Saturday, January 19, 2019

The 'Ruh' and the 'Nafs': A Commentary

The 'Ruh' and the 'Nafs'

Today, it gives me great pleasure to present before you all a very important explanation on the “Ruh” and the “Nafs” which several of my disciples have respectfully asked me to give. This is indeed a very important and deep subject which I specially delivered to you some years back, specifically during the Mubahila period with Abdul Ghaffar Janbah and his disciple Mansoor Ahmed dated 15 August 2011 and which I shall put again before you during the course of my sermon.

Very often, when calling attention to one’s ego, we refer to the “nafs” of that person being manifested, which is partly true in the fact that its real meaning is that its “Nafs-e-Ammara” (Soul prone to passion, ego and also all kinds of evils) is being manifested. The words “Nafs-e-Ammara” is shortened to “nafs” to reflect the ego of man in certain contexts.

In the Arabic language, more specifically in the Quranic context, the word Nafs refers to the human soul and also to self-attribution, or self-identification whether used by humans, angels or Allah Himself. We say: I, Me and Myself, the three reflexive pronouns used by the Creator Himself, his angels and us, humans.

For example, Allah says in the Holy Quran:

Wazkur Rabbaka fee nafsika…Meaning: “And remember your Rab (Lord/ Allah) inside yourself...” [Al-Arraf 7: 206]

Moreover, Allah says in the Holy Quran, addressing to Hazrat Musa (as): Wa-sh-tana’tuka li-Nafsi Meaning: I have chosen you (Istana’tuka) for Myself (Li-Nafsi).” [Surah TaHa 20: 42]

Referring to this specific verse, we see that Allah has used the key word “Nafs” to define Himself, yet we all know that the ego of Allah is egoless. The Self of Allah is selfless. It is beyond creation and any created thing, yet Allah says: “Li-Nafsi” (for Myself). Allah verily does not account to anyone. When He manifests His words and emphasizes them on His own importance, we cannot and should never dare to call Him arrogant or that He is such a Being which is filled with Himself (Vain or Proud). God Forbid! He is the only Being who can do whatever He likes without accounting to anyone.

That is why, we are the creatures and He is the Creator, and we cannot also create anything without His prior permission. He gives knowledge to whomsoever He wants and removes knowledge and the ability to think to whomsoever He wants.

Moreover, the word “Ruh” is a treasure of knowledge. The “Ruh” is principally linked to the spiritual essence of man and his faculty to receive Divine Revelations, to perfect himself spiritually and physically to become wholly apt to be called a Man of God (Allah), a Friend of God and His Representative on earth. That is why, Allah calls the Essence or Aura or Spirit of Divine Revelations, as Ruh-il-Qouddouss (Holy Spirit) [Al-Baqara 2: 88 & 254; Al-Maida 5: 111 & An-Nahl 16: 103], or Ruh’ul-Ameen (The Trustworthy Spirit) [Ash-Shu’ara 26: 194] in the Holy Quran.

The descent of Divine Revelations on Man

Moreover, in Surah An-Najm, Chapter 53 of the Holy Quran, Allah makes reference to the descent of the Ruh’il Qouddouss in a beautiful and striking way, describing the extraordinary way He infuses his own essence in form of Revelations (that is why we say, Divine Revelations) on His Chosen Messenger. Like we know from the Hadiths, during the Holy Prophet’s greatest vision, i.e., the Isra and Miraj, Hazrat Jibreel (as), the Archangel of revelations accompanied Hazrat Muhammad from the lower heavens up till the Sidratul Muntaha. From the Surah An-Najm, we get to know that Hazrat Jibreel (as) is one essence of the Ruh’il Qouddouss, but not its complete essence. He is one of the many manifestations of the Ruh’il Qouddouss. Allah mentions this clearly in the words: “And he [i.e. Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh)] certainly saw him in another descent, at the Lote Tree of the Utmost Boundary (Sidratul Muntaha)... When there covered the Lote tree that which covered (it). [An-Najm 53: 14-17]

Allah says in the Holy Quran in respect to the creation of man (Bashar), and more specifically His Representative (a Khalifatullah), his special good news (Bashar) to humanity: “And when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit (Ruhi), then fall down to him in prostration.” [Al-Hijr 15: 30; Sad 38: 73].

Little knowledge is given to man on this subject. Allah says in the Holy Quran: “And they ask you about the Ruh. Say, ‘The Ruh is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little.’” [Al-Isra 17: 86].

Whenever Allah mentions the Ruh in the Holy Quran, it called our attention to the essence of Divine Revelations, of nearness to Him. Man has a soul (nafs) and a spirit (Ruh) if I may state it like this as a way to make you understand the difference between the two words. While the Nafs can be both refined or spoiled, but the Ruh cannot be spoiled. When man connects with Allah, seek a lasting relationship with Him through prayers (Salat), invocations (duahs) and Zikrullah (Remembrance of Allah/ meditation), therefore he enables his Nafs to merge with the essence of the Ruh, i.e. Allah opens his way to get a blessed connection with Him, with the descent of divine revelations or even true dreams and visions.

As for the Nafs, i.e. the soul or his inner consciousness, when it gets purifies little by little, going from the stage of “Nafs-e-Ammarah” (soul prone to evil), then reaching the stage of “Nafs-e-Lawwamah” (self-reproaching soul) and finally till he reaches a perfect communion with Allah, getting infused with His Holy Spirit, that person’s self or soul is known as Nafs-e-Mutmainah” (Soul at peace).

The Divinely-inspired Message of 15 August 2011

The Messenger of Allah is that soul at peace who teaches others how to let peace lead the way into their hearts. Verily man has to go through several stages of the ego, interpersonal and intrapersonal so that he can reach up to the height of the beautified mind and soul. The mind directs the body physically, whereas the soul directs the body spiritually.

In the Quran Allah says: “O soul at peace! Return to your Lord, well-pleased, well-pleasing, So enter among My servants, And enter into My garden.”

The soul reaches such a height of communion with Allah which the human mind cannot grasp. Actually it grasps it to a certain level but unconsciously. The soul enjoys such a relation with Allah which either makes it the recipient of Divine favours or Divine wrath. The cleansing of the soul comes at one point which makes it possible for the mind to be cleansed. That is what is called purity of mind, when Taqwa (piety) reaches the realm of the heart and touch it with the fragrance of submission to the Divine Will. 

The soul is the recipient of the Divine Revelation, and that is why the soul only which connects to Allah in a state of revelation. That is what happened to the Holy Prophet (saws) when the door of vision was opened for him whereby his soul found the peace of the light of divine revelations directing him towards His Lord, stage by stage accompanied by the archangel Jibreel (as). Such a stage he reached was not reached by anyone else amongst the creatures of God, not even the angels. Therefore, if the angels themselves did not get the access to God with their body of light, then how can the human mind in its imperfect attribute conceive the idea that the Holy Prophet (saws) went to the heavens; to Allah with his physical body and that he witnessed all that he witnessed with his physical temporal eyes? 

The angels do not possess a soul, but their essence themselves is of the divine light, because they have only one identity whereas man has two identities which permit him to exist in two different worlds: the temporal and the spiritual! Both lives we live at the same time on earth and in the parallel, revelatory world. When man walks and works on earth, and does manual labour, he lives temporally, whereas in his meditation, prayer and sleep filled the aura of the remembrance of God, he lives spiritually.

Spirituality can be felt both by the body and the soul. Spirituality means a connection with our real consciousness which directs our concentration to Allah, our Creator. Many religions define the concept of spirituality in their own way, but the truth is that Allah is what they perceive when they are in meditation which fills their lives with the divine light, not saints, prophets (avatars) or pirs. Unfortunately they ascribe the light they receive to their multiple gods and thus they fall in such a pit of confusion which makes them stumbles into disbelief and more disbelief, but for them the light they receive is from God, not the actual all-powerful God but the God of their creation, their imagination!

Divine revelation is something which cannot be tampered with, whereas satanic revelations can be easily tampered, and its existence is only flimsy and short-lived. Divine revelations carries such a light which propels the soul into the realm of certainty and trust in Allah, a serenity which belongs to the sincere servant because of his attachment to the Lord of the Heavens and Earth. The soul finds peace not only unconsciously, but this peace becomes the driven tool which makes them feel it wholly in their everyday life, in whatever they may do or go through. The soul therefore cannot be duped. It may be the mind which may be duped whenever satanic revelations comes down upon a person. If the mind, not being in its right frame, perceives a satanic revelation, the soul settles on it until the mind invades the soul completely. That is what makes evil people, with the mind overcoming the state of their souls to such a degree that they partake easily of the satanic influences and let go of the divine attributes which are inherent in them since their existence in the matrices of their mothers. That is why good and evil co-exist in a person. Both essences are of him, but he is the one who has to control his own impulses to either navigate it in the right direction or in perdition. The options are before him. All he has to do, is to analyse, comprehend and act upon it. If it concerns an evil, he has to put a stop to it before it influences him and lead him astray. Very often we see the degradation of good people. It may happen even to the disciple of a Prophet or Man of God. The disciple thinks that the light that he receives is from himself, that Allah loves him more than His Prophet to have given him such lights of revelation, but this is one false step which guarantees him damnation.

In the times of a Prophet of Allah, the latter’s wish is that Allah spread the light on the people, only as a confirmation of the truth. The light, which is revelation, is to make the people aware of the fact that what the Messenger of Allah is receiving is the truth, and that they may come and embrace the cause of Allah at the hand of the Messenger of Allah of their time.

When people start to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit, in the presence of a Messenger of Allah, this is one of the greatest signs in favour of this Messenger, for verily it is written in the gospels that there shall come a time when the common people shall be able to prophecy. The latter days are here and the Messenger is present among you, that same Messenger of Allah who is universal. I have not come for propaganda or to make publicity, but I have come to lead people towards Allah, that they may know their Creator and love Him exclusively, not associating any partner to Him in His worship.

One shall know Allah only through obedience to all His commandments as laid out in the Holy Quran, by following the examples of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saws) and by joining and obeying the Messenger of Allah of his era. Indeed I have come as a witness over you people for this era. You are all accountable to Allah, not me. I cannot change your hearts, but what I can do is to give you the message of Allah. It is Allah Himself who knows whose hearts He shall illumine. If the soul, thirsty of the divine connection wants to come forward and dive into the pool of its true existence and essence, then that soul shall be enlighten to such an extent that Allah shall use him (or her) to help the cause of Allah and that of the Messenger of Allah. 

The mind may want something, but the body is weak. Sometimes the mind is weak, but the soul is strong; strong enough to defeat the weakened state of the mind and make it function like a speedy automobile, ever ready to comply with the instructions of Allah and that of the Messenger of Allah. The Nafs at peace is the representation of what the soul (Ruh) should be at its perfection. The soul at peace invites to betterment of the human condition, in that which the human becomes a full-pledged servant of Allah, truly serving Allah in the best of ways.

The ego has to pass through different trials itself before perfecting it at the Mutmaina stage. The soul is truly the means for one to receive the divine light, the divine revelations. If angels were like humans, Allah would have called the angel of revelations by the Nafs that man carries intrinsically. But the fact remains that Allah clearly calls the descent of the angel of revelation by the word: “Ruh” (in Surah Al-Qadr), thus clearly indicating to man that the Ruh which they possess is such that at any time, they can be recipients of divine revelations, provided that they comply to all divine commandments and are approved by Allah to receive such boon.

As in the case of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saws), another explanation to his Miraj and his superiority even to the angel of revelations is clear in that why he does not only possess that Ruh which makes him recipient of divine revelations, but he has also acceded to the full completion of the essence of “Nafs-e-Mutmaina”. The Ruh he possesses and the Nafs he manifested were such in league and in the same line of thoughts, if I may put it like it, so much so that no other human has succeeded to reach such perfect synchronisation of the soul and mind (perfect taming of the ego). Other Messengers of Allah can receive it but not as in perfect harmony as reached by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saws). His degree of superiority is infinitely superior in every respect, so much so that Allah has told him: “You indeed possess excellent qualities.” These qualities come from refining his ego in such a way that his consciousness works hand in hand with the Divine will to master his own existence on earth. That is what in other words is called, submission to the Divine will, to the Divine decrees.

The angels possess neither a Nafs nor a Ruh, but they are themselves Ruh of a special made. Humans enjoy the possession of a Nafs, but that Nafs is like unearthed raw diamonds which need to be worked and polished, so that it can shine with all its light and be priceless in the eyes of Allah! Satan is the bitterest enemy of man. His army is inherent in us, running in our blood to make us deviate from the Divine waters we come from. The army of Satan shall be victorious only over those who do not refine their Nafs and Ruh and make it work together to reach peace which is of the divine. Peace is what leads man to God. Without peace, he is not able to master his faith and the sciences he receives from the Book of Allah to reach his destination, that is, Allah. That is why Allah in Surah Al-Qadr says, it is peace until dawn.

Peace or tranquillity comes usually when one is asleep in the night, not really knowing what is happening to this temporal world and his daily problems. But the peace mentioned in this verse means that whatever the condition the servant of Allah finds himself in, he is verily possessor of this peace which comes from Allah. After Allah has consolidated him with this peace, he is able to walk on earth and fulfill his duties with faith and trust in Allah. The peace he feels comes from his Ruh, because of the touch of the Ruh-il-Qouddouss on him. This description is verily true in the era of a Messenger of God whereby he is touched by the Holy Spirit not just as a one-time occurrence but in fact his entire life on earth partakes of the touch of the Holy Spirit which connects him to the Divine Source of Power, Allah (swt).

A Man of God when he comes from the Divine Waters, he is tempted by the Satan because the Satan is inherent in him, who tries to deviate him from his prophetic mission. Very often a Messenger of Allah also can stumble over the sweet talks of Satan thinking it to be God’s, but not for long, because the true Messenger of Allah is rapidly synchronised by the One who sent him and therefore he is able to carry on with his mission with peace, faith, trust and love of Allah.

Verily, Satan can never deviate the chosen servants of Allah. If Satan deviates someone and he dies in the satanic condition, therefore it means to say that the person in question was never really of the essence of the chosen servant of Allah. We have the examples of the past to show us that Allah verily destroys His diehard enemies so much so that no trace is left of them. If they repent, the affair rests with Allah, but if they die in the condition of the curse of Allah, therefore nothing can separate this being from being seized by Allah on the spot once Allah has so decided.

May Allah purify our intellect and help us to understand the verities of His creations and the truth contained in the Holy Quran. May Allah give insight to each one of you in the Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam to be able to reflect on the contents of the Holy Quran – for the Quran is a fountain of unlimited knowledge – and to be able to derive its pure essence and truthful explanations as to better enlighten your lives and the lives of people for all times to come. Insha-Allah. Ameen.

---Friday Sermon of 18 January 2019~11 Jamadi’ul Awwal 1440 AH delivered by Hadhrat Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.