In the comment thread of a previous post, Muslim apologist Osama Abdallah graciously sought to educate us on the constituent elements of human nature, which he said are defined “accurately and logically” in Islam over and against “paganism”. According to Osama, man consists of a self (Arabic: nafs) and a physical body that are animated or made alive by Allah’s Spirit.
I found what Osama said about the self/nafs, ordinarily translated “soul” by translators, to be especially interesting. Osama said of the self: “This is what enters the flesh and blood or whatever other form it will enter. It will enter the Heavenly Body that it will live in in Heaven, or the Hell body in Hell that it too will live in.”
Intrigued by the implications of this, and in order to make sure I was accurately understanding him to be saying that every self/nafs “enters the flesh and blood or whatever other form it will enter,” I quoted Osama’s words back to him and then asked the following question: “You have said that Islam’s view is logical, and you have referred to the nafs, i.e. self, as that which enters flesh and blood and other forms. Does EVERY nafs/self enter into a body or other forms in either heaven or hell?”
In confirmation of the fact that this was his intended meaning, Osama gave the following terse reply: “It’s funny that you quoted me and then asked a question that is directly answered by the very quote that you quoted me on.”
With that in view, the reason Osama’s “logical” view of the self is so interesting is because of what it says in the following verse of the Qur’an:
And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): “O Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Did you say unto men: Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?” He will say: “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in MY inner self though I do not know what is in YOURS, truly, You only You, are the All Knower of all that is hidden and unseen. (S. 5:116, Hilali & Khan; cf. 3:28, 3:30, 6:12, 6:54, 20:41)
According to the above verse, Allah has an inner self/nafs. The same thing can be seen in several hadith, the following among them:
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Allah says: ‘I am just as My slave thinks I am, (i.e. I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him) and I am with him if He remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too, remember him in Myself; and if he remembers Me in a group of people, I remember him in a group that is better than they; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.’" (Sahih Bukhari, 9.93.502; see also 9.93.501)
On the authority of Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (peace be upon him) is that among the sayings he relates from his Lord (may He be glorified) is that He said:
O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another. O My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you, O My servants, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food of Me and I shall feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked except for those I have clothed, so seek clothing of Me and I shall clothe you. O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you. O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and will not attain benefitting Me so as to benefit Me. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more that a needle decreases the sea if put into it. O My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for, so let him who finds good praise Allah and let him who finds other than that blame no one but himself. It was related by Muslim (also by at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah). (Hadith Qudsi, 17)
So according to the Islamic sources Allah has an inner self or soul, i.e. Allah has what Osama said enters “flesh and blood and other forms…the Heavenly Body…in Heaven…the Hell body in Hell….” In other words, since Allah has a self, and since every self enters flesh and blood and other forms in heaven or hell, then Allah must have a heavenly body. The logic is ironclad:
Ø P1: All selfs/nafs enter flesh and blood or other forms (i.e. heavenly body, hell body)
Ø P2: Allah is/has a self/nafs
Ø Conclusion: Allah entered flesh and blood or other forms
The problem with this for Osama is that the Christian doctrine of the incarnation is the chief reason he calls Christianity “paganism.” So if Christianity is paganism, and if Osama’s belief about the self/nafs is “logically” consistent with his own stated view of the self and the teaching of the Qur’an regarding Allah being a self or having a nafs, then Islam must be paganism by Osama’s own criteria. In other words, Osama has a contradiction on his hands (several of them).
Now sit back and watch Osama deny the implications of his own “accurate and logical” position.
To learn more about Allah’s "self" and the problems it poses for Islam, see the following article: