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Imam al-Ghazali

 

 

Imam al-Ghazali (d.1111), known as the ‘Proof of Islam’, authored over a hundred books on all the Islamic scholarly disciplines. Famed as a jurist, theologian and teacher at the Nizamiyya madrasa in Baghdad, he mastered the swirling intellectual currents of his day to articulate the importance and harmony of Islamic orthodoxy with compelling and renewed clarity.

 

Despite his achievements and renown, he became disillusioned with his academic career. He abandoned his comforts and prestige in Baghdad and embarked on a ten-year period of wandering and self-purification. In his autobiography he recorded:

 

The desires of this world pulled at me and entreated me to remain, while the voice of faith called out: Go! Go! Only a little of your life remains, yet before you lies a lengthy journey. All the knowledge and works that are yours today are but an eyeservice and deceit. If you do not prepare now for the Afterlife when shall you do so?

 

The works Imam al-Ghazali composed during and after this period of spiritual quest are infused with the deep conviction of the need to relate outward forms to inward sincerity, and with the results of his own spiritual struggle.

 

This is most clear in the work for which he is most celebrated, The Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya Ulum al-Din), a compendium of spiritual guidance which he wrote to revive the flagging fortunes of the Islamic world in his age.

 

Covering every aspect of the religion, from belief, to worship, to daily life, to vice, virtue, and the final encounter with God, this text is regarded as one of the masterpieces of world sacred literature.

 

(Summarised from the introduction to The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife: Book XL of The Revival of the Religious Sciences, ed. by T. J. Winter, Islamic Texts Society 1995).

 

 

Imam al-Ghazali, His Legacy and His Importance for Today

 


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

 

 

 

The Ghazali Series

 

 

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To read the latest al-Ghazali translations please click on the image for latest additions to the the Ghazali Series. The translations presents al-Ghazali's thinking on law, spirituality, manners and theology. Translated by leading scholars, these texts show al-Ghazali's perspicacity and concern for the religion of Islam and its adherents.