Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Supplement To the Article “The Quran and the Psychology of Human Behaviour – Nafs”

By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam 24 May 2022 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Understanding The Quran Has Very Little To Do With Mastery Of The Arabic Language As Should Be Apparent From This Discussion. As A Matter Of Fact, an Arab Reader Is Unlikely To Go Beyond the Dictionary Meanings and Look For the Nuances That the Quran Brings To Every Subject ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ This is a supplement to the article: The Quran and the Psychology of Human Behaviour - Nafs in which we have seen in detail, with the help of the Ayats on the subject, how the meaning corresponds closely with the modern concept of “cognitive self”. None of the older words such as soul, conscience, consciousness, self, inner-self, and innermost being is adequate by itself to describe it although collectively they may come close to describing it. Nafs could not have had such a meaning before the revelation of the Quran and we have not relied on the dictionary meaning of the word. We methodically derived its meaning from the Quran from the manner in which the word has been used in all the verses that contain the word. The Quran necessarily used a word from the vocabulary of the 7th century Arabic and gave it its own meaning which unsurprisingly is closest to the modern concept of “cognitive self” and not to any of the older words which are limited in their meaning and contain only a part of what Nafs means. We also have seen that Nafs al-Lawwama is that part of the Nafs that causes cognitive dissonance. The process of cognitive bias taking us on the path of greater guidance or misguidance is also contained in several verses but described in terms of what Allah does or as His unchanging laws of Human behaviour. Every cognitive process is described and contained in the Quran. This is another proof of the Quran’s ageless modernity despite the constraints of having had to use the vocabulary of 7th century Arabic. Nafs is not soul at all because as we have seen, the Nafs dies, and has no existence outside our living wakeful and conscious body. Why then has it been widely translated as soul? Because, there is no other word in the Quran, amenable to being translated as soul, and the believers in a soul seem to have been desperately seeking any word in the Quran that could be translated as soul. In common parlance, the word “Ruh” is used to mean soul, but the word Ruh although it appears in several verses of the Quran, it is impossible to force the meaning of soul on it even in a single verse. So, what does this mean? It means that the Quran does not support the concept of a soul and that we do not have a soul. Why have people believed in a soul then? Up to the 19th century, the theologians and the philosophers lacking in accurate knowledge of our world, struggled with several concepts, and argued without proof and even against what the scriptures say clearly. For example, all the theologians and the philosophers (those who believe in a life in the Hereafter) believed in an immortal soul. Since the body disintegrates, or a person may be burnt to ashes in an accident or cremated, they had difficulty accepting that we are resurrected in our body although the Quran says so categorically. Even many Muslim philosophers such as Avicenna and al-Farabi argued against bodily resurrection and believed in an immaterial soul. The soul was therefore what was left and required to live a life in the Hereafter and this must not die and therefore must be immaterial or spirit. It must also have all the characteristics that made us a unique person and the capacity to see, feel, think and remember without the body, the brain, the nervous system and the organs! What an impossibility and yet even the so-called rational philosophers believed in it! The Quran is categorical about resurrection in the body in complete detail right up to our fingertips or fingerprints. It categorically rejects the idea of a soul that survives our death or that it existed before our birth. We know now, how it is possible to resurrect without anything surviving our death using stored information which the Quran clearly says is done. We know how the physical body can be cloned. The genes in the egg fertilized by the sperm from our father have resulted in our conception and have given us our sex, form and body. The information is enough to recreate the body exactly as it was. What we made of ourselves in our lifetime is all recorded as the Quran informs us clearly. This information will be used to recreate our “Nafs” populate our memory and to create our old patterns of thinking. We will be recreated exactly as we were without doubt but this does not require an immortal “soul”. The modern man knows that if all his apps and data are backed up including the settings and preferences and the data in the RAM, a lost computer or Smartphone can be “recreated” by buying the same model and downloading all the backed-up apps and the data. It would then be the same as if you never lost it. The analogy for the resurrection is similar. All that is required is accurate information. This is in complete agreement with science as we know it today, except for the part about whether we will be resurrected, which is clearly outside the domain of science. To my knowledge, no one else has covered this subject in this manner. Understanding the Quran has very little to do with mastery of the Arabic language as should be apparent from this discussion. As a matter of fact, an Arab reader is unlikely to go beyond the dictionary meanings and look for the nuances that the Quran brings to every subject. This the Quran does by precisely and comprehensively defining every keyword it uses just as it has done with the word Nafs. Understanding the Quran has more to do with practising the discipline of methodically uncovering the precise meaning in the Quran of every keyword used by it. Knowledge of the language could be an advantage, disadvantage or of no consequence depending upon the reader. Only a person who relies very little on his knowledge of the Arabic language and relies more on methodically deriving the precise meaning the Quran is trying to convey will understand it better. ----- A frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com, Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He has spent years studying Quran in-depth and made seminal contributions to its interpretation. URL: https://newageislam.com/islam-science/quran-psychology-human-behaviour-nafs/d/127079 New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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