I’ve been researching souls lately, human instinct and gut feelings: sixth sense indicators that might help when rationality fails us.
I met someone for the first time recently; I had been apprehensive and worried about what I would say. I dreaded an awkward silence and fumbling for words to make small talk with. Would we talk about the weather? Even fierce thunderstorms become glamour-less if you discuss them over and over.
Oh and I’ve never been good at bonding with people, forcefully anyway. I don’t understand forced closeness, and I have always felt that there are some people you just get on with, and others that you don’t, and won’t, no matter how many polite smiles and demure nods you throw their way.
Anyway, I met this friend of mine, and I knew, in an instant, I’d met a kindred spirit. There was no need to come up with things to talk about, no need for weird pleasantries, because all that happened was genuine, warm conversation. It was as if sometime in the past, I’d misplaced this person, and just happened to meet them again. We picked up where we left off.
No, this did not mean we fell in love, or anything juvenile of that sort. I have realised that Western notions of ‘soulmates’ are terribly optimistic. Here is what is ‘meant to happen’: you meet the ONE, who is your soulmate and you fall in love and you live happily ever after. Anyone you have met before that was not the right person and therefore, not worth including in this love-laced narrative.
But soulmates are not limited to one person, or even one emotion. Inasmuch as the soul is mentioned in Islam, it is talked about in a matter of fact way, and not romanticised as it maybe is in other cultures, or religions.
Hazrat Aisha, one of the wives of the Prophet (pbuh), narrated this hadith: “Souls are like conscripted soldiers, those that recognise one another unite in harmony and those that do not recognise one another are at an aversion.” [Sahih Muslim]
And this has been true, at least for me. There are people whom I just cannot get along with, no matter how I try, or what I do. And then there are others who I have met once, and started to love them open heartedly, with no logic or reason to back me up.
There is another person who I have repeatedly met and spent time with. And try as I might, I have not been able to connect with her. At first I thought it was because we were too different, but as time went on, I realised it’s because when she’s around, I feel like the world is a terrible, pessimistic and hopeless place. I feel self conscious and grim. I feel like there are no good people out there. And everyone is snide, and talk about each other, and feel happiness in everyone else’s pain. She and I will never get along, even though there are no logical reasons. It’s just a feeling.
And I am not an Islamic scholar. I can’t hope to properly interpret this hadith. But what I have understood is that before the time that souls descended to physical bodies, they met one another. Some were friends, some were enemies. And try as we might, we can’t ignore what our gut tells us as we meet someone new. Souls have wisdom that transcends every mortal phenomena, maybe even Time.
But not every “soulmate” – and I use this term loosely – is someone you are meant to love romantically for all time. My best friends are my soulmates, so is my sister. We recognise each others’ essence, and there is no need to use words to describe it.
With them, I feel good and strong, and the world is a bright place with every happiness waiting for me. I am inspired to be better than I am, and no amount of small talk, or forced conversation could have manufactured what I have with them.
And I just met another one. Score.