Human being is composed of three bodies that function together to create the life we experience. We are the combination of physical body, soul and spirit.
Romans 12:1 (NASB) And so, dear brothers and sisters,* I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 / Al Hijr 26 And certainly We created man from dried clay of altered mud (from clay that has undergone an organic transformation and has been given a standard shape of a human being).
32/As-Sajda-9: Then He designed him and breathed into him (into his physical body) of His Spirit, and gave you (sense of) hearing and (sense of) seeing and (sense of) comprehension. Little is the thanks you give!
One of the important concepts in all Holy Scriptures is the soul. Even though soul and spirit are often confused with each other, there are clear distinctions between them according to various verses:
Heb. 4:12 (NASB). For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
For more detailed information about the spirit, please take a look at our Spirit section. Soul is full of vices while spirit is full of virtues:
Job 7:11 “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
Galatians 5: 19- 21 Now the works of the soul are evident which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revels and the like of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
Romans 7: 18 For I know that in my soul nothing good dwells.
12/Yusuf-53: And I cannot exonerate my soul. Most surely the soul always commands what is evil, except (the souls) such as on whom my Lord manifests Himself with His Name of Most Merciful. Surely my Lord is Oft-Forgiving (the One Who changes the evil deeds into rewards), the Most Merciful (the One who sends the Light of Mercy and show mercy).
The soul can be corrupted by Satan unless the vices are taken under control. The following verses state this fact:
An-Nür Qur’an 21 O ye who believe! Follow not Satan's footsteps: if any will follow the footsteps of Satan, he will (but) command what is indecent and wrong…
1 Peter 5:5 (NKJV) Submit to God, Resist the Devil
74/Al-Muddathir-38: All souls are held in pledge for what they have earned.
Peter 2:11 New International Version (NIV) Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.
It is clear that the soul is full of vices when it is first entrusted to a human being. This makes the soul open to deceptions and corruption. However, it is created in such a way that it can be cleansed and this cleansing is very important for our salvation:
89/Al-Fajr-27: O satisfied soul!
91/Ash-Shams-9: Whoever had cleansed it (his soul’s heart) had reached Salvation.
35/Fatir-18: And no bearer of burdens (sinful) bears another’s burden (sin) and if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) his load, nothing of it will be lifted even though he be near of kin. You warn only those who are in reverence towards their Lord in the Unseen (without seeing Him) and keep up the Prayer. And whoever cleanses himself (his soul), he purifies himself only for his own soul and to Allah is the return (through the soul’s cleansing, the spirit returns to Allah and reaches Allah).
Ephesians 5:26, "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word."
1 Peter 1:22-23, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever."
When the soul is full of vices, it tends to choose or do the things that God has forbidden. The soul requires guidance. This guidance primarily comes from the spirit, which represents the virtues and brings the light of God into our soul's heart. Therefore, cleansing of the soul is only possible by the help of God as clearly stated by the following verses.
4/An-Nisa-49: Have you not seen those who attribute purity to their souls? (Who claim that they have cleansed their souls’ hearts)? Nay, Allah only cleanses the soul of whom He wills; and they shall not be wronged (even) the hair upon a date-seed.
53/An-Najm-32: They are the ones that refrain from serious sins and the indecencies except the small ones. Surely your Lord is the One Who is Vast in Forgiveness. He is the One Who knows you better. He had created you from the earth and you were embryos in the wombs of your mothers. So do not put your souls in the clear (do not assert that you have cleansed your souls). He (Allah) knows better who the owner of piety is.
24/An-Nur-21: O you who believe (who are âmenû, who wish to reach Allah before death), do not follow the footsteps of Shaitan (Satan)! And whosoever follows the footsteps of Satan, then surely he commands Al-Fahshâ (indecency, all kinds of evil) and Al-Munkar (the denial and all that Allah has forbidden). And if it had not been for the Virtue and Mercy of Allah unto you (if these had not be placed into the hearts of your souls), none of you could have ever cleansed his soul, but Allah cleanses the souls of whom He wills and Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
Luke 1:46-47 New International Version (NIV) And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,”
Psalm 23:2-4 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. 4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Soul can be restored, cleansed and be the representative of goodness in us. This requires our effort, honest trust and submission to God. Unless we do this, we will never be able to walk through “the valley of the shadow of the death” without fear.