15.1 At the individual level: nafs

15.1 At the individual level: nafs (noon-fe-seen)

The Qur’an uses this word 255 times. The purpose of mankind at the individual level i.e. at the level of the nafs is self-development. What is nafs? This concept can neither be percieved nor explained empirically as it is not material, however, it is intrinsically bound up with the notion of Self. In the Qur’an it is referred to as roohona or ‘divine energy’. Every human action – even thoughts – affects it, either providing growth and development to the self (nafs) or causing its disintegration.

(6:164) […]every nafs shall bear the consequences of its actions and no one can help him in any capacity[…]

When nafs is used to promote the higher values of humanity according to the divine laws it becomes positive/good receiving nourishment as it does so, but when it is used for selfish ends, it becomes negative, which the Qur’an terms as hawa: the source of cunning. For further explanation see verses: 10:108; 17:7-15; 29:6; 30:44; 31:12; 35:18; 39:7,41; 41:46; 45:15 and 53:38.