Presented at the 11th Regional Leadership Training
Program held in Hungary 21 July - 21 August by Prof Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
THE NATURALSTATE, fitrat
Fitrat is the basic and ideal
Fitrat can be degraded
Nature vs nurture
Knowledge of good
Innate human weaknesses
Changing of fitrat
THE ESSENCE: NAFS
Definition of nafs
Levels and types
Signs of Allah in
Secrets of the nafs
of the nafs
of the nafs
Changes of the nafs
THE ESSENCE: QALB
Location of qalb
Qalb and iman:
Qalb and human emotions
Qalb and sensation
Qalb and intellect
Qalb and responsibility
Qalb and guidance
of the qalb
of the qalb
Diseases of the
Changes of the qalb
THE ESSENCE: RUH
Ruh in the Qur'an
Nafs or ruh is the permanent essence
of a human
Human behavior and
RELATION WITH THE
UNSEEN, ‘alaqat al insan bi ‘aalam al ghaib
of human civilization
Belief and awareness
of the unseen:
Angels and jinn
of the future
of the past
ATTRIBUTES of the
HUMAN, sifaat al insan
The positive and
Limitations of the
human, ajz al insan
Positive human attributes
Negative human attributes
THE NATURALSTATE, fitrat
Fitrat is the basic
and ideal: Allah the creator created humans in the state of fitra. This is the
best state both biologically, morally, socially, and psychologically. Iman is the
state of fitra (30:30). Humans believe in the oneness of Allah as part of fitrat
(p 699 6:63, 7:172-173, 10;22, , 29:65, 31:32, 39:8, 41:51). Unbelief, kufr, is a denial
of fitrat. If humans keep to this state of fitrat,
they will be happy and prosperous.
Fitrat can be degraded
by human behavior. Humans unlike other living things were given an intellect and a free-will that enables them to change their
environment and themselves to a certain extent. They sometimes make major mistakes that end up distorting the fitrat biologically, morally, and in terms of aqidat.
Nature vs nurture: the debate about the relative impact of nature and nurture on humans
has been long and no generation has been able to resolve the issue conclusively. The nearest to the truth is to assert that
both play a role in human action and behavior. The relative role of each varies according to what parameters are being measured
Knowledge of good and bad: The basic human fitrat enables humans to know bad from good
in most cases without the need for revelation, wahy. Revelation and human experience
only reinforce what is known innately.
Innate human weaknesses: Humans have innate weaknesses in the fitrat. It is one of the
secrets of Allah (SWT) that although humans are the best creation, they have innate weaknesses in them. These weaknesses exist
alongside the potential and strength to overcome them. It is therefore a challenge to the human to use the limited free-will
they have to make the right choices such that the strengths and the good predominate over the weaknesses and the bad.
Changing of fitrat: There is controversy whether fitrat
should always be preserved as is or can be changed. In terms of biology there are many changes that occur in humans as a result
of therapeutic medical procedures. There are also changes in the basic anatomy and physiology that humans, thanks to modern
bio-technology, can make for cosmetic or other reasons. These issues are still being discussed by scholars and no easy answer
is available. In terms of basic psychology, drives, and emotions, the natural state of fitrat is always the ideal. Any changes
tend to be to the bad.
THE ESSENCE: NAFS, QALB, RUH
Definition of nafs: The essence of the human is the nafs.
The words qalb and ruh are also used
to mean nafs. The exact nature of the nafs, ruh, or qalb is in Allah’s knowledge.
Humans were given limited knowledge and understanding which is all in the holy Qur’an.
One origin: All humans were created from one single origin, khalq al bashar min nafs wahida (p 1255 4:1, 6:98, 7:189, 39:6). This means that there are shared characteristics
among all humans.
Levels and types of nafs: The nafs has three levels (maratib al nafs): nafs ammara, (),nafs lawamat (75:2), and nafs
mutmainnat (89:27). Other types of nafs described by the Qur'an are: nafs radhiyat
(89:27-28), nafs mardhiyyat (89:27-28). The nafs has also been described as having
a choice having been guided to the two highways, al najdayn, the good and the bad
Signs of Allah in the nafs: There are many signs
of Allah in the nafs, ayat Allah fi al nafs).
Secrets of the nafs: Allah put a lot of secrets in the
nafs, asrar al nafs ; the Qur’an has told us about some of them and many
are not known. Ther nafs is also the seat of human secrets (p 1250 2:235, 2:284,
3:154, , 12:77, 33:37, 58:8).
Positive attributes of the nafs: The Qur’an has described
positive attributes of the nafs: ithaar al nafs (p 1250 59:9), iman al nafs (p 1250 6:158, 10:100),, taqwa al nafs (p 1253 91:7-8),
khauf al nafs, surrender for the sake of Allah, istislam al nafs li al llaah(p
1252-3 2:207, 9:111), sabr al nafs (p 1255 ).
Negative attributes of the nafs: The Qur’an
has also described the negative attributes of the nafs: israaf al nafs (39:53),, tafriit al nafs (p 1253 39:56), jidaal al nafs (p 1253 16:111), hasad al nafs (p 1254 2:109), shuhhu al nafs (p 1255 4:128, 59:5, 64:16),
shahwat al nafs (p1255 21:102, 41:31, 43:71), dhiiq al nafs (p 1255 9:118,
18:6, 26:3, 35:8), dhulm al nafs (p 1256 2:54, 2:57, 2:231,3:117, 3:135, 4:64, 4:97, 4:110, 7:23, 7:160, 7:177, 9:36, 9:70, 10:44, 10:54, 11:101, 14:45, 16:28, 16:33,
16:118, 18:35, 27:44, 28:16, 29:40, 30:9, 34:19, 35:32, 37:11, 65:1), ‘ujb al
nafs (p 1256 4:49), fitnat al nafs
(p 1257 57:14), fujuur al nafs (p
Changes of the nafs: The nafs can undergo changes, taghyiir ma bi al nafs (p 1253 , ). The nafs can be deceived, khidau al nafs (p 1254 2:9),
it can be a victim of treachery, khiyanat al nafs (p 1255 2:187, 4:107). It also
can have positive influences on it such as hidayat. The nafs can undertake actions to improve or strengthen itself: bai’u
al nafs li llah (p 1252-3 2:207, 9:111), tazkiyat al nafs (p 233-4 2:151,2:129, 2:151, 2:232, 3:164, 4:49, 9:103, 18:74, 19:19, 20:75-76, 24:21, 24:28, 24:30,
35:18, 62:2, 79:18, 80:3, 80:7, 87:14, 91:7-9,92:18), takliif al nafs (p 1253 2:233, 2:276, 4:84, 6:152, 7:42, 23:62, 65:7, 85:7),,
tawbat al nafs (p 1252 2:54, 4:64), and hifdh al nafs (p 1254 86:4),
Location of qalb: The Qur’an has used the word qalb in various ways. Most of the time it is
synonymous with nafs but there are situations when it is not. It is wrong to translate qalb to mean the anatomical heart that
is in the thorax. The qalb is situated in the thorax,al qalb fi al sadr(p
33:4) but its exact nature is not fully known to humans and perhaps they do not need to know.
Qalb and iman: Qalb is the seat of iman, al qalb
markaz al iman(p 961 5:41, 16:22, 16:106, 22:54, 39:45, 49:7, 49:14, 58:22
&p 962 2:93 .. 48:26). In the absence of iman the qalb is the seat of kufr,
al qalb markaz al kufr (p 962 2:93, 16:106, 48:26).
Qalb and human emotions: The qalb is the seat of many positive human emotions like: ulfat (p 959 , 8:63, 9:60), ra'afat (p. 959 57:27), rahmat (p. 959 3:159, 57:27). It is also the seat of negative
human emotions like: fear, khawf (p 959 3:151, 8:2, 8:12, 23:60, 28:100, 33:10,
33:26, 40:18, 59:2, 59:13), riibat (p. 959 9:45, 9:110),zaigh (p. 959 3:7),
ghaldhat (p. 959 3;159), tanafur (p 959 59:14), hasrat (p 959 3:156).
Qalb and sensation: Qalb has been described related to human physiological sensation, al qalb wa al hawaas p 962 2:7, 6:46, 6:110, 7:10, 16:78, 16:108, 17:36, 17:46, 18:57,
23:78, 45:2, 46:26, 50:37). Thus sight () and hearing () are related directly to the qalb.
Qalb and intellect: Qalb is also related to higher functions like knowledge, al qalb wa al ilm (p 962 2:97, 2:118, 9:93, 16:78, 26:192-195, 29:49, 30:59, 47:24), intellect, al qalb wa al ‘aql (p 962 22:6), understanding, al qalb wa al fiqh(p 963 7:179, 9:87, 9:127, 17:46, 18:57, 63:3).
Qalb and responsibility: Human responsibility and accountability are in the heart, al qalb qa al mas’uliyyat (p 963 2:225, 2:283, , 33:5).
Qalb and guidance: The qalb can be rightly guided, hidayat
al qalb (p 962 64:11) or otherwise.
Positive attributes of the qalb: The qalb has been associated with positive attributes:
ru’yat al qalb (p 960 53:11-12), shafau
al qalb (p 960 10:57), salamat al qalb (p 960 26:89, 83:41), qalb muniib (P 960 50:33), taharat al qalb(P 961 5:41, 33:53), taqwa al qalb (p 957 22:32, 49:3), khushu al qalb (p 957 57:16), tama’ininat al qalb (p 957 2:260, 8:10-11, 11:120, 13:28, 18:14, 2:32, 28:10,
48:4, 48:18), liin al qalb (p 958 3:159, 39:23), inshiraah al qalb (p 957 6:125, 6:125, 20:25, 39:22-23, 94:1).
Negative attributes of the qalb: The qalb has also been associated with negative attributes:
dhann al qalb bi al asayi (p 960 48:12),
lahwat al qalb (21:3), tanafur al qulub (p 959 59:14), hasrat al qulub (p 959 3:156), riibat al qalb (p 259 9:45, 9:110), zaygh al qalb (p 9593:7), ghaltat al qalb (p 959 3:159), dhiq al qalb (p 957 4:90, 39:45), qaswat al qalb (p. ? 2:74, 5:13, 6:43, 22:53, 39:22, 57:16), waswasat al qalb (p 958 44:5).
Diseases of the qalb: The qalb has been described as the seat of diseases of a moral nature,
amradh al qalb p 958 2:10, 5:52, 8:49, 22:53, 24:50, 33:12, 33:60, 47:20, 74:31
such as lahw (p 958 21:3), ghaflah (p
958 18:28), ghill ( p 958 7:43, 15:47, 59:10)
, ghaidh (p 958 3:118-119), ma’siyat (), kibr (p 958 40:35, 40:56), nifaq,(p
958 2:8-10, 2:204, 3:167, 5:41, 9:8, 9:64, 9:75-77, 48:11).
Changes of the qalb: The qalb can be influenced or changed. This can be from human action
or sometimes divine intervention from Allah (SWT). Such as hijaab al qalb (p 960
6:25, 17:46, 18:57, 41:5), al tabau ala al qalb (p 960 2:7, 2:88, 4:155, 6:46,
7:100-101, 9:87, 9:93, 10:74, 16:108, 17:46, 18:57, 23:63, 30:59, 40:35, 42:24, 4:23, 47:16, 47:24, 63:3, 83:41), al kitabat fi al qalb, () , ghilaaq al qalb ().
Ruh in the Qur'an: The term ruh has been mentioned in the Qur'an in various verses (p 515-516 4:171,
16:2, 17:85, 21:91, 32:9, 38:72, 66:12, 97:4). The word ruh conveys all the meanings of nafs
and qalb described above. The Qur’an specifically informed us that human
knowledge or understanding of the ruh is limited. It is eternal having been created before appearance of the human in a physical
form and will outlive the human phase of the human’s existence, khuluud al ruh
(). It makes the difference between a human and a non-human.
The Qur’an teaches that in the course of ermbryological development Allah inspires the ruh into the fetus, nafkh al ruh wa bidayat al hayat (), thus turning it
morally and legally into a human being. End of the earthy life is signified by death of the body, nihayat al jasad () but the ruh continues.
Nafs or ruh is the permanent essence of a human: The non-material part of the human is the nafs or the ruh. It is the essence and the most important. It is the
source of identity for each individual human. It is permenent existing before and after the end of the physical part of the
Temporary physical form:The physical form of the human body is temporary in two ways. The
cells of the body change every day thus the actual atoms and molecules that were in the body a month ago are not the same
as those today because new cells are continuously being formed from the food eaten. In another sense when a human dies the
material body becomes one of the elements of the earth when it is buried in the soil.
Duality: The uniqueness of the human lies in the duality of matter and ruh. Both are needed
for a complete human to exist. The physical part of the human is from the elements of the earth, turab. The material part of the human is referred to by the Qur’an as the living body, jism al insan (p 278 2:247, 63:4) or the dead body,jasad al insan (p 278 7:148, 20:88, 21:8, 38:34). The nafs is
not physical but exists in a physical body. Thus a human is both nafs and physical, ruh and matter.
Human behavior and duality: Human behavior is a reflection of the dual nature. The ruh
and nafs have overriding control. If they are good the person is good. If they are bad, the person is bad. The physical part
of the human through the hormonal system is also responsible for some types of behavior.
RELATION WITH THE UNSEEN, ‘alaqat al insan
bi ‘aalam al ghaib
Emprical basis of human civilization: The human lives and functions in the empirical world
of the seen, aalam al shahadat. All human actions are confined to what is empirical.
The human must study and discover the laws of the empirical world, sunan al laahi fi al kawn, and manipulate them for the
good of all humanity.
Belief and awareness of the unseen: The human must be aware that there is a world of the
unseen, alam al ghaib, around. He must believe in power and phenomena beyond his empirical grasp. Good fitrat leads to belief
in the unseen because there are so many phenomena in human life that can not be explained easily in the empirical sense. Humans
have only one method of interacting with the unseen that are agreed on by all and that is through the revelations in the Qur’an.
Apart from that the human has no contact or dealings with the unseen.
Angels and jinn: Angels, malaika, and jinns are part of the world of the unseen. There
can be no active interaction initiated by humans with these creatures of the unseen world. The angels on the orders of Allah
do interfere in many human affairs but there is no way for humans to know or even understand this interference. The jinn may
also have lkimited interference in human affairs. Humans should know that the angels are around and are acting on humans in
various ways but this is one-way from angels to humans and not vice versa.
Prophets: Prophets being human had the same relationship to the unseen world like other
humans with a few exceptions that the Qur;an listed for all prophets. These were exceptions in space and time. Prophets could
interact with angels in the process of revelation (). Some prophets
spoke with Allah (). Some prophets had interactions with and control
over the jinn ().
Astrologers: The prophet taught that astrologers and all those who pretend to know the
unseen future are liars. Human knowledge and understanding are confined to the empirical present unless they get knowledge
about the past and future from revelation.
Scientific prediction of the future: is not considered human intrusion into the world of
the unseen. This is because any predictions are made with the full knowledge that they are not perfect and often they are
imperfect. They are based on studying trends and patterns of the empirical present. They are thus part of empirical observation.
Scientific reconstruction of the past: The work of astrologers and other scientists is
not considered an intrusion into the past which is part of the unseen world. This is because such reconstructions and interpretations
depend on what humans can empirically observe today. There is no claim of possessing any extra knowledge or power.
Allahs' omnipresence: Allah the almighty is watching and knows all what the human is doing
and nothing can be hidden from Him, ihatat llah bi al al iinsaan.
ATTRIBUTES of the HUMAN, sifaat al insan
The positive and the negative: It is one of the secrets of Allah’s creation that
a human the highest creation has positive and honorable attributes, sifaat hamidat,
associated with good, hasan & khair. The human at the same time has negative
attributes, sifaat dhamimat, associated with bad,, sharr. This duality however does not contradict the fact that the human can reach the pinnacle of perfection,
al insan al kamil, who has honor and dignity, karamat
al insan. The weaknesses of the human are innate. They can be corrected, mitigated, or even turned round into strengths.
Despite the potential for doing bad out of weaknesses,Allah gave humans the
responsibility of vicegerancy on earth, isikhlaf al insan. This is in recognition
of the preponmderance of the good in them. Standing out and being good despite existence of the negative in the human makes
human achievements all the more spectacular.
Limitations of the human, ajz al insan: The
human whatever strengths he may have has to realise that he has limits beyond which he can not perform
Positive human attributes: Humans have been described in a positive light by the Qur'an
as: al insaan al shaakir (), al isan murid al duniy wa al akhirat (), , an insan al mumin ().
Human intelligence: The most important attribute of humans is intelligence. Humans have
a more developed intellect than other creations. Their brain has a bigger surface area in relation to weight compared to all
other living things. It is more sophisticated and more specialised. Humans differ in the way they use their intelligence.
Some are able to undertake difficult tasks involving abstract thinking and problem-solving whereas others can not or can do
so at varying degrees. The Qur'an has described 4 levels of understanding: qalb or fuad (), albaab (p 170 2:179, 2:197, 2:269, 3:7, 3:190-194, 5:100, 12:111, 13:19-24,
14:52, 38:29, 38:43, 39:9, 39:17-18, 39:21, 40:54, 65:10),and jibala (p 269 26:183).
Human aggression: Human aggression is a constant characteristic and sometimes leads to
destruction. Aggression can be against the self, other humans or the eco-system. Aggression is the final pathway for many
of humans weaknesses mentioned above. The first recorded act of human aggression was homicide committed by one of Adam’s
sons because of jealousy. Humans even when seeking recreation have a tendency to sports like boxing, wrestling and others
that allow expression of the inner tension or aggression.
KEY WORDS: jasad, ruh, qalb, nafs,
1. Describe in your own words what you understand by fitrat
2. Describe in your own words what you understand by nafs
3. Describe in your own words what you understand by qalb
4. Describe in your own words what you understand by ruh
5. Describe in your own words what you understand by duality in humans
6. Select 5 of the positive human attributes discussed above and give examples
7. Select 5 of the negative human attributes discussed above and give