ar-roohSo far we have covered in detail regarding the journey the body takes after death, right up until the grave. Now we are going to move on to a completely different journey, and that is of the soul’s journey up towards the heavens and back, straight after death. It is important to understand that although in this life your body and soul are relatively always together, joint and linked, after death they will separate from each other for some time until the soul is returned to the body later on.

A Mystery Unsolved

Although scientists have and are spending a great amount of time, money and effort on researching the body, its functions and capability, they rarely research into the soul and its reality. In truth, specialists of another science have tried to grasp its realism, namely the philosophers. But even they have not and cannot do justice to this topic as the soul is a mystery, beyond the human being’s scope of comprehension.

Some refer to the soul as being the immaterial part of a person and the actuating cause of an individual life. Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle wrote in depth about the soul, so much so that their theories are awarded as being the most detailed and expounded theories regarding the soul to be found in ancient philosophy. In fact, a large part of the later studies pertaining to the soul are largely derived from and heavily influenced by their works and ideas.

‘By the end of the fifth century — the time of Socrates' death — soul is standardly thought and spoken of, for instance, as the distinguishing mark of living things, as something that is the subject of emotional states and that is responsible for planning and practical thinking, and also as the bearer of such virtues as courage and justice… the soul is not only responsible for mental or psychological functions like thought, perception and desire, and is the bearer of moral qualities, but in some way or other accounts for all the vital functions that any living organism performs.'{footnote}Lorenz, Hendrik, "Ancient Theories of Soul", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>.{/footnote}

From the above we can see that there has been a great attempt to understand and expound on the reality of this creation of Allah (Almighty), namely the soul. But only the Lord who created it knows its true ability and connection with the body within this transient life and man has indeed been given very little comprehension and knowledge of it. This is proven from the following narration:

Abdullah ibn Masood (may Allah be pleased with him) said: While I was with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) on a farm, and he was resting on a palm branch stripped of its leaves, the Jews passed by, and some of them said to others, “Ask him about the soul.” Some of them said, “What urges you to ask him about it?” Others of them said, “Don’t ask him in case he says something you dislike.” But they said, “Ask him”, so they asked him about the soul. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) kept silent and did not respond to them, and I knew that he was receiving Revelation, so I stayed where I was. When the Revelation of the verse was complete, he said (interpretation of the meaning):

{And they ask you [O Muhammad] concerning the Rooh [the spirit]. Say: The Rooh: it is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord. And of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given only a little.} [Al-Isra 17:85]

The Minor Death

One of the things that we have been given knowledge about by way of the Prophet’s words is that sleep, which is also referred to as the “minor death”, is when the soul is taken up to the heavens while it is still linked to the body and does not fully depart from it. If the soul were to depart fully, then this would be referred to as ‘death’. And truly, many people die in their sleep and others die due to a lack of sleep, as an article on the BBC website suggests:

‘Getting less than six hours sleep a night can lead to an early grave, UK and Italian researchers have warned.’{footnote}Check out:{/footnote}

treeblueGlory be to Allah! Indeed, there is a connection between sleep and death…That is why, although a person might be sleeping under a warm cosy duvet in a certain part of the world, within seconds… as they fall asleep… they can find themselves performing Tawaaf around the Ka’bah or flying in the heavens or seeing friends or family that are seas upon seas away. All this while s/he is oblivious of even the most nearest of things!

SubhaanAllah! The matter of the soul is a strange one, the reality of which is only fully known by Allah.

{Allah takes the souls at the time of their (owners') death, and (He also takes) those that (their owners) have not died yet - during their sleep. Then He keeps those for which He has decreed death and releases the others for a specified term. Indeed, in this are signs for those who reflect.} (Az-Zumar, [39]:42)

That is why after Khuzaymah Bin Thabit (may Allah be pleased with him) informed the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he had a dream in which he was prostrating upon the Prophet's (peace be upon him) forehead, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

"Indeed, a soul surely meets another soul (during sleep)." (Ahmad and others)

Therefore a living person’s soul can see and meet a living or dead person’s soul even in his or her sleep.

Keeping all of this in mind let’s now answer the following question: How much have scientists really truly fathomed about the reality of the soul?

…The very soul that is contained within our sides at this present moment.

…The very soul that has an appointed time to meet its Lord in the near future.

…The very soul that the angels will traverse with into the heavens.

The answer is: very very little indeed.

The Five Stages

The scholars have mentioned that the attachment of the soul to the body has five different stages:

1. Its attachment to it while it is still an embryo in the mother’s womb.

2. Its attachment to it after it emerges to the surface of the earth.

3. Its attachment to it during sleep. In that case, it is attached to it in one respect, and detached in another respect.

4. Its attachment to it in al-Barzakh. Even though it departs and becomes detached from it, its detachment is not complete so as to have absolutely no connection with it.

5. Its attachment to it on the Day of Reckoning, which is the most complete and inseparable attachment.

What we are now going to focus on is the 4th stage – the stage when the soul is extracted from the body and the angels take the soul and begin their journey with it up towards the heavens...

More articles in Death and the Grave:

- Entire Category -