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Sufi psychology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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

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Sufism and

• Abdal
• Al-Insān al-
• Baqaa
• Dervish
• Dhawq
• Fakir
• Fanaa
• Haal
• Haqiqa
• Ihsan
• Irfan
• Ishq
• Keramat
• Kashf
• Lataif
• Manzil
• Marifa
• Nafs
• Nūr
• Abdal
• Al-Insān al-
• Baqaa
• Dervish
• Dhawq
• Fakir
• Fanaa
• Haal
• Haqiqa
• Ihsan
• Irfan
• Ishq
• Keramat
• Kashf
• Lataif
• Manzil
• Marifa
• Nafs
• Nūr
• Qalandar
• Qutb
• Silsila
• Sufi cosmology
• Sufi metaphysics
• Sufi philosophy
• Sufi poetry
• Sufi psychology
• Salik
• Tazkiah
• Wali
• Yaqeen
Sufi orders[show]
List of sufis[show]
Topics in Sufism
• v
• Yaqeen
Sufi orders[show]
List of sufis[show]
Topics in Sufism
• v
• t
• e

• 1 Overview
• 2 Nafs
• 3 Qalb
• 4 Ruh
• 5 Happiness in Sufism
• 6 Al-Ghazali
• 7 See also
• 8 References
• 9 Literature
• 10 External links

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. The spiritual body (soul) was
created in adult form of the living body.
At almost the same time in history, Nūrī saw in man four different aspects
of the heart, which he derived 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
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 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
"Nafs" (self or ego) 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.[2] 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.[3][4]
In Sufi psychology the heart 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. The qalb mediates between the
Nafs and spirit. Its task is control the nafs and direct the man toward the
The spirit ruh is in direct connection with the Divine, even if one is
unconscious of that connection. The spirit has seven levels or facets of the
complete spirit. 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 spirit is
holistic, and extends to all aspects of the person, i.e. the body, the mind and
the soul. Each level of the spirit 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.
Spirit is beyond the realm of creation. It is directly connected with Alam e
Lahoot(Unity of attributes and names) which is from Amr Allah (Command
of Allah), Therefore Spirit already knows everything including its own
Happiness in Sufism
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Sufism aspires towards developing a soft, feeling, compassionate heart.
Understanding through the ‘‘heart’s intelligence’’ is superior to
understanding through the intelligence of the head. Indeed, the intelligence
of the heart is the only instrument that can be used to discover the ultimate
truth.[5] To Sufis, reason is limited in many ways and cannot outgrow its
inherent limitations. In particular, when reason denies intuitive knowledge
and ‘‘blinds the eye of the heart’’, it becomes the target of strong criticism
from Sufism. This stands in stark contrast to the Aristotelian and
contemporary western emphasis on logical reasoning as the highest human
faculty, which should rule the whole personality. On this basis, happiness
cannot be achieved by reason and intellect, rather happiness is pursued via
intuition and mystical experience.[6] Another important concept in Sufism is
the ego (the self or the nafs). The ego is a part of our psyche that
consistently leads us off the spiritual path, a part of the self which
commands us to do evil. The ego can impede the actualization of the
spiritual potential of the heart if not controlled by the divine aspects of the
personality. To achieve authentic happiness, the ego should be actively
fought against throughout life.[7] The ultimate state of happiness for a Sufi
is the annihilation of the individual self. This state refers to the destruction
of the individual self to become one with the Divine Being.