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Islamic Ideology (23 Jun 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Soulmates in the Quran and Prophetic Tradition

By Maryam Miller

06 June 2017

“O humankind, have consciousness of your Loving-Sustainer,[1] who created you from a single Nafs (soul) and created from it her Zawj (mate) and dispersed from both many men and women. And have God Consciousness, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed, God is ever, over you, an Observer.” – The Quran, Meaning of al-Nisaa, The Women [4:1].

Just like letters that go together in a word, there are soulmates who came in the symbolic “Be.” Spiritual partnership found in soulmates is far from foreign to Islam: to the contrary, The Quran and Prophetic Tradition are replete with them. The need for heart-based self-study and self-discovery beyond (including but not limited to) family of origin, into the Muslim meta-history, is evident in the erasure of this truth from mainstream narrative.  When applied with intellect revelation stands well on their own for depth in understanding relationships. Guidance from the Quran and Prophetic Tradition make connections to the perennial wisdom of all faiths, the spirituality of the Prophetic inclination to love [2] and the Divine Reality of simply being.

Origins of the Modern Concept of Soulmates

The Zohar, a Medieval Jewish compilation deeply rooted in Talmudic tradition relates “Each soul and spirit prior to its entering into this world, consist[ing] of a male and female united into one being.”[3] The Gospel describes this “two in one” relationship as a means to the Kingdom of God with “when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one.”[4]

Current Western conceptions of soulmates popularise the Yin and Yang of Taoism or ancient Chinese Philosophy Shiva and Parvati of Hinduism’s mention Ardhanarishvara, a “represent[ation of] a synthesis of masculine and feminine energies of the universe,“[5] and Aristotle’s saying “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies” [6] are also prominent modern depictions of soulmates. The Quran and Prophetic Tradition, however, is full of context for soulmates by the mere meaning of the term Zawj (Quran 4:1, 6:98, 7:189, 39:6). Yet when discussing the soul Seyyed Hossein Nasr discusses how we don’t typically see the connection made by Mufassereen between the first soul being linguistically feminine plural [7] and the pair being a masculine (The Study Qur’an, al- Nisaa The Women 4:1).

The Reality of Soulmates in the Primordial Religion [8]

On a metahistorical moment cited as The Day of Alast, it is said “When your Loving-Sustainer took from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], “Am I not your Loving-Sustainer?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.” [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, “Indeed, we were of this unaware” (Quran, al- Araf, The Heights 7:172). This is cited as the basis for the mithaq, or Divine covenant with man and the kindred nature of some souls to others. Indeed, this verse has been used alongside The Prophetic Tradition translating to: “The souls are (like) aligned soldiers joined (in the world of spirits) whichever souls knew each other (in that world) are attracted towards each other (in this world)” [9] to substantiate the levels of affinity people experience for one another in this world. Moreover, this is the premise for the ever-present knowledge of higher being, and thus the Fitrah, or natural dispositions of humans toward The Highest Unity, God. In our case, specifically, this inclination manifests in the yearning for union and procreation.[10]

The mithaq that not even mountains would take (The Qur’an al Ahzab The Combined Forces 33:72) refers to the Din [11] and more so vice regency. We also see reference to humans as the Khalifa or representative of The Divine on earth (The Quran Baqara The Cow 2:30). This centrality of the primordial spirit of humans is crucial to our understanding of soulmates when we understand that term al Mumin [12] is both a name of God and epistemologically used to describe the second dimension of the Din, Iman.[13] All believers are designated to be soulmates in this sense, and our obligation to fulfil this weighty covenant is reciprocal to our receptivity[14] to this inner truth.

The Experience of Soulmates

We come to know ourselves through trials. Le Gai Eaton in Man captures this in his commentary:

They ‘fell’ together, equal in guilt as they had been equal in glory. Eve was no temptress so for as the Islamic tradition is concerned. And although they were exiled, as were all who lie upon this earth, they were promised by Him Who is named the Ever-Forgiving, the Effacer of sins, that their posterity would never be left without guidance through the dark alleyways of the lower world. This “guidance,” per Islam, culminated and was completed in the coming of Muhammad, who, as it were, closes the circle. [15]

Muhammad’s ﷺ soul and being is still centred as the ultimate example and manifestation of all the Divine Names [16], a perfect balance of the masculine and feminine. Through this, we see that while the latter are an essential category in the cosmology of Islam, they are not stagnant in the sense of being biologically designated to male or female. Indeed, while we also find a polarity existing between the more Jalal, rigorous and Jamaal beautiful attributes we also find they are not confined to relationships of the romantic sense. [17] While polarity underlies the scheme or creation, and all animate creation has Azwaj, only humans have access to an Nafas al Rahman The Spirit of Compassion from The Divine. In this way, we see why despite all the public events, the focus with The Messenger of God ﷺ in Prophetic tradition is on his relationships with the animate and inanimate alike, and most of all The Creator of them all.

God has no need for an intermediary or a method, nor is it fitting, but that does not eliminate the phenomenon of our purpose as Khalifas and the perfection of love God expressed when we were created with God saying Kun fiya kun “be and it is” [1] (Quran Baqara The Cow 2:117). For God, there is “Nothing like it” and “nothing like its likeness” (Quran Ash Shuraa The Consultation 42:11). [18] In this way, we recognize human life as a love letter in the symbolic, linguistic sense, and ontologically as a state of being. We are all a few letters away from Pure Being, God as itself. Just like letters that go together in a word, there are soulmates who came in symbolic “Be.”

The Primary Longing for Unity

Separation from The Absolute is impossible. Le Gai Eaton elaborates on this wisdom with “Reality, which is also by definition absolute Perfection, can only have one obligation, the obligation to be Itself.[19]  Thus the reality of all, even mates, originating from one soul and ultimately God itself.  In truly realizing this The Absolute Reality of individual experience is delivered from the caprice of false identity and to Wahdat al Wujud, or Oneness of Being, substantiating the sages who say “the one who knows themselves knows their Loving-Sustainer.” This is the meaning of the original question God posed “Am I not your Loving-Sustainer?” Our response, a core level testimony to the Unity we long for in every way.  Answering for one’s self is to answer their soulmate, only a letter or so from them, and in truth only one in number and nature. Through it all, we come to know that even when it seems we aren’t physically with certain beings they undeniably appear in forms of others we meet, and at high levels are integrated into our very heartbeat.

Ali, Abdullah Yusuf. The Meaning of the Holy Quran. Amana Pubns, 2004.

Bayrak, Tosun, and Rabia Terri Harris. “What the Seeker Needs.” (1992).

Bolton, Robert. “Aristotle’s Definitions of the Soul:” De Anima” ii, 1-3.” Phronesis (1978): 258-278.

Brown, Raymond Edward. The Gospel According to John. Vol. 29. verse 22. Cambridge University Press, 1970.

Driver, Samuel Rolles. The book of Genesis. Vol. 1. Methuen, 1904.

Gottwald, Norman Karol. The Hebrew Bible–a socio-literary introduction. Fortress Pr, 1985.

Haviland, William; Prins, Harald; Walrath, Dana; McBride, Bunny, Anthropology: The Human Challenge Fifteen Edition. Cengage Learning, 2016, pg 561

Le Gai Eaton, Charles. “Islam and the Destiny of Man.” Albany: State University of New York (1985).

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Caner K. Dagli, Maria Massi Dakake, Joseph EB Lumbard, and Mohammed Rustom. “The Study Quran.” (2015).

Sunnah.com retrieved April 19th, 2017.

Ware III, Rudolph T. The Walking Qur’an: Islamic education, embodied knowledge, and history in West Africa. UNC Press Books, 2014.

Wehr, Hans, and J. Milton Cowan. A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic:(Arab.-Engl.). Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 1979.

“Rabb” based on the intimate connotations of what is commonly translated “Lord.”

 See God as Love and Light in God by Seyyed Hossein Nasr for full commentary on this.

[3] Matt, Daniel Chanan. Zohar: Annotated & Explained. Skylight Paths Publishing, (2002) 31. Also “Then God separated from Adam another Adam as a helpmate (Genesis 2:2-22; Genesis 5:2).

[4] Thomas Gospel 22.

[5] Haviland, William; Prins, Harald; Walrath, Dana; McBride, Bunny, Anthropology: The Human Challenge Fifteen Edition. Cengage Learning, 2016, pg 561

[6] Bolton, Robert. “Aristotle’s Definitions of the Soul:” De Anima” ii, 1-3.” Phronesis (1978): 258-278.

[7] Nafs is a linguistically feminine.

[8] Din al Fitra

[9] Sahih al-Bukhaari, Kitaab Ahaadeeth al-Anbiyaa’.

[10] Or per the theological minority of Maturidis at least the blank slate waiting to be filled as some distinguish which still implies Godliness since there is only one overwhelming Truth.

[11] Commonly translated religion, or faith, specifically breaks down to disposition, Debtor and indebtedness and the essence of civilization, or madina. See the-concept-of-religion-by-sayyid-naquib-al-attas for an in-depth discussion of this.

[12] Believer

[13] Faith

[14] Le Gai Eaton, Charles. “Islam and the Destiny of Man.” Albany: State University of New York (1985) (365).

[15] Le Gai Eaton, Charles. “Islam and the Destiny of Man.” Albany: State University of New York (1985) (361).

[16] “al- Asma al Husna” Qur’an Hashir 59:24.

[17] I.e. they can be Platonic as in a relationship with student and teacher, family, friends etc.

[18] Quran Ash Shuraa The Consultation (42:11)

[19] Le Gai Eaton, Charles. “Islam and the Destiny of Man.” Albany: State University of New York (1985) (361).


Source: themuslimvibe.com/faith-islam/ready-a-soulmates-in-the-quran-and-prophetic-tradition

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/maryam-miller/soulmates-in-the-quran-and-prophetic-tradition/d/111651


  • Plz read respect 'for' in place of respect 'of' an 84 year old... , because the meaning changes substantially.
    By Manzurul Haque - 6/24/2017 4:26:06 AM

  • Moving out today, so will revisit the topic again. I think Sultan Shahin sb must be having a lot to say on this. Hazrat Ali  is reported to have cautioned Muslims away from thinking too hard on the subject, while stating his view point to this effect: Allah is immanent but not in the sense of being inside of it,(of this visible world) and he is transcendent but in the sense of being outside of it.

    In my discussions in the past, I have accepted  a Sufi as a stand alone spiritualist  in the sense of being mild natured pious fellow free from caprices etc (you know,  ' sinhan ki nahin lehren, hansan ki nahi paat,..saadhu naa chale jamaat', sort of thing) but have rejected Sufism as a cult where stories are created over puffs of 'chillam'. The other day I lost respect of one 84 year old  educated Muslim  (handsome like a Jinn himself in his youth) who narrated me his personal detailed experience of prolonged (two year old) affair with a lady jinn. I had a yet another experience with a very respectable retired chief engineer in Patna, considered a peer by his idiot followers, and a fraud by his  next door neighbour, and my friend. While seated side by side in a marriage reception, both having reached  a bit early,  to my shock and surprise , he suddenly started talking about his experience with lady jinns whom he is controlling (as soulmates may be). I have met two but I am sure there must be many old Muslim men in  eighties confabulatingwith with these female jinns in the middle of night when they get up for peeing! Please link up this issue also with 'Alame Arwah'. Have heard lot about jins spelled djinns and Salman Rushdie's protagonist, the djinn researcher often ending up catching the djinns in a bottle of gin. 
    There is a scope to debate and distil out the truth.

    About the marriage being a contract you have stated absolutely correctly. And the procedural control stated in the holy Quran itself is  a 'piece of perfection',  which our ulemas have destroyed by triple instant talaq to perhaps create an opportunity for easy sex under an easy nikah,  which incidentally also satisfies their idea of punishing the erring husband by putting the wife through all this.!.

    By Manzurul Haque - 6/24/2017 4:15:03 AM

  • What is it that the “mystics” and the philosophers have given us except myths that lead us to false beliefs? The myth of Alam-e-Arwah from Sufi cosmology for example, which is followed unquestioningly by both Dr Israr Ahmed and Dr. Tahir-ul- Quadri because the explanation of verse 7:172 otherwise escapes them! The same is the case with this author also who discusses the verse in her article.

     There are verses which deal with this world but the knowledge of which was unknown to the people of the seventh century. For example, comprehending the meaning of “genetic memory” requires knowledge developed in the last hundred years – knowledge that did not exist in the seventh century. If the Quran had to use the term “genetic memory”, it could have communicated the meaning only through an allegory. For example (7:172) “When thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying): "Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?"- They said: "Yea! We do testify!" (This), lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment: "Of this we were never mindful":”

    The verse 7:172 has been interpreted to conjure a scene of A’alam-e-Arwah where every "soul" that is yet to be born was gathered to testify. Such interpretations born of a fertile imagination inevitably lead to false beliefs. The belief that follows from the myth of ‘A’alam-e-Arwah’  is that all those who will be born is pre-ordained since the souls are already created and birth control is therefore both meaningless and going against the will of God and therefore a sin. 

    However, "souls" are not drawn from the loins of man/Adam nor is there a concept of "soul" in the Quran as it is commonly understood. What is drawn from the loins of Adam/man is his seed and the verse only means that belief in a single God who is the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Universe is instinctive or part of every human’s genetic memory.

    Incidentally recent studies appear to support the same view. The Quran does not support the view that the souls of all those who will take birth were all created much earlier (alongwith Adam?) nor does it even contain the concept of soul. 

    Belief in God is part of human nature - Oxford study
    Is Belief in God Ingrained in Our ‘Human Nature’? A New Study Says So

    The irony is that the myth of Alam-e-Arwah is firmly fixed in the Muslim psyche so much so that anybody who questions it may be declared a heretic and the idea of genetic memory to explain this verse completely escapes them even today.

    Neither Science nor the Quran support the concept of "soul" either. This is also a concept brought in by people of other cultures and faiths when Islam spread among them.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 6/24/2017 12:58:47 AM

  • “Understanding and internalizing the principles that comprise 'the nature of things' is perhaps the single most powerful determining factor in the shaping of the society in which we live.”

     The rules of marriage in societies where the couple getting married take vows of remaining united in marriage until “death do them apart”, are based on the concept of soul-mates and of marriages being made in heaven.

     Perhaps, Islam is the only religion in which marriage is simply a social contract, which may be broken by either party, without having to give reasons, but with clearly defined duties and obligations, and for following due process. The concept is so revolutionary, that it shocked people of other religions, and when Islam spread among them, they cooked up all kinds of stories and hadiths to say that divorce is the most abhorrent of all things that have been made permissible. The Quran does not support this view at all, while it certainly supports reconciliation rather than divorce.

     So what is the nature of human beings?  Are their “soul-mates”? Couples can make each other their “soul-mates” but this is certainly not the principle that comprises the nature of human beings and their marriages or else marriages would not break-down with such frequency, even when the couples take their vows of remaining united till death.

     Islamic law, on both marriage and divorce, is therefore different, and is based on the true principles that comprise the nature of human beings, and not based on fanciful and false ideas of “soul-mates”.

     This however is being lost sight of in the debates on UCC. While instantaneous divorce should be banned, divorces intermediated by the law courts is not what we want, because our marriages are social contracts with option to both parties to end the contract, complying with the terms and conditions of the contract.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 6/24/2017 12:18:39 AM

  • This is difficult, but I think we should discuss.
    By Manzurul Haque - 6/23/2017 7:13:55 AM

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