Human soul, its existence, nature, ultimate objective and eternity, plays a vital role in Islamic philosophy. So, here in this article we are going to discuss in a short on Soul, Proof of its Existence, its Nature, its Rationality, its ultimate fate, Soul Journey, its Objective and its Eternity. al-Kindi, ibn Sina, ibn Rushd holds a view that all souls [those rational part of the souls that have knowledge] are indestructible because of its knowledge of the eternal aspects of the universe.
In Ancient, Greek philosophers used the word "alive" for the concept of being "ensouled", ie. they consider that the soul gives the body to life. To them, the soul incorporeal or spiritual "breath"s that animates the living organism.
"In happy fate all die a death
That frees from care,
And yet there still will linger behind
A living image of life,
For this alone has come from the God.
It sleeps while the members are active;
But to those who sleep themselves
It reveals in myriad visions
The fateful approach
Of adversities or delights".-Pindar
According to Pindar, the soul sleeps while the limbs are active, but when one is sleeping, the soul is active and reveals "an award of joy or sorrow drawing near" in dreams.-[Francis M. Cornford, Greek Religious Thought, p. 64]
Erwin Rohde says the Pre-Pythagorean belief was that the soul alive a body and is lifeless when it departed the body, and that departed, retired into Hades with no hope of returning to a body..[Erwin Rohde, Psyche, 1928]
Parts of the Soul:
According to Muslim Philosophers [al-Kindi, al-Farabi, ibn Sina and ibn Rushd], human soul consists of non-rational [by which the souls of plants and animals are created] and rational part that consists of the practical and theoretical intellects. To them, the non-rational part is linked essentially to the body, and the rational part as separate from the body by nature. The non-rational part manages the body, while the rational part manages worldly affairs and the eternal aspects of the universes. The happiness of the soul depends on its ability to focus on the eternal aspects, separate itself from the demands of the body. And the non-rational part of the soul comes into being and unavoidably perishes, whereas the the rational part survive eternally [though some differs in some point].
Proof of Existence:
According to ibn Sina, the existence of the soul proved from the fact that a body perform certain acts with some degree of will. These acts are exemplified in taking nourishment, growing, reproducing, moving and perceiving. Since these acts do not belong to the nature of body, for this nature is devoid of will, they must belong to a some they have other than body, which is ‘soul’. -[ibn Sina, al-Shifa’ (Healing)],
The soul is the source of acts performed by the will, not inasmuch as it is ‘a substance’ (an independent entity), but inasmuch as it is ‘the principle of such acts’. The rational soul, on the other hand, need not look outside itself to infer its existence. It is aware of its existence with immediacy, that is, without any instruments. ibn Sina’s argumented that the rational soul is aware of itself apart from body [ibn Sina cite an example of a suspended man], even if the adult rational soul is not aware of anything material, not even its body, it remains aware of its own existence. Thus we find in the Quran souls were answering God that asked to them-
And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], "Am I not your Lord?" They said, "Yes, we have testified." [This] - lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, "Indeed, we were of this unaware."-[7:172]
Types of Soul:
Among the creation of God, there are Angels, Jinns, Heaven and Earth, Plants and Trees, Animal and Birds and Human; Angels are celestial being created from heatless fire. A part of them live in this material world as an extension of God ie they are in specific duties which they receive from God through book of life and the other part live in the unseen world near to God for their specific duties, such as writing the book of life as per instruction of God, safe-guard the book of life, holding the Throne of God, Praying to God for mankind for their sins and to forgive them and some for praising God standing surrounded His Throne. This Celestial being have their Celestial Soul.
After the creation of Angel, Jinns were created from fire. Like Human they are free willed. They are living in this Universe. Leader of the Jinns, Azael deny to bow down Adam, the first man thus become Iblees. God banned him enter into the heaven for disobeying His order and thus he became the enemy of Adam. He then misguide Adam-Eve with a false promise. Adam-Eve fell in his trap and disobey God. Then God through all of them to earth. Iblees promise to God to destroy mankind as he looses what he earned with his devotion to God for a period of seven million years God promised that he and those who shall follow him rejecting His guidance to the mankind, shall be the permanent resident of the Hell. This nation Jinn posses terrestrial souls. And if not specified, a reference anywhere to :he soul shall be considered a terrestrial soul.
Heaven and Earths are lifeless materials and thus free from taking nourishment, growing, reproducing, moving and perceiving. Yet they have souls because of their shape. They have internal senses of their existence and their creator. They able to answer God. It is said in the Quran-
"Indeed, we offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they declined to bear it and feared it; but man [undertook to] bear it. Indeed, he was unjust and ignorant." [33:72]
Plants and Trees are in taking nourishment, growing, reproducing,but free from moving and perceiving. They have ‘soul’ and they aware of the existence and their creator. They Praise God and able to answer God.
Animal and Birds are in taking nourishment, growing, reproducing, moving but free from perceiving. They have souls and they aware of the existence and their creator. They Praise God and able to answer God.
Human created from earth, and are free willed like Jinns. So after their death, they have to face God at the Judgement day for their deeds and shall be awarded Heaven or Hell as reward or punishment accordingly.They are capable in taking nourishment, growing, reproducing, moving and perceiving. ‘Soul’ (nafs) used to refer to the plant or vegetative part of a living being. On the other hand, the plant or vegetative part, the animal or sensitive part and the rational part ie. the totality of all these three parts means to be a ‘human soul’ that consists of non rational and rationl part. Thus, the word "soul" used for broad sense [to mean the human soul] or in the narrow sense [to mean a specific part of the soul].
Creation of Human Soul:
All souls created from the first Human Adam-Eve. Quran says- "And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants .."-[7:172]
According to kabbalah, underneath the throne (of God) itself lies the abode of all unborn human souls.
Body and Soul Relation:
The soul has a certain relation to a body, it is a form for that body, that is, the perfection of that body. It is a form because a natural body is composed of matter and form, which in the case of animals are body and soul. Since it has been shown that the soul is the source of will and therefore is not matter, it remains a form. Perfection is of two types, primary and secondary. A primary perfection is what makes a thing actually a species, as shape does for the sword, or a genus as sensation and-movement do for animals. A secondary perfection is an act necessitated by the nature of the species or genus, such as cutting for the sword and touching for animal. The soul is a primary perfection of a natural body capable of performing the secondary perfections necessitated by this primary perfection. Together with its body, the soul constitutes a material substance. This substance can be the subject of plant, animal or human life. The body is, therefore, an essential element in the definition of the soul. Noted that, ‘soul’sometimes used to refer to the rational part of the soul when it separates from the body and when it was attached with the body of a new born.
The plant soul is the power human beings and other animals share with plants. If the body with a soul is an animal, the soul develops into the animal soul, which is a primary perfection for an organic natural body inasmuch as this body has sensation and movement through will. While this soul includes the plant soul, it has also a sensitive power and a locomotive one. The sensitive power has both external and internal senses. The external senses are, in priority of existence, touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight. The first three are said to be necessary for survival and the last two for well being. In Talkhis kitab an-nafs (Commentary on Aristotle’s On the Soul), ibn Rushd asserts that the five external senses may be in potentiality, as in infancy and sleep, or in actuality, as in daily seeing or hearing. He also argues that there cannot be any external sense other than these five because there would be no function for it, since there is no external sensation other than the objects of the five senses mentioned above.
And for internal senses, it is generaly considered that they are 3 in number, common sense, imagination and memory. ibn Sina enumerates five internal senses: common sense, representational power, imagination, estimative power and memory, whereas, the representational and estimative powers, others allocate it to the imagination. The common sense is an internal power in which all the objects of the external senses are collected. Contrary to the external senses, which can grasp only one type of sensation, as sight grasps light and hearing grasps sound, the common sense can grasp all external sensations, such as that honey is of such and such a colour, texture and smell. The representational power preserves the sensations of the common sense even after sensible things disappear. The imagination selects at will to combine some of the objects of the representational power with each other and to separate the rest. It makes its judgment about external things, but in the absence of these things. That is why it functions best when the external senses, which represent external things, are not at work, as in sleep.
ibn Rushd points out that animals such as worms and flies that do not act except in the presence of sensible things are devoid of imagination. The imagination is called such inasmuch as it is an animal instrument; it is called cognitive inasmuch as it is a rational instrument. The estimative power grasps non-sensible notions of sensible things, such as the sheep’s notion that the wolf is to be avoided. This notion is about a sensible thing but is not grasped through the external senses, as is the colour or shape of a wolf. Memory preserves the notions of the estimative power. The imagination acts on the objects of memory in the same way it acts on those of the representational powers. Like the objects of the external senses, those of the internal senses are particular and material. The difference is that they can be experienced in the absence of external things and are to some degree abstracted from matter.
The locomotive power branches into that which causes movement and that which actually moves. The former, the desiderative power, subdivides into the appetitive and the irascible. The appetitive causes movement toward what is imagined to be necessary or beneficial in the pursuit of pleasure. The irascible causes avoidance of what is imagined to be harmful or an impediment in the pursuit of dominance. The power that actually moves uses the nerves to relax the muscles at the demands of the appetitive power or tighten them at the demands of the irascible one.
Both the non rational and rational part of human soul were attached with the first human Adam. The rational part, which is the intellects of the soul received the knowledge that God teaches Adam. Similarly it received the practical Knowledge of Evil which was done by Adam disobeying God. That is, the rational part of the soul receives both practical and the theoretical intellects. Quran says-
And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it, And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness, -[91:7-8]
Before sending Adam to the earth, the rational parts of his children, which has already the knowledge of God and Evil, taken out from his back.
This rational part, ie. the intellects of the soul, when it attached to the body at the time of birth, it began to store very detailed knowledge of the body that continued upto the death. All the stored information is in a codic form of the original light, signal and energy.
The Practical Intellect seeks knowledge in order to act in accordance with the good in its individual body, its family and its state. It must, therefore, know the principles for properly managing the body, the family and the state, that is, ethics, home management and politics. The practical intellect is the rational soul turning its face downward. The function of the theoretical intellect is to know just for the sake of having the universals (the realities or natures of things). Some of these natures, such as God and the intellect, cannot attach to movement; knowledge of them is metaphysics. Other natures, such as unity, can attach to movement but do not; knowledge of them is mathematics. Still other natures, such as humanity and squareness, can attach to movement either in reality and thought, such as humanity, or in reality but not in thought, such as squareness. Knowledge of these is physics.
The theoretical intellect is the rational soul with its face upward. The practical intellect looks up to the theoretical one and moves its body accordingly. In this, the practical intellect is similar to :the celestial soul that looks up to the intellect of its sphere and moves its sphere accordingly. Thus, like .the celestial soul, the practical intellect is the link between intellect as such and matter. al-Kindi’s divided the theoretical intellect into the following category-
i). The material intellect (al-‘aql al-hayulant): The material intellect is a blank slate with the potentiality for grasping the intelligible forms or universals. ibn Sina points out that it is referred to as material, not because it is actually material but because it resembles matter in accepting the form.
ii). The habitual intellect (al-‘agl bil-malaka): The habitual intellect grasps the universals, as one acquires the skill to write; in other words, this intellect has the ability to use the universals but does not always do so.
iii). The actual intellect (al-‘aql bi’!-fi’b): The actual intellect grasps the universals in actuality and is always ready to use them.
iv). The acquired intellect’ (al-‘aql al-mustafad): The general view of the acquired intellect is that it is the highest human state, the point of contact with the divine, the agent intellect (the intelligence of the moon, the lowest celestial intellect), which makes it possible for the theoretical intellect to acquire the universals in the purest form.
How a soul came to existence from the unseen to this material world and then to the specific body? or in reverse, how the soul separated from the body and return to its destination that is pre defined? According to some Philosophers, the Rational part of the Soul comes into existence as a leaf of the Tree of Life (Lote Tree) which is in the abode of angels, before the new born. Angels (Gabriel, Micheal with other 4 angels [for guide and take care of the baby) brought that soul to the new born; And when the baby takes his first breath, the rational part with that breath attached to the non rational part of the body, just as a ship anchored into a Jetty. Understanding this soul Journey, we cite an example as in the case of a protein molecule-
Each cell is a factory that produces molecules, that have to be delivered to other places inside the cell, or exported out of the cell, at exactly the right moment. Bubble-like vesicles, surrounded by membranes, shuttle the cargo between organelles and piled up in certain parts of the cell to release their cargo to the outside. A set of genes that control vesicle traffic. When a chemical signal called neurotransmitter that sent from the nerve cell, reached the surface of the cell, it signals protein machinery to deliver the cargo. Then protein machinery instruct vesicles to release their cargo with precision.The vesicle then fuse with their targets and transfer the cargo outside. The neurotransmitter takeover the cargo that released outside and transport it through the blood and delivered in the right place in the right moment.
Similarly when a baby going to born, his soul from his abode released and reached to a particular place ie. something like a wormhole of the border between unseen and material world guided by angels. The soul released in the material world and received by the angel for guiding and protection brought the soul to the right place, to the right body in the right time and the soul enter the body with the first breath of the baby. [But, H. W. Robinson argues that it is not a spiritual entity that enters the body at birth and leaves it at death but a principle of life that animates the body]
The process of taking a soul from a body, Azrael told Solomon "As often as a believer dies, Gabriel attends me, and wraps his soul in a green silken sheet, and then breathes it into a green bird, which feeds in Paradise until the day of the resurrection. But the soul of the sinner I take alone, and having wrapped it in a coarse, pitch-covered woolen cloth, carry it to the gates of hell, where it wanders among abominable vapors until the last day."
When the angel of death, Azrael, separate the rational part of the soul from the body and then brought it back to God in his custody. He then with God's permission stored it to Illiyin or Sijjin according to the deeds of the dead in his lifetime.
After death, the souls separated from the body taken by the angel of death and preserved in illiyin or sijjin. If the soul is righteous, when it will taken, the angel will say-, "O reassured soul, Come back thou to thy Lord,- well pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him!"-[Qur'an 89:27-28] and his records (Amalnama) then preserved in illiyin, verily the record of the Righteous is (preserved) in 'Illiyin.-[Qur'an 83:18-19] and when the wrong-doers reach the pangs of death and the angels stretch their hands out (saying): Deliver up your souls. This day ye are awarded doom of degradation for that ye spake concerning Allah other than the truth, and used to scorn His portents.-[Qur'an 6:93] his recodrs preserved in sijjin. Surely the record of the wicked is (preserved) in Sijjin.-[Qur'an 83:7-8]
The records of a person preserved in illiyin or sijjin according to the deeds of the person, but his souls to be preserved there too, not mentioned by the Quran. Though ibn Kathir says- Sijjin is "a place to go back and stay bad people", and Illiyin is "back where good people". Sijjin is the seventh of the earth, in which there is the spirit of the infidels', then Illiyin is seventh heaven topped with the spirit of the believers'.-[Tafsir Ibn Kathir]
ibn Sina, who believed that the rational soul is the essence of the non rational soul. ibn Rushd, believed that the soul (non rational and rational is originally not separated], ie. the whole human soul comes into existence. He argues that since the rational soul grasps the universals from particular sensibles, and since such sensibles are material and have a temporal beginning, this soul must also be material and must have a temporal beginning. Those who attribute non-materiality to the essence of the rational soul, such as al Kindi and ibn Sina, assert that this soul pre-exists the body according to Qur'an. It says-
"And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants .."-[7:172]
Objective of the soul:
al-Farabi asserts that even though the soul is of different parts, it is a unity with all its parts working for one final end, happiness. While the plant soul, for example, serves a specific function, it also serves the powers that are higher than it in rank, the animal powers. Without nourishment, growth and reproduction, the animal powers cannot perform their necessary functions. Similarly, while the function of the animal powers is to have sensation and movement, by performing this function they also promote the functions of the powers above them, the rational ones. The operations of the animal powers, especially those of the senses, are particularly important for the attainment of the final end.
The external senses strip the forms from material objects and convey them to the internal senses. The more they are transferred internally, the less mixed with matter do they become. Since the innermost sense they reach is the imagination, they are there in their purest material existence The role of the objects of the imagination is not always clearly defined in Islamic philosophy. Occasionally it is said by somebody like ibn Sina to be one of preparation for the theoretical intellect to receive the universals from the agent intellect. At other times ibn Sina, like other Aristotelians such as ibn Rushd, takes these objects to be the ingredients out of which the universals are made after the last process of purification. It seems, however, that in either case the light of the agent intellect is needed to complete the process. In the former case, this light gives the intelligible forms to the theoretical intellect when this intellect is prepared. In the latter case, it sheds itself on the objects of the imagination, which are then reflected on the theoretical intellect without their matter. Since the theoretical intellect is in its first stages in potentiality, it cannot act on the objects of the imagination directly; hence the need for the agent intellect, which is pure actuality. The role of the practical intellect in all this is to put order into the body. This sets free the theoretical intellect from preoccupation with the body and helps the powers whose function is necessary for theoretical knowledge to function unhampered.
Some philosophers holds the view that the acquired intellect is one with its objects, for they thought the knower and the known are one. This means that the highest human state is one in which unity with the universals or the eternal aspects of the universe is reached. This state is described as happiness because in it eternity, an aspect of the objects of the acquired. intellect, is attained. For example Zarathustra, Buddha, or some sufi as Anal Haq. But others consider that the knower, actually not one, it is the combination of non rational and rational soul.
Eternity/Immortality of ths soul:
There is a thing which we call good and another which we call evil. You will be agree with me in thinking that the corrupting and destroying element is the evil, and the saving and improving element the good. And we will admit that everything has a good and also an evil; as ophthalmia is the evil of the eyes and disease of the whole body; as mildew is of corn, and rot of timber, or rust of copper and iron: in everything, or in almost everything, there is an inherent evil and disease.
And anything which is infected by any of these evils is made evil, and at last wholly dissolves and dies. The vice and evil which is inherent in each is the destruction of each; and if this does not destroy them there is nothing else that will; for good certainly will not destroy them, nor again, that which is neither good nor evil. If, then, we find any nature which having this inherent corruption cannot be dissolved or destroyed, we may be certain that of such a nature there is no destruction.
In case of Soul, there are evils and those are unrighteousness, intemperance, cowardice, ignorance. But does any of these dissolve or destroy her? -and here we do not fall into the error of supposing that the unjust and foolish man, when he is detected, perishes through his own injustice, which is an evil of the soul.
Taking in consideration the analogy of the body, the evil of the body is a disease which wastes and reduces and annihilates the body; and all the things of which we were just now speaking come to annihilation through their own corruption attaching to them and inhering in them and so destroying them.
Now, we will consider the soul in like manner. We can say, the injustice or other evil which exists in the soul can’t waste and consume her. They can’t by attaching to the soul and inhering in her at last bring her to death and so separate her from the body.
And yet, it is unreasonable to suppose that anything can perish from without through affection of external evil which could not be destroyed from within by a corruption of its own.
Again Consider, that even the badness of food, whether staleness, decomposition, or any other bad quality, when confined to the actual food, is not supposed to destroy the body; although, if the badness of food communicates corruption to the body, then we should say that the body has been destroyed by a corruption of itself, which is disease, brought on by this; but that the body, being one thing, can be destroyed by the badness of food, which is another, and which does not engender any natural infection -this we shall absolutely deny. And, on the same principle, unless some bodily evil can produce an evil of the soul, we must not suppose that the soul, which is one thing, can be dissolved by any merely external evil which belongs to another.
Either then, let us refute this conclusion, or, while it remains unrefuted, let us never say that fever, or any other disease, or the knife put to the throat, or even the cutting up of the whole body into the minutest pieces, can destroy the soul, until she herself is proved to become more unholy or unrighteous in consequence of these things being done to the body; but that the soul, or anything else if not destroyed by an internal evil, can be destroyed by an external one, is not to be affirmed by any man.
And surely, no one will ever prove that the souls of men become more unjust in consequence of death. But if someone who would rather not admit the immortality of the soul boldly denies this, and says that the dying do really become more evil and unrighteous, then, if the speaker is right, I suppose that injustice, like disease, must be assumed to be fatal to the unjust, and that those who take this disorder die by the natural inherent power of destruction which evil has, and which kills them sooner or later, but in quite another way from that in which, at present, the wicked receive death at the hands of others as the penalty of their deeds.
And in that case injustice, if fatal to the unjust, will not be so very terrible to him, for he will be delivered from evil. But I rather suspect the opposite to be the truth, and that injustice which, if it have the power, will murder others, keeps the murderer alive --aye, and well awake too; so far removed is her dwelling-place from being a house of death.
So, if the inherent natural vice or evil of the soul is unable to kill or destroy her, hardly will that which is appointed to be the destruction of some other body, destroy a soul or anything else except that of which it was appointed to be the destruction.
But the soul which cannot be destroyed by an evil, whether inherent or external, must exist for ever, and if existing forever, must be immortal.
That is the conclusion, and, if a true conclusion, then the souls must always be the same, for if none be destroyed they will not diminish in number. Neither will they increase, for the increase of the immortal natures must come from something mortal, and all things would thus end in immortality.
What a person does is recorded and will be judged at the final court of God. They will either go to heaven or hell, depending on whether or not they did well in the test that was given to them in this world by Allah. Thus after Qiyamah, when Angel Israfil blows the Triumph receiving the order of God, the souls from its abode (Illiyin and Sijjin) blown out and come down to earth, the sound wave of the triumph broke the code, and the emitted light wave and energy signal will create an organic natural body of its highest perfection for the soul to attached the body permanently.The rational part of the soul may be compared as a virtual computer with a bugless operating system that stored data and information of the bodily computer it attached in such a way that it can produced the bodily computer with the same configuration but with a highest performance with all of its stored information, if the bodily computer vanishes anyway.[Book of Chamois, by Husayn ibn Mahmud]
Actually, we have a little knowledge of Soul. And the Qur'an mentions this as an answer, when prophet asked about the soul:
And they ask you, about the soul. Say, "The soul (Rûh) is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little." - [Qur'an 17:85]
It is Allah that takes the souls at death: and those that die not (He takes their souls) during their sleep: then those on whom He has passed the Decree of death He keeps back (their souls from returning to their bodies); but the rest He sends (their souls back to their bodies) for a term appointed. Verily in this are Signs for those who contemplate. -[Qur'an 39:42]
Not Yet Revised.
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