The Qur’an speaks of two parallel forms of life, physical and spiritual, as if they function parallel and exists of the same process – by breathing into or sending a soul or a spirit. According to the Qur’an, the biological body becomes alive only when the soul is breathed into it and dies when it leaves the body. Likewise, the spiritual dimension becomes alive only when the revelation or knowledge about God is received by it, otherwise it is dead.
For this reason, the Qur’an uses the same word for soul and divine revelation, which is the term ‘ruuh’. In the following two verses, the Qur’an speaks of the biological life:
“then He fashioned them and had a spirit (ruuh) of His Own creation breathed into them. And He gave you hearing, sight, and intellect. Yet you hardly give any thanks. [32:9]
“So when I have fashioned him and had a spirit (ruuh) of My Own creation breathed into him, fall down in prostration to him.” [38:72]
The same term, i.e., ruuh – spirit or soul, is used to refer to the Qur’an itself or the revelation such as on the following verses:
“And so We have sent to you ˹O Prophet˺ a revelation (a spirit – ruuh) by Our command. You did not know of this Book and faith before. But We have made it a light, by which We guide whoever We will of Our servants. And you are truly leading all to the Straight Path.” [42:52]
“He sends down the angels with revelation (spirit – ruuh) by His command to whoever He wills of His servants, stating: “Warn humanity that there is no god worthy of worship except Me, so be mindful of Me alone.”[16:2]
Interestingly, the Qur’an uses the same word for what makes a body alive and for what makes the spiritual life alive. A soul without Qur’an or revelation is dead the same way that a body without a soul is dead.
Even based on interaction with people, we can notice that those who don’t believe in God, who have not internalized the knowledge of the Qur’an or revelation look as if they are missing a dimension or as if they are blind. That’s why the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) describes the one who does not remembers Allah as dead and the one who does as alive.
The physical body and spirituality are two different worlds, which both can experience life and death. The Qur’an considers the revelation as something which gives people life:
“O believers! Respond to Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. And know that Allah stands between a person and their heart, and that to Him you will all be gathered.” [8:24]
It is so amazing how the Qur’an draws a parallel between the biological life and the spiritual one. A body without a soul is dead; similarly, the spiritual dimension without the Qur’anic knowledge and belief in God is dead while the latter is more important than the former.