Muslim Intellectual: A Study of Al-Ghazali

By W. Montgomery Watt | Go to book overview

I
THE FUNCTION OF THE INTELLECTUAL

THIS book arises out of a concern felt by many intellectuals. In the desperate predicament of the world in which they live can they as intellectuals make any special contribution to saving it from the destruction which threatens? It was once thought that ideas controlled the course of history, and there are many remnants of this belief; but on the whole it is now discredited. Many men, instead, tend to acknowledge the dominion of economic and material factors, whether regretfully or eagerly. If ideas are powerless, then the intellectual, as the bearer of ideas, has no important functions.

In Islam and the Integration of Society1 I tried to show that, while economic and material factors determine the setting of man's life, ideational factors direct his responses to the situations in which he found himself. Corresponding to this function of ideas in the life of society will be the function of the intellectuals as the persons primarily responsible for dealing with ideas. The present study is an attempt to show in detail what this handling of ideas amounts to, and the method is to examine the life and thought of one of the greatest intellectuals of Islamic society, al-Ghazālϊ.

It is convenient to speak of the intellectuals or intelligentsia as if they constituted a single class. Yet as soon as one begins to consider them closely, they appear to be manifold in their variety. There are all those concerned with the handing on of ideas to other people, whether school-teachers, university professors, journalists, broadcasters or writers of books. There are all those

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Muslim Intellectual: A Study of Al-Ghazali
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • I - The Function of The Intellectual 1
  • II - The World of Al-GhazĀlĪ 7
  • III - The Encounter With Philosophy 25
  • IV - Truth from the Charismatic Leader 73
  • V - The Reappraisal of Theology 87
  • VI - The Bitterness of Worldly Success 127
  • VII - The Intellectual Basis of The "Revived" Community 155
  • VIII - The Achievement 171
  • Excursus - Ghazālī or Ghazzālī 181
  • Notes 187
  • Chronological Table 201
  • Bibliography 203
  • Index 207
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