Were all souls created at the same time or at different times? Do souls have genders?
Submitted by on Fri, 26/02/2010 - 01:20
Dear Brother / Sister,
1- It is understood that the creation of souls was before the creation of bodies. We are on a journey starting from the world of souls and continuing through our mothers’ wombs, then childhood, youth, agedness, graveyard, purgatory (waiting place between Hell and Heaven), and finally ending in Hell or Heaven. The beginning of the journey is the world of souls. In this sense, the creation of souls was before the creation of bodies.
As a matter of fact, our Prophet (pbuh) said: “Souls are like crowds which gather together. The ones who met before get on well. The ones, who did not meet before, cannot get on very well and separate.” (Bukhari, Anbiya, 2; Muslim, Birr, 159; Abu Dawud, Adab, 19). That hadith states that people met somewhere before they came to world. Clearly, as it cannot have happened in mothers’ wombs, it means they existed before and were created before they came into mothers’ wombs.
While interpreting that hadith, Azimabadi expresses what is meant with “souls meet each other before they get into their bodies” is that souls were created before bodies. (Azimabadi, Awnu’l Mabud, XIII, 124).
There is another point about the issue. When the agreement which we call “Qalu Bala (lit. they said yes)” and in which souls promised Allah to obey Him, happened. When Allah asked souls “Am I not your Lord?”, the souls answered “Yes, You are our Lord”. So, when did it happen? Scholars’ views on it are as follows in summary:
Some Interpreters of the Quran stated that it was a divine guidance via “simile” and “metaphor”. They said: “It is a figure of speech. The fact that people were created with capability of recognizing Allah’s godhood is somehow likened to their promise.”
On the other hand, the majority of the Quran Interpreters adopted the view that both Allah’s address to souls and their answer are not symbolic, but true. A contemporary Quran Interpreter named Mehmed Vehbi puts this view into words as follows: “Although there exists the possibility that they answered by gesturing, as they were not yet given minds and lives, it is better to say that they were given minds, lives and tongues and shown evidence of His Godhood and Lordship… They comprehended the question with their minds and answered with their tongues verbally.”
2- There is no young or old soul. These are physical characteristics.
3- Souls do not have gender. Human beings gain their personalities both from their spirits and bodies. A soul entering a body tries to adapt to the physical characteristics of the body which determine the gender.
Of course, there is a relation between the soul and the personality. However, extrinsic factors play an important role on the formation of personal characteristics. Especially, the formation of moral qualities is largely dependant on people’s free will. Otherwise, having high moral qualities or low moral qualities would be meaningless. Although it is impossible to eliminate inborn characteristics, it is possible to direct them to goodness with one’s free will. For instance, a person who is naturally aggressive cannot be expected to quit that trait and be calmer. However, it is possible for him to direct his aggressiveness towards a good reason, for instance, towards his own lower-self and Satan.
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