Using the word ‘Holy’ for Quran and Prophet
A reader had raised the objection on the use of the word of ‘Holy’ in relation to the Quran or the prophet of Islam (pbuh). In its reply a comprehensive answer was prepared by Imtiaz Ahmed Sraa sahib, Missionary in-charge AMJ, Ottawa, Canada. Here is the objection followed by its answer.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, please read with a humble and open heart.
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ (In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful)
‘Holy Quran’ and ‘Holy Prophet’ in Islam In Christianity, there are terms such as Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost and Holy Bible. Muslims do not have anything in Islam called as The Holy Quran and The Holy Prophet. Yet, the term Holy Quran and Holy Prophet is commonly and widely used. We have to use the right words to describe The Quran and Prophet Muhammad SAW according to The Quran itself and Hadith. Earlier in The Glorious Quran, Allah SWT says: “The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong).” [Al-Quran 2:185]
‘Holy’ in Arabic means ‘muqaddas’ (مقدس). There is no verse in The Noble Quran or in Hadith that says ‘Al-Quranum-Muqaddas’ (The Holy Quran) and ‘Ar-Rasulan-Nabiyyam-Muqaddas’ (The Messenger, The Holy Prophet). Allah SWT shortly describes The Quran as:
- ‘Muhammadur-Rasulullah’ (Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah) [Al-Quran 48:29] ‘Abdullah’ (Slave
- ‘Quranun-Karim’ (Noble Quran)
- [Al-Quran 56:77]
- ‘Al-Quranil-Majid’ (The Glorious Quran) [Al-Quran 50:1]
- ‘Al-Qurani-zi-Zikr’ (The Quran Full of Reminder) [Al-Quran 38:1]
- ‘Quranun-Mubin’ (Clear Quran) [Al-Quran 36:69]
- ‘Al-Quranil-Hakim’ (The Wise Quran) [Al-Quran 36:2]
- ‘Al-Quranal-‘Adzim’ (The Great Quran) [Al-Quran 15:87]
- Surah (Chapter) 47, titled Muhammad, second verse is translated as:
- And those who believe and do righteous deeds and believe in what has been sent down upon Muhammad – and it is the truth from their Lord – He will remove from them their misdeeds and amend their condition. [Al-Quran 47:2]
Short description of Prophet Muhammad SAW in The Noble Quran:
- ‘Ar-Rasulan-Nabiyyal-Umiyya’ (The Messenger, The Unlettered Prophet) [Al-Quran 7:157]
- ‘Khataman-Nabiyyina’ (Seal of The Prophets) [Al-Quran 33:40]
- ‘Ahmad’ (Highly Praised) [Al-Quran 61:6]
- ‘hakim’ (Judge) [Al-Quran 4:65, 24:51]
- ‘rasulin-karim’ (Noble Messenger) [Al-Quran 69:40]
- ‘raufur-rahim’ (Kind and Merciful) [Al-Quran 9:128]
- of Allah) [Al-Quran 72:19]
- ‘muzakkirun’ (Reminder) [Al-Quran 88:21]
- ‘sirajan-muniran’ (Illuminating Lamp) [Al-Quran 33:46]
- ‘nazirun-mubin’ (Clear Warner) [Al-Quran 7:184]
- ‘basharun’ (Man) [Al-Quran 18:110]
- ‘rahmatal-lil’alamin’ (Mercy for all the worlds) [Al-Quran 21:107]
- ‘shahidan wa mubashiran wa naziran’ (Witness, Bearer of Glad Tidings and Warner) [Al-Quran 33:45]
- ‘nurun’ (Light) [Al-Quran 5:15]
- ‘burhanun’ (Convincing Proof) [Al-Quran 4:174]
- ‘uswatun hasanatun’ (Good Example) [Al-Quran 33:21]
So if someone ask what is the holy book of a Muslim? Say it is Th Noble Quran. This makes Al-Quran stands up in its own position. W do not have the authority to name it, call it or give it the titl ‘The Holy Quran’ since Allah SWT and Prophet Muhammad SAW never used that term either.
All good that is mentioned is from Allah SWT and all bad is from my own weaknesses. I apologize for any mistakes. Hope we can take sometime to ponder and ask more from an Imam or Ustadz regarding this issue. Please share with fellow Brothers and Sisters. May Alla SWT grant us understanding and guide us all. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.
Wallahu ‘Alam (Allah SWT Knows Best)
Yes, Christians use the word ‘holy’ in the following terms:
- Holy Father
- Holy Son
- Holy Ghost
- Holy Bible
But it would be wrong to say that Christians are the only ones who use the term ‘holy’. Believers of all religion revere their books, prophets, and places as ‘holy’. Therefore, neither the Christians have monopoly on the title ‘holy’ nor do they claim to monopolize it.
Holy is an English word which is used mostly for religious personalities, figures, or things which are revered a lot. While Mr. Fahmi is recommending that the word ‘holy’ should not be used for “The Qur’an” or for “the Prophet (saw)” as it has its roots in Christianity, let’s examine whether this claim has any ground to stand on or not. For this matter, let’s understand the word ‘holy’ with the aid of dictionaries.
Encyclopaedia Britannica says the following:
Inflected Form(s):ho·li·er; ho·li·est
Etymology:Middle English, from Old English hālig; akin to Old English hāl whole — more see whole
Date:before 12th century
- exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.
- divine <for the Lord our God is ∼ — Psalms 99:9(Authorized Version)>
- devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity <a ∼ temple> <∼ prophets>
- a: having a divine quality <∼ love>
- b: venerated as or as if sacred <∼ scripture> <a ∼ relic>
- used as an intensive <this is a ∼ mess> <he was a ∼ terror when he drank — Thomas Wolfe> often used in combination as a mild oath <∼ smoke> 
[hoh-lee] Show IPA adjective, -li·er, -li·est, noun, plural -lies.
- specially recognized as or declared sacred by religious use or authority; consecrated: holy ground.
- dedicated or devoted to the service of God, the church, or religion: a holy man.
- saintly; godly; pious; devout: a holy life.
- having a spiritually pure quality: a holy love.
- entitled to worship or veneration as or as if sacred: a holy relic.
holy (ˈhəʊlɪ) — adj, holier , holiest
- of, relating to, or associated with God or a deity; sacred
- endowed or invested with extreme purity or sublimity
- devout, godly, or virtuous
- holier-than-thou offensively sanctimonious or self-righteous: a holier-than-thou attitude
- holy terror a. a difficult or frightening person b. informal (Irish) a person who is an active gambler, womanizer, etc
After looking at the meaning of the word ‘holy’, I would like to highlight the following meanings:
“The work of the deity”
“Of relating to, or associated with God, or a deity; scared”
“Venerated as or as if scared”
“Having a spiritually pure quality”
“Invested with extreme purity”
Now let’s look at whether these meanings apply to the Qur’an.
One of the meanings of the word ‘holy’ is exalted as mentioned above. Let’s see whether we find any reference to this meaning in the Qur’an. Allah, the Almighty says in the Qur’an :
Exalted, purified, (Surah ‘Abasa: 15) 
Allah, the Almighty has used the word “Exalted” for the Qur’an; therefore no one should hesitate
to use the word ‘holy’ for the Holy Qur’an.
The Work of the Deity
Another meaning of the word ‘holy’ is the work of the Deity or of relating to, or associated with God, or a deity; scared. Allah, the Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an:
Verily, We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian. (Surah Al-Hijar: 10)
The above mentioned verse proves the fact that the Holy Qur’an is the work of God (Deity) and He shall protect it. Thus, we find another reference to the meaning of ‘holy’ being applied to the Holy Qur’an.
Venerated as or as if scared
The word “venerated” is used for things which are honoured, respected, revered, and valued. The word ‘holy’ encompasses all these meanings. We also find reference for this meaning being used for the Holy Qur’an in the following verse:
On honoured sheets. (Surah Abasa: 14)
Having a spiritually pure quality
Another meaning of the word ‘holy’ is to have a spiritually pure quality or invested with extreme purity. We also find the reference to this in the Holy Qur’an:
A Messenger from Allah, reciting unto them the pure Scriptures. (Surah Al-Bayyinah: 3)
All this proves beyond a shadow of doubt that to use the word ‘holy’ is very Islamic. It is a claim with clear proofs. There is nothing wrong with using the word ‘holy’ with the Holy Qur’an because it contains the qualities that the word ‘holy’ possesses. The Holy Qur’an is a Book which is Exalted, Purified, Honoured, and revealed by God, the Almighty and the word ‘holy’ encompasses all these meaning. Similarly, all these meaning applied to our beloved Master, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). His personality had all the attributes mentioned above, therefore, it is very Islamic to call him the Holy Prophet (saw) of Islam. As a matter of fact, if there is anything that should be called holy, it should be the Holy Qur’an.
This thought or allegation could have come due to lack of knowledge or understanding of an English word or it could be something else. We have to be very careful when we start preaching people about such thoughts of ours. We should thoroughly research before preaching and sharing such thoughts with people. The word ‘holy’ is an English word not a Christian word. Yes, it has been used by the Christians but it does not mean that Christians have the only right to use it. In fact, we, as Muslims, have a greater right to use this word for the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet Muhammad sa because our Holy Book and our Holy Messenger sa are much “holier” than previous Scriptures and Messengers.
 Ahmadi Muslims count the “Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim” as the first of the surah. Therefore, in Non-Ahmadi Muslims Qur’an it will be verse 14.