Muslim Intellectual: A Study of Al-Ghazali

By W. Montgomery Watt | Go to book overview

V
THE REAPPRAISAL OF THEOLOGY

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

Al-Ghazāllī was by training a jurist and a theologian, and his attitude to these disciplines must be taken to have had a central place in his development. There is a tendency among Western scholars to regard Islamic theology as trivial hair-splitting, and therefore to suppose that in his later period al-Ghazālī felt the same distaste for it that they feel. This is a complete failure to appreciate what theology meant to him and to men in a similar position.

The standpoint of this book may be roughly described as that of the sociology of knowledge. The theologian is looked upon as a type of intellectual with an important function to perform in the community. Firstly, it is his business to formulate the objectives of the community and the view of the nature of reality (including values) associated with these objectives. Secondly, he has to systematize this ideational basis of the community by smoothing out discrepancies which lead to tensions, either discrepancies originally present or those due to novel circumstances; that is to say, in systematizing the ideational basis of the community he is also adapting it to external changes affecting the community. If we are to understand the place of al-Ghazālī in Islamic theology, we must have some idea of what had been achieved by earlier theologians.

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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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