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Soul Movie Discussion Guide — Part 2: It’s the Journey That Matters

Soul Movie Discussion Guide — Part 2: It’s the Journey That Matters

In part 1 of the Soul Movie Guide series, we discussed themes about the blessing of knowing about the afterlife and death as Muslims, pondering on the intensity of death, and working for the life that comes after death. 

In part 2, we will be discussing the next theme from the movie, which has to do with living in the here and now, growing from our life journeys, and finding every moment as a chance to do good. Please note that the topics and themes in the movie may not be suitable for children younger than 11, and so this article is not intended for discussions with younger children.

Theme 2: Living in the Here & Now: It’s the Journey That Matters, not the end result.

When Joe Gardner finally fulfills his lifetime goal of becoming a jazz pianist, he’s surprised that it wasn’t all he thought it would be. Often, individuals may spend their whole life focused on a certain goal or purpose to find that once they finally get there, they feel disappointed. They may have failed to enjoy the everyday moments that led up to their accomplishment, not realizing that those experiences are what allowed them to grow, change, and make them who they are. 
Joe realizes that someone’s “Spark” is not necessarily their passion, but their willingness to find meaning in life—to find purpose in every action. In essence, one’s “Spark” is their niyyah or being intentional about everything we do! This moment in the movie is in line with the well-known hadith:

Verily, deeds are only with intentions, and every person will have only what they intended.” 

Bukhari 54; Muslim 1907

Our Islamic tradition teaches us that every moment in our life can serve a noble purpose if we make the effort to renew our intentions. Sleeping, eating, and playing can be rewarded if it serves the purpose of worship and coming close to God. Joe’s concept of “jazzin” on Earth can be framed in this way when we discuss intentions with our children.
Enjoying life’s everyday moments. The character “22” (a soul waiting to find a body), reminds us that one of the most beautiful things on Earth is enjoying life’s everyday moments. Enjoying this dunya (this life) is part of our Islamic tradition:

  • The Quran affirms the pleasures of this world when Allah says, It is He who created all that is on this earth for you (53:25) and while seeking paradise, Do not neglect your rightful share in this world (28:77)
  • The Prophets all enjoyed the pleasures of this dunya in attaining the next life. Enjoying the blessings of this life is part of what makes our deen (religion) one of moderation. In fact, when a man approached the Prophet (PBUH) boasting of abandoning life’s pleasures, the Prophet (PBUH) disapproved and showed his own balance of sleeping, eating, marrying— all to attain the best of the final home (Muslim: 1401).
  • We are instructed to obtain the good in this life and the next, as long as we connect the two together. As Sheikh Annabulsi shares in a beautiful duaa: “O Allah make the blessings of this dunya connected/related to the blessings of the afterlife.”

Questions to discuss:

  • What is an everyday moment that you enjoy? Do you give yourself time to savor it?
  • Do you feel like you have found your passion and purpose in life? What are some things that can help you find your Spark or has helped you find it?
  • What does it mean to renew your intention? What are some things you do in your daily life that can serve a noble purpose?

We should not wait for near-death experiences to wake up or do good.

Each one of us is blessed with a certain set of talents, skills, and personality traits that help us make an imprint in our time in this world.  Soul depicts individuals getting trained and mentored in “The Great Before” to find their spark before making their entrance to Earth. Although strikingly different, this scene reminds us of our oath to Allah (SWT):

  • All of humanity, before even their time on Earth, made an oath of their belief in God [7:172]. Each of us is born with an instinctual fitrah (natural instinct) that God exists. When our actions on this Earth align with this fitrah, we are happy and at peace.
  • Allah (SWT) says, “And I have not created humans and jinns except to worship God” [51:56].
  • This predisposed mindset gives us a sense of direction (our spark!) no matter what path we choose to get there.

Dez, the talented barber, has a good grasp of this concept. Although his hope was to one day be a veterinarian, his pivot in life did not push him to despair. He used his talents and spark to find another path in serving his people— with no regrets!

Ihsaan. Believers live their life in perpetual goodness, using all the blessings of this lower life to reach the ultimate blessing of the higher life. This is the core of what it means to live a life of ihsaan. The Prophet (PBUH) said:

Verily Allah has prescribed ihsan (doing the best job/excellence) in all things.” 

(Muslim: 1955)

Allah loves to see one’s task done at the level of itqan (excellence).” 

(Muslim: 1976)

It does not matter if one is cutting hair, baking a cake, or doing homework. It is expected that we do the best in whatever task or path we choose. In fact, the Prophet (PBUH) also mentors us that even if the horn were to blow for the Day of Judgement and we are in the midst of planting a seedling, we should continue to plant it. We do not know when our end will be, and we should strive to do good up to the last moment.

Discussion questions to consider (these are for parents to ask of themselves):

  • How do you instill the value of excellence in your family?
  • How do you help your children perpetually connect with their fitrah (natural disposition or instinct) and connection with God?

In the next part of this series, we will discuss how amazing our souls and brain can be, along with providing support to those souls who need it.

Blog Author:

Duaa Haggag

Duaa Haggag, LPC is a Community Educator with The Family & Youth Institute. She holds a Master’s degree in counseling, with a dual certificate in school and community counseling. She currently works in private practice as a child, adolescent, and family therapist at Silent Sunlight Counseling. Her interests include group, play, and art therapy.

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The Prophet (SAS) said, “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days”

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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).