Message of Thaqalayn

A Quarterly Journal of Islamic Studies

Spiritual Accounting in Sayyid Ibn Tawus' Muhasaba al Nafs

Abstract: Muhasaba al-nafs, or spiritual accounting, plays a key role in the spiritual journey with the goal of nearness to God. It works as a self-assessment of a person’s thoughts and deeds on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis – such as thanking God for every accomplishment and asking forgiveness for all wrongs committed with the intention of not repeating them. Many Islamic scholars throughout history have explored this subject and have either taught, compiled, or were prolific authors in the field. This article touches upon the work of Sayyid ibn Tawus called Muhasaba al-Nafs, offering a biography of the author, an overview of the book, and a summary of each chapter, which includes topics such as the recording of our deeds and its exposure to God, the Prophet, and the Infallibles; the importance of self-accounting, practical steps to self-purification, and the special days, times, and places for prayer and to fulfill one’s duties.

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