Dictionary / Arabic - Turkish Terminology

NAFS-NUFÛS – نَفْس


Literally: The soul. A spirit. A soul. The life of an animal; also, the blood of an animal. Self. One's own personality. The carnal man, the flesh, the spirit of concupiscence. The essence of anything, its very substance or reality.

The power of nafs, which is the source of appetite and anger. The desires of the body arising from the physical senses. Inclinations of the fitrah.

(Please refer to the compilation on Nafs.)


The Sufis classified degrees of the nafs as follows:

1: Nafs al-ammarah: Always commanding, imperious and unchastened nafs of man. The lusts of the flesh in their unbridled state. The carnal nafs when thoroughly dominant in a man. The state of a person’s nafs who follows the encouragement of shaytan without struggle (jihâd) or any objection, and commits sin. (12:53)(50:16)

2: Nafs al-lawwamah: The carnal nafs when resisted but still submissive to its desires. The state of a person’s nafs, who feels regret after sinning, and has a guilty conscience because of his sin and fears of attracting Allah’s anger. The irâdah of man that knows and accepts his own sins and evil, and uses his inclination to the khayr. (75:2)

3: Nafs al-mulhamah: The nafs which have been purified and perfected. At this degree of nafs, the heart becomes the companion of the nafs in khayr. If there is a need, Allah gives haqiqahs to this person through the way of ilham. (91:8)

4: Nafs al-mutmainnah: A thoroughly subdued and pious nafs, which neither rebels nor murmurs. The state of nafs, which is purified from doubts and bad attributes, adorned by good morals, gained stability and safety and is under the command of Allah’s order; it is tranquil and saved from suffering by defeating appetites and desires. (89:27)

5-6: Nafs ar-radhiyyah - Nafs al-mardhiyyah: The perfection degree of the nafs — that is the human essence — which submits and is pleased and content with Allah’s every kind of disposal, calamities and troubles. He gains Allah’s pleasure in return for his submission to the orders of Allah by ikhlas and loyalty and knows his own faults and defects. (89:28)

7: Nafs az-zakiyyah or as-sâfiyyah: The nafs of each Prophet and selected awliyâ. The nûr of Allah manifests in this person’s heart at any moment. (35:18)


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