Shaykh Hasan Ali delivers a talk on the topic ‘The 6 Lives of the Soul’ at the ‘The Journey of the Soul’ Conference held at The Waterlily, Mile End.
By: Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi
Indeed Allah is All-Powerful (Al-`Aziz) and He is able to do all things (Allahu ‘ala kuli shayin qadir). The Quran has mentioned this hundreds of times. It is also mentioned in the Quran that Allah is the Creator and He is the Best Creator. Glory be to Allah, the best Creator. (Al-Mu’minoon: 14)
But then the question comes why do pain and sufferings exist in the world. We find sickness, old age and death. We see things that are ugly, people who are insane and foolish. There are storms, earthquakes, floods, draught and famine. We also see people commit sins, show disloyalty, unfaithfulness, greed and insincerity. We see people commit rapes, murders; they fight and make wars. We know all these and many more problems. There are evils caused by human beings and there are natural disasters. There are suffering for individuals and there are those that involve a large number of people.
But we also know that this is not the whole story. Besides all these negative things, we also see beauty, health, prosperity, life, birth, wisdom, intelligence, growth and progress. We also see goodness among people, faith, sincerity, charity, love and the spirit of sacrifice. We also see a lot of virtue and piety. It is wrong to see one side of the coin and not to see the other side. Any philosophy that concentrates on one aspect of the creation and denies or ignores the other side is partially true and partial truths are no truth at all.
KNOWLEDGE of self is the key to the knowledge of God, according to the saying: “He who knows himself knows God,” and, as it is Written in the Koran, “We will show them Our signs in the world and in themselves, that the truth may be manifest to them.” Now nothing is nearer to thee than thyself, and if thou knowest not thyself how canst thou know anything else? If thou sayest “I know myself,” meaning thy outward shape, body, face, limbs, and so forth, such knowledge can never be a key to the knowledge of God. Nor, if thy knowledge as to that which is within only extends so far, that when thou art hungry thou eatest, and when thou art angry thou attackest some one, wilt thou progress any further in this path, for the beasts are thy partners in this? But real self-knowledge consists in knowing the following things: What art thou in thyself,
[1. Traditional saying of Muhammad.]
and from whence hast thou come? Whither art thou going, and for what purpose hast thou come to tarry here awhile, and in what does thy real happiness and misery consist? Some of thy attributes are those of animals, some of devils, and some of angels, and thou hast to find out which of these attributes are accidental and which essential. Till thou knowest this, thou canst not find out where thy real happiness lies. The occupation of animals is eating, sleeping, and fighting; therefore, if thou art an animal, busy thyself in these things. Devils are busy in stirring up mischief, and in guile and deceit; if thou belongest to them, do their work. Angels contemplate the beauty of God, and are entirely free from animal qualities; if thou art of angelic nature, then strive towards thine origin, that thou mayest know and contemplate the Most High, and be delivered from the thraldom of lust and anger. Thou shouldest also discover why thou hast been created with these two animal instincts: whether that they should subdue and lead thee captive, or whether that thou shouldest subdue them, and, in thy upward progress, make of one thy steed and of the other thy weapon.
The first step to self-knowledge is to know that thou art composed of an outward shape, called the body, and an inward entity called the heart, or soul. By “heart” I do not mean the piece of flesh situated in the left of our bodies, but that which uses all the other faculties as its instruments and servants. In truth it does not belong to the visible world, but to the invisible, and has come into this world as a traveller visits a foreign country for the sake of merchandise, and will presently return to its native land. It is the knowledge of this entity and its attributes which is the key to the knowledge of God.
Some idea of the reality of the heart, or spirit, may be obtained by a man closing his eves and forgetting everything around except his individuality. He will thus also obtain a glimpse of the unending nature of that individuality. Too close inquiry, however, into the essence of spirit is forbidden by the Law. In the Koran it is written: “They will question thee concerning the spirit. Say: ‘The Spirit comes by the command of my Lord.'” Thus much is known of it that it is an indivisible essence belonging to the world of decrees, and
By: Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed
In the Qur’an-e-Kareem the word nafs is used in two ways.
The first way that the word nafs is used is to indicate our own-self. Some people would translate it in English as “self,” some people would translate it in English as “soul.” An example of this is when Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an:
وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ فِي نَفْسِكَ
“And remember your Rabb inside yourself.” (7:205)
The second way the nafs has been used in the Qur’an, which is quite frequent, is that the nafs is referring to a specific part of our self and it is that part of our self that has desires, appetite, and some people call it ego. It has anger, it has passion, it has lust, desire, it has all these things. Some people may even call it the carnal self or the carnal soul. This nafs is not part of the rūh, [rather] its part of the physical human being. So if we wanted to say that we have some physical part of our creation, that is our body and ournafs and then Allah Almighty has also put inside of ourselves an inner or spiritual part of our creation, that is our rūh. This nafs is part of our physical self, even though its not part of our physical body.
Three adjectives have been used in the Noble Qur’an to describe three different types of nafs.
By: A. A. Mawdudi
The frequency and timings of the Prayers never let the object and mission of life be lost sight of in the maze of worldly activities.
Ibadah (act of worship) is an Arabic word derived from `abd (a slave) and it means submission. It portrays that God is your master and you are His slave and whatever a slave does in obedience to and for the pleasure of his master is worship.
The Islamic concept of worship is very wide. If you free your speech from filth, falsehood, malice, and abuse and speak the truth and talk goodly things and do all these only because God has so ordained to do, they constitute `ibadah, however secular they may look in semblance.
If you obey the law of God in letter and spirit in your commercial and economic affairs and abide by it in your dealings with your parents, relatives, friends, and all those who come in contact with you, then all these activities of yours are worship. If you help the poor and the destitute, give food to the hungry, and serve the ailing and the afflicted persons, and do all this not for any personal gain of yours but only to seek the pleasure of God, they are nothing short of worship. Even your economic activities, the activities you undertake to earn your living and to feed your dependants, are worship if you remain honest and truthful in them and observe the law of God.
Many believe that conscious awareness originates in the brain alone. Recent scientific research suggests that consciousness actually emerges from the brain and body acting together. A growing body of evidence suggests that the heart plays a particularly significant role in this process.
Far more than a simple pump, as was once believed, the heart is now recognized by scientists as a highly complex system with its own functional “brain.”
Research in the new discipline of neurocardiology shows that the heart is a sensory organ and a sophisticated center for receiving and processing information. The nervous system within the heart (or “heart brain”) enables it to learn, remember, and make functional decisions independent of the brain’s cerebral cortex. Moreover, numerous experiments have demonstrated that the signals the heart continuously sends to the brain influence the function of higher brain centers involved in perception, cognition, and emotional processing.