Al-Ghazali: Religious Scholar, Legalist, Sufi, and Critic of Philosophy Essay example

Al-Ghazali: Religious Scholar, Legalist, Sufi, and Critic of Philosophy Essay example

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Al-Ghazali, his full name being Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali, was an important and dominant figure among philosophers, theologians, jurists, and mystics in the Sunni Islam religion. Historians put his birth at 1058 or 1059 in the city of Tabaran-Tus; fifteen miles north of modern day Meshed in north eastern Iran. However his personal letters and autobiography state that his birth was around 1055 or 1056 (Griffel 2009, 23–25). Despite this clerical difference, Al-Ghazali was active in a period when Sunni theology had entered a time of passionate disputes among the Shiite Ismalite theology, as well as the Arabic tradition of falsafa.

While Al-Ghazali was still young his father had passed away, despite this he began his initial study in Tabaran-Tus, his hometown, alongside his brother Ahmad. His brother Ahmad would later become a Sufi scholar and popular preacher. Al-Ghazali however, would continue his education with an influential theologian Al-Juwayni, whose focus was Asharite theology, at the Nizamiyya Madrasa located in Nishapur (Al-Ghazali, c.1108 1980). While studying there he was able to gain contact with the court of Grand-Seljuq Sultan Malikshah, as well as grand-vizier Nizam al-Mulk. This point of contact allowed Al-Ghazali to be appointed as a professor to the coveted Nizamiyya Madrasa in Baghdad in 1091 by Nizam al-Mulk. This university is said to be the most prominent during the golden age of Muslim History. Alongside this appointment he would become the close with the caliphal court in Baghdad, also being a confidante of the Seljuq
Sultan. Though he became quite influential in the position, Al-Ghazali unexpectedly resigned his posts in Baghdad in 1095; leaving the city and becoming a wandering ascetic...


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Works Cited

Al-Ghazali (c.1108) al-Munqidh min al-dalal (The Deliverer from Error), ed. J. Saliba and K. Ayyad, Damascus: Maktab al-Nashr al-'Arabi, 1934; trans. W.M. Watt, The Faith and Practice of al-Ghazali, London: Allen & Unwin, 1953; trans. R.J. McCarthy, Freedom and Fulfillment: An Annotated Translation of al-Ghazali's al-Munqidh min al-Dalal and Other Relevant Works of al-Ghazali, Boston, MA: Twayne, 1980.
Gardner, W. R. W. Al-ghazali. Piscataway: Gorgias, 2010. Print.
Ghazzālī, and Richard Joseph. McCarthy. Al-Ghazālī's Path to Sufism and His Deliverance from Error: An Annotated Translation of Al-Munqidh Min Al-dal⁻al. Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2000. Print.
Griffel, Frank. Al-Ghazālī's Philosophical Theology. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.
Rippin, Andrew. Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2012. Print.

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