Difference between Spirituality and Religion / Soul and Nafs

Question 292: Salam to you all. My question is , What is the Difference between Spirituality and Religion / Soul and Nafs? May Allah bless u all.

Answer 292: It has been said that the word Dīn appears in as many as 95 verses in the holy Quran. This term has been used for more than 20 meanings that all of them refer to the three following meanings:

Read More


Delaying Death and Called before its Time

Question 505:  Asslamoalikum. I wanted to know can death be delayed or can be called before time, in any way?

Brief Answer 505:  As far as whether one can delay his death or not, one must say that the ahadith and Quranic verses speak of two types of “ajal” (time of death); “ajal muallaq” and “ajal hatmi” which have also been referred to in the ahadith by other names.

The “ajal muallaq” of a person is the time span he is given to live in this world. However, this period may be lessened or prolonged. For example, by giving charity or visiting relatives one can delay his “ajal muallaq”. Similarly, by not visiting them or being cursed by his parents, this period will be shortened. On the other hand, “ajal hatmi” cannot be changed. Therefore, ajal muallaq has been written in the Tablet of Lawḥ and Ithbāt while the latter is written in the Umm al-Kitāb.

Since, death is one of the Unseen nobody knows when he will die, unless the Infallibles (pbuth) except for some messenger whom He approves of

Detailed Answer 505:  In the holy Quran Allah (SWT) says: “Knower of the Unseen, He does not disclose His Unseen to anyone, except (a few of the unseen) to an apostle He approves of. Then He dispatches a sentinel before and behind him.  So that He may ascertain that they have communicated the messages of their Lord, and He comprehends all that is with them, and He keeps count of all things”.[1]

As death is one of the Unseen, only Allah, the Almighty knows when our souls certainly taste of death. Nobody knows when he will die except the Infallibles (pbuth), however they knew well that whenever Allah (SWT) wished their souls would certainly taste of death.[2]

Note: The majority of Shi’a scholars argue relying on the above mentioned verse of the holy Quran that the special servants of Allah can be informed of the Gheib on occasions which this knowledge is necessary.  This meaning is also indicated in the ahadith of the imams.  Imam Sadiq says in this regard: “When an imam wills to know something, Allah will teach him.”[3]

The answer to this question that if we realize at the time of death that we are going to die or not is that We all, but the Infallibles (pbuth), don’t know the real time of death until when it overtakes one of us. At that time, those who are not the real believer say: Send us back, my Lord, send us back.[4]

Delaying Death: In Islamic literatures, each description about death explains a certain aspect of it. Before observing the material we find about death in these texts (Quranic verses and the ahadith), we will cite and explain the words of a few philosophers in regard to this issue.

Avicenna says: “Death is no more than the body leaving the tools and means that it used in this world and what is meant by the tools are the different organs that together form the body.”[5]

The great Philosopher, Mulla Sadra said: “Death means that the soul simply leaves the body when the soul reaches a stage in “Harakat Jowhariyah” (substantial motion) that it no longer needs the tools and organs of the body. The body is like a ship that the soul employs in its journey towards God amongst the dryness of objects and the sea of souls. Once it has passed this stage, it is no longer in need of the body, and this is when death comes into the picture. Therefore, contrary to what many doctors and physicians believe one does not die because his physical energy has finished or that he lacks instinct heat. Death is something natural for man, and brings about perfection for it, and anything that promotes perfection for it, is its right, thus death is man’s right.”[6] Along these lines, in deeper discussions it is said that death is: “مفارقة النفس للبدن بانقطاع تعلقها التدبيرى”[7]. At all events, this was the philosophical viewpoint in this regard. Now, we will refer directly to the ahadith and Quran to observe them as well.

1- The Quran explains death as losing life and its effects such as thinking and willing. Obviously, losing life only applies to things that can come to life. The Quran says: “و كنتم امواتاً فاحياكم ثم يميتكم” “You were lifeless and He gave you life, then He will make you die.”[8]

Or about the idols it states: “اموات غير احياء” “They are dead, not living”[9]. Such a description of death is correct in the sense that man is comprised of the body and soul and when the body dies, the physical aspect has died. Thus, one could say that man has died. However, to think that the Quran implies that man’s soul will cease is wrong, it does not imply that angels, which have no physical body will ever cease.[10]

2- Another description mentioned in the Quran is the term “tawaffi”[11]. This word is derived from the root word “وفی” which means to receive something in a complete way. “توفیت المال” means that I received all of the money with no shortage. The Quran refers to death with this term in 14 verses and this means that first: man has a metaphysical aspect and it is because of this aspect that man never ceases and is delivered completely to the angels at the moment of death. This metaphysical/spiritual aspect is referred to in many verses as “ruh” or “nafs”. It is this aspect that will continue to live, and second: the true essence of man is not his body, because the body gradually disintegrates[12] and is not delivered to the angels. Other proof for this claim is that the Quran attributes acts that a live person does, such as speaking with the angels, and yearning and asking after death, to the soul, illustrating that man’s true essence is not his lifeless body. It is the true essence of man that is received by the angels.[13] In short, death is “وفات” (complete reception) and not “فوت” (ceasing).[14] Therefore, death is an existential matter that can be created and this is why the Quran says that even death is a creation of God.[15]

In verse 42 of surah Zumar, the Quran says: “الله يتوفى الانفس حين موتها و التى لم تمت فى منامها”

“Allah takes the souls at the time of their death, and those who have not died in their sleep. Then He retains those for whom He has ordained death and releases the others until a specified time.” The pronouns in the words “موتها” and “منامها” seem to refer to “انفس”, but they actually refer to the bodies of humans; because it is the body that dies and not the soul.

Death is simply a long form of sleep and sleep is a shorter form of death. In other words, death is no different from sleep except for the fact that in sleep the soul is temporarily taken away, meaning that the soul is granted permission to return to the body.[16]

It is also understood from verses 60 and 61 of surah Waqi’ah that death is moving from one home to another and from one stage of creation to another, not ceasing.[17] Therefore, death is a second birth.

In this regard, the Prophet says: “You were not created for annihilation, but rather to remain. You will only go from one house to another (when you die).”[18]

Imam Ali describes death as follows: “Death is leaving the world of annihilation (the world of limited life) towards the world of endurance for eternality Therefore, a wise man must be prepared for the next world befittingly”.[19]

In a very elegant saying by Imam Husayn, he uses the metaphor of death being a bridge that a believer passes to be relieved of all pains and difficulties to reach the great heavens.[20]

As far as whether or not one can delay his death, one can say that Islamic texts mention two types of ajals (times of death) for each person.[21] The Quran says: “قضى اجلاً و اجلٌ مسمى عنده” “then he ordained the term [of your life] the specified term is with Him…”[22] This means that man has an indefinite ajal[23] that can be changed and a definite ajal that cannot be changed. The fact that the second ajal cannot be changed is understood from taking the word “عنده” into consideration, because the Quran also states: “و ما عند الله باق” “What is with Allah shall last…”[24] This is the ajal that the Quran makes reference to in verse 49 of surah Yunus which states: “There is a time for every nation: when their time comes, they shall not defer it by a single hour nor shall they advance it.”

If we consider this point along with verse 39 of surah Ra’d which states: “لكل اجل كتاب يمحو الله ما يشاء و يثبت و عنده ام الكتاب”[25](25) we can conclude that ajal muallaq (the conditional ajal) is that which is recorded in the “Umm al-Kitāb” and ajal musamma (the definite ajal) is in the Tablet of Maḥw and Ithbāt.

The Umm al-Kitab can be identified with stable and unchanging events in essence; meaning events from the perspective of them being related to general causes that inevitably entail their respective effects. The Tablet of Mahw and Ithbat identifies with events from the perspective of their relation with partial causes that will take effect only if no barriers get in their way. Thus, sometimes the non-musamma and musamma ajals are the same and sometimes they differ and the one that eventually takes place is the musamma ajal.[26]

At all events, ajal muallaq can be delayed and if the ahadith speak of performing certain acts and delaying death, it is referring to delaying ajal muallaq.

The hadith says: “يعيش الناس باحسانهم اكثر مما يعيشون باعمارهم و يموتون بذنوبهم اكثر مما يموتون بآجالهم” “People live more by their good deeds than they live by their lifetime (meaning that they can postpone their ajal muallaq with their good deeds) and die more due to their sins and evil deeds then they do by their times of death (meaning that before the time of their ajal hatmi comes, they die on their ajal muallaq because of their evil deeds).”[27]

For example, charity[28] or maintaining family ties have been counted as means of delaying ajal muallaq and prolonging one’s lifespan.[29]

For more information in regards to deeds that may prolong one’s lifetime, please refer to relevant books.[30]

Related Link: Glossary 505.

[1] . Surah Jinn, verses 26-28

[2] . Tafsir al-Mizan, Vol 20, Pg. 83.

[3] Kuleini, Usul Kāfī, vol. 1, chapter on when the imams wish to know something, they know it, hadith 3.

[4] . Surah al-Momenoon, verse 99.

[5] Avicenna, Risalat al-Shifa’ min Khawf al-Mawt, pp. 240-245.

[6] Mulla Sadra, vol. 9, p. 238.

[7] If the connection between the soul and body is lost, such that it loses all control of the body, this is called death.

[8] Baqarah:28.

[9] Nahl:21.

[10] See: Al-Mizan, vol. 14, p. 286.

[11] Nahl:32; Anfal:50; An’am:60; Zumar:42.

[12] Verse 60 of surah An’am reads: “هو الذى يتوفاكم” meaning it is He who receives you. Here, the pronoun کم denotes ‘me’ and ‘the self’ which is always the same and doesn’t change.

[13] See: Shahid Mutahhari, Majmu’eye Asar, vol. 2, pp. 503-511.

[14] See: Jawadi Amoli, Abdullah, Tafsire Mozu’iye Quran, vol. 3, pp. 388-397 and vol. 2, pp. 497-509.

[15] “الذى خلق الموت و الحيوة…” Mulk:1 and 2 (He who created death and life…) (please refer to Payame Quran, vol. 5, pp. 430 and on).

[16] See: Payame Quran, vol. 5, p. 433).

[17] See: Al-Mizan, vol. 19, p. 133 and vol. 20, p. 356.

[18] Majlisi, Bihar, vol. 6, p. 249.

[19] “الموت مفارقة دار الفناء و ارتحال الى دار البقاء” He also says: “خذوا من ممركم لمقركم” meaning take provisions from this temporal world for your eternal world (Nahjul Balaghah Subhi Saleh, p. 493) The world is a place of passing through and the Hereafter is a place of residence and when you are dying, you will be taken there: “الى ربك يومئذ المساق” (Qiyamat:26-30).

[20] Majlisi, Bihar, vol. 6, p. 154; Ma’ani al-Akhbar, p. 274; Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 9, p. 234 “…فماالموت الاقنطرةٌ تعبربكم عن البؤس و الضرّاء الى الجنان الواسعة…”.

[21] See: Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 5, p. 139.

[22] An’am:2.

[23] The nakirah (indefinite) word here (being اجلاً) implies ambiguity.

[24] Nahl:96: “That which is with Allah is stable and enduring”.

[25] “There is a written [schedule] for every term. Allah effaces or confirms whatever He wishes and with Him is the Mother Book”

[26] See: Tabatabai, Al-Mizan, vol. 7, p. 8-10.

[27] Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 5, p. 140; Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 1, p. 30.

[28] Muhammadi, ReyShahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 1, p. 30.

[29] Muhammadi, ReyShahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, chapters 1464 and 1467.

[30] Muhammadi, ReyShahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 6, p. 549, chapter 2932.


Quran says: Every Soul Shall Taste Death

Question 461: Salamualekum. Please, what is the Ahlul bayt view on the fact that every soul shall taste death?

Answer 461: In the Holy Quran Allah (SWT) says: “Every soul shall taste death. Then you shall be brought back to Us”.[1] According to the Holy Quran and traditions, before the judgment day, all of creatures will die. The holy Quran says: “And the trumpet shall be blown, so all those who are in the heavens and those who are in the earth shall swoon, except those who Allah pleases.”[2]

At first, this verse says that all those who are in skies and earth will die including all of the angels, and then there are some exceptions. So, we realize by this verse that some creatures will not die at sound of the trumpet. Who are they? There is a talk among commentators; some groups believe that there is a group of great angles such as: Gabriel, Michael, Israfil and Israel.

In another narration when the Holy Prophet Mohammad (s) recites this verse, people asked him who the exceptions are. He answered: Gabriel, Israfil and the angel of death and when all spirits was taken, they will die by order of Allah.[3] Another narration adds the carriers of Allah’s throne besides these angels[4].

In any case, by these narrations[5] and others that said: When the time of first horn comes, Israfil will blow on the trumpet and all creatures that have a soul will die except Israfil who will die later by Allah`s order.[6] And also by some verses like: “All things will die except His face,”[7] It is generally said that all things will die except Allah’s face. We can use this verse to show that this rest group will eventually die as there is not any creatures that will remain alive in any part of the world, except Almighty Allah.

How do angels die? It must be said that what we call death (the spirit leaving the body and the material world) does not have any meaning for angels because they do not have bodies for their soul to leave. For this, there are some possibilities about what the essence of their death is:

The first possibility means death by breaking the relationship between their soul and their mithali existence .[8] The second possibility means, ending their continuous activities and losing their perceptual ability.

Therefore, every soul shall taste death, and you will indeed be paid your full rewards on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever is delivered from the Fire and admitted to paradise has certainly succeeded. The life of this world is nothing but the wares of delusion.[9] Everyone on it must pass away, and yet lasting is the Face of your Lord, majestic and munificent.[10]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answers:

Index: Satan Taste Death / Every Soul Must Taste of Death, answer 217.


Index: Delaying Death and Called before its Time, answer 505.


[1] . Surah al—Ankaboot, verse 57.

[2] . Zumar (the companies) verse 68

[3] . Bihar al Anvar, volume 79, page 184

[4] . Ibid, volume 6, page 329

[5]. Ibid, volume 6, page329

[6]. Ibid, volume 6, page 324

[7]. Qasas, verse 88

[8]. Refer to Tafsir Namoneh volume 19 page 541

[9] . Surah Aal Emran, verse 185.

[10] . Surah al-Rahman, verses 26-27.


Satan Taste Death / Every Soul Must Taste of Death

Question 217: Assalamu aleykum as it written or said innalillahi Wainnailyhi Rajiun. Shall Satan taste death as the rest of the creation will?

Answer 217: In the Holy Qur’an Allah (swt) says, “And certainly we created you, then we fashioned you, then we said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam.” So they did prostrate, except Iblis; he was not of those who prostrated. He said, “What hindered you so that you did not prostrate when I commanded you?” He said, “I am better than he: Thou hast created me of fire, while him thou didst create of dust.” He said, “Then get forth from this (state), for it does not befit you to behave proudly therein. Go forth, therefore, surely you are of the abject ones.” Satan said, “Respite me until the day when they are raised up.”[1]

Allah (swt), the Almighty says: “So surely you are of the respited ones.” “Till the period of the time made known.”[2]

In some traditions there have been mentioned different interpretations regarding “The Time Made Known” as follows:

Some say, it means when this universe has ended and there will be no taklif (duty) for the human being. All creatures will be died on that day and Allah (swt) will be the only one who is the Ever living who dies not. In this regards, the Holy Qur’an says, “Everything is perishable but He.”[3]

Allama Tabatabaei said: the meaning of “The Time Made Known” is not the Day of Judgment nor the end of the universe when there is no duty. It is during the time when the universe still exist and everyone has Taklif.[4]

According to Tafseer al-Qummi, when Imam Sadiq (as) was asked by Muhammad bin Younes that “What is the interpretation of this following verse of the Holy Qur’an, “So surely you are of the respited ones; Till the period of the time made known?” The Imam (as) replied: “The Satan will be killed by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) on the stone of Baitul-muqaddas at the time made known.”[5]

In Tafseer Ayyashi it is mentioned that the Imam of the time (ajtf) will kill the Satan.[6]

Therefore, the Satan will be killed by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) or the Imam of the Time (ajtf) during the Rajah time, according to the previous mentioned traditions.[7] It is also said in the Holy Qur’an that “Every soul must taste of death then to us you shall be brought back.”[8]

For further information in this regards, please read the following answer:

Index:  Satans are chained during the Holy Month of Ramadan, answer 061.

Index: Quran says: Every Soul Shall Taste Death, answer 461.

[1] . Surah Aa’raf, verses 11-14.

[2] . Surah Hijr, verses 37-38; Tafseer Nemooneh, Vol. 6, Pg. 109.

[3] . Surah Qasas, verse 88.

[4] . Tafseer al-Mizan, Vol. 12, Pg. 258.

[5] . Tafseer al-Qummi, Vol. 1, Pg. 349.

[6] . Al-Borhan, Vol. 2, Pg. 343, Hadith 7; Ayyashi, Vol. 2, Pg. 242, H 14.

[7] . Rajah literally means ‘to return’, and in Islamic terms it refers to the return of certain people from the dead. These people may consist of dedicated believers and mushrik (polytheists) alike. It has been narrated that after the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam (ajtf) and the establishment his global Islamic government, prior to the Day of Judgment, certain individuals will be raised from their graves and brought back to this world.

[8] . Surah Al-‘Ankabut, verse 57; Surah Namibian verse 35; Surah Ale-Iran, verse 185. Therefore, the Satan will die.


Whoever knows himself knows his Lord / Man Arafa Nafsahu, Faqad Arafa Rabbahu

Question 274: Salam, “Man Arafa Nafsahu, Faqad Arafa Rabbahu” One who truely knows himself has already come to know Allah. Could you please eleborate further on that? How can one know Allah if he recognizes himself? What does that mean? What is the “self” (nafsu) which makes us recognize God? Does this mean that if we recognize the true purpose of our existance in this world we have recognised God i.e True existance belings to Him because He is independant and Needless and He alone is worthy of being worshiped. Everything belongs to Him and under his control (InaliAllah wa ina ilayhe rajaoon)?

Answer 274: The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has said: “Whoever knows himself knows his Lord.[1]

The Arabic version of this hadith is as follows: Read More


Abortion Law / Kaffarah of Abortion

Question 123: Is it allowed to terminate pregnancy early for those who don’t want to continue pregnancy? What is the abortion law and lts Kaffarah?

Answer 123: This question is answered through a series of question & answer though the Grand Marja’ as follows:

Q 1260: Is it permissible to practice abortion due to financial problems?

A: Mere financial problems don’t make abortion permissible.

Q 1261: After inspecting the mother in her early months of pregnancy, the doctor says that continuing with pregnancy can be life threatening to her and that there are also chances of the baby being born with defects and deformation, thus recommending abortion. Is this permissible? Is it permissible to abort a baby before its spirit has been breathed into it?

A: Deformation of the fetus isn’t enough to make abortion permissible before its spirit has been breathed into it, but if a trusted doctor with expertise says that it threatens the life of the mother, it is permissible before its spirit has been breathed into it.

Q 1262: Using new methods and instruments, practitioners today can learn if the fetus has defects or not. Considering the hardships these children will face in their lives, is it permissible to abort babies that have been diagnosed with such by experts?

A: Aborting the baby just because it has defects or will face hardship in the future doesn’t make it permissible at any time. [1]

Issue 2453: It is impermissible for a woman who has been impregnated through illegitimate intercourse to abort her baby.

Khoei, Araki, Golpaygani, Safi: If a woman is impregnated through illegitimate intercourse, in the case of her or the father or both being Muslim, she cannot abort her baby.

Makarem: A woman who has become pregnant through illegitimate means cannot abort the baby and it is considered her child, the only thing is that it won’t inherit from her.

Sistani: Abortion is impermissible, even if the baby is illegitimate, unless keeping it has an unbearable harm or severe hardship for the mother, which in this case it is permissible to abort the baby before its spirit has been breathed into it but it will entail diyah (blood money), but after spirit has been breathed into it, it is in no way permissible.[2]

Abortion of baby before spirit being breathed into it

Ayatollah Khomeini and other marja’s have said: “If a woman becomes pregnant through adultery, in the case of her or the man or both being Muslim, she cannot abort the baby.”[3] In this case the baby is the woman’s child, the only thing is that the baby won’t inherit from the mother.

This question was also sent to the offices of some of the maraje’ and the following are their responses:

The office of the grand Ayatollah Khamenei: Abortion is haram and the circumstances stated in the question aren’t an excuse for its permissibility.

The office of the grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi: It isn’t permissible unless there is a very big and important problem that can only be solved through such.

The office of the grand Ayatollah Sistani: If there is fear of the mother being harmed or if it entails severe hardship and difficulty it is permissible, but it must be done before spirit has been breathed into the fetus.

The office of the grand Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani: The excuses stated in the question in no way make abortion of the baby permissible.

Question: What is the kaffara of abortion?

Answer: In case the mother aborts the child, she must give the indemnity (blood money) to the father or other heirs. And if the father carries out the abortion, the indemnity is obligatory on him and he must give it to the mother. If it is the doctor who carries out the abortion, it is obligatory on him to give the blood money although he may abort the child on the parents’ request. He must give the blood money except for when the heirs exempt him. It would suffice for the blood money of the fetus into which soul has entered to give 525 mithqals of silver. That is when the fetus is male and if it is female, half of that amount should be paid. As a measure of obligatory precaution, the indemnity of the fetus which dies in the womb is also the same. If the fetus is lifeless and it is in the form of a fertilized ovum (zygote), 105 mithqals of silver would suffice for the blood money. In case it is in the form of a leech-like substance, the indemnity is 210 mithqals. If it develops into a chewed-like substance, the indemnity is 315 mithqals. If the fetus has bones, 420 mithqals of silver would suffice. If it has developed into a complete human body with grown up limbs and organs, the indemnity is 525 mithqals of silver. If the fetus is soulless, there is no difference between a male fetus and a female one as an obligatory precaution. Soul enters the body at the fourth month of pregnancy except for when it is proved otherwise through modern equipment. If the fetus is alive and it is aborted, the indemnity is 5250 mithqal of silver for a male child and 2625 mithqal for a female child.[4]

[1] . Ajwibatul-Istifta’at (Farsi), pg. 278; Tawzih al-Masael of the Maraje’, vol. 2, pg. 945.

[2] . Tawzih all-Masael of the Maraje’, vol. 2, pg. 498.

[3] . Ibid, Makarem.

[4] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), Q&A “Abortion.