Derived from the Divine Book which Assert that the Soul is Different from the
Imâm Fakhrud-Dîn ar-Râzî
Extracted with slight modifications from his book “Kitâb al-Nafs war-Rűh wa Sharh Quwâhumâ” published in English under the title, “‘Ilm al-Akhlâq” © 1978 Kitab Bhavan
You must know that the Divine Book indicates in more than one way the genuineness of the thesis that the soul is different from the body.
1. First Argument:
The Qur’ân indicates that the object referred to as the
particular man survives the death of the particular body, lives, dominates and
understands. Allâh, the Exalted, says describing the martyrs: “Think not
of those who are slain in the way of Allâh as dead. Nay, they are living. With
their Lord they have provision. Jubilant (are they) because of that which Allâh
hath bestowed upon them of His bounty.”
Allâh says describing the state of those who are chastised: “The Fire;
they are exposed to it morning and evening”,
and says, “Because of their sins they were drowned, then made to enter a
These nusűs (texts) indicate most decisively that
the object referred to as ‘the man’ remains alive after the death of the
body perceiving pain and pleasure.
That this particularly mentioned body is not alive after
death is known evidently. If we consider it permissible to declare it alive, the
like of it is possible in all inanimate things which is downright fallacy.
When these two premises have become apparent, we know that
what is referred to by our expression “this man” is not the particular body
and not even a part of the parts of the body, as we are led to know with
inevitable certainty that this particular body had died with all its parts and
I am, however, very much surprised at those who deny the
existence of the soul. This is because of the fact that the attestation of the
Qur’ân and the texts concerning the reward of the grave, and the chastisement
of the grave, and on the day of Resurrection and emergence can be accepted and
comprehended when the existence of the soul is affirmed, difficulties would show
their face and the allegations would become magnified due to that which urges
them to deny the soul, until they fall in extreme darkness.
2. The Second Argument:
Allâh’s expression, “Deliver up your souls”,
is clear in so far as the soul is different from the body with which it is
sometimes connected and sometimes not.
Allâh, the Exalted, says: “But ah! thou soul at
peace! Return unto thy Lord, content in His good pleasure!”
This indicates that the soul does not die with the death of the body. It,
rather, returns from the body to the world of Piety and Grace. Allâh says: “When
death cometh unto one of you, Our messengers receive him, and they neglect not.
Then are they restored unto Allâh, their Lord”.
This indicates that the particular object referred to as a particular man does
not die with the death of the body, rather it is taken back from the particular
body to the world of Purity and the Presence of Grace.
As for the expression, “returning to Allâh on death”, it occurs in the Holy Qur’ân in many places. All this indicates that the thing which constitutes man does not in reality die with the death of the body, rather it returns from the worldly house and the world of sense-perception, to the world hereafter. All this indicates that “man” is something different from the body.
3. The Third Argument:
Allâh, the Exalted, has mentioned the grades of physical
creation and said, “Verily We created man from a product of wet earth; then
placed him as a drop (of seed) in a safe lodge; then fashioned We the drop of a
clot, then fashioned We the clot a little lump, then fashioned We the little
lump bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, and then produced it as a another
We do not doubt that these stages are differences which
occur in physical states.
Again, when Allâh wanted to mention the inspiring of the
spirit, He said, “(We), then, produced it as another creation”. This
clarifies that what concerns the inspiration of the spirit is a different genre
which differs from the preceding changes occurring to the physical states.
This indicates that the spirit is not from the genus of the body. If you say, this argument goes against you, since Allâh says: “We created man from a product of wet earth”; and as the word “min” (“from”) gives the meaning of tab‘eed, splitting into particles, which indicates that man is a particle of dust, whereas you say that he is something other than the dust. This is, then, the exposition of the text of the Great Noble Book. We shall, in answer, say: this is extremely remote. For, the word min originally indicates the beginning of the end. You say, for example, “I came from Basrah to Kufah”. His expression: khalaqnal insâna min sulâlatin min tîn (“We created man from an essence of clay”) therefore demands that the beginning of the creation of man is obtained from the sulâlah (essence). In accordance with this view we hold that Allâh, the Exalted, has levelled the physical disposition and moderated it, and then breathed into it the spirit. The beginning of his creation therefore starts from the sulâlah (essence). It is therefore established that what has been mentioned by them is absurd.
4. The Fourth Argument:
Allâh, the Exalted, has distinguished the world of spirits
from the world of bodies, and then distinguished the commandment from this. This
requires that the Commandment must be free from measure and volume. Allâh, the
Exalted, has, again, explained in a different verse that spirit belongs to the
world of Commandment, and not to the world of Creation:
He, therefore, said, “Say the spirit is by command of my Lord”.
This indicates that the substance of the spirit is from the world of Commandment
and is free from volume, space and measure.
5. The Fifth Argument:
Allâh, the Exalted, says: “So, when I made him and
have breathed into Him of My spirit”. Allâh has
distinguished between tusweeyah, perfecting (accomplishing), and
inspiration of spirit, since ‘perfecting’ expresses parts, limbs, moderation
of disposition and compositions. Since Allâh has distinguished the inspiration
of spirit from ‘perfecting’, and has ascribed the possession of spirit to
Himself, it indicates that spirit is a noble substance not belonging to the
genus of the body. This is what we desired to prove
6. The Sixth Argument:
Allâh’s expression, “And a soul and Him Who
perfected it. And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and
(what is) right for it.”
is quite clear concerning the existence of a soul which is characterized with
both perception and movement together. For, inspiration expresses perception,
and vices and piety belong to the category of action. This verse makes it clear
that man is one entity which is characterized with perception and characterized
also with the perpetration of vices sometimes and virtuous deeds at other times.
It is known that the entire body is not characterized with perception and action
together, nor is one particular limb characterized with all the perceptions and
all the actions. It is therefore necessary to assert a substance which is
characterized with all these matters.
Closely concerned with this argument is Allâh’s
expression, “Lo! We create man from a drop of thickened fluid to test him;
so We make him hearing, knowing.”
This explains that man has got the above description and has to bear Divine
responsibilities and commandments of the Lord, and that he possesses the
qualities of hearing and seeing.
It is sure and certain that the body is not like this. It
cannot be said that the human body has been entrusted by Allâh to do actions or
to abstain from doing them, and thus his hand, foot, the forehead, eyeball, nose
or tongue is responsible for its deed. For, what is evidently known is the fact
that whenever a man is ordered to do a certain thing or refrain from a certain
action, the injunction and the prohibition do not concern a particular organ of
his body nor do they concern his whole body, rather, the object which governs
the whole physical body is the soul which runs in the entire body,
and is in every part of the body that possesses the qualities described above.
Since it has been established and made clear that the
perception, understanding and responsibility do not concern any particular part
or parts, we surely know that it cannot be said that what is described as a
single organ can itself be said to possess the qualities of hearing, seeing,
bearing responsibility, receiving order, liable to be rewarded and punished.
Allâh’s expression, “We test him and make him hearing, seeing”,
indicates that man is something other than the particular body, other than every
part of the whole body or of a part thereof, and this is what we desired to
If they repeat and say, “Verily Allâh’s expression,
“Lo! We create man from a drop of thickened fluid”,
indicates that man is a part of the mixture and that of productive germ,
as word min indicates tab‘eed.
We shall say, ‘the reply of this has already preceded and no intelligent person should have any doubt or suspicion left’.
7. The Seventh Argument
Allâh says, “And be not ye as those who forgot
Allâh, therefore He caused them to forget their souls.”
Now, it is sure and certain that no man of intellect forgets this particular
figure which is observed, and this particular body which possesses
sense-perception. This indicates that the soul which one forgets in the excess
of his ignorance is something other than his particular body.
8. The Eight Argument
The Noble Prophet said, “He who recognizes himself, recognizes his Lord”, and Allâh has said in His Revealed Books: “O man! You know yourself, you will know your Lord.” [Maintainer: see previous footnote] Now, if soul would have meant the apparently observed body and the perceptible figure we would not have surely been ordered to know it, as its knowledge is already available and is it is absurd to possess something which is already in possession.
9. The Ninth Argument:
A large number of Ahâdîth explain that man
continues to understand, speak, and be intelligent after his death. The Noble
said, “Prophets of Allâh do not die, but they transfer themselves from
house to house.” He also said in the course of a long sermon, “when, at
last, the dead is carried in his shroud, his soul remains separate over his
shroud and addresses his relations saying, “O my wife, my son, …”, and the
hadîth was mentioned. The reason of mentioning the hadîth
is to argue that the Prophet (peace be upon him!) has clearly mentioned that the
soul of the dead remains on the shroud and some living object continues shouting
and saying, “O my wife, O my son”. It is certain that the wife is his wife
and the son is his son and whatever wealth he had collected by lawful or
unlawful means, belongs to him the curse of which remains his responsibility and
falls on his shoulder. This is an allegory, rather a clarification of “man”.
The body is dead, placed in the shroud and the particular individual remains
alive who speaks and understands.
It is clear, then, that man is something other than the perceived body and
Now, if you have learnt the nature of argument clarified by
this hadîth which illustrates the continuity of the soul, it is
possible to cite many Ahâdîth of this kind which are so numerous
as to defy reckoning.
10. The Tenth Argument:
Allâh, the Exalted, has said, “Lo! I am about to
place a viceroy in the earth”. Man can never become a vicegerent except
when he knows what is going on in the universe, and finds it possible to control
those circumstances by means of negation and affirmation. Now, this object about
which it is said that he is the vicegerent of Allâh on His earth must
necessarily be described as having the qualities of perception and action.
Again, Allâh has explained that “He taught Adam all
the names” and realities. It is, therefore, established that this object
is the vicegerent and it is necessary for him to know the states of the universe
of bodies and to control them. It is also necessary that he himself be the
knower of the world of absence (unseen world) and the secrets of the celestial
region. Man in therefore a single substance possessing these qualities, while
the totality of the body is not like this, nor is there anyone organ having all
these descriptions. It necessarily follows that the totality of the body and
from each one of its parts and organs.
Let us conclude these Qur’ânic demonstrative proofs in a
convincing and positive manner. We have established that it is clear to an
observing intellect that we ascribe all the parts of the body to ourselves, and
say, ‘my hand, my leg, my heart, my brain’, and the object of possession (mudâf)
is surely other than the object to which possession is ascribed (mudâf ilayh).
We, therefore, know that the soul is different from the
parts of the body. If they say, “we also say, ‘my soul, myself’” which
indicates that the soul is different from itself, but this is absurd.
The answer (to this question) is this that when we use the
expression we sometimes refer to the soul and sometimes it extends to the
perceptible body and the visible image.
As for the soul in so far as the first meaning is
concerned, it is clear. The intellect bears witness that it cannot be ascribed
to itself, since it is not possible to ascribe a meaning referred to by ‘I’
to anything other than them meaning.
So far as the second meaning of the soul is concerned it
can be ascribed to the meaning referred to as ‘I’, since this body is like
the kingdom in relation to the meaning referred to as ‘I’.
Having established this we say: When we say, ‘my soul, my essence’, it is necessary to understand the soul in its second meaning, not in the first meaning just to avoid discrepancy; and on this supposition the question falls to the ground.
Âlî ‘Imrân : 169.
Al-Mu’minűn : 46.
Nűh : 25.
Al-An‘âm : 93.
Al-Fajr : 27.
Al-An‘âm : 61, 62.
Al-Mu’minűn : 12, 13, 14.
Min ‘Âlam al-khalq: Al-Sharazuri states that there are two kinds of
worlds: World of commandment and world of creation or, perhaps, the material
world and the spiritual world. [Modifier’s note: In this
particular context, the second meaning is most sound, in terms of conformity
with the Islâmic ‘Aqîdah (creed/doctrine).]
Al-Isrâ : 85.
Al-Hijr : 29; Sâd : 72.
Al-Shams : 7.
Al-Dahr : 2.
Sâreeyatun fil Jasm: Al-Sharazurî: Cf. 20a
Al-Hashr : 19.
Maintainer’s Note: This is a mawdű
(fabricated) hadîth as is
well-known among the scholars of hadîth:
said, “Abű al-Mudhaffar as-Sama’ânî said, ‘This is not known as a hadîth
of the Messenger, rather it is only related as a saying of Yahya bin Mu‘âdh
ar-Râzî. And likewise an-Nawawî said, ‘it is not established’ ” [‘al-Maqâsid
al-Hasanah’ (pg. 491 no.1149)]
said, “This hadîth is not authentic.” [ ‘Hâwî lil Fatâwî’ (2/351)]
al-Qârî quoted from Ibn Taymiyyah saying, “fabricated.” [‘al-Asrâr
al-Marfű‘ah’ (pg. 83)]
Al-Allâmah Fairozabâdî said, “This is not from the Prophetic ahâdîth,
despite the fact that the majority of people make it so, and it is not authentic
at all. It is only related from the Jewish traditions as ‘O mankind! Know
yourself and you will know your Lord.’ ” [‘ar-Radd
alâ al-Mu’taridîn’ (2/37)]
says, “It has no basis.” [‘Silsilah
ad-Da‘îfah’ (1/165 no.66)]
Hî nâtaq fâhim: Though the two hadîth referred to could
not be traced, the thesis that the soul survives the body and enjoys life and
understanding is supported by the Qur’ânic verse: “Do not call the
martyrs dead; they are alive and are sustained”…
The peculiar human activity has been mentioned in the Qur’ân in three
that man has been created to populate the earth,
(2) that he has been created to worship Allâh.
(3) that Allâh has made man to represent Allâh in the earth. Cf. Al-Dharî‘ah, p. 18.