Al-Ghazali: The Alchemist of Happiness

DeadlyVenom

Senior ODI Player
Joined
Jul 17, 2010
Runs
21,107
Post of the Week
1
Exploring the life and impact of the greatest spiritual and legal philosopher in Islamic history, this film examines Ghazali's existential crisis of faith that arose from his rejection of religious dogmatism, and reveals profound parallels with our own times. Ghazali became known as the Proof of Islam and his path of love and spiritual excellence overcame the pitfalls of the organised religion of his day. His path was largely abandoned by early 20th century Muslim reformers for the more strident and less tolerant school of Ibn Taymiyya. Combining drama with documentary, this film argues that Ghazali's Islam is the antidote for today's terror.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0439430/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

Highly recommend watching this after I re watched it yesterday. Al Ghazali is perhaps one of the greatest scholars in history , not just Islamic history. From Wikipedia

Al-Ghazali had an important influence on both 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. He 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.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
I love reading Al-Ghazzali's books, they are incredibly inspirational, full of sound knowledge and wisdom.

He was a profound thinker, greatly motivated, imho, by his deep love for Allah SWT, His Deen, and His Prophets, especially, and in particular, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

Organised religion is restrictive, leads to orthodoxy in practice, and leaves little, if any, room for independence of thought. A Muslim is required to be organised him-herself, and not be organised by others.

Thanks for the share :)
 
A great Scholar, Thinker, Sufi and one who wrote a great book on how to revive Islam in your life Ihya Uloom deen a must read.
 
Bump! Just watched the movie/documentary, what a genius this man was!

Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, the great Persian polymath of the twelfth century, is considered one of the greatest scholars of Islam. He was a master of several Islamic sciences, including law, theology, philosophy, and Sufism (Islamic spirituality).
 
Last edited by a moderator:
He was a Mujtahid! Great Great Scholar! His quotes will touch your heart instantly.
 
I watched this documentary a few months ago, I learnt a lot from life of the proof of Islam Imam al Ghazali.

My favourite quote of Imam al Ghazali:


“The life of the heart is knowledge; so preserve it.
The death of the heart is ignorance; so avoid it.
Your best provision is true devotion; so provide it.
This advice of mine is enough for you; so heed it.”
 
The imam's last words...

Say to my friends, when they look upon me, dead
Weeping for me and mourning me in sorrow
Do not believe that this corpse you see is myself
In the name of God, I tell you, it is not I,
I am a spirit, and this is naught but flesh
It was my abode and my garment for a time.
I am a treasure, by a talisman kept hid,
Fashioned of dust, which served me as a shrine,
I am a pearl, which has left it's shell deserted,
I am a bird, and this body was my cage
Whence I have now floron forth and it is left as a token
Praise to God, who hath now set me free
And prepared for me my place in the highest of the heaven,
Until today I was dead, though alive in your midst.
Now I live in truth, with the grave - clothes discarded.
Today I hold converse with the saints above,
With no veil between, I see God face to face.
I look upon "Loh-i-Mahfuz" and there in I read
Whatever was and is and all that is to be.
Let my house fall in ruins, lay my cage in the ground,
Cast away the talisman, it is a token, no more
Lay aside my cloak, it was but my outer garment.
Place them all in the grave, let them be forgotten,
I have passed on my way and you are left behind
Your place of abode was no deweling place for me.
Think not that death is death, nay, it is life,
A life that surpasses all we could dream of here,
While in this world, here we are granted sleep,
Death is but sleep, sleep that shall be prolonged
Be not frightened when death draweth night,
It is but the departure for this blessed home
Think of the mercy and love of your Lord,
Give thanks for His Grace and come without fear.
What I am now, even so shall you be
For I know that you are even as I am
The souls of all men come forth from God
The bodies of all are compounded alike
Good and evil, alike it was ours
I give you now a message of good cheer
May God's peace and joy for evermore be yours.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/2S4LrnzqocU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
 
Imam Al Ghazali The Sweeper | #Humilty | Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/OjL6cUZXnI4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
 
Imam Al Ghazali The Sweeper | #Humilty | Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/OjL6cUZXnI4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Amazing story, Imam Al Ghazali is such an extrodinary figure in Islamic history. I would recommend you read a book called 'Ghazali - maker of the Muslim world' by Eric Ornsby. It's a detailed biography of the life of Imam Al Ghazali.
 
Nice share Akher and thanks for the book recommendation Super Six.
 
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/pxtsUJx1I78" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Good watch
 
Watch the following video from 7:00 onwards, brilliant discussion on the myth of al Ghazali "destroying the rationality of Islam", when in fact, he did the exact opposite, rendering philosophy (and tasawwûf) "mainstream", whereas before they were the monopoly of fringe groups ; no modern scholar believes in this legend nowadays (and Frank Griffel totally annihilated it), but sadly a lot of peoples from our own community still entertain it, sadder when you know that McGill University's Robert Wisnovsky is putting forward a project where he collects philosophical texts of the post-Ghazalian/1111 (so "decaying") period ; he found 3000 (!) texts, and these are, as he himself says, a mere drop in the ocean of the millions of manuscripts found, from Spain to Indonesia, testimony of Islam's intellectual legacy.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/JLDgVxM5FzE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
 
Muhammad Iqbal, who sadly held the "traditional" view of al Ghazali, compared him with Kant (in fact, even more radical!), which means that even his criticism of philosophy as, itself, a philosophical criticism (so with "intellectual value")

...it cannot, however, be denied that Ghazālī’s mission was almost apostolic like that of Kant in Germany of the eighteenth century. In Germany rationalism appeared as an ally of religion, but she soon realized that the dogmatic side of religion was incapable of demonstration. The only course open to her was to eliminate dogma from the sacred record. With the elimination of dogma came the utilitarian view of morality, and thus rationalism completed the reign of unbelief. Such was the state of theological thought in Germany when Kant appeared. His Critique of Pure Reason revealed the limitations of human reason and reduced the whole work of the rationalists to a heap of ruins. And justly has he been described as God’s greatest gift to his country.

Ghazālī’s philosophical scepticism which, however, went a little too far, virtually did the same kind of work in the world of Islam in breaking the back of that proud but shallow rationalism which moved in the same direction as pre-Kantian rationalism in Germany. There is, however, one important difference between Ghazālī and Kant. Kant, consistently with his principles, could not affirm the possibility of a knowledge of God. Ghazālī, finding no hope in analytic thought, moved to mystic experience, and there found an independent content for religion. In this way he succeeded in securing for religion the right to exist independently of science and metaphysics. But the revelation of the total Infinite in mystic experience convinced him of the finitude and inconclusiveness of thought and drove him to draw a line of cleavage between thought and intuition. He failed to see that thought and intuition are organically related and that thought must necessarily simulate finitude and inconclusiveness because of its alliance with serial time. The idea that thought is essentially finite, and for this reason unable to capture the Infinite, is based on a mistaken notion of the movement of thought in knowledge. It is the inadequacy of the logical understanding which finds a multiplicity of mutually repellent individualities with no prospect of their ultimate reduction to a unity that makes us sceptical about the conclusiveness of thought. In fact, the logical understanding is incapable of seeing this multiplicity as a coherent universe. Its only method is generalization based on resemblances, but its generalizations are only fictitious unities which do not affect the reality of concrete things. In its deeper movement, however, thought is capable of reaching an immanent Infinite in whose self-unfolding movement the various finite concepts are merely moments. In its essential nature, then, thought is not static; it is dynamic and unfolds its internal infinitude in time like the seed which, from the very beginning, carries within itself the organic unity of the tree as a present fact. Thought is, therefore, the whole in its dynamic self-expression, appearing to the temporal vision as a series of definite specifications which cannot be understood except by a reciprocal reference. Their meaning lies not in their self-identity, but in the larger whole of which they are the specific aspects. This larger whole is, to use a Qur’anic metaphor, a kind of “Preserved Tablet”, which holds up the entire undetermined possibilities of knowledge as a present reality, revealing itself in serial time as a succession of finite concepts appearing to reach a unity which is already present in them. It is in fact the presence of the total Infinite in the movement of knowledge that makes finite thinking possible.

Both Kant and Ghazālī failed to see that thought, in the very act of knowledge, passes beyond its own finitude. The finitudes of Nature are reciprocally exclusive. Not so the finitudes of thought which is, in its essential nature, incapable of limitation and cannot remain imprisoned in the narrow circuit of its own individuality. In the wide world beyond itself nothing is alien to it. It is in its progressive participation in the life of the apparently alien that thought demolishes the walls of its finitude and enjoys its potential infinitude. Its movement becomes possible only because of the implicit presence in its finite individuality of the infinite, which keeps alive within it the flame of aspiration and sustains it in its endless pursuit. It is a mistake to regard thought as inconclusive, for it too, in its own way, is a greeting of the finite with the infinite.
 
Informing thread, didn't see this before.
 
Last edited:
Full article is interesting, but esp. the part about the Imam and his views on science

Al-Ghazali and Science

A common accusation that has been leveled at Imam al-Ghazali by Orientalist scholars is that his refutation of philosophy led to a general decline of Islamic scientific advancement. They base their claims that many of the people that al-Ghazali refuted, such as Ibn Sina and al-Farabi, were some of the leading scientific scholars of the day. The truth, however, is of course more nuanced.

While al-Ghazali clearly did take issue with the philosophical ideas of scholars who also wrote great mathematical and scientific treatises, he makes very clear the distinction between philosophy and science. Al-Ghazali states:

“Whoever takes up these mathematical sciences marvels at the fine precision of their details and the clarity of their proofs. Because of that, he forms a high opinion of the philosophers and assumes that all their sciences have the same lucidity and apodeictic solidity as this science of mathematics.”

The danger in studying mathematics and other sciences, argues al-Ghazali, is not that the subject itself is contrary to Islam and should be avoided. Rather, the student must be careful to accept the scientific ideas of scholars without blindly accepting everything they say regarding philosophy and other problematic subjects.

He goes on to state that there is another danger for an ignorant student of the sciences, and that is the rejection of all scientific discoveries of scholars on the basis that they were also philosophers with heterodox beliefs. He states:
Great indeed is the crime against religion committed by anyone who supposes that Islam is to be championed by the denial of these mathematical sciences. For the revealed Law nowhere undertakes to deny or affirm these sciences, and the latter nowhere address themselves to religious matters.”

When one reads Imam al-Ghazali’s works at a very superficial level, one can easily misunderstand what he is saying as anti-scientific in general. The truth, however, is that al-Ghazali’s only warning to students is to not fully accept all the beliefs and ideas of a scholar simply because of his achievements in mathematics and science. By issuing such a warning, al-Ghazali is in fact protecting the scientific enterprise for future generations by insulating it from being mixed with theoretical philosophy that could eventually dilute science itself to a field based on conjecture and reasoning alone.

http://lostislamichistory.com/al-ghazali/
 
Beautiful!

A reminder from Habib Ali al Jifri on what the status of those that show mercy onto others is. Here he narrates a story on how mercy on others; all living things included, can play an important part in gaining God's Mercy.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/IXgStB952W8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Reminds me of a hadith

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet (pbuh) said, "A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, "This dog is suffering from thirst as I did." So, he went down the well again and filled his shoe with water and watered it. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him. The people said, "O Allah's Messenger (pbuh)! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?" He replied: "Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being)."

Sahih al-Bukhari 2466 (see also 173, 2363, 6009 ; Sahih Muslim 2244 ; Sunan Abi Dawud 2550 and Riyad as Salihin, Imam Malik's Muwatta, etc).

or

Mu'awiya ibn Qurra reported that his father said, "A man said, 'Messenger of Allah, I was going to slaughter a sheep and then I felt sorry for it.' He said twice, 'Since you showed mercy to the sheep, Allah will show mercy to you.'"

Imam Bukhari (ra), Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 373

'Abdullah reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stopped in a place and then someone took a bird's eggs and the bird began to beat its wings around the head of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. He asked, "Which of you has taken its eggs?" A man said, "Messenger of Allah, I have taken its eggs." The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Return them out off mercy to the bird."

Ibid 382
 
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/n06sbf5L-4Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>.
 
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Z3l35U4rjGo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>.
 
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3i0lsGC8ZAE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>.
 
Whether he intended it or not, he was definitely the start of the end for elaborate thought and discourse in the Islamic world.
 
S haykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“If we assume that someone narrated the view of the salaf but what he narrated is far removed from what the view of the salaf
actually is, then he has little knowledge of the view of the salaf, such as Abu’l-Ma’aali, Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali, Ibn al-Khateeb
and the like, who did not have enough knowledge of hadeeth to qualify them as ordinary scholars of hadeeth, let alone as
prominent scholars in that field. For none of these people had any knowledge of al-Bukhaari and Muslim and their ahaadeeth, apart from what they heard, which is similar to the situation of the ordinary Muslim, who cannot distinguish between a hadeeth which is regarded as saheeh and mutawaatir according to the
scholars of hadeeth, and a hadeeth which is fabricated and false.
Their books bear witness to that, for they contain strange things and most of these scholars of ‘ilm al-kalaam and Sufis who have drifted away from the path of the salaf admit that, either at the time of death or before death. There are many such well-known stories. This Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali, despite his brilliance, his
devotion to Allaah, his knowledge of kalaam and philosophy, his asceticism and spiritual practices and his Sufism, ended up in a state of confusion and resorted to the path of those who claim to find out things through dreams and spiritual methods. (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, part 4, p. 71)

http://islamqa.info/en/13473
 
S haykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“If we assume that someone narrated the view of the salaf but what he narrated is far removed from what the view of the salaf
actually is, then he has little knowledge of the view of the salaf, such as Abu’l-Ma’aali, Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali, Ibn al-Khateeb
and the like, who did not have enough knowledge of hadeeth to qualify them as ordinary scholars of hadeeth, let alone as
prominent scholars in that field. For none of these people had any knowledge of al-Bukhaari and Muslim and their ahaadeeth, apart from what they heard, which is similar to the situation of the ordinary Muslim, who cannot distinguish between a hadeeth which is regarded as saheeh and mutawaatir according to the
scholars of hadeeth, and a hadeeth which is fabricated and false.
Their books bear witness to that, for they contain strange things and most of these scholars of ‘ilm al-kalaam and Sufis who have drifted away from the path of the salaf admit that, either at the time of death or before death. There are many such well-known stories. This Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali, despite his brilliance, his
devotion to Allaah, his knowledge of kalaam and philosophy, his asceticism and spiritual practices and his Sufism, ended up in a state of confusion and resorted to the path of those who claim to find out things through dreams and spiritual methods. (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, part 4, p. 71)

http://islamqa.info/en/13473

Quite funny how that post mentions Imam Ghazalis lack of knowledge of hadith and overreliance on dreams as a negative yet ironically the hadith themselves were captures by Bukhari who claimed that the Prophet(saw) visited him in his dreams to confirm their authenticity.

Quotes like the one you posted from IslamQa make me despair. A whole history of scholarly works and spiritual progress are reduced to one sentence of criticism. Imam Ghazali was a giant of Islam.

I have the greatest respect for Ibn Taymia but for me Ibn Taymia takes an aggresive hostile approach to Islam that seeks to subdue a reader with authoratarian, dogmatic arguments, compelling us to believe in the correct and orthodox way whereas Ghazali stirs the soul and makes you feel Islam inside you.
 
Quite funny how that post mentions Imam Ghazalis lack of knowledge of hadith and overreliance on dreams as a negative yet ironically the hadith themselves were captures by Bukhari who claimed that the Prophet(saw) visited him in his dreams to confirm their authenticity.

Quotes like the one you posted from IslamQa make me despair. A whole history of scholarly works and spiritual progress are reduced to one sentence of criticism. Imam Ghazali was a giant of Islam.

I have the greatest respect for Ibn Taymia but for me Ibn Taymia takes an aggresive hostile approach to Islam that seeks to subdue a reader with authoratarian, dogmatic arguments, compelling us to believe in the correct and orthodox way whereas Ghazali stirs the soul and makes you feel Islam inside you.
First what you said about Imam Bukhari, you should back it with evidence.

Rest you have given your opinion and I don't think you are any authority on Islamic scholarship so that your opinion counts.

That's another issue if you can back up your claims by giving examples.
 
In which part of my post have I made a point that required me to have Islamic authority. I wasnt even commenting on the religion of Islam but rather on the views of scholars.

Do I need a degree to form an opinion on fellow human beings?

Also the part about Imam Bukhari is well known.
 
In which part of my post have I made a point that required me to have Islamic authority. I wasnt even commenting on the religion of Islam but rather on the views of scholars.

Do I need a degree to form an opinion on fellow human beings?

Also the part about Imam Bukhari is well known.

Quotes like Ibn Taymiyyah being "aggressive hostile".
You don't need a degree to form opinions on humans. You need to back up your opinions with examples. Like why Ibn Taymiyyah was aggressive hostile.

I don't care whether the quote attributed to Muhammad bin Ismail AL Bukhari is popular or not. Just give a reference.
 
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Tve9WNwNOOc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>.
 
.<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HMWEggenO3c" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zmNyOCCnZgg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
 
Back
Top