The First step in purification of the self (Tazkiya)
Excerpt From Imam Muhasibi's works
First thing-know yourself!
The first thing is that you should know that you are a servant under authority, for whom there is no salvation except through fearing your Master and Lord, and no destruction for you if you do so.
Remembering and reflecting on one's purpose of creation:
Therefore remember and reflect upon that for which you were created and the reason for which you were placed in this transient world, and know that you were not created for idle pleasure (‘abath) and you were not abandoned to blindness (i.e., not left without guidance), but you were created and placed in this world only by way of trial and experience, either to obey God or to disobey Him, and you will pass from this world into everlasting torment or eternal bliss.
If you know that you are a servant under authority, you will understand why you were created and to what you are exposed and to what you are inevitably taking your way. That is the very beginning of the purification of your self, for it cannot be purified unless it knows itself to be under authority and a creature, and then you will know that there can be no salvation for one who is but a creature and in state of servantship, except through obedience to his Lord and Master.
The Foundations of Obedience:
The guide to that obedience is knowledge of His commands and prohibitions,
for obedience is the road to salvation, and knowledge is the guide to the road, and the foundation of obedience is abstinence (wara‘), and the foundation of abstinence is piety (taqwa), and the foundation of that is self-examination (muhasaba), and self-examination is based on fear (khawf) and hope (raja’), and that which guides to self-examination is the knowledge which enables God’s creatures to serve Him with their hearts and limbs.
Smith, Margaret: An early mystic of Baghdad: a study of the life and teaching of Harith B. Asad al-Muhasibi, A.D. 781-A.D. 857. London: Sheldon, 1935 (rept. 1973).