The Confessions of Al Ghazzali
Mohammed Al-Ghazzali
Islam
1:29 h
Al-Ghazali contributed significantly to the development of a systematic view of Sufism and its integration and acceptance in mainstream Islam. As a scholar of orthodox Islam, he belonged to the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence and to the Asharite school of theology. Al-Ghazali received many titles such as Sharaf-ul-Aʾimma (شرف الأئمة), Zayn-ud-dīn (زين الدين) and Ḥujjat-ul-Islām (حجة الإسلام). He is viewed as the key member of the influential Asharite school of early Muslim philosophy and the most important refuter of the 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.
WISDOM OF THE EAST
THE CONFESSIONS OF
AL GHAZZALI
TRANSLATED FOR THE FIRST TIME
INTO ENGLISH
by
CLAUD FIELD, M.A.

drawing of the sun rising in the east

“He who knows himself knows God.”
- Sayings of Muhammed.


Editorial Note

The object of the Editors of this series is a very definite one. They desire above all things that, in their humble way, these books shall be the ambassadors of good-will and understanding between East and West the old world of Thought and the new of Action. In this endeavour, and in their own sphere, they are but followers of the highest example in the land. They are confident that a deeper knowledge of the great ideals and lofty philosophy of Oriental thought may help to a revival of that true spirit of Charity which neither despises nor fears the nations of another creed and colour. Finally, in thanking press and public for the very cordial reception given to the “Wisdom of the East” Series, they wish to state that no pains have been spared to secure the best specialists for the treatment of the various subjects at hand.

L. CRANMER -BYNG.
S. A. KAPADIA.

Northbrook Society, 185 Piccadilly, W.


Introduction
Birth of Ghazzali

Aboû Hâmid Muhammed Ibn Muhammad Al Ghazzali was born in the city of Tus in Khorassan, A.D. 1058, one year after the great poet and freethinker Abu’ l’ Alā died. He was the son of a dealer in cotton thread (Gazzâl), whence his name. Losing his father in early life, he was confided to the care of a Sufi, whose influence extended through his subsequent career. On finishing his studies he was appointed professor of theology at Bagdad. Here he achieved such splendid success that all the Imāms became his zealous partisans. So great, indeed, was his renown, so ardent the admiration he inspired, that the Muhammedans sometimes said: “If all the books of Islam were destroyed, it would be but a slight loss, provided Al Ghazzali’s work on the Revivification of the Sciences of Religion were preserved.” The following short treatise gives the history of the mind of this remarkable man in his pursuit of truth. It might not inaptly bear the title “Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit.” In its intellectual subtlety it bears a certain resemblance to Newman’s Grammar of Assent, and in its almost Puritanical sense of the terrors of the world to come, it is akin to Bunyan’s Grace Abounding. It is also interesting as being one of the very few specimens of genuine Eastern autobiography.

After describing the difficulty with which he escaped from an almost Pyrrhonic scepticism, “not by systematic reasoning and accumulation of proofs, but by a flash of light which God sent into my soul,” he reviews the various sects whom he encountered in his search for truth.

I.
The Scholastic Theologians, Who Profess to Follow Reason and Speculation.

II.
The Philosophers, Who Call Themselves Masters of Logic and Demonstration.

III.
The Sufis, Who Claim an Immediate Intuition, and Who Perceive the Real Manifestation of Truth as Common Men Perceive Material Phenomena.

After mastering the first two systems and still finding the great problem unsolved, he was forced to pronounce philosophy incompetent, and to seek in some higher faculty than reason the solution of his doubts. The intuition or ecstasy (“wajd”) of the Sufis was to him a sort of revelation. His search for truth occupied several years, in the course of which he renounced his professorship of theology at Bagdad and went into devotional retirement at Jerusalem and Damascus, and also performed the pilgrimage to Mecca.