Is Spirit a part of Allah?

Praise be to Allah,


The nature and essence of the soul (nafs) have been a matter of dispute amongst scholars. Some hold that it is a non-essential characteristic’ of the physical body while some hold that it is an independent essence separate from the body. Yet others say that it is a part of Allah.


The most used Arabic terms for the human spirit or soul are ‘rooh and nafs’. The Arabs used the word Rooh’ to refer to breath or wind, while nafs were used to refer to the self or person. In the Qur’an, both terms are used about the human soul. Both these terms nafs (soul) and rooh (spirit) are also used to refer to several different things. We find nafs referring to blood, evil eye, and self[i]. It is also used about Angel Gabriel, as in the verse:


“The trustworthy angel (rooh descended with it [i.e., the Qur’an].” [Translation Qur’an, 26:193]


However, the term nafs is more frequently used to refer to the spirit when it is attached to the body, but when it is separate from the body, the term rooh is usually used.


The most accurate view regarding the nafs and the rooh is as stated by Ibn al-Qayyim[ii] and also affirmed by Ibn Abul-Izz al-Hanafi in his commentary on al: Aqidat at-Tahwiyyah. Both the noble scholars have proved their position from the Quran, sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) as well as on sound logic and rational thought. They stated man consists of a spirit and a body together. The spirit is a distinct entity that differs from the physical body.


Some Sabaean philosophers and a group of heretical Sufis, theologians, and traditionists claim that the soul is eternal or has a divine origin. They argue based on the verse,


“Say the spirit (rooh) is a command of my Lord” (Quran translation 17:85).


Another verse they quote,


‘Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, was (no more than) a Messenger of God, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit (proceeding) from Him’ (4:171).


However, their understanding is incorrect as we shall see in sha Allah. His statement: from Him: That is, a spirit which started from Allah, and not a part of Allah as the Christians claim. You should note that what Allah linked to Himself are of three categories:


One. Separate entities: their linkage to Him concerning the entire creation such as His saying:


“And He has subjected to you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth; all this is from Him.’” (Jaathiyah: 13)


It may also be concerning specific sense due to its (i.e. the creature’s) honor; such as Allah saying:


“And clean up my house for those who circumambulate it” (Baqarah: 125) and His saying:


“Leave alone the she-camel of Allah” (Ash-Shams: 13).


Two: When a specific creature is linked to Allah; for example, His saying:


“…and a spirit from Him” (An-Nisaa: 171).


The link of the spirit to Allah is from the aspects of linking a creature to the Creator by way of honoring it (i.e. the creature). The spirit that existed in Eesaa (Peace be on him) is an entity separate from Allah. This category is also connected to the creatures.


Three: When it is an attribute that is not linked to any specific creature. For example, Allah says:


“I have chosen thee above the people of thy time by My Messages and by My Word.” (Al-A’raaf, 144)


Here, the ‘Message’ and ‘Word’ are linked to Allah from the aspects of connecting an adjective to its noun. So whenever Allah links an attribute to Himself, the attribute cannot be a creature.


Therefore, it becomes clear that the categories (of what Allah links to Himself) are three, two of which are (connected to the) creatures and the one that is not related to creatures. So, entities and things that are connected to them are created[iii].


Ibn Taymiyah further clarifies[iv]:


As for the verse, “qul ar-rooh min amr rabbi” (17:85), some of the scholars say that rooh here refers to the angel and not the human soul as in the following verses:


“The Day that the rooh, the spirit, and the angels will stand forth in ranks” (78:38); and “The angels and the spirit (ar-rooh) ascend unto Him” (70:4) and, “Therein come down the angels and the spirit by God’s permission” (97:4). Both views mean that the soul is created.


First, amr in the Qur’an has been used sometimes as an infinitive and sometimes as an object in the sense of something commanded, as we have in verses such as, “God’s amr comes to pass, seek not then to hasten it” (16:1); and, “The amr of God is a decree determined” (33:38).


What is true of amr is also true of other words such Khalq (creation), qudrah (power), raljmah (mercy), kalimah (word). When it is said that rooh is a kind of God’s amr or a part of God’s amr, and so on, it is clear that it is a particular amr of God in the sense of a thing commanded, rather than in the sense of the infinitive, to command.


Second, the word ‘min’ also refers to the class a thing belonging to or is made of, as when we say min ljadid ‘of iron’. Sometimes it refers to a beginning, as when we say kharajta min Makkah, ‘I went out from Makkah’. Hence the words, “qul ar-rooh min amr rabbi” do not necessarily mean that rooh is a kind of amr, command. It may suggest the beginning of amr, that is, the source from which it proceeds or arises”.


The Arabic word ‘min’ means ‘from’ in English has many uses in the Qur’an. Things only proceed from Him. For example, “He has subjected to you, as from Him (jami ‘an min ha), all that is in the heavens and the earth” (45:13); “And you have no good thing but is from (min) God” (16:53); and, “Whatever good happens to you is from (min) God” (4:79).


Proof of soul is a creation of Allah from the sunnah


Umm Salamah reported: “Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) entered upon Abu Salamah [i.e., his corpse], whose eyes were wide open. The Prophet (PBUH) closed the lids and then said, ‘When the rob (spirit) is taken out, the eyesight follows it [i.e., watches it ascend].’[v]


This hadith proves that a soul is indeed a form(creation) in two ways. First, something must have a form to be grasped and extracted. And second, eyes can only visualize something that has a form[vi].


In another narration the Prophet (PBUH) described how the believer’s soul comes out of the body:


“The Angel of Death comes to the [dying] believer, sits at his head and says, ‘0 you good soul, come out and receive your Lord’s forgiveness and pleasure.’ Then the soul flows out effortlessly just as water flows from the mouth of a waterskin.[vii]


We know from the same hadith that as the soul while being carried up through the skies, the angels ask, “Who is this?” This question affirms that the soul is a separate existence from the body and creation of Allah.


The following hadith also affirms that the soul separates from the body:


Abe Hurairah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said.’ “When the soul of the believer comes out (of its body), two angels receive it and rise with it towards the heavens, whereupon the inhabitants of the heavens say, A good soul has come from the earth. Allah has blessed you and the body which you used to occupy.

The Arabic expression “Kunti ta` murinah” (“you used to occupy”) indicates that the soul existed and possessed the whole of the body. The soul’s living within the body and the departure from it affirms that the soul has its entity.


Allah knows Best




[ii] See his famous treatise dealing with the circumstances of the soul of the living and the dead, Kitab al-Ruh, pp. 249-250

Quoted in Mysteries of the Soul Expounded, Abu Bilal Mustafa al-Kanadi page 13.

[iii] KITAB AT-TAWHEED Volume 1, Shaikh, Muhammad bin Salih Al-‘Uthaimeen

Translated by: Abu Naasir Ibrahim Abdur-Rauf, Page 82

[iv] Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam, Selected writings of Ibn Taymiyyah on Islamic Faith, Life and society, Compiled and translated by Abdul Haqq Ansaari 334-336

[v] Reference : Sahih Muslim 920a

[vi] Mysteries of the Soul Expounded, Abu Bilal Mustafa al-Kanadi page 17

[vii] Mishkat al-Masabih 1630


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