And when Jesus son of Mary said, “Children of Israel, I am indeed the Messenger of God to you, confirming the Torah that is before me, and giving good tidings of a Messenger who shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.” Then, when he brought them the clear signs, they said, “This is a manifest sorcery.”
Sūrah Aş-Şaff (The Ranks) 61, 6
This passage from the 6th verse of Sūrah Aş-Şaff has often been referred to some passages in the Injeel (John 14:15,26; John 15:25 and John 16:7,12) to argue that Jesus promised that Ahmad would come. We think it is important to give an answer to this.
In John’s Gospel we find many statements made by Jesus that point to a person who will come after him, especially in chapters 14-16. Jesus calls him “Parakletos”, “Holy Spirit”1 and “Spirit of Truth”.
Whose coming did Jesus announce?
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father2, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:15-18 ESV)
From these verses we can see that the one Jesus promises will come is a person because he calls him “another Helper”. This person however, is not human:
…to be with you forever (man does not live forever on earth)
…Spirit of truth (“Spirit” is not usually used for a man)
…whom the world cannot receive (how can this refer to a man?)
…because it neither sees him nor knows him (a human being is visible)
…for he dwells with you and will be in you (no man can dwell inside another, so this cannot refer to a man)
These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:25-26 ESV)
The task of the one Jesus promised would come is to teach the disciples3 and to remind them of everything that he said to them. This happened ten days after Jesus left the earth (Jesus is now with God). We will explain this in more detail later.
Reading on in John, we find further hints about the Parakletos in the following passages:
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27 ESV)
…going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world4 is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:5-15 ESV)
The passages quoted below shed light on the task of the Helper, the Parakletos:
15:26 …he will bear witness about me.
16:8-10 …he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.
The three things listed here, that the Parakletos will convict the world of, all refer to Jesus. The Parakletos will show that it is a sin to not believe in Jesus in way that he revealed himself, and that it is righteous in front of God that Jesus does not continue living on earth and that Jesus has defeated and judged the devil. So the task of the Parakletos is to point to Jesus the Messiah (‘Īsā al-Masih).
16:13 …the Spirit of truth…will guide you into all the truth….
When we read these passages we can see that there is no other way to understand Parakletos other than that God wants to guide the believers through him.
Jesus revealed a lot about God’s loving nature. He showed how much God loves us, his creation, and wants to lead5 us. God sees that we need his help and does not want to leave us like lost sheep without a shepherd (this is described extensively in the Injeel, in John ch. 106). Even in the so-called Old Testament (Torah [Taurāt], Psalms [Zabūr] and Prophets [Nabiyyūn]), we find prophecies that God will guide his people and instruct them in a new way. This will be stronger than what was given through the law or the prophets. God says through his prophet Ezekiel (Nabiyy Du-l-Kifl):
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)
Here we can see that even at that time the people were told that one day God will show his will to all believers and not only to a few prophets or teachers (by the word “believer” we do not mean those who observe religious traditions but those whose highest aim in life is to honour God).
When he says he will “put his Spirit” in man, he means that God places the knowledge of his will right into the inner being of man – directly together with man’s will. Those who have the Spirit will do good out of their inner motivation and allow themselves to be led by God.
Once the prophet John the Baptist (Yaḥyā) said to the people:
I baptise you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:11-12 ESV)
They understood that John was announcing the imminent coming of the Messiah Jesus (‘Īsā al-Masih). This would be the one who judges and enables people to know God more deeply and live obediently.
Being baptised with the Holy Spirit means to be provided with a God-honouring (spiritual) understanding.
This is what we read from Luke’s report – the so-called Acts of the Apostles, the 5th part of Injeel:
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”. (Acts 1:4-5 ESV)
The Spirit came ten days after Jesus said this….
God-fearing men of different nations were gathered for the “feast of the weeks” in Jerusalem. The Parakletos enabled people from different countries and languages to understand each other. Jesus’ message was that all God-fearing people should strive for unity and live as God’s spiritual nation, as one community (Ummah). This miracle is reported in Acts chapter 2.
The Parakletos, the Holy Spirit, enabled them to recognise that Jesus wanted to be known as the spiritual Messiah.
The same Holy Spirit caused the believers to love each other. No man told them that they should share their goods and meet daily. But their common interest in the truth – and the common understanding of God’s kingdom (a spiritual kingdom) and his Messiah Jesus, was the work of the Parakletos, whom Jesus also called the “Spirit of Truth”. They examined the Scriptures daily and were deeply devoted to each other. This is the same among true Christians today.
Another important aspect of the “pouring out of the Holy Spirit” is that it is not restricted to Jews. All nations can receive the Spirit.
In the Old Testament it was already shown that not only Jews were able to recognise God’s will, but also Gentiles. If they separated themselves from idolatry they could belong to God’s nation too (that is to say, to his community; Arabic = Ummah).
Jesus showed that although God wants to help everybody, he can only help those who are conscious of their sins and realise how dependent they are on God. Those who are self-righteous and think they do not need God’s help cannot receive it. This is also the work of the Spirit, to lead people to understand their guilt and turn to God in repentance.
God wants to help all people. He wants to be the God of everyone and to teach everybody the way of righteousness. During his life on earth, Jesus could only speak to a relatively small number of people. He said that it is good that he goes away because then he can send the Parakletos who helps everyone who allows themselves to be taught by God and wants to be God’s friend. He helps us to understand what Jesus taught and to put it into practice. Understanding God is not a matter of intelligence or particular feelings, but requires an upright and honest attitude.
We can therefore draw the conclusion that Sūrah Aş-Şaff 61, 6 has no connection with the passages in John about the one Jesus promised would come, the Holy Spirit.
- Holy Spirit – Christians do not think of the Holy Spirit simply as a divine power but as “the one who comforts” and “God’s invisible presence”. ↩
- Father – by this Jesus expresses the closeness of the relation in God and by no means fatherhood in a sexual sense! ↩
- Disciple – another word for pupil; the twelve men who were together with Jesus are meant here. They followed his life and teaching. ↩
- Ruler of this world – this refers to the devil (Satan or Iblīs). ↩
- Leading – in terms of giving a directive; guiding, providing thoughts, not like a puppet. ↩
- Injeel, John 10:1-42 – If you do not have access to a Bible please write to us. ↩