What is the soul?
According to the following Quranic verse and hadith, the knowledge of soul (ruh) is only with Allah. However, as explained later, there is evidence in the hadith on when the soul enters the human body and what happens to a soul after it departs the body after a person’s death.
And they ask you [O Muhammad] concerning the rooh [the spirit]. Say: ‘The rooh: it is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord. And of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given only a little.’ [Quran, Surah al-Israa 17:85]”
This following hadith is about the incident when the Jews asked Prophet Muhammad about Ruh (Soul) and the Prophet replied after getting the divine inspiration.
Sahih Bukhari Hadith in Arabic / English
Entering of the soul in the human body
This hadith below describes when the soul first enters the human body in the mother’s womb.
“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who is the most truthful (of human beings) and his being truthful (is a fact) told us: ‘The constituents of one of you is gathered in his mother’s womb for forty days, then it becomes a clot of blood within another period of forty days. Then it becomes a lump of flesh, and forty days later, Allah sends His angel to it to breathe into it the soul. The angel comes with instructions concerning four things, so the angel writes down his livelihood, his death, his deeds and whether he will doomed or blessed.” (Reported by Muslim, 1528).
The soul during death
According to hadith, when a person dies, the soul goes from the bottom of the body to the top before it leaves the body and the eyes roll-up as the soul leaves the body. According to hadith narrated by Umm Salama, she said that “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah on him) entered upon Abu Salamah (after he had died) and his eyes were open, so he closed them then said, ‘When the soul is taken, the eyes follow it.’” (Reported by Sahih Muslim, 1528).
The soul after death
After a person dies, the soul is taken to the heavens by two angels and its fate depends on its state of righteousness. According to a hadith of Abu Hurayrah who said: “When the soul of the believer is taken, it is met by two angels who take it up…” (The narrator said: then he mentioned its good fragrance and scent of musk). The people of heaven say, ‘A good soul that has come from earth, may Allah bless you and the body in which you used to dwell. Then they take it up to its Lord, may He be glorified and exalted, then He says, ‘Roam with it until the end of the world.’ When the disbeliever’s soul comes out… (the narrator mentioned its putrid smell and curses). The people of heaven say, ‘An evil soul that has come from earth,’ then it is said, ‘Roam with it until the end of the world.’ Abu Hurayrah said: then the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) put a piece of cloth over his nose, like this. (Reported by Muslim, 5119).