By: Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed
In the Qur’an-e-Kareem the word nafs is used in two ways.
The first way that the word nafs is used is to indicate our own-self. Some people would translate it in English as “self,” some people would translate it in English as “soul.” An example of this is when Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an:
وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ فِي نَفْسِكَ
“And remember your Rabb inside yourself.” (7:205)
The second way the nafs has been used in the Qur’an, which is quite frequent, is that the nafs is referring to a specific part of our self and it is that part of our self that has desires, appetite, and some people call it ego. It has anger, it has passion, it has lust, desire, it has all these things. Some people may even call it the carnal self or the carnal soul. This nafs is not part of the rūh, [rather] its part of the physical human being. So if we wanted to say that we have some physical part of our creation, that is our body and ournafs and then Allah Almighty has also put inside of ourselves an inner or spiritual part of our creation, that is our rūh. This nafs is part of our physical self, even though its not part of our physical body.
Three adjectives have been used in the Noble Qur’an to describe three different types of nafs.
By: Muhammad ‘Afifi al-‘Akiti
Praise be Allah, Who has adorned the aspect of man by granting him good stature and proportion, Safeguarding him from increase and decline in his aspect and measurements, We ask for His forgiveness and guidance, We seek refuge from the evils, which are in ourselves and the wicked in our actions, And may the blessings and salutations be invoked upon Muhammad, His Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
“As for whoever exceeded the limits and preferred the life of this world, surely his abode will be the Fire; and as for whoever feared to stand before his Lord and restrained the desires of his self, surely his abode will be the Garden.” (Sura 79:39-40)