Faculties of the Soul: Their Effects and Characteristics
At the time of its creation, the soul of man is like a clean tablet, devoid of all faculties (traits), whether good or evil. As one progresses through life, he develops faculties which are directly related to the way he lives, thinks, and acts. The speech and deeds of man, when repeated over a long period of time, produce a lasting effect in the soul which is known as a "faculty". This faculty penetrates the soul and becomes the origin and cause of man's actions. In other words, the human soul becomes used to these faculties, establishes a union with it, and determines the human being's direction in accordance with their dictates. If these faculties (malakat) are noble, they manifest themselves as moral and wise speech and behaviour in man. If, on the contrary, they are evil and base, they are manifested through immoral and perverse behaviour.
These very faculties play the decisive role in determining the fate of the individual in the eternal world of the Hereafter. The soul shall be accompanied there by the same faculties that it was associated and united with in this world. If these faculties are virtuous, the soul shall have eternal bliss, and if they were wicked ones, it shall face eternal damnation.
This matter of malakat provides the answer to those who say how could the Compassionate and Merciful God condemn an individual to eternal damnation for a sin committed in a short span of time. The thing to keep in mind is that when a sin committed repeatedly leads to the development of a faculty in man, since this evil faculty is incorporated in the soul, the punishment and torture which accompany it will also afflict the soul. The Quran says:
And every man-We have fastened to him his bird of omen upon his neck and We shall bring forth for him, on the Day of Resurrection, a book he shall find spread wide open. Read thy book! Thy soul suffices thee this day as a reckoner against thee. ( 17:13-14)
And the book shall be set in place; and thou wilt see the sinners fearful at what is in it, and saying, Alas for us how is it with this Book, that it leaves nothing behind, small or great, but it has numbered it?' And they shall find all they wrought present, and thy Lord shall not wrong anyone. (18:49)
The day every soul shall find what it has done of good brought forward, and what it has done of evil; it will wish if there were only a far space between it and its deeds. (3:29)
Adapted from: "Jami' al-Sa'adat" by: "Muhammad Mahdi al-Naraqi"
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