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Al-Ghazali was one of the great Muslim theologians. In this book the author provides a translation of some of his works, including his spiritual autobiography. Al-Ghazali's description of his own emergence from scepticism anticipates the philosophical method of systematic doubt employed by Descartes. Another work translated here sets out Al-Ghazali's ideal of how a religio Al-Ghazali was one of the great Muslim theologians. In this book the author provides a translation of some of his works, including his spiritual autobiography. Al-Ghazali's description of his own emergence from scepticism anticipates the philosophical method of systematic doubt employed by Descartes. Another work translated here sets out Al-Ghazali's ideal of how a religious person should order his life from hour to hour and day to day.


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Al-Ghazali was one of the great Muslim theologians. In this book the author provides a translation of some of his works, including his spiritual autobiography. Al-Ghazali's description of his own emergence from scepticism anticipates the philosophical method of systematic doubt employed by Descartes. Another work translated here sets out Al-Ghazali's ideal of how a religio Al-Ghazali was one of the great Muslim theologians. In this book the author provides a translation of some of his works, including his spiritual autobiography. Al-Ghazali's description of his own emergence from scepticism anticipates the philosophical method of systematic doubt employed by Descartes. Another work translated here sets out Al-Ghazali's ideal of how a religious person should order his life from hour to hour and day to day.

30 review for The Faith & Practice of Al-Ghazali (Classics in Religious Studies)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Barnaby Thieme

    This book contains translations of two works by the 12th-century master Al-Ghazali - his popular and justly-famous "Deliverance from Error," and his "Beginning of Guidance," included to encompass his basic perspectives on the theory and practice of the Islamic faith, respectively. I'll focus my attention on "Deliverance from Error," which is a far more significant and profound work, the "Beginning" consisting of admonitions with respect to the details of conduct in the daily worship of the faith This book contains translations of two works by the 12th-century master Al-Ghazali - his popular and justly-famous "Deliverance from Error," and his "Beginning of Guidance," included to encompass his basic perspectives on the theory and practice of the Islamic faith, respectively. I'll focus my attention on "Deliverance from Error," which is a far more significant and profound work, the "Beginning" consisting of admonitions with respect to the details of conduct in the daily worship of the faithful. "Deliverance from Error" contains Al-Ghazali's spiritual and intellectual autobiography, describing his early days teaching and criticizing philosophy in Baghdad, his crisis of faith, and his subsequent pursuit of a form of life that was less abstract, and more directly connected to the spiritual source of his being. Thus he famously abandoned his family and responsibilities and went abroad to practice austerities and mystical contemplations with Sufi masters, until he achieved a satisfying epiphany, and then set about extolling the virtues of this form of life. In essence, his view is that while the philosopher discourses endlessly about piety and God, the mystic directly experiences and embodies it. Now, there is an interpretation of Al-Ghazali that has been referred to by scholars as the "standard view," which runs something like this - the 'Abbasid Caliphate was a golden age of Islamic learning and culture, perhaps exemplified by its great engagement with the Greek philosophers, but also expressed by its achievements in medicine, mathematics, science, and literature. Then, Al-Ghazali came along and wrote a scathing critique of philosophy, his "Incoherence of Philosophers," and sounded a ringing tone of anti-intellectualism which disparaged study of the world in favor of piety and belief, and this became the prevailing mood of Islam ever since. This interpretation is as widespread as it is false, pervaded by specious reduction and grotesque over-simplification. Al-Ghazali's actual view, as represented in "Deliverance from Error," is far more moderate, and more persuasive. Al-Ghazali does not reject analysis or philosophy - on the contrary, he himself mastered the art of philosophy, and writes with scorn of pious fools who reject philosophy without understanding what it is about. Far less does he propound any kind of anti-intellectualism, but writes, for example: "A grievous crime indeed against religion has been committed by the man who imagines that Islam is defended by the denial of the mathematical sciences, seeing that there is nothing in revealed truth opposed to these sciences by way of either negation or affirmation, and nothing in these sciences opposed to the truths of religion." The attentive reader will notice that Al-Ghazali uses analytical reasoning and argumentation throughout his works, including his mystical texts, and at no point rejects science or understanding. What he does firmly reject is the view that philosophy in itself is sufficient to bring about a total experience of God, or an expression of religious life. Instead, it forms a basis for understanding which is a point of departure for a real life of devotion and piety, expressed in conventional forms of worship, and of mystical experience, which delivers true communion with God. It is perhaps easy to lose sight of the fact that it was a core belief of Neoplatonism that philosophy itself was the best tool to bring the mind to God. And when you come to the philosophical works of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), the primary target of Al-Ghazali's polemic, you do indeed find an incredibly abstruse philosopher dwelling at stupefying length on intellectual minutiae as if God is to be found in discerning the various modalities of causality. It's tedious stuff, and I'm in deep sympathy with Al-Ghazali's critique. The whole of Al-Ghazali's critique, it seems to me, could be summarized as: reason is no substitute for experience, and intellectual understanding is no substitute for piety. I find this exceedingly persuasive, and in general find Al-Ghazali far more readable and sympathetic than Ibn Sina or Ibn Rushd. "The Deliverance from Error" is a short, engaging, and profoundly important work, and it has been ably translated by Watt in this edition - I would very highly recommend it to any student of Islam.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Feliciano

    Truly one of the most powerful books I have had the privilege of reading. The words of Imam al-Ghazali (May God have Mercy on his soul) are timeless and unparalleled. Anybody seeking the truth ought to spend some time with 'Deliverance From Error' and 'The Incoherence of the Philosophers.' (The latter not being part of this collection.) In 'Deliverance From Error,' Ghazali describes his fall into skepticism and his subsequent journey after finding certainty in Islam. Centuries before Descartes, G Truly one of the most powerful books I have had the privilege of reading. The words of Imam al-Ghazali (May God have Mercy on his soul) are timeless and unparalleled. Anybody seeking the truth ought to spend some time with 'Deliverance From Error' and 'The Incoherence of the Philosophers.' (The latter not being part of this collection.) In 'Deliverance From Error,' Ghazali describes his fall into skepticism and his subsequent journey after finding certainty in Islam. Centuries before Descartes, Ghazali searches for truth by disowning what he 'thinks he knows' and seeking only what he knows for certain. Ghazali challenges the other intellectual forces quite admirably, first explaining them briefly and why he studied each field, then solidly refuting them on the basis of their own terms. Another important facet of this book describes Ghazali's quest as a traveler for over a decade, seeking to purify his soul from its innermost corruptions. A true seeker's tale, Ghazali's search is the reason he is still relevant nearly a millennium after his death. The second portion of this collection, titled 'Beginning of Guidance,' is essentially an instruction manual for one seeking to study God's religion at any depth. He describes the pitfalls of scholarship for the wrong reasons, and gives adequate warnings about emulating such baseless attempts. Ghazali discusses the ideal day for any student of theology, working out a schedule for how time should be best spent in service to God. He also explains sins, what causes them, and why one should avoid them at all costs. In short, this book is a quite remarkable tool for any potential 'alim (Islamic scholar). Although this collection was translated by a non-Muslim academic, I must say that it is very well-done. Respect was duly paid to the esteemed author, and also to anyone whom he quoted throughout the text, and meanings were summarized in English quite wonderfully. A Muslim might be slightly upset that all of the prayers were translated into English (because they would have to learn them in Arabic), but this is not a deterrent from the text. In making this decision, Professor Watt has made the book easily readable by English-speaking Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I would recommend this book to everybody willing to spare a few hours to better themselves and the world around them. Peace to you all.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Huzo

    'Do not know the truth by the men, but know the truth, and then you will know who are truthful’. The intelligent man knows the truth; then he examines the particular assertion. If it is true, he accepts it, whether the speaker is a truthful person or not. Indeed he is often anxious to separate out the truth from the discourses of those who are in error, for he knows that gold is found mixed in gravel with dross. 'Do not know the truth by the men, but know the truth, and then you will know who are truthful’. The intelligent man knows the truth; then he examines the particular assertion. If it is true, he accepts it, whether the speaker is a truthful person or not. Indeed he is often anxious to separate out the truth from the discourses of those who are in error, for he knows that gold is found mixed in gravel with dross.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peter Schutz

    great stuff! those muslims, huh? deliverance from error is definitely the stronger half, i skimmed most of the “schedule stuff” in “the beginning of teaching” just because it was so technical. loved his refutation of philosophy and other schools. and one should never speak ill of an infidel—for all you know, God may make him a Muslim yet! well said

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sonny Alm

    A great book in general that enlightens your inner spirituality if you have one or not. Al -ghazali raises questions and demands attention for your inner soul to seek faith or at least be conscious of one.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rahma Fateen

    I bought this book during my studying of the British Islamic Studies curriculum, otherwise I would’ve never read anything written by Al-Ghazali except in Arabic. I felt some of its greatness has faced injustice by translation. The translation is rather old, or maybe because the script itself is old and the author used tough terminology, so it wasn’t easy to “connect” with the spiritual parts in the book. In general, the book made me keen to read “Revival of Religious Sciences” and I will definitel I bought this book during my studying of the British Islamic Studies curriculum, otherwise I would’ve never read anything written by Al-Ghazali except in Arabic. I felt some of its greatness has faced injustice by translation. The translation is rather old, or maybe because the script itself is old and the author used tough terminology, so it wasn’t easy to “connect” with the spiritual parts in the book. In general, the book made me keen to read “Revival of Religious Sciences” and I will definitely read it in Arabic insha’Allah.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ivi

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mehar

  9. 5 out of 5

    DramaQueen95

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leora Lupkin

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daniellecourtney

  12. 5 out of 5

    Beaman

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ishtiaq Faisal

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robert Wicks

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ayesha Siddiqua

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lara Azzam

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Siva

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chad

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mücahit Şahin

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ertuğrul Uysal

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tariq Zafar

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tehniat Aftab

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mohammed Omer

  24. 4 out of 5

    Talya

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bilal

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ilias

  27. 4 out of 5

    Edward

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zulkifli Ismail

  30. 4 out of 5

    Muhammad Ma'mun

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