أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I swear by the Day of Resurrection, [1] and I swear by the self-reproaching conscience, (that Resurrection is a reality.) … 75:l-2). The negative particle la ‘nay’ prefixed to the oath in this context has no meaning. When the object of oath is to refute the false thought of an opponent, this redundant negative particle is used before oath. This usage is commonplace in Arabic idiom. Such usage is sometimes employed in our language [in Urdu] as well [as an answer to some objection or in repudiation of what is said before or] to emphasize an important subject. This Surah refutes and rebuts doubts about the possibility of the Resurrection by the rejecters. The Surah first swears an oath by the Resurrection, and then by the self-reproaching conscience. The complement or subject of oath is contextually understood – the Day of Resurrection is a reality and it shall come to pass. The object of oath in verse [I] is to affirm and emphasize the importance of the subject about which an oath is taken. In this instance, it is the Resurrection. In verse [2], the object of oath is to lay emphasis on the importance of self-reproaching conscience and its acceptability in the sight of Allah. The word nafs means ‘soul’ or ‘life’ and the word Lawwamah is derived from Lawm signifying ‘reproach or upbraid’. The phrase refers to the human conscience that upbraids him for doing bad deeds. It upbraids him not only for doing bad deeds, but also for doing good deeds – ‘why did you not do more good, and attain higher stages [of development]?’ In short, a perfect believer reproaches and upbraids himself all the time whether doing good or bad. His reproaching himself for bad deeds is quite understandable, but why should he reproach, blame or criticize himself for good deeds? He should try to reach for higher goals in life by doing better deeds. He upbraids himself for missing out on that score. This interpretation is reported from Sayyidna Ibn ‘Abbas RA and other leading authorities on Tafsir [Ibn Kathir and others]. 

On the same basis, Sayyidna Hasan al-Basri RA interpreted nafs lawwEmah as nafs mu’minah meaning, the ‘believing soul’ and said that ‘By Allah! A believer at all times upbraids his own self. It is obvious why he should reproach himself when he commits evil. He reproaches himself when he does good deeds as well, because he feels that he has not performed his duties of servitude and Divine worship adequately. He feels that he has not fulfilled and consummated his obligations of slave-hood perfectly. Therefore, he reproaches himself for his shortcomings in the performance of his duties and obligations.’

Interpretation of Lawwamah

Sayyidna Ibn ‘Abbas RA, Hasan al-Basri  RA and others have expressed the view that Allah has sworn an oath by the self-reproaching conscience in order to show honour for the believing souls who take account of their deeds, regret, and feel sorry for, their shortcomings and reproach themselves. 

Three kinds of Nafs

The foregoing interpretation of An-nafs-ul-Lawwamah embraces An-nafs-ul-mutmainnah. The two terms are titles of a God-fearing person.

In Sufi terminology, we come across the following concepts. The noble Sufis say that man in his nature goes through three stages of human development. The first stage is called] An-nafs-ul-ammarah ‘the self that tempts (to evil)’ as said by the Holy Qur’an: ‘…Surely, man’s inner self often incites to evil-[12:53] 

The second stage of development is called An-nafs-ul-lawwamah ‘the self that blames’ – translated above as ‘the self-reproaching conscience’.

The first stage is developed into the second stage when the traveler perform righteousness, and exerts himself in riyadah ‘ascetic discipline’ and mujahadah ‘spiritual struggle’. This Self is conscious of its own imperfections. It regrets its evils and shortcomings, but it is not completely cut off from the evils. The third and highest stage of development is called An-nafs-ul-mutma’innah ‘the self at peace’. This self develops into this stage when it progressively performs righteousness and attains Divine nearness and applies the sacred laws of Shari’ah so rigorously that Shari’ah becomes his nature and develops a natural hatred for anything contrary to Shari’ah. The title of the self at this stage is mutma’innah.

 -Maariful Qur’an, Volume 8, Surah Al Qiyamah:75, 651-653

1 Response to “The Honor of Nafsul Lawwamah (Reproaching Soul) and Types of Nafs”



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