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The concept of Tazkiyat al-Nafs in Islam in the light of the works of al-Hrith al-Muhsib

Picken, Gavin (2005) The concept of Tazkiyat al-Nafs in Islam in the light of the works of al-Hrith al-Muhsib. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The principle of tazkryat al-nafs is central to Islam but despite this, relatively little work has been written, if compared to the vast volumes devoted to Islamic jurisprudence (fqh) or Prophetic narration (hadlth). In addition to this, much of what has been written has been within the general precepts of what is now termed tasawwuf, or Sufism and much of this work has been concerned with the post-Ghazzäli period. Despite this, many works had been written and indeed, the concept of tazkiyat al-nafs had been developed prior to the advent of al-Ghazzäli. One of the most influential scholars in the pre-Ghazzäli period within this field was the second/eighth century Muslim scholar Abu- Abd Allah al-Härith b. Asad al-Mubasibi, who was born in Basra around 165/782 but later resided in Baghdad, albeit a period of exile in Küfa, until his death in 243/857. Al-Mubasibi was also known for his skills in many disciplines, including the Qur'an, Prophetic narration (hadith) and scholastic theology (`Ilm alkaläm) but it is for his mastery in the field of Islamic spirituality and moral psychology for which he is remembered. Regardless of his favourable notoriety he was not without criticism, being repudiated by Imam Ahmad b. Ijanbal (d. 242/856) for his "unorthodox" views and reviled by Ahmad's subsequent followers Abu- Zur`a al-Räzi (d. 264/878), Ibn al-Jawzi(d. 297/910) and Abd al-Rahim Iragi (d.806/1403). Despite this, he was a prolific writer, reportedly authoring more than two hundred works, the most famous of which is perhaps Kltäb al-Ri'äya li Hugrlq A11äh. It was this latter, monumental work which drew the attention of the West in the form of the highly respected researcher Margaret Smith (d. 1970), who was the first European scholar to seriously address the life and works of this great exponent of tazkiya. This is not to say that al-Muhäsibi has been exhausted as an area of research however, as many of his works have been preserved and indeed, have been published, edited and annotated since the pioneering work of Smith. Thus, this research comprises: a) An examination of the linguistic and terminological usage of the terms tazkia and alnafs to determine an accurate understanding of these concepts within the framework of Islam. b) An extensive study of the historical period in which al-Muhäsibi lived, to assess the extent to which the political, social and economic factors played a part in his life and work. c) An extensive survey of the available biographical and historical sources, to produce an accurate and comprehensive account of this unique and extraordinary scholar's life. d) An assessment of al-Muhäsibi's works and an exposition of the author's understanding and methodology regarding the concept of tazkiyat al-nafs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Modern Languages and Cultures (Leeds) > Arabic & Middle Eastern Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2010 14:05
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 10:27
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/329

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