What is the soul?
By Usman Ali

The two dominant Islamic opinions

Published in: Self, Science
Date: 17 / 05 / 19

What is the Soul?

Two Orthodox Traditions Amongst The Earlier Ulama:

 Al-Jism Al-Latif (Subtle body)

According to this position, the Soul is placed in the physical realm of existence known as Mulk where it pervades the entire body. It was neither considered an abstract object, nor was it considered an opaque corporeal substance. Accordingly, this position did not necessarily entail a physicalist reading, dominant before Al-Ghazali, which equated all reality with the physical entities/objects, nor did it entail a purely metaphysical and/or supranatural reading. Thus, despite its existence within the physical realm, the science/methodology of physics, as it stood then (or maybe even now), was/is insufficient in explaining the reality of the Soul.

Jawhar Al-Mujarrad (Immaterial substance)

According to this position, the Soul is an abstract non-physical entity/object placed in the angelic realm known as Malakūt. This was the dominant position after Al-Ghazali, while the Jism-based (subtle body) position was prevalent amongst the laity. However, it seems that Al-Ghazali himself did not take a concrete position in this matter, probably due to obscurity of this subject-matter. However, I may stand corrected should a clear reference be provided.

And Allah Knows Best

About the author

Sheikk Usman Ali holds an Alimiyyah degree and has taught at various Islamic Institutes. He is also an Associate Lecturer and a PhD candidate at the University of Portsmouth and holds a Chartered Scientist Award. Currently, he works as a Senior Specialist in Haematology with clinical laboratory and research roles.​

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