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 from the senses and inclinations by fitrah. Nufûs is the plural of nafs.


The Sufis classified degrees of the nafs which are as follows:

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

“This concerns one point of the âyah, 1 اِنَّ النَّفْسَ لاَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّۤوء and the Hadith the noble meaning of which is, اَعْدٰى عَدُوِّكَ نَفْسُكَ الَّتِى بَيْنَ جَنْبَيْكَ "Your worst enemy is your nafs." The Flashes ( 373 )  

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

3: Nafs al-mulhamah: The nafs which has been purified and perfected. At this degree of nafs, the heart becomes the companion of the nafs in khayr. If there is 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 human that is purified from doubts, bad attributes and adorned by good moral, gained stability and safety. The station of nafs, which is under the command of Allah’s order, it is tranquil and saved from suffering by the way of defeating appetites and desires. (89:27)

وَمَا اُبَرِّئُ نَفْسِى اِنَّ النَّفْسَ َلاَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ  Yes, one who admires his nafs and relies on his nafs is wretched. One who sees his nafs’ faults is fortunate. So you are fortunate! Nevertheless, it sometimes happens that the nafs al-ammarah is transformed into nafs al-lawwamah or nafs al-mutmainnah, but it hands over its weapons and equipment to the nerves. And the nerves and veins continue its function until the end of life. Although the nafs al-ammarah died long beforehand, its works are still apparent. There have been many great awliyâ and asfiyâ who have complained of their nafs al-ammarah while their nafs was mutmainnah. They have lamented over the sickness of the heart while their hearts were completely sound and illumined. Thus, what afflicts these persons is not the nafs al-ammarah, but the nafs al-ammarah's function which has been handed over to the nerves. The sickness is not of the heart, but of the imagination. My ‘Âzîz brother, Inshallah, what is attacking you is not your nafs and sickness of your heart, it is the state to perpetuate jihâd which as we said has been transferred to the nerves and results in constant progress as a consequence of being human.” The Letters ( 387 )

5-6: Nafs ar-radhiyyah - Nafs al-mardhiyyah: The perfection degree of 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 of his submission to 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 on this person’s heart at any moment. (35:18)


1 (The nafs is certainly prone to evil)

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