16. What does it mean to be holy?

The Bible has over 400 references to God being holy. The words used for holy have a variety of meanings. They are: kind, gracious, separate or set apart, and priestly. Righteousness is closely linked to God’s holiness and all His works are holy. God never does anything profane or unclean. The place of God’s dwelling is holy. When the Bible states that Christ will live in our hearts, it implies that by God’s power, made possible by the shedding of Christ’s blood which cleanses and purifies, our heart is cleansed from all unrighteousness so He can inhabit our being. 1 John 1 verse 9 promises this cleansing: ‘But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.’ God would not be able to keep this promise of cleansing our hearts if He was not holy and sinless.

The Qur’an announces in Surah 62 Al Jumu’ah ayah 1 ‘Whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare the Praises and Glory of Allâh– the Sovereign, The Holy One, the exalted in Might, the Wise.’ Allâh is Holy. The Abdullah Yusuf Ali commentary to Surah 62 Al Jumu’ah ayah 2, when referring to Scripture, emphasises that ‘Allâh is the Holy One, and therefore purifies and sanctifies those who were steeped in superstition and wickedness. Allâh is exalted in power and can confer all these blessings on the most unlikely people.’ This reference to unlikely people probably means ‘humble’ Muslims. They are Muslims who the ‘ummah’ overlooks because they are not prominent because of their humility.