chapter  2
21 Pages

Master of the wayfarers: the life of al-Ḥārith al-Muḥāsibī

Little is known about al-Muḥāsibī other than a few, anecdotal statements and factual, historical glimpses that the biographical and historical sources provide. Nevertheless, there is suffi cient material to attempt a chronological reconstruction of his life from these works to attempt to provide a coherent picture of this eminent scholar’s worldly moments. Consequently, the usual biographical sketch will be attempted including a survey of his early life, his teachers, his infl uences, his students and ultimately his death. In addition, however, since all we have are a few anecdotal statements regarding al-Muḥāsibī, an examination of these reports will be made, as well as a discussion of the controversy surrounding Ibn Ḥanbal’s dispute with him, which unfortunately affected the fi nal days of his life, and his reputation among a section of the scholarly elite in subsequent generations. Finally, an assessment of the effect of al-Muḥāsibī’s milieu, environment and period upon his life will be made to examine to what extent he was ‘a product of his time’.