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Ascesis

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Ascesis or al-Rīyāḍa (Arabic: الرياضَة) as considered the greater jihad in some mystical texts means abandoning instincts and performing the acts of worship to cleanse the soul. It is recommended in Islam and some of its rules are eating less, night vigilance, speaking less, and solitude.

Some fruits of ascesis are generosity, courage, commitment, and submission to the truth. However, unlawful manners of ascesis including monasticism are prohibited in Islam and Mulla Sadra considered beginning ascesis before perfecting knowledge and observation of the acts of worship deviating.

Meaning

Ascesis means bearing difficulties, abandoning instincts and performing acts of worship to purify the soul;[1] and it is recommended in the glorious Qur'an and hadiths of the Infallibles (a).[2]

Ascesis, in mystical works, is mentioned with different meanings;[3] including the practice of the soul to purify the speech, actions, and intentions for God.[4] Ascesis is also considered the greater jihad and some of its rules are eating less, night vigilance, speaking less and solitude.[5]

Effects and Fruits

Relieving from stinginess, envy, arrogance and greed toward the world are considered among the fruits of ascesis;[6] as well as achieving good attributes such as generosity, courage, commitment, submission to the truth and humility.[7]

Some verses of the glorious Qur'an, are regarded to be about ascesis,[8] including verses 40 and 41 of Quran 79, based on which a person who fears the position of God and prohibits his carnal desires, will be a dweller of the paradise.[Note 1] It is transmitted from Imam 'Ali (a) that whoever practices regular ascesis will benefit.[9]

Prohibited Manners

Ascesis using unlawful ways has been prohibited;[10] and thus monasticism, if it means abandoning the world[11] has been prohibited.[12]

Mulla Sadra considered beginning to practice ascesis before perfecting knowledge and observation of the acts of worship deviating;[13] and thus, believed that until there is any dereliction of duty regarding religious obligations, there would be no room for spiritual acts of worship and ascesis, because they would lead to destruction of the person and others.[14]

Notes

  1. Anwarī, Farhang-i buzurg-i sukhan, vol. 4, p. 3767.
  2. Shāhrūdī, Farhang-i fiqh, vol. 4, p. 213.
  3. See: Khātamī, Āyina-yi makārim, vol. 1, p. 140.
  4. Qāsānī, Sharḥ manāzil al-sāʾirīn, p. 218.
  5. Mūsawī Tabrīzī, Muqaddama-ī bar ʿirfān-i ʿamalī, p. 247.
  6. Shāhrūdī, Farhang-i fiqh, vol. 4, p. 213.
  7. Shāhrūdī, Farhang-i fiqh, vol. 4, p. 213.
  8. Ṭūsī, Awṣāf al-ashrāf, p. 35.
  9. Āmadī, Ghurar al-ḥikam, p. 608.
  10. Gulpāyigānī, Irshād al-masāʾil, p. 197.
  11. Anwarī, Farhang-i buzurg-i sukhan, vol. 4, p. 3760.
  12. Shāhrūdī, Farhang-i fiqh, vol. 4, p. 213.
  13. Mullā Ṣadrā, Kasr aṣnām al-jāhilīyya, p. 35.
  14. Mullā Ṣadrā, Kasr aṣnām al-jāhilīyya, p. 38.
  1. But as for him who is awed to stand before his Lord and forbids the soul from [following] desire, (40) his refuge will indeed be paradise. (Quran 79:40-41)

References

  • Āmadī, ʿAbd al-Wāḥid b. Muḥammad al-. Ghurar al-ḥikam wa durar al-kalim. Edited by Mahdī Rajāʾī. Qom: Dār al-Kitāb al-Islāmī, 1410 AH.
  • Anwarī, Ḥasan. Farhang-i buzurg-i sukhan. Tehran: Sukhan, 1390 Sh.
  • Gulpāyigānī, Muḥammad Riḍā. Irshād al-sāʾil. Beirut: Dār al-Ṣafwa, 1413 AH.
  • Khātamī, Rūḥ Allāh. ;;Āyina-yi makārim. Tehran: Zulāl, 1368 Sh.
  • Mūsawī Tabrīzī, Muḥsin. Muqaddama-ī bar ʿirfān-i ʿamalī wa ṭahārat nafs wa shinākht-i insān-i kāmil. Tehran: Muʾassisa-yi Farhangī-yi Nūr ʿalā Nūr, 1387 Sh.
  • Qāsānī, ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-. Sharḥ manāzil al-sāʾirīn. Edited by Muḥsin Bīdārfar. Qom: Bīdār, 1385 Sh.
  • Shāhrūdī, Sayyid Maḥmūd al-. Farhang-i fiqh muṭābiq bā madhhab-i Ahl al-Bayt (a). Qom: Muʾassisat Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif-i Fiqh-i Islamī, 1389 Sh.
  • Ṭūsī, Naṣīr al-Dīn Muḥammad. Awṣāf al-ashrāf. Edited by Mahdī Shams al-Dīn. Tehran: Wizārat-i Farhang wa Irshād-i Islamī, 1369 Sh.