Ar-Rooh (the spirit/soul)
وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ
And they ask you concerning the Rooh
The human is a living entity composed of matter and Allah (swt) created Aadam (as) from Teen (clay). Allah Ta’Aalaa said:
إِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي خَالِقٌ بَشَرًا مِنْ طِينٍ (71) فَإِذَا سَوَّيْتُهُ وَنَفَخْتُ فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِي فَقَعُوا لَهُ سَاجِدِينَ
(So mention) when your Lord said to the Angels verily I am creating a human from clay. So when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of my Rooh, then fall down to him in prostration (Saad 71-72).
So man has questioned and asked about the essence of the Rooh and the Messenger of Allah (saw) was questioned about it, and so the Wahi came with an answer from the Lord of the worlds and all creation:
وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُمْ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
And they ask you concerning the Rooh. Say the Rooh is from the command of my Rabb (Lord) and you have not been given of the knowledge except a little (Al-Israa’ 85).
So the Rooh is the secret of life, a command from Allah (swt) which He placed within the human whilst attributing it to himself: ‘and breathed into him of my Rooh’ meaning a Rooh from or of my creation whilst not meaning a part from myself. This is because He (swt) says: ‘Say the Rooh is from the command of my Rabb’ meaning that it has been created by the command of Allah Ta’Aalaa.
The human being does not perceive the reality of this Rooh and this Rooh has remained since the time of Aadam (as) until this day and will continue until the last human being on the face of this earth. It passes from one human to another with the fertilisation that occurs between the male sperm and female egg. And then the new body begins its growth until it becomes a complete and full human after passing through a number of stages.
Allah (swt) said:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِنَ الْبَعْثِ فَإِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ مُضْغَةٍ مُخَلَّقَةٍ وَغَيْرِ مُخَلَّقَةٍ لِنُبَيِّنَ لَكُمْ وَنُقِرُّ فِي الْأَرْحَامِ مَا نَشَاءُ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى ثُمَّ نُخْرِجُكُمْ طِفْلًا ثُمَّ لِتَبْلُغُوا أَشُدَّكُمْ
O people, if you are in doubt in regards to the resurrection then (consider that) indeed We created you from earth (soil), then from a sperm drop, then from a clinging clot, and then from a lump of flesh, formed and unformed, that we make clear to you. And we settle in the wombs who We will until an appointed (fixed) term, then we bring you out as a child and then (we develop you) so that you may reach your maturity (adulthood) (Al-Hajj 5).
This is a matter that is perceived and sensed within all of mankind with the exception of the creation of ‘Iesaa (as) because Allah Ta’Aalaa breathed into him the Rooh without the process of fertilisation when Allah (swt) commanded for the Rooh to enter him directly.
Allah (swt) said:
إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَى عِنْدَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آَدَمَ خَلَقَهُ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ
Indeed the example of ‘Iesaa to Allah is like that of Aadam. He created him from Turaab (the earth), then said to him ‘Be’ and he was (Aali ‘Imraan 59).
This means that the Rooh was brought into being within him from nothing just as it was brought to exist within Aadam (as). And in respect to Maryam He (swt) said:
وَالَّتِي أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهَا مِنْ رُوحِنَا وَجَعَلْنَاهَا وَابْنَهَا آَيَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ
And the one who guarded her chastity, so We blew into her of Our Rooh, and We made her and her son a sign for the worlds (all creation) (Al-Anbiyaa’ 91).
And so Maryam (as) was chaste, she had not practised any indecency nor had she married and the Rooh did not transfer to her womb by the fertilisation of the male aspect to her egg. Rather Allah (swt) placed within her a Rooh by His command from nothing just as He Ta’Aalaa had placed a Rooh in the Teen (clay) from which He created Aadam (as).
So the Rooh is the secret of life. It is a command from Allah Ta’Aalaa to the matter that constitutes the human body so that this matter then has the disposition and susceptibility for growth (development), movement and to increase whilst the body loses these abilities when the Rooh is removed from it.
As for the Rooh which the Westerners or the Greeks who preceded them spoke of, then they claimed that it was a part of the human being’s make-up when they stated that the human is composed of both material and Rooh (spirit) and that this Rooh represents a part from Allah’s essence. They claimed that if the Rooh is dominant over the matter or material then the human will elevate and his conduct will move closer towards divine perfection whilst if the matter was to dominate the Rooh then the human’s behaviour would then decline. This Rooh that they have claimed to be present doesn’t in fact exist and it is not the same as the secret of life. This is because the witnessed and sensed reality informs us that the human being is composed of matter alone and that the secret of life does not decrease or increase in accordance to the decline or elevation of the human.
The Rooh by which the human can be elevated by is something else and it is not a part of the human being. It is rather an external descriptive attribute that the human acquires from outside himself which then has an influence upon his conduct. This attribute would not exist however unless the human was regulating his actions by a system that was external to him and emanated from a power that was greater and higher than the human; Allah (swt). This regulation and commitment would not occur unless the human is a believer in Allah Ta’Aalaa and realises his relationship and connection to Him. Therefore this Rooh which is being discussed and by which the human being can be elevated by is not the same Rooh which is the secret of life but rather it is the realisation of the relationship and connection to Allah (swt).
This extraneous attribute does not come to the human unless he has first believed that this existence has a creator who created it. Then after the human has perceived the relationship and connection that every created thing including the universe, man and life has with this creator where if the human was to regard any created thing like the moon for example and then perceive its relationship with Allah (i.e. that Allah Ta’Aalaa is the creator of the moon), then in this case this realisation and comprehension would represent the Rooh in respect to the human whilst if he did not perceive this relationship or did not possess this realisation then he would be absent of this Rooh.
Therefore the Rooh which has been claimed by the Westerners is not a part of the human or his composition but rather it represents the realisation of the connection to Allah (swt) whilst the realisation of this connection makes the human regulate his actions by the commands of Allah and his forbiddances. It is this regulation that indicates the existence of this Rooh within the human being.
The feelings of the human in awe of the greatness of the creator, His power and knowledge which is built upon this realisation represents the Roohaniyah (spirituality). If these feelings were to continue then the human would live through them within an atmosphere of Imaan which would assist him to confine himself to the commands and prohibitions of Allah (swt) in a state of contentment and tranquillity.
As for the spiritual aspect that exists within things, then this arises from the fact that they have been created by the creator. So the spiritual aspect in respect to a mountain for example or an animal or even the human comes from the fact that all of these are creations of the creator and nobody perceives this aspect apart from the one who believes in the existence of a creator who created these things.
Islaam has encouraged the human to comprehend the spiritual aspect within things and within himself and this is in order to strengthen the Rooh in respect to this being the connection of the created things with Allah (swt).
Allah (swt) says:
أَفَلَا يَنْظُرُونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ (17) وَإِلَى السَّمَاءِ كَيْفَ رُفِعَتْ (18) وَإِلَى الْجِبَالِ كَيْفَ نُصِبَتْ (19) وَإِلَى الْأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ
Then do they not look at the camels, how they were created? And at the sky, how it was raised up? And at the mountains, how they were erected firmly. And at the earth, how it was spread out? (Al-Ghaashiyah 17-21).
And immediately after these Aayaat Allah (swt) says:
فَذَكِّرْ إِنَّمَا أَنْتَ مُذَكِّرٌ
So remind (them) (for) verily you are only (one who) reminds (Al-Ghaashiyah 21).
And so the Messenger of Allah (saw) was asked to remind the people of this connection between Allah Ta’Aalaa and the created things which is the connection of creation. This is in order to strength the Rooh of the people.
Allah (swt) said:
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآَيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ
Verily in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day (there) are signs for those (men) of understanding (Aali ‘Imraan 190).
This means that there are evidences for the person who realises the relationship and connection of the created things with their creator. And Allah (swt) began Makkan Soorahs by mentioning the creations in which the spiritual aspect appears clearly.
Allah (swt) said:
وَالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَاهَا (1) وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا تَلَاهَا (2) وَالنَّهَارِ إِذَا جَلَّاهَا (3) وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَاهَا (4) وَالسَّمَاءِ وَمَا بَنَاهَا (5) وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا طَحَاهَا
By the sun and its brightness, And by the moon that follows it. And by the day when it displays it. And by the night when it conceals it. And by the heaven and (He) who built it. And by the earth and (he) who spread it out (Ash-Shams 1-6).
And He (swt) said:
اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ (1) خَلَقَ الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ
Read in the name of your Lord who created. Created man from a clot (Al-‘Alaq 1-2).
Islaam has demanded from the Muslim to mix the matter (i.e. his action) with the Rooh i.e. It has demanded from him that he restricts himself to the commands of Allah and His forbiddances.
Allah (swt) said:
اتَّبِعُوا مَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ
Follow what has been revealed to you from your Lord and do not follow any (as) allies besides Him (Al-A’araaf 3).
And He (swt) said:
وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيمًا فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ
And verily this is my path, which is straight, so follow it and do not follow other ways so that you would become separated (or taken away) from His path (Al-An’aam 153).
وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلَا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ وَمَنْ يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا مُبِينًا
It was not for the male believer of female believer when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter for them (then) to have any choice in respect to their affair and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger then he has gone manifestly astray (Al-Ahzaab 36).
He (swt) has made clear and explained to man the ruling for every one of his action, so for example Allah (said:
وَأَحَلَّ اللَّهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَا
And He has made trade Halaal and made Ribaa Haraam (Al-Baqarah 275).
And He ‘Azza Wa Jalla said:
وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ
And He has made Halaal for them the Tayyibaat (good Halaal things) and has made Haraam upon them the Khabaa’ith (the bad and Haraam things) (Al-A’araaf 157).
Adhering to these Ahkaam when undertaking the actions represents the mixing of the Rooh with the matter because the one adhering and sticking to these Ahkaam perceives and fully comprehends his connection and relationship to Allah Ta’Aalaa when he undertakes the action.