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Title: Treading the path of salvation : the religious devotion of Shaqīq al-Balkhī, al-Ḥārith al-Muḥāsibī, and Abū Saʻīd al-Kharrāz
Author: Wainwright, John Joseph
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 0527
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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In the early ninth century Muslim renunciants developed the metaphor of devotion to God is a path to teach their disciples how to cultivate virtues that would enable them to escape attachment to the world. Alongside these virtues were ascetic practices, sometimes extreme, that demonstrated their commitment to God. The earliest example of this renunciant path is the ascetic manual Adab al-'ibadat attributed to Shaqiq al-Balkhi (d. 198/809-10). Al-Harith al-Muhasibi (d. 243/857-8) took exception to exaggerated practices of Shaqiq's path and insisted that religious devotion must adhere to the commands God gave in the Quran and in the Sunna. Unique in the ninth century, Muhasibi also insisted that God's commands were not limited to exterior actions, but included specific expectations of the interior dimension of religious devotion. Abu Sa'id al-Kharraz (d. 277/890-91 or 286/899) expanded the renunciant path of Saqiq's followers, but also responded to Muhasibi's censure and softened the more extreme practices of the renunciant path. He was firmly committed to the interior dimension of religious devotion, but gave no indication that he accepted Muhasibi's insistence that these virtues were incumbent. Rather, he argues that the noblest expression of these virtues exists only among God's friends, whose religious devotion has its origin in the excellence of their primordial condition. This thesis will introduce a conceptual hierarchy of religious devotion that facilitates the analysis and comparison of each of these authors. Current discussions of ninth-century Islamic piety are limited by inadequate definitions of asceticism and mysticism. A holistic approach to their religious devotion will provide tangible indicators of the ascetic or mystical orientation of their piety. This provides better parameters for discussing the relationship between asceticism and mysticism in the ninth century.
Supervisor: Melchert, Christopher Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Asceticism--Islam ; Mysticism--Islam ; Spirituality ; Sufism