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In the Name of God بسم الله

The Beginner's Guide To Nafs And Ruoh

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Salam alaikum all,

I have been having a long running religious discussion about "death" with a colleague at work (who happens to be a Jehovah's Witness). Once I got over the fact he believes that when one dies, they switch off and cease to exist (in the same way when you turn off a light switch the light turns out), we started talking about soul and spirit.

I am actually attending a weekly course run at London's al Khoei foundation, where just last sunday Ayatollah Sayed Fadhil Milani discussed death and the hereafter, and included discussions on ruh and nafs. I thought I had it all covered. But this colleague has confused me! :wacko:

Inshallah, one of you learned people out there on ShiaChat can come to my rescue and give me a general answer or definition of nafs and ruh... And maybe answer other queries of mine...

For example:

When we die, what happens to our nafs and ruoh?

Do animals have nafs and ruoh?

What is the difference between nafs and ruoh?

Any good links or replies veeery welcome :) Sorry if you think these questions are kind of elementary and "obvious"... I am a new-ish sister, and new-ish to ShiaChat, so inshallah you will have patience with me :)

fi aman illah

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(wasalam)

It is good you are getting a discussion going as dawah is a big part of Islam

What is the difference between nafs and ruoh?

Nafs is your inner temptations, your inner desires and ruoh is your actual soul. Every person has a little evil in their heart, a little bit of darkness. That is why Angel Gabriel (as) came and took out this evil from Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) heart when he was a child. That evil/darkness is our nafs. It is natural and every person has it. As foro ur ruoh, this out soul that will be questioned on the day of resurrection.

When we die, what happens to our nafs and ruoh?

Well our ruoh is the thing that will be taken out of our body, our body is just a loan by All-h to us and we are supposed to take care of it, which is why things that harm our body are haram. So this ruoh will be questioned in the grave and the hereafter. As far as nafs is concerned, from my understanding our nafs dies with our body because once we die we don't have an option to do deeds, so our temptations die with the body.

Hope I helped, and good luck with the discussion! :)

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  • Advanced Member

^^^

Every person has a little evil in their heart, a little bit of darkness. That is why Angel Gabriel came and took out this evil from Prophet Muhammad's heart when he was a child.

Where did you get this from? Paak Nabi (pbuh) & his Pure Ahlulbayt (as) were created from Nur (Light):

There has come to you a Light from Allah, and a Manifest Book - Quran 5:15

Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti: "It is the Prophet (pbuh)" - Tafsir al-Jalalayn Page 139.

Fakhr al-Razi: "There are various positions about it, the first being that the Light is Muhammad (pbuh) and the Book is the Quran" - al-Tafsir al-kabir, Volume 11 Page 194.

Ibn Jarir al-Tabari: "By Light He means Muhammad (pbuh) through whom Allah (swt) has illuminated the Truth, manifested Islam, and obliterated polytheism; since he is a Light for whoever seeks illumination from him, which makes plain the Truth" - Jami' al-Bayan Volume 6 page 161.

Light doesn't require to have evil removed from it.

ALI

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This should help: http://www.al-islam.org/the-hereafter/

What Is Death?

Shifting of the lamp from one place to another place. For instance, suppose there is a hut having many holes. It a lamp is placed in it its light will go out through those holes. But as soon as that lamp is moved out of that hut it will make the hut dark. Similarly, so long as the lamp of soul remains in the body it manifests its existence known through the light which comes out from limbs like eyes and ears etc. But as soon as this lamp of soul is removed from the body, all its manifestations also cease and the body becomes dark. This is Death. This was an example only for making it comprehensible. Otherwise:

The Soul Neither Enters The Body Nor Gets Out Of It

It must be understood that the relation between the soul and the body is not by way of Hulool (penetrative migration). It is not like the entrance of water in a utensil or of air in vacuumed. It also cannot be said that it remains out of body or it goes out of it at the time of death because soul is essence, not matter. There is no question of its entering or vacating. The only thing is that its relation with body is such that it remains fully attentive to the body Death disconnects this relation.

It is also obligatory for us to believe that death occurs by the command of God. The same Power which had, established this relation in the womb of mother at the last moment of the worldly life, disconnects this relation between the body and soul. Only He is the bestower of life and of life. The Holy Quran says: “God gives life and only God causes death also.” (S. Zumar, V: 42) Some common people are very angry with Israel (Malak-ul-Maut- The angel of death). They do not like even to hear his name. They even condemn him though they know that this angel does not do anything of his own wish or authority. They have been employed by the Lord of the Universe and hence do everything by His order or command.

How the soul is taken

How soul is retrieved from body has been narrated in the hadiths about the Meraaj (ascension) of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). In short, there is a board in front of Israel which contains names of all the people. The name of the person whose time for death arrives is removed from that board and Israel at once takes possession of his or her soul. It is also possible that names of thousands of people may be wiped out at one moment whereupon Israel takes the souls of all of them instantly. This is not astonishing. It is just like a breeze of wind blowing off thousands of lamps in a split second. All of it is with the might of the Almighty. Doubtlessly it is Israel who snatches who snatches souls but, as a matter of fact, it is only God Who causes because it is only His command and Will.

http://www.ezsoftech.com/akram/nafs.asp

Nafs: Nafs in man is the totality of sentiments, tendencies, desires, wishes, experiences, and our heredity characteristics; in short, it is man's personality.

What creates a difference between one man and another is Nafs rather than Rooh. It is man's Rooh which transform and evolves.

Rooh: Based upon the Qur'anic verse; "They ask thee concerning the spirit (of inspiration). Say The spirit cometh by command of my Lord: of Knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you, (O men!)." (Holy Qur'an 17:85) This verse teaches us that the spirit is an 'Amr' i.e. the work of Allah. In other words, it is a created thing, not self-existent. The Holy Qur'an does not go beyond telling us that. It does not tell us the nature of the spirit. However, just like our ignorance of the nature of electricity or magnetism does not prevent us from taking full advantage of these wonders of creation, we can advance ourselves spiritually by taking full advantage of the functions of the spirit.

Rooh is something which descends to man from God and we interpret it as our 'inside Prophet' namely, it is a representative from the Lord inside Insan. And this what is interpreted as 'Gabriel' in the case of the Prophet as was the Holy Spirit in Jesus (pbuh). It is the relationship of God with man that appears under various names in different Prophets. This spirit is clean and innocent and it cannot err. Rooh never appears in plural form in the Holy Qur'an (although common men have pluralized it; 'Arwah') since it is a single reality. So there is no difference between your soul and my soul, the two of them 'is' a reality like the sun which radiates its, light upon all men. While the plural of Nafs is Anfos (or Nafus). And when and entire group of people get killed we say; "Their Nafus died rather than their Arwah," since the latter, being God's manifestation, cannot be killed. Where man develops the capability, aptitude, and the worth to discover Rooh, he will be aided by the latter. And when a disease attacks and the body and Nafs loose their natural balance Rooh falls into disuse and cannot establish relationship with man.

What distinguishes one man from another is Nafs which contains our personalities. And in our opinion the part of us which is responsible in front of the Lord in the final day is the Nafs of each of us. And it is Nafs which errs not the Rooh. The body is not that important since it is in constant process of change and transformation. However, what we believe to be the essence of man was placed in the Nafs, and it is Nafs which will be interrogated in the last day.

The seven levels (Nafs) are as follows:

1) Ammara (Nafs-e-Ammara / Commanding Soul): There are various verses in the Holy Qur'an relative to the existence of this kind of Nafs. This Nafs commands us to commit sin. It is lower than animals because they behave according to the demands of nature. When a lion or tiger devours another animal it is because it needs food. And once an animal is full it does not pursue another animal, while a man is capable of swallowing the whole world and still be hungry. Man can kill thousands and still long for more blood. There are lots of factual accounts which are indicative of the existence of Ammara, one of whom was the late Shah of Iran; the more he killed the thirstier he became and the more he stole the greedier he got. Saadi, the famous Iranian man-of-letters recounts the story of Mahmoud Shah Ghanzanavi who was at the threshold of dying but he would not die. Eventually he commanded that his royal jewels be mounted on mule backs so the caravan could pass in front of his eyes. Once this was done, he died comfortably. These are a few samples of men who became so degraded that they sank lower than any animal. Man tramples upon his nature and behaves relative to the demands of his desires and whims for which there is no limit. In short, Ammara is lowest of all the Nafs and Dr. Shariati has compared it to mud.

"Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy: but surely my Lord is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." (Holy Qur'an 12:53)

Imam Ali (as) has said that: "The Nafs is like a wild horse and you are riding upon him, if you move your attention for one second, he will throw you off." "The restraining the soul (or self) from its appetite is the greatest holy war." Here, Imam Ali (as) is referring to the Nafs-e-Ammara.

Bade Moozi Ku Mara, Nafs-e-Ammara Ku Gar Mara Nahang o Azdaha o Sher-e-Nar Mara To Kya Mara?

2) Lawwama (Nafs-e-Lawwama / self-accusing soul): This word is derived from 'Lom' which means to 'reproach.' At this stage Nafs reaches a point that if it commits a sin its conscience wakes up and criticizes the doer. This is the first indication that man's Nafs is wakening up and perhaps most men in the world are at this stage. When common men commit a sin they awaken and become sorry and sad. It is this self critics that forces some criminals to give themselves up (or it allows the psychologist to find them). Nay! I swear by the self-accusing soul. (Holy Qur'an 75:2)

3) Agheleh: At this stage Nafs posses the power of thinking and reflection and so, it bases its actions upon logic and thinking and does not fall prey to extremes of sentiments, rage, whims, and fleeting desires; it calculates. Not too many people reach a stage where they can ponder over the consequences of their own behavior before acting.

4) Malhama (Nafs-e-Malhama / Inspiring soul): Malhama is derived from Elham (inspiration). The person who reaches this stage receives inspiration from the Lord. Namely, he is so virtuous and devout that he has developed the aptitude to accept the Lord's inspiration. God's light shines upon all, but this particular Insan at this stage is capable of absorbing the Divine's light and comprehends it.

There are beautiful definitions for Elham and Wahy (inspiration) which must be clarified at this point. Elham is from low to high, while Wahy is from high to low. Specifically, in Wahy God establishes communication with man, while in Elham Insan establishes communication with God. Of course, Elham depends upon the extent to which a personality has evolved while Wahy is not subject to such rule; it is God's command that descends to man. And since Wahy is from the Lord, it is absolute and perfect and there is no doubt in it because He wants man to receive the message in it entirely. However, this is not true about Elham which is always incomplete since it depends each man's aptitude and personality. The stronger and more perfect man is, the more perfect will be his Elham. But since men are not perfect, often times Elham appears as lightning in the sky in a dark night, so quick that man gets a chance to perceive the truths very briefly.

5) Mutmainnah (Nafs-al-Mutmainnah / satisfied soul): At this stage Nafs reaches the stage of certainty; it will neither collapse nor will it retrogress. It is sure of its evolutionary cycle and its meeting with the Lord. It can commit a fault or sin but it is so ahead that it is certain it will never backslide.

"O you Tranquil Soul, return to Your Lord, well pleased, and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter you, then, among My devotees! Enter you My Heaven!" (Holy Qur'an 89:27-30)

This is the stage, which is the goal of this life. To reach the stage of total contentment with Allah ÓÈÍÇäå æÊÚÇáì. To commit no sin knowingly and to take pleasure in doing good acts. It is this soul, which was called on the day of Ashura, when Imam Hussain (as) put, down his sword and heard the voice saying "Oh soul that is content! Come back to your Lord, well pleased (yourself) and well pleasing to Him."

6) Raziyah: This is derived from satisfaction. In its evolutionary cycle Nafs reaches a degree that becomes satisfied with its own position.

7) Marziyah: At this stage not only Nafs is satisfied with itself but also the Lord almighty is satisfied with it too. Now Nafs is a lover of the Divine. This is the last stage in our Islamic theosophy in the Nafs cycles. There are many verses which contain various Nafs I discussed here.

What I want to mention here is that from the Qur'anic Point of View, Nafs (from Ammara to Marziyah) requires an evolutionary cycle and man must discipline himself for this evolution. We know when a Nafs has reached the Marziyah stage it will share some of the attributes of Rooh. However, I emphasize that Nafs is different from Rooh; the former has a corporeal condition while the latter is abstract. Thus, the two are not of the same essence. Further, Nafs is a kind of energy which is equivalent to matter subject to physical lava. Matter is the condensed form of energy, so the internal psychological stimulations such as actions reactions, sentiments and feelings are all forms of energies equivalent to matter. We can say that Nafs has a material tendency.

Rooh is God's behest; it is His knowledge and His power and it is conscious of the past and the future. Therefore, Nafs in its evolutionary journey becomes live Rooh and establishes communication with the Lord and becomes a part of His manifestation. At this stage we can say that Insan has become a God-like, By this I do not mean that Insan is God, rather he radiates God's manifestations. God has one thousand and one attributes such as Jamal, Kamal, Rahman, Rahim, Elm... When such attributes appear in man, he becomes God-like or His viceroy on earth. If God is wise man becomes wise and if He is powerful, his vicegerent becomes powerful also. At this stage there is constant communication between Insan's Nafs and his Rooh and anytime he wishes he can establish communication with the Lord through his Rooh, ask for advice and seek answer to his inquiries. At this level nothing will remain vague and insolvable to Insan.

Imam Ali (as) said: Surely God has characterized the angels by intellect without sexual desire and anger, and the animals with anger and desire without reason. He exalted man by bestowing upon him all of these qualities. Accordingly, if man's reason dominates his desire and ferocity, he rises to the station above that of the angels, because this station is attained by man in spite of the existence of hurdles which do not vex the angels.

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  • Advanced Member

wow @ habib e najjaar - thanks! looks like a good reply, i will work through that with my notebook and pen when i get home and inshallah my colleague will stop looking at me as if i know nothing :angel:

fi aman illah

Edited by Banooota
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wow @ habib e najjaar - thanks! looks like a good reply, i will work through that with my notebook and pen when i get home and inshallah my colleague will stop looking at me as if i know nothing :angel:

fi aman illah

You are welcome sis ^_^ , I will post more material when I find it insha'Allah

Do animals have nafs and ruoh?

I would think that animals have rouh, but not nafs, but will have to read up on the matter before I can respond on it. May Allah (swt) guide us all :)

(salam)

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  • 2 months later...

(salam)

I heard something interesting recently at a lecture, though I have no sources/references for it. This lecturer was explaining how the rooh was like a light, and the nafs was like a coating on the light, which can be a 'dark' coating which covers the light, or a coating which allows the light through, i.e a good nafs.

^_^

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Salaam Alaykum

1) Regarding the existence of souls within animals, please see this answer by Ayatullah Mahdi Hadawi Tehrani (ha), a student of great philosophers and mystics like Ayatullah Bahjat (ra), Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli (ha) and Ayatullah Hasan-Zadeh Amuli (ha):

http://www.al-islam.org/faith_reason/46.htm

2) Regarding the difference between nafs and ruh, in Allamah Tabatabai's (ra) discussion of 2:225, he says, regarding "...what your hearts have earned," that "As the verse uses the expression, "for what your hearts have earned", it proves that the "heart" here stands for the 'soul', 'spirit'." If heart, soul and spirit are indeed the same thing, then nafs would be as well, I would think. Also nafs is not only one's desires, because there are three levels mentioned in Qur'an: nafs al-ammara, the self which commands one to commit sin, nafs al-lawamah, the self which criticizes itself for committing sins, and finally nafs al-mutma'ina, the soul at peace mentioned in Surah al-Fajr.

I have also, however, heard a student of Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli (ha), if my memory serves me correct, state that ruh is actually the mediator between the soul ('nafs' or 'qalb') and the body. That would give it a different meaning...

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  • 5 years later...
  • Advanced Member
On 21/06/2011 at 3:02 PM, TheASF said:

(wasalam)

It is good you are getting a discussion going as dawah is a big part of Islam

What is the difference between nafs and ruoh?

Nafs is your inner temptations, your inner desires and ruoh is your actual soul. Every person has a little evil in their heart, a little bit of darkness. That is why Angel Gabriel (as) came and took out this evil from Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) heart when he was a child. That evil/darkness is our nafs. It is natural and every person has it. As foro ur ruoh, this out soul that will be questioned on the day of resurrection.

When we die, what happens to our nafs and ruoh?

Well our ruoh is the thing that will be taken out of our body, our body is just a loan by All-h to us and we are supposed to take care of it, which is why things that harm our body are haram. So this ruoh will be questioned in the grave and the hereafter. As far as nafs is concerned, from my understanding our nafs dies with our body because once we die we don't have an option to do deeds, so our temptations die with the body.

Hope I helped, and good luck with the discussion! :)

Lol that isnt even the Shia belief. Sorry mate

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  • Advanced Member
On 21/06/2011 at 3:21 PM, Kismet110 said:

^^^

Where did you get this from? Paak Nabi (pbuh) & his Pure Ahlulbayt (as) were created from Nur (Light):

There has come to you a Light from Allah, and a Manifest Book - Quran 5:15

Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti: "It is the Prophet (pbuh)" - Tafsir al-Jalalayn Page 139.

Fakhr al-Razi: "There are various positions about it, the first being that the Light is Muhammad (pbuh) and the Book is the Quran" - al-Tafsir al-kabir, Volume 11 Page 194.

Ibn Jarir al-Tabari: "By Light He means Muhammad (pbuh) through whom Allah ÓÈÍÇäå æÊÚÇáì has illuminated the Truth, manifested Islam, and obliterated polytheism; since he is a Light for whoever seeks illumination from him, which makes plain the Truth" - Jami' al-Bayan Volume 6 page 161.

Light doesn't require to have evil removed from it.

ALI

SalamAlaykum brother. Are you Ali on YouTube. The one that is currently arguing over the comment of this video where this Wahabi guy talks about Infallibility? 

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