During Ramadan, one of our duties should be to reflect, and see if we are dominated by our Ruhi Hayvani, our animal soul, or if we are truly human and guided by our Ruhi Insani, human soul.
Our animal soul is responsible for processing nourishment: food, water, air, and sunlight which enter our bodies. Through our digestive system and our circulatory system, we receive life, health, and energy (including sexual energy) for our physical existence. Our animal soul resides within the physical heart. That is where our nourishment finally reaches, and from where it is distributed to all parts of our body through our veins.
For a man under the influence of his animal self, making prayers consists of going through the movements, and reciting the sounds of prayer, and that is sufficient for him. His fasting means to refraining from eating, drinking and having sex, and that is proper for him, at his level. Through following the Sharia's religious rules, even if superficially, he will advance. As the animal soul thus matures, its extraction of the well-digested nourishment, and its essence in clean blood, is attracted to our brain cells. Thus the animal soul is transformed into a human soul, whose residence is the brain. Then the life-giving nourishment is enriched by the mental nourishment of impressions absorbed through the senses and sent to all parts of the body through the nervous system. A man guided by Ruhi Insani thinks, understands, evaluates, is able to choose, and can act upon what he has decided. He also feels happiness, sadness, and pain. He loves, cares, and acts in accordance with his feelings.
Understanding in man is of two kinds; one is surface understanding; the other is deeper, inner understanding. The superficial understanding is done through hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Animals have these capacities also; in fact, some animals have keener senses of hearing, seeing, and smelling than humans. But their application and their actions are limited to a few basic instincts such as survival and propagation, while man's understanding through his senses may cause many more kinds of actions because man understands much more from what he sees or hears than animals do.
Man has a variety of actions to take, to choose from. To a man under the influence of his human soul, at the basic level of his understanding through his senses, it is obligatory to fast by all his senses, by controlling his eyes, ears, hands; not to contact that which is dirty, harmful and evil. And in the same way, he must cut his contact with the world during his prayers, not thinking about, seeing, or hearing the things around him, but giving his attention to his Lord, in Whose presence he should feel himself to be.
Deeper understanding of things invisible to the naked eye are obtained by five different kinds of senses. The first is common sense or common feeling which is sensitive to attitudes and circumstances from one's life, such as kindness, beauty, generosity, love and friendship, or their opposites of ugliness, hostility, and hatred. This common feeling responds to love with love and to hatred with hate.
The second sense is memory, a storage area where impressions are kept, received by both the five senses and their subjective interpretations of our feelings about them.
The third sense is imagination, which is the keeper of our subjective interpretations of reality and our delusions, and which is capable of developing and elaborating these unreal concepts to incredible ends.
The fourth sense is inspiration, the capacity of understanding that which is visible and touchable to its fullest reality, and of understanding that which is invisible equally well, and of explaining invisible reality in terms of visible reality.
The fifth sense is the power of disposal, the will which keeps all the impressions, imaginations, thoughts, feelings, inspirations, and memories in its possession, totally at our disposal. The sum total of these qualities and how we dispense with them is the character, the individuality of the human being. As an individual, the human being has a choice. He has a will.
The Ruhi Hayvani, animal soul, understands also, but its understanding is limited. It understands what is good and what is bad for it, and that knowledge is common and general for all animals. But the human soul understands things in an individual way, and in a much more complex manner. Man considers principles, associations, implications, causes, and effects. And when he acts, he is under the influence of a causal power. That is where either a desire or a fear takes a concrete shape in his thoughts, and he has to move to take the possession of the desirable thing. Then either he has to run away, or fight the fearful thing.
But how often one mistakes friend for foe, and foe for a friend. How often one man's medicine is another man's poison. This misjudgment is not the fault of the God-given faculties: the eyes, the mind, the heart . . . It comes from the misuse, the misinterpretation, the distortion of truth and reality, because of the arrogance of our most valuable faculty: our tasarruf, our power of disposal, our will!
Ruhi insani has the divine qualities of Hayy and Alim, the Ever Living and the Knowing One, Murid and Sami, the All-Hearing and Willing One, Basir and Mutakallim, the All-Seeing and Talking One. But because it is imprisoned in the human body, it sees, hears, lives, wills, and talks from different points, not from one single point or from everywhere at once. Thus there are many truths, not a single one, many views of a single thing.
So in this confusion, if the human soul decides to be guided by a prophet, by a messenger of Allah and follows his sharia, his religious rules and ways, then the possessor of that soul is a Mu'min, a believer. If the soul further increases his devotion and takes the world and life as a manifestation of God, then he is called an Abid, a devout servant of God. If the soul turns his back to the world and leaves the tastes, the lust, the ambition of the world and frees himself from the demands of his flesh, he is called a Zahid, a pious ascetic.
If the soul finds the way to his eternal home, through recognizing his affinity to his Creator by their common attributes, which his Creator blew from His own Soul into him, and comes to know his Lord, then he is called an Arif, the one who knows the Truth.
And when he loves what he has found, and His Lord loves him, and becomes his eyes with which he sees, his lips with which he tastes, his hands with which he holds, he becomes a Wali, a friend of Allah. Only his thoughts, his decisions, his words, and his actions will not be his own, but will come from his Lord. And he will be pleased with his Lord and his Lord will be pleased with him. May we one day reach that blessed state. Amin.
adopted from the writings of Imam Nesefi (k.s.)
by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi