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Article

Суфийский nafs как термин доктрины и персонаж жития: проблемы перевода

Ориенталистика. 2019. Т. 2. № 2 . С. 421-434.

The idea of nafs (literally arab. soul; self) is on the list of the key Sufi concepts; the term assumed importance both in doctrine and in the stories of the saints or the “God’s friends” (awliyā), who were always in struggle with their carnal souls and never persevered in attempts to tame the recalcitrant nafs. The first part of the paper gives
a brief overview of the meaning of the term nafs (from the Quran to Sufi teachings) and traces the stage by stage development of the “carnal soul” connotation; the variety of the translations is also under discussion. The second part centres around the uses of the term in ʻAttar’s compendium Taẕkirat al awliyā (Memorial of God’s Friends). The
narrative there is permeated with episodes of self-restraint; the descriptions of a Saint’s struggle with his own self (nafs) or his carnal soul (nafs) constitute a specific theme cluster of the hagiographic narration. ʻAttar mostly translated the stories from the Arab sources, however he arranged them following the Iranian didactic tradition.
Under his pen nafs has become a narrative personage, a devious and perfidious character more powerful than Iblis himself.