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The question of questions

He who knows himself knows his Lord (man ‘arafa nafsahu fa-qad ‘arafa rabbahu). The question is, what does it mean? Many questions can be asked:

  • Is the above saying based on a certain similarity between the self and the Lord?
  • Or are the self and the Lord dissimilar?
  • Is it possible to know our Lord completely?
  • Is it possible to know our self completely?
  • Why is the word ‘know' mentioned? Is ‘experience' in this field not possible?
  • How do we get the necessary knowledge?
  • Nafs is often translated by ‘self' and by ‘soul'. Is the self the same as the soul.
  • Is the self always the same or can it change?
  • Is the ‘I' similar to the self.
  • Who am I?
  • Am I the nafs?
  • Am I the body?
  • Am I the spirit?
  • What are the characteristics of the self?
  • Is the self influenced by cultural characteristics?
  • Is the self influenced by nationalistic characteristics?
  • Is the self influenced by our being male or female?
  • Is the self influenced by suffering?
  • Is the self influenced by love?
  • Why is it that the Lord (Rabb) has been mentioned and why not Allah (God)?
  • Is ‘Lord' a correct translation of Rabb?
  • If Lord is a correct translation, who or what is the Lord the Lord of?
  • Are other translations of Rabb possible?
  • Should we start with trying to know our Lord or with our self?
  • …. (fill in your own questions).


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