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Offline Reader Questions

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Does the Soul Have a Gender?
« on: March 26, 2012, 04:18:35 AM »
Peace to you Brother,

I dont know if there is already an article on this on your website but could you please shed some light on the gender of the soul or Ruh. Does the Quran say something on this?

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Does the Soul Have a Gender?
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2012, 04:24:13 AM »
Salamun Alaikum,

First, the term 'ruh' is never used by the Quran to describe the human 'soul'. The term 'ruh' has been used in two contexts:
  • In the context of the Holy Spirit and
  • As Divine Energy.
Please see article [1] below which endeavours to elucidate the difference. The Quran makes use of the term 'nafs' to describe the human soul.

The body is a vehicle which transports us through the physical matrix of life. Our soul (nafs) has no physical gender characteristics, other than in the main, a separate existence with volition, a moral compass (truth, justice, compassion, love etc) and an innate knowledge of what is right for it and what is wrong for it with an endowed balance / proportion (wanafsin wama sawaha)

"And a soul (Arabic: Nafsin) and Him Who perfected / proportioned it (Arabic: wanafsin wama sawaha). And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it. He is indeed successful who causes it to grow (purifies it), and he is indeed a failure who corrupts it (buries it)"

Similarly, there is no such concept of a young or an old soul which are once again, characteristics of the physical entity. The soul makes use of its granted physical attributes and faculties (whatever they are) to present a response to the trials that it is presented with in the context of life which are held to account at a destined end.

Hereafter, the soul will then be transported into an entirely new existence (56:35), a new physical 'self'.

Despite the creation of Adam first, the Quran in verse 4:1 makes use of the indefinite female noun to describe the initial soul (nafsin) from which another soul / partner was created (zawja - masculine noun, with the pronoun 'ha' a reference to the 'nafs' in the feminine). Clearly, this is not a reference to a 'physical' gender anymore than this implies that the male partner (zawja) was formed from the female 'nafs'.

Therefore, these entities (nafs) are gender neutral.

Mankind was dispersed from them (wabatha) both as physical entities, men and women (rijalan - wanisaan) each having their own souls assigned to them.

Some insights can be drawn if one were to make an interpretive analogy with angels. Albeit a 'nafs' and an 'angel' are not one of the same, but we note a rebuke in the Quran for those that attempted to assign a gender to it.

"And they make into females angels who themselves serve God. Did they witness their creation? Their evidence will be recorded, and they will be called to account!"

In a similar fashion, humankind did not witness the creation of their souls nor does the Quran assign a gender to it in a physical sense. Gender simply remains a trait of the physical body.

I hope this helps, God willing.


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