Abū Sa‘īd al-Hasan ibn Abī Al-Hasan Yasār al-Basrī was born in Medina in the year 21/642. The connection to the Prophet’s family was very quite intimate as al-asan’s mother was a freed slave (mawlāh) of the Prophet’s wife Umm Salima, while his father was that of Zayd ibn Thābit. (Ibn Khallikān, Wafayāt al-A‘yān, ii, 69)
Al-Hasan was a celebrate transmitter of the Prophet’s traditions. He received Hadith from hearings held by celebrated îaÊāba like Uthmān b. ‘Affān, ‘Imrān b. Hisīn, al-Mughīra b. Shu‘ba, Ibn ‘Abbās, Ibn ‘Umar, ‘Alī b. Abī Tālib, Abū Mūsa al-Ash‘arī, and many others. Being a native of Medina, he witnessed the assassination of Uthmān (fitnat al-kubrā). Only a year after the battle of Ṣiffīn, al-asan moved to Basra until his death in 110/728.
On the basis of the socio-political situation, which was described as being full of violence: people were killing one another, the caliphate was derelict, and the social life style was full of worldly glamour, al-Hasan concerns on mystical teachings was mainly put on the establishment of the foundation of piety (wara‘), which is also considered the fundament of religion. In a dialogue with one of ‘Alī’s children, he recognized fully the important role of piety as “the wealth of religion”. On the contrary, according to al-asan, it was the attitude of greedy (al-tama‘) that makes the religion diminished. During the dialogue with ‘Alī’s son, al-asan was astonished and said, “a small amount of a sincere piety is better than a thousand times of fasting and prayer.” (Qushayrī, Risāla, 112) Still underlining the important role of piety in guarding the fate of religion, according to Hasan, the attitude of sincere devotion is the most excellent deed that saves one’s future life, along with the activity of thinking (tafakkur), for in the eyes of God the act of thinking is better than performing the vigil prayer.
On the basis of the attitude of piety, Hasan urged people to carry out taqwā, fear of God’s punishment and thinking about the next life, because taqwā is the best provision for the life after death. In his advise he mentioned, “O man, fear of God with yourself and beware of desire (amāniyya) that you carry greater weight with it, you will vanished. Anybody would not be given a goodness of the goodness of the world, nor that of the afterlife for his desire…” (Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Hasan, 75). He clearly defined some characteristic of taqwā such as sincere speech, redeeming a vow, connecting the bond of relation, sympathy to the weak, lessening pride, granting goodness, lessening pleasure before people, good deeds, and extending the moral precept that could bring one closer to God (Hilya, ii, 164). In turn, as also the mainstream of asceticism of that age, on the basis of the above-mentioned high quality of taqwā asan, he preached people to tramp further step with zuhd. For him, “anyone who knows his Lord loves Him and what He possesses, whereas one who knows the world and its vanities performs zuhd” (Ibn al-Jawzī, Al-Hasan al-Basrī, 55).
However, unlike extreme asceticism that had been practiced by the people of the Bench (ahl al-suffa), according to al-asan the term zuhd is meant to be not by dispatching the self from the world (tark dunyā), but zuhd is to belittle from the worldly amusements, by which one should live modest, and leaving out the seizure of richness and wealth. Therefore, he urged people to think and properly consider what they wanted to do, self question whether his conduct is in accordance with God’s will or not, and if anybody does a mistake, he should ask forgiveness through true repentance (‘Iqd al-farīd, iii, 202). In other word, he explained that zuhd is “to hate people attracted to the world and to hate what they found over it” (Qushayrī, Risāla, 118). As he referred to be the impact of taqwā, by performing zuhd one will be closer to God, because the act of knowing God on what can befall on him will keep perfect faith (Sarrāj, Luma‘, 194).
For al-asan, preaching the people to asceticism is part of his duty “to warn those who forget” (tanbīh al-ghāfilīn), which is also an element of the moral mission (risāla akhlāqiyya). In fact, his attempt to revive the spiritual life among the people of his time was remarkable as the socio-political situation of the day was in need of a turning point back to reiterate the establishment of God-fearing people that had shaped the Muslim community of the early Islam. His criticism to his fellow ascetics was prompted to the habit of wearing coarse-wool cloak saying, “taqwā cannot be shown by this kind of gown, but within heart verified and manifested by deed” (Qushayrī, Risāla, 115). On the basis of the balance between private devotion to God and societal responsibility to he argued that celibacy does not leave aside the social obligations (Dirāsat, pp. 15-17).
Along with his unremitting advise to the spiritual life, asan’s mystical attitude was mainly marked with his gloomy face, hence he was always supposed to have been facing a problem, or returning from a funeral. An account derived from the authority of Sufyān al-Thawrī (d.161/778) mentioned that asan keep the sadness within heart (Abū Nu‘aym, ilya, ii, 154), whereas another witness said that nobody felt sorrow longer than asan as he looked to have calamity (Abū Nu‘aym, ilya, ii, 155). It is also related that two Syrian monks arrived at Basra and saw asan, upon whom one said to the other, “let us turn aside to visit this man, whose way of life appears like that of a messiah. So they went and they found him supporting his chin on the palm of his hand, while he was saying: “How I marvel at those who had been ordered to lay in a stock of provisions and had been summon to set out on a journey, and yet the foremost of them stays for the hindmost! Would that I knew what they are waiting for” (Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs, 266). These stories show how the performance of zuhd on the basis of piety and taqwā had led asan not only to hate people attracted to the world, but also to express his hate with his regret.
What was actually reason behind al-asan’s misery to the world? Beside the socio-political situation that had had made him grieve for his entire life, another reason behind his gloomy attitude seems also to be a clear impact of the Prophet’s teaching, as he had reported to say, “the world is a prison for the believer, but paradise for the infidel.” In an account derived from his own authority, asan said, “A believer ought to regret because he has to fear of two things: first, sins that he might be conducted in the previous time but he does not know why God arranged it; second appointed time (’ajal), which certainly happens but he does not know what accident would befall on him (Zuhd, p.56). As a result, the gloomy face, according to asan, should become the main character of every believer as he said, “By God, oh people, if you recite the Qur’ān, then you believe in it, in this world you have to extend your sadness, increase your fear, and add more your weep” (Zuhd, 58). In this sense, the feeling of sorrow was probably the most prominent appearance of his khushū‘ as he mentioned that khushū‘ is an incessant fear that should permanently exist within heart (Risāla, 145). He explained further, “For anybody who knows that the death will come, the Last day will occur, and standing before God will have its place, he will prolong his misery” (Taftazānī, Sufi, 73).
asan’s mystical experience that bring his life to asceticism with the intense character of sorrowfulness in parallel to the social condition upon which he was to warn the people, his mystical interpretation of the some Qur’ānic passages appears to have echoed the same tone of concern. Interpreting verse 74:4, “and your garments, keep it free from stain,” asan asserted that the verse means ‘to refine your moral conduct’. (Qushayrī, Risāla, 243) Such a concern clearly stresses his great attention on what he called “the ethical mission” (risāla akhlāqiyya) that is carried out by the prophet to begin his preach by receiving the second revelation after the first in the cave irā’.
On the basis of this ethical mission, most of asan’s mystical interpretations mainly deal with the attempt to derive the moral significance of the Qur’ān, especially his stress on the essential role of wara‘, taqwā, and zuhd as the elements of redemption towards the next life after death. For asan, moreover, someone should always be attached to feel sorrow during his lifetime, as he based his argument on QS 23:60 “and those who dispense their charity with their hearts full of fear…” This verse was interpreted by asan that “They know about righteousness (birr), so that they prioritize the good (khayr) but they fear that those would not rescue them from Divine torment.” (Zuhd, 150) As a result, according to asan, the doer will benefit high reward from God for his obedience as he referred to QS 16:97, “Whoever act righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him we will give a life that is good and pure…”, to which he interpreted, “We will bless him with obedience that he will find its joy within heart,” or in another account (riwāya) he commented, “We will bless him with provisions, to which we would not put our torment.” In conclusion, as asan commented about man’s life in this world, he said, “Everyone’s life is a bitterness, except his life in paradise.” (Zuhd, 150)
Some of asan’s exegetical attempts, to which he had heavily inclined to a sort of mystical interpretations to the Qur’ān, underline the importance of moral teaching of the Qur’ān. His primary concern on the urge for action (‘amal) can be seen in his interpretation of QS 73:5, “Soon shall we send down to you a weighty word.” He commented that the weighty word means ‘to act accordingly’. (Zuhd, 148) The same concern on the urge of action is also obvious in his interpretation of QS 75:18, “but when we have recited it, follow its recitation”, that is meaning ‘to follow the lawful and keep away from the prohibition’. He explained this phrase further, “In time the prophet passed away the preservation of the Qur’ān had not completed, except within few people of his companion who kept its interpretation and took actions on both clear and unclear verses.” (Zuhd, 148) Accordingly, as he commented on QS 35:10 “…to Him mount up a good word, and good conduct will lift it up…” He asserted, “If a man says a good word while perform a good deed, resonantly God will exalt somebody’s word because of his deed.” On the contrary, for him, “if somebody says good word, but he perform a bad deed, God will reject the word because of the action.” (Zuhd, 149)
In additions, more important than the action itself, asan underlined the importance of intention (niyya) within an action. He suggested that one purify his intent (ikhlās) from any vainglory (riyā’), to which Massignon called it with the ascetic method of introspection. Moreover, asan put a stress on the importance of intention within the framework of ethical prescriptions as he mentioned that adāb is more important than the fard, whereas intention is more effective than the works. (Qūt, ii, 152) In explaining the idea that man’s action heavily depends on his intention in order to reach its goal, asan simply put an illustration, “a believer thinks well of God; then he beautifies his acts, but a hypocrite thinks bad (sū’u zhann) of God; therefore, his acts are also bad.” (ilya, ii, 166) This illustration seems to be asan’s interpretation of QS 69:19-20, “Then he that will be given his record in his right hand will say, ‘ah here, read my record! I really think that my account will reach me.’”
It is clear from asan’s tendency towards the mystical interpretation to the Qur’ān that he represented the Sufi’s mystical thinking in the period of which the ideas of taîawwuf were mainly characterized by the stressing into good moral conduct, by which the Sufis represent themselves as the heirs of the Prophet to preach the moral mission of Islam. This is also evident that even though he did not agree with the policy of the Umayya, asan restrained his fellow citizen from revolt, but when the revolt actually happened; he remained stay in the city. He also refused to involve in anti-Umayyad unrest of Ibn Ash‘ath (81/…) or to close his eyes to Ibn al-Muhallabs’ anti-Syrian excesses (101/…). (See Tabari, Tarīkh ii, 1391) The reason behind such attitudes is, asan clearly explained, that penitence, rather than combat, would obtain divine redress of social injustices. (Ibn Sa‘ad, vii, 119) asan’s passive positions in such political upheaval clearly indicate to his mystical attitude not only n his framework of thinking, but also his attitude he had to face in his life. (Massignon, Essay, 126)
While explicating the moral significance of the Qur’ānic teachings within mystical interpretations of the clear verses of the Qur’ān, asan inherited much Ibn ‘Abbās’ opinion in dealing with the interpretation of the unclear verses of the muqatta‘āt, uon which asan employed symbolic interpretations to such ambiguous verses. The simplest comment he gave to explain such a mysterious phenomenon within the Qur’ān is, as he asserted, that these scattered letters are “the opening by which Allah introduce the chapters,” or he ought to say that those letters are “the names of the chapters”. Only on a few commentaries did he indicated to his way of symbolic interpretations as he seemed to inherit such an inspirational method of Qur’ānic interpretation from Ibn ‘Abbās. Dealing with the symbolic interpretation of QS 42:1, it is reported that asan commented, the‘ayn is the divine knowledge (‘ilm Allāh), the sīn is His beauty (sanā’uh) and the qāf is His Power (qudratuh). Ibn ‘Abbās’ influence to asan’s symbolic interpretation is also visible in his interpretation of the letter nūn of the opening of QS 68:1 as he interpreted that it was the ink (dawāt).
The influence of Ibn ‘Abbās in determining asan’s interpretation of the unclear verses, particularly the muqatta‘āt, is also prevalent in the latter’s adaptation to Ibn Abbas’ theory of oath, that most of the letter of the opening of certain chapter are divine oath while communicating his message. Therefore, the letters are symbols; either His own sacred names or other designations, by which God pronounce His vow. According to asan, the letters yā sīn marked as the beginning and the name of chapter 36 is a divine oath by mentioning His prophet’s name Ilyāsīn (Tafsīr al-Hasan al-Basrī, ii, 228).
In addition to the theory of oath, pronouncing the letters as a means how God communicates His message could also be symbolically interpreted as a summon employing foreign languages other Arabic, as asan also supported Ibn ‘Abbās that the word tā hā that marks the opening of chapter 20 could be interpreted as a call in Nabatean language meaning ‘O, man!’ (yā rajul); or yā sīn, which is an Ethiopian language meaning “O, mankind!” (yā insān). (Zād al-Masīr, vii, 3) Such a symbolic way of interpretation significantly bears that certain opening of the Qur’ānic chapter is dealing with the way God addresses His message to mankind, by which the use of a cry call (munādā) is important to communicate the message, especially as the Qur’ān was descended in a population that mostly employ oral traditions.
 See Tadhkirat al-uffāẓ, i, 71.
 See Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb, ii, 264.
 See Ritter, “Al-Hasan al-Basrī”, EI, iii, 247b.
 See Tawfiq b ‘Āmir, Dirāsāt fi al-Zuhd wa al-Tasawwuf, 14.
 There is no information on whom al-asan was talking to among the children of ‘Alī, as Qushayrī only mentioned that al-asan al-Baîrī arrived at Mecca and saw a ghulām among ‘Alī’s children preaching the crowd in front of the Ka‘ba. Al-asan asked, then, “what is the wealth of religion (malāk al-dīn). He replied, “al-wara‘!” Al-asan asked more, “what is its loss (āfātuh)? He said, “al-tama‘!” See Qushayrī, Risāla, 112.
 Ibn al-Jawzī, Al-Hasan al-Basri, 40 and 63; such a progressive statement could also be compared to Dhū al-Nūn, as he stated that thinking is the key of rituals (al-fikr miftāh al-‘ibāda). (See Qushayrī, Risāla, 151)
 QS 7:26, “O ye Children of Adam, We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness –that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allāh, that they may receive admonition!
 Compare to the division of religion into three fundamental elements: faith (īmān), rituals (islām), and ethic (ihsān) (See Bukhāri, Sahih, kitāb al-īmān no.48; Muslim, Sahīh, Kitāb al-īmān, no. 10-11; Nasā’ī, Sunan, Kitāb al-īmān wa sharā‘i’uhu, 4905; Ibn Mājah, Sahīh, muqaddima, 63; and Ahmad’s Musnad, hadīth no. 9137. The perfection of highest morality is also the main mission of Muhammad’s prophecy. (See Sarraj, Luma‘, 133) For al-Hasan’s statement on the moral mission see Tawfīq b. ‘Āmir, Dirasat fi al-zhdi wa al-Tasawwuf, pp. 15-17).
 Hasan seemed to address this criticism to Farqad al-Sabakhi, see Zuhd, 115.
 He was born in 97/715 at Kufa, a famous scholar with the distinguished school of opinion in the field of the Hadith and Islamic law. It is possible that he had met Hasan al-Basri before the latter’s death, but the account seems more likely due to Hasan’s notoriety in Basra, where Sufyān also share the same environment of academic life until his death in 161/778.
 This hadith is reported through the authority of Ibn al-Mubārak from Mubārak, from al-asan al-Basri, from the Prophet (See Zuhd, 55). However, these sequences of transmitters are doubtful because there should be an omission (maqtū‘) of some transmitters between al-asan and the Prophet. Another account reported from the authority of Sulamī mentions that the Hadith received by Sulami from ‘Abd Allāh b. al-Husayn b. Ibrāhīm al-sūfī, Muhammad b. amdūn b Mālik al-Baghdādī, al-Husayn b. Ahmad b. al-Mubārak, Ahmad b. Sālih al-Fayyūmī, Dhū al-Nūn, al-Layth b. Sa‘ad, Nāfi‘, Ibn ‘Umar, from the Prophet (Tabaqāt, 24).
 See Massignon, Essay, 128. This mystical way of introspection was also inherited by the later generation of Sufis, especially we can recount it visible at the hands of Muhāsibī (d. 243/857).
 But, according to Massignon, this action took not so long time as Muttarif, at last, warned him about the turbulence, by then asan took refuge (See Ibn Khallikan, I, 140 in Massignon, Essay, 126).
 asan mentioned the phrase fawātīh yaftatihu Allāh bihā al-suwar, which he applied for the interpretation of the letters alif lām mīm of opening of the chapters 2, 3, 29-32, the tā sīn mīm of 26, 28, and tā sīn of 27. See Tafsīr al-Hasan al-Basrī, ii,
 This interpretation is applied to the alif lām mīm sād of chapter 7, alif lām rā’ of chapters 10, 11,12, 14, 15, alif lām mīm rā’ of chapter 13, kāf hā yā ‘ayn sād of chapter 19, and ðā hā of chapter 20 (Ibid.).
 The first two letters of the chapter opening (hā mīm) was absent from any interpretation, which seems to have been mentioned in another part of interpretation, but failed to remain be recorded within tradition via the transmission of asan. However, Ibn al-Jawzī mentioned clearly that the interpretation was originated from Ibn ‘Abbās, which is transmitted via asan as he might agree to such a method of symbolic way of Qur’ānic commentary (see Ibn al-Jawzi, Zād al-Masīr, vii, 271; Tafsir al-Hasan al-Basrī, ii, 270).
 See Ibn al-Jawzī, Zād al-Masīr, viii, 327. See also Tabarī, xxix, 15; Dur al-manthūr, viii, 241, in Tafsir al-Hasan al-Basri, ii, 357.
 Ibn Jawzī, Zād al-Masīr, v, 269; See also Tabarī, Jāmi‘ al-Bayān, xvi, 102; as Tabarī also personally agreed that this opinion is the most plausible interpretation to this sort of muqatta‘āt, referring to the habit of the people of ‘Ak to address what the Arab would say, ‘yā rajul!’ Such an interpretation is also echoed in Tafsīr al-Alūsī. Employing the account of al-Kalbī, Ālūsī commented that such a call might also derived from the ‘Ak language, as he also uses Zamakhsharī’s analyses that the ‘Ak employs the particle tā, instead of yā, while hā is abbreviated form of the word hādhā; however, Alūsī was also fully aware that infiltration of foreign languages other than Quraysh into the Qur’ān is a matter of controversy. (See Tafsīr al-Alūsī, xvi, 166)
 Concerning the significant role of the town crier (munādī) in an oral communicational habit see C.E. Bosworth, “Munādī” in EI2 vii, 556b.