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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 4th November 2014 12:32
The Nature and Essence of the Human Soul

Scholars of various schools of thoughts [1] differ greatly regarding the nature and essence of the soul [نَفْس] (nafs). Is it a part of the physical body or a non-essential [2] characteristic of it? Is it an entity consigned to dwell within the physical body, or is in an independent essence in itself? Is the nafs the same as the rooh [روح] (spirit)? What happens to the soul upon death? Is it confined to its body and its grave? If not, is it free to move about in the unseen spiritual world and on the earth? [3]

Regarding this subject, leading theologians of various sects have put forward a host of conflicting opinions:

Various Views

According to the theologian, Imaam Abul Hasan al-Ash'ari رحمه الله, the scholars differed regarding the rooh (spirit), nafs (soul) and hayaah (life force). An-Nadhdhaam, one of the leaders of the Mu'tazilah, [4], is attributed with having said that the nafs is the form of the rooh. He further claimed that the rooh is alive (i.e., animate) and exists independently. In contrast to his view, other scholars alleged that the rooh is a non-essential characteristic of the human being, unable to exist independently of itself. Still others opposed both of these view and claimed that is is not known what the rooh is - an essential characteristic or a non-essential characteristic.

The proponents of another theory claimed that man consists of a particular form contained within a physical body; however, they as to precisely what this form is. One group maintained that the form consists of four ingredients [5] from which the physical body originates and further develops. A second opinion was that it represents pure blood, free of impurities and contamination. Another view claimed that this form is the animate life in man, the sensual heat which pervades the body. And a fourth group proposed that the form is an essential element which causes all animate, living beings to function in a particular manner [6] yet is not separated from such beings and does not have a different structure. Although there are other opinions [7] defining this form withing the physical body, the four previously mentioned examples are a sufficient sample.

The Correct View [8]

What is considered as the most accurate view regarding the nafs and the rooh is that of Imaam Ibnul Qayyim رحمه الله which [9] is affirmed by Imaam Ibn Abil-'Izz al-Hanafi رحمه الله in his commentary on al-'Aqeedah at-Tahaawiyyah. [10]

They base their position on various verses of the Qur'aan and the traditions of the Prophet as well as on sound logic and rational thought. According to them, man consists of a spirit and a body together. The spirit is an entity which differs from the physical, tangible body. It is a higher type of luminous (or light-like) being, alive and moving, and it penetrates the limbs, circulating through them as water circulates throughout the petals of a rose, as oil circulates throughout the olive and as fire circulates throughout the burning embers of coal. One may reasonably perceive the soul filling and occupying the body; its form, though nonphysical, is moulded into the body's shape. [11]

The soul will maintain its penetration of the limbs of the physical body and continue to affect their sense, movement and will as long as these limbs remain sound. However, if they are overcome [12] and no longer accept the forces enacted upon them by the soul, the soul leaves the body and enters the spiritual world.

Qur'aanic Evidence

Certain circumstances of the human soul are mentioned in various places of the Qur'aan. [13]

Two such examples follow:

"It is Allah Who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those (souls) for which He has ordained death and sends the rest for a term appointed. Verily, in this are signs for a people who think deeply." (Sooratuz-Zumar, 39:42)

In this verse it is stated that there are only two points in time at which Allaah سبحانه و تعالى takes souls: at death and during sleep. When one sleeps, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى separates the soul from the body. If He has decreed death for a person at this point, the separation becomes permanent and the body no longer functions. In the case of one for whom death has not been decreed at that time, the soul taken during sleep is returned to its respective body upon awakening. However, the soul for which Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has decreed death need not necessarily be taken during sleep but may be taken at a time other than sleep.

"And who can be more unjust than he who invents a lie against Allah, or says: "I have received inspiration," whereas he is not inspired in anything; and who says, "I will reveal the like of what Allah has revealed." And if you could but see when the Dhaalimoon (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.) are in the agonies of death, while the angels are stretching forth their hands (saying): "Deliver your souls! This day you shall be recompensed with the torment of degradation because of what you used to utter against Allah other than the truth. And you used to reject His Aayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) with disrespect!" " (Sooratul-An'aam, 6:93)

Here it is stated that death is painful for the disbelievers. Although they are ordered to surrender their souls to the angels, they are unwilling; therefore, the soul must be forced out as it does not wish to meet its punishment. [14]

The term "akhrijoo anfusakum" used in this Qur'aanic verse literally mean "expel or push out your souls," indicating that the soul becomes a separate entity from the physical body.

Evidence from the Sunnah

The sunnah is replete with descriptions of the state and nature of the human soul. These ahaadeeth substantiate the view held by the dependable scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah. An example of the physical and psychological punishment awaiting the disbelievers occurs in the following portion of a long, authentically related hadeeth:

"The Angel of Death [says], 'O you foul soul, come out to the anger and wrath of your Lord.' The soul inside the disbeliever's body is overcome by terrible fear [and does not want to deliver itself up], whereupon the Angel of Death violently pulls it out like multi-pronged skewers being yanked out of wet wool - tearing with them the arteries and nerves." [15]

It is also narrated in an authentic tradition:

Umm Salamah رضي الله عنها reported: "Allaah's Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم entered upon Abu Salamah [i.e. his corpse], whose eyes were wide open. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم closed the lids and then said, 'When the rooh (spirit) is taken out, the eyesight following it [i.e. watches it ascend].'" [16]

These hadeeths indicate in two ways that the soul is indeed a form. First of all, something must have a form in order to be grasped and extracted. And second of all, eyes can only visualise something that has a form. [17]

In another narration the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم 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, 'O 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." [18]

It is related in the same hadeeth that as the soul is being carried up through the skies, the angels ask, "Who is this?" This question reaffirms the soul's separate existence from the body. The angels would not pose such a question unless they had seen a distinct form.

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

Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه narrated that Allaah's Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "When the soul of the believer comes out (of its body), two angels receive it and rise up with it towards the heavens, whereupon the inhabitants of the heavens say, 'A good soul has come from the earth. Allaah has blessed you and the body which you used to occupy.'" [19]

The Arabic expression "Kunti ta'mureenah" ("you used to occupy") suggest that the soul inhabited the body, filling and possessing the whole of it. The soul's dwelling within the body and departure from it clearly confirms the soul's own entity. [20]


[1] Not the famous schools of fiqh (jurisprudence) but rather leading scholars and thinkers who represent various unorthodox sects, such as the Mu'tazilates, Raafidhites and philosophers. They have expressed various incorrect views and opinions on this and other subjects of 'Aqeedah.

[2] In Arabic, 'aradh. According to the terminology of the philosophers, it refers to things which cannot exist independently, like colour, smell, length, etc.

[3] See Kitaab ar-Rooh, p. 272

[4] A misguided sect which introduced speculative dogmatics into Islaam. This school of thought is characterised by a slanted, so-called "rationalistic" approach to matter of faith. They interpret clear texts of the Sharee'ah - from the Qur'aan and Sunna - in such a manner as to coincide with their preconceived notions based on what they terms "sense." Imaam Ibnul Qayyim رحمه الله has aptly refuted their views and those of others who have been influenced by philosophical thought foreign to Islaam. Whoever wishes to delve deeper into this aspect is referred to his celebrated treatise, Kitaab ar-Rooh, pp. 266-293, where he meticulously details his refutation with logic and reasoning.

[5] There is a philosophical view which claims that the human body originates from earth, air, fire and water. However, as mentioned in the Qur'aan and Sunnah, man originates from clay (i.e. earth).

[6] See Imaam al-Ghazzaali's رحمه الله treatise on the soul, Ma'aarij al-Quds fee Madaarij Ma'aarifah an-Nafs, pp. 27-35.

[7] Mentioned and refuted by Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله in Majmoo' al-Fataawa, vol. 3, pp. 30-35 and vol. 9, pp. 279-302.

[8] It is "correct" in the sense that it is not contrary to the beliefs of Ahlus-Sunnah (those who sincerely and firmly adhere to the Qur'aan and the Sunnah [according to the understanding of the Salafus-Saalih] as their complete way of life).

[9] See his famous treatise dealing with the circumstances of the soul of the living and the dead, Kitaab ar-Rooh, pp. 249-250.

[10] See pp. 443-444.

[11] Descriptions of the spirit as "lights," its mode of penetration of the body, as well as its shape cannot be proven by the Qur'aan or the Sunnah. As such, these descriptions can only be considered conclusions based upon their own understandings of the proofs.

[12] Physical accidents, diseases or disorders may destroy the sound, physical harmony and delicate balance of the body's functions, causing a person to die (the point at which the soul leaves the body). In any case, there need not always be a physical dysfunction for divine forces to cause death.

[13] Imaam Ibnul Qayyim رحمه الله identifies over ninety supporting statements from the Qur'aan, the Sunnah and the sayings of the Companions رضي الله عنهم, which altogether give a complete picture of the nature of the human soul and the conditions which surround it. See Kitaab ar-Rooh, pp. 249-261 for details.

[14] See Imaam al-Qurtubi's رحمه الله Qur'aanic commentary, al-Jaami'u li Ahkaam al-Qur'aan, vol. 7, p. 42.

[15] Recorded by Imaam Ahmad رحمه الله, Imaam Abu Dawood رحمه الله and others. According to Shaykh al-Albaani رحمه الله, it is authentic. See Saheehul-Jaami', no. 1676.

[16] Authentically related by Imaam Ahmad رحمه الله and Imaam Muslim رحمه الله.

[17] In his tafseer, Imaam al-Qurtubi رحمه الله affirms that the soul has a form. See vol. 15, p. 262.

[18] Recorded by Imaam Ahmad رحمه الله, Imaam Abu Dawood رحمه الله and others. According to Shaykh al-Albaani رحمه الله, it is authentic. See Saheehul-Jaami', no. 1676.

[19] Authentically related by Imaam Muslim رحمه الله.

[20] Abu Bilal Mustafa al-Kanadi رحمه الله: Mysteries of the Soul Expounded
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#2 [Permalink] Posted on 5th November 2014 11:06
The Nafs and the Rooh

An extremely important and highly reasonable question often posed regarding the terms "nafs" and "rooh" is: "Do these terms dignify one and the same thing or are they two distinctly different entities?" The majority of Islaamic scholars agree that the nafs (soul) and the rooh (spirit) are two names for one and the same thing. However, others maintain that they are two different entities. [1]

The latter is not a tenable position because it lacks clear, unequivocal delineations of these two terms from the texts of the Qur'aan and Sunnah. Rather, it is a result of a misunderstanding of the terminology in these texts and personal conjecture. This is amply illustrated in the following two examples cited in detail by Imaam Ibnul-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him). [2]

One group, consisting of some hadeeth scholars, jurists and Soofees, states that "the rooh is other than the nafs." Muqaatil Ibn Sulaymaan explains this view as follows: "Man has life [hayaah], a spirit [rooh] and a soul [nafs]. When he sleeps, his nafs - with which he senses and understands things - emerges from his body; however, it doesn't completely separate from the physical body. Rather, it extends from it, radiating outward like a cable. While both life and the rooh remain in his body (being the two means by which he breathes as well as tosses and turns during sleep), man sees visions by means of the nafs which emerges from him. When he is about to awaken, his nafs returns to him faster than the blinking of an eye. However, if Allaah سبحانه و تعالى wills that he die in his sleep, He seizes that nafs which had come out as described. [3]

Another sector of hadeeth scholars also holds the opinion that the rooh is other than the nafs but that the nafs, which is in the form of man, is dependent upon the rooh for existence. Man's nature (i.e. nafs) is filled with vanities, desires and passions. It is the source of his trials and afflictions, and there is no enemy more hostile to him than his own nafs. Thus, the nafs wants and loves nothing other than the things of this world, while the rooh longs for the Hereafter and invites to it. [4]

The two previously stated notions are essentially similar in that they assert that the nafs and the rooh are two separate entities. Other positions exist which are either completely absurd or irrelevant. The absurd views are based on mere personal belief or concepts borrowed from philosophies or teachings foreign to Islaam, such as those stating that the nafs is earthy and fiery, whereas the rooh is luminous and spiritual. The irrelevant theories include the conviction that souls are entities whose nature and reality known only to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, implying that nothing has been revealed to mankind about them.

In contrast, the correct view, as maintained by the vast majority of Muslim theologians and endorsed by the scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah, [5] is that the terms "nafs" and "rooh" are interchangeable. However, the term "nafs" is usually applied when the soul is inside the body, and the word "rooh" is used when the soul is apart from the body.

Although these terms may be used interchangeably in relation to their essence, the difference between them is merely difference in attributes and usage. Each one has clearly distinct and restricted applications in certain contexts. For example, the term "nafs" may be used to mean blood as indicated in saying, "Salaat nafsuhu." ("His blood flowed.") Since death resulted from the flowing of one's blood necessitates the exit of one's soul, blood came to be referred to as "nafs." Additionally, the term "nafs" maybe used to mean "the eye" ("'ayn") - commonly referred to as "the evil eye." For instance, it is said, "Asaabat fulaanan nafsun." ("So and so has been struck by an [evil] eye.") [6]

Upon occasion, the word "nafs" may represent the self (dhaat) as evident in a number of Qur'aanic verses such as the following:

"But when you enter the houses, send upon each other [anfusikum]a greeting of peace - a greeting from Allaah, blessed and good." (Sooratun-Noor, 24:61)

Just as the term "nafs" has several different connotations, so does the term "rooh." It is never used to refer to the physical body (badan) alone or to the soul when it is inside the body. Rather, it has various other usages in the Arabic language and in religious literature. [7]

In the following words of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى to His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم, it is used to mean revelation, specifically, the Qur'aan:

"And thus We revealed to you a rooh [i.e. the Qur'aan] by Our command." (Sooratush-Shooraa', 42:52)

In other places in the Qur'aan the word "rooh" is used to designate Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) عليه السلام, whom Allaah سبحانه و تعالى entrusted with the conveyance of divine revelation. For example:

"Verily, this [Qur'aan] is a revelation of the Lord of the Worlds. Brought down by the trustworthy rooh [i.e. Jibreel عليه السلام]." (Sooratush-Shu'araa', 26:192-193)

The various forces and senses contained in the human body are also spoken of as "spirits." Thus it is said, "ar-rooh al-basir" ("the seeing spirit") and "ar-rooh as-sami'" ("the hearing spirit") and so on. However, these are called "spirits" only by convention. These senses are extinguished upon the death of the physical body, and they are different than the rooh, which does not die or disintegrate.

Finally, the term "rooh" is sometimes used in an extremely restricted sense - to designate the spirit of faith which results from one's knowledge of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, from turning to Him in repentance and from seeking Him with love and aspiration. This is the spirit (i.e. consciousness of God) with which Allaah سبحانه و تعالى strengthens His obedient chosen servants as stated in the following Qur'aanic verse:

"For those, Allaah has written faith upon their hearts and strengthened them with a rooh from Him." (Sooratul-Mujaadilah, 58:22)

In this manner, knowledge is a "rooh" ("spiritual force"), as is sincerity, truthfulness, repentance, love of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى and complete dependence upon Him. People differ in respect to these types of spiritual forces. Some are so overcome by them that they become "spiritual" beings. Thus is it said, "So and so has spirit." Others lose the power of such spiritual forces, or the greater portion thereof, and thus become earthly, bestial beings. [8]

About them it may be said, "So and so has no spirit; he is empty like a hollow reed," and so on.

Authentic traditions from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم clearly establish that the rooh and the nafs are essentially one and the same thing. The following narrations, which are two different versions of the same incident, will clarify this point beyond a shadow of a doubt. They explain the manner in which the rooh/nafs departs from the deceased person's body upon death:

Umm Salamah رضي الله عنها reported Allaah's Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم as saying: "When the rooh is taken out, the eyesight follows it."

Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Do you not see that when a person dies his gaze is fixed intently; that occurs when his eyesight follows his nafs [as it comes out]." [9]

Clearly, since the word "rooh" was used in the first narration and the word "nafs" was used in the second, the two terms are, in essence, interchangeable. [10] [11]


[1] See Ibn al-Aloosi's رحمه الله Jalaa' al-'Aynayn, pp. 142-143 and as-Safareeni's رحمه الله Lawaami' al-Anwaar, vol. 2, pp. 31-32.

[2] For a more detailed account of the various contradictory opinions, see Kitaab ar-Rooh, pp. 296-297.

[3] Paraphrased from Imaam Ibnul-Qayyim's رحمه الله Kitaab ar-Rooh, p. 296.

[4] Ibid.

[5] See Kitaab ar-Rooh, pp. 294-297 and Jalaa' al-'Aynayn, pp. 142-143.

[6] See Lane's Lexicon, vol. 2, p. 2828.

[7] See at-Tahaawiyyah, pp. 444-445 and Kitaab ar-Rooh, pp. 295-296

[8] For more details, see Lawaami' al-Anwaar, pp. 31-32; at-Tahaawiyyah, p. 445 and Kitaab ar-Rooh, p. 297.

[9] Both of the preceding hadeeths are authentic and were related by Imaam Muslim رحمه الله. See also Imaam al-Qurtubi's رحمه الله at-Tadhkirah, p. 70.

[10] See also Shaykh Siddeeq Hasan Khaan's رحمه الله Fat-hul-Bayaan, vol. 8, p. 232.

[11] Abu Bilal Mustafa al-Kanadi رحمه الله: Mysteries of the Soul Expounded
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#3 [Permalink] Posted on 6th November 2014 10:36
Souls of the Dead Meeting with Each Other

The souls of the dead may be divided into the following two categories:

(a) Favoured souls (those of pious believers) and

(b) Punished souls (those of sinful believers and disbelievers).

The souls of the second group are confined to places of punishment and are too preoccupied with the torments of the grave to be able to meet or visit with each other. However, the blessed and favoured souls of the pious believers are free to roam and meet. They may visit and discuss with each other their previous existence on earth. In the barzakh [1] every soul will be with companions of like nature. [2]

In his book, Kitaab ar-Rooh [3], Imaam Ibnul Qayyim رحمه الله supports this view by bringing proof from the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. He also relates experiences of various scholars regarding what they were informed of in dreams by the souls of their pious, departed companions. The Sharee'ah cannot be based upon the latter, for it is a matter which only the texts of divine revelation can decide. However, there are texts which indirectly give support to Imaam Ibnul Qayyim's رحمه الله assertions as well as those which are obviously clearer in nature.

The following is a sample of a text whose statement is indirect in nature:

Masrooq رحمه الله reported, "The Companions رضي الله عنهم said to the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم, 'We must not part company with you in the world because when you die and are raised up above, we will not be able to see you.' Then Allaah, the Exalted, revealed the following verse:

"And whoever obeys Allaah and the Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), then they will be in the company of those on whom Allaah has bestowed His Grace, of the Prophets (nabiyyeen), the steadfast affirmers of truth (siddeeqeen), the martyrs (shuhadaa'), and the righteous (saaliheen). And how excellent these companions are!" (Sooratun-Nisaa', 4:69) [4]

According to Imaam Ibnul Qayyim رحمه الله, this "company" or "fellowship" is established in the dunya and is resumed in the barzakh and in the Hereafter. Man is with whom he loves in these three stages of the soul's existence. The souls of faithful believers join the messengers and prophets عليهم الصلاة والسلام of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, along with the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the pious (Saaliheen). This blissful fellowship is not restricted to Paradise but begins immediately after death in the barzakh.

The following text is a direct reference to this point and clear proof that, in general, the souls of pious believers are able to meet and converse with each other:

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه reported that Allaah's Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Verily, the soul of the believer [after death] soars up to the heavens, whereupon the souls of other believers come to it, seeking news about those they know from the people of the earth." [5] [6]


[1] The period between death and the Resurrection. Literally, "a partition or separation."

[2] Kitaab ar-Rooh, p. 28. and al-Aloosi's رحمه الله al-Aayaatul-Bayyinaat, p. 106.

[3] See pp. 28-32.

[4] Kitaab ar-Rooh, p. 28.

[5] Authenticated by Imaam as-Suyooti رحمه الله, al-Aayaatul-Bayyinaat, and Shaykh al-Albaani رحمه الله, Silsilatul-Ahaadeethis-Saheehah, no. 2628.

[6] Abu Bilal Mustafa al-Kanadi رحمه الله: Mysteries of the Soul Expounded
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#4 [Permalink] Posted on 7th November 2014 10:29
Souls of the Sleeping Conversing with Each Other

Since the previously quoted Qur'aanic verse clarifies that human souls leave the body during sleep to roam about in the spiritual realm, and it has been established that they can meet the souls of the dead, then it is logical to assume that they are able to meet each other as well.

Imaam Ibnul Qayyim رحمه الله confirms this point and replies to the following oft-posed question of doubt: "How does a person during sleep 'see' himself conversing other living people, even though they are far away and awake - their souls having not left their bodies?" How do their souls "meet" per se?

Imaam Ibnul Qayyim رحمه الله answers that this phenomenon is either a likeness (mathal) made for the soul of the sleeper by the angel of visions or a result of sleeper's soul conversing with itself (hadeethu nafs). This "conversation" is illustrated in the images seen in his dreams. [1] [2]


[1] Kitaab ar-Rooh, pp. 47-48.

[2] Abu Bilal Mustafa al-Kanadi رحمه الله: Mysteries of the Soul Expounded
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#5 [Permalink] Posted on 12th November 2014 11:12
Souls of the Dead Meeting with People Who are Awake

It is a common concept among some people and cultures that the souls of the dead can and do come back to the earth and converse with the living (who are awake). In order to assess the validity of such a claim it is essential to explore the various literature relating to this issue. From the sources available, research can only lead to a conclusion that it is neither possible nor proven that the souls of the dead return to the world of the living, meet with them, converse and so on. This conclusion is based on the texts of the divinely revealed law, and the following evidence from the Qur'aan and the Sunnah clearly affirms such a stand.

Evidence from the Qur'aan Against Return

There are a number of Qur'aanic verses whose texts unequivocally prove that the souls of the dead do not return to the earth. For the sake of brevity only two are quoted, the first as follows:

"[The disbelievers persist in their rejection of the truth of the Recurrection] [1] Until, when death comes to one of them, he says: 'My Lord! Send me back [to life] so that I may work in righteousness regarding things left behind.' But no" It is only a word he says; and behind them is a barrier untul the day they are raised up." (Sooratul-Mu'minoon, 23:99-100)

In these verses Allaah describes the condition of the disbelieving polytheists who reject the existence of the Resurrection and who say:

"If we become dust and bones, are we to be resurrected?! We and our forefathers before us have been promised this already. Such is nothing but fables of the ancients!" (Sooratul-Mu'minoon, 23:82-83)

But when death comes upon one of them he realises his misguidance and error; when he sees the Angel of Death approaching to seize his soul he wishes he could return to life to rectify his rejection of the truth and perform works of piety. But the reply is an emphatic "No!" His petitioning for a return to earth is not going to be answered. [2]

The fact that he cannot return to the earth is finalised by the statement that a barrier (barzakh) has been erected behind him and thus he cannot return to any other existence in the world. [3]

The word "barzakh" is used here to indicate a veil, barrier or partition between two things. [4]

According to Qur'aanic commentators, the barzakh is the barrier between death and any return to worldly existence. This has also been related by Mujaahid رحمه الله, [5] one of the dependable scholars of tafseer. The great commentator and companion, Ibn 'Abbaas رضي الله عنهما, defines it as a hijaab (a partition or veil). Ad-Dahhaak رحمه الله, another taabi'ee scholar of tafseer, says that the barzakh is the stage between this world and the Hereafter. [6]

In his tafseer, al-Qurtubi رحمه الله concludes his exposition of these various interpretations, stating, "The barzakh is a barrier between two things. It is the stage between this world and the other world - from the time of death until the Resurrection. Thus, whoever dies enters the barzakh." [7]

There are no contradictions among the various explanations by these scholars; rather, they all point to one undeniable fact: the soul, having been separated from its earthly body, enters into a realm behind which there is a barrier prohibiting any return. Some may argue that the above-mentioned verses refer to only the stubborn rejectors of truth, such as the polytheists and other disbelievers who deny the Resurrection and Judgement. On that assumption, Muslims and those from other faiths and philosphies who believe in the Resurrection are not indicated by these Qur'aanic verses. However, although these verses specifically refer to the polytheists of Makkah (who denied the possibility of the resurrection of the soul), in includes all souls of the dead, regardless of who they are. This is affirmed by the second Qur'aanic text which follows:

"Oh you who have believed, do not let your wealth and children distract you from the remembrance[8] of Allaah. Those of you who do so are the losers. And spend in charity something from that which We have provided you before death comes to one of you, whereupon he says,'My Lord, if only You would grant me respite for a while, so I could give alms and be among the righteous.' But Allaah will never grant reprieve to any soul when its appointed time has come. And Allaah is aware of all that you do." (Sooratul-Munaafiqoon, 63:9-11)

In these verses Allaah, the Blessed and Exalted, warns the believers not to be diverted from their duties and obligations to their Creator due to being engrossed in their wealth and offspring. Furthermore, they are encouraged to give charity from the sustenance which has been provided by their gracious Lord. It is emphasised that they must do this before death comes, at which time one will wish to be granted another term of life - if only just a little while - in order to perform righteous deeds. Ibn 'Abbaas رضي الله عنهما, denying that return is refused only to disbelievers, recited these verses which indicate the deceased believer's soul requesting a return to the world in order to do works of righteousness. [9]

Evidence from the Sunnah Against Return

There are a number of texts from the Sunnah which further support the contention that even the pious and most righteous believers' souls cannot return to the earth. One example is sufficient to prove the point. As it is well known, the souls of Muslim martyrs (Shuhadaa') are freed upon death to roam in Paradise to partake of some of its pleasures in a limited fashion. The following hadeeth relates that the martyr desires to return to the world but cannot:

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "No servant who has good in store for him with Allaah and dies ever wants to return to the earth - even if he were to have the whole world and everything that is in it - except for the martyr. And that is due to what he sees in the nobility of martyrdom. Verily, he would like to return back to the earth in order to be martyred another time." [10]

The preceding texts of both the Qur'aan and the Sunnah clearly illustrate that the souls of the dead do not come back to the earth to visit relatives or friends, neither in the form of a spirit or an apparition, [11] nor in their previous bodies [12] or in any other person's body. [13] [14]


[1] This phrase is understood; these verses continue a line of argumentation begun in the proceding verses.

[2] See Imaam al-Qurtubi's رحمه الله al-Jaami'u li Ahkaam al-Qur'aan, vol. 12, p. 150.

[3] This is a clear refutation of the false claims of certain philosophers and proponents of various religions which adhere to a belief in the

transmigration of souls or in reincarnation.

[4] See Imaam al-Isfahaani's رحمه الله Mu'jam Mufradaat Alfaadh al-Qur'aan, p. 41 and Imaam Ibn al-Atheer's an-Nihaayah fee Ghareeb al-Hadeeth,

vol. 1, p. 118.

[5] A taabi'ee.

[6] See al-Jaami'u li Ahkaam al-Qur'aan, vol. 12, p. 150.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Indicates all duties towards Allaah, such as prayer, fasting, charity, etc.

[9] See al-Jaami'u li Ahkaam al-Qur'aan, vol. 18, pp. 130-131.

[10] Recorded by Imaam Muslim رحمه الله and Imaam at-Tirmidhi رحمه الله.

[11] Such as a glowing form resembling a human.

[12] Because they are subject to decay and decomposition.

[13] Such as is alleged by Buddhists or philosophers who say that a transmigration of souls occurs. Others claim that the deceased person's soul may enter a

live person's body and use it as a medium with which to communicate with the living.

[14] Abu Bilal Mustafa al-Kanadi رحمه الله: Mysteries of the Soul Expounded
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#6 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2014 10:36
Communicating with Spirits through Séances [1]

What is the Islamic position with respect to bringing back the spirits of the dead? When one studies the texts related to this point, he will conclude with certainty that such an act is absolutely impossible. Allah سبحانه و تعالى has informed us that the spirit is from the unseen which man cannot possibly fathom or reach.

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم has made clear to us how the angel of death takes the soul at the time of death and what happens to it after that. If the souls are held by Allah سبحانه و تعالى and in the charge of strong guardians, it is not possible that they escape from them and come to the people and talk to them and play with the minds of humans.

Some of the mediums claim that the spirit of some righteous person, martyr or prophet has come to them. How could it be that they would leave the bounties of paradise to come to this world to come to the dark rooms of the mediums? Allah سبحانه و تعالى has informed us that the martyrs are alive with their Lord. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم has informed us that the souls of the martyrs are in green birds in paradise; they eat from the fruits of paradise and drink from its streams. And they are hanging from the Throne of the Lord. How do these liars of today claim that spirits are appearing before them? This is a grave sin that comes from their mouths and they say nothing but a lie.

A Conjecture and a Reply

Some people may ask, "How is it that these spirits know the deeds and the character of the persons who they claim to be?"

The one who claims that he is a spirit is actually a devil jinn. Perhaps that devil jinn is the partner that accompanied that human through his life. Every human has a devil jinn who accompanies him. That devil jinn accompanies him and knows many aspects related to his character, habits, attributes, friends, relatives and so forth. [2]

It is very easy for them to answer the questions put to them because they have such knowledge. [3]


[1] A séance is an attempt to communicate with spirits. The word "séance" comes from the French word for "seat," "session" or "sitting," from the Old French "seoir," "to sit." In French, the word's meaning is quite general: one may, for example, speak of "une séance de cinéma" ("a movie session"). In English, however, the word came to be used specifically for a meeting of people who are gathered to receive messages from spirits or to listen to a spirit medium discourse with or relay messages from spirits; many people, including skeptics and non-believers, treat it as a form of entertainment. In modern English usage, participants need not be seated while engaged in a séance.

[2] The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “There is none of you who does not have a companion (qareen) appointed for him from among the jinn.” They said, “Even you?” He said, “Even me, but Allah helped me against him fa aslama [or fa aslamu], so he only tells me to do that which is good.” (Saheeh Muslim)

There are two well-known views that have been reported. Those who read the phrase as fa aslamu said that it means, “So I am safe [aslamu] from his evil and temptation.” Those who read it as fa aslama said that it means, “The qareen became Muslim [aslama] and became a believer, so he only tells me to do that which is good.”

They differed as to which view is correct. Al-Khattabi رحمه الله said: The correct version is fa aslamu [so I am safe]. Al-Qadi ‘Iyad رحمه الله thought that fa aslama [so he became Muslim] was correct, and this is the preferred version, because he then said, “so he only tells me to do that which is good.” And they differed concerning the report that says fa aslama. It was said that it means he submitted in the sense of surrendering, and it appears in this form (fa astaslama – so he surrendered) in reports narrated elsewhere than in Saheeh Muslim. And it was said that it means that he became a Muslim and a believer. This is the apparent meaning.

Abu Na’eem al-Asbahani رحمه الله said in Dalail al-Nubuwwah: It was said aslama meaning he believed. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was the only one whose qareen became a Muslim and a believer.

Based on this, having one’s qareen become a Muslim was something that was unique to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

[3] Shaykh Sulayman al-Ashqar رحمه الله: The World of the Jinn and Devils
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#7 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2014 15:11
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#8 [Permalink] Posted on 23rd January 2015 09:00
Some deny the existence of the spirit but Islam tells us that it is really only the spirit that lives in man and makes us who we are. The spirit is more important than our mind or body. We are not our body or mind rather the spirit as it is our spirit that existed before we came into this world i.e. before our body and mind existed. The body is a container of life but real life is the spirit. The container may disappear but the spirit will live on. The ruh (spirit) has a long journey and this brief sojourn on earth is extremely transient as compared to the great expanse of time before and after (this life). This is why we are told again and again that we are merely travellers on earth and that this life is not everything. When we begin to devote ourselves to our body and mind at the detriment to the spirit, we will begin to perceive our whole existence being only for this brief life on earth. This will lead us to miss the greater picture of life beyond this fleeting journey on earth.

[This excerpt is based on a spiritual gathering held by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 16th November 2014]
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#9 [Permalink] Posted on 29th October 2015 12:48
Sleep Is A Minor Death

During sleep, our souls depart from our bodies in an obscure manner. The soul of every sleeping person is held by Allaah, and He then releases it when it is time to wake up. This is expressed by texts from both the Qur'aan and the Sunnah.

Texts From The Qur'aan

Allaah سبحانه و تعالى says,

"It is He, Who takes your souls by night (when you are asleep), and has knowledge of all that you have done by day, then he raises (wakes) you up again that a term appointed (your life period) be fulfilled, then in the end unto Him will be your return. Then He will inform you what you used to do." (Sooratul-An'aam, 6:60)

And Allaah سبحانه و تعالى says,

"Allaah takes the souls at the time of their death, and those that do not die [He takes] during their sleep. Then He keeps those for which He has decreed death and releases the others for a specified term. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought." (Sooratuz-Zumar, 39:42)

Commenting on this aayah, Imaam al-Qurtubi رحمه الله said: "Allaah سبحانه و تعالى takes away the soul at the end of a person's term, as well as those in sleep... Thus, He holds the souls for which death has arrived, and releases the other souls until the time of their death... Ibn 'Abbaas رضي الله عنهما and others said, 'The souls of the living and of the dead meet during sleep and get acquainted as Allaah سبحانه و تعالى wills. When they later wish to return to the bodies, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى keeps with Him the souls of the dead, and sends the souls of the living back to their bodies.' Al-Qushayri Abu Nasr رحمه الله said, 'Allaah سبحانه و تعالى takes the souls in the states of sleep and death. He then restricts the actions of those in the state of sleep, and keeps those in the state of death until Resurrection Day.' Allaah سبحانه و تعالى takes the souls during sleep by (temporarily) removing their feelings and replacing perception with unawareness. And He takes them at death by completely removing perception." [1]

Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-'Uthaymeen رحمه الله said, "When a person goes to sleep, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى takes away his soul in a form of minor death during which the soul goes to wherever Allaah سبحانه و تعالى wills." [2]

Texts From The Sunnah

Among the sleep-time adhkaar taught by the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is:

"With Your Name, my Lord, I lay down my side, and by You (i.e. Your permission and help) I raise it. If You hold my soul (by death), show it mercy, and if You release it (i.e. keep it alive) then protect it as You protect Yoru righteous servants." [3]

Similarly, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم recommended saying before going to sleep: "O Allaah, You created my soul, and You take it away. You decide its (i.e. my) death and living. If You keep it alive, safeguard it, and if You make it die, forgive it." [4]

And the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم used to say when he woke up: "Praise be to Allaah who resurrected us after He made us die. And to Him will be the (people's) emergence (from the graves)." [5]

And the Prophet recommended saying upon waking up: "Praise be to Allaah who granted me well-being in my body, returned my soul to me, and permitted me to extoll Him." [6]

Referring to sleep, Abu Qataadah رضي الله عنه reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Indeed, Allaah took away our souls (during sleep) when He willed, and returned them to us when He willed." [7]

We learn from the above texts that sleep is a minor death in which the soul leaves the body by Allaah's will and control سبحانه و تعالى. This was further confirmed by the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم when he negated both forms of death for the people of Jannah. Jaabir رضي الله عنه and 'Abdullaah Ibn Awfaa رضي الله عنه reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Sleep is the brother of death. And the people of Jannah do not sleep." [8]

During the 'minor death', a soul gets to meet other souls of both living and dead people. Khuzaymah رضي الله عنه reported that he had a dream that he was prostrating upon the Prophet's forehead صلى الله عليه وسلم. When he told this to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم leaned back and said: "Indeed, a soul surely meets another soul (during sleep). Confirm your dream: sit and prostrate and do as you did in the dream." [9]

Seeing specific individuals during sleep normally means that Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has created their resemblance in the dreamer's mind. However, there are times when the dreamer's soul actually meets other souls of living or dead people. Its interaction with these souls may remain imprinted in the dreamer's mind after awakening. There is no indication that the other souls would remember the encounter, especially because the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم did not indicate remembering encountering Khuzaymah's soul رضي الله عنه. The encounter of souls is an obscure matter of ghayb, and cannot be subjected to out worldly standards. [10]

We should note that the above texts indicate that a person's soul travels very fast so as to meet other souls, angels, etc. Even if he sleeps for just a brief moment, his soul is taken and then returned to his body during that moment. Since the soul and its actions are affairs of ghayb which cannot be subjected to the laws of this world, the only correct approach is to accept and believe in all of the information about them that is based on authentic texts.

Allaah سبحانه و تعالى sends the soul during sleep on a mysterious journey that involves amazing visions and encounters. As for the souls whose term in this life has not yet ended, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى sends them back to their bodies. These released souls may then remember and relate some of what they experience during their journey (i.e. dreams)." [11]


[1] Imaam al-Qurtubi رحمه الله, al-Jaami' li-Ahkaam al-Qur'aan

[2] Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-'Uthaymeen رحمه الله, Sharh Riyaadh as-Saaliheen

[3] Recorded by al-Bukhaari رحمه الله, Muslim رحمه الله and others from Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه.

[4] Recorded by Muslim رحمه الله from Ibn 'Umar رضي الله عنهما.

[5] Recorded by al-Bukhaari رحمه الله, Imaam Muslim رحمه الله and others from Hudhayfah and al-Baraa'.

[6] Recorded by at-Tirmidhi رحمه الله, Ibn us-Sunni رحمه الله and others from Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه. Verified to be authentic by Shaykh al-Albaani رحمه الله.

[7] This happened when the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and his Companions رضي الله عنهم stopped to rest during their return from the battle of Khaybar and were so exhausted that they slept through the time of the Fajr prayer. This was recorded by al-Bukhari رحمه الله and Muslim رحمه الله, from Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه, Abu Qataadah رضي الله عنه and others.

[8] Recorded by Ibn 'Adiyy رحمه الله, Abu Nu'aym رحمه الله and others. Verified to be authentic by Shaykh al-Albaani رحمه الله.

[9] Recorded by Ahmad رحمه الله, Ibn Abi Shaybah رحمه الله and others. Verified to be authentic by Shaykh al-Albaani رحمه الله.

[10] See also: The Human Soul -

[11] Shaykh Muhammad al-Jibaly, The Dreamers Handbook, pp. 4-9.
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