Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (died 1111 A.D.)

Born and died in Tus, in the Khorasan province of Persia. He was an Islamic theologian, jurist, philosopher, cosmologist, psychologist and mystic of Persian origin, and remains one of the most celebrated scholars in the history of Sunni Islamic thought. He is considered a pioneer of the methods of doubt and skepticism, and in one of his major works, The Incoherence of the Philosophers, he changed the course of early Islamic philosophy, shifting it away from an Islamic metaphysics influenced by ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophy, and towards an Islamic philosophy based on cause-and-effect that were determined by God or intermediate angels, a theory now known as occasionalism.

280px-pen_case_of_ghazali The pen box belonging to al-Ghazali, preserved in the Cairo museum.

Known as Hujjat Al-Islam (Expert on Islam), he wrote more than fourteen books, Al-Ghazali wrote most of his works in Arabic and few in Persian. His most important Persian work is Kīmya’ Sa’adat (The Alchemy of Happiness).

200px-alchemy_of_happiness1 1308 Persian Edition of the Alchemy of Happiness.

Al-Ghazali’s own Persian version of Ihya’ul ulumuddin (The Revival of Religious Sciences) in Arabic, but a shorter work, is one of the outstanding works of 11th-century-Persian literature. The book was published several times in Tehran by the edition of Hussain Khadiv-jam, a renown Iranian scholar. It has been translated to English, Arabic, Turkish, Urdu and other languages.

180px-munqidh_min_al-dalal_last_pageLast page of Al-Ghazali’s autobiography in MS Istanbul, Shehid Ali Pasha 1712, dated A.H. 509 = 1115-1116.

Ghazali, contributed significantly to the development of a systematic view of Sufism and its integration and acceptance in mainstream Islam. He was a scholar of orthodox Islam, belonging to the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence and to the Asharite school of theology. Ghazali received many titles such as Sharaful A’emma (Arabic: شرف الأئمّة‎), Zainuddin (Arabic: زين الدين), Hujjatul Islam, meaning “Proof of Islam” (Arabic: حجّة الاسلام). He is viewed as the key member of the influential Asharite school of early Muslim philosophy and the most important refuter of 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.

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