Human Body and Soul, Dr Emdad Khan
We as human being has a body and soul. We eat, drink, sleep and work to take care of our body. But what keeps the body intact, the unseen soul. And also we have mind or mood or attitudes. Man has attempted to explore and understand the phenomenon of the soul – that mysterious power which activates and is the engine of the human body.
When Makkan non-Muslims asked, the Prophet (PBHU) about the soul God revealed
وَيَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلرُّوحِۖ قُلِ ٱلرُّوحُ مِنۡ أَمۡرِ رَبِّى وَمَآ أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ ٱلۡعِلۡمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً۬ (٨٥)
And they ask you about the soul (Ruh). Say, “The soul is something from the command of my Lord, and you are not given from the knowledge but a little.” (17.85) Al-Israh
The ‘Ruh’ is the spirit, which resides in the heavens and needs a physical body to carry it on the earth. When this spirit is given into a body in womb of the mother after 4 months, life begins and is described as ‘Nafs’.
The word ‘Nafs’ means “Self.”, flowing blood, a strong force, desires or ego. Nafs as a strong force, a desire in human, which can push him either towards good or evil.
وَنَفۡسٍ۬ وَمَا سَوَّٮٰهَا (٧) فَأَلۡهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقۡوَٮٰهَا (٨) قَدۡ أَفۡلَحَ مَن زَكَّٮٰهَا (٩) وَقَدۡ خَابَ مَن دَسَّٮٰهَا (١٠) سُوۡرَةُ الشّمس
And by the soul, and the One who made it well in due proportion, (7) Then inspired it with its (instincts of) evil and piety, (8) Success is really attained by him who purifies it, (9) And failure is really suffered by him who pollutes it. (91.10) As-shams
This strong nafs has desires, appetite, ego, anger, passion, lust, all these things. This nafs is not part of the Ruh (spirit), its part of the physical human being. This nafs is part of our physical self, even though its not part of our physical body. The Almighty has also put inside of ourselves an inner or spiritual part of our creation that is our Ruh, a command from God.
Nafs classified into three: Ammara Bis Su (self encourages to do evil), Nafs Lawama (Self Reproaching soul, self-rectification), Nafs Mutmainaa (Satisfied Soul)
- ‘Nafs al Ammara bis Su‘(‘Nafs’ which encourages evil)
وَمَآ أُبَرِّئُ نَفۡسِىٓۚ إِنَّ ٱلنَّفۡسَ لَأَمَّارَةُۢ بِٱلسُّوٓءِ إِلَّا مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّىٓۚ إِنَّ رَبِّى غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬ (٥٣)
“And I do not free myself from blame. Indeed the human soul is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whom He wills). Indeed my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Qur’an Yusuf : 12.53)]
This strong nafs Ammara rules over the human self, commands us and tells us what to do. The nafs Ammara (strong self) has any desire, any wish, any appetite, it simply commands us. This nafs Ammara is sovereign over a human being; we listen and follow all of its dictates and commands. The sign that a person has nafs Ammara is that they do evil willingly, blatantly, in any way they want. In modern society, this concept is glorified, people say ”you should do whatever makes you happy, do whatever pleases you, do whatever your heart desires”.
This Nafs Ammara bis su’ earns the company of Satan and ignores the remembrance of God.
وَمَن يَعۡشُ عَن ذِكۡرِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ نُقَيِّضۡ لَهُ ۥ شَيۡطَـٰنً۬ا فَهُوَ لَهُ ۥ قَرِينٌ۬ (٣٦) سُوۡرَةُ الزّخرُف
“The one who withdraws himself from the remembrance of the Merciful, We appoint for him a Satan to be a companion to him. (Az-Zukhruf 43:36) Satan surrounds the evil soul and drives him in lying and cheating, wasting time on bad leisure and gambling, listening to bad music and dancing.
- Nafs al Lawwama (‘Nafs’ which blames itself, Self-reproaching soul):
The self-reproaching soul some time submits to evil inspirations but then regrets its actions and reproaches itself. These feelings of remorse cause it to turn back to God, to repent sincerely. It is better for each Nafs to blame itself whenever it commits a wrong. If not, it will find itself being blamed from all those around it.
Consider how the self-reproaching soul is described by God with the Day of Resurrection. ….. لَآ أُقۡسِمُ بِيَوۡمِ ٱلۡقِيَـٰمَةِ (١) وَلَآ أُقۡسِمُ بِٱلنَّفۡسِ ٱللَّوَّامَةِ (٢)
“I do call to witness the Resurrection Day. And I do call to witness the self-reproaching Soul.” (Al Qiyamah: 75.1-2)
The Nafs al Lawwama is an inner court of justice within each person; when he acts wrongfully, his conscience rebukes him, and then up to him to pay heed to it or to ignore it. Besides placing an inner court of justice within each person, the Creator has also prepared a larger Court, which will operate on the Final Day and will meet out justice to all of mankind
How to rectify after making a mistake, let us take example of Adam
قَالَا رَبَّنَا ظَلَمۡنَآ أَنفُسَنَا وَإِن لَّمۡ تَغۡفِرۡ لَنَا وَتَرۡحَمۡنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلۡخَـٰسِرِينَ (٢٣) الاٴعرَاف
They said: “Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers.” (7.23).They own the responsibility of the mistake, not blame the Satan or each other (Adam or Hawa) and jointly asked God for forgiveness
- ‘Nafs al Mutmainna’(‘Nafs’ which is contented, the satisfied soul):
The satisfied soul, which at its last moment on earth will receive the glad tiding, “Enter among My servants and enter into my Paradise.”
يَـٰٓأَيَّتُہَا ٱلنَّفۡسُ ٱلۡمُطۡمَٮِٕنَّةُ (٢٧) ٱرۡجِعِىٓ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً۬ مَّرۡضِيَّةً۬ (٢٨) فَٱدۡخُلِى فِى عِبَـٰدِى (٢٩) وَٱدۡخُلِى جَنَّتِى (30-89.27)
“0 you satisfied soul. Return to your Lord pleased with yourself and pleasing to Him. Enter among My servants. And enter My paradise”. (Qur’an Al Fajr 89: 27-30)
In contrast, the soul, nafs Ammara inspires evil and disobedience. And between these two extreme states is the self-reproaching soul, nafs Lawwama which checks its actions and blames itself when it commits evil. Most souls hover between these different states depending on the person’s faith and actions.
How to attain Nafs Mutmainaa:
ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَتَطۡمَٮِٕنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكۡرِ ٱللَّهِۗ أَلَا بِذِڪۡرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطۡمَٮِٕنُّ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ (٢٨)
The ones who believe and their hearts are peaceful with the remembrance of Allah. Indeed, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction (Al-Raad 13.28) The satisfied soul finds its peace and consolation in the Qur’an, prayer and the company of the righteous people.
The satisfied soul has such a deep conviction in God and the Last Day that it does not get upset by the sorrows or demands of this world. Illness, financial worries, loss of property or death of dear ones does not cause the satisfied soul to wail, curse or lament. Whenever it faces any problems it simply say, “To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return” and faces the misfortune with patience and trust in its Lord.
وَلَنَبۡلُوَنَّكُم بِشَىۡءٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡخَوۡفِ وَٱلۡجُوعِ وَنَقۡصٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡأَمۡوَٲلِ وَٱلۡأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٲتِۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ (١٥٥)ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَآ أَصَـٰبَتۡهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ۬ قَالُوٓاْ إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيۡهِ رَٲجِعُونَ (١٥٦) البَقَرَة
“Be sure, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, some loss of goods or lives or fruits of your toils. But give glad tidings to those who are patient. Those who say, when afflicted by calamity: “To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return. (Al Baqarah 2: 155-156)
The satisfied soul believes that all happiness and sorrow is by the decree of Allah. It therefore feels no need to lament at misfortunes or to boast at success.
مَآ أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ۬ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَلَا فِىٓ أَنفُسِكُمۡ إِلَّا فِى ڪِتَـٰبٍ۬ مِّن قَبۡلِ أَن نَّبۡرَأَهَآۚ إِنَّ ذَٲلِكَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ۬ (٢٢) لِّكَيۡلَا تَأۡسَوۡاْ عَلَىٰ مَا فَاتَكُمۡ وَلَا تَفۡرَحُواْ بِمَآ ءَاتَٮٰڪُمۡۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخۡتَالٍ۬ فَخُورٍ (٢٣) سُوۡرَةُ الحَدید
“No calamity befall on earth or to your own selves (soul) but it is written in a decree (pre-destined) before We bring it into existence. That is truly easy for Allah (22). In order that you may not despair over matters that pass (escaped) you by, nor over exult ( extremely happy and boastful) in favors bestowed upon you, for Allah loves not the vain boasters (self –admirer or over -proud).” (Al Hadid 57: 22-23)
No worldly anxieties upset the satisfied soul. If it fails to acquire something for which it has struggled for many years, it will accept its destiny and remember the following words of the Prophet (saws): “What has reached you was never meant to escape you and what has escaped you was never meant to reach you.” (Muwadih by Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi)
The ultimate success is not in amassing fortunes, being famous or having a fantastic career, but success is in escaping the fires of hell.
كُلُّ نَفۡسٍ۬ ذَآٮِٕقَةُ ٱلۡمَوۡتِۗ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوۡنَ أُجُورَڪُمۡ يَوۡمَ ٱلۡقِيَـٰمَةِۖ فَمَن زُحۡزِحَ عَنِ ٱلنَّارِ وَأُدۡخِلَ ٱلۡجَنَّةَ فَقَدۡ فَازَۗ وَمَا ٱلۡحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنۡيَآ إِلَّا مَتَـٰعُ ٱلۡغُرُورِ (١٨٥) سُوۡرَةُ آل عِمرَان
“Every soul shall taste death, and only on the Day of Judgement will you receive your full recompense. The one who is saved from the Fire and admitted into Paradise will have attained success, for the life of the world is nothing but the goods of deception. ( Aal Imran 3:185)