Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Marvels of the Heart: Chapter 1

Title: An exposition on the meaning of the Soul, Spirit, Heart and Intellect and what is intended by these names.

·         Nafs – Soul

·         Ruh – Spirit

·         Qalb – Heart

·         Akl – Intellect/mind

All of the words listed above have two meanings; a higher and a lower meaning.1 There is something outwardly related and something inwardly related to them. In their Higher meaning they all have a similar aspect, they coincide with one another.

The Qalb (Heart):

Lower meaning: The fleshy organ on the left side of the chest

Higher meaning: The Spiritual Centre

The Ruh (Spirit):

Lower meaning: the “energy” that circulates the blood around the body

Higher meaning: this coincides with the higher meaning of the heart – it is a “mystery” beyond the comprehension of Man.

The Nafs (Soul):

Lower meaning: this is something that is driven by the physical forces such as appetite, aggression, pleasure seeking, pain avoidance

Higher aspect: No different to the Higher aspect of the Heart and the Spirit where they coincide, it is termed The Serene Soul.

The Akl (Intellect)

Lower meaning: the faculty that processes the information from the sensory apparatus, organises this information, selects the relevant parts and then precedes

Higher meaning: “Inspired intellect” the recipient of knowledge from higher worlds

(so in the lower form, it relates to knowledge itself and in the higher form it relates to the Knower himself)2

Imaam Al-Ghazzali says:  They all have meanings specific to them, but then they also all share a meaning inwardly.2
(Note: that all the lower meanings are as they are in the Dunya, and all the higher meanings are something on a spiritual level, something in the next world, something that is much of a mystery as we cannot comprehend it as such but still we must strive towards it.)

To be continued...The next chapter is really interesting, it explains the role of each Nafs, Ruh, Qalb and Akl within the “Kingdom” the body.

1 “Man and the Universe” a book written by Dr Mustafa Badawi – taken from Imaam Al-Ghazzali’s Marvels of the heart.

2 The Religious Psychology of Al-Ghazzali: A translation of his book of the Ihya on the Explanation of the Wonders of the Heart with introduction and notes. Skellie, Walter James (1899), 77-32, 719


  1. Asalaam Alaikum sis, you have an award over on my blog

  2. This is very interesting - I can now put meaning on those words which sounded strange before that. Thank you.