It was a long time before the little kid blinked his eyes, he was staring away through the glass, lost, oblivious of the world around him. His eyes would move from one corner to another as if He is following something and then suddenly his eyes would jump to the other subject and then lost again for moments. He would every now and then shout something, as if trying to gain the attention of the entity on the other side of the glass, but by the looks of the kid I presume no one answered him. On the other side of the glass, the fish were busy with their lives ignoring the inquisitiveness of the kid, every fish had something to keep themselves busy with.
The kid shouted again ‘Fish Fish, I am here, come here…’ and then a little goldfish swam towards the kid and replied, "Yes little one, what is it? What do you want?" The kid was thrilled and he started talking and asking many questions. While the fish joyfully replied to all his questions, there was one particular answer that surprised the kid. He asked "how do you feel in the water, do you like it?" and the fish replied "What water?" the kid said, "the water that you are living in!!! look around you.” And the fish swam here and there, turned around looked up and down and said "What water? I can't see any water." It is then that the kid realized, that the fish was so busy living that it has become oblivious of the source of its life, the source of everything it is, and the source of everything it can be. The most important thing in its life, the water.
This is more or less the story of man, the story of you and me. We got so busy in our lives and in the rat race that we have forgotten the true source of all that we have, the most important element of our life i.e., Allah (SwT); and we did not stop at that, but we have also forgotten who we are!!!
So, who is Man? Who are we? Who am I?
Man is an entity for whom Allah (SwT) says in the Holy Qur’an that all that we have created in the world is for Man.
هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُم مَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ
It is He who created for you all that is in the earth, (2:29).
Man has two parts to its existence body and soul, while all the Abrahamic religions agree upon this, the philosophers from the western world deny all forms of metaphysical existence, which essentially lead to the mainstream belief that only that which can be sensed with the five senses exists. I presume being a believer of Abrahamic religion (Muslim, Christian, or Jew) we agree upon the fact that man is body and soul. This necessarily leads us to ask some fundamental questions First one being 'Which is the real me in them? Is the body real ME or is the Soul real ME? The next question would be 'Which of the two is primary and essential and which among them is secondary? Or which one is more important, body or soul?
Why are these questions so important for us? They are important so that
1) it becomes clear for us who the real me is?
2) so that it becomes clear, whose needs should we address first? Whose needs are to be prioritized over the other?
3) So that it becomes clear which of them should be taken care of more than the other? Which among the two should be preserved, while the other can be compromised? and finally
4) Which of them truly contributes towards my success in this world and the hereafter.
One might say that it's not necessary that, the answer to all the above questions be the same. Let's say if the answer for the first one is the soul, then the answer for the second may not necessarily be the same, it could be the body, and based on these answers our behavior may vary towards everything around us.
Let's look at each question and evaluate the important aspects regarding them.
Let's imagine a scenario:
Mr. Rizwan got into his fast car and was speeding away to his office. Unfortunately, he met with an accident (May Allah (SwT) protect us from calamities) and was rushed to the hospital. The doctors after evaluating the damage concluded that due to the severity of the accident, the person has suffered multiple organ damage, and hence needs to go through organ transplants.
Alhamdullilah the surgery was successful and he underwent a kidney, liver, spleen, lung, and heart transplantation. And each organ was donated by a different person, now when the Mr. Rizwan's family comes to meet him, do they see him a different person, a mix of five people? Or the same old Rizwan? Is the entity of the person only related to his outer looks and face. Rather we should pose a deeper question, would Rizwan feel like the same old Rizwan with the same memories, and personality type? or will he feel mixed with memories of the five different people and a mix of five different personalities and lives?
If we say that He would feel the same as before, then we can safely conclude that the reality of a person is not his body but his soul. If the true entity of the person was his body, he should feel a mixed personality right now. However, we know it for sure that Mr. Rizwan before the accident and Mr. Rizwan after the surgery is one and the same. He is the same jolly person, the same helpful and kind person, the same dedicated and hard-working person with a good respectful sense of humor. Though his physical heart has been transplanted, but his metaphysical heart is still filled with love for his family, it's still filled with respect for his parents, it's still filled with the kindness for the poor and needy. Hence the true Mr.Rizwan is not the physical person that went through the surgery but the metaphysical person who is still the same.
So really, who am I?
Am I the soul or the body?
I am a soul who has been granted a body for a specific purpose.
What purpose? Well, we will see if we can arrive at the answer to that question if at all there is a purpose for us?
The subsequent question we face is which one of the two is primary or essential? and which one of them is complementary?
What is primary? and what is complementary? and what difference does it make? After all its 'ME' put together.
Primary in simple is something that is core and essence of the entity and complementary or secondary is something that contributes towards its completion.
If someone claims that body is primary, then it can be argued that if it's primary how come it perishes after 80-100 years of life while the soul lives on for eternity after death. The complementary cannot exist by itself while the primary perishes. (Someone may raise doubts about the hereafter itself, which inshAllah we will discuss in the subsequent books.)
Hence the primary cannot be short-lived than the complementary, rather it’s the other way round, that the complementary depends upon the primary for its existence. So, if the body is primary, then the soul depends on it for its existence, and with the destruction of the body, the soul perishes too. However, we know for sure that it’s the other way round that soul continues to live-on even though the body perishes. Hence, we can safely conclude that the soul is primary while the body is complementary. The life span of the body as of today is between 80-100 years. However, the soul lives on forever, for eternity.