Conscience

Posted on 03/22/2012 by marina

Wikis > Dictionary of Islam > Conscience

CONSCIENCE. There is no word in the Qur’an which exactly expresses the Christian conception of conscience. The word nafsنفس , which, according to Arabic lexicons, expresses very much the same idea as the Hebrew hephesh, “life, aninial spirit, breath” (Job xii. 21), seems to be used In the Qur’an to convey the meaning of conscience, although English translators render it “soul.” Muslim theologians say there are four kinds of consciences spoken of in the Qnr’an: (1) Nafs lawwamah, the “self-accusing soul or Conscience (Surah lxxv. 3). (2) Nafs ammarah, the “soul or conscience prone to evil” (Surah xii. 53). (3) Nafs mutma’innah the “peaceful soul or conscience” (Surah lxxxix. 12). (4) Nafs mulhammah, the “soul or conscience in which is breathed both bad and good,, (Surah lxxxiv. 27.)
It occurs also in the sense of Conscience in the Traditions (Mishkat, book i. ch. i. Pt. 3): “When anything pricks your soul (nafs) forsake it.”. Abdu ‘l-Haqq, in his Persian commentary the Mishkat, renders it by zat, but the English word conscience would seem to express the precise idea. In Persian works, as well as in common conversation, the word nafs is now used in its evil sense, of desire or passion, but it must be evident that this is not its Qur’anic meaning. The word زمة zimmah, which in later Arabic, together with ضميرzamir; is used to express conscience, has in the only passage where it occurs in the Qur’an a decidedly different meaning, e.g. Surah ix. 8, 10, where it means clientship. Sale and Rodwell both translate it “faith,” but Palmer more accurately renders it “ties of clientship.”

Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam