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There are three central ideas in Sufi Islamic psychology, which are the Nafs (ego), the Qalb (heart) and the Ruh (soul). The origin and basis of these terms is Qur'anic and they have been expounded upon by centuries of Sufic commentaries.

Contents

Overview

Nafs is considered to be the lowest principle of man. Higher than the nafs is the Qalb (heart), and the Ruh (spirit). This tripartition forms the foundation of later, more complicated systems; it is found as early as the Koranic commentary by Ja'far al-Sadiq. He holds that the nafs is peculiar to the zalim (tyrant), the qalb to the muqtasid (moderate), and the rūh to the sābiq (preceding one, winner); the zālim loves God for his own sake, the muqtasid loves Him for Himself, and the sābiq annihilates his own will in God's will. Bayezid Bistami, Hakīm at-Tirmidhī, and Junayd have followed this tripartition. Kharrāz, however, inserts between nafs and qalb the element tab', "nature," the natural functions of man

At almost the same time in history, Nūrī saw in man four different aspects of the heart, which he derived in an ingenious way from the Koran:

Sadr (breast) is connected with Islam (Sūra 39:23); qalb (heart) is the seat of īmān (faith) (Sūra 49:7; 16:106); fuad (heart) is connected with marifa (gnosis) ( Sūra 53:11); and lubb (innermost heart) is the seat of tauhīd ( Sūra 3:190).

The Sufis often add the element of sirr, the innermost part of the heart in which the divine revelation is experienced. Jafar introduced, in an interesting comparison, reason, aql, as the barrier between nafs and qalb -- "the barrier which they both cannot transcend" ( Sūra 55:20), so that the dark lower instincts cannot jeopardize the heart's purity .Each of these spiritual centers has its own functions, and Amr al-Makkī has summed up some of the early Sufi ideas in a lovely myth:

God created the hearts seven thousand years before the bodies and kept them in the station of proximity to Himself and He created the spirits seven thousand years before the hearts and kept them in the garden of intimate fellowship (uns) with Himself, and the consciences—the innermost part—He created seven thousand years before the spirits and kept them in the degree of union (waṣl) with Himself. Then he imprisoned the conscience in the spirit and the spirit in the heart and the heart in the body. Then He tested them and sent prophets, and then each began to seek its own station. The body occupied itself with prayer, the heart attained to love, the spirit arrived at proximity to its Lord, and the innermost part found rest in union with Him.[1]

Nafs

The self, ID or nafs is the aspect of the psyche that can be viewed along a continuum, and has the potential of functioning from the grossest to the highest level. The self at its lowest level refers to our negative traits and tendencies, controlled by emotions, desires and its gratification. Sufic psychology identifies seven levels of the nafs, which have been identified in the Quran. The process of growth depends on working through these levels. These are: tyrannical self, regretful self, inspired self, serene self, pleased self, pleasing self and the pure self.[2][3]

== Qalb ==Ego

In Sufi psychology the heart (ego) refers to the spiritual heart or qalb, not the physical organ. It is this spiritual heart that contains the deeper intelligence and wisdom. It holds the Divine spark or spirit and is the place of gnosis and deep spiritual knowledge. In Sufism, the goal is to develop a heart that is sincere, loving and compassionate, and to develop the heart's intelligence, which is deeper, and more grounded than the rational, abstract intelligence of the mind. Just as the physical heart supplies blood to the body, the spiritual heart nourishes the soul with wisdom and spiritual light, and it also purifies the gross personality traits. According to Sufic psychology emotions are from the self or nafs, not from the heart. Galb (ego) Mediates between the Nafs (ID) and soul (Superego). Its task is control the nafs and direct the man toward the soul.

Ruh

The soul or ruh or superego is in direct connection with the Divine, even if one is unconscious of that connection. The soul has seven levels or facets of the complete soul. These levels are: mineral, vegetable, animal, personal, human, secret and secret of secret souls. Each level represents the stages of evolution, and the process that it goes through in its growth. The soul is holistic, and extends to all aspects of the person, i.e. the body, the mind and the spirit. Each level of the soul has valuable gifts and strengths, as well as weaknesses. The goal is to develop the strengths and to achieve a balance between these levels, not forgoing the lower ones to focus only on the higher ones. In traditional psychology, Ego psychology deals with the animal soul, Behavioral psychology focuses on the conditioned functioning of the vegetable and animal soul, Cognitive psychology deals with the mental functions of the personal soul, Humanistic psychology deals with the activities of the human soul and Transpersonal psychology deals with ego-transcending consciousness of the secret soul and the secret of secret souls.

Al-Ghazali

One of the most influential Sufi psychologists was Al-Ghazali (1058–1111). He discussed the concept of the self and the causes of its misery and happiness. He described the self using four terms: Qalb (heart), Ruh (spirit), Nafs (soul) and 'Aql (intellect). He stated that "the self has an inherent yearning for an ideal, which it strives to realize and it is endowed with qualities to help realize it." He further stated that the self has motor and sensory motives for fulfilling its bodily needs. He wrote that the motor motives comprise of propensities and impulses, and further divided the propensities into two types: appetite and anger. He wrote that appetite urges hunger, thirst, and sexual craving, while anger takes the form of rage, indignation and revenge. He further wrote that impulse resides in the muscles, nerves, and tissues, and moves the organs to "fulfill the propensities."[4]

Al-Ghazali was one of the first to divide the sensory motives (apprehension) into five external senses (the classical senses of hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch) and five internal senses: common sense (Hiss Mushtarik) which synthesizes sensuous impressions carried to the brain while giving meaning to them; imagination (Takhayyul) which enables someone to retain mental images from experience; reflection (Tafakkur) which brings together relevant thoughts and associates or dissociates them as it considers fit but has no power to create anything new which is not already present in the mind; recollection (Tadhakkur) which remembers the outer form of objects in memory and recollects the meaning; and the memory (Hafiza) where impressions received through the senses are stored. He wrote that, while the external senses occur through specific organs, the internal senses are located in different regions of the brain, and discovered that the memory is located in the hinder lobe, imagination is located in the frontal lobe, and reflection is located in the middle folds of the brain. He stated that these inner senses allow people to predict future situations based on what they learn from past experiences.[5]

In The Revival of Religious Sciences, he writes that the five internal senses are found in both humans and animals. In Mizan al Amal, however, he later states that animals "do not possess a well-developed reflective power" and argues that animals mostly think in terms of "pictorial ideas in a simple way and are incapable of complex association and dissociation of abstract ideas involved in reflection." He writes that "the self carries two additional qualities, which distinguishes man from animals enabling man to attain spiritual perfection", which are 'Aql (intellect) and Irada (will). He argues that the intellect is "the fundamental rational faculty, which enables man to generalize and form concepts and gain knowledge." He also argues that human will and animal will are both different. He writes that human will is "conditioned by the intellect" while animal will is "conditioned by anger and appetite" and that "all these powers control and regulate the body." He further writes that the Qalb (heart) "controls and rules over them" and that it has six powers: appetite, anger, impulse, apprehension, intellect, and will. He states that humans have all six of these traits, while animals only have three (appetite, anger, and impulse).[5] This was in contrast to other ancient and medieval thinkers such as Aristotle, Avicenna, Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas who all believed that animals cannot become angry.[6]

Al-Ghazali writes that knowledge can either be innate or acquired. He divides acquired knowledge into phenomenal (material world) and spiritual (related to God and soul), and divides acquired knowledge into imitation, logical reasoning, contemplation and intuition. He also argues that there are four elements in human nature: the sage (intellect and reason), the pig (lust and gluttony), the dog (anger), and the devil (brutality). He argues that the latter three elements are in conflict with the former element and that "different people have such powers in different proportions."[5]

Al-Ghazali divides the Nafs into three categories based on the Qur’an: Nafs Ammarah (12:53) which "exhorts one to freely indulge in gratifying passions and instigates to do evil", Nafs Lawammah (75:2) which is "the conscience that directs man towards right or wrong", and Nafs Mutmainnah (89:27) which is "a self that reaches the ultimate peace." As an analogy between psychology and politics, he compares the soul to that of a king running a kingdom, arguing that the bodily organs are like the artisans and workers, intellect is like a wise vizier, desire is like a wicked servant, and anger is like the police force. He argues that a king can correctly run the state of affairs by turning to the wise vizier, turns away from the wicked servant, and regulating the workers and the police; and that in the same way, the soul is balanced if it "keeps anger under control and makes the intellect dominate desire." He argues that for a soul to reach perfection, it needs to evolve through several stages: sensuous (like a moth which has no memory), imaginative (lower animal), instinctive (higher animal), rational ("transcends animal stage and apprehends objects beyond the scope of his senses") and divine ("apprehends reality of spiritual things").[7]

He stated that there are two types of diseases: physical and spiritual. He considered the latter to be more dangerous, resulting from "ignorance and deviation from God", and listed the spiritual diseases as: self-centeredness; addiction to wealth, fame and social status; and ignorance, cowardice, cruelty, lust, waswas (doubt), malevolence, calumny, envy, deception, and greed. To overcome these spiritual weaknesses, al-Ghazali suggested the therapy of opposites ("use of imagination in pursuing the opposite"), such as ignorance & learning, or hate & love. He described the personality as an "integration of spiritual and bodily forces" and believed that "closeness to God is equivalent to normality whereas distance from God leads to abnormality."[8]

Al-Ghazali argued that human beings occupy a position "midway between animals and angels and his distinguishing quality is knowledge." He argues that a human can either rise to "the level of the angels with the help of knowledge" or fall to "the levels of animals by letting his anger and lust dominate him." He also argued that Ilm al-Batin (esotericism) is fard (incumbent) and advised Tazkiya Nafs (self-purification). He also noted that "good conduct can only develop from within and does not need total destruction of natural propensities."[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical dimensions of Islam (1975), p.191
  2. ^ Template:Cite book.
  3. ^ Frager, Robert (1999). Heart, Self and Soul. Quest Books. pp. 54–88. ISBN 0-8356-0778-X.  An imprint of the Theosophical Publishing House.
  4. ^ (Haque 2004, p. 366)
  5. ^ a b c (Haque 2004, p. 367)
  6. ^ Simon Kemp, K.T. Strongman, Anger theory and management: A historical analysis, The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 108, No. 3. (Autumn, 1995), pp. 397-417
  7. ^ (Haque 2004, pp. 367-8)
  8. ^ a b (Haque 2004, p. 368)

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