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Medieval era (Islamic golden age)
|Full name||Ghazali (Algazel)|
|Born||1058 C.E. (450 AH)
|Died||1111 C.E. (505 AH)
|School/tradition||Sufism, Sunni (Shafi'ite),Asharite
|Main interests||Sufism, Islamic Theology(Kalam), Islamic Philosophy,Islamic Psychology, Logic,Islamic Law, Islamic Jurisprudence, Cosmology|
Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Ghazālī (1058-1111) (Persian: ابو حامد محمد ابن محمد الغزالی), often Algazel in English, was born and died in Tus, in the Khorasan province of Persia. He was an Islamic theologian, jurist, philosopher, cosmologist, psychologist and mystic ofPersian origin, and remains one of the most celebrated scholars in the history of Sunni Islamic thought. He is considered a pioneer of the methods of doubt and skepticism, and in one of his major works, The Incoherence of the Philosophers, he changed the course of early Islamic philosophy, shifting it away from an Islamic metaphysics influenced by ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophy, and towards anIslamic philosophy based on cause-and-effect that was determined by God or intermediate angels, a theory now known as occasionalism.
Ghazali, contributed significantly to the development of a systematic view of Sufism and its integration and acceptance in mainstream Islam. He was a scholar of orthodox Islam, belonging to the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence and to the Asharite school of theology. Ghazali received many titles such as Sharaful A'emma (Arabic: شرف الأئمّة), Zainuddin (Arabic: زين الدين),Hujjatul Islam, meaning "Proof of Islam" (Arabic: حجّة الاسلام). He is viewed as the key member of the influential Asharite school of early Muslim philosophy and the most important refuter ofMutazilites. However, he chose a slightly different position in comparison with the Asharites; his beliefs and thoughts differ, in some aspects, from the orthodox Asharite school.
Ghazali was born in 1058 in Tus, a city in Khorasan province of Persia. His father, a traditional sufi, died when he and his younger brother, Ahmad Ghazali, were still young. One of their father's friends took care of them for the next few years. In 1070, Ghazali and his brother went to Gurgan to enroll in a madrassah. There, he studied fiqh (islamic jurisprudence) next to Ahmad ibn Muhammad Rādkānī and Abu'l Qāsim Jurjānī. After approximately 7 years studying, he returned to Tus.
His first important trip to Nishapur occurred around 1080 when he was almost 23 years old. He became the student of the famous Muslim scholar Abu'l Ma'ālī Juwaynī, known as Imam al-Haramayn. After the death of Al-Juwayni in 1085, Ghazālī was invited to go to the court ofNizamul Mulk Tusi, the powerful vizier of the Seljuq sultans. The vizier was so impressed by Ghazali's scholarship that in 1091 he appointed him as chief professor in the Nizamiyya of Baghdad. He used to lecture to more than 300 students, and his participation in Islamic debates and discussions made him popular in all over the Islamic territories.
He passed through a spiritual crisis in 1095, abandoned his career, and left Baghdad on the pretext of going on pilgrimage to Mecca. Making arrangements for his family, he disposed of his wealth and adopted the life of a poor Sufi. After some time in Damascus andJerusalem, with a visit to Medina and Mecca in 1096, he settled in Tus to spend the next several years in seclusion. He ended his seclusion for a short lecturing period at the Nizamiyyah of Nishapur in 1106. Later he returned to Tus where he remained until his death in December, 1111. He had one son named Abdu'l Rahman Allam.
Ghazali wrote more than 70 books on Islamic sciences, early Islamic philosophy, Islamic psychology, Kalam and Sufism. His 11th century book titled The Incoherence of the Philosophers marks a major turn in Islamic epistemology, as Ghazali effectively discovered philosophical skepticismthat would not be commonly seen in the West until René Descartes, George Berkeley and David Hume. The encounter with skepticism led Ghazali to embrace a form of theological occasionalism, or the belief that all causal events and interactions are not the product of material conjunctions but rather the immediate and present will of God.
The Incoherence of the Philosophers
The Incoherence of the Philosophers marked a turning point in Islamic philosophy in its vehement rejections of Aristotle and Plato. The book took aim at the falasifa, a loosely defined group of Islamic philosophers from the 8th through the 11th centuries (most notable among them Avicenna andAl-Farabi) who drew intellectually upon the Ancient Greeks. Ghazali bitterly denounced Aristotle, Socrates and other Greek writers as non-believers and labeled those who employed their methods and ideas as corrupters of the Islamic faith.
The Incoherence of the Philosophers is famous for proposing and defending the Asharite theory of occasionalism. Al-Ghazali famously claimed that when fire and cotton are placed in contact, the cotton is burned directly by God rather than by the fire, a claim which he defended using logic. He argued that because God is usually seen as rational, rather than arbitrary, his behaviour in normally causing events in the same sequence (ie, what appears to us to be efficient causation) can be understood as a natural outworking of that principle of reason, which we then describe as the laws of nature. Properly speaking, however, these are not laws of nature but laws by which God chooses to govern his own behaviour (his autonomy, in the strict sense) - in other words, his rational will.
However, Al-Ghazali does express support for a scientific methodology based on demonstration and mathematics, while discussing astronomy. After describing the scientific facts of thesolar eclipse resulting from the Moon coming between the Sun and Earth and the lunar eclipse from the Earth coming between the Sun and Moon, he writes:
Whosoever thinks that to engage in a disputation for refuting such a theory is a religious duty harms religion and weakens it. For these matters rest on demonstrations, geometrical and arithmetical, that leave no room for doubt.
In the next century, Averroes drafted a lengthy rebuttal of Ghazali's Incoherence entitled The Incoherence of the Incoherence; however, the epistemological course of Islamic thought had already been set.
The Deliverance From Error
The autobiography Ghazali wrote towards the end of his life, The Deliverance From Error (Al-munqidh min al-ḍalāl; several English translations) is considered a work of major importance. In it, Ghazali recounts how, once a crisis of epistemological skepticism was resolved by "a light which God Most High cast into my breast...the key to most knowledge," he studied and mastered the arguments of kalam, Islamic philosophy, and Ismailism. Though appreciating what was valid in the first two of these, at least, he determined that all three approaches were inadequate and found ultimate value only in the mystical experience and insight (the state of prophecy or nubuwwa) he attained as a result of following Sufi practices. William James, inVarieties of Religious Experience, considered the autobiography an important document for "the purely literary student who would like to become acquainted with the inwardness of religions other than the Christian" because of the scarcity of recorded personal religious confessions and autobiographical literature from this period outside the Christian tradition.
In this work, Al-Ghazali expresses support for mathematics as an exact science, but argues that it cannot be used as a form of proof for religious or metaphysical doctrines due to their non-physical nature. He argues that religion and metaphysics are not in need of mathematics in the sense thatpoetry is not in need of mathematics or in the sense that philology or grammar can be mastered without any knowledge of mathematical sciences. He also argues that every discipline has its own experts and that an expert in one discipline, in this case mathematics, may fail miserably in other disciplines, in this case religion and metaphysics. However, al-Ghazali sees the practical usefulness of mathematics and condemns those who reject the mathematical sciences:
A grievous crime indeed against religion has been committed by the man who imagines that Islam is defended by the denial of the mathematical sciences, seeing that there is nothing in revealed truth opposed to these sciences by way of either negation or affirmation, and nothing in these sciences opposed to the truth of religion.
The Revival of Religious Sciences
Another of Ghazali's major works is The Revival of Religious Sciences (Arabic: احياء علوم الدين Ihya al-Ulum al-Din or Ihya'ul Ulumuddin). It covers almost all fields of Islamic religious sciences: Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Kalam (Islamic theology) and Sufism. It contains four major sections: Acts of worship (Rub' al-'ibadat), Norms of Daily Life (Rub' al-'adatat), The ways to Perdition (Rub' al-'muhlikat) and The ways to Salavation (Rub' al-'munjiyat). It is said that he used Abu Talib al-Makki as one of his sources. He then wrote a brief version of this book inPersian under The Alchemy of Happiness (Kīmyāye Sa'ādat).
Sciences whose knowledge is deemed fard kifāyah comprise [all] sciences which are indispensable for the welfare of this world such as: medicine which is necessary for the life of the body, arithmetic for daily transactions and the divisions of legacies and inheritances, as well as others. These are the sciences which, because of their absence, the community would be reduced to narrow straits.
Al-Ghazali was responsible for formulating the Ash'ari school of atomism. He argued that atoms are the only perpetual, material things in existence, and all else in the world is “accidental” meaning something that lasts for only an instant. Nothing accidental can be the cause of anything else, except perception, as it exists for a moment. Contingent events are not subject to natural physical causes, but are the direct result of God’s constant intervention, without which nothing could happen. Thus nature is completely dependent on God, which is consistent with other Ash'ari Islamic ideas on causation, or the lack thereof.
In atomic theory, al-Ghazali alluded to the possibility of dividing an atom. In reference to the wide divisions among Muslims, he wrote: "Muslims are so good at dividing that they can divide the atom. If you see two Muslims, probably they belong to 3 parties."
In the fourteenth century, Nicholas of Autrecourt considered that matter, space, and time were all made up of indivisible atoms, points, and instants and that all generation and corruption took place by the rearrangement of material atoms. The similarities of his ideas with those of al-Ghazali suggest that Nicholas was familiar with the work of al-Ghazali, who was known as "Algazel" in Europe, either directly or indirectly through Averroes.
Biology and Medicine
Al-Ghazali's writings are believed to have been a source of encouragement for the study of medicine in medieval Islam, particularly anatomy. In The Revival of the Religious Sciences, he classes medicine as one of the praiseworthy (mahmud) secular sciences, in contrast to astrology which he considers blameworthy (madhmutn). In his discourse on meditation (tafakkur), he "devotes a number of pages to a fairly detailed anatomical exposition of the parts of the human body, advocating such study as a suitable subject for contemplation and drawing nearer to God."
In The Deliverer from Error, Al-Ghazali made a strong statement in support of anatomy and dissection:
The Naturalists (al-tabi'yun): They are a group of people who are constantly studying the natural world and the wonders of animals and plants. They are frequently engaging in the science of anatomy/dissection ('ilm at-tashriih, علم التَشريح) of animal bodies, and through it they perceive the wonders of God's design and the marvels of His wisdom. With this they are compelled to acknowledge a wise Creator Who is aware of die ends and purposes of things. No one can study anatomy/dissection and the wonders of the utilities of the parts without deducing this unavoidable inference—that is, the perfection of the design of the Creator with regard to the structure (binyah, بنية) of animals and especially the structure of humans.
His support for the study of anatomy and dissection was influential in the rise of anatomy and dissections carried out among Muslim physicians in the 12th and 13th centuries, by the likes of Avenzoar and Ibn al-Nafis, among others. Averroes, a critic of Al-Ghazali, also agreed with him on the issue of dissection.
In cosmology, in contrast to ancient Greek philosophers such as Aristotle who believed that the universe had an infinite past with no beginning, Medieval philosophers and theologiansdeveloped the concept of the universe having a finite past with a beginning (temporal finitism). This view was inspired by the belief in creation shared by the three Abrahamic religions:Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Christian philosopher, John Philoponus, presented the first such argument against the ancient Greek notion of an infinite past. However, the most sophisticated Medieval arguments against an infinite past were developed by the early Muslim philosopher, Al-Kindi (Alkindus); the Jewish philosopher, Saadia Gaon (Saadia ben Joseph); and finally Al-Ghazali, under whom the arguments reached their most developed form. Al-Ghazali proposed two logical arguments against an infinite past, the first being the "argument from the impossibility of the existence of an actual infinite", which states:
- "An actual infinite cannot exist."
- "An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite."
- ".•. An infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist."
His second argument, the "argument from the impossibility of completing an actual infinite by successive addition", states:
- "An actual infinite cannot be completed by successive addition."
- "The temporal series of past events has been completed by successive addition."
- ".•. The temporal series of past events cannot be an actual infinite."
Both arguments were adopted by later Christian philosophers and theologians, and the second argument in particular became more famous after it was adopted by Immanuel Kant in his thesis of the first antimony concerning time.
In Islamic psychology and Sufi psychology, al-Ghazali discussed the concept of the self and the causes of its misery and happiness. He described the self using four terms: Qalb (heart),Ruh (spirit), Nafs (soul) and 'Aql (intellect). He stated that "the self has an inherent yearning for an ideal, which it strives to realize and it is endowed with qualities to help realize it." He further stated that the self has motor and sensory motives for fulfilling its bodily needs. He wrote that the motor motives comprise of propensities and impulses, and further divided the propensities into two types: appetite and anger. He wrote that appetite urges hunger, thirst, and sexual craving, while anger takes the form of rage, indignation and revenge. He further wrote that impulse resides in the muscles, nerves, and tissues, and moves the organs to "fulfill the propensities."
Al-Ghazali was one of the first to divide the sensory motives (apprehension) into five external senses (the classical senses of hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch) and five internal senses:common sense (Hiss Mushtarik) which synthesizes sensuous impressions carried to the brain while giving meaning to them; imagination (Takhayyul) which enables someone to retainmental images from experience; reflection (Tafakkur) which brings together relevant thoughts and associates or dissociates them as it considers fit but has no power to create anything new which is not already present in the mind; recollection (Tadhakkur) which remembers the outer form of objects in memory and recollects the meaning; and the memory (Hafiza) where impressions received through the senses are stored. He wrote that, while the external senses occur through specific organs, the internal senses are located in different regions of the brain, and discovered that the memory is located in the hinder lobe, imagination is located in the frontal lobe, and reflection is located in the middle folds of the brain. He stated that these inner senses allow people to predict future situations based on what they learn from past experiences.
In The Revival of Religious Sciences, he writes that the five internal senses are found in both humans and animals. In Mizan al Amal, however, he later states that animals "do not possess a well-developed reflective power" and argues that animals mostly think in terms of "pictorial ideas in a simple way and are incapable of complex association and dissociation of abstract ideas involved in reflection." He writes that "the self carries two additional qualities, which distinguishes man from animals enabling man to attain spiritual perfection", which are 'Aql(intellect) and Irada (will). He argues that the intellect is "the fundamental rational faculty, which enables man to generalize and form concepts and gain knowledge." He also argues that human will and animal will are both different. He writes that human will is "conditioned by the intellect" while animal will is "conditioned by anger and appetite" and that "all these powers control and regulate the body." He further writes that the Qalb (heart) "controls and rules over them" and that it has six powers: appetite, anger, impulse, apprehension, intellect, and will. He states that humans have all six of these traits, while animals only have three (appetite, anger, and impulse). This was in contrast to other ancient and medieval thinkers such asAristotle, Avicenna, Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas who all believed that animals cannot become angry.
Al-Ghazali writes that knowledge can either be innate or acquired. He divides acquired knowledge into phenomenal (material world) and spiritual (related to God and soul), and divides acquired knowledge into imitation, logical reasoning, contemplation and intuition. He also argues that there are four elements in human nature: the sage (intellect and reason), the pig (lustand gluttony), the dog (anger), and the devil (brutality). He argues that the latter three elements are in conflict with the former element and that "different people have such powers in different proportions."
Al-Ghazali divides the Nafs into three categories based on the Qur’an: Nafs Ammarah (12:53) which "exhorts one to freely indulge in gratifying passions and instigates to do evil", Nafs Lawammah (75:2) which is "the conscience that directs man towards right or wrong", and Nafs Mutmainnah (89:27) which is "a self that reaches the ultimate peace." As an analogy between psychology and politics, he compares the soul to that of a king running a kingdom, arguing that the bodily organs are like the artisans and workers, intellect is like a wise vizier,desire is like a wicked servant, and anger is like the police force. He argues that a king can correctly run the state of affairs by turning to the wise vizier, turns away from the wicked servant, and regulating the workers and the police; and that in the same way, the soul is balanced if it "keeps anger under control and makes the intellect dominate desire." He argues that for a soul to reach perfection, it needs to evolve through several stages: sensuous (like a moth which has no memory), imaginative (lower animal), instinctive (higher animal), rational ("transcends animal stage and apprehends objects beyond the scope of his senses") and divine ("apprehends reality of spiritual things").
He stated that there are two types of diseases: physical and spiritual. He considered the latter to be more dangerous, resulting from "ignorance and deviation from God", and listed the spiritual diseases as: self-centeredness; addiction to wealth, fame and social status; and ignorance, cowardice, cruelty, lust, waswas (doubt), malevolence, calumny, envy, deception, andgreed. To overcome these spiritual weaknesses, al-Ghazali suggested the therapy of opposites ("use of imagination in pursuing the opposite"), such as ignorance & learning, or hate & love. He described the personality as an "integration of spiritual and bodily forces" and believed that "closeness to God is equivalent to normality whereas distance from God leads toabnormality."
Al-Ghazali argued that human beings occupy a position "midway between animals and angels and his distinguishing quality is knowledge." He argues that a human can either rise to "the level of the angels with the help of knowledge" or fall to "the levels of animals by letting his anger and lust dominate him." He also argued that Ilm al-Batin (esotericism) is fard (incumbent) and advised Tazkiya Nafs (self-purification). He also noted that "good conduct can only develop from within and does not need total destruction of natural propensities."
Ghazali played a very major role in integrating Sufism with Shariah. He combined the concepts of Sufism very well with the Shariah laws. He was also the first to present a formal description of Sufism in his works. His works also strengthened the status of Sunnite Islam against other schools. TheBatinite (Ismailism) had emerged in Persian territories and were gaining more and more power during Ghazali's period, as Nizam al-Mulk was assassinated by the members of Ismailis. Ghazali strictly refuted their ideology and wrote several books on refutation of Baatinyas which significantly weakened their status.
Ijtihad is the process through which Islamic scholars can generate new rules for Muslims. Ijtihad was one of the recognized sources of Islamic knowledge by early Islamic scholars - that is, in addition to Quran, Sunnah and Qiyas. While it is not widely agreed that Al-Ghazali himself intended to "shut the door of ijtihad" completely and permanently, such an interpretation of Al-Ghazali's work is believed to have led Islamic societies to be "frozen in time". Works of critics of Al-Ghazali (such as Ibn-Rushd, a rationalist), as well as the works of any ancient philosopher, are believed to have been forbidden in these "frozen societies" through the centuries. As a result, all chances were lost to gradually revitalize religion - which may have been less painful had it been spread over a period of centuries.
Whether the actual outcome of "freezing Islamic thinking in time" was the goal of Al-Ghazali is highly debatable. While he himself was a critic of the philosophers, Al-Ghazali was a master in the art of philosophy and had an immense education in the field. After such a long education in philosophy, as well as a long process of reflection. But only taking Al-Ghazali's final conclusions, while lacking a comparable education (and a reflection process) in the area, and as a result being unable to trace Al-Ghazali in his thought process, only exacerbates the probability of the misuse of Al-Ghazali's conclusions.
This traditional view, however, has been disputed by recent scholarship, which has shown that scientific and philosophical activity continued to flourish in the Islamic world long after him. For example, Dimitri Gutas and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy consider the period between the 11th and 14th centuries to be the "Golden Age" of Arabic and Islamic philosophy, initiated by Al-Ghazali's successful integration of logic into the Madrasah curriculum. Emilie Savage-Smith has also shown that Al-Ghazali was a source of encouragement for the study of medicine in medieval Islam, and that his support for the study of anatomy was influential in the rise of dissections carried out among Muslim physicians in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Writer Iqbal Latif holds Al-Ghazali responsible for the decline of logic, reason and tolerance in the Islamic world.. Latif believes that the civilization of Islam began to falter as ‘destiny’ persevered over reason and logic, and as lenient ecclesiastical and priestly control once again tightened over the Muslim populace. With 'fate' sufficing to explain everything risk no longer mattered and Muslim commerce began to dramatically suffer.
Margaret Smith writes in her book Al-Ghazali: The Mystic (London 1944): "There can be no doubt that Ghazali’s works would be among the first to attract the attention of these European scholars" (page 220). Then she emphasizes,
"The greatest of these Christian writers who was influenced by Al-Ghazali was St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), who made a study of the Islamic writers and admitted his indebtedness to them. He studied at the University of Naples where the influence of Islamic literature and culture was predominant at the time."
Ghazali's influence has been compared to the works of St. Thomas Aquinas in Christian theology, but the two differed greatly in methods and beliefs. Whereas Ghazali rejected Greekmetaphysical philosophers such as Aristotle and saw it fit to refute their metaphysical teachings on the basis of their "irrationality," Aquinas embraced non-Christian philosophers and incorporated ancient Greek, Latin and Islamic thought into his own philosophical writings.
"A careful study of Ghazali's works will indicate how penetrating and widespread his influence was on the Western medieval scholars. A case in point is the influence of Ghazali on St. Thomas Aquinas — who studied the works of Islamic philosophers, especially Ghazali's, at the University of Naples. In addition, Aquinas' interest in Islamic studies could be attributed to the infiltration of ‘Latin Averroism’ in the 13th century, especially at [the University of] Paris."
List of Works
Ghazali had mentioned the number of his works "more than 70", in one of his letters to Sultan Sanjar in the late years of his life. However, there are more than 400 books attributed to him today. Making a judgment on the number of his works and their attribution to Ghazali is a difficult step. Many western scholars such as William Montgomery Watt (The works attributed to Al-Ghazali), Maurice Bouyges (Essai de chronologie des oeuvres d'Al-Ghazali) and others prepared a list of his works along with their comments on each book.
Finally, Abdel Rahman Badawi, an Egyptian scholar, prepared a comprehensive list of Ghazali's works under 457 titles:
- from 1 to 72: works definitely written by Ghazali
- from 73 to 95: works of doubtful attribution
- 96 - 127: works which are not those of Ghazali with most certainty
- 128 - 224: are the names of the Chapters or Sections of Ghazali's books that are mistakenly thought books of his
- 225 - 273: books written by other authors regarding Ghazali's works
- 274 - 389: books of other unknown scholars/writers regarding Ghazali's life and personality
- 389 - 457: the name of the manuscripts of Ghazali's works in different libraries of the world
The following is a short list of his Major works:
- al-Munqidh min al-dalal (Rescuer from Error)
- Hujjat al-Haq (Proof of the Truth)
- al-Iqtisad fil-i`tiqad (Median in Belief)
- al-maqsad al-asna fi sharah asma' Allahu al-husna (The best means in explaining Allah's Beautiful Names)
- Jawahir al-Qur'an wa duraruh (Jewels of the Qur'an and its Pearls)
- Fayasl al-tafriqa bayn al-Islam wa-l-zandaqa (The Criterion of Distinction between Islam and Clandestine Unbelief)
- Mishkat al-Anwar (The Niche of Lights)
- Tafsir al-yaqut al-ta'wil
- Sirr al-`Alamin (Secret of the Worlds)
- al-Risālah al-Qudsiyyah (The Jerusalem Tract)
- Mizan al-'amal (Criterion of Action)
- Ihya' ulum al-din, "Revival of Religious Sciences", Ghazali's most important work
- Bidayat al-hidayah (Beginning of Guidance)
- Kimiya-ye sa'ādat (The Alchemy of Happiness) [a résumé of Ihya'ul ulum, in Persian]
- Nasihat al-muluk (Counseling Kings) [in Persian]
- al-Munqidh min al-dalal (Rescuer from Error)
- Minhaj al-'Abidin (Methodology for the Worshipers)
- Maqasid al falasifa (Aims of Philosophers) [written in the beginning of his life, in favour of philosophy and presenting the basic theories in Philosophy, mostly influenced by Avicenna's works]
- Tahafut al-Falasifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers), [in this book he refutes the Greek Philosophy aiming at Avicenna and Al-Farabi; and of which Ibn Rushd wrote his famous refutation Tahafut al-tahafut (The Incoherence of the Incoherence)]
- Miyar al-Ilm fi fan al-Mantiq (Criterion of Knowledge in the Art of Logic)
- Mihak al-Nazar fi al-mantiq (Touchstone of Reasoning in Logic)
- al-Qistas al-mustaqim (The Correct Balance)
- Fatawy al-Ghazali (Verdicts of al-Ghazali)
- Al-wasit fi al-mathab (The medium [digest] in the Jurisprudential school)
- Kitab tahzib al-Isul (Prunning on Legal Theory)
- al-Mustasfa fi 'ilm al-isul (The Clarified in Legal Theory)
- Asas al-Qiyas (Foundation of Analogical reasoning)
Works in Persian
Al-Ghazali wrote most of his works in Arabic and few in Persian. His most important Persian work is Kīmyāyé Sa'ādat (The Alchemy of Happiness). It is Al-Ghazali's own Persian version of Ihya'ul ulumuddin (The Revival of Religious Sciences) in Arabic, but a shorter work. It is one of the outstanding works of 11th-century-Persian literature. The book was published several times in Tehran by the edition of Hussain Khadiv-jam, a renown Iranian scholar. It has been translated to English, Arabic, Turkish, Urdu and other languages.
Apart from Kimya, the most celebrated of Ghazali's works in Persian is Nasīhatul Mulūk (The Counseling Kings), written most probably for Sultan Ahmad Sanjar ibn Malekshah. In the edition published by Jalāluddīn Humāyī, the book consists of two parts of which only the first can reliably be attributed to Ghazali. The language and the contents of some passages are similar to the Kimyaye Sa'adat. The second part differs considerably in content and style from the well-known writings of Ghazali. It contains the stories of pre-Islamic kings of Persia, especially those of Anoshervān. Nasihatul Muluk was early translated to Arabic under the title al-Tibr al-masbuk fi nasihat al-muluk (The Forged Sword in Counseling Kings).
Zād-e Ākherat (Provision for the hereafter) is an important Persian book of Ghazali but gained less scholarly attention. The greater part of it consists of the Persian translation of one of his Arabic books, Bedāyat al-Hedāya (Beginning of Guidance). It contains in addition the same contents as the Kīmyāyé Sa'ādat. The book was most probably written during the last years of his life. Its manuscripts are in Kabul (Library of the Department of Press) and in Leiden.
Pand-nāma (Book of Counsel) is another book of advice and probably attributed to Sultan Sanjar. The introduction to the book relates that Ghazali wrote the book in response to a certain king who had asked him for advice. Ay farzand (O son!) is a short book of counsel that Ghazali wrote for one of his students. The book was early translated to Arabic entitled ayyuhal walad. His another Persian work is Hamāqāti ahli ibāhat or Raddi ebāhīyya (Condemnation of antinomians) which is his fatwa in Persian illustrated with Quranic verses and Hadiths.
Faza'ilul al-anam min rasa'ili hujjat al-Islam is the collection of letters in Persians that Ghazali wrote in response to the kings, ministers, jurists and some of his friends after he returned to Khorasan. The collection was gathered by one of his grandchildren after his death, under five sections/chapters. The longest letter is the response to objections raised against some of his statements in Mishkat al-Anwar (The Niche of Light) and al-Munqidh min al-dalal (Rescuer from Error). The first letter is the one which Ghazali wrote to Sultan Sanjar presenting his excuse for teaching in Nizamiyya of Nishapur; followed by Ghazali's speech in the court of Sultan Sanjar. Ghazali made an impressive speech when he was taken to the king's court in Nishapur in 1106, giving very influential counsels, asking the sultan once again to excuse him from teaching in Nizamiyya and refuting the accusations made against him for disrespectingImam Abu Hanifa in his books. The sultan was so impressed that he ordered Ghazali to write down his speech so that it would be sent to all the ulemas of Khorasan and Iraq.
- Laoust, H: La politique de Gazali, Paris 1970
- Campanini, M.: Al-Ghazzali, in S.H. Nasr and O. Leaman, History of Islamic Philosophy 1996
- Watt, W. M.: Muslim Intellectual: A Study of al-Ghazali, Edinburgh 1963
- Zwemer, S. M. A Moslem Seeker after God, New York 1920
- Nakamura, K. Al-Ghazali, Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- ^ The Influence of Islamic Thought on Maimonides Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, June 30 2005
- ^ Muslim Philosophy, Islamic Contributions to Science & Math, netmuslims.com
- ^ Ghazali, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition 2006
- ^  Böwering, Gerhard - ḠAZĀLĪ entry in Encyclopaedia Iranica
- ^ a b Najm, Sami M. (July-October 1966), "The Place and Function of Doubt in the Philosophies of Descartes and Al-Ghazali", Philosophy East and West 16 (3-4): 133–41
- ^ R.M. Frank, Al-Ghazali and the Ash'arite School, Duke University Press, London 1994
- ^ a b c Anwar, Sabieh (October 2008), "Is Ghazālī really the Halagu of Science in Islam?", Monthly Renaissance 18 (10), retrieved on 2008-10-14
- ^ Annotated translations by Richard Joseph McCarthy (Freedom and Fulfillment, Boston: Twayne, 1980; Deliverance From Error, Louisville, Ky.: Fons Vitae, 1999) and George F. McLean (Deliverance from error and mystical union with the Almighty, Washington, D.C.: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 2001). An earlier translation by William Montgomery Watt was first published in 1953 (The faith and practice of al-Ghazālī, London: G. Allen and Unwin).
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