Creation of the Soul

Islam posits that all human beings were created in a natural state of submission inclining towards God. This is related to the ‘first pledge’ that all souls took in a gathering before time. In the Quran God says, “Recall when your Lord took out the offspring from the loins of the Children of Adam and made them bear witness about themselves, He said, ‘Am I not your Lord?’ and they replied, ‘Yes, we bear witness’” [7:172].

The Primordial State

Then God places the souls of each human being in their physical bodies whilst their spiritual state remains upon its natural disposition. Prophet Muhammad, peace, and blessings be upon him, said, “every child is born upon fiṭrah”. The word ‘fiṭrah’ which can be loosely understood as a ‘primordial state of innocence and purity’ is the sinless and pure state that every child is born into, thereafter, depending on the upbringing of that child and the life he/she leads they either incur sin or earn reward which in turn either strengthen the fiṭrah or cause it to decay and degenerate.

To understand the concept of fitra, another narration by Prophet Muhammad uses the same word in a different yet connected context, “ten acts are part of fiṭrah: trimming the moustache, letting the beard grow, cleaning the teeth using a miswak (tooth-stick/tooth-brush) cleaning the nose by sniffing water, clipping the nails, washing the knuckles, removing hair from the underarms, removing pubic hair, and cleaning the private parts with water.” In this narration the Prophet lists the cleaning or trimming of body parts that one is naturally disposed to do so, parts

that if they are not cleaned or trimmed can lead to irritation. Even though the word fitrah is being used in an entirely different context it still has that connotation of a ‘primordial disposition’ that inclines to one thing or another. Whilst the fiṭrah which is being used to refer to a ‘primordial state’ of human beings, is naturally disposed to incline towards the One True God, only He Who is worthy of worship.

Therefore, there are two aspects of the fiṭrah, (1) that all humans are created pure and sinless, and (2) that every human is naturally disposed to incline towards God in submission. Thus, every person is naturally disposed to gain salvation, except that he/she either steer further away because of sin or remain on course by leading a life of good and righteousness and as a result achieve greater reward.

The Self

As this person grows and is nurtured, they develop a unique personality and a nafs which either continues to yearn for God or inclines towards evil. In Islam the word nafs is often used to refer to the ‘soul’ or the ‘self’ which develops depending on how a person nurtures it. The Quran makes reference to three types of nafs: (1) nafs ammāra, the commanding nafs, which is prone to the lower aspects of oneself, representing negative drives, causing a person to pursue only worldly gain, wants and desires [12:53]; (2) nafs lawwāma, the self-reproaching nafs, which is an awakened state where one feels remorse for having committed wrong and is saddened by the distance between themself and God [75:2]; and (3) nafs muṭma’innah, the peaceful nafs, which allows one to feel tranquillity and contentment after having repented from the sins and wrongdoings of the nafs lawwāma [89:27].

The nafs then, represents the inner or spiritual state of a person, which in turn is the product of how a person is nurtured and how they choose to live their life. Whilst the fiṭrah is the innate disposition that yearns for God the nafs is the mature state that either continues in submission to God or is distant from Him. This discussion highlights the fact that mankind is in a constant state of flux or anxiety. There has to be a perpetual effort to maintain the equilibrium and stay on the right course, whilst the life of this world consumes a person and like a siren lures man towards their desires by promising prosperity and/or striking adversities. A righteous person is one who maintains a strong tether connected with God in moments of prosperity and adversity knowing that all good and bad is from God, willing to appreciate God’s wisdom in all decisions and conclusions.

In the Quran God informs mankind of affliction and adversity but also provides a solution: to bear patiently and continue with prayer.


Patience and Prayer


In the Quran God says, “Seek help with patience and prayer, though this is hard indeed for anyone but the humble” [2:45]. Being patient through moments of both adversity and prosperity and turning to God for assistance is an endeavour which leads to a nafs muṭma’innah, a content and peaceful self that has achieved salvation.

Prosperity and moments of bliss or bounty can often cause a person to feel independent and harbour sentiments of pride and arrogance. At this point, one should avoid feeling that they themselves are the sole cause of success and remind themself that God is the one who gives, and that one should be grateful for His virtue and blessings. Feeling grateful, towards God, at times of prosperity is a sign of patience, whilst falling into prostration or performing prayer as often as possible, both obligatory and voluntary acts, is physically and ritually indicative of gratitude.

Likewise in moments of adversity when a person feels distant from God or is lost, Islam teaches to bear with patience as opposed to indulging in ‘why’ or ‘how’ something has or has not occurred. A believer recognises the futility of this world and realises that his/her time is a limited test of wits and deeds, so he/she utilises every moment to simply earn the grace and pleasure of God. When the life of this world turns sour and/or its inhabitants became distant, the believer finds solace in worshipping his/her Lord. They are reminded of the words of God, “And when My servants ask you, concerning Me, indeed I am near” [2:186].

Therefore, salvation lies in being patient during moments of both prosperity and adversity and finding contentment by indulging in repentance for past sins and by showing gratitude through prayer during the present, whilst preparing to reap Gods Mercy and Love for the future.

Read more

The Destiny of Humanity – Part 2

The Destiny of Humanity –…

The Destiny of Humanity – Part 2 In the opening verses of the second chapter of the Qur’an, Surah Al Baqrah, Allah divides mankind into three types believers, disbelievers and hypocrites. After detailing each one’s traits and characteristics Allah invites all of mankind to worship him, the creator of the heavens and…

Allah’s Challenge to Mankind

Allah’s Challenge to Mankind

Allah’s Challenge to Mankind One of the greatest miracles of the Holy Qur’an is its inimitability, this outstanding challenge to mankind has stood strong for over 1400 years. In the time of the Prophet Muhammad his enemies accused him of many things ranging from being called a mad man, magician to a…

Family matter – Part 2

Family matter – Part 2

Family Matters The family is a part of the Islamic social order. The society that Islam wants to establish is a society based on social justice, liberating people from the worship of man to the freedom and liberation to worship their one true god. The Islamic society is based around the human…