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Understanding the Ego Called Nafs Ammara, Nafs Al-Lawwama and Nafs Al-Mutmainna in Islamic Terminology

By Arman Neyazi, New Age Islam

 14 April 2021

Islamic Perspective of a Psychological State of Mind - Nafs Ammara, Nafs Al Lawwama and Nafs Al Mutmainna

 Main Points:

1. In Islamic terms, human mental psychology is called a science of Nafs, the ego.

2. Islam had described psychological mental illness in three categories -- Nafs al-Ammara Nafs Al Lawwama and Nafs Al Mutmainna are the conditions of the human ego.

3. An atmosphere of trust and mutual love and respect will have to be Created to Make the World Free of Mental Illness


Since time immemorial this science of mental psychology is under study. It has brought various definitions of human being’s thought processes and the reasons behind them. This study is not complete yet neither is there any such possibility, as new kinds of human behavioural attitudes keep coming to the fore complicating the findings of its study. The behaviour of the human mind takes different forms depending on the situation he dwells in or the situation of the dwelling he changes because of various reasons. Every community, every society and every nation has its kinds of behavioural aptitudes and attitudes. Hence, the minds of the individuals living in them depend on the prevailing situation in that vicinity.

The word ‘Nafs’ used in the holy Quran denotes ‘ego’. Ego or the Nafs is one of the most precarious conditions of mental illness of a man. It is the ego that controls our mental behaviour in the background. There are ego of an individual, ego of society, the ego of a community and ego of a nation. This is the ego that does not allow its masters to listen and understand others to be on the right path of justice.

Because Islam is a religion that means peace and the apostle on whom the Holy Quran is revealed is called ‘Rahmatul Lil Alameen’, (blessing for mankind) it takes ‘peace’ as the basic cure of all the ills prevalent in the society either in the shape of mental illness or a chaotic society. Islam thinks spiritualism is one of the most effective cure of all kinds of psychological disorders in the world, be it on an individual level or the societal level. Islam thinks being mentally healthy is the first step of making a healthy and peaceful society. Therefore it studied a man’s mental conditions and suggested the cure.

As the following Hadees narrated by Abu Huraira mentions that Allah has created the cure of every kind of illness in the world, there is a cure for the mental illness as well:

"There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, book # 71, Hadith 582,)

Centuries before the western psychologists started their study of the human mind, Islam had described the psychological mental illness in its Quranic language as:

Nafs al-Ammara

Nafs Al Lawwama   and

Nafs Al Mutmainna

إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ

 Indeed the nafs that overwhelmingly commands a person to do sin. (12:53)

وَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالنَّفْسِ اللَّوَّامَةِ

And I swear by the reproaching soul [to the certainty of resurrection]. (75:2)

يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ ارْجِعِي إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَرْضِيَّةً

 To the righteous it will be said “oh reassured soul, return to your Lord well pleased, and pleasing to Him” (89:27-28)

Nafs al-Ammara is the psychological state of a mind where it commands human being to fulfil their desires of whatever kinds it may be. It is a dominatingly commanding situation of mind where one becomes helpless but to act according to the commands of its mind. Nafs al-Ammara is such a dominating state of soul that a human being becomes powerless in front of its desires and acts remorselessly and blatantly to fulfil the commands of it master.

Nafs Al Lawwama is the state of mind or soul that rebukes for its own doing. That in Urdu is ملامت کرنا. This is that state of Nafs which sometimes may exhort a person to do sin but then it feels bad for itself and the level of its guilt consciousness reaches such a point that it ultimately decides to leave the wrongdoings and live a noble life. But this state of mind is not permanent ever. It is a self-fighting situation where there is no final solution.

Nafs Al Mutmainna is a state of soul where it is satisfied. Being content, مطمئن is it's characteristic. When one is content with whatever his life has given him, there is no question of any wrongdoing, hatred or jealousy, the root of all the misadventures of the world. In this state of mind, one always desires of being in the company of good people. In this state of mind, it becomes so disciplined that it does not get solace in anything but pleasing Allah Almighty.

To control its psychological behaviour Islam suggests worship that creates positive vibes all around and provides the serenity of mind and soul. If a man prays five times and goes to a mosque where he meets people and talks to them in love and respect, it will bring solace and peace in his mind and fitness in his body. The holy Quran describes it in the following verse:

ان الصلاة تنھی عن الفحشاءوالمنکر

Verily Prayer preventeth man from indecency and that which is disreputable. (Quran 29:45)

Namaz, Roza and Zakat are three religiously established cure of all kinds of mental health as these three acts bring us close to Allah and our soul finds solace and comfort and reason to be away from wrongdoings.

The following verse also describes how the remembrance of Allah creates peace in the hearts of the believers:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللّهِ أَلاَ بِذِكْرِ اللّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

...the ones who believe and their hearts are peaceful with the remembrance of Allah. Listen, the hearts find peace only in the remembrance of Allah. (Surah Ar-Ra'd - 13:28)- Mufti Taqi Usmani

To get rid of fear psychosis of any kind the Holy Quran says:

الا ان اولیاءالله لا خوف علیھم ولا ھم یحزنون

Unquestionably, [for] the allies of Allah there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve (Surah Yunus Verse 62) - Sahih International

As the above mentioned Hadees, ‘there is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment’ says Allah has given cure of all the kinds of mental and physical disease. As far as the mental disease of a person is concerned, surely, society is responsible for it. So, one is the reason will have to be a cure.  It is we the humankind who have become slaves of unjustified prejudices. It is we who are creating hatred and jealousy and the sense of being rich, poor, white, black and all other kinds of hallucinations of castes and creed which has resulted in sectarianism and groups.

To make the world healthy and peaceful we will have to create an atmosphere of trust and mutual love and respect.

And Allah knows the best.


Arman Neyazi is a columnist with


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