Religious Concepts

The Soul


The Promised Messiah (as) wrote over 80 books in Arabic, Urdu, and Persian. Excerpts of his collected works have been translated into English and organised by topic. The Review of Religions is pleased to present these excerpts as part of a monthly feature. Here the Promised Messiah (as) rejects the notion that souls are eternal and uncreated, and presents evidence to show that they are in fact the creation of a Perfect God.

Extracts from The Essence of Islam, Vol. II, 381-392.

The Aryas believe that Permeshwar has created no soul and that all souls are eternal and uncreated. They also hold that man cannot attain eternal salvation, that after having been accommodated in the house of salvation for a period he is expelled therefrom and is returned once more to the earth. Both these doctrines are open to objection. The first one negatives the unity of God Almighty, and indeed His very Godhood altogether. The second doctrine bears with undue harshness upon a faithful servant of God. 

To explain it in detail, if all souls and all the particles of matter are deemed to be eternal and uncreated such a notion would generate many evils. For instance, in such a case no argument whatsoever can be advanced to establish the existence of God. If all souls and all particles are self-existing there would be no need for a creator merely for the purpose of bringing them together. 

An atheist can object that if everything is self-existing and uncreated what need is there for a Permeshwar for the mere purpose of putting them together. 

Another evil that would be generated by such a doctrine would be that it would deprive God of His very Godhood. Those who have knowledge of psychology and of the properties of the souls well understand that the wonderful properties with which the souls are invested are not created merely by bringing them together with the particles of matter. For instance, the souls possess a faculty whereby they can, through proper striving, gain knowledge of hidden things; so also they possess a faculty of reasoning by the exercise of which they can gain knowledge of intellectual matters; and they also possess the faculty of love by virtue of which they incline towards God. If all these faculties were to be deemed to exist without any creator this would be a grave affront to Permeshwar, as it would mean that the great and the high is self-existing and that the lowly and the inferior was left to be created by Permeshwar. It would have to be acknowledged that the self-existing wonderful faculties and qualities of the soul are far superior to the works of Permeshwar, so much so that Permeshwar himself is astonished at them. Thus this doctrine would seriously damage the Godhood of the god of the Aryas so that His existence would make no difference, and no argument would be available for upholding his existence. Moreover, He would cease to be the source of all grace. His function would only be a lowly one, and with regard to all the high wonderful performances of the souls it would have to be acknowledged that they are self-existent.

Every sensible person would realise that if such is the reality, then even if the existence of Permeshwar is acknowledged, he would be a weak and useless entity, the existence or non-existence of which would be equal, so much so that even if he were supposed to die it would not detract anything from the souls. Nor would any soul be bound to worship him as every soul can retort: ‘As you have not created me, nor is it you who have invested me with my faculties and powers and capacities, then by what right can you demand that I should worship you?’ 

Besides, as Permeshwar is not the creator of souls he cannot comprehend them and thus there would be a veil between Permeshwar and souls, and Permeshwar would not have full knowledge and full power over the unseen, and as he would not have full power his godhood would be upset and he would cease to exist. 

The Soul is Created out of Nothing by the Command of Allah 

It is obvious that full and perfect knowledge of something imports the power of fashioning that thing. That is why the philosophers have said that perfect knowledge becomes perfect action. So the question naturally arises, has Permeshwar full knowledge of the qualities and properties of souls? If he has full and perfect knowledge of all this, then how is it that despite such knowledge he is not able to create similar souls? This would mean not only that Permeshwar has not the power to create souls but also that he does not have full knowledge about them.

—Surmah Chashm Arya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 2, pp. 139-141

The Vedas present God as Imperfect 

The Vedas of the Aryas put forward a concept of God which is bound to repel a seeker after truth. The Aryas do not hold their Permeshwar as the source of his own kingdom but conceive that he has been given his kingdom by chance or good luck; that is to say, that by good luck he found a number of souls and particles and he compounded a world out of them. It is possible that there may be another store of souls and particles hidden somewhere of which Permeshwar has yet no knowledge. Is this a doctrine which is consistent with the majesty, power and greatness of Allah, the Glorious? 

God Almighty is the Perfect Being, Who is the Source of all grace, the Fountainhead of all lights, the Sustainer of all things, Who comprises all excellence, is comprehensive of all good qualities, and is entirely free from all weaknesses, defects, and dependence upon anything else. Reflection would show that by subscribing to the doctrine that souls and bodies are uncreated and self-existent all perfect divine attributes would be abolished and nothing would survive of Godhood. 

A person of average intelligence can comprehend that the unity of God Almighty means that His Being alone is the reality, and that everything else has proceeded from Him, subsists only through Him, and arrives at its perfection only by His grace. But alas! the theology of the Aryas teaches the contrary. Their books are full of their false claims that they themselves are also eternal and uncreated like Permeshwar and have a resemblance to him and are their own gods. They do not reflect that if they are eternal and self-existent and self-created, then resembling god in these respects, how did they agree to submit to him and who intervened to bring about this relationship between them?

…Even a boy can comprehend that if souls and bodies are eternal and self-existent, and are their own gods, Permeshwar cannot claim that He is their Lord and Creator. If they have not come into existence by the hand of Permeshwar how can he be their lord and master? For instance, if a child were to drop full-fledged from the sky, or should be born automatically from the earth, no woman would be entitled to claim it as her child. Her child can only be the one who is born of her womb. Thus he alone belongs to God who is brought into being by Him, and he who does not come into being in that manner can in no wise be His. No righteous and decent person takes possession of that which is not his, then how did the Permeshwar of the Aryas take possession of that to which he had no right? How hateful and inconsistent with truth is the doctrine which deprives the Lord and Master of the universe of His creation and bereaves Him of the true reality of Godhood. 

—Surmah Chashm Arya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 2, pp. 144-146

Allah can Create out of Nothing

Some Arya Samajists seek to support the notion of the souls being uncreated and their own gods with the argument that if souls were not existent at one time and came into existence by being created by God Almighty, this would mean creation out of non-existence and creation out of nothing is so incomprehensible a phenomenon that no sensible person can accept it. I would point out that people afflicted with false and defective reason do not believe even in God Almighty Himself, but a person possessing sane reason who believes in God is bound to believe in all His attributes which are the basis of His Godhead. He who believes in the essential attributes of God Almighty, that He is All-Powerful Whose power is subject to no limitation, will not dare to seek to measure His Power with his own defective reason and will not impose any limitation upon the powers of the Infinite God. Moreover, when a wise person perceives that God Almighty is in His Being comprehensive of the greatest wonders and is exalted beyond imagination, Who sees without eyes, hears without ears, speaks without a tongue, and without the help of builders, labourers, carpenters, instruments of architecture, and stores of bricks and stones, etc., can create heaven and earth in one moment by His mere design and order, he would have no hesitation in believing that such an All-Powerful God can create out of nothing. That is Godhood and that is why He is called Almighty, All-Powerful and Master of unlimited capacities. 

If His works were to be dependent, like the works of man, upon means, resources, and time, then what would be His Godhood and how would it operate? Are not all His works beyond the reach of reason? Are not His wonders such that human reason falls short of them? Then what kind of stupidity is it to take exception to that which is the basis and reality of His Godhood? 

What kind of Permeshwar would he be who should command that which he designs: ‘Be’, and nothing should happen. God is the name of that Possessor of wonderful powers Whose design accomplishes everything. When He commands that which He designs: ‘Be’, it comes into being at once by virtue of His perfect power. It is a most subtle mystery that the entire creation are the words of God. When the Christians out of their stupidity began to affirm that Jesus (as) was a word of God, that is to say his soul was a divine word which had taken the shape of his soul, God Almighty affirmed the truth that there is no soul that is not the word of God and has not come into being by the mere command of God. This is indicated by: 

قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنۡ أَمۡرِ رَبِّي 


That the word of God became manifest in the shape of souls and other creation is a subtle divine mystery which no human reason can penetrate. It has been revealed by the divine light of God’s holy word. If it is not believed that God Almighty manifests souls and bodies by His word and command it would have to be acknowledged that unless souls and bodies become available from outside, Permeshwar can do nothing. But can Permeshwar be such a bankrupt and empty handed being, the whole of whose godhood is dependent upon a chance occurrence? If such is Permeshwar all hope is vain and it would be a source of danger to rely on him. 

—Surmah Chashm Arya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 2, pp. 163-165

The Holy Qur’an affirms that souls are not self-existent and uncreated. They are created through a special union between two kinds of seminal seeds, and in the case of the smaller insects through only one type of matter. This is the truth which is confirmed by observation and which brooks no contradiction. It is folly to deny perceptible realities. When we say that the soul comes into being out of nothing it does not mean that before its coming into being it was nothing. It means that there was no pre-existing matter out of which man could extract the soul by his own power, and that divine power and wisdom alone produce the soul out of some matter. This is why when the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was asked: What is the soul?, he was commanded by God to respond that the soul has been created by the command of my Lord. The verse of the Holy Qur’an pertaining to it is: 

وَيَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ ۖ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنۡ أَمۡرِ رَبِّي وَمَآ أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ ٱلۡعِلۡمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلٗا 


That is they enquire of thee what is soul and how is it created? Tell them: The soul is created by the command of my Lord. That is, the creation of the soul is a mystery of creation of which you have little knowledge; meaning that your knowledge is confined only to the birth of the soul; as we observe that insects, etc., come into being under our observation from some matter. The birth of the human soul takes place under a divine law whereby when a framework is prepared gradually from the union of two seminal fluids. Then, as by the mixture of certain medicines a certain quality is generated in the compound which the elements thereof did not individually possess, in the same way a special quality is generated in the framework which is compounded of blood and sperm drops and it takes on the colour of a type of phosphorous. When the breeze of the divine manifestation blows upon it under the command: ‘Be’, it suddenly flares up and spreads its effect into all parts of the framework. Thereby the embryo comes alive. This very thing which blazes up within the embryo by divine manifestation is the soul and the same is the word of God. This process is described as the command of God because the faculty of the pregnant mother, which creates all the limbs of the embryo by the command of God and weaves its framework like the net of the spider, has no concern with the soul which is created by a special Divine manifestation. Though the phosphorous out of which the soul takes birth is produced by the framework, the spiritual spark which is called the soul cannot be born without the touch of the heavenly breeze. This is the true knowledge that the Holy Qur’an has furnished to us. It is beyond the reach of the reason of the philosophers. 

—Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 23, pp. 158-160

The Soul is the Creation of God 

The whole basis of salvation is the personal love of God Almighty, which is the name of the love generated by God Almighty in the very nature of the human soul. If the soul is not the creation of Permeshwar how can it have natural love for him? When and by what means did Permeshwar place his love with his own hand in the nature of the soul? But that is not possible, for natural love means the love which is inherent in the nature of the soul and is not added afterwards. This is indicated in the Holy Qur’an, where it is said: 

أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوْا بَلىٰ


I enquired from the human souls, ‘Am I not your Lord?’ and they responded: ‘Yes, indeed.’ 

This means that the human soul bears inherent testimony that God is its Creator. Thus the soul naturally loves its Creator as it has been created by Him. 

This is also indicated in another verse where Allah the Exalted says: 

 فِطۡرَتَ اللهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيۡهَا 


It is part of human nature for the soul to yearn for the One and Only God Who has no partner and not to content without communion with Him. In other words, God has invested the human soul with the yearning that it can find no comfort or serenity except in its meeting with God. Thus if the human soul is invested with this desire it must be acknowledged that the soul is the creation of God Who has invested it with this desire. It is a verity that the human soul is so invested, which proves that it is truly the creation of God. 

—Chashma Masihi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 20, pp. 363-364

The Holy Qur’an has set forth many conclusive reasons in support of the verity that souls are the creation of God. We set out briefly a few of them by way of illustration. 

First: It is obvious that all souls are at all times subordinate to and subject to the command of God Almighty, and there is no other cause for such subordination except that they are the creation of God. 

Second: It is also obvious that all souls are limited in their capacities and powers, as is proved by the diversity of the spiritual conditions and capacities of sections of mankind. This limitation must be imposed by a Limitor, which proves that souls are created. 

Third: It needs no argument to establish that all souls are, for the purpose of their perfection and survival, dependent upon and in need of a Being Who should be Perfect, All-Powerful, All-Knowing and an Absolute Benefactor. This proves that they are created. 

Fourth: A moment’s reflection would show that our souls comprise briefly all the wisdom and the creative skill that are demonstrated in the heavenly and the earthly bodies. That is why the universe on account of its diverse elements is known as the macrocosm and man is called a microcosm. Thus when the universe, on account of its wonderful qualities, is accounted the work of a Wise Creator, how would that not be the creation of God which on account of its personal wonders is a reflection of the whole universe and comprises within itself the wonderful qualities of all the units of the universe and illustrates the consummate wisdom of God Almighty? 

That which is a manifestation of all the wonders of divine attributes cannot be outside God’s creation. Indeed it bears the seal of creation more than anything else and is a greater proof of the existence of the Creator. This is not only a theoretical proof of the soul being created but is a bright verity. Moreover, other things have no consciousness of their being created but souls are by their very nature conscious of having been created. Even the soul of a savage cannot reconcile itself to being self-existent. This is indicated by the verse which says that: 

أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمۡ ۖ قَالُوْا بَلىٰ


That is, I enquired of the souls ‘Am I not your Creator?’ They responded: ‘Yes, indeed.’ 

This dialogue indicates the natural relationship between the Creator and His creation, the proof of which is inherent in the nature of souls. 

Fifth: As a child partakes somewhat of the features and character of his parents, in the same way souls, which have proceeded from the hand of God Almighty, partake somewhat of the character and qualities of their Creator. Though in cases in which the darkness and heedlessness of being created prevails over some souls the divine colour appears somewhat faded, yet it cannot be denied that every soul possesses that colour to some degree. In some cases that colour appears unattractive on account of misuse, but that is not the fault of the colour, it is the fault of the use to which it is put. None of man’s faculties or powers is evil. It is misuse that makes them appear evil. Every faculty employed on its proper occasion is wholly good and beneficent, and in truth all the faculties that are bestowed on man are a reflection of divine powers. As a son exhibits some features of his father, in the same way our souls reflect the features and qualities of divinity which are easily recognised by those who possess comprehension. As a son has natural love for his father, we, who are from God, have natural love for Him. If our souls had not a natural relationship with God those who seek Him would have had no means of reaching Him. 

—Surmah Chashm Arya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 2, pp. 167-169


[1] ‘Say: The soul is by the command of my Lord.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 17:86.

[2] The Holy Qur’an, 17:86.

[3] The Holy Qur’an, 7:173.

[4] The Holy Qur’an, 30:31.

[5] The Holy Qur’an, 7:173.