Excerpts from the commentary of Dua al-Iftitah
Special salutations to Imam Mahdi (a)
The salutations to Imam Mahdi (a), the Imam of our time, are not limited to simple salutations but instead are expanded on in several phrases and then attention is focused on the last Imam until the end of the du'a.
Firstly we read:
اَللَّهُمَّ وَصَلِّ عَلَىٰ وَليِّ امْرِكَ
وَحُفَّهُ بِمَلائِكَتِكَ ٱلْمُقَرَّبِينَ
وَايِّدْهُ بِرُوحِ ٱلْقُدُسِ
يَا رَبَّ ٱلْعَالَمِينَ
O Allah, (please do) send blessings to the custodian of Your commandments,
the vigilant guardian, the reliable patron,
and the awaited establisher of justice.
And (please) surround him with Your favorite angels
and assist him with the Holy Spirit.
O Lord of the worlds!
In this passage we ask Allah (swt) to support our Imam (a) with the Holy Spirit. The concept of the Holy Spirit (Ruuh al-Qudus) is very important, especially for Shi'a Muslims. According to the glorious Qur'an and various narrations, one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to support and guide good people. For example, the Qur'an says that the Holy Spirit supported Prophet Jesus (a) and thus we read in Chapter 5, Verse 110:
إِذْ أَيَّدْتُكَ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ
when I strengthened you with the holy Spirit,
If we are good and pious people, we too can hope that Allah (swt) will support us and one of the ways in which He (swt) does this is to ask the Holy Spirit to help us.
It should be mentioned that whilst Sunni scholars normally identify the Holy Spirit with the archangel Gabriel, Shi'a Muslims, as taught by the Holy Imams (a) hold that the Holy Spirit is a creature at a higher level than Gabriel. Abu Basir, a great companion of Imam Sadiq (a), says:
'I asked Imam Sadiq (a) about the verse 'They question you concerning the Spirit. Say, 'The Spirit is of the command of my Lord' (17:58).' He responded that the Spirit is a creature greater than Gabriel and Michael.' [Kulayni, Muhammad Ibn Ya'qub, Usul al-Kafi, vol.1 (Tehran Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyya, 1388 AH) p. 273, no.3].
As confirmation of the fact that the Holy Spirit is not the same as Gabriel, one may refer to Verse 4 of Chapter 97 of the Glorious Qur'an which reads:
تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ مِنْ كُلِّ أَمْرٍ
The angels and Gibreel descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair,
The verse explains that on the night of Qadr, the Holy Spirit descends along with the angels. This suggests that the Holy Spirit is different from the angels which include Gabriel and Michael.