Before the enlightenment, before the renaissance, there was tasawwuf ethics

In today’s modern world, readers are deliberately  forced to observe History of Islam through “distorted” lens and usually the “spread of wisdom of strong ethical philosophy” during those centuries like 8th, 9th and 10th are rarely mentioned.

In fact, during those centuries cities like Baghdad and Damascus were sophisticated education centers and the teachers by then, whom we can easily mark them as “pioneers of Islamic sufism”, taught their students one thing that no other philosophical or spiritual movement never did : One soul’s endless war against his “selfish desires and endless lust” and establishing this war over intellectual framework of “philosophy of ethics”.

For instance, in today’s Islamophobic climate, a sufi teacher from 8th century, by the name of “Al-Muhasibi” is hardly mentioned. He is known to speak of about mind-faith relationship as follow:

A zaheed can have zuhd as according to his total sum of mareefet, he can have mareefet according to his level of intellectual reasoning, he can have intellectual reasoning according to his firmness of faith.  

This kind of plain and pure chain of logic is something perhaps philosophers like Descartes, Hegel, Kant, Fichte and Nietzsche always dreamed of but failed to achieve. Al-Muhasibi had both the power and modesty to summarize complex problems of philosophy of ethics in plain format, ready to be understood by the untutored minds of the very era they were living in.

Because personas like Al-Muhasibi didn’t care about achieving the status of “sophisticated deep thinker whose books can only be understood by academicians”. They cared about only one thing, transmit the true substance of Islamic ethics to ordinary crowds so they can become a means to public if they wish to understand and fully implement Islamic ethics in their lives.

That’s why, apart from these simple formulations that solved seemingly intricate problems of logic and philosophy, sufi teachers during those times always insisted of the concept of “taming and edifying the soul” and they preached the public to be free from the reign of every kind of material consumption and possession, if those desires controlled and possessed one’s life in an unwanted way.

There is a reason he is called “Al-Muhasibi”. It was a nick-name given to him by the public. Muhasabe means to audit, to inspect. Because he was known to inspect and try to control his soul’s selfish desires so frequently and vehemently, he received this nickname, Muhasibi, which means “the one who inspects.”

Does any of the followers of renaissance or enlightenment philosophical movements today “inspect” their souls against the superficial desires of “material consumption”? Did any of philosophical texts produced by the names like Descartes, Hegel, Kant, Fichte and Nietzsche suggest the reader to “understand the unnecessariness of selfish desires, while they claim to be texts of “ethical philosophy”?

Perhaps such philosophers cared more about their “distinguished status” in the history of philosophy, usually praised by the world of academia.

In an age of material consumption and endless lust mechanisms has become a spiritual guide for masses, the world has a lot to learn from modest minds like Al-Muhasibi.

History of Islam has literally thousands of “ethics philosophy thinkers” like Al-Muhasibi.

Before that, one needs to realize one of the primary reasons of Islamophobia is to distort and distract the masses from the very real wisdom once can get from Islamic thought.



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