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... Answered 6 months ago

Salamoanlaykum

May Allah bless you and your family. 

Scholars of different disciplines use these terms in different ways. In a loose sense, they refer to the same reality – the source of life which is inanimate and eternal. The exact sense will depend on in which context it the term is used.

Muhaqqiq Narāqī in his famous book of ethics, Jamiʿ al-Saʿādāt states, “The soul (nafs) is that heavenly essence which employs the body and uses its various organs to attain its goals and purposes. The soul has also other names as spirit (ruh), intelligence (`aql), and heart (qalb) although these terms have other usages as well.”

Shahīd Muṭahharī indicates that these terms are used distinctly in ʿIrfān based on the qualities of the soul: “The 'urafa' have different words for the human soul; sometimes they call it nafs (self), sometimes qalb (heart), sometimes ruh (spirit) and sometimes sirr (mystery). When the human soul is dominated and ruled by desires and passions they call it nafs. When it reaches the stage of bearing Divine knowledge, it is called qalb. When the light of Divine love dawns within it, they call it ruh.”

In the Qurʾān the terms Qalb and Nafs are used much more often than the term Rūḥ; Rūḥ is also sometimes used to refer to the Holy Spirit or to ʿIsā (ʿa)