Chapter Two (The Spirit and The Soul )
Divine Religions and The Soul
Religions mention the immortality of the soul, its hidden secrets and the need to discipline and purify it from worldly sins to shine and glow. Christianity is characterized by its spiritual nature which accords with the highly materialistic Jewish society at that time. This spirituality was a reaction of their materialistic life where they were deeply involved in their worldly pleasures. They discarded the teachings of the Torah revealed upon Prophet Moses, so the Bible was sent with a number of testaments that added a spiritual aspect to their dry, materialistic life. In describing the materialistic attitude of the Jews, Allah says ” The similitude of those who were charged with the (obligations of the) Mosaic Law, but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is that of a donkey which carries huge tomes (but understands them not). Evil is similitude of people who falsify the Signs of God: and God guides not people who do wrong”.
They rejected the Torah and denied its teachings which they refused to apply, thus becoming like donkeys carrying magnificent books of knowledge on their backs of which they have no idea of their worth nor can they benefit from it. Thus, the Jews have a lot of books, sciences, and studies which neither improve their conduct nor elevate their behavior that would prevent them from wrong-doing. They call upon people to follow the Torah but they themselves are as far as they can get from its teachings. The extreme materialism necessitated that the teachings of the Bible revealed upon Prophet Isa (Peace be Upon Him) become spiritual ones. His conduct among the Jewish people was a fine example of someone who disdained worldly pleasures and was far above self-favoring. He thus set a good example for people who used to worship a calf statue. In the Torah and the Bible, however, there is frequent mentioning of the soul and spirit where both refer to one and the same thing in the Apostles’ teachings. The Divine Soul thus refers in the Bible to One God and not their alleged trilogy.
The extreme form of spirituality is reflected in Christianity in its call for monasticism, seclusion, conquering the body, and depriving oneself from worldly pleasures in order to purify and elevate his soul. This Christian behavior in leading an ascetic life has taken many forms in the east and the west. One’s nature and divine religions, however, reject such extreme conduct which eventually made them deviate from the teachings of the Bible. Allah says: ”Then, in their wake, We followed them up with (others of) Our apostles: We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed on him the Gospel; and We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him Compassion and Mercy. But the Monasticism which they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them (We commanded) only the seeking for the Good Pleasure of God; but that they did not foster as they should have done. Yet We bestowed, on those among them who believed, their (due) reward, but many of them are rebellious transgressors”. This Quranic verse indicates that the Apostles and the early followers of Prophet Isa were fine models of delicacy, compassion, and gentleness, following their best prophetic model.
As time passed, they deviated from the right course, thus inventing monasticism, and introducing extreme duties and obligations that were not sent by God. They were against the tolerance of Christianity and human nature which is the core of the soul. The earlier Jewish excuse regarding the supremacy of the soul and the denial of body needs has led to this deviation which is rejected by Prophet Isa, all divine books, and the human nature as well. Later on, there was a rather bigger deviation from the teachings of Prophet Isa where Allah says in the Quran ” They did not give it its proper care ”.
Thus are the cases of all Divine Books. They are first revealed to guide humans and lead them to the right path, but in time they are distorted by the people themselves. The revelations are disturbed and lose their pure nature thus become incapable of playing its role in leading and guiding people. This is has nothing to do with their content, but because of the inherent weakness of the human nature. Defect then lies within the humans themselves and not the Divine Books.
However, the prevalence of the spiritual aspect in the teachings and applications of Prophet Isa had a great impact on caring for the purification of the soul to be able to remove all the dirt of life. No researches were written in this area that indicate this aspect or clarify this point to people. All that has been done is extreme applications and measures regarding the soul and body needs, which are seen in the life of monks and friars who use oppression to achieve monasticism. Such attitudes inevitably lead to explosion and loss of both religion and life, which seen nowadays in the West. Indeed there should be a harmony between bodily needs and the soul’s aspirations which ensures man’s safety and stability.