The following excerpt is taken from “Phenomena Of Nature” By Dr Syed Abdul-Wadud pg. 247-249:
Man A Distinguished Creation
The Holy Quran relates the story of evolution, beginning from inorganic matter up to man, in so many different ways and describes man as a distinguished creation.
Let us recollect verses (23:12-14) described earlier– “We created man from the extracts of inorganic elements of clay. Then We placed him as a sperm drop in its temporary abode, to be firmly fixed. From this fluid We created ‘a hanging mass’. Then We created from ‘the hanging mass’ an embryo. Then We created the bony framework with muscles”
After the above description it is said:
“Then We brought him forward as entirely a new and distinguished creation.”
Let us see what are the points of distinction:
Ruh: The first distinguishing feature is the possession of ‘Ruh‘ or ‘Divine energy’:
‘It is He Who has made, all that is created, in due proportion. And He initiated the creation of man from inorganic matter of the earth and made his progeny from an extract of the nature of a despicable fluid. Then He fashioned him in due proportion and breathed into him His Ruh and gave you the faculties of Hearing, Sight, and Mind. But very few of you make this right use of these faculties.”
To find out the nature of ‘Divine Energy’ and how it works actually, is not within the domain of perceptual knowledge.
“And they ask thee (O Muhammad) concerning the ‘Divine Energy’. Say: The Divine Energy comes from the command of thy Sustainer. Of its knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you.”
However, the divine energy, according to the Holy Quran, manifests itself in various ways in the universe. In human individuals it appears in a specific form which is known as Nafs, in the Quranic terminology. All human actions, dependent on Nafs presents itself in man in an undeveloped form and has got immense potentialities. It has got the capacity to develop on the blueprints of divine attributes. The potentialities become actualized by such human action which are in conformity with the Divine laws given to mankind through the messengers of Allah. He who gradually develops the nafs, draws closer to Allah, i.e., he realises and manifests Divine attributes within himself. The more the human self is developed, the more it is capable of survival and fit for passing on to its higher stage of evolution after physical death. On the other hand one whose actions are in the opposite direction, causes to produce the disintegration of Nafs, i.e., he recedes from the real and draws closer to the unreal.
The Holy Quran said: (Say, “the Ruh (Soul) is from the command of my Lord.”). While explaining the answer, statements and interpretations given by commentators differ. The closest and the clearest of
these is what Qadi Thana’ullah Panipati has preferred in his Tafsir
Mazhari. He says: Only what was necessary and what common people
would understand has been told – and the full reality of Ruh (Soul), that the
question sought, was not unfolded because it was beyond the comprehension of common people and, for that matter, nothing they needed hinged on understanding it. Here, the Holy Prophet (S) was asked to respond by saying that ‘the Ruh (Soul) is from the command of my Lord.’ In other words, it
is not like the usual created that come into existence through the dispersal of matter and procreation. In fact, it is something created directly
through the command (kun: Be) of Allah Taa’la. At least, this much of
the answer makes it clear that Ruh cannot be taken on the analogy of
common matter – which removes all those doubts that emerge as a result
of trying to understand Ruh through the prism of materialistic inquiry.
The hard truth is that this much knowledge of Ruh is sufficient for man.
No business, religious or worldly, depends on knowing more than that.
Therefore, taking that part of the question as redundant and unnecessary, it was not answered – specially when understanding its reality is something not easy even for the wisest of the wise, not to say much about the common people. (Maariful Quran Vol 5 pg. 548)
The Holy Quran says:
“By the Nafs and its perfection. He endowed it with the possibilities of both integration and disintegration. Truly he succeeds who nourishes it and he fails who stunteth it”
The human nafs is progressive and to under go evolution is in its nature. The Holy Quran explains the human actions and their recording on Nafs by calling it ‘a Bird’. You keep control over a bird as long as it is in your grip. Once the grip is loosened, it is out of your control. Every cause has got its effect and every human action, however slight, must leave its imprint on the screen of Nafs. It is not in one’s control to check it. Man is thus composed of two distinct entities, physical body and Nafs and both lie in close proximity of each other:
“Every man’s ‘bird’ We have pasted on his own neck and We shall bring forth for him on he day of Judgment a book which he shall find wide open. (It will be said to him:) Read your own record. Your Nafs is sufficient this day to make an account for yourself”
As stated above, the making and breaking up processes of Nafs or human personality are affected only by those actions which are performed wilfully and after making a choice. It is the ‘Ruh’ or ‘Divine Energy’ which confers on man the capacity to choose between right and wrong and thus provides man the unique distinction to act freely as he chooses. The freedom of choice and Will, thus, become the directive force in human evolution which in fact is the evolution of ‘Nafs‘ or ‘Human personality‘.
The following excerpt is taken from “Maariful Quran” by Mufti Taqi Usmani Surah Naziat pg. 697:
The human soul is a refined body which permeates the dense material body. The [ancient] doctors and philosophers called it as ruh or soul. But the real spirit is an abstract substance and a subtle divine creature connected in a special way with this physical soul or nafs, the life of which is dependent on the Divine Spirit. The pure, abstract and non-material spirit is the life of the first soul on which depends the life of the body, and therefore it is called the ‘soul of soul’. The real nature of the connection between these two kinds of soul is not known to anyone. It is known to Allah alone. Perhaps an illustration would clarify the matter. If we were to hold a mirror against the sun, then, despite that the sun is 149.6 million kilometres away from the earth, its reflection comes into the mirror. And because of the light, that too starts glowing like the sun. The same thing applies to the human soul. If it exerts itself in spiritual struggle and ascetic discipline in keeping with the teachings of [Divine] revelation, he will be enlightened. Otherwise he would be polluted with the bad effects of the physical body.
For details see the following excerpt:
The Soul of Soul – (Maariful Quran vol 5 pg. 303-305)
“The Perfect Man is, thus, that individual human being who realizes in himself the reality of the saying that man is created in God’s
image, who combines in his microcosmic selfhood both the macrocosmic object and divine consciousness, being that heart which, microcosmically, contains all things essentially, and in which the Reality
eternally rediscovers Its wholeness.” (The Bezels of Wisdom, Ibn Arabi, Translated by R.W.J. Austin, pg. 35)
Perhaps this is the meaning of the following Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Allah said, ‘I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My protection (Refuge), I will protect him; (i.e. give him My Refuge) and I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death, and I hate to disappoint him.”
Austin, Ralph. (1980).Fusus al Hikam. (p. 35) http://www.islamicweblibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Ibn_Arabi__Ralph_Austin_The_Bezels_of_Wisdom.pdf
Ghazzali, Imam. (1993) Ihya Ulum id Din. Vol 3 pg. 7-46. https://ia801903.us.archive.org/12/items/IhyaUlumAlDinVol1/Ihya%20Ulum%20Al%20Din%20Vol%203.pdf
Shafi, Muhammad (2008). Maariful Quran. (Vol .8 pg. 697, Vol. 5 pg. 548). http://www.islamicweblibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/maarif-volume8-english.pdf
Wudud, Abdul (1994). Phenomena of Nature. (p. 247-266). http://www.islamicweblibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Phenomena-Of-Nature-By-Dr-Syed-Abdul-Wadud-1-267-286.pdf