chapter  5
Friendship and love as paths to spiritual perfection
Pages 26

The previous chapter has already looked at al-Tawh. ı-dı-’s views on the nature of s.ada-qa, its components, types and purpose. The soul was identified as a main component of al-Tawh. ı-dı-’s s.ada-qa. This chapter will explore further the link between s.ada-qa and virtue, namely the cultivation of ethical behaviour and the purification of the soul. It treats this issue as part of a wider discourse or system of beliefs, and contextualises al-Tawh. ı-dı-’s activities within the intellectual generation that investigated similar concepts. The Brethren of Purity, Miskawayh, and Yah.ya-b. ‘Adı-, with whom al-Tawh. ı-dı-had direct contact, introduced similar concepts such as ukhuwwa (brotherhood), mah.abba (love) and insa-niyya (humanity) respectively. Members of the school of Abu-Sulayma-n al-Sijista-nı-also discussed friendship. A strongly social aspect to their ethical vision can be identified in their

discussion of these concepts, and in their interest in the ethical cultivation of social behaviours and cooperation (ta‘a-wun), for which they see friendship and love as necessary paths. To explain humanity’s need for social cooperation, the philosophers described two ways in which human beings are not selfsufficient: (a) the inability to secure all their needs, and (b) the inability to reach moral perfection or to purify their soul alone. This chapter will assess the thinkers’ use of friendship, love, and brotherhood

to highlight the process which a person goes through to achieve perfection of the soul. It will also address how these bonds between human beings relate to the philosophers’ understanding of virtue. The discussion will show how these authors made their own synthesis of the conditions that promote harmonious living, using both religious components and Greek philosophical heritage. They incorporated Qur’a-nic quotations, Sufi language, a form of the good life connected to the Platonic idea of e-ros (the God of love), and the Aristotelian idea of phillia (friendship) to present new norms of moral action to cultivate the inner self and spiritual progress. These goals will be shown to offer a form of practical moral philosophy, which they taught as conditions for a community’s survival and welfare in Bu-yid society.