Mawlay Muhammad ibn 'Arabi ad-Darqawi (q.s.) on the Ruh & the Nafs

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from the “Letters” of Mawlay Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad ibn al-‘Arabi ad-Darqawi (q.s.).

He wrote, “The ruh and the nafs are the same luminous thing from the world of light.  Allah Knows best, faqir, but it is not two different things even though it has two descriptions: purity and turbidity.  The root is purity and the branch is turbidity.  If were to you ask, ‘How is that?’ I would reply that as long as the ruh retains its purity, excellence, radiance, beauty, nobility, height and elevation, then only the name 'ruh' is true for it.  When it leaves its original purity, excellence, radiance, honour, height, and elevation, and becomes turbid by leaving its homeland and relying on other than its loved ones, then it is true to call it ‘nafs’.  We can designate it according to its low ranks – ‘commanding evil’, ‘reproachful’, and other names, and we can also designate it according to high ranks which are very numerous.  It is said that it has as many imperfections as Allah has Perfections.

My brother, if you wish to return to your homeland from which you came - and it is the world of purity - and to leave a foreign land behind - which is the world of turbidity - then act!  If you ask, ‘How shall I act?’ I reply, ‘Strip yourself of the world of impurity as a sheep is stripped of its skin.  Forget it, and do not remember it at all.’  Then, Allah Willing, your luminosity will grow stronger, the meanings will come to you with their immense, powerful, force armies.  They will carry you swiftly to your homeland.  However, test it.  The knowledge of the realities lies in the testing.

There is no doubt that Allah Knows the reality of the ruh since it has secrets which cannot be counted or enumerated as Allah said to His Prophet (s.a.w.), when the Jews asked about its reality.  He did not know, rather he could not know its reality.  When they wanted to question him about it, they said, ‘If he answers us, he is not a prophet.  If he does not answer us, then he is indeed a prophet.’  He did not answer them until Allah Taught him what to say to them.  There is no doubt that incapacity is the attribute of the servant.  Servanthood is nobility. Because of that, Allah Praises His Prophet with it when He Says in His Book:

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
‘Glory to (Allah) Who did Take His Servant for journey by night...’ (Surah al-Isra’:1)

He did not say, ‘His Prophet’ or ‘His Messenger’ or anything else.  He Chose the name ‘servant’ for him because nobility lies in servanthood.  It is said that the nafs has a secret and that that secret did not manifest itself to any of Allah’s Creation except for Pharaoh.  That is why he said, ‘I am your Lord Most High.’”


  1. I like your response. true scholars never search for fame.

  2. Thank you. The problem is seldom the scholars and more often the students claiming to speak for them. But like Rumi says, where will you find the sick but at the doctor?

  3. But my rejoinder would be - you always seem to blame the followers and not the leader, but I have yet to see the leaders forbid these adorations publicly. Hence my admiration of Sufism, but my distrust of Sufis.

  4. Tasawwuf is a bit strange to the initiated and even stranger to the unitiated. Those who claim to be Sufis aren't. I am not a Sufi, not even the rank of a mureed. I am merely a salik. I sit in the circle, I follow the path. If I talk about all I've seen or know, they would call me at best, crazy and at worst, a heretic.

    It is not the way of the Shuyukh to admonish the students in public. That would be unproductive to their development.


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