ḥasan al-Baṣrī

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Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (642–728 (AH 21–110)). One of the earliest and most influential of the Sūfīs. He was a freed slave, who was born in Madīna but settled in Basra in 658, where he attracted many students. Most of the Sūfī lineages (silsilah, tarīqa) claim to pass through Ḥasan, and he appears also as a link in many isnāds of ḥadīth. His sayings are frequently quoted, making clear that he regarded the world as an arena in which we are tested in our devotion to God. Sūfīs consider him the third master after Muḥammad and ‘Alī, and as the founder of ‘the science of hearts’, ‘ilm al-qulūb. He is perhaps the most frequently quoted of the early preachers, and his sermons are highly valued for their content and style.