chapter  4
45 Pages

Purifi cation of the soul: the concept of tazkiyat al-nafs in Islam

As the title suggests, this book aims to explore the concept of tazkiyat al-nafs in Islam so as to draw a comparison between it and the teachings of al-Ḥārith al-Muḥāsibī. To achieve this aim the chapter will be divided into the following sections: fi rst, an examination of the meaning of the words tazkiya and nafs etymologically, within the Arabic language, by referring to classical and contemporary lexical sources to arrive at a basic linguistic understanding for these terms. Secondly, an in-depth study of these two terms as found in the Qurʾān, being the primary source of Islamic thought and Law, by locating these words within their various Qurʾānic contexts and examining them in the light of the exegetical literature (tafāsīr). Having derived a meaning for these two terms in the Qurʾānic context, the author will then turn the reader’s attention to the second source of Islamic thought and Law, i.e. the ḥadīth, by consulting the foremost collections of ḥadīth and their explanatory companion texts (shurūḥ) to arrive at an understanding of how these words were used by the Prophet, his Companions and the early generations who followed them. The fi nal section will deal with the statements of the scholars of Islam (al-ʿulamāʾ) throughout history, by consulting them in their various source works to examine their understanding of tazkiyat al-nafs, in the light of what was discussed in the previous sections.