THE THREE STAGES OF NAFS IN ISLAMA JOURNEY OF SPIRITUAL ASCENSION –by Nejoud Al-Yagout
What is the Nafs?• The ‘nafs’ is the self, the ego or the soul. Is it the same as the ‘ruh’ or spirit?• “..*T*he correct view, as … maintained by the vast majority of Muslim theologiansand endorsed by the scholars of ahl as-sunnah, is that the terms “nafs” and “rûh”are interchangeable. However, the term “nafs” is usually applies when the soul isinside the body, and the word “rûh” is used when the soul is apart from the body.”• http://islamicstudies.islammessage.com/ResearchPaper.aspx?aid=959• “They ask you about the Spirit. Say, "The Spirit comes by the command of my Lord.You have been given very little knowledge.” (17:85)• The Quran mentions 3 stages of the ‘nafs’.
The First Stage of the Nafs• Al-nafs al amarra bil su – the self that is inclined to evil.Let us take a quote from the Holy Quran:– “And yet, I am not trying to absolve myself: for, verily, mans inner selfdoes incite [him] to evil, and saved are only they upon whom mySustainer bestows His grace. Behold, my Sustainer is much forgiving, adispenser of grace!“ [Yusuf 12:53]
WORDS OF WISDOM• There is a famous Cherokee proverb: A Cherokeegrandfather sitting with his grandchildren told them,“In life there is a terrible fight- a fight between twowolves.• One is evil: he is … anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, and deceit. The other is good: he isjoy, serenity, humility, confidence, generosity, truth,gentleness, and compassion.”• A child asked, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”The elder looked him in the eye. “The one you feed”
We Are Not Alone• Prophet Muhammad pbuh said that: "No oneof you becomes a true believer until he likesfor his brother what he likes for himself".• [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].• When you notice the evil within, you canbegin to ascend when you rectify it… Whichtakes us to the next stage…
The Second Stage of the Nafs• One thing a person must realize is that– “…Verily, Allah will not change the condition of a people unless there is a change ofwhat is in themselves…” *Raad 13:11]• Do not despair if others are inclined to evil. Allah swt told Prophet Muhammad pbuh inreference to his inability to revert his uncle who was dying – AbuTalib:– “Verily! You (O Muhammad ) guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills.And He knows best those who are the guided”. *Al-Qasas 28:56]• - "As for those who strive in Us, We surely guide them to Our paths, and lo! Allah iswith the good doers." [Al-Ankabut 29:69]• Al nafs al lawwama , which translates to the self-accusing soul. What does this mean?– Allah swt says in the Quran: “Nay, I swear by theself-accusing soul.” [Al-Qiyammah 75:2].• This stage is where the Jihad al-nafs begins (thestruggle against one’s soul).
Are You Awake or Asleep?• The Stage of the nafs al-lawwama is thestage of spiritual awakening and awareness.• The believer may commit a sin but he/shefeels guilty and fluctuates between right &wrong.• Now then, which stage should we all aspireto reach?
The Third Stage of the Nafs• So we can say that the:– nafs al-ammara bil su is the earthly level, where the self is inclined to animalisticdesires.– The nafs al lawwama is the transition period of spiritual ascension (THE FIGHTBETWEEN THE MATERIAL AND THE SPIRITUAL)– and the nafs al mutmaana is the level where the self has earned the pleasure ofAllah and reached beyond earthly desires and in the realm of spirituality.• The nafs al-mutmaana - THETRANQUIL SOUL. What doesAllah swt say about this stagein the Holy Quran?• "O you Tranquil Soul, return toYour Lord, well pleased, andwell-pleasing unto Him! Enteryou, then, among Mydevotees! Enter you MyHeaven!” *Al-Fajr 89:27-30]
THE BATTLE AGAINST ONESELF: WHY?– IT IS FOR YOUR OWN BENEFIT– Allah says : "And whosoever strives, strives onlyfor himself, for lo! Allah is altogether independentof the universe.“ *Al-Ankabut 29:6]– TO AVOID EVIL TOUCHING YOU– “Whatever of good reaches you, is from Allah, butwhatever of evil befalls you, is from yourselves…”[Surat Al-Nisa 4:79]
THE BATTLE AGAINST ONESELF: HOW?• Fear Allah• Submit to Allah– “Nay-whoever submits his whole self to Allah and is a doer of good―he will get his reward with his Lord; onsuch shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve”. [Al-Baqara 2:112]• Ask Allah to guide you– Do not underestimate the power of dua.– “And indeed We have created man, and We know what his own self whispers to him. And We are nearer tohim than his jugular vein (by Our Knowledge). [Al-Qaf 50:16]• Performing good actions– Outward submission can lead to inner submission. For example, fasting, praying and reading the Quran helpsus become God-conscious which is the greatest weapon against the evil within us.• Everything you need is in the Quran: “This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for thoseconscious of Allah.” – [Surat Baqara 2:2 ]
...continued• Control Anger/Forgive– “Those who spend, whether in prosperity, or in adversity; whorestrain anger, and pardon men;- for Allah loves those who do good.”[Imran: 3:133-134]• Be patient– "…those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward withoutmeasure!" [Az-Zumar 39:10]– "O you who have believed, seek help through patience andprayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient." [al-Baqara 2:153]• Avoid major sins such as:– drinking, gambling, adultery, murder, theft, slander.• Avoid minor sins such:– as lying, showing off, flirting, swearing, backbiting, slander• Spend time with decent believers for we are influenced by oneanother.
Do you think you do not need topurify yourself?• We have to acknowledge that we have all wronged ourselves.– A beautiful quote from the Noble Quran: Our Lord! We have wronged oursouls: “If You do not forgive us and bestow upon us Your mercy, then we shallcertainly be from amongst the losers.” [ Al A’raf 7: 23] PROPHET ADAM• In the Noble Quran, Allah swt talks of people whose– “..hearts have been sealed by the sins they have accumulated.” (Al-Mutaffifin83:14).• The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) explains this verse in detail• Allah is so forgiving, though, and so merciful He tells us:– Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [bysinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins.Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.“ *Al-Zumar 39:53]
Significance of the Purification of theSelf:• “By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it;And its enlightenment as to its wickedness and itsrighteousness.” [Al-Shams 91:7-8]– Allah has given us a moral compass. Use it. Guilt is a sign ofawakening.• "Indeed, he succeeds who purifies his own self andindeed he fails who corrupts his own self." [Al-Shams:91:9-10].
LET US CLEAR OUR HEARTS – THEFIRST STEP IS TRYING• Life’s paradox: We must lower ourselves toreach higher.• There is a beautiful hadith about a man thatthe Prophet Muhammad pbuh kept sayingwas destined for paradise.– Abdullah bin Amr ibn Al-Aas (raa) found out itwas because every night before this man went tosleep he forgave everyone.
BE PREPARED. YOU ARE A SPIRITUALWARRIOR• We must recall where, inSurah Hashr: verse9, Allah tells us that:• “And those savedfrom thecovetousness of theirown souls,- they arethe ones that achieveprosperity.”But be prepared for a fight!
LET US RETURN TO OUR ORIGINALSTATE• Remember, we are all born pure – it is oursins that make us impure.• Prophet Muhammad pbuh said: “Righteousness isgood character, and sin is whatever bothers youand you do not want people to know.” (SaheehMuslim)
PARTING WORDS…• Yasmin Mogahed: “True freedom is freedom from the self not freedom ofthe self.”• Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”•• www.thedeenshow.com•• www.nakcollection.com•• www.halaltube.com•• www.yasminmogahed.com•Let us pray that Allah swt removes the evil within us and grants us thehonor of being the nafs al mutmaana – the tranquil soul.