al-nafs and the cosmos
The notion of the soul is universal and certainly has an essential relationship with the cosmos. The soul is a divine mysterious concept of God’s creative command “amr” or the creative word “kalimat ul-eejaad” and it has different realities of definitions according to its station of existence “ma’qamul-wujood”.
The soul assumes two different definitions in respect to its two dimensional existence of the cosmos; the longitudinal and the latitudinal . In other words, the soul is essentially one in essence but multiple in its accidental existence. And the soul, in relation to this world, represent the reality of an entity; animate or inanimate. And it represents the identity of a thing through which any entity is able to assume a predetermined rank in existence-martaba wujoodiya. And through which it is enabled to embody its shape and exercise its decreed purpose in the lower realm of existence. So the soul is unique and independent from other souls of creation in relationship to its rank as “possible being-momkin al wujood” which is represented by its lower realm of existence. In other word, the soul is multiple in respects to the lower realm of creation ; when it embodies a particular physical sphere in the phenomenal world.
When soul is given different ranks of existence in the corporeal world to represent the various entities then it is defined as multiple in this second station of existence in respect to the latitudinal system. Hence the soul’s definition as multiple is contingent to its essence.
In regard to human soul and its definitions in respect to its creation, is expressed in the most extraordinary fashion in the Holy Quran in Surah 4:1.
4:1 . who created you from one soul, and out of it created its mate and out of the two spread away a multitude of men and women..allathee khalaqakum min nafsin wahidatin wakhalaqa minha zawjaha wabaththa minhuma rijalan katheeran wanisaan
الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالاً كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاء (4:1)
According to this verse we can establish three stages of creation of the human soul; in particular, and other souls in general, and these are:
1- The stage of essential unity-martabat wa’hdatul jawher: “who created you from a one soul-4:1”
This is the initial creation of one soul; in this stage the soul is brought into existence in the world of pure souls, by the direct command of God “amr” or His creative command-kalimatul eejad, This notion is signified in the first part of 4:1, as in: “who created you from a one soul-nafsin wa’hida” At this stage the notion of the essential unity of human souls is clearly established and based on this particular Quranic reference, the great Sufi master ibn ‘arabi, arrived at his famous doctrine of “unity of existence-wa’hdatul wujood“. This follows that all human beings are essentially united-muta’hida bil jawher“. From this verse we see the command of God or-amr, is directly involved in the process of the soul’s creation and existence. This notion is signified in the word “created you-khala’qaqum” 4:1 as in “created you from a one soul.”,
In this first station of existence “al-ma’qam al’awal” the human soul is unique and genderless, and united in essence “muta’hida bil-jawher” in respect to its higher station of existence “ma’qam wujoodiha” and it is singular from higher reality in respect to the creative word of God “amr” ; as in :
“created you from one soul…..nafs-in wahida-Quran4:1”
allathee khalaqakum min nafsin wahidatin
الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ
2- The stage of Duality of soul existence-al martaba al zawjiyya: li wujud al-nafs“; “and out of it created its mate-4:1″
This stage represent the creation of Duality of unity of the soul. In this stage we can see the the single reality of the one human soul is being further defined into two complimentary realities and in the same time they remain united in essence. In other words this pair of realities are essentially united but the nature of their duality, of essences, is divinely designed to maintain their essential unity. Furthermore this divine process is directly handled by the Supreme creator “Allah” the most high, and it be can seen in the usage of the word ” created-khala’qa” as in “created its mate” in the second part of 4:1 as in”.. and out of it created its mate,..Quran4:1 .
In other words, The soul in its second divine station “al-ma’qam al-thani” is given a gender from its own reality without being essentially separated rather both genders are two definitions of the same reality. And this divine second station of the soul is to establish the cosmological connection among both genders. It is only through this universal connection between both genders, humanity is given a universal divine force toward its cosmological goal that is to realize its humanness and then consequently realizes that this humanness is a manifestation of the true Reality of the cosmos “al-wujood“. This station of the soul’s existence is a true representation of the unity of the reality of both genders, male and female:
”.. and out of it created its mate,..Quran4:1″
wakhalaqa minha zawjaha
وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا
3- The spreading out of Duality-martabat al bathth:; “and out of the two spread away a multitude of men and women-4:1″
In this stage the command of Allah is indirectly involved for He has set up a natural laws in the corporeal dimension of existence which is designed to maintain the process of the soul creation in its multiplicity in the lower world of matter. In other words, we can see in the third part of 4:1 above, God’s command or “amr” is not directly involved rather we see the natural process, which ultimately under God’s command, is directly involved and this notion is signified in the word “spread away-baththa” and no mention of the word “created-khala’qa” as in “and out of the two spread abroad a multitude of men and women..Quran4:1″. So the notion of “spread away-al bathth” is different from the notion of “creation-khal’qq” and each one of them is in respect to its appropriate cosmological sphere. The notion of “creation-khal’qq” is often, according to Quran, in respect to God’s command and where as the notion of “spread away-bathth ” is in respect to the lower realm of existence.
In other words, In this third divine station of the soul “al-ma’qm althalith” which is represented in the lower realm of existence, it is enabled to reproduce itself in the domain of multiplicity. Then it is defined as multiple in respect to the latitudinal system of existence, but it is essentially united “muta’hida bil-jawher” in respect to the longitudinal system of existence. As it stated in:
“…and out of the two spread abroad a multitude of men and women..Quran4:1”
wa baththa minhuma rijalan katheeran wanisaan
وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالاً كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاء
So the soul, from a cosmological stand point, would manifest itself through various hierarchy of existence in the cosmos. Human beings, Jins, animals, plants, celestial bodies, sun, moon, etc.., all should have souls in accordance to its station of existence. These souls differ in their realities and functions in the various spheres of existence. Some will be accountable for their actions and others may not. It all depends upon their decreed role and purpose in existence.
According to the Quran all things glorify God in its own divine way though we do not comprehend their glorification. This follows that such action is only possible through the reality of their soul through which they are able to perform their glorification of the Absolute Being. In our limited knowledge of things, those souls which are vested with freewill, or bestowed with the most remarkable manifestation of God’s creative word that is “the intellect-al-a’ql”, will be accountable for their actions, such as the case with human beings, Jins and other creations of God which are not known to us. And those souls which are not vested with freewill then there is no accountability for their actions, such as the case with the angels, and other creations of God. It is worth mentioning here that the issue of accountability is solely belong to Allah SW, and He alone would decide whose is among His creation are accountable for their actions, for our knowledge is very limited and no one can ultimately decide in these matters.
And Allah, the most high, knows best