By Khurshid Imam
“Kullun nafsin zayqatul maut” – Every soul has to taste the death (Quran, Surah Anbiya 21 Ayah 35)
Above is the popular MISTRANSLATION.
This is widespread misconception that soul will die. Basic problem is that Arabic word “Nafs” has been mistranslated in english translation of Quran as “Soul”. In other words English translation of Quran uses the word “Soul” for translating both “Ruh” and “Nafs”. A human being is composed of 3 entities (at least) – body, Ruh and nafs. Unfortunately we don’t have any English word for the Arabic word “Nafs”.
Now you would be wondering why I am taking you into complex world of lexicon. Wait: see the magic.
B. Secret of Wafaat and maut (death) revealed
Wafaat and maut (death) - are not identical terms. Quran has maintained difference between these two words. To be short and precise - let us see what Allah has told about wafaat.
اللَّهُ يَتَوَفَّى الاٌّنفُسَ حِينَ مِوْتِـهَا وَالَّتِى لَمْ تَمُتْ فِى مَنَامِـهَا فَيُمْسِكُ الَّتِى قَضَى عَلَيْهَا الْمَوْتَ وَيُرْسِلُ الاٍّخْرَى إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى إِنَّ فِى ذَلِكَ لاّيَـتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
Allahu yatawaffa alanfusa heena mawtiha....................................
Ibn Kaseer Translation says - "It is Allah Who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those (souls) for which He has ordained death and sends the rest for a term appointed. Verily, in this are signs for a people who think deeply". Quran, Surah Zumur 39:42
Please concentrate on Arabic words; above translation may not give you the exact content of this ayah. Re-reading the above ayah -
"It is Allah Who causes WAFAAT (or give WAFAAT) to NAFS (plural of nafs is mentioned) at the time of their MAUT (death), and those that die (MAUT) not during their sleep. He keeps those (NAFS) for which He has ordained MAUT (death) and sends the rest for a term appointed. Verily, in this are signs for a people who think deeply"
The miracle and secrets of this ayah will be revealed - but the condition is we need to think deeply - as described at the end of this ayah لاّيَـتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ.
Also-give a look at this ayah:
.......وَهُوَ الَّذِى يَتَوَفَّـكُم بِالَّيْلِ Wahuwa allathee yatawaffakum biallayli....
It is He, Who causes WAFAAT by night (referring to the sleep)..... (Quran, Surah An'am 6:60)
Pondering over these two ayah -
1. At death and during sleep - a nafs (or an individual being) undergoes WAFAAT. Allah takes NAFS of a person when he dies and when he sleeps.
2. When a person dies then NAFS is held back by (Not returned) Allah. When a person is sleeping then nafs is returned finally.
3. So maut or death is a TYPE of wafaat. Death is always a wafaat but all wafaat need not be death. From some wafaat return to life is possible - for example Quran 39:42; 6:60 talks about SLEEP as one such case of wafaat.
4. Wafaat is super set of maut (death). For example: Every banglorean is an indian but every indian need not be a banglorean. Similarly every death (maut) is wafaat but NOT every wafaat is death. There are wafaat in which a person does not die; for ex- Sleep.
5. No wonder - this miraculous difference of maut and wafaat is reflected splendidly in the context of Prophet Jesus (Peace be upon him) departure from this world. Quran uses the word WAFAAT for his departure and NOT the word MAUT. In Quran 3:55 Allah has used word - mutawaffeeka - a derivative of WAFAAT for Prophet Jesus's departure. Nowhere Quran says that Jesus underwent MAUT, rather it says he underwent WAFAAT.
For details on this topic read: JESUS - DEAD or ALIVE?
C. ROOH and NAFS: What is the difference?
Rooh and Nafs can be compared to Electricity and Electric machines respectively.
1. The purpose of electricity is to provide "life" to the machine. Similarly ROOH is the entity which is mainly responsible for the LIFE of a living being.
2. ROOH is neutral entity - its nether good nor bad. Electricity is neither good nor bad.
How a machine will behave depends on its internal and external properties. For example - with the same electricity a washing machine will be used to washing clothes, refrigerator will be used for preserving food, Television will be used for relaying video programs. Similarly NAFS will behave differently in different person and it is this nafs due to which a person will do good deed or bad deed. NAFS reflects the CHOICE of a human being - what he choose to do. He can do good things as well as bad things.
3. The moment electricity is taken away from a machine - it becomes dysfunctional and out of use. Similarly when ROOH is out of body - the person dies (MAUT). Death takes place to NAFS and not rooh.
4. ROOH is a SINGULAR entity. Never ever in Quran plural of ROOH is used while NAFS is different for different person hence its plural exists. Quran mentions several times plural of nafs.
5. In the life hereafter punishment and reward is for NAFS and NOT rooh. People of paradise and hell will be given different types of body; the entity which will remain SAME - as in this worldly life and in the life hereafter will be SAME NAFS. This Nafs is supposed to undergo punishment or reward and this same NAFS will make sure that its the same I who was in the worldly life and same I who is now in akhrat.
Note: * If you don't agree with the mail then instead of giving fatwa of deviation / kufr / shirk / biddat - have faith in Allah and leave it to him to judge.
* Author: Khurshid Imam is software engineer at Bangalore, India. For any criticism / feedback / suggestion feel free to mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
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