chapter  5
48 Pages

Purifi cation of the soul in the formative period: al-Muḥāsibī’s methodology of tazkiyat al-nafs

Since the discussion of the two major aspects of this book, namely the concept of tazkiyat al-nafs in Islam and the life and works of al-Ḥārith b. Asad al-Muḥāsibī, have now been completed it is appropriate in this fi nal chapter to discuss the concept of tazkiyat al-nafs from al-Muḥāsibī’s perspective, through the medium of his works. In this sense the current chapter will follow a similar structure to that of Chapter 4 where both the terms tazkiyat and nafs were discussed in detail. The major emphasis, however, will be on comparing the teachings of al-Muḥāsibī with the ideas presented in both the Qurʾān and ḥadīth, since, in terms of language, it is not expected that al-Muḥāsibī’s usage of the Arabic language would differ greatly and, similarly, much of what has been presented from the perspective of Muslim scholarship occurred in the post-al-Muḥāsibī period. Consequently, the current chapter will examine the usage of the term tazkiya in the works of al-Muḥāsibī and its various synonyms to establish this scholar’s understanding and usage of the term. Therefore, the analysis here will be concerned with the various facets of tazkiyat al-nafs within the works of al-Muḥāsibī, as well as discussing his concept of the term nafs; the qualities of the nafs; the states of the nafs; and the nature of the nafs, as presented in the extant works of this author. In addition, al-Muḥāsibī’s theory and methodology of tazkiyat al-nafs will be examined and the salient features of his approach will be identifi ed.