Soul Skin

I watched a documentary last night on tarantulas. It’s odd how I’m terrified of moths and other flutterers and creepy crawlies, but I absolutely love watching them on television. Seeing how complicated their lives are and how they have just the perfect traits to survive the things they have to is amazing.

Considering that they have no conscious thought or intellect and all this is based on instinct, it fits the argument of the Qur’an perfectly in that someone had to program this instinct. It had to stem from some sort of Intellect, didn’t it? What these eight legged creatures do is not mere adaptation, it’s finely-tuned design.

And the best part is that even the most basic of actions is infused with splendour. A subtle hidden beauty calling out to the observer, like the artist who looks out through his painting willing you to see the sparkle in his eye and the passion on his face when he made every stroke.

The one part of the whole program that really grabbed my attention was when they showed a tarantula moulting. The slow struggle to rid itself of its old exoskeleton and emerge a newly-born creature was fascinating. The shell it shed was a dark, mouldy stale brown and the new fresh skin a vibrant shade of blue-bottle that only nature seems able to create.

I couldn’t help wondering at how apt a simile it would provide for the process of growth within the human soul.

We’re all born good, but we slowly create this hardened shell around our souls. A brittle prison that is borne from sin, vice and negativity that hardens with our everyday disillusionment and pessimism.

The process of enlightenment must be a series of moultings. When we grow from within – changing our natures to become more obedient, to embrace humility and to simply care for others – our soul outgrows this shell. The more a soul becomes closer to the infinite God, the less it can be constrained by the finite boundaries of vice. The need to burst forth and head towards the Eternal Source leads to an outward explosion, cracking the husk of transgression and blooming into a being who is more free, less finite; more embracing, less self-absorbed.

I don’t doubt that if we could look back and see the shell such a soul leaves behind, we would see a stale, broken, sin-smudged casing, much like the shells and skins that animals know to be useless and thus can’t wait to discard.

The soul itself must be a vibrant, glowing light pulsating with excitement and growing stronger and brighter with every heartbeat that unites it with its Creator.

This is the journey I want to take. I just hope I can handle the struggles as well as the victories.

Bint Ali


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