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“When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him.”

According to Allamah Noorudin,

Human evolution was the evolutionary process leading up to the
appearance of modern humans. It began with the last common
ancestor and the emergence of Homo sapiens. Anatomically modern
humans evolved from archaic Homo sapiens about 200,000 years ago.
The transition to behavioral modernity with the development of
symbolic culture, language, and specialized lithic technology
happened around 50,000 years ago, and according to many
anthropologists even earlier. (Exegesis of The Holy Qur’ân Commentary and Reflections. p. 343)

What is meant by ‘His spirit?’  There are mixed views on this issue, with some scholars postulating that the soul that we humans are endowed with is a small sample taken from the same spirit-matter that makes up God.  This in no way means that we are gods ourselves, and no scholar has ever assumed such.  Instead, it is akin to taking a cup of water from the sea.  Is the water in the cup still the sea?  No, it is separated and disconnected.  It may be consumed, cycled through the environment, bottled and even used to create electricity, but eventually it may find itself back in the sea from whence it came, but until then, it’s just water.   Likewise, when the child in the womb has reached 120 days of development (according to the explanation of the Prophet), an angel comes and breathes a spirit from God into the baby.  Assuming the child is born and lives its life (for good or evil), one day he or she will die, releasing that spirit back into the universe where it rejoins its master essence.  (See 2:28)  This ruh (spirit or divine gift) is what sets us apart from all other life forms that we know about.  From this we can conceive of morality, justice and truth, even as we can use our hyper-expanded imagination to peer into the recesses of the very meanng of the universe itself.  Our use (or misuse) of this spirit will determine whether our unique personality (called a nafs or individual self) enters Paradise or is doomed to Hell.  (See 33:72-73)  The Sufis often take this concept (of having a spirit on loan from God) as the basis for their poetry and philosophy.  To achieve union with God, in their view, is not becoming God, but rather returning your soul back to its rightful master (a state they equate with being drunk with ecstacy, no less!)  The Day of Judgment is when our nafs, or individual essence, is judged on how well we took care of the spirit that was loaned to us.  (See 16:111, 29:57-59 and 21:35, for example.)  Other scholars contend that the ‘spirit’ was especially created matter from God’s creative will and implanted in human beings to give us our essential quality and unique nature. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an in Today’s English (p. 829)


For further information on the concept of ruh or divine spirit, see the following post:

The Perfect Man: ‘Soul of Soul’ or ‘The Divine Spirit’

And Allah knows best

References:

  1. Emerick, Yahiya. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an in Today’s English (p. 827). Unknown. Kindle Edition.
  2. NOORUDDÎN ,ALLÂMAH. (2015). Exegesis of The Holy Qur’ân Commentary and Reflections. (p.343, 742). http://www.islamicweblibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Exegesis-of-the-Holy-Quran-Commentary-and-Reflections.pdf

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