The concept of soul is a discourse that is fascinating to people from all walks of life. The essence, characteristics, nature of the human has always been a captivating to people of all religions, backgrounds and ages. Since the nature of this topic tends to be very exciting- one who investigates this subject is faced with a huge amount of conflicting data.
Philosophers and thinkers have always differed greatly regarding the nature of this entity that dwells and is the essential ingredient of life itself in the human body.
- Is the human soul is a part of the human body or a different entity altogether?
- Does it stay or move on to a different life or a spiritual world of its own when the person dies?
- Is it non-essential part of the body or a part of the physical body?
- Does it remain confined to the place of burial of a person or is it free to move towards a dimension or a world unseen to this one?
The concept of soul is central to religion and play’s an important role concerning one’s fate in this world and what is to come after it.
Hinduism: Transmigration of the soul. In Hinduism, it is believed that the soul is transferred into another body after one’s death. Thereby, creating a continual cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. This concept in Hinduism is known as Samsara. The determinant of one’s fate in the next life is known as Karma. Karma is the accumulated sum of one’s deeds either good or bad. It is a law of cause and effect that believes that one creates his own destiny by his thoughts, actions and words. Every soul has to evolve through a series of lives, deaths and rebirths until all his karmas have been resolved. Once the soul achieves the karmic perfection, it is believed to merge with Brahman.
Christianity: Under Christianity, St. Augustine spoke about the concept of the soul and the human body as being considered two different entities, wherein the soul represents the actual person. The soul was believed to be everlasting, the idea being that it created by God and imbued in the body at conception. Although, soul and body were considered different, it was believed that the idea of imagining a soul without a body is inconceivable. St. Thomas Aquinas came back to the Greek scholars' idea of the spirit as a propelling standard of the body, free yet requiring the substance of the body to make a person. The concept of soul hence has been subject to debate where Western philosophers greatly differed and disputed regarding it.
Buddhism negates the concept of a soul declaring that any feeling of having an individual interminable soul or of participating in a steady all inclusive self is deceptive.
The anatta doctrine of Buddhism mentions that there is “no eternal, essential and absolute something many refer to as a soul, self or atman” at the center of every single person and living creature. Buddhism, right from the beginning, has precluded the presence from securing 'oneself, soul' in its center philosophical and ontological writings.
Judaism believes that the body and soul are two separate entities yet indivisible in nature in the life of a human. The human body is believed to be a tool given by God, one that shouldn’t be imprisoned or corrupted but rather to do righteous work in this world. Judaism believes that a soul requires care, respect, protection because it is considered holy and blessed.
Islam being the only divinely revealed religion that was also divinely preserved is the one that truly holds the answers to a human’s many questions about the soul. This perfectly preserved and unadulterated religion not only resonates with sound logic and reasoning but also perfectly holds the answers about the soul, the reason for its creation, its fate after death, the afterlife leaving no room for doubt about the purpose of one’s life and the great beyond.
The concept of soul in Islam is based on the primary authentic sources of the Islamic law which is known as the Shariah, the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet as well as on sound reasoning and rational thought. Islam describes as both the body and the soul to be two essential parts of a man. The human soul is an entity that differs from the body in the sense that it isn’t physical nor tangible in this world.
The human soul is an entity that is higher in status than body and luminous that existed long before the physical form of body of a man came into being. Islam describes that all the human souls of every human that existed, exists or will exist resided in a place where all the human souls lived known as the Alam-e-Arwah (land of souls). It is where all the human souls were brought forth and gave a covenant where all the souls bore witness that Allah is their Lord. This is believed to be the first stage of the human soul.
The second stage is where the human souls descended in the lowest form of world in this hierarchy of universe known as dunya in their physical form to fulfill the covenant given by them to their Lord. Here, they forget all about the covenant and their primary purpose in life which was to worship Allah. In Islam, it is believed that one hundred and twenty days after the conception, the soul enters into the womb of its mother in this dunya.
The third stage is in known as Alam-e-barzakh, a realm between this human world and the great beyond that is inter space where people are in their graves. In the graves, both the believing and disbelieving soul will be questioned where they will know the outcome of their deeds and the destination they are headed towards in the fourth stage of human soul.
The fourth stage of the human soul is where all the humans will be brought forth in front of their Lord one day where all of them will be brought to account for their deeds and actions in the lower world. The Judgment given on this day will be by none other than the Lord Himself who is the Most Wise and Most Just. This judgment will determine the final and eternal abode of the soul.
The fifth and final abode of the soul is the eternal abode which will either be Paradise or Hell, the former being an eternity of closeness to Lord Almighty and everlasting blissfulness and the latter being an eternity of never ending punishment and damnation.
The soul is believed to be molded perfectly in the human body where it is alive, penetrating into the limbs, constantly moving and circulating the body as if the water circulates through rose petals. Although nonphysical, the soul occupies the human body thereby filling in it.
The soul will maintain its penetration and filling up the human body so as long as it remains sound and functioning. However, once the forces holding life together in human body don’t function any longer, the soul leaves in order to ascend to the spiritual world.