About the Book
The book is the English version of Imam Ghazzali’s Ihya Ulum-ud-Din. It deals with worship and divine service.
Imam Abu-Hamid al-Ghazzali is unquestionably the greatest theologian of Islam and one of its noblest and most original thinkers. He was born in 1058 A.D. at Tus, where he died in 1111. He reproduced in his religious experience all the spiritual phases developed by Islam.
Starting his religious life as orthodox, Al-Ghazzali soon turned Sufi, and when still under twenty he had broken with all the past. In 1091 he was appointed lecturer at the Nizamiyah in Baghdad, where he became a sceptic. Four year later he returned to Sufism after a terrific spiritual struggle that left him a physical wreck. Intellectualism had failed him. As a dervish he roamed from place to place enjoying peace of soul and acquiescence of mind. After about twelve years of retirement in various places, including two years of retreat in Syria and a holy pilgrimage, he returned to Baghdad to preach and teach. There he composed his masterpiece lhya Ulum-id-Din (the revivification of the sciences of religion).
The mysticism of this work vitalized the law its orthodoxy leavened the doctrine of Islam. In it and such other works of his Fatihat-al-Ulum, Tahafut of Falasifah, Iqtisad fi-al-Itiqad, orthodox speculation reached its culminating point.
Through the unbounded grace of the Almighty God and blessings of the greatest Apostle of God, the English version of the Book of worship of the world renowned Ihyaul Ulum (Revival of religious learning) of Imam Ghazzali, the greatest thinker of the world of Islam, the Proof of Islam, the famous Sufi and devout, has now been published in full. This book Ihya is a sea of knowledge full of reasons and arguments, full of Quranic verses, traditions of the Holy Prophet and of the companions and the famous saints of early ages. Each subject was supported by the Quran, traditions and sayings of the learned sages and wise men and established by reasons and arguments.
As the great Imam belonged originally to the Shafeyi Sunni sect, some of the religious doctrines will be found in line with that sect, but nevertheless its importance is very great. In his advanced age, the Imam was not a blind follower of sects but followed his independent thinking and as such indirectly created a sect of his own. As the world is advancing with ever new ideas and scientific discoveries, so also this work is full of novel and great ideas and scientific discoveries and thereby the Imam revived truly the religious sciences and gave them an impetus never given by his predecessors in such a manner. He saved Islam from the currents and cross currents of devilish thoughts and pagan ideas that imperceptibly entered into Islam and clearly showed their fallacies and misconceptions. For this reason, he was given the title of Hujjatul Islam or the Proof of Islam. His thoughts prevailed upon those savants who came after him. Had not the Almighty blessed him with the necklace of reason and intellect, the true belief of Islam would have been carried away by the strong current of irreligious and misguided thoughts.
True it is that there are many weak traditions in this book, but at the same time it should be remembered that the authors of six authentic traditional books specially Bukhari and Muslim selected some few thousand traditions as most of them were not proved to have been founded by trustworthy narrators from the Holy Prophet down to the narrator or did not meet with all the rules laid down for an authentic tradition. For want of proof, many guilty persons are acquitted. For that, it cannot be said that all acquitted persons are innocent. So in this perspective, the traditions in the Ihya should be regarded. Had Imam Ghazzali not found them trustworthy, he would not have incorporated them in his book.
The present translation is an attempt to bring out a complete translation of Ihya in English in four Books. The first book deals with worship and divine service, the second book with worldly usages, the third book with destructive evils and the fourth book with constructive virtues. Ihya in original is a book in Arabic comprising four parts and its abridged addition in Persian was termed by the author himself as ‘Kimiyae Sa’adat’ or the Touchstone of fortune. Unnecessary arguments of different sects prevalent nearly one thousand years ago, some matters not needed at the present time and some sayings of some sages of less reputation have been omitted in the present English version. The book has been, however, translated into Bengali in full by the author himself without omission.
SHORT LIFE OF IMAM GHAZZALI
Imam Ghazzali was born in 450 A.H. (1058 A.D.) in the village Taberan in the district of Taus in Persia and his name is Abu Hamid Muhammad. His title is Hujjatul Islam or Proof of Islam and his dynastic title is Ghazzali. His father was not a famous person but his grand father was one of the leading men of that age. His father died while he was young leaving him under the care of his mother and grand father. Ghazzal is said to be the name of a village in the district of Taus in the province of Khorasan in Persia. According to Maulana Shibli Nomani, his ancestors had the business of weaving. (Ghazzal) and therefore he retained his family title Ghazzali (weaver).