This question is motivated by a comment by the user @Ali here that says that ruh is a spirit that God gave Adam and every human from birth, while nafs is the soul. I am interested to know if this distinction is clearly observed in Islamic sources, and if yes, more information regarding the distinction.

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    if you can speak arabic, this is the answer fatwa.islamweb.net/fatwa/… – Makhlouf GHARBI Oct 18 '14 at 10:00
  • @Makouda Unfortunately, no. I can only just read Arabic with harakat at present. Will you please attempt a translation? – N Unnikrishnan Oct 18 '14 at 17:41
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    sorry im not well in English to translate this, but the main topic is that according th IBN TAYMIYA nafs and ruh is exactly the same thing. in one SAHIH hadith when someone die (his RUH leaving him), if he is bad person, the angles tell him : go to hell bad nafs. so they concluded than nafs and ROUH is the samething. sorry for the bad translation :) – Makhlouf GHARBI Oct 18 '14 at 18:05

There are two distinct words “nafs” and “rooh”, which are both translated as “soul” in English. The word rooh is the same as the English word for soul. Nafs, however, is slightly different. The word nafs is defined as “a feature of the soul. This feature continuously directs people to committing sin.”★ The desire to commit evil acts, such as lying and cheating, is therefore a result of the nafs.

When a person follows the demands of his/her nafs, it grows stronger and demands more. Fighting against its wishes and worshiping more often, on the other hand, weakens the nafs and diminishes its impact on the person’s life. That being said, nafs can also be used to define “the self” as a whole instead of only the evil portion of it.


Source: my blog

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