April 11, 2021

Islamic Web Library

An Islamic Resource Center

The Divine Spirit

6 min read

The following excerpt is taken from “Creation and Evolution in the Holy Quran” by Hassan Ali El-Najjar:

And when I have proportioned him and blown into him of My Spirit, then fall down to him in prostration (Al-‘Hijr, 15: 29 ; Sad, 38: 72).

The Spirit

The Spirit (rou’h, رُوح) is a characteristic of God, which He blew in the first cell, giving life to all living beings. God’s Spirit has also been blown in humans, in particular, enabling their souls to include the morality scale (the self, nafs, نَفْس), in addition to the capabilities of existence (life) and the acquisition of knowledge (themind), which humans share in different degrees with other living beings.

However, the only knowledge we have about God’s Spirit is what He told us, and that is little, as stated in the above-mentioned verse 17: 85 of the Holy Quran (And they ask you about the soul. Say, “The soul is of the affair of my Lord. And you (humans) have not been given of knowledge (about it) except a little” (Al-Issra, 17: 85).

Blowing God’s Spirit in humans, in the fifth stage of the first creation, distinguished them from animals and honored them, by giving them the noble human characteristics, such as choice, acquisition of knowledge, and construction

But it can be said that the blowing of God’s Spirit in humans was a way to honor them and to elevate their status among other creatures. It added to the human DNA a number of noble characteristics, such as the ability to distinguish and choose between right and wrong, logic, the ability to abstain from doing harm to the self and others, planning, expression, acquisition of knowledge, and construction.

Humans also have achieved the capability to be moral beings, which they gained from their Creator’s blowing of His Spirit into their DNA. So, they became inclined to do good, capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, and in possession of the will to choose their decisions and deeds. Therefore, they became accountable to such decisions and deeds. Physiologically speaking, the front lobe of the human brain, which processes intellectual, moral, and ethical issues, is much larger and more developed in the human brain than in brains of any other species on Earth

The Mind

The  mind is the second component of the soul, after the capability of life. It is represented by a software program, which enables the living organism to collect and process information for its own benefit. Thus, the mind contains the body of knowledge an organism acquires in its entire life, through its senses and through the synthetic analysis of the acquired knowledge.

The human mind is different and distinguished in that the brain, which houses it, is proportionally larger than in other mammals (in brain/body ratio). It’s also denser and more complex in its components than brains of other living beings on Earth. It contains nervous structures, reinforced communication networks, and other forms of communication among its nervous cells, which are not found in any animal on the Planet.

This means that there’s a match between the mental capabilities of an organism and its brain structure, which also means that cognition is a reflection of the materialistic capabilities of the brain. This explains why humans are more capable of the comprehension of their surroundings, more capable in the storage of information, and faster in remembering, thinking about, processing, and using such information,

The Arabic word mind (‘aql, عقل) does not appear in the Holy Quran as a noun in the singular form. Rather, its verb (‘aqala عَقَلَ) is used instead, meaning to understand, comprehend, and distinguish. It also means to tie, tighten, control, or restrict. Thus, minding or reasoning means subjecting one’s thinking to known restrictions, rules, laws, and controls in order for one’s behavior to become as educated, safe, wise, and intelligent as possible.

This verb appears 49 times in the Holy Quran, in five different forms, which are as follows: ‘aqalouh (they reasoned it) in verse 2: 75, na’qil (we reason) in verse 67: 10, ya’qiluha (he reasons it) in verse 29: 43, ta’qiloon (you all reason) in verse 2: 44 and 23 other verses, and ya’qiloon (they reason) in verse 36: 68 and 21 other verses, as in the following examples:

Do you (people of Faith) hope that they will believe in you, while a party of them used to hear the Words of Allah (the Torah), then they would distort them knowingly, after they had reasoned (understood) them” (Al-Baqara, 2: 75).  

They will further say: “Had we listened or reasoned, we would not have been among the companions of the Blazing Fire! (Al-Mulk, 67: 10). 

And these examples (which) We present to the people, but none will reason (understand) them except those of knowledge (Al-‘Ankaboot, 29: 43).

Do you enjoin right conduct on the people and forget (to practice it) yourselves, and (yet) you recite the Scripture? Do you not reason?” (Al-Baqara, 2: 44). 

And he to whom We grant long life We reverse in creation. Do they not reason (understand)? (Ya-Seen, 36: 68).  

The Holy Quran refers to the mind by using its essential characteristic, as the essence or the core of the human being. In particular, it is used to describe believers in 15 verses, as the ones with the minds (al-albab,  .(ألألبابThis praise of the believers, as the reasoning ones, has been mentioned in 15 verses. Here are three examples, which include verses 2: 197, 2: 269, and 3: 190.

O you who have (reasoning) minds, avoid my anger (or my punishment)” (Al-Baqara, 2: 197). 

Only those with (reasoning) minds will remember (and understand God’s message)” (Al-Baqara, 2: 269). 

In the creation of the heavens and the Earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are signs for those with (reasoning) minds” (Al-Imran, 3: 190). 

The Self

The third component of the human soul is represented by the morality software, which God blew from His Spirit in humans, thus distinguishing them from other organisms, . It enables humans to create the human self (personality), through the interaction with others, as well as through successive decision-making processes and information analyses, on the basis of the mentally-acquired knowledge.

Two major ideal types of the human “self” have been identified for thousands of years, which are the good and the evil types. However, logically speaking, a spectrum of possibilities lies between the two types.

The Holy Quran tells us that God has given the human being the freedom to choose, through his/her inherent ability to differentiate between good and evil deeds, and through his/her ability to choose between them, as expressed in verse 90: 10. 

And We guided him the two paths (of good and evil)?”  (Al-Balad, 90: 10).

The Holy Quran is very specific about the contrast between the two choices and the consequences of the human deeds. In Verses 91: 7-10, Allah, praise to Him, says that when He has fashioned the human self (by blowing His Spirit in the human soul), He has equipped it with the ability to choose to be pious or deviant, following the straight path or going astray from it. Consequently, the winner in this life and in the Hereafter is the one who purifies the self with good deeds, and the failure is the one who immerses it in bad deeds and corruption.

And (by) the self and He who fashioned it, (7) And inspired it (with its) deviance and its righteousness. (8) He has succeeded, who purifies it, (9) And he has failed, who immerses it (in bad deeds and corruption). (10) (Al-Shams, 91: 7-10).

It is noteworthy that modern social sciences have discovered this fact about the human self, which has been articulated in the Holy Quran, more than 14 centuries ago. Since the beginning of the 20th Century, sociologists and psychologists reached the conclusion that the human self (personality) has two main components, one representing the moral values and norms of society (including religious teachings), and the other representing the self and body interests alone. Thus, the normal human being is the one who seeks the satisfaction of his/her body needs and self-desires, in a way that does not contradict with the prevailing social values and norms. As such, the human self (personality) develops and evolves, and its awareness of itself and of others increases, through the continuous interaction between its two components, as well as between the human being and his/her social and physical surroundings.


Ali El-Najjar, Hassan. (2020). Creation and Evolution in the Holy Quran. Link

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