Rejection of Re-incarnation by Reason
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
بَلْ كَذَّبُوا بِمَا لَمْ يُحِيطُوا بِعِلْمِهِ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِهِمْ تَأْوِيلُهُ كَذَٰلِكَ كَذَّبَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ
یونس – 39
Of course they denied it. Because they didn’t have comprehensive Knowledge about it. And the realization of it has not come to them yet. Similarly those before them, denied because of the same reasons.
Yunus – 39
Some people insist that it is not sufficient to have an understanding of some verses of the Holy Qur’an such as the concept of Re-incarnation, without being able to rationalize it. In other words, before such as understanding of the Divine Book, we have first to prove that Re-incarnation is, at least, possible to Human Reason.
In the history of the Muslim world, many Islamic philosophers and theologians disputed the idea of Re-incarnation based onHuman Reason. Ibn Sina and Mulla Sadra were the two most famous amongst them. Let us first give a very short description of these two personalities, which I have selected from Wikipedia;
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā (Persian پورسينا Pur-e Sina [ˈpuːre ˈsiːnɑː] “son of Sina”; c. 980, Afshana near Bukhara– 1037, Hamadan, Iran), commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived. In particular, 150 of his surviving treatises concentrate on philosophy and 40 of them concentrate on medicine.
His most famous works are The Book of Healing, a vast philosophical and scientific encyclopaedia, and The Canon of Medicine,which was a standard medical text at many medieval universities.The Canon of Medicine was used as a text-book in the universities of Montpellier and Leuven as late as 1650.Ibn Sīnā’s Canon of Medicine provides a complete system of medicine according to the principles of Galen (and Hippocrates). His corpus also includes writing on philosophy, astronomy, alchemy, geology, psychology, Islamic theology, logic, mathematics, physics, as well as poetry. He is regarded as the most famous and influential polymath of the Islamic Golden Age.
Ṣadr ad-Dīn Muḥammad Shīrāzī also called Mulla Sadrā (Persian: ملا صدرا; also spelt Molla Sadra, Mollasadra or Sadr-ol-Mote’allehin Persian: صدرالمتألهین;) (c. 1572–1640) was a Persian Shia Islamic philosopher, theologian and ‘Ālim who led the Iranian cultural renaissance in the 17th century. According to Oliver Leaman, Mulla Sadra is arguably the single most important and influential philosopher in the Muslim world in the last four hundred years.
According to these people, the very mechanism of Re-incarnation is impossible. In other words the question is; “how would the re-incarnation of a soul (after death) take place?“ Ibn Sīnā believed that once a certain human body has reached the stage of getting a soul, by the divine law of creation, a certain soul would be created to that particular body. Now, if another soul would re-incarnate, that means a certain body would have two souls and this is impossible.
Mulla Sadrā, on the other hand, disputed the view of Ibn Sina, regarding the creation of a separate soul for the body at the same time. According to Mulla Sadrā, the human soul and the human body, are the SAME from the beginning !
” The relation between the body and the soul, as supposed by most people, is not like a relation between a man and a place or his dress that can be taken off and dropped in time.
Thus, Mulla Sadra believes that soul evolves gradually in a body; its relation to body is not the same as the relation between one thing and another, and soul and body are intertwined as a real unit. For example, the relation between soul and body is not like the relation between carpenter and saw, but it is like the relation between form and matter of a chair, which manifest themselves in one and the same existence. There is such a union, for example, between matter and form in a natural composition consisting of matter and form, and therefore it is impossible to retain one of them and to destroy the other. For, as it is known, the form of everything is its completeness and perfectness. The relation of each soul with its body is the same.”
In conclusion, regardless of Incarnation or Re-incarnation, there is no soul outside to enter the body. Rather, the soul will appear in the body, in the same way, as the “meaning” appears within a “word”. However, after the evolution of the soul, the soul will be independent of the body.
That means the very idea of Transformation of Soul doesn’t exist. Therefore, Re-incarnation is impossible.
Regarding the view of Ibn Sina, it would mean that the “human being” is basically the “body” which needs a “soul” at a certain degree of its developing. In other words, the” soul” is created because of the “body”. So if there would be no “body”, there would be no “soul” either.
So two physical bodies, regardless of their different occupation in Time and Space, are completely two different human beings, in ALL conditions and circumstances.
On the other hand, it is not possible for a certain “body” to have more than one “soul”. So for every single “body”, Allah created a certain “soul”. But this means Man is the body! And this is a reasonable outcome of his understanding in general.
Is this, the Great Message of the Qur’an to Mankind?! If it is the case, then what was the view of those disbelievers (Kafereen الکافرین ) on this issue?! And why were they DIS-believers ?! However, if we look at it from the other side i.e the “soul”, and consider it as the basic definition of (the existence of) the “human being” which needs a certain “body” at a certain Time and Space, then the outcome will be completely the opposite. For the “body” will come and go. Whiles the “soul” will remain.
This means the idea of Re-incarnation is, at least, possible. Because it is possible to an ever-existing “soul” to have several temporary bodies in different times and spaces.
In conclusion, Allah didn’t created a certain “soul” to a certain “body”. Rather, He created a certain “body” to a certain “soul” in a certain time and space.
The revolutionary creation of the idea belongs to Mulla Sadrā. The outcome of his theory is;
” As pointed out above, there is a special connection between body and soul, and this combination is a natural and unitary integration. They are inseparable in an essential and substantial movement. The soul and the body emerge from potentiality to actuality together, and that the degrees, powers and acts of the soul are at the same level with those of the body during the process of substantial movement.”
In such a case, Re-incarnation would means that the actual soul would return back to its original stage as a potential one. And this is impossible. Because this is opposite to the substantial movement of the soul which is the cause of its potentiality and evolution, and even its very existence.
For instance, a seed by thesubstantial motion will develop and progress from potentiality to actuality which is a tree. In this stage, it is impossible for the tree ( the actual state) to return back to the seed (the potential state).
According to Mulla Sadra, this is exactly what the meaning of Re-incarnation is. Because the body and the soul at the beginning are ONE and the SAME. He says further that this is a reactionary movement which is opposite to the progressive movement of the entire universe.
But, regarding rejection of Re-incarnation, the way of his reasoning is unreasonable. Because you should always hold onto the basic rule and principle of a scientific debate.
The theory of Mulla Sadrā, may include the rejection of Re-incarnation, however, it is not intended to be a specific rejection of Re-incarnation. In order to do that, he would have the same presumption as the believers of Re-incarnation in order to have a common background. Otherwise, they would never meet each other.
In other words, with such a position that body and soul are ONE, Mulla Sadra, already ended the debate before it could be started! Therefore, there is NOTHING left to discuss! And this is against Human Reason!
Besides, Re-incarnation doesn’t mean “returning back“, but “Returning“. The tree will return to its previous state. But it will not return back to its original seed which is the potential state. Rather the tree will cause its NEW seed which is actually the final part of its actuality. And all the attributes of the tree, as its soul, will appear in that new seed. This is actually the Rotation or Circulation which Mulla Sadra believes to be the only movement in the universe. If Mulla Sadra’s description of the reality would be correct, then Re-incarnation would means the returning of the soul to its previous semen (or body)! Whereas according to the idea of Re-incarnation, the soul will “Return to the Earthly Life” through a “new body” which is a product of the actuality of the soul. This is called Karma. However, it is Resurrection which means the “returning back“. I will show this in the Qur’an, in the near future. In a way, Mulla Sadra is right, based on his own presumption, accordingly the body and the soul are ONE. That’s why it is crucial to have a debate based on the same presumption and common background, in order for a debate to take place. By the way, what is the law of this Material World compared to the law of Spirit World? The law of this Material World has nothing to do with the law of Spirit World. And we just don’t know how the Unknown World works! That’s it. Many others opposed Mulla Sadra because according to his doctrine not only Re-incarnation is impossible, but also Resurrection would be impossible. And in my view, even the spiritual evolution of human beings would be impossible.
My intention, here, is not to discuss about their theories. My point is to dispute their claiming that not only Human Reason should go side by side the Divine Book, but rather goes before it!
It must be said, here, that this is about divine beliefs and faiths. Of course, I believe in Human Reason which according to Islam is one of the greatest Messengers of Allah, provided that it is REAL Human Reason, not a false prophet!
The real Human Reason is, as the Divine Book. However, what they call Human Reason, is actually the imagination of the Human Mind which is against the Pure Human Reason!!
That’s why they are disputing in most cases with each other. Because of different people, Minds are many. However, the Human Reason is ONE. The REAL Human Reason isthe Heart
لهم القلوب یعقلون بها
They have such a Heart that they think wisely by it !
The Pilgrimage – 46
So they have such a Heart that they cannot understand by it !
Those Known – 179 They say; “the idea of Re-incarnation is against the Human Reason“. And they are right! However, the Human Reason is not against it!
The difference, is due to their considering of a FALSE Re-incarnation which is, of course, against the Human Reason. But because of the Human Reason is pure, it would never be against the TRUE Re-incarnation.
Human beings perception and knowledge are a mixture of realities and unrealities. It is no doubt that most of our perceptions and knowledge are nothing but our imagination and ignorance. We don’t encompass everything in our knowledge of the Universe and Life. Then how can others’ theories, perception and imagination be accepted by the Human Reason as the “Knowledge” and accordingly judge what is the Truth and what is the Untruth?! This itself, is against Human Reason.
قل هل من شرکائکم من یبدأ الخلق ثم یعیده قل الله یبدأ الخلق ثم یعیده فانی تؤفکون قل هل من شرکائکم من یهدی الی الحق قل الله یهدی للحق افمن یهدی الی الحق احق ان یتبع امن لایهدی الا ان یُهدی فما لکم کیف تحکمون و ما یتبع اکثرهم الا ظنّا ان الظنّ لایغنی من الحق شیئا ان الله علیم بما یفعلون و ما کان هذا القران ان یفتری من دون الله
یونس – 34 الی 37
Ask them; “who, among your companions (the false gods), can begin the creation and later on return it?” Answer; ” it is Allah Who begins the creation and later afterwards returns it”. Then why are you taking it the wrong way?!
Ask them now;”who, among your companions (the false gods), can guide one to the Truth”? Answer;” it is Allah Who guides to the Truth”.
So shouldn’t you follow the One Who guides to the Truth, rather than the one who not only doesn’t guide to the Truth, but he himself must be guided?
Then what is wrong with you?! Look, how do you argue and judge?!
The majority of them just follow their own imagination. Whiles the imagination will not enrich you without needing the Truth at all.
Surely Allah knows exactly what you are doing. And this Qur’an is, in no way, something which will teach you the lies of the others.
Yunus – 34 to 37
So concerning the Beliefs and the Faiths, we must ONLY listen to and follow the Divine Guidance; for example, the Holy Qur’an, the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita and also the True Human Reason (the Heart !).
And those who believe in ALL divine books.
The Family of Imran- 119
Thus, the Human Reason cannot accept that we judge a concept surrounding a belief or an idea which belongs to The UnKnown World, like the concept of Re-incarnation.
We cannot even encompass the Known World which is the Material Nature. Then how can we trust our dark Mind?! Such a trust is opposite to Human Reason and the Divine Books.
کذلک یبیّن الله لکم الایاته لعلکم تعقلون
In such a way, Allah enlightens you His Signs in order to make you to think wisely.
The Caw – 242
امن یبدأ الخلق ثم یعیده و من یرزقکم من السماء و الارض اله مع الله قل هاتوا برهانکم ان کنتم صادقین قل لایعلم من فی السموات و الارض الغیب الا الله و ما یشعرون ایان یبعثون بل ادراک علمهم فی الاخره بل هم فی شک منها بل هم منها عمون و قال الذین کفروا أ إذا کنا ترابا و آباؤنا ائنا لمخرجون لقد وعدنا هذا نحن و آباؤنا من قبل إن هذا الا اساطیر الاولین
النمل – 64 الی 68
Is there any other god than He Who beings the creation and later returns it and the One Who supplies you from the Heaven and the Earth? Tell them; ” if you are honest, then bring your logical reasoning“.
Tell them; Nobody, neither in the Heavens nor on the Earth knows about the Unknown but Allah. And they don’t know when they will be raised up again.
Of course, there is nothing left of their knowledge. Of course, they are in doubt about it. Of course, they are blind to it.
And the disbelievers asked;”once we and our fathers are turned to dust (after death), are we going to turn up again?! In fact, we and our ancestors have been promised of his idea before. Indeed this is nothing but of Ancient Myths and Legends”.
The Ants – 64 to 68
The other point is why would it be for us (believers of the Qur’an) that important to know HOW re-birth can be possible and take place, in order to believe in it at all?
Is this the way of having faith, according to the Qur’an and Islam, in general? Or as I explained, in the part one, we have to have TRUST in the divine messages and teachings?
Because the same case would also concern the idea of Resurrection. Did you believe in that because you first got to know HOW it will take place according to human logic and knowledge? Of course NOT! Did the early believers ask the prophet for explaining HOW such a thing would be possible before they would make a dictum to believe it? Of course NOT!
However, those disbelievers, THEY did that !! Yet, not in order to believe, but to discredit Muhammad (peace be upon him)!! And this has always been their way of refusing, in history;
بل قالوا مثل ما قال الاولون قالوا ء اذا متنا و کنا ترابا و عظاما ء انا لمبعوثون لقد وعدنا نحن و اباؤنا هذا من قبل ان هذا الا اساطیر الاولین
They asked questions like what the first ancient people asked; “once we are dead and turned to dust and stones we will rise up again?! In fact, we and our ancestors have been promised of this idea before. Indeed, this is nothing but of Ancient Myths and Legends”.
The Believers- 81 to 83 That’s why we never see such a single verse from those believers. This itself is an “Ayah” i.e a message! Interesting enough those disbelievers never asked “HOW” but “WHO” !
قال من یحی العظام و هی رمیم قل یحییها الذی انشاها اول مره
یس – 78 الی 79
(The disbeliever) asked; “WHO will bring life to the bones while they are scattered like ash”? Answer; the One WHO created that at the first time, will bring life to them again.
Yasin – 78 – 79
و قالوا ء اذا کنا عظاما و رفاتا ء انا لمبعوثون خلقا جدیدا…فسیقولون من یعیدنا قل الذی فطرکم اول مره
And they asked; will we be raised up again in a new creation (body), once we are bones or nothing left?!…then they will ask; but WHO will return us? Answer; the One WHO created that at the first time.
The Mystical Journey in the Night – 49 to 51
قالوا یا ویلنا من بعثنا من مرقدنا
They said (!); O, WHO raised us up from our beds?
Yasin – 52
The truth is that knowing the mechanism of Re-incarnation and HOW we will be re-born doesn’t help us in our spiritual journey. That’s why God never explain HOW our “Returning” or “Ma‘ad” will take place. However, it is the basic spiritual knowledge to know “WHY” we will return;
الیه مرجعکم جمیعا وعد الله حقا انه یبد الخلق ثم یعیده لیجزی
یونس – 4
Everybody on your journey is towards Him. This is a promise of Allah which will come to true. Indeed, He begins the creation and afterwardsreturn it, in order to reward (your actions).
Yunus – 10
و ان لیس للانسان الا ما سعی و ان سعیه سوف یری ثم یجزیه الجزاء الاوفی و ان الی ربک المنتهی
النجم – 39 الی 42
Indeed, nothing belongs to the human being but his/her own actions. And indeed s/he will face his/her actions soon and gradually his/her reward will be completed, and indeed towards your Lord will be the Final Destination.
Surprising enough, once the disbelievers got to know that it is the One WHO created them at the FIRST time, WHO will create them again and return them again, they got SILENCED. This should be the second “Ayah” (Message), regarding this matter! A message for us, is if we are not ready to learn from our fellow believers at the time of the prophet, we should, at least, learn from those disbelievers!