Muslim Intellectual: A Study of Al-Ghazali

Muslim Intellectual: A Study of Al-Ghazali

Muslim Intellectual: A Study of Al-Ghazali

Muslim Intellectual: A Study of Al-Ghazali

Excerpt

The difficulty of writing about al-Ghazālϊ is well illustrated by the various comments and criticisms that have been made of the works by Julius Obermann, A. J. Wensinck, Margaret Smith and Farid Jabre. The difficulty is due to the great volume of his writings, to the fact that books were ascribed to him that were definitely not by him, and to the changes in his outlook which occurred during the course of his life. When the growth and development of his outlook is combined with the lack of complete agreement about which works are unauthentic, scholars are presented with some peculiarly intractable problems before they can properly begin the study of al-Ghazālϊ's thought. Yet the subject is one that is well worth attempting. Al-Ghazālϊ has been acclaimed as the greatest Muslim after Muḥammad, and is certainly one of the greatest. His outlook, too, is closer than that of many Muslims to the outlook of modern Europe and America, so that he is more easily comprehensible to us. Thus there is here a great challenge to scholarship.

The present study of the struggle and achievement of al-GhazālI+03CA does not attempt to take up that challenge in its entirety, but only to look at his life and thought as a whole within the context of the times in which he lived. I have tried to write in such a way that the book could be read by general sociologists as well as by students of Islam, but this means that Islamists will find an undue neglect of detail. In defence I would make the plea that it is necessary to look at the picture as a whole before we . . .

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