FIRST FUNDAMENTAL: The spirit is eternal, and the First Aim’s proofs for the existence of angels and other spirit beings prove its eternity. We are too close to the souls of the dead, who are waiting in the barzakh47 to go to the Hereafter, to require proof of their existence. If such beings have the necessary insight into the reality of things, saints may see and even communicate with them. In addition, almost everyone encounters them in true dreams. As modern materialism causes doubt in such obvious matters, we provide four sources from which persuasive knowledge can be obtained.
Introduction: An eternal, matchless beauty requires an eternal lover through whom it will be reflected permanently. A faultless, eternal, and perfect art demands a permanent contemplative herald. An infinite mercy and benevolence require the continued ease and happiness of needy ones to thank it. The human soul is the foremost of those lovers, contemplative heralds, and needy thankful ones. Given this, it will accompany that beauty, perfection, and mercy on the way to eternity.
Perhaps all creatures, even the most primitive, are created for some kind of eternity. Even the spiritless flower has a sort of post-death immortality: Its form is preserved in memories, and the laws of its formation gain permanence via new flowers growing from its seeds. Since these laws, the model of its form that has the same significance for it as our spirit has for us, is preserved through its seeds by the All-Preserving, All-Wise One, the human soul, which has a sublime comprehensive nature and consciousness and has been clothed with external existence, is far more deserving of being eternal. How could an All-Wise One of Majesty, an All-Preserving One of Eternity, Who maintains a huge tree’s life-cycle and the law of its formation through a tiny seed, not preserve the souls of dead people?
First source: This concerns you as an individual and relates to your inner world. Look carefully into your life and inner aspect, and you will discern the existence of an eternal spirit. Every person changes his or her body annually through a complete renewal, but the spirit remains unchanged.
The body is ephemeral; the spirit inhabiting it is permanent. The formation or deformation of your body’s molecules, or its composition and decomposition, does not affect the spirit, which annually changes or renews its bodily garment. When it strips off this garment at the time of death, neither its permanence nor its essential nature are affected because, as established through experiences and observation, the spirit does not depend upon the body for its life. The body is only its dwelling place, not its cover. The spirit has a subtle cover, its “energetic envelope,” and leaves its dwelling place dressed in this cover when its body dies.
Second source: This relates to the outer world. Observation and experience indicate the spirit’s eternity. The individual spirit’s permanence, which has been established in the afterlife, confirms the soul’s perpetuation after death. It has been established logically that any essential aspect observed in an individual is common to the whole species, for qualities originating in the essence are shared by all individuals. Each soul’s permanent existence after the body’s death, as based on observation and countless experiences in dreams and other kinds of communication, is as certain as the existence of a continent that we have never visited. They have a relationship with us, for our prayers reach them and we receive their blessing in return. Moreover, it can be perceived that an essential aspect of each person exists after physical death: his or her spirit.
As the spirit is a simple unitary entity, it is not subject to disintegration or decomposition like composite material things. Life ensures a form of unity within multiplicity and causes a sort of permanence. In other words, unity and permanence are essential to the spirit, from which they spread to multiplicity.
The spirit’s mortality would be due either to its decomposition and disintegration or its annihilation. The first option is impossible, for the spirit has a simple unitary essence. The second option also is impossible, for it is contrary to the Absolutely All-Generous One’s infinite Mercy. Moreover, His boundless Munificence would not allow the human spirit to be deprived of the blessing of existence that He has bestowed on it, for it ardently desires and is worthy of this blessing.
Third source: The spirit is a living, conscious, light-giving entity; a comprehensive law or command of God furnished with external existence and has the potential to achieve universality. Even natural laws, which are considerably weak when compared to the spirit, have stability and permanence, let alone the law embodied by the spirit. All kinds of existence, although subject to change, possess a permanent dimension that remains unaltered through all stages of life. Thus each person is an individual and, on account of his or her comprehensive nature, universal consciousness, and all-embracing imagination, like a species. A law that operates upon humanity also applies to the individual.
The Majestic Creator endowed us with a sublime nature and caused us to be comprehensive mirrors through which His Names and Attributes are reflected. He has charged us with a universal duty of worship. Given this, each individual’s spiritual reality remains alive forever by Divine permission, even though its form undergoes countless changes. Thus the human spirit, which constitutes our conscious, living element, is eternal and has been made so by God’s command and permission.
Fourth source: The Divine laws of nature resemble the spirit, for they also belong to the world of the Divine Will and Command. However, they operate upon categories that do not have a perceptive existence. When we analyze these laws, we see that they would have been the spirits of the categories themselves if they had been given external existence. As they are permanent and unchanging, their unity is not affected by any alteration or transformation. The seeds of a dead fig tree still contain the permanent, spirit-like law relating to its formation.
Since weak and ordinary commanding laws are connected to permanence and continuance, the human spirit must be connected to permanence and immortality—and eternity. According to: The spirit is of My Lord’s Command (17:85), the spirit is a conscious and living law from the world of Divine Command and has been endowed with external existence by Eternal Power. Since unconscious laws issuing from the Divine Attribute of Will and the World of Divine Command are permanent, the spirit is even worthier of such permanence, for it comes from the same source and has the additional attributes of life and possessing an external reality. Being conscious means that it is more sublime and powerful than other laws; having life means that it is more permanent and valuable than them.
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
47 The intermediate world between this world and the next. (Ed.)