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The Two Types of Souls

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim

A description of the two types of souls, and the greatest means by which one is abandoned by Allāh.

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim [d. 751 AH] said:

When Allāh the Exalted knows that the heart of one His slaves is full [of exultance and boastfulness], then this becomes the greatest means by which he is abandoned and left to his own devices [by Him] as the Most High says:

۞ إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابِّ عِندَ اللَّهِ الصُّمُّ الْبُكْمُ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ ‎﴿٢٢﴾‏ وَلَوْ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ فِيهِمْ خَيْرًا لَّأَسْمَعَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ أَسْمَعَهُمْ لَتَوَلَّوا وَّهُم مُّعْرِضُونَ ‎﴿٢٣﴾

‘Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allāh are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason. Had Allah known any good in them, He would have made them hear. And if He had made them hear, they would [still] have turned away, while they were refusing.’
[Al-Anfāl, 8:22-23]

The Exalted relates to us that their standing is not amenable to His bounty. In addition to this lack of acceptance on their part, there exists another interceptor that prevents His favour from them—it is their turning away from it after having awareness of it, and having established its existence. From among the points to be aware of is that the means by which a soul is abandoned, cast away from that which it was originally created for, left purposeless, completely evacuated [of goodness] originates from it and within it. While the means of guidance occurs only for a soul that Allāh has made accepting of His bounty. Thus, the means by which true guidance occurs are all from Him, from among His favours, and He is the Creator of this [the guided soul] and that [the soul that is left abandoned]. Just as He has created the earth, dividing it into different lands: lands that accept the growth of vegetation, and others that do not; trees that bear fruit, and others that do not. Just as He has fashioned the bee such that a drink of varying colours is produced from their bellies, while the hornet can produce no such thing.

Thus has He created souls of goodness, fully amenable to His remembrance, thanking Him, fully perceptive of His evidences, His exultation, his greatness, His oneness, perpetually advising His slaves. He has also created detestable, horrid souls that could never be accepting of any of that.

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim

Rather, they can only accept its inverse and He is the All-Knower, the Most Wise.

Source: Al-Majmūʿ al-Qayyim: 607
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: August 21, 2022
Edited: September 8, 2022


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