NAFS (self) AND RUH (soul or spirit)
Man God has created as vicegerent is made of two basic elements; namely of a body and a soul. Our personality comprises such elements as character, intelligence, feeling, will, etc. Personality consists of a self and a soul. These two opposing entities contribute to our elevation to lofty heights or to descent to bottomless chasms. Nafs implies the evil, rebellious and devilish side of personality. It comprises the entirety of our bodily desires and passions. Falsehood, cruelty, pride, concupiscence, anger, hatred, stinginess etc. are some of the manifestations of nafs. It is the origin of all misdeeds, disbelief, ingratitude and overbearing pride. It ends up recognizing the sovereignty of God to whom it returns. It is the symbol of the negative pole in the creation and manifestation of God's wrathful aspect. Ruh is the divine power that God projects on man and infuses life in him; it is the immaterial essence or substance, animating principle, or actuating cause of life or of the individual life; it is the psychical or spiritual principle in general shared by or embodied in individual human beings or all beings having a rational and spiritual nature. It functions in conjunction with nafs. It is the symbol of the positive pole of creation and manifestation of God's compassionate aspect.
THE MYSTERY OF NAFS AND RUH
It was We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein. (50/16)
… the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil … (12/53)
They ask thee concerning the Spirit (of inspiration). Say: "The Spirit (cometh) by command of my Lord: of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you, (O men!)" (17/85)
Anxiety caused by Nafs generates unfounded suspicions and doubts. These canker the individual and lead him to commit ill acts; they make him to deify the transitional gifts offered to man; they render him arrogant, haughty, covetous, etc. Nafs becomes the slave of bodily wants which it tries to assuage them. The types of personality enslaved by their nafs(es) like Nimrod, the Pharoah, Abu Jahil, etc are embodied symbols of the evil side of man. Individualism and selfishness are their distinctive character. Nafs falls in the pitfall of self-deification. It negates the unity of the One and Only, of the Eternal and the Absolute and the fact that there is none like unto Him. Nevertheless, nafs is of a protean character. It may return to his Creator any moment.
The verse stresses the fact that “God is nearer to him than his jugular vein”. The fact that He infused into him from his own spirit is one of the mysteries included in the above verse. Having its origin in the godhead, it is immortal.
The ruh may enslave the nafs, and vice versa. Should the former be the case the individual will go to the gardens of bliss, and to Hell if the contrary is true. It should be noted that nafs develops through ordeals, while the ruh is not subject to change, it remains intact in its original form.
RUH (soul, spirit)