The Nature of God

Human Soul in the Light of the Quranic Teachings

36 HUMAN SOUL IN THE LIGHT OF THE QURANIC TEACHINGS (Translated from Chashma-i-Ma’rifat of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib, The Promised Messiah) The teachings of the Quran as to the birth and death of the soul are not only not opposed to reason, but are also in accordance with the facts which we witness every day. Facts bear unmistakable evidence that the very seeds of man and woman possess a capacity to give birth to soul. This capacity continues to develop until the body of the child is fully formed. Then there is created in it a soul with the command and power of God. These are facts which are daily observed. It is thus that God brings the soul into existence out of nonexistence for the soul is not a body. We also see that the soul is created out of the substance which gradually adopts the form of a body in the womb of the female. That substance is not necessarily prepared from some soul-bearing vegetable, but may also be prepared from any kind of flesh. Sometimes, the substance that gives birth to animals like frogs and some insects lies deep in the earth. Indeed it is one of the mysteries of divine power that out of matter. He creates something which is neither matter nor material. Thus our daily observation clearly shows that the soul of man does not rain down ‘from the heavens, but that it is created out of the body by the power of Almighty God. The Holy Quran says: When the human mould is prepared in the womb, We perfect it with a new creation, l.e; We create the soul out of the matter which builds up the human mould. Again it says in the chapter titled Man: We create man out of mixed semen, i.e; the combined seeds of the male and the female parents. No body can deny that the child inherits the moral attributes of both the parents as he inherits the physical features of both. The verses of the Holy Quran quoted above show that the soul of man is created out of the seed from which the human mould is built up and this is borne out by the observations of millions of men. In some cases, this seed is prepared only from animal food. Can we imagine, then, that REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 37 the soul also falls on the skin of goats, &c., penetrates into their body and is mixed with their flesh, and that the particular piece of flesh with which the soul is mixed is further subdivided into two pieces, one to be eaten by the male and the other by the female, no matter, however distant they may be from each other, and even if one of them be a strict vegetarian? Can we imagine that the soul of such animals which form their food? There are numberless insects that lie buried fathoms deep in the earth. Hundreds come into view when we dig wells. Again, countless fish and other animals live deep in the ocean. How do the souls manage to find their way into the bodies of these animals? All these instances show the absurdity of the Arya Samajic theory that the soul falls down with the rays of the moon like a dewdrop on vegetables, etc; to be consumed by the female animals. If, for instance, milk is allowed to stand for somedays or pulse, after it has been cooked so that any germs that may have existed in it have been burned to death, continues to lie in some vessel for somedays, there are born in it numberless insects. How can, then, the theory that life cannot be breathed into any matter unless a soul falls on some vegetable, etc., to be consumed by the female, hold good? Those who believe that a soul after its departure from a body can come back to a new body by some means are bound to show how and by what means the outside soul finds its way into the body. This is a duty which they cannot shake off. When a soul leaves a body, no doubt is left as to its departure. If it comes back, it is the duty of the followers of the Vedas to demonstrate the manner of its entry into the body so clearly as to leave no room for doubt. But we are not bound to prove how the soul is created. In millions of instances we clearly observe souls being created, and that is enough. But the Aryas hold that the old souls come back and on them lies the onus of proving it. If they reject Daya Nand’s theory as erroneous, a mere rejection of the theory will not absolve them .of their duty to demonstrate the way by which old souls come back. We can show them that souls are created, but they cannot show that souls come from outside. The manner in which life is breathed into all land and sea animals clearly shows that souls are born in them and that they do not come from outside. In reality, all the works of God are beyond the comprehension of man. For instance, a human child is born from a drop of sperm and we are at a loss to undersold how man is created out of a trifle like that. It is quite incomprehensible how there are created out of it eyes that see, and ears that hear. The formation of human features, of hands and feet, of the heart, brain liver and all other members of the body is quite beyond human comprehension. Their formation appears to us as impossible as 38 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS creation out of nothing; for we are not able to form them, nor can human reason demonstrate the mode of their formation. As it is beyond our power to comprehend how the various members of the human body are formed, similarly it is beyond our power to understand how the soul is created. But we have shown that souls are created and we observe their creation every day; how can we then deny a palpable fact? If it is beyond our power to understand how the soul is created; it is also beyond our power to realise how man with all his faculties and organs is created out of a drop of sperm. The creation of both is equally beyond our comprehension and we are not justified in denying the creation of the one and admitting the creation of the other. It is the height of presumption on the part of man to meddle with the works of the Divine Being. There are thousands of secrets in the works of God which baffle our understanding, but our daily observation compels us to admit them. Similarly our observation forces us to admit that the souls are created and that they do not fall from above. Dig the earth fathoms deep, and you will find animals there. Can it be imagined that the soul rains down upon them from the firmament?. It is a matter of every day observation that souls are created, and to assert in the face of these observations that the souls rain down from the higher regions is highly ridiculous and childish. It is an established fact that in every thing on this earth, there is an essence out of which there may come into existence some animal form. Even the iron that rusts may give rise to an insect. Living forms may also be found in the heart of stones. Every kind of corn and every kind of fruit gives rise to insects when it is rotten. When a man dies and is buried in the earth, his body soon becomes full of insects. There is a kind of fruit called golar (wild fig) in which no insects are to be seen when it is raw, but as it ripens, its substance gives rise to insects, some of which may even take wings and fly away when the fruit is cut. When the egg of a fowl becomes addled, it is found to be teeming with insects. All these examples show that the theory advanced by the Vedas and advocated by Pundit Daya Nand hardly explains the birth of these animals, which can only be fitly described by saying that God brings animals into existence out of non-existence. It is said that souls fall down on vegetables, &c., but there are living organisms even inside those very vegetables. Where do their souls come from? Unlike the Vedas, the Quran says that the souls are not uncreated but that they come into existence along with the body. This is the truth about the birth of souls which is borne out by established facts and REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 39 which we cannot but accept. When we say that the soul comes into existence out of non-existence, we do not mean to say that it was nothing before it was created. What we mean to say is that before the soul came into being, there was no material out of which man with his own efforts, could draw a soul. It is only the power and wisdom of God which brings the soul into existence out of some matter. It was for this reason that on the Holy Prophet being questioned as to the reality of the soul, God said: 5U5 1̂ (JbJI <> fjuJjl Uj ^J J.\> £JjJI J5 £jj\ ,%li_y The unbelievers ask thee as to the reality of the soul and the manner of its creation; say the soul is created by the command of God, (i.e; it is a mystery of divine power) and you have no knowledge concerning the soul save a little, (i.e; your knowledge of the soul is only this much that you can see it being created and no more.) The law of God pertaining to the creation of the human soul is that when the human mould is gradually developed, there is produced in it a new essence, just as two or more elements being united together acquire a new property which was not possessed by them separately. The bright essence thus engendered in the body is at once kindled, when the wind of divine manifestation blows on it and it pervades the whole body of the foetus in the womb and animates it. It is then that a life is breathed into the body, and that bright essence when kindled by the command of God is called the soul. It is the Word of God and is said to come into existence at His command for the natural power of the female, which causes the body to grow like the web of the spider with the permission of God, has no share in the creation of the soul, which is purely a manifestation of divine power. Though this spiritual fire, called soul, appears out of the body, yet it cannot be produced unless the heavenly zephyr breathes on it. This is the true knowledge of the soul, which is revealed to us by the Holy Quran; and the Vedas, like all other books, are devoid of it. It is thus that the soul is said to come into existence out of nonexistence, but by this we do not mean to say that it is brought into existence out of absolute nothingness, for the whole universe depends on the system of cause and effect. The objection may be raised that if the soul is created, it should also be subject to death. The answer to this objection is, that it is indeed subject to death. Anything which loses its attributes is said to die. If any drug has lost its properties, it is said to be dead. Similarly, with regard to the soul it is an established fact that under certain circumstances it loses its 40 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS attributes, nay, it undergoes even greater changes that the body itself. It is when these changes separate the soul from its attributes that it is said to die, for when a thing leaves its essential attributes, it is said to die. It is for this reason that the Holy Quran describes only those souls as living after their departure from this world as have attained the object of their creation, viz., the souls which are characterised by perfect love of God and perfect submission to the Divine Being. All other souls are represented as dead. In short, the death of the soul consists in its being saparated from its attributes. For instance, when a man is subjected to a death at the time of his sleep, his soul also undergoes a simultaneous death, i.e; it loses the attributes which it possessed in the state of wakefulness. In sleep, it no longer possesses the attributes which it possessed when the man was awake and its relinquishing its attributes during sleep may be fitly represented as its death, for death only means the loss of attributes. The word death is often misunderstood. It not only means complete annihilation but also the loss of essential properties or characteristics. When a body dies, it does not become quite extinct, for its dust still exists. Similar is the death of the soul, for it too is deprived of its attributes and properties. As the body ceases, to do its work during sleep, similarly the soul of a sleeping person is deprived of the powers which it possessed when the person was awake. For instance, the soul of a living person meets a dead person during sleep and does not know that the person is dead. It totally forgets this world as soon as a person goes to sleep. Then it casts off the garb of this world and dons quite a new garb. It remembers nothing of this world, unless it is reminded of it by God. It is completely divested of its own powers and actually enters the house of God. All its movements, words and passions are under the control of the Divine Being, and it is so completely under the power of God that everything which it does, or speaks, or hears, and every movement it makes, cannot be said to be proceeding from its own will. On the other hand, it is totally deprived of all will and displays every sign of death. Thus it undergoes a greater death than the body. I wonder at those who do not ponder even over their state of sleep. If the soul was to be exempted from death, it ought to have been exempted from it even in sleep. The state of sleep serves us for a mirror in order to realise the state of death. On who wants to attain a true knowledge respecting the soul should ponder much over the state of sleep. Every secret of death may be discovered by means of sleep. If you will properly ponder over the state of sleep and will consider attentively the way in which the soul undergoes a death during sleep, you will be convinced that the state of death is similar to the state of sleep. So it is wrong to say that the soul REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 41 after its departure from the body continues in the same condition in which it was in this life. On the other hand, it, by the command of God, is subjected to a death similar to that to which it is subjected during sleep, but that death is much stronger than the death of the soul during sleep. Every attribute of the soul is, then, ground under the millstone of extinction, and that is the death of the soul. Then only those are raised from death, who, while here, did deeds which could give life. No soul has power to remain alive. Does it lie in the power of man to maintain a fast hold, during sleep, of the attributes and knowledge which he possessed during wakefulness? Nay, the moment one closes one’s eyes, the state of the soul is completely changed and it is overtaken by a death which upsets its very existence. God says with reference to the death of the soul: ^ ̂ 1 ̂ J ol God takes hold of the souls at the time of their death. They come completely under the control and power of God and lose their will and self-consciousness. They forego the attributes of life and undergo a complete death. And the souls that are not really dead but whose condition bears a close resemblance to death are the souls, of those that go to sleep. In the state of death, the soul goes into the hands of God and undergoes a change which renders it unconscious and forgetful of the world. In short, both in the state of death and in sleep, the soul is so completely under the control of God that it parts with its will and self-consciousness, which are the signs of life. Then God detains such souls as have been made to undergo real death and sends such souls back to the world for a time as were not subjected to real death. In this there are signs for those that ponder and reflect. This is the translation and explanation of the verses quoted above. These verses show that there is a death for the souls, as there is a death for the body. But the Holy Quran also shows that the souls of the elect of God are recalled from death after some days, some after three days, some after a week, and others after 40 days. This new life of theirs is a life of extreme bliss, sweetness and enjoyment. It is to attain this life that the righteous servants of God turn to God with all their power and strength and with complete sincerity and devotion. It is to be blessed with this life that they exert themselves to the utmost of their powers to free themselves from the impurities of the worldly life. It is to achieve this life 42 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS that they adopt a bitter life here and bring on themselves a death in order to win the pleasure of their Divine Master. In short, as the foregoing verse shows, there is a death for the soul as there is a death for the body. Though the most secret conditions of the next life are unknown to us in this dark world, yet the state of sleep, no doubt, serves as a specimen of the life to come. The death which overtakes the soul in this life is well exemplified in the state of sleep, for we know that as soon as we close our eyes, all the attributes of our wakefulness and every thing connected with it is totally forgotten, and all the knowledge that we possessed while awake is buried in oblivion. The scenes which we see during sleep prove beyond doubt that our soul has been totally changed and has lost all the attributes it possessed during wakefulness. This is a condition which bears a close resemblance to death, nay, it is really a kind of death, and is a conclusive evidence of the fact that the death which overtakes the soul at the time of the death of the body is like the death which overtakes the soul at the time of sleep; but the real death is far greater than the death of the soul during sleep. We see strange scenes during sleep. Sometimes we see ourselves as children and we forget the fact that we are grown up men and have children and a wife. These scenes which come into existence during sleep conclusively show that the soul loses memory and other attributes. This state may be justly called death. The Vedas have committed a serious mistake in representing the souls as eternal and undying like God, and it is sheer ignorance to regard such a book as a source of all wisdom, a book which sets up the creatures of God as partners with Him in eternity. Unlike the Vedas, the Holy Quran represents the souls as created and subject to death and not eternal arid undying. As to the souls being created, the Holy Quran observes: When the human mould is prepared, We bring about in it a new creation, i.e; We create therein the soul. Again it says: Say, (0 Prophet,) that the soul is created by the command of my Lord and that you know very little about it. The Holy Quran has also hinted on many occasions that the morals of a soul are according to the substance of the seed. If we consider the beasts, the birds, and the insects, etc; we come to the conclusion that the REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 43 attributes of the soul of each animal are according to the substance of the seed. In addition to the verses quoted above, there is another verse which shows that the souls are created. It runs thus: Ijtjjij sjJXi “^ JS (Jlj-j God is He who has created every thing; (there is -nothing outside His creation), and He has placed a limit on (the body, powers, faculties, properties and forms of) each, (so that their limitations may point to a limiter, who is God). But God Himself is unlimited, therefore we cannot ask respecting Him, who is the limiter of God? The verse quoted above clearly states that every thing that has come into existence has, with all its powers and faculties, been created by God. This teaching is in consonance with the perfect unity of God; for it represents God as the source of all bounties, and according to it there is nothing which is not created by God and is not sustained by Him. The teaching that every thing is created by God is the first part of the teaching of Divine unity. The second part of the doctrine of Divine unity consists in the teaching that nothing in itself is exempt from death, except God. On this point, God says: < ĵ •*! diu ̂ j. j* Every thing is subject to death except God, Who is free from it. Similarly another verse says: t)l* Lfjk |> JS’ Everything that is on the earth is to die. As God has included all things in His creation by saying: ^j^aia. He created everything The word js conveying the idea of totality, similarly He represents all things as subject to death by saying: Everything is subject to death except God. the same word J^ (every) being repeated in this verse. Similarly, the other verse: Everything on this earth is to die, represents all things as subject to death. As the body undergoes 44 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS a death by decomposition and decay, similarly, the soul undergoes a death when it foregoes its attributes. But those who lose themselves in God are again raised to life, because they attained a union with God, and because their lives were shadows of Divine life. The unclean souls are also given a sense so that they may be subjected to torment, but they are neither among the dead nor among the living, like the man who is suffering from an excruciating pain, when his condition is as bad as death and when the whole earth and heavens grow dark in his eyes. Of these, the Holy Quran says: For him who comes to his Lord as a criminal, there is Hell, where he will neither live nor die. When a man looks into his own-self and considers how his soul undergoes changes in wakefulness and sleep, he will not hesitate to admit that his soul, too, like his body, is subject to change and death is nothing but a change and loss of attributes. When a living being dies, the body still exists, but we apply the word death to it on account of the change it undergoes. It is to this that God refers when he says: Do you not look carefully into your ownselves? This verse means that there are placed in the souls wonderful properties which are not placed in the bodies, and that if a man reflects deeply on the state of his soul, he can soon recognise God. There is also a saying of the Holy Prophet to that effect. He is reported to have said: One who recognises his ownself recognises God Man cannot derive much benefit from the changes which bodies undergo, for physical things soon become a habit. But the changes of the soul, particularly during our exertions to purify it and in visions, are so wonderful that they, as it were reveal the face of God. The spiritual wayfarers, at every stage of their spiritual advancement, feel that the former condition of their souls was, as it were, a state of death, and that in their earlier stages their souls did not possess the knowledge and light which they have attained in the later stages. Even those who learn the worldly sciences realise how immersed in sleep were their souls in childhood, and what a new light dawned on their souls after they made an advancement in learning and science. Referring to the souls, God says: REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 45 I said to the souls, Am I not your Lord? They responded, Yes. This verse means that a belief in the existence of God is implanted in the nature of souls, and that if a man looks carefully into his soul, he will recognise God. But when a man plunges himself in the darkness of negligence and is affected by unholy teachings, he denies the existence of God who is His creator, and entertains doctrines which are not in consonance with what God has impressed on his nature. It is apparent that every person bears love for his parents, so much so, that some children die after the death of their mothers. So, if the soul of man does not proceed out of the Hand of God and is not created by Him, who is it that has implanted the love of God in its nature, and why is it that as soon as the eyes of man are opened and he casts off his negligence, his heart is attracted towards God and a river of the love of God flows in his breast. This shows that there is some tie between God and the souls which makes them mad in divine love. They are so lost in the love of God that they are prepared to sacrifice their all in His path. The truth is, that the tie which unites the souls with the Divine Being is so wonderful that the relations of children with their mothers and father are not comparable with it. If, as the Arya Samajists represent, the souls are self— existent, how did this wonderful tie come into existence. Who placed this love, this passion, in the souls? This point deserves the deepest consideration and is a key to the true knowledge of God. It is an admitted fact that the human body is subject to constant decay. The old particles of matter composing the body are, every moment, being replaced by new ones. How the waste of the body is repaired by new matter may best be seen when a man recovers from a long disease which has decimated his body and has reduced it to a mere skeleton. After recovery, he gradually gains in flesh, until he recovers his original bulk. The body is, thus every moment, undergoing a death and gaining a life. And just as the body undergoes changes, similarly the soul also undergoes changes. The soul, too, like the body, is undergoing a death and gaining a life every moment. The only difference is that the changes of the body are apparent and palpable, while those of the soul are hidden as the soul itself is hidden. Again, the changes of the soul are unending. Ert>’m the Holy Quran it appears that even in paradise the souls will be undergoing changes, but the changes there will be for the better. The souls will ever be advancing forward in their spiritual journey, every stage of their advancement being so much higher than the preceeding stages, that the state of the souls in the latter may be

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