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SoRoUsH

Body & Soul

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سلام, 

Why do most Muslims believe that we are made of physical bodies and immaterial souls? I cannot find the source of this dualism in our books. I can see it in Christianity, Platonism, Neo-platonism, Manicheanism, and other religions and philosophies, but I cannot find it in our own religion. 

Why do we believe this? 

I know that we (Adam) was formed after God breathed His Spirit (روح) in him, but روح is not the "soul" that we think of when we claim we're made of body and soul. 

So, again why do we think we're made of body and soul? Is our view similar to that of Aristotle's Hylomorphism?

Do you know of any acceptable hadiths (with acceptable isnad) that clearly indicate we're composed of a body and a soul? 

Thank you! 

Edited by SoRoUsH

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Imagine the pleasant smell of flower. Flower did possess the body before the maturity level (where it start giving that pleasant smell) but the pleasant smell was not in it. Upon a miturity level it start giving that pleasant smell.

We can capture & preserve its pleasant smell even though its body become crushed.

Your question reminded me philosophical work of Mulla Sadra known as "harkat e jouhariyah" (substantial motion). You can read it at following link:

https://www.al-islam.org/history-muslim-philosophy-volume-2-book-4/chapter-48-sadr-al-din-shirazi#life-and-works

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3 minutes ago, Salsabeel said:

Imagine the pleasant smell of flower. Flower did possess the body before the maturity level (where it start giving that pleasant smell) but the pleasant smell was not in it. Upon a miturity level it start giving that pleasant smell.

We can capture & preserve its pleasant smell even though its body become crushed.

Your question reminded me philosophical work of Mulla Sadra known as "harkat e jouhariyah" (substantial motion). You can read it at following link:

https://www.al-islam.org/history-muslim-philosophy-volume-2-book-4/chapter-48-sadr-al-din-shirazi#life-and-works

Thank you. Inshallah, I'll get to read Mulla Sadra at some point.

Now, regarding your analogy, it's problematic. It portrays the soul, assuming the smell of the flower is compared with the soul, as an entity emerging, at a later point in time, from the body, due to body's maturation. This implies that either [1] the soul didn't initially exist in the body, which means the existence of the body precedes the existence of the soul, OR [2] the soul doesn't function or has no function until the body is mature enough to permit it to function. This puts the function of the body more important than the function of the soul, since if the body didn't mature properly, then there wouldn't be a soul or a functioning soul.

However, it is commonly believed that the function of the soul directs the development of the body and has a more significant role in human nature than the body. Another common belief is that the soul and the body develop in parallel, with both influencing the development of the other.

The main problem with these common beliefs is that they are not founded in the traditions of Ahlul Bayt (as). In other words, these common beliefs originate from the works of Neo-platonists or early Christians, and are based on older, most likely pagan beliefs.

We need to anchor these beliefs in the traditions of Ahlul Bayt (as). We need to substantiate them first, before being justified in believing them. And I don't see, at the moment, how we're justified in holding such wide-spread beliefs. I haven't seen any acceptable traditions from the Ahlul Bayt (as) that establish the truth of a body-soul dualism.

 

 

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2 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

However, it is commonly believed that the function of the soul directs the development of the body and has a more significant role in human nature than the body. Another common belief is that the soul and the body develop in parallel, with both influencing the development of the other.

Lets see few verses of Quran:

Surah Yusuf, Verse 53:
وَمَا أُبَرِّئُ نَفْسِي إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلَّا مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّي إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

And I do not declare myself free, most surely (man's) self is wont to command (him to do) evil, except such as my Lord has had mercy on, surely my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful.
(English - Shakir)

Surah Al-Fajr, Verse 27:
يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ

O soul that art at rest!
(English - Shakir)

Now are the above two states of soul exist in the body from the very beginning? There is a third form also, "the self accusing soul".

Surah Al-Qiyama, Verse 2:
وَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالنَّفْسِ اللَّوَّامَةِ

Nay! I swear by the self-accusing soul.
(English - Shakir)

If it exist, it was inactive because the neonate does not have any of the above three states of soul.

You can also see the developmetal stages of human fetus. It does not have soul in it from the beginning. Upon maturity, soul begins to exist. Here you can apply the analogy of flower & its smell.

Soul & body develop in parallel but soul needs a body. And thats what the fertilized egg or fetus do i.e., construct the body for the soul where you have the heart, the eyes & the ears (hawas al khamsa). Our souls also possess these tools and they go with us in the here-after:

Surah Ash-Shuara, Verse 89:
إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

Except him who comes to Allah with a heart free (from evil).
(English - Shakir)

Surah Al-Isra, Verse 72:
وَمَن كَانَ فِي هَٰذِهِ أَعْمَىٰ فَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ أَعْمَىٰ وَأَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا

And whoever is blind in this, he shall (also) be blind in the hereafter; and more erring from the way.
(English - Shakir)

Edited by Salsabeel

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Matter has a quality of undergo changes and upgradation and we can easily observe it.  From a clay, a plant aroses and animal eat that plant and some how we eat that animal and that animal became part of our body. From that we produce semen and then after a process semen undergo mix with egg to form a baby , a whole new organism, a special organism which has now intellect. So this is the journey from a clay to an intellectual being. So matter always finds its path to attain perfection and Human being is matter's final perfection because of intellect . So we can think, make form and pictures in our mind  so this proves that now we are not just matter but we have now awake one new reality and that is soul which is immaterial. A soul is material by birth but it becomes immaterial due to substantial motion in matter.

Edited by aqeelfair4u

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6 minutes ago, aqeelfair4u said:

A soul is material by birth but it becomes immaterial due to substantial motion in matter.

Question: Does the soul present in fertilized egg? If not, then soul itself is a result of substantial motion.

Edited by Salsabeel

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6 hours ago, Salsabeel said:

Now are the above two states of soul exist in the body from the very beginning? There is a third form also, "the self accusing soul".

 

This is an important question: Why do you take the word "Nafs" to mean "Soul"? This is important because "Nafs" could be and has also been translated as "Self." "Soul" and "self" are two different words with different denotations and connotations. "Self" does not necessarily imply "soul." So, how do you justify translating "Nafs" as "Soul"? How have the Ahlul Bayt (as) defined/described "Nafs"? 

With this in mind, we can't take those verses that you presented, or any verse with the word "Nafs" to imply the existence of "soul." We first, through the traditions of Ahlul Bayt (as), need to ascertain that the description of "Nafs" matches our understanding of "Soul." 

6 hours ago, Salsabeel said:

You can also see the developmetal stages of human fetus. It does not have soul in it from the beginning. Upon maturity, soul begins to exist. Here you can apply the analogy of flower & its smell.

  1. How do you know this? (This is the most important question here. Do you know this because of Ahlul Bayt's traditions?)
  2. How does the soul come to be?
    • Does the body manufacture the soul? Is the soul a product of the body?
  3. Is the soul inserted in the body at a later stage from outside? 
  4. If the soul begins to exist at a later stage, then surely, we cannot be our souls, since we existed before our soul came to be. (A common belief is that we are our souls, not our bodies.) 
6 hours ago, Salsabeel said:

Soul & body develop in parallel but soul needs a body. And thats what the fertilized egg or fetus do i.e., construct the body for the soul where you have the heart, the eyes & the ears (hawas al khamsa). Our souls also possess these tools and they go with us in the here-after:

  1. Without a soul, how would the fetus or fertilized egg know how to develop the body? 
  2. So, our body, mechanically produces certain body parts, after which the soul comes into existence? 
  3. As I asked above, does the body produce the soul, too? 
  4. Or does the soul know when to enter? If so, how? (Keep in mind, soul is not Ruh/spirit)
  5. And most importantly, how do you know all these? From Ahlul Bayt (as)?

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, aqeelfair4u said:

matter always finds its path to attain perfection and Human being is matter's final perfection because of intellect

You're making multiple big claims. How do you know all these? 

How does matter do all these things? Is matter intelligent? Is there soul in the matter? 

When you say, "because of intellect," what do you mean exactly? Aql? Does matter have aql?

 

6 hours ago, aqeelfair4u said:

A soul is material by birth but it becomes immaterial due to substantial motion in matter.

A material soul? Where is it located? 

What is "substantial motion"? 

 

Do the Ahlul Bayt (as) state or support any of the claims you made? 

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6 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

This is an important question:  Why do you take the word "Nafs" to mean "Soul"? This is important because "Nafs" could be and has also been translated as "Self." "Soul" and "self" are two different words with different denotations and connotations. "Self" does not necessarily imply "soul." So,  how do you justify translating "Nafs" as "Soul"? How have the Ahlul Bayt (as) defined/described "Nafs"? 

With this in mind, we can't take those verses that you presented, or any verse with the word "Nafs" to imply the existence of "soul." We first, through the traditions of Ahlul Bayt (as), need to ascertain that the description of "Nafs" matches our understanding of "Soul." 

1) Let us first clear our understanding of three terms:

a) Body, which is our material/physical body
b) Spirit, which is the "Amr-e-Rabbi" and we only have very little knowledge about it. 
c) Soul, which is the Nafs.

I agree with you that nafs could be translated as "self" or "inner-self". But what is the difference between self & soul? I myself writing these lines by using my body, I am something which drives the body and the body is bound to obey my commands. So I don't see any difference between self & soul. Self is the thing which drives the body, which possess the command, what is it if it is not the soul? Do we possess this capacity to control our body when we open our eyes in this world? We have no control on our body & we start to gain that control as times passes. Lets go further back, to the divided state where we are divided in the bodies of our father & mother. Our physical/material body began to exist afterwards, when sperm fertilized ovum and start creating a house for our souls. The first thing it creates is the thickly congealed blood clot (zygote) then the other developmental stages & completion of shape & form etc. 

On the subject of the creation of the foetus, it is narrated from the Prophet (S): “The seed in the womb of the mother (takes) 40 days to become a clot, then after 40 days it becomes a lump of flesh (foetus); when the child is 4 months old, by the command of Allāh سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى, 2 Angels give the foetus a spirit (rūĥ) and specify the sustenance (Rizq), period of living, deeds (A°māl), prosperity and adversity of the child.” (Tafsir Gāzar, vol. 6, pg. 235)

Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) also described the process of creation as follows: “After the completion of the materials of the body, Allāh سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى sends two Angels who have the duty of the creation of the child, and by the permission of Allāh سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى, they create the ears and eyes and all the inner and outer organs (limbs) of the body.” (Biĥār al-Anwār, vol. 6, pg. 334)

Imām Zain al-°Abidīn (as) in his Du°ā after Ŝalāt al-Lail in Saĥīfah Sajjādiya mentions this amazing period of the foetus and of breastfeeding. 

O God, You caused me to descend as mean water from loins of narrow bones and tight passages into a constricted womb which You hadst covered with veils; You turned me about from state to state until You took me to the completion of the form and fixed within me the bodily parts, as You hast described in Your Book: a drop, then a clot, then a tissue, then bones, then You garmented the bones with flesh, then You produced me as another creature  as You willed.

Then, when I needed Your provision, and could not do without the aid of Your bounty, Thou appointed for me a nourishment from the bounty of the food and drink which You bestowed upon Your handmaid in whose belly You gavest me to rest and in the lodging of whose womb You deposited me. 

Hadst You entrusted me in those states, my Lord, to my own force or driven me to have recourse to my own strength, force would have been removed from me and strength taken far away. So You fed me through Your bounty with the food of the Good, the Gentle; You hast done that for me in graciousness toward me up to this my present point. I do not lack Your goodness, nor does Your benefaction keep me waiting. Yet with all that, my trust has not become firm enough that I might free myself for that which is more favoured by You.”

Lets now see how Sheikh Sadooq describes it: 
 

"Our belief regarding souls (nafs, plural nufus) is that they are the spirits (ruh, plural arwah) by which life (hayat) is maintained, and they were the first of created things. This follows from the saying of the Prophet, the blessings of Allah be upon him: The first things which Allah created out of nothing (abda'a) were the blessed and pure souls (al-muqaddasa, al-mutahhara) and compelled them to affirm His unity.Thereafter He created (the rest of creation).

And concerning the souls, we believe that they were created for eternal existence (baqa'), and not for extinction (fana'). For the Prophet has said: You were not created for extinction, but for eternal existence and you will only be transferred from one abode to another. Verily the souls are strangers in the earth and imprisoned in the bodies."

Note that we have multiple narrations about the first creation, a hadith mentions the "Noor" of Prophet as first creation while the above mentions the souls. And this is where I find difficult to understand ahadith and it is more difficult for us to find which hadith is sahih which is daeef. One hadith mentions "Mashi'a" as the first creation. 

Time to see what Mulla Sadra says about the soul: 

Quote

The soul (nafs), according to Mulla Sadra, is a single reality which first appears as the body (jism) and then through substantial motion and an inner transformation becomes the vegetative soul, then the animal soul, and finally the human soul. This development occurs from within the substance of the original body without there being any effusion from the heavenly souls or the active intellect.56 The substance of the human sperm is at first potentially a plant, and then as it grows in the womb it becomes actually a plant and potentially an animal. At birth, it is actually an animal and potentially human, and finally at the age of adolescence it is actually human potential either an angel or a disciple of the devil.57

All these stages lie hidden within the first substance or germ which through substantial motion traverses the degrees of being until it becomes completely divorced from all matter and potentiality and enjoys immortality in the world of pure intelligences.58 The soul is, therefore, brought into being with the body but it has spiritual subsistence independent of the body.59 Or, to be more precise, the soul at the beginning “is” the body which through inner transformation passes through various stages until it becomes absolutely free from matter and change.

The soul in each stage of its journey acquires a new faculty or set of faculties. As a mineral it has the faculty of preserving its form and as a plant, the faculties of feeding, growth, and the transformation of foreign substances into its own form. As an animal the faculties of motion and various forms of desire are acquired, and as a higher animal it develops in addition to the external senses the inner faculties of memory and imagination.60 Finally, in man the five inner faculties: sensus communis (hiss al-mushtarik) which perceives forms, apprehension (wahm) which perceives meanings, fantasy (khayal) which preserves forms, memory (dhakirah) which preserves meanings and the double faculty of imagination (mutakhayyilah), and thought (mutafakkirah) which in the first case governs the sensible and in the second the intelligible domains, are also acquired.61

Throughout its development it is the same single soul which in one case appears as sight, in another as memory, and in yet another as desire. The faculties are not something added to the soul but it is the soul itself, or, in a more esoteric sense, being itself which appears in various forms in each case.62 The soul passes through this stream of becoming – this world – and the parts of its course are marked by the archetypes or Platonic ideas that distinguish one species from another. It wears a new dress and a new guise at each point of the stream but the traveller is throughout one and the same

 

7 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:
  • How do you know this? (This is the most important question here. Do you know this because of Ahlul Bayt's traditions?)
  • How does the soul come to be?
    • Does the body manufacture the soul? Is the soul a product of the body?
  • Is the soul inserted in the body at a later stage from outside? 
  • If the soul begins to exist at a later stage, then surely, we cannot be our souls, since we existed before our soul came to be. (A common belief is that we are our souls, not our bodies.) 

1. There is a verse which uses the word "Ruh" and there is a famous hadith which mentions the nafs. I am quoting here both and ask you to try to share with me your understanding: 

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

We cannot use same english word for Ruh & Nafs. Both of them cannot be translated as Soul. 
Ruh is the "Amr" as mentioned in the above verse. Everything which exist, exists because of Amr-e-Rabbi, so in principle everything must have the Ruh in it or associated with it. And the verse also mentions that we have very limited knowledge about the Ruh we cannot comprehend it, we cannot attain "ma'arfah" of Ruh. 

It is not the case with the Nafs, we can attain the ma'arfah of nafs as a famous hadith of Amir-ul-Mo'mineen mentions that "Man aa'rafa nafsah faqad aa'rah Rabbah".  

7 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

Without a soul, how would the fetus or fertilized egg know how to develop the body?

Are you thinking that upon fertilization of egg, soul suddenly popped into it? & start dictating the development of body? This is not the case. 
If it is the case, one may argue that how would the sperm cell know which ovum/egg to fertilize & how egg/ovum know which sperm cell to accept? Out of millions of sperm cells only few are able to get to the ovum/egg & fertilize it.
 

8 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

So, our body, mechanically produces certain body parts, after which the soul comes into existence? 

It is not a foreign element. The soul came into existence through & with the body or as Mullah Sadra explains soul appear first in the form of body. There is no duality in them, it is a single reality.

 

8 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

And most importantly, how do you know all these? From Ahlul Bayt (as)?

We can attain the "ma'arfah" of Nafs as per the famous hadith. This is not the case with the Ruh. 
And we can attain the "ma'arfah" of Allah (s.w.t) through our Nafs. 

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8 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

You're making multiple big claims. How do you know all these? 

How does matter do all these things? Is matter intelligent? Is there soul in the matter? 

When you say, "because of intellect," what do you mean exactly? Aql? Does matter have aql?

 

A material soul? Where is it located? 

What is "substantial motion"? 

 

Do the Ahlul Bayt (as) state or support any of the claims you made? 

matter has trans substantial motion and because of this the plant grows from the clay. animal eat that plant and that plant becomes the part of the animal. now human eat that animal and the animal became part of human being and then human semen mix with egg to form a new being with the help of substantial motion. it is very clear bro

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2 hours ago, aqeelfair4u said:

matter has trans substantial motion and because of this the plant grows from the clay. animal eat that plant and that plant becomes the part of the animal. now human eat that animal and the animal became part of human being and then human semen mix with egg to form a new being with the help of substantial motion. it is very clear bro

It's actually not clear at all. But my main concern is where did you learn this from? 

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Salam Soroush

Any account has to be consistent with the fact that we have a (1) material body that dies, and an (2) immaterial nature that persists (whatever you want to call this).  

(1) is known by experience - people die and their material bodies decompose

(2) is known via reason and scripture.

There are multiple accounts that are consistent with these 2 facts.  What do you believe the Ahlul Bayt taught?

Edited by .InshAllah.

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3 hours ago, .InshAllah. said:

Salam Soroush

Any account has to be consistent with the fact that we have a (1) material body that dies, and an (2) immaterial nature that persists (whatever you want to call this).  

(1) is known by experience - people die and their material bodies decompose

(2) is known via reason and scripture.

There are multiple accounts that are consistent with these 2 facts.  What do you believe the Ahlul Bayt taught?

 Salam brother, 

I don't know what the Ahlul Bayt (as) taught about the "soul", if anything at all, since I can't recall any acceptable tradition on this topic. 

I have read about روح and ارواح, but not "souls." You're correct in your claims about the need for something to survive death of the physical body. However, the possible options are more than one. Our consciousness could survive, assuming consciousness isn't dependent on the brain. Our روح can survive, assuming it doesn't need the body to function. روح is "spirit" not "soul." If our روح ‌‌ survives, then this would imply that it is our روح ‌‌ that gets punished or rewarded in Barzakh. 

A third option, which may be the closest to the concept of the soul is what some call our etheric, subtle, energy bodies. Following the death of our physical body, our energy body can survive. 

Which of the above options have the Ahlul Bayt (as)? The said options have different natures and implications. This is why it's important to know what the Ahlul Bayt (as) have taught. Needless to say, none of three possibilities match the conventional belief about the soul.

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8 hours ago, aqeelfair4u said:

Mulla Sadra works

So, not the Ahlul Bayt (as)? I only care for what the Ahlul Bayt (as) have said. 

If you think Mulla Sadra's claims are based on the tradtions of Ahlul Bayt (as), then I'd like to see those traditions. 

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