The Soul in Islam

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Q: I've come across some information regarding necromancy and the belief of an immortal soul. These beliefs are contrary to Islam. My questions is this, what is the position in Islam with regard to the soul?

A:
The Holy Quran states: And they ask you about the Rooh (Soul). Say: The Rooh is among the affairs of My Lord. And you have not been granted anything of knowledge except a little” (Surah 19, verse 85)

This verse tells us that the soul is Divine because it comes from Allah, and it further indicates that not much of the soul is known to man. At many places in the Holy Quran, where Allah speaks of the creation of Adam, mention is made of My Rooh , for example,  And I blew into him (Adam) part of My Rooh or Soul. (Surah 15)

This further enforces the belief that a soul is Divine in its origin. There is, of course, a difference in the soul of Adam and the soul of the rest of Allah’s creation, in that the former came directly from Allah, while the latter was created. All souls were created from the back of Nabi Adam (Alayhis-salaam) and preserved in the realm of the World of Souls (Aalamul-Arwaah). Subsequent to Nabi Adam’s entry into this world, as each human fetus developed to a period of 120 days, its soul that was existing millenniums before was introduced into the womb to give life to that fetus.

So the souls were created long ago and only instilled into the human bodies at a prescribed time inside the mother’s womb. This happened over the passing of time and continues to happen till the end of time.

It is for this reason the Ulema say souls are immortal, that is, they don’t die. When the body dies, it means the soul departs from that body and goes to a place destined by Allah. When it is time for the body to be questioned or resurrected, the soul will be re-introduced into the body.

As regards the art of necromancy, this is, as you quite rightly observed, an art of black magic that is contrary to Shariah. It is basically a practice carried out by a magician to invoke or control the spirits of the dead using strange words and symbols, some of which are clear-cut kufr in Islam. In Shariah, this is neither permissible nor possible. It is not possible for a living person to control the souls of the dead. So what the necromancer does is not actually invocation and controlling of the dead souls; instead it is jinn and shaytaan that come in the form of certain souls and impersonate dead people. This is also where the concept of ghosts emerge; people seeing the image of a dead man or woman ‘haunting’ a house or area; these are jinn who can assume the forms of humans to frighten and scare people. When the magician recites his mantra of kufr, the jinn responds by appearing in the form of the shapes of dead people whom these magicians are calling out to. They mistakenly believe it is the dead person responding, whilst in reality it is the deception of jinn.

It has been experienced through first-hand evidence that some souls of dead people still roam around and appear in certain places. This can be put down to two reasons. One applies to the souls of pious people. These have been seen offering salaah or doing some good act after death, as they were in the habit of doing whilst alive. Well, this is actually a reward from Allah for the good that they were always doing, and applies especially to acts that a person used to do with passion while alive. Once a Sahaabi unknowingly sat down on a grave. He was then surprised to see someone in the grave reciting Quran. When he reported this to Rasoolullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), the Messenger of Allah said that Allah rewarded that deceased by allowing him to recite Quran even after death. It is known that the body had died, so the image he saw reciting Quran was actually the soul of that deceased, which as explained above does not die.

The second applies to the souls of evil people, whose punishment is that the soul can neither go back into the body, nor rise up to Allah because it is rejected. It then roams around the earth and is sometimes seen by people. However, this is rare and not due to the invocations and mantras of the necromancers. And such happenings do not last for long.

I trust this will give you a better understanding of the Rooh from an Islamic perspective. Our main focus should be to retain the divinity of the soul be constantly doing good and working towards its reformation and consolidation. Allah make this task easy for all, aameen

Mufti Siraj Desai