The translation, notes, and commentary of Imam al-Harith al-Muhasibi's Risala al-Mustarshidin (Treatise For The Seekers Of Guidance) by Zaid Shakir is intended to serve as a layman's guide to Islamic spirituality. Al - Muhasibi presents most of the major ideas that would both serve as the basis for a full program of spiritual development and comprise an insightful overview of a system of Islamic moral psychology. He examines in great depth and penetrating insight the psychological motivations and justifications for moral thought and action and correspondingly the associated bases of immorality. In so doing, he has provided a road map that any person can follow to overcome the guiles of his fundamental enemies: the world, the ego, the whims of the soul, and Satan.
Translation and exegesis of a classic treatise of Islamic mysticism. Baghdad wasn't always a bombed-out, bullet-scarred city. In the ninth century, it was the center of the Islamic world and an academic mecca, embracing scholars translating classic Greek, Roman, Syrian Christian and Indian texts into Arabic. In this milieu, Imam al-Muhasibi wrote Treatise for the Seekers of Guidance, which, in a nutshell, is a explanation of Islamic spiritual development that emphasizes the importance of Muslims cleansing their hearts from worldly attractions and maintaining Taqwa, or a Godconsciousness that manifests itself in purposeful action. Shakir, translator and tour guide, walks the reader through the document, sometimes line by line, providing context and clarification through constant references to the Qur'an and Hadith (or prophetic tradition). Occasional illuminating tangents on Islam in the contemporary world, especially post-9/11, break up some of the monotony and redundancy of the treatise, making the translation more readable and relevant to non-Muslims. Through it, the reader can see Islam as a double-edge scimitar. Slicing through the garish material excess and social and moral decay that characterizes a lot of the modern capitalist world, the treatise explains that Muslims were created to worship God and serve others. It's a simple, beautiful message that makes it easy to understand why Islam is the world's most popular religion. However, the flip side of the proverbial sword reflects a conundrum. To be saved and make it to paradise in the afterworld, one must maintain a real and present fear of God and endure trials and tribulations while on earth. Shakir is to be lauded for hiscommentary, bold at times. He criticizes some contemporary Muslims for hypocrisy, as well as slandering, vilifying and despising their brethren, and cites an inability of Muslims to give sincere advice to other Muslims as a cause of ongoing troubles. But he also casts judgment on Western society's tendency to commoditize everything, making it difficult for Muslims to recast their gaze from earthly delights upward to more divine endeavors. A simple, easy-to-read guide to Islamic spirituality that helps to explain Islam's ongoing conflict with the Western world.