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Angel Gabriel: Between Christianity and Islam

12 April, 2023
Q The angel Gabriel in the Old and New Testaments: 1.) always allays fears of those seeing him; 2.) always makes sure his message is understood; 3.) always gives confidence that God is in charge. Muslim accounts of Muhammad's meeting Gabriel left: 1.) Muhammad confused, fearful, even suicidal; 2.) Muhammad not understanding the message; 3.) Muhammad having Khadija tempt the entity. Islamic scholars have identified Gabriel as the Holy Spirit in Hadiths. The only "angel" that tries to confuse himself with God is Satan. This analysis raises the very serious question of "What is the true spiritual origin of the Quran?" Coming from Satan would explain all the violence "extremists" are visiting on fellow humans. Can you, Islamic scholars, address this question?


Short Answer: Muslims believe that Gabriel is an angel God created, not the third person in a Trinity. He once appeared in human form in front of a group of Muslims, and asked Prophet Muhammad a number of questions about Islam.


Salam (Peace) Dear Brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

People of faith see the Angel Gabriel (Jibreel in Arabic) as something that Muslims and Christians can ultimately share – although they see his actions in history differently.

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Who better placed to tell you what Muslims believe than Muslims themselves? 

Let me try, then, to explain what Muslims believe about the Angel Jibreel and also something about the Quran.

The Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by the Angel Jibreel over a period of twenty-three years.

The Quran, as we see it today, was not revealed in the order in which the verses appear. Verses, or even parts of verses, were revealed at a particular time and in a particular place to answer questions and to guide the Muslim community.

It is one of the miracles of the Quran that when the correct order of verses was finally revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) at the end of his life, they seemed to fit perfectly together, even rhyming, and following themes and sub-themes that could never have been realized when they were at first revealed.

It is as if the Artist who had conceived them had known His overall plan right from the start, although only making it finally clear right at the end, or like a giant jigsaw puzzle that only completely made sense when all the pieces were put together.

You are right that whoever wrote the Old and New Testaments does make Gabriel appear as one who puts people at ease. Over a period of twenty-three years, we see this as Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Jibreel became acquainted, Jibreel telling him additional things about Allah that were not verses from the Quran.

Gabriel in Human Form

Jibreel even appeared in front of a group of Muslims as we read in the authentic tradition.

Abdullah ibn Umar, one of the Prophet’s companions, narrated:

My father, Umar bin Al-Khattab told me:

“While we were with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) one day, a man appeared before us whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black. We could see no signs of travel on him, and none of us knew him.

He came and sat before the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), putting his knees against his, and placing his hands on his thighs, then he said: ‘O Muhammad, tell me about Islam.’

He said: ‘It is to bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah (The Praised and Exalted) and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah, to establish the Salah (Islamic prayer), to give Zakah (alms), to fast Ramadan, and to perform Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House if you are able to bear the journey.’

He said: ‘You have spoken the truth.’

And we were amazed by his asking him, and then saying, ‘You have spoken the truth’.

Then he said: ‘Tell me about Faith.’

He said: ‘It is to believe in Allah (The Praised and Exalted), His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and in the Divine Decree, its good and its bad.’

He said: ‘You have spoken the truth.’

He said: ‘Tell me about Al-Ihsan (benevolence).’

He said: ‘It is to worship Allah (The Praised and Exalted) as if you can see Him, for although you cannot see Him, He can see you.’

He said: ‘Tell me about the Hour.’

He said: ‘The one who is asked about it does not know more about it than the one who is asking.’

He said: ‘Then tell me about its signs.’

He said: ‘When a slave woman gives birth to her mistress, when you see the barefoot, naked, destitute shepherds competing in making tall buildings.'”

‘Umar said: ‘Three (days) passed, then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to me:

“O Umar, do you know who the questioner was?”

I said: “Allah and His Messenger know best.”

He said: “That was Jibreel, peace be upon him, who came to you to teach you your religion.” (Al-Nasai)

Prophet Muhammad’s Reaction

Is Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) initial reaction to being called by Allah Almighty not the natural reaction of any humble man?

Having retired to a mountain cave for prayer and quiet reflection, he came face to face with God’s messenger.

In the face of revelation from the Creator, is it not natural that mere humans would feel quite inadequate and would at first shrink away from the task being given them, not fully understanding what they were being told?

After this first revelation, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) rushed back to his wife, Khadijah, confused and afraid what this new message could mean. Was it that something terrible had happened to him?  

Her beautiful response was to reassure and support her husband.

Muslims believe that God is One and that He has no partner or equal. He is not a Trinity of three persons.

If Muslim scholars have described Jibreel as the spirit of God, they have not intended this to mean that he was the third person in a Trinity – the Holy Spirit. Muslims believe that Jibreel is an angel.

Nowhere will you find Jibreel trying to confuse himself with God or trying to deceive others that he is God.

The central belief of Islam, revealed by Jibreel in the Quran in Surat A-Ikhlas, reads as follows:

{Say: He is Allah, the One: Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him.} (Quran 112:1-4)

Finally, as Muslims we believe that Islam is perfect and has nothing to be excused or apologized for. Muslims, on the other hand, are not perfect.

If a tiny minority of misguided people twist its meanings for their own purposes to do bad things, Islam itself is not to be blamed. Terrorism is outside the bounds of Islam and is to be unreservedly condemned.

I encourage you to read more and to find out what Islam itself teaches.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask Abut Islam archive)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Belief in Angels: An Article of Faith?

Why Did God Create Angels?

The Holy Spirit in Islam & Christianity

About Idris Tawfiq
Idris Tawfiq was a British writer, public speaker and consultant.He became a Muslim around 15 years ago.For many years, he was head of religious education in different schools in the United Kingdom.Before embracing Islam, he was a Roman Catholic priest.He passed away in peace in the UK in February 2016 after a period of illness.May Allah (SWT) have mercy on him, and accept his good deeds. Ameen.