Seven Stages of the Development of Nafs

Ilustration (photo: Ahlulbait Indonesia)

By Syamsul Yakin

Shaykh Nawawi in the book Qathrul Ghaits says that there are seven stages of the development of the nafs (desire). First, The inciting nafs (an-nafs al-ʾammārah), which is the desire for committing bad deeds. Allah affirms, “And I do not acquit myself. Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy.”(Surah Yusuf:53).

Shaykh Nawawi said, the place of an-nafs al-ʾammārah is in the chest and someone will be stingy, greedy, envious, stupid, arrogant, lustful, and short-tempered if they have it in their heart.

Second, the self-accusing nafs (an-nafs al-luwwāmah), and its place is the heart too. If someone has this nafs, they will be a liar, cheater, abuser, gossiper, negligent, like to show off and waste time. Allah says, “And I swear by the reproaching soul [to the certainty of resurrection]..” ( Surah Al-Qiyamah : 2).

Third, the inspired nafs (an-nafs al-mulhamah). Its place is in the soul. Someone will be kind, generous, humble, patient, responsible, always repentant, and feel sufficient (qana’ah) if they have this nafs.

Fourth, The nafs at peace (an-nafs al-muṭmaʾinnah). Its place is in the conscience. The signs of someone having this nafs are generous, trusting, religious, grateful, willing, and afraid of Allah. About this desire, Allah says, “[To the righteous it will be said], “O reassured soul, return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him] and enter among My [righteous] servants and enter My Paradise.”( Surah Al-Fajr/89: 27-30).

Fifth, The pleased nafs (an-nafs ar-raḍīyyah). This desire is in the heart. The signs of someone having this nafs are virtuous, asceticism (zuhd), sincere, pity (wara’), training themselves with worship and difficulties, and always keeping promises.

Sixth, The pleasing nafs (an-nafs al-marḍīyyah). Its place is in the most hidden part towards the middle chest. The signs of a person having this desire are they having noble character, only dedicating themselves to Allah, gentle to all creatures, always doing good deeds, forgiving everyone’s mistakes, full of love, and tend to give direction and guidance as Allah wills.

The last one is nafs kamilah or perfect desire. Its place is in the more hidden part in the middle of the chest. The signs of the owner of this desire are Ilmul yaqin (having faith based on knowledge), Ainul Yaqin (having faith based on the sharpness of the eyes of the heart), and Haqqul Yaqin (having true faith).

By identifying the seven desires above, we can put ourselves in which position. (T/ri/RE1)


Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)