Harith al-Muhasibi

God has appointed self-mortification for the seekers, for the training of the soul. Men are ignorant of the high station of that one who is preoccupied with his Lord, who is seen to be thinking little of this world, who is humble, fearful, sorrowful, weeping, showing a meek spirit, keeping far from the children of this world, suffering oppression and not seeking revenge, despoiled, yet not seeking requital. He is disheveled, dusty, shabby, thinking little of what he wars, wounded, alone, a stranger — but if the ignorant were to look upon the heart of that seeker and see how God has fulfilled in him what He promised of His favor and what He gives him in exchange for that which he renounced of the vain glory of this world and its pleasure, he would desire to be in that one’s place, and would realize that it is he, the seeker after God, who is truly rich, and fair to look upon. — quoted in the Al-Hidaya (trans. Burhan al-Din al-Marghinani)

Harith al-Muhasibi (781–857) was an Iraqi Muslim philosopher. Founder of the Baghdad school of Islamic philosophy and teacher of sufi mystics famous in their own right, al-Muhasibi (whose name means “self-inspection”) was renowned for his penetrating analysis of Muslim doctrine, especially on the attainment of sanctity. His teachings are included in the
Al-Hidaya (ca. 1200), the most widely read book on Islamic jurisprudence in the Muslim world.

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