Ruh is related to Nafakhah , which means breath as mentioned in the two verses of the chapters Tahrim and Al-Anbiya (cited above). In this case the translation would be, "We breathed into her with Our Breath."
  3. Ruh is related to Al-Wahy , which means revelation. In this case it would pertain to the revelation sent to Maryam (Mary) in the form of glad tidings of the birth of Jesus.
  4. Ruh refers to Quranic verse , which means a sign. This would emphasise the point that Jesus was a sign from God - as Jesus performed many miracles. The twenty first verse of the chapter named after Maryam (Mary), also refers to Jesus as a sign to mankind. The verse is as follows : "He said, "So it will be," your Lord said, "It is easy for Me and We will appoint him as a sign unto men and a mercy from Us, it is a matter decreed." 19/21.

  5. Ruh is used for the meaning of soul and spirit. Different reasons have been given as to why this particular definition has been given to Jesusí title. Al-Imam Alusi(d.127/705) has supplied the reason to be because Jesus was able to bring the dead back to life. This is similar to the soul which is a life giving source. Imam Qurtubi has stated in his tafsir that the reason for this title is that when God created all the souls, He then placed them in their relevant bodies, except for the soul of Jesus, which was held back by God until the time of his birth came close and thus Jesusí soul was breathed directly into Maryam and Jesus was created.

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