There is a force inside every human that tries to prevent him from doing bad deeds and rebukes him if he does. In Islamic books and texts, this inner force is referred to as al-Nafs al-Lawwama.
Al-Nafs al-Lawwama is a self that rebukes one for doing bad things. According to Quran interpreter and Islamic philosophy and Islamic ethics scholar Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi (1935-2021), it is a state of the self where one regrets doing wrong and rebukes oneself. Some others say al-Nafs al-Lawwama is the conscience that rebukes one and makes him feel guilty after committing a sin.
The term al-Nafs al-Lawwama has been mentioned in verse 2 of Surah Al-Qiyama: “… and by the self-accusing soul (that you will certainly be resurrected).”
Al-Nafs al-Lawwama is compared to al-Nafs al-Ammarah and al-Nafs al-Mutmainnah. Al-Nafs al-Ammarah is a state in which one does not obey his intellect and commits sins. Al-Nafs al-Mutmainnah, meanwhile, is a state in which one follows the command of the intellect and by repeating good deeds reaches calm and peace of mind.
Muslim scholars and interpreters of Quran say the existence of Al-Nafs al-Lawwama, al-Nafs al-Ammarah and al-Nafs al-Mutmainnah does not mean that one has different selves, but these are different states of the self.
In Quran exegeses, there have been different interpretations of al-Nafs al-Lawwama, including one, held by Allameh Tabatabaei, that says al-Nafs al-Lawwama is the believer himself who admonishes himself for committing sins or indolence in doing good deeds.
Another view, held by Abdullah ibn Abbas, says it is the Nafs (self) of all people, the good-doers and evil-doers, on the Day of Judgment, because on that day, both groups rebuke themselves: The first group for not having Taqwa (God-fearing) and the second for not having done more good and more acts of worship.