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Kindly elucidate the concept of soul as given in the Quran


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Author Topic: Kindly elucidate the concept of soul as given in the Quran  (Read 1979 times)
Heba E. Husseyn
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« on: May 16, 2007, 07:03:30 pm »

 BismEm

 salamem to all members and guests!


I wish to know your concept of soul according to the guidelines provided in the Noble Quran.   We know that even non-Muslims believe in the existence of the soul.  But people of different faiths make somewhat different interpretations of the soul.  As a Muslim, how would you define the characteristics and limitations of the soul.  Just curious for a feedback.
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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2007, 01:27:30 am »

BismAllah .. and Wa'Salaam Sis Heba.  Let me try to comment on this one. 

To begin with, as Muslims and human beings we all know for sure that the body of every living being contains a soul.  The body is mortal while the soul is immortal.  The body and soul are together as long as one lives in this earthly world.  Then, when the body dies, the soul departs from the body.  Those who trust the extra Quranic literature like Hadith etc. believe that after death the soul is made to rest in a place called Barzaq.   People differ in their precise explanation of Barzaq.  However, the Quran says nothing about Barzaq nor any other concept resembling it.  Thus, ever since I've started taking the Quran alone as my source of information (Alhamdulilah), I have stopped focusing on the concept of Barzaq

Allah Almighty says in Surah Bani Israel (V.17:85) that He has bestowed on we humans very little knowledge about the soul.  That means, complete knowledge about the soul belongs to Allah only.  The only information that The Almighty has bestowed upon us is the fact that the soul is immortal.  But where the soul is preserved after it leaves the body, what are its characteristics, limitations etc. are aspects of the unseen and only Allah has the complete knowledge of all such details. 

People in this world often wonder if departed souls are able to visit earth.  Some folks who claim to have seen the "apparitions" or spirits of their loved ones who have passed away, or the appearance of unknown spirits, believe for sure that spirits do visit this world.  But this idea is not at all supported by the Quran.  The only elemental spirit, the existence of which is confirmed in the Quran, is the Jinn. 

I reiterate, the only aspect about the soul which Allah has chosen to disclose to us is that the soul is immortal.  The rest of the knowledge about it is with Allah only.
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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2007, 02:13:42 am »

very good points, thanks Sister Zeyna
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2007, 02:22:34 am »

BTW ... once upon a time it was much the same with me when I was very interested in knowing about Barzaak and I would talk about it a great deal with the Hadithers.  And as you pointed out, I too observed that they all had varying opinions which is typical of human ideas.  Some say Barzaak exists in the grave, some say it's in some other place outside from Paradise and so on.  All based on the various Hadith narrations but absolutely no mention of any such things in the Quran. 

I agree, it's best to accept that we know nothing beyond the immortality of the soul as Allah has decided. 
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2007, 02:06:22 am »

Okay, so .. to summarize this topic ::

As per the information provided in the Quran, souls exist and are immortal.  But we don't know where the souls rest after death until Resurrection.  That is only known to Allah.

People claim some souls visit the earth. This is not supported by the Quran.

Am I right?
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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2008, 03:02:45 pm »

True Sis Ruhi.

Verse 17:85 (Surah Bani Israel or Al-Isra) clearly confirms the existence of the soul and it's at Allah's command, that humans have been granted no further knowledge about it. 

They are asking thee concerning the Spirit. Say: The Spirit is by command of my Rab, and of knowledge you have been vouchsafed but little.  (17:85)

Verse 56:60-61 (Surah Al-Waqi'ah) also, to my understanding, hints at the existence of the soul.  I would paraphrase it as .. death is unavoidable, and after death one is transformed into something different.  Perhaps this refers to the withered physical remains and the existing soul of those remains that's at the command of Allah.  Of course, Allah knows best.  It certainly has a deep meaning.

We mete out death among you, and We are not to be outrun,
That We may transfigure you and make you what ye know not.  (56:60-61)


Verse 42 of Surah 39 (Az-Zumar) quoted below also states that souls of people can be in the custody of Allah while they are asleep.  But the Verse clarifies that Allah takes away the soul permanently only when He ordains death for that soul.  Those for whom death hasn't yet been ordained, their soul is returned to their body by will of Allah. So, they're able to wake up from sleep.  In other words, those for whom the Divine Decree of death hasn't been issued yet, wake up from their sleep because their appointed time for death has not yet arrived. 

"Allah receiveth (men's) souls at the time of their death, and that (soul) which dieth not (yet) in its sleep. He keepeth that (soul) for which He hath ordained death and dismisseth the rest till an appointed term. Lo! herein verily are portents for people who take thought." (39:42)

As we can see from these three above mentioned Verses, the soul (of the dead) visiting the earth by Allah's permission is NOT stated or hinted anywhere.   That's because Allah has already said in 17:85 that humans have been vouchsafed little knowledge about the soul as per His will. 

Additionally, if you check Verses 23:99-100 of Surah Al-Mominun (The Believers), Allah has plainly conveyed te concept that death brings a barrier between the departed soul and earthly world.  I would conclude with the analysis that just as those still living on earth do not have the ability to visit the next world, thus after leaving earthly world, one does not have the capability to return here. 

"Until, when death cometh unto one of them, he saith: My Lord! Send me back,  (23:99) Surah Al-Mominun.
That I may do right in that which I have left behind! But nay! It is but a word that he speaketh; and behind them is a barrier until the day when they are raised."   (23:100) Surah Al-Mominun.


Allah knows best about every matter.
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2008, 10:57:12 pm »

O! thanks for this additional clarification directly from the Quran.  I don't know how I didn't see it earlier.  It's just what I was looking for.  From what I would interpret, the hint upon the existence of the soul in Verse 56:60-61 is so interesting.  When Allah says to "transfigure you and make you what ye know not" is apparently, as I see it, a reference to the soul without the physical body.  The soul without the body is surely a transfiguration of one form from another.  and Allah-o-Aalim. 

Thanks again sis Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2018, 07:47:50 pm »


Returning to this thread after a decade .....

Concerning the term "Spirit" in V. 17:85:
"They are asking you concerning the Spirit. Say: The Spirit is by command of my Rab, and of knowledge you have been vouchsafed but little."  (17:85)
 
Some say it refers to the arch angel, Jibreel.  I thought it referred to the soul.  What's your opinion on that.  I need some details as we expect to take up this topic for discussion end of this month, InshAllah.

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« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2018, 08:00:57 pm »


Yes, some have interpreted it as a reference to the arch angel.  But I don't see any clear evidence for that.  My first impression was reference to the soul.  In his commentary, Abu Ala Maududi has acknowledged that the Arabic word "ruh" stands for soul as generally understood.  But then he retracts this interpretation as he sees that the topic of soul is out of context with the preceding and following Verses of Verse 17:85.   But the preceding and following Verses do not directly point to the arch angel Jibreel either.   Maududi mentions a traditional incident  (which has also been highlighted by Pickthall somewhat differently in his commentary) that a question as put to the Prophet (pbuh) by the mushriks asking from where he got the Quran.  According to Maududi, Verses 17:82-88 are in response to this question about the Quran and its source. 

For reference, here are the preceding and following Verses of Verse 17:85.

17:82. "And We reveal of the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy for believers though it increase the evil-doers in naught save ruin."

17:83. "And when We make life pleasant unto man, he turns away and is averse; and when ill touches him he is in despair."

17:84. "Say: Each one does according to his rule of conduct, and your Rab is Best Aware of him whose way is right."

17:85.  "They are asking you concerning the Spirit. Say: The Spirit is by command of my Rab, and of knowledge you have been vouchsafed but little." 

17:86. "And if We willed We could withdraw that which We have revealed unto you, then would you find no guardian for you against Us in respect thereof."

17:87. "(It is naught) save mercy from your Rab. Lo! His kindness unto you was ever great."

17:88. "Say: Verily, though mankind and the jinn should assemble to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof though they were helpers one of another."

Verses 17:82-84 are clearly not connected with Angel Jibreel.  Similarly, concerning Verses 17:86-87,  Maududi's connection with the word al-ruhi alluding to Jibreel cannot be confirmed.
 

I reiterate, my first impression is that Verse 17:85 is an independent Verse alluding to the soul, and Verses 17:86-88 are also independent Ayats authenticating the source of the Noble Quran which is of course the Divine Power.


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« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2018, 08:06:53 pm »


Thank you sister Heba.





I reiterate, my first impression is that Verse 17:85 is an independent Verse alluding to the soul, and Verses 17:86-88 are also independent Ayats authenticating the source of the Noble Quran which is of course the Divine Power.

Though Allah knows best, this is precisely what I too had in mind ....


Maududi picks the the following hadith reference for his interpretation:

Quoting him:  "Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah and Hasan Basri have also adopted the same interpretation. Ibn Jarir has attributed the same thing to Ibn `Abbas on the authority of Qatadah, but at the same time he tells a strange thing that Ibn `Abbas stated this thing only in secret. Again the author of Ruh-ul-Ma'ani cites these words of Hasan and Qatadah: 'By ruh is meant Jibril: the question was about the nature of his coming down and inspiring the heart of the Holy Prophet with Revelation.' "   

But these kind of talks are largely evidence-free and lead nowhere, as is usual in the hadith literature. 

The incident Pickthall mentions in his review is as follows:

Quote:

"A strong tradition asserts that this even of Surah Al-Kahf Verses 18:10-27, the information on Dhul Qarneyn Verses 18:83-98 and possibly also the event of Moses and the angel Verses 18:60-82, were revealed to the Prophet to enable him to answer the questions the Jewish rabbis of Medinah had instructed the idolaters to ask him as a test of Prophethood.

The questions were three:  'Ask him of some youth who were of old, what was their fate for they have a strange story;  and ask him of a much-travelled man who reached the sunrise regions of the earth and the sunset regions thereof, what was his history;  and ask him of the Spirit, what it is.' 

The tormentors of the Prophet who had been to Medinah to get hints from the Jews, on their return to Mecca put these questions to the Prophet, after having told the people that it would be a crucial test.  The Prophet said that he would surely answer them upon the morrow, without adding "if Allah will" as though he could command the revelations of Allah.  As a reproof for that omission, the wished for revelation was withheld from him for some days and when it came included the rebue contained in Verses 18:24-25.  There is no reason whatever to doubt the truth of the tradition which connects Surah 18 with three questions set by Jewish rabbis and they must have considered the answers satisfying otherwise the Jews would certainly have made fun when they were taunting the Prophet daily after his flight to Medinah.
"

Unquote:

Verses similar to Verses 18:86-88 where Allah asserts the authenticity of the Noble Quran are found in other Surahs as well.

 
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« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2018, 08:13:47 pm »



Well yes.  Also let us not forget, mainstream clerical circles have their own reason to interpret Verse 17:85 as reference to angel Jibreel rather than the soul.  As we know, hadith has constructed the story of Barzakh as a place for souls between death and resurrection.   This information is plainly un-Quranic.  There are also various ahadith fictions on Barzakh, stories that are not in the least compatible with the Quran.  Thus, if our jurists accept Verse 17:85 as reference to the soul where Allah clearly confirms that humans on earth have been given little information about the soul, the jurists will find themselves in an awkward position for constructing so many hadith stories on Barzakh.

Below, word by word original Arabic and translation of Verse 17:85 from Corpus Quran:

"wayasalūnaka   ʿani   al-rūḥi   quli   al-rūḥu  min  amri  rabbi  wama   ūtītum   mina  al-ilmi  illa   qalīlan"

And they ask you concerning the soul.  Say, "The soul (is) of (the) affair  (of) my Rab.  And not you have been given of the knowledge except a little."


Most translators have used the term "Spirit" for the original Arabic word "al-ruhi" in this Verse, even though the basic English term for the word ruh is soul.   Then again, the hadith supports the interpretation of the word ruh as reference to angel Jibreel.  So it's expected that majority of translators will stick to the same.   

Apart from Corpus Quran word by word translation, the only two other translations I've found that use the word 'soul' are by Aisha Bewley and the Sahih international.  Quote below:

Aisha Bewley translation:
"They will ask you about the Ruh. Say: ´The Ruh is my Lord´s concern. You have only been given a little knowledge.´"

Sahih international translation:
"And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about the soul. Say, "The soul is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little." "

While Allah knows it best, in my opinion I feel quite certain that the word "al-ruhi" in Verse 17:85 refers to the soul, not angel Jibreel.   The few Verses that precede and follow are independent of Verse 17:85.


 
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« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2018, 08:15:18 pm »



Thanks again sister Heba.  Your input is very helpful.
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« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2018, 08:21:06 pm »



The archangel is  mostly mentioned in the Quran with the names  “Ruhul Qudus (The Holy Spirit)” and “Ruhul Amin (The Trustworthy Spirit)”.   Angel Jibreel pbuh) has been mentioned separately from other angels because of his special status as the slave of Allah.     In few Verses where the arch angel is mentioned as "The Spirit" (or ruh), there is a reference to other angels too along with the arch angel. 

For example:  Verse 97:4 Surah Al-Qadr " The angels and the Spirit (al-malāikatu wal-rūḥu) descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. "   

Also Verse 16:2 Surah An-Nahl  "He sends down the angels with the Spirit of His command unto whom He will of His bondmen, (saying): Warn mankind that there is no God save Me, so keep your duty unto Me."  This Verse has been translated by Maududi as follows: "He sends down by His command through His angels the Spirit " ..  Maududi explains it as "the Spirit of Prophethood with which a Prophet is imbued in order to fulfill his Mission by word and deed. The Qur'an has called this the Spirit in several places, for this has the same relation to the Mission of a Prophet and his moral life, which the soul has to the physical human life." 

Thus, in Verse 16:2 the reference is apparently not to the arch angel. 

I too agree with sister Heba's perception.


Related post:  Ruhul Qudusi


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« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2018, 08:22:48 pm »



Yes exactly, I see your point sister Zeynab.   
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