Concepts of the Self in Islamic Tradition and Western Psychology: A Comparative A Comparative Analysis

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Aydın H.

Studies in Islam and the Middle East, vol.7, no.1, pp.2-30, 2010 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 7 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2010
  • Journal Name: Studies in Islam and the Middle East
  • Page Numbers: pp.2-30
  • Van Yüzüncü Yıl University Affiliated: Yes


This paper focuses on the self and related concepts as a Sufi phrase and is a comparative analysis between Islam tradition and Western psychology. Sigmund Freud and his followers (Freudians) divide man‟s mind into three structures. These are Id, Ego and Superego. Id is equal to Nafsi Ammar. Nafsi Ammar is the source of harmful inclinations according to the Holy Qur‟an. In the Qur‟an and Islamic culture there is another entity, Satan, those psychologists have not yet identified completely enough or rather have confused the negative effect of him / it on consciousness. This is named as Satan. Satan makes use of images, and uses feelings and weakens thought and willpower. Ego is equal to Nafs alone without any adjective. In the Qur‟an, Nafs is used as Self, Entity. This is identified as Ego by psychologists. In the Quran the one other dimension of self is Nafsı Lawwam. This structure is identified as Superego by psychologists. This structure is equal to Nafsi Lawam, but the Qur‟an also expresses the other soul structure Nafsi Mutmainna, which is not expressed by psychologists except Abraham Maslow and Kurt Goldstein. Nafsi Mutmainna results from the pressure of Nafsi Lawam on nafs with prayer and worships. Calm and peace is dominant and harmful impulses and Satan has no effect on it. However, in Sufi tradition, beyond Nafsi Mutmainna there are the other dimensions of nafs‟ which specialists do not know or are not sufficiently aware of. In each of these dimensions Sufis receive some peculiar perceptions from God and see The Divine world from different points according to these dimensions. In the study it has been expressed that these dimensions of the self are not available in the terminology of the West, These dimensions belong to Islam itself.