Qur'anNafs
How do you explain the concept of Nafs according to the Qur'an?
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Seyed Ali Shobayri, Seyed Ali Shobayri is of mixed Iranian and Scottish descent who found the path of the Ahlul Bayt (a) by his own research. He holds a BA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University through the Islamic College of London. He also studied at the Hawza Ilmiyya of England and continues Hawza and Islamic studies with private teachers. 90 Questions Answered & 1 Day Average Response Time.
Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to religious questions. In the past, he has also spent significant time in India guiding the community. 1365 Questions Answered & 5 Days Average Response Time.
Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the Islamic College in London and also the Managing Editor of the Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies. 294 Questions Answered & 6 Days Average Response Time.
Abbas Di Palma, Shaykh Abbas Di Palma holds a BA and an MA degree in Islamic Studies, and certifications from the Language Institute of Damascus University. He has also studied traditional Islamic sciences in London, Damascus and Qom and taught for different institutions in Italy and UK. 202 Questions Answered & 7 Days Average Response Time.
Zaid Alsalami, Shaykh Dr Zaid Alsalami is an Iraqi born scholar, raised in Australia. He obtained a BA from Al-Mustafa University, Qom, and an MA from the Islamic College in London. He also obtained a PhD from ANU, Canberra. He has written and translated several Islamic texts and also prepared educational videos on Islamic rulings and practices. 168 Questions Answered & 8 Days Average Response Time.
Sayyed Muhammad Husaini Ragheb, Sayyed Muhammad Husaini Ragheb has a BA in Law from Guilan University, Iran and has also undertaken Hawzah studies in Qom. He is a Cultural Affairs director of Ethics Group of Al-Mustafa Open University and has also taught Arabic conversation at Masoomieh school. 54 Questions Answered
Mahmood Abu Maryam, Trying to make sense of it all... 42 Questions Answered
Abolfazl Sabouri, Abolfazl Sabouri is based in New Zealand and has an MA in Jurisprudence and Islamic Studies. He is a graduate of Elmiyeh seminary in Qom with more than 15 years of study and research where he has also taught Tafsir, Theology and Jurisprudence. 39 Questions Answered
Zeinab Donati, Zeinab Donati has been studying books about various Islamic subjects for more than 19 years. She is deeply interested in history and politics as well as social issues in particular those pertaining to women. 25 Questions Answered
Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour, Sheikh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour is lecturer of Islamic Studies at the Islamic College for Advanced Studies, London, and a visiting lecturer at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Oriental Studies. He was raised in Iran and holds a BA and an MA in Sociology from Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehran. He has also studied at Queen Mary College London and the London School of Economics. 15 Questions Answered
Mateen Charbonneau, Sheikh Mateen Joshua Charbonneau achieved a certificate from Harvard University in Islamic Studies. He undertook Howza classes under esteemed scholars since 2013 and has been teaching at Imam Mahdi Howza since 2017. He has compiled and published several books, has filmed several documentaries on Islamic subjects and has also promoted Islamic propagation in US jails. 14 Questions Answered
Vinay Khetia, Shaikh Vinay Khetia has studied at various traditional Islamic seminaries in London, Iraq and Syria. He has an undergraduate degree in Religious and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Toronto and an M.A. in the History and Philosophy of Religion from Concordia University. He is a PhD Candidate in the department of Religious Studies at McMaster University with a focus on the intellectual history of Islam and specifically Shi'ism. 14 Questions Answered
Abbas Jaffer, Sheikh Abbas Jaffer is an optometrist by profession and has a Master’s degree in Islamic Sciences. He is a part time lecturer at the Islamic College in London and is currently writing his doctoral thesis on the challenges faced by educators of young Muslims in modern day Britain. He has also co-authored a book on Qur’anic sciences for the Islamic College as well as translating several works from Persian into English. 14 Questions Answered
Seyed Ali Musawi, Seyed Ali Musawi studied religion and history at the University of California, San Diego and subsequently he studied for more than 8 years at the Islamic Seminary in Qum, Iran, focusing on Islamic history and jurisprudence. 11 Questions Answered
Masuma Jaffer, Dr Masuma Jaffer is a qualified dentist, with a Masters in Islamic Studies and has also attended Hawza in Qum. She obtained a PGCE - teaching qualification – and has taught Hawza studies at the Islamic College in London. She also has a Diploma in Counselling and is a Qualified Chaplain and worked with women prisoners at Holloway and with Hertfordshire Police advising them on Muslim matters. 10 Questions Answered
Seyed Saied Alavi, Seyed Saied Alavi is a researcher based in Qom who has studied from the Howzah of Qom and also completed a Pastoral studies program. He is currently a university lecturer in the fields of Shia Theology and the History of Religions as well as other subjects. 9 Questions Answered
Mohammed Al-Hilli, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hilli, originally from Iraq, has a Masters in Pharmacy from the University of London. He completed his Hawza degree from the ICAS in London under the supervision of Ayatollah Fadhil Milani, and also has an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University via the Islamic College. He is a teacher at the Hawza Programme at Islamic College in London. 7 Questions Answered
Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla, Zakira Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla is a graduate of York University in Canada from where she obtained a BA in Psychology and Sociology and a Masters in the field of Education. She lectures on Islam at mosques, universities, churches and interfaith gatherings and also recites majalises in Urdu, English and Gujarati. A published freelance writer, playwright, motivational speaker and Anti-Racist Educational Counsellor by profession, she conducts workshops on Race and Cultural sensitivity and often appears on TV program panels and radio talk shows to speak on Race Relations. 4 Questions Answered
Sayed Mohammad Saleh Qazwini, Sayed Mohammad Saleh Qazwini has a BA from the University of Michigan and an MA from Wayne State University. He is a graduate of the Islamic Seminary of Qom, Iran. 3 Questions Answered
Syed Nabi Raza Abidi, Syed Nabi Raza Abidi is based in the US and has a PhD in Theology and Philosophy having attended Howzah in Iran for several years. His research was conducted under the guidance of Ayatollah Ja'far Subhani. He has also taught various subjects such as Usul, Fiqh, Philosophy, and Tafseer in different Islamic schools. 3 Questions Answered
Jerrmein Abu Shahba, Jerrmein Abu Shahba is originally from Egypt and has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a masters in Chemistry from Rutgers State University in the US. She is actively involved in many Islamic projects that include organizing annual youth camps, teaching Islamic subjects, writing articles and translating texts from Arabic. 2 Questions Answered
Hamid Waqar, Shaykh Hamid Waqar was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and converted to Islam at the age of sixteen. He started his Islamic studies in the year 2001 in Beirut and, a year later, moved to Qum where he has been studying since. He currently studies at the highest levels of Islamic jurisprudence, translates many books and runs the Muntazar website. 2 Questions Answered
Sayed Mohammedhassan Alsheraa, Sayed MohammedHassan Alsheraa attended the Hawzah in Detroit, Michigan, in the United States. Thereafter he continued his Islamic studies in the Hawza of Karbala, Iraq. Alongside his Hawza studies, he is also a student of political science at the University of Michigan, USA. 1 Question Answered
Berak Hussain, Berak Hussain is a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) in Canada. She has a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Educational Counseling from the University of Ottawa. She speaks on a variety of Islamic and psychological issues bridging the connection and misconceptions around Islam and mental health and Islam and women. She has worked locally and internationally on a variety of mental health initiatives working tirelessly to break the stigma around the topic within the community. 1 Question Answered
Nasim Walji Pirmohamed, Nasim Walji Pirmohamed is a religious lecturer and a teacher in Islamic Religious Education, Holy Qur'an and Arabic language. She has translated works from Persian to English, and has been very active in working for the improvement of women’s condition and their mental health across many countries. 1 Question Answered
Hassanain Govani, Hassanain Govani is based in Sweden and has an MA in History of Religion from Uppsala University and an MA in Islamic Studies from the Islamic College of London, and has also studied Arabic in Damascus. He has a position as project secretary at SST, the committee for state support for religious communities. 1 Question Answered
Faiyaz Jaffer, Shaykh Faiyaz Jaffer is the Associate Chaplain and Research Scholar at the Islamic Center at New York University. He attained an MA degree in Islamic Studies (UK), with a concentration on early Islamic history, after his undergraduate degree from SUNY Stony Brook University in Political Science and Religious Studies. In pursuing the classical course of Islamic education, Faiyaz has studied in the Seminary of Karbala, Iraq. 1 Question Answered
Fatemah Meghji, Fatemah Meghji is based in Vancouver and has a BA in English Literature and Religious Studies from the University of British Columbia. She then studied at Jamiah al-Zahra in Qum, Iran, from where she completed her MA in Qur'anic Exegesis & Qur'anic Sciences with honours. She works on content development with Kisa Kids and has taught at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy, Islamic Literacy, and the Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre. 1 Question Answered
Anwar Jaffer, Born and raised in London, Sheikh Anwar Jaffer has a Bsc in Economics and Finance from Queen Mary University of London. In 2010 he began his religious studies in Najaf and transferred to Qom in 2015 where he currently resides with his family. No Questions Answered
Amir De Martino, Amir De Martino is of Italian origin and has an MA in Islamic Studies from the Islamic College and a combined BA degree in Persian Language and Studies of Religion from SOAS in London. He has also obtained a PGCE in Social Research Methods from the Department of Education at Roehampton University as part of his preparation for doctoral studies, and is a member of Westminster’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education.No Questions Answered
Jaffer Ali Ladak, Shaykh Jaffer Ali Ladak is from Milton Keynes in the UK and has studied at Jami'a Imam as-Sadiq (a) Hawza Imam al-Jawad (a) in Karbala and at Al Mahdi Institute in Birmingham. He is currently completing his Masters Degree in Islamic Law at the Islamic College in London. He has also authored a book on Lady Umm Kulthum, the daughter of Imam Ali (a).No Questions Answered
Greg Sowden, Ali Mahdi Greg Sowden studied world history at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Since then he has been a student at Al-Mustafa International University in Qom, in the Islamic Republic of Iran.No Questions Answered
Mohammad Zakaria, Mohammad Zakaria is a senior lecturer at the Islamic College where he specialises in Research methodology and Islam's Education Philosophy and Teacher Training. His doctoral work focused on the intersection between Race, Human Rights and Education.No Questions Answered
Ayub Rashid, Shaykh Ayub Rashid is a graduate of the Islamic Seminary of Qom, Iran. He has a BA in Islamic law and MA in Islam and Community Studies from the UK and is also a qualified Muslim Chaplain from the Markfield Institute of Higher Education in Leicester.No Questions Answered
Nour Tessie Jørgensen,

Nour Tessie Jørgensen has an MA in Islamic studies from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and a degree in Philosophy of Ethics at Al Mustafa International University in Qum, Iran. She works as an Islamic Studies teacher and a counselor in spiritual and female-related issues.

18 Answers
Zoheir Ali Esmail,

Shaykh Zoheir Ali Esmail has a Bsc in Accounting and Finance from the LSE in London, and an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University. He studied Arabic at Damascus University and holds a PhD from the University of Exeter in the philosophical and mystical readings of Mulla Sadra in the context of the schools of Tehran and Qum.

256 Answers
Rebecca Masterton,

Dr Rebecca Masterton graduated with a BA in Japanese Language and Literature; an MA in Comparative East Asian and African Literature and a PhD in Islamic literature of West Africa. She has been teaching for seventeen years through different media, and has also worked in media for ten years, producing and presenting programs for several TV channels.

76 Answers
Saleem Bhimji,

Shaykh Saleem Bhimji was born and raised in Canada. After completing his post-secondary education at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), he moved to Medina, New York, to study at the Imam al-Asr Theological Seminary. He later continued his religious studies at the Hawza of Qum. To date he has translated over 40 full-length books into English that have been printed worldwide.

15 Answers
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Shahid Pradhan,

Shahid Pradhan is a graduate of Al-Mustafa International University, Qum. He is an activist and interested in Indian and international political and social issues.

1 Answer
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Rebecca Masterton, Dr Rebecca Masterton graduated with a BA in Japanese Language and Literature; an MA in Comparative East Asian and African Literature and a PhD in Islamic literature of West Africa. She has been... Answered 1 year ago

There are different ways of explaining the concept of the soul. You may want to search for the article 'Explanation of Soul or Self in the Holy Qur'an and Atman in the Ancient Upanishads' by Dr. Ali Reza Khajegir and Mohammad Reza Afroogh, in the Journal of Religion and Theology, Vol. 2, SRYAHWAR Publications.

Also, see the work by Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini on the Ma'ad in the Qur'an on this website.

If you read French, you may also want to read about the work of ‘Alaudawlah Semnānī and Qādī Sa‘īd Qummī in Henry Corbin, En Islam Iranien, pps 176-180. Here, they talk about the different levels of the soul that correpond to different levels of time. I have translated these pages if you would like me to send them.

Zoheir Ali Esmail, Shaykh Zoheir Ali Esmail has a Bsc in Accounting and Finance from the LSE in London, and an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University. He studied Arabic at Damascus University and holds a PhD... Answer updated 1 year ago

Thank you for your question. In some translations of the Qurʾān the term nafs is translated in almost every instance it appears as the soul. This can be misunderstood as although the term is used to denote the spiritual aspect of the human in some instances, in many others it is better translated as the individual, rather than specifically the soul or spiritual aspect of the human. It is not a completely incorrect use of the word soul as it can be used to mean an individual in English too, like in the phrase: “don’t tell a soul”. It is more that we are aware of the context of such a phrase and therefore would not misinterpret it to mean “don’t tell a spiritual aspect of an individual”.

The spiritual element of a human is also referred to in other instances as the rūḥ, especially in the story of the creation of Adam (see 32:9; 15:29; 38:72), although the term rūḥ doesn’t always denote spiritual aspect of the human either (see for example 40:15; 16:2; 97:4). 

The rūḥ and nafs are not interchangeable terms. 

It is a later philosophical development which equates the nafs with the soul of the human and that has perhaps caused some confusion regarding the linguistic meaning of nafs used in the Qurʾān.

The term nafs and its derivatives occur more than 250 times in the Qurʾān and it denotes the individualisation of an essence. A referent of this general term is the human nafs (other referents include jinn 6:130 including Satan 18:51 and God Himself see 6:12), either:

1. in terms of its inner or spiritual aspect, with the commanding soul, al-nafs al-ammārah (see 12:18; 12:53; 20:96, 50:16; 64:16; 53:23; 59:9) where Satan whispers (see 47:25) and if fought results in heaven (see 70:40-41). The commanding self is fought with the blaming self or conscience, al-nafs al-lawwāmah (75:2) so that a person reaches a clear conscience al-nafs al-muṭmainnah (89:27)

2. or in terms of an individual, as when Moses said: “Lord, I have killed a person (nafs) among them, and I fear they will kill me!” (see 28:33; also for example 2:155; 5:45; 17:33; 18:74; 25:68; 61:11)

References

* Al-Muṣṭafawī, Taḥqīq fī kalimāt al-Qurʾān al-Karīm, (12) 196-199.

* Emil Homerin, “Soul” in Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān, Brill, (5) 80-84

Nour Tessie Jørgensen, Nour Tessie Jørgensen has an MA in Islamic studies from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and a degree in Philosophy of Ethics at Al Mustafa International University in Qum, Iran. She works as... Answered 1 year ago

Nafs in the Quran is translated with terms like “yourself” and “soul”. 

“And do thou (O reader!) Bring thy Lord to remembrance in thy (very) soul” in another translation “And remember your Lord within yourself” (7:205)

“And fear a Day when no soul will suffice for another soul at all” (2:48)  

“There is no soul but has a protector over it” (86:4) 

In the verse: “And I do not acquit myself. Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy. Indeed, my Lord is Forgiving and Merciful” (12:53) the soul is described with a specific characteristic, or at least a part of the soul is described with the ability to do evil, it might even prone to evil. The soul is described with three different qualities: 

“1) The despotic soul which leads one to commit evil and vicious acts. If it is not controlled by faith and reason, it results in man’s sudden fall.
2) The reproaching soul. This self or ego is active when a guilty person blames and scolds himself. In this case, he tends to seek repentance and is apologetic for the sin or crime which he has committed.
3) The peaceful soul which is found in only the prophets, and those truly trained by them. Once they find themselves surrounded by unbridled passion and ignorance, they seek the help of Allah to be extricated from it. They owe everything to Allah who loves them very much.” (From: An enlightening commentary into the light of the Holy Qur’an: https://www.al-islam.org/enlightening-commentary-light-holy-quran-vol-7/...)

In the verse: “By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right; He has succeeded who purifies it” (91:7-9), we are taught that God taught man how to discriminate between right and wrong (https://www.al-islam.org/enlightening-commentary-light-holy-quran-vol-20...). Further explained in the commentary of the Holy Qur’an: 

“The purpose of using the term /taqwa/ based on /wiqayah/ with the meaning of 'protection', is that Man protects himself from sin, crime, corruption and vice.
It is necessary to note that verse 8 does not mean, as some have considered, that Allah put the means of committing / fujur/ and /taqwa / inside the soul of Man; the very means which cause him to do wrong actions and break the curtains of piety, or the means and ways that push him towards piety and good actions.
They have thought of the verse as an evidence for the existence of some contrariety in the entity of Man.
It says that Allah inspired him and taught him these two facts.” (https://www.al-islam.org/enlightening-commentary-light-holy-quran-vol-20...). 

The soul is inspired by God, as it is explained in the commentary: 
“the soul is inspired by Allah; its Almighty and All-wise Author, with the consciousness and the faculty of discretion to distinguish between piety and impiety, right conduct and the wrong ways in life, by the means of his 'wisdom' and 'primordial nature'.
This is why some commentators believe that this verse, in fact, refers to the proposition of the idea of 'rational goodness and rational badness' and that Allah has gifted Man with the ability to distinguish between them.
It is noteworthy that Allah has given Man many blessings, but, among all of them the Qur'an emphasizes, here on the inspiration of understanding 'piety' and 'impiety' and the recognition of right and wrong, because this is the most important factor in the destiny of Man.
Finally, after these numerous important oaths, attention is paid to the result of them and says:
"Indeed he succeeds who purifies it,"
The term /zakkaha/ is based on /tazkiyah/ which originally means 'to grow’; and /zakat / basically means 'growth'.” (https://www.al-islam.org/enlightening-commentary-light-holy-quran-vol-20...). 

The purpose of the creation of man (the soul) is for the creations to find nearness to God. Obtaining nearness to God is the only true happiness (bliss) one may experience. The only happiness that lasts. The soul is in constant longing for happiness, and searches for it. The soul has to be purified in order to see and understand the true goal of creation, otherwise it will search for temporary happiness in worldly or harmful affairs. God has already inspired the soul to do good, and to reach it’s purpose the soul was gifted with tools and merits for this aim.  “Such as; a wakeful conscience and a sense of understanding piety and impiety for paving the way to felicity.” (https://www.al-islam.org/enlightening-commentary-light-holy-quran-vol-20...). 

For further readings, go to the “Shi’ite Creed” by Shaykh Saduq pg. 32 (https://www.al-islam.org/printpdf/book/export/html/12317