Our Nafs

We are not just “animals.”

The fact that the soul can be inclined towards good or evil is a testament to how human beings are a unique creation and cannot be studied as animals.

In essence, the human being is inclined towards good or evil regardless of the physical outcome in that we can commit a good or evil act even after having full knowledge that it will physically harm us.

For example, a person sees a stranger in danger and defends them by putting their life on the line (this is an inclination towards good). Or a human being fasts, purposefully leaving food and drink. Similarly, a person may be aware that doing drugs is harmful, but they engage in this and harm themselves physically.

On the other hand, animals rarely behave based on the good or evil of something but rather primarily due to the physical harm or benefit associated with their actions.

There is something unique about the nafs of the human being-it demonstrates that this creation is different.

We have a level of abstract thinking where we can determine what is right or wrong. We can read traffic patterns and change our route or we have certain intuitions if we feel someone is going to harm us.

To believe in Allah (swt) we don’t need an angel to descend down with the Qur’an and recite it to us. Allah (swt) has shown us signs within the creation, within ourselves and implanted fitra to recognize these things.

Author

Dr. Syed ibn Iqbal

Born and raised between the heart of the Canadian Prairies and the Rocky Mountains, Dr. Syed ibn Iqbal’s primary passion in life has been to uplift and enhance himself and the people around him through the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Holding a Doctor of Medical Dentistry along with a BSc. in Biological Sciences and Chemistry, Dr. Syed seeks to bring excellence and care to not only his profession, but also to Islamic outreach initiatives and Positive Activism. His extensive experience and expertise have allowed him to contribute towards community development and enhancement. Having almost 20 years experience with Islamic education and outreach at both the community and institutional level, Dr. Syed continues to build upon this and explore new and engaging ways of sharing the message of Islam.

Dr. Syed is an instructor and frequent guest lecturer for a number of schools, mosques churches, university, and other not for profit organizations. Dr. Syed primarily specializes in leadership training, youth development, life coaching, mentorship, community development and youth empowerment. He has developed several courses and lecture series that cover various topics. These include a three-day workshop focused on Effective and Informative Engagement of Muslims Living as Minorities, The Path to Success: A Leadership and Development course, Road to Redemption: A course on self-improvement through the Islamic concept of Repentance, Heroes: Creating a positive identity through Islamic History and many more. His speaking engagements include lectures and sermons delivered in Islamic Centres and Mosques throughout North America.

In addition to presentations delivered in Islamic institutions, he has accepted invitations to engage in meaningful discussions, information and educate our fellow Canadians about Islam in Universities, colleges, high schools, hospitals and other institutions. Dr.Syed has authored several Islamic publications for University campuses across Western Canada and continues to develop new material to bring accurate information about Islam and Muslims to the broader community. He has written on the topics of Islamic monotheism, the Muslim belief system and purpose, an introduction to islam, women rights and gender equality in Islam, Islamophobia, Islamic history and other interfaith topics and issues to mention a few.

Dr. Syed has served as Muslim Chaplain at the University of Saskatchewan and has held this position for the past 11 years. Prior to being Muslim Chaplain, he had also been actively involved in the Muslim Students Association for several years in both the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta. He volunteered for these MSAs in a variety of capacities including the role of MSA President.

Dr. Syed considers himself a perpetual student of knowledge and has a long and dynamic history in studying Islam. He has taken courses and completed summer programs from Islamic University of Al-Azhar (Bekaa, Lebanon), Al- Madinah International University and Knowledge International University. Furthermore, he has studied key subjects under highly qualified and respected Scholars. Examples include: Fiqh (Jurisprudence) of Muslim Minorities with Sh.Abdullah bin Bayyah (Mauritania), Usul al Fiqh (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence) with Sh.Muhammad Iqbal Al Nadvi (India), Aqeedah (Islamic Creed) with Sh. Ali Bin Abdur Rahman al Huthaify (Imam Masjid An Nabawi Saudi Arabia) and many other great scholars worldwide. He has been given Ijaza (Islamic authority) on various collections of Hadith (Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)). Examples include Arba’een Anawawi and various hadith from the Saheeh Sitta. He continues to expand his horizons and seek knowledge in all forms and across several domains.

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