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Awsaf al-ashraf (book)

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Awsaf al-ashraf (book)
Author Khwaja Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
Original title أوصافُ الْأشْراف
Language Persian
Series 1 vol.
Subject Practical mysticism
Published Tehran, 1994

Awṣāf al-ashrāf (Arabic: أوصافُ الْأشْراف) is a book written by Khwaja Nasir al-Din al-Tusi concerning practical mysticism. The author is a Shiite philosopher, theologian, and mathematician of the seventh/thirteenth century. Awsaf al-ashraf briefly outlines the stages of the mystical journey from the beginning to the end within six sections.

Khwaja Nasir wrote Awsaf al-ashraf at the request of Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Juwayni, the minister of Hulagu Khan. The book adopts a mystical method, and rarely does it tackle philosophical or theological issues. Each chapter of the book opens with a Quranic verse, and within its discussions, it appeals to hadiths and Qur'anic verses.

Contents

Author

Main article: Nasir al-Din al-Tusi

Khwaja Nasir was a Shiite philosopher, theologian, and mathematician of the seventh/thirteenth century. He wrote over 180 scholarly books and essays concerning a variety of issues, including Asas al-iqtibas, Tajrid al-i'tiqad, Sharh al-isharat, Akhlaq-i nasiri, Akhlaq-i muhtashami, and Aghaz wa anjam. He wrote particular essays concerning Shiism, including Risalat al-firqat al-najiya, Risala fi hasr al-haqq bi-maqalat al-imamiyya, al-Ithna 'ashariyya, and Risala fi l-imama.

Motivation for Writing

In his introduction to the book, the author says that the book was an important task to him that he always wanted to do, but his occupations did not allow him to embark on the task, until he began writing it at the request of Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Juwayni, the minister of Hulagu.

Content and Structure

Awsaf al-ashraf' is an essay concerning practical mysticism. It describes stages of the mystical journey from the beginning to the end. The book is written in Persian and contains six sections, each of which—except the last one—has six chapters.

  • First section: the beginning of the journey. Chapters: faith, persistence, intention, truthfulness, return to God, sincerity;
  • Third section: characteristics of mystical travelers. Chapters: recluse, reflection, fear, hope, patience, gratefulness;
  • Fourth section: preliminaries of reunion. Chapters: will, passion, love, knowledge, certainty, serenity;
  • Sixth section: self-annihilation.

Method of Writing

In this book, Khwaja Nasir adopts a different method from what he has done in his other books. Contrary to his other works in which a philosophical method is adopted, Awsaf al-ashraf adopts a full-blown mystical method, and rarely does it tackle philosophical or theological issues. Awsaf al-ashraf is written very briefly. Each chapter of the book opens with a verse of the Qur'an. Within its discussions, it also appeals to hadiths and Quranic verses.

References