Imam Al-Ghazali r.a.

16Sep14

In 1106 al-Ghazali was persuaded by Nizam al-Mulk’s son to return to teaching at Nishapur, and he believed that now he was calling people to a knowledge that gives up worldly influence for real worth. Al-Ghazali came to believe that God sends a prophet at the beginning of each century after Muhammad and that perhaps he was the one teaching after the five centuries since Muhammad’s migration that founded the Muslim calendar. He wrote his spiritual books The Revival of the Religious LearningsThe Forty Principles of Religion, and The Alchemy of Happiness. Shortly before he died in 1111, al-Ghazali returned to his native Tus, where he taught Sufism in a monastery. As one of Islam’s greatest theologians and philosophers, he made Sufism more acceptable to many people.

Al-Ghazali adapted Aristotle‘s doctrine of the mean to various vices and virtues. The virtue of wisdom is the intelligent mean between the extreme vices of stupidity and wickedness. Courage is a mean between rashness and cowardice. Temperance moderates between greed and the annihilation of desire. Al-Ghazali did not consider justice a mean although Miskawayh suggested it was a mean between doing injustice and suffering injustice. For al-Ghazali the mean is discovered by using reasoning and the Shari’a (Islamic law). Like angels, souls must be free from attachment to the world in order to be saved. Although he considered politics outside of the field of justice, al-Ghazali did write that political justice is the distribution of the government’s wealth in appropriate ways.

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