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His name is Abū ῾Abdullāh al Hāris bin Asad al Muhāsabi rahmatullah ῾alayh. He was born in Basra, known by the title of Al Muhāsabi because of his excessive accountability of self. His date of birth is unknown but his demise was in 243h. in Baghdād.

Hāris al Muhāsabi rahhatullah ῾alayh have a very profound and holistic manhaj (methodology) of Tasawwuf. Judging from what he has written in his books on the topic, he was very particular about adaptation of Qur’ān, Sunnah, sayings and actions of the Sahaba radi allāhu ῾ahum according to his knowledge and understanding. His books are apparently void of philosophical discussions on Tasawuf, rather all his writing are directed toward rectification of one’s understanding (of dīn) and one’s actions; pondering over Allah Ta’āla and purification of one’s Nafs and its cleanliness from all the illnesses; and drawing oneself closer to Allah Ta῾āla. In other words al Muhāsabi has only written or spoken of those things which involves ones actions.

This is the true noble Sharī manhaj which should be adhered onto and will be rewarded inshā’Allah.

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Ibn Dhafar al Maghrabī mentions in his book, “Anbā’ Nujabā’ al Abnā’” that when Hāris al Muhāsabī was a young boy, he once passed by two children playing at the doorstep of a date merchant. Hāris stopped for a while to see the children playing. In the meantime the owner (date seller) came out of the house. He had some dates in his hand.

He said to Hāris, “Eat these dates”.

Hāris replied, “What is the matter with them?”

The merchant said, “I had sold a (1) of dried dates to a person and some fell from his merchandize.”

Hāris asked, “Do you know the buyer?”

“Yes” responded the merchant.

Hāris then turned to the two boys playing and asked, “Is this old man (merchant) a Muslim?”

They replied, “Yes”.

So Hāris started walking and left him. The date merchant followed him until he grabbed hold of him and said, “Wallāh I will not lighten (the grasp) of my hand until you tell me what is in your heart for me!”

So Hāris answered, “O Sheikh, if you are a Muslim then search for the owner of those dates so much so that your only focus is his search, like how you would search for water if you were extremely thirsty. O Sheikh, you feed the children of muslimīn with harām while you are a muslim?!”

The old man said, “Wallah! I will never trade for worldly things.”

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Al Qushayrī says in Ar Risālah Pg. 15 and Ibn Khalkān in Al Wafayāt 1:126 and Ibn Hajr in Tahdhībut Tahdhīb 2:135 that Al Junaid (2) said that the day the father of al Hāris passed away, he had a need of a dāniq (1/6th of a dirham) while his father had left him 70,000 dirhams. Hāris al Muhāsabī did not take anything from it although he was entitled for it all. This was because his father was from among the Qadariyyah(3). Hāris al Muhāsabī thought it to be contrary to piety that he takes anything from his father’s inheritance.

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Some of the sayings of Hāris Al Muhāsabi are:

“He who does not show gratitude to Allah upon His blessings has essentially made duā’ for those blessings to be taken away from him.”

“Whosoever will rectify his Bātin (hidden) through murāqabah and Ikhlās, Allah will beautify his Dhāhir (apparent) with Mujāhadah (struggle) and following of Sunnah.”

“Whoever struggles towards his Bātin Allah will inherit him with goodness in his matters of Dhāhir, and whoever beautifies his matters of Dhāhir along with struggle towards his bātin, Allah will inherit him guidance towards it because Allah says “And those who struggle in our path We shall most definitely guide them towards our path, and verily Allah is with those who do good.”

Adapted from Tarjumatul Mu’allif  by Sheikh Abdul Fattāh Abu Ghuddah
Risālatul Mustarshidīn lil Haris al Muhāsabī, Pg. 60
Darul Islām

(1)  A measure of weight

(2)  Al Baghdādī, who was also a student of Hāris al Muhāsabī

(3)  Qadariyyah was a sect who believed that there is no concept of predestination in Islam hence every person makes his own destiny. They argue that this is necessary for someone to be tasked and made liable for his ill actions. This also means that Allah cannot know beforehand what the person will do, hence a denial of a core attribute of Allah.