اَلحَمدُلِلهِ رَبِ العَلَمِينَ ؕ وَالصَّلَوةُ وَ السَّلَامُ عَلَى سَيِـّـدِ المُرسَلِين
اَمَّا بَعدُ فَاَعُوذُ بِاللهِ مِنَ الشَّيطَنِ الرَّجِيمِ
بِسمِ اللهِ الرَّحمَنِ الرَّحِيم


السلام عليكم ورحمة الله تعالى وبركاته

Asalamu 3alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh







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Are the Nafs (soul) and the Rūḥ (spirit) the Same or Not ?




From the translation of the book

Sharḥ as-Ṣudūr bi Sharḥ Ḥāl al-Mawtā wa al-Qubūr

by Imam Jalāl ad-Dīn as-Suyūṭī,

may Allah have mercy on him


رحمه الله



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Al-Isra' 17:85




The Fourth:


What is correct is that the spirit (rūḥ) and the soul (nafs) are one entity. Allah the Exalted has said, “O soul at rest and at peace, return to your Lord” [al-Fajr 89:27-28] and there is his statement: “and forbade the soul its appetites” [an-Nāziʿāt 79:40]. And it is said that the soul emanates, i.e. it dies and comes out.




1360) Some of Muslim Orthodoxy (Ahl as-Sunnah) have stated that it is the spirit that is held (qabḍ) and not the soul. This is supported by what has been narrated by Ibn Abī Ḥātim on the authority of Ibn ʿAbbās regarding the Exalted’ statement: “Allah takes back people’s souls when their death arrives…” [az-Zumar 39:42] and the rest of the āyah; he said, ‘A soul and a spirit; between them is like the rays of the sun. Allah takes back the soul when someone is sleeping and He leaves the spirit inside, turning over and living. If Allah wants to take hold of it (qabḍ), He takes hold of the spirit and the person dies. If a person’s death has been written for a later time, He returns the soul to its place inside.




1361) Al-Muqātil has said, ‘Man has life, a spirit and a soul. When he sleeps, his soul, with which he comprehends things, comes out but does not separate itself from the body. Rather, it comes out like an extended rope that has beams. Thus, he sees dreams with the soul that has come out of him, while life and the spirit remain in the body. It is with these two that he turns over and breathes. If he is awoken, the soul returns to the body quicker than the blink of an eye. When Allah wants to make him die in his sleep, He holds onto that soul that has come out.’


He also said, ‘When he sleeps, his soul comes out and ascends. When it sees a dream, it goes back and informs the spirit, and the spirit informs the heart. Thus, he wakes up and he knows that he saw such-and-such and such-and-such.




1362) Abū ash-Sheikh has narrated in the book al-ʿUẓmah, as well as Ibn ʿAbdul Barr in at-Tamhīd from Wahb ibn Munabbih, who said, ‘Indeed man’s soul has been created like the souls of beasts, which are covetous and call to evil. Its abode is in the stomach. Man has been given preference through the spirit, which resides in the brain. With it man has shame, and he calls to goodness and commands it.’



Then Wahb blew on his hand and said, ‘You see this spirit’, and he rubbed his palms together. Then he said, ‘This is hot, and it is from the soul. The two of them are like a man and his wife. If the spirit runs to the soul and they meet, the person sleeps. When he wakes up, the spirit goes back to its place. You, when you’re sleeping and then wake up, it’s as if there is something rising to your head. The heart is like the king and the limbs are his assistants. If the soul commands to evil, it is covetous, and the limbs move. The spirit forbids them and calls them to goodness. If the heart is a believer, it obeys the spirit, and if it is insolent it obeys the soul and disobeys the spirit, and the limbs spring into action.’



1363) Ibn Saʿd has narrated in his Ṭabaqāt from Wahb ibn Munabbih, who said, ‘Allah created the son of Adam from earth (turāb) and water and then the soul was put therein. With it he stands and sits, hears and sees, knows what beasts know and is wary of what they are wary of. Then He placed the spirit therein, and with it he knows truth from falsehood and guidance from misguidance. With it he is cautious, he progresses and he conceals himself, and he learns and reflects on all matters.’



1364) Ibn ʿAbdul Barr has said in at-Tamhīd, ‘Abū Isḥāq Muḥammad ibn al-Qāsim ibn Shaʿbān has mentioned that ʿAbdur Raḥmān ibn al-Qāsim ibn Khālid, the companion of Mālik, said, “The soul is an embodied mass, like the creation of man, while the spirit is like flowing water.” He used as proof the Exalted’s statement: “Allah takes back people’s souls…” [az-Zumar 39:42] and the rest of the āyah, and he said, “Do you not see that Allah takes back the sleeping person’s soul, while the spirit ascends and descends, and he is still breathing, and the soul roams freely in every valley and you see the dreams that it sees? If Allah allows for it to be returned to the body, it returns, and with its return all the parts of the body wake up.” He said, “The soul is not the spirit. The spirit is like water flowing in gardens. If Allah wants to destroy that garden, He prevents water from flowing into it, and thus its life dies. The same goes for man.”



Abū Isḥāq said, “ʿUbayd Allah ibn Abī Jaʿfar said, ‘When the deceased is being carried on the bier, his soul is in the angel’s hand, travelling with it alongside him. When he has been laid down in order to be prayed over, it[1] stops. When he is being carried to his grave, it goes with him. When he has been put in his grave and the earth has been put over him, Allah returns the soul so that the two angels can address him. When the two of them have turned away from him, he removes the soul and throws it wherever he is commanded. This angel is one of the Angel of Death’s assistants.’”’


1365) Ash-Sheikh ʿIzz ad-Dīn ibn ʿAbdissalām has said, ‘In every body there are two spirits, one of them is the spirit of the wakefulness, which Allah has made it the norm to be that if it is in the body the person is awake. If it leaves the body, the person sleeps. It is this spirit that sees dreams. The other is the spirit of life, and Allah has made it the norm that if it is in the body, the person is asleep. If it separates from the body, the person dies. When it is returned to the person, he comes back to life. These two spirits are inside man, and no one knows their exact dwelling except whomever Allah discloses it to. Thus, they are like two embryos in the womb of one woman. One of the theologians has said, “What is clear is that the spirit is close to the heart.”’




Ibn ʿAbdissalām said, ‘It is not remote, in my view, that the spirit be inside the heart.’ He said, ‘And it is possible that all the spirits are luminous, delicate and diaphanous, and it is possible that this applies exclusively to the spirits of the believers and the angels and not the spirits of the disbelievers and devils. The proof for the spirit of life is the Exalted’s statement, “Say: ‘The Angel of Death, who has been given charge of you, will take you back…” [as-Sajdah 32:11] and the rest of the āyah, while the proof for the two spirits of life and wakefulness is the Exalted’s statement, “Allah takes back people’s souls…” [az-Zumar 39:42] and the rest of the āyah. The implication is that He takes back the souls of those whose bodies have not died in their sleep, and He holds onto the souls whose death has been decreed at that point. He doesn’t send them back to their bodies. He sends the other souls, which are the souls of wakefulness, back to their bodies until their appointed time has come, which is the appointed time of death, at which point both the spirits of life and the spirits of wakefulness are taken from the bodies and held onto. The spirits of life do not die. Rather, they are made to ascend into the sky alive. The spirits of the disbelievers are rejected and the doors of the sky are not opened for them. The doors of the skies are opened for the spirits of the believers until they are shown to the Lord of all Creation, and what an honourable showing it is for them!’ This is the end of ash-Sheikh ʿIzz ad-Dīn’s speech.




I say: What he has mentioned about the spirit being in the heart has been decisively affirmed by al-Ghazālī in his book al-Intiṣār, and I have a ḥadīth that supports this: Ibn ʿAsākir has narrated in his Tārīkh from az-Zuhrī that Khuzaymah ibn Ḥakīm as-Sulamī, then al-Bahzī, approached the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, on the day of the Opening of Makkah and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, tell me about the darkness of the night and the light of the day, the heat of water in the winter and its coldness in winter, and the outlet of the clouds, and about the dwelling of the man’s water[2] and the woman’s water, and about the place of the soul in the body…’ and he quoted the rest of the ḥadīth up until where he said, ‘The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, {As for the place of the soul, it is in the heart, and the heart is attached to the aorta, and the aorta feeds the veins. If the heart dies, the veins are cut off…}’, and the rest of the ḥadīth, and this is mursal. It has other paths that are both mursal and connected (mawṣūl) in al-Muʿjam al-Wasīṭ by at-Ṭabarānī, Tafsīr Ibn Mardawayh, the book as-Ṣaḥābah by Abū Mūsā al-Madīnī, and Ibn Shāhīn. Al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar said in al-Iṣābah: ‘The ḥadīth therein is very much uncommon (gharīb)[3] and its chain of transmission is very weak.’







[1] (tn): i.e. the angel


[2] (tn): i.e. semen

[3] (tn): i.e. it only has one narrator at several levels in the chain of transmission





[Translated from p.564 to 567 (Jeddah: Dār al-Minhāj, 1432/2011) as well as p.277-280 (Beirut: Muʾassasah al-Kutub ath-Thaqāfiyyah, n.d., 1st ed.)]





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wa Asalamu 3alaykoum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh




Subhanak Allahumma wa bi hamdik. Ashhadu al-la ilaha illa ant. Astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk


اللهمَّ صَلِّ عَلى سَيِّدِنا مُحَمَّدٍ و عَلى آلِهِ و صَحبِهِ و سَلِّم
Allâhumma salli 'alâ Sayyidinâ Muhammadin wa 'alâ âlihi wa sahbihi wa sallim.



وسُبْحَانَ رَبِّكَ رَبِّ الْعِزَّةِ عَمَّا يَصِفُونَ وَ سَلامٌ عَلَى الْمُرْسَلِينَ وَالْحَمْدُ لِللهِ رَبِّ الْعَلَمِينَ

wa subḥāna rabbika rabbi l-ʿizzati ʿammā yaṣifūn wa-salāmun ʿalā l-mursalīn wa-l-ḥamdu li-llāhi rabbi l-ʿālamīn