(Nafs). The ego or the self or the soul. The nafs is that dimension of man which stands between the spirit which is light, and the physical body which is darkness. The spiritual struggle or combat is waged against the downward-pulling tendencies of the nafs which seduce the heart away from Allah. The nafs is also the domain of imagination. Allah is within our own selves, yet we do not see Allah. The work of the higher teaching is directed towards transforming the 'Lower Self' into the Higher 'Perfect Self' and 'seeing' Allah everywhere. There are seven stages of the self, seven postures in the ritual prayer, seven verses or 'signs' in the opening chapter of The Qur'an, and seven levels of knowledge, all of which are finely interconnected.
Shaykh Mahmoud Taha of Sudan writes concerning the self: "This soul is immortal in essence despite the changes that befall it through different forms and at different times and places. At no time does the soul cease its quest for immortality - to be immortal in form as it is in essence. This story is . . . the story of every human being. However, we all have forgotten it. By 'forgetting' it is meant that it settled at the bottom of the unconscious and was then covered by a thick layer of illusions and fears that we inherited from the times of ignorance and superstition. There is no way that we can achieve our happiness unless we break through this thick layer. . . which prevents the forms of the unconscious to be reflected in the mirror of the conscious and hence reveal the greater truth, the truth of truths that is shrouded by the veils of light. This long story that flows from the unconscious is made of the same stuff as that of dreams. The Qur'an is made out of the same stuff. It was brought into existence only to remind us of our extraordinary story. He who remembers it will acquire knowledge beyond which there is no ignorance and an immortality beyond which there is no perishing".
(Adab) is spiritual courtesy and gracious behaviour of the Path and perfect refinement of words and deeds. Adab is giving each thing and each moment its proper due. The science of the higher teaching is based upon adab, which encompasses all of human life. It extends from right behaviour with regard to the Sacred Law (Shari'a), right behaviour with one's fellow travellers, proper conduct towards the teaching and one's teacher, and reaches to unceasing spiritual courtesy to Allah Himself. The proper courtesy towards the Law is to stay within its boundaries, the proper conduct with regards to good actions is to complete the action and disconnect from it. Adab with regard to the Real is knowing what belongs to oneself and what belongs to Allah.
Each moment and each situation has it's own adab. It has been said that the higher teaching is all adab and the greater your understanding and implementation of proper conduct is, the higher you are in the teaching.