Hazrat Ahmad Ghazali r.a

Haruniyah (هارونیه) structure in TusIran, named after Harun al-Rashid, the mausoleum of Al-Ghazali is thought to be situated at the entrance of this monument
Al-Ghazali (/ˈɡɑːzˌɑːli/; full name Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Ghazālī أبو حامد محمد بن محمد الغزالي; latinized Algazelus or Algazel, c. 1058 – 19 December 1111) was a medieval Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic of Persianorigin.
His Tahāfut al-Falāsifa (“Incoherence of the Philosophers”) was extremely influential in turning medieval Muslim thought away from Aristotelianism, philosophical speculation and theological debate, leading to the eventual triumph of the Asharite over the Mutaziliteschool of theological thought. Within Islamic tradition he is considered to be a Mujaddid or renewer of the faith, who, according to tradition, appears once every century to restore the faith of the community. His works were so highly acclaimed by his contemporaries that al-Ghazali was awarded the honorific title “Proof of Islam” (Hujjat al-Islam). Al-Ghazali is also connected with Sufism, and credited with having initiated a rapprochement between Islamic orthodoxy and Sufi tradition.

Life::

The traditional date of al-Ghazali’s birth, as given by Ibn al-Jawzi, is AH 450 (1058/9). Modern estimates place it at AH 448 (1056/7), on the basis of certain statements in al-Ghazali’s correspondence and autobiography.
He was born in Tabaran, a town in the district of Tus, Khorasan (today part of Iran). A posthumous tradition—the authenticity of which has been questioned in recent scholarship—tells that his father, a man “of Persian descent”, died in poverty and left the young al-Ghazali and his brother Ahmad to the care of a Sufi. Al-Ghazali’s contemporary and first biographer, ‘Abd al-Ghafir al-Farisi, records merely that al-Ghazali began to receive instruction in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) from Ahmad al-Radhakani, a local teacher.
He later studied under al-Juwayni, the distinguished jurist and theologian and “the most outstanding Muslim scholar of his time”,in Nishapur, perhaps after a period of study in Gurgan. After al-Juwayni’s death in 1085, al-Ghazali departed from Nishapur and joined the court of Nizam al-Mulk, the powerful vizier of the Seljuq sultans, which was likely centered in Isfahan. After bestowing upon him the titles of “Brilliance of the Religion” and “Eminence among the Religious Leaders”, Nizam al-Mulk advanced al-Ghazali in July 1091 to the “most prestigious and most challenging” professorial at the time, in the Nizamiyya madrasa in Baghdad.
He underwent a spiritual crisis in 1095, and consequently 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 an ascetic lifestyle. According to biographer, Duncan B. Macdonald, the purpose of abstaining from scholastic work was to confront the spiritual experience and more ordinary understanding of “the Word and the Traditions”. After some time in Damascus and Jerusalem, with a visit to Medina and Mecca in 1096, he returned to Tus to spend the next several years in ‘uzla (seclusion). This seclusion consisted in abstaining from teaching at state-sponsored institutions, though he continued to publish, to receive visitors, and to teach in the zawiya (private madrasa) and khanqah (Sufi monastery) that he had built.
Fakhr al-Mulk, grand vizier to Ahmad Sanjar, pressed al-Ghazali to return to the Nizamiyya in Nishapur; al-Ghazali reluctantly capitulated in 1106, fearing (rightly) that he and his teachings would meet with resistance and controversy. He later returned to Tus, and declined an invitation in 1110 from the grand vizier of Muhammad I to return to Baghdad. He died on 19 December 1111. According to ‘Abd al-Ghafir al-Farisi he had several daughters, but no sons.

School affiliations::

Al-Ghazali contributed significantly to the development of a systematic view of Sufism and to its integration and acceptance in mainstream Islam. As a scholar of orthodox Islam, he belonged to the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence and to the Asharite school of theology. Al-Ghazali received many titles such as Sharaf-ul-Aʾimma (شرف الأئمة), Zayn-ud-dīn (زين الدين), Ḥujjat-ul-Islām (حجة الإسلام).
He is viewed[by whom? as the key member of the influential Asharite school of early Muslim philosophy and as the most important refuter of the Mutazilites. 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.

Influence::

Al-Ghazali had an important influence on both later Muslim philosophers and Christian medieval philosophers. Margaret Smith writes in her book Al-Ghazali: The Mystic (London 1944): “There can be no doubt that al-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 Arabic writers and admitted his indebtedness to them, having studied at the University of Naples where the influence of Arab literature and culture was predominant at the time.” 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.
The period following Ghazali has “has tentatively been called the Golden Age of Arabic philosophy” initiated by Ghazali’s successful integration of logic into the Islamic seminary Madrasah curriculum.
Al-Ghazali also played a major role in integrating Sufism with Shariah. He was also the first to present a formal description of Sufism in his works. His works also strengthened the status of Sunni Islam against other schools. The Batinite (Ismailism) had emerged in Persian territories and were gaining more and more power during al-Ghazali’s period, as Nizam al-Mulk was assassinated by the members of Ismailis. Al-Ghazali strongly rejected their ideology and wrote several books on criticism of Baatinyas which significantly weakened their status.
Al-Ghazali succeeded in gaining widespread acceptance for Sufism at the expense of philosophy.At the same time, in his refutation of philosophers he made use of their philosophical categories and thus helped to give them wider circulation.
His reforms are widely seen as having initiated the decline of scientific research in the Islamic world.[by whom?][citation needed] Against this view, Saliba (2007) has given a number of examples especially of astronomical research flourishing after the time of al-Ghazali.

Short account of His Holiness’ sayings::

In one of the chapters of the treatise of Savaneh, His Holiness states that the beloved in every situation is a beloved, then magnanimity is his attribute and the lover in every situation is a lover and humbleness is his attribute and the beloved always comprehends the lover, then humbleness always is the lover’s attribute. And nothing can comprehend the beloved because he has himself, therefore his attribute is magnanimity. Moreover, in the Savaneh he states, at the beginning the lover has clamor and turmoil and lamentation, that the burning of love of guardianship has not been grasped yet and when reaches perfection, guardianship is grasped. Narration of lamentation is for God only whose existence is eternal and also impurity is transformed to purity. And has also said that, although the lover regards His friend as friend and His enemy as enemy but when reaches perfection, it will reverse, due to sense of honor, and takes His friend as enemy and enemy as friend, and on His name he becomes zealous. A favor from God.

A part of His Holiness’ generosities::

One day someone asked His Holiness the condition of his brother Hojat-ol-Islam. Said: He is in blood. The questioner came out and started looking for Hojat-ol-Islam, and found him in the mosque. From the sayings of Sheikh Ahmad remained astonished. He informed the matter to Hojat-ol-Islam that your brother mentioned you are in blood. Hojat-ol-Islam said: Sheikh has said right that I was thinking about a problem from the matters of women’s menstruation and all myself was drowned in blood. My brother saw this by the light of divine guardianship. And it is also said that when his brother Hojat-ol-Islam Ghazali once said to His Holiness angrily: group of worshippers come to observe prayers behind this worshipper (me) from distant towns and they consider this as an reserve for the Next World, but why you, despite of being my brother and near to me, do not pray behind me, this conduct from spiritual wayfaring is unlikely! Sheikh said: If you stand as congregational prayer leader and in performing prayers you pay more attention in what you say, then I will adhere and follow and never disobey. Afterwards accompanying with Hojat-ol-Islam went to the mosque till it was time for prayers and Hojat–ol-Islam as the congregational prayer leader occupied in prayer. Sheikh also followed him in prayers and in middle of the prayers left the mosque, came out and with his disciples’ re-established prayers. When Hojat-ol-Islam finished prayers and left the mosque, he met the Sheikh and said with anger, why did you break the prayers and left the mosque? Sheikh said: I acted upon the necessities of our condition, till the Hazarat Hojat-ol-Islam was in prayers, we observed conditions of following him and when he went out to water his horse, we remained without an Imam (prayer leader) and could not complete the prayer. Hojat-ol-Islam got a pleasant feeling then and said: Glory be to the Almighty God, who has servants who are spies of the hearts, my brother says right, in the middle of prayers, it crossed my mind that, whether I gave water to my horse today. It is said that, after then Hojat-ol-Islam was inclined to spiritual wayfaring.

Bibliography::

Al-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.[citation needed] Some “five dozen” are plausibly identifiable, while several hundred attributed works, many of them dublicates due to varying titles, are doubtful or spurious. The tradition of falsely attributing works to Al-Ghazali increased in the 13th century, after the dissemination of the large corpus of works by Ibn Arabi.Bibliographies have been published by William Montgomery Watt (The works attributed to Al-Ghazali), Maurice Bouyges (Essai de chronologie des oeuvres d’Al-Ghazali) and others.

Abdel Rahman Badawi prepared a comprehensive bibliography of all works attributed to Al-Ghazali, with a total of 457 entries:

  • 1–72: works definitely written by al-Ghazali

  • 73–95: works of doubtful attribution

  • 96–127: works which are not those of al-Ghazali with most certainty

  • 128–224: are the names of the Chapters or Sections of al-Ghazali’s books that are mistakenly thought books of his

  • 225–273: books written by other authors regarding al-Ghazali’s works

  • 274–389: books of other unknown scholars/writers regarding al-Ghazali’s life and personality

  • 389–457: the name of the manuscripts of al-Ghazali’s works in different libraries of the world

The following is a short list of his major works:

Theology

Sufism

Philosophy

  • Maqasid al falasifa (Aims of the 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)

Jurisprudence

  • 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)

  • The Jerusalem Tract.

 

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