GÚAZAÚLÈ, ABUÚ H®AÚMED MOH®AMMAD b. Moháammad T®u@s^ (450-505/1058-1111), one of the greatest systematic Persian thinkers of medieval Islam and a prolific Sunni author on the religious sciences (Islamic law, philosophy, theology, and mysticism) in Saljuq times.

i. Biography.
ii. The Eháya@÷ ¿olum al-d^n.
iii. The K^m^a@-ye sa¿a@dat. See KÈMÈAÚ-YE SA¿AÚDAT.
iv. Minor Persian works.
v. As a faq^h.
vi. And theology.
vii. And the Ba@tÂen^s.
viii. Impact on Islamic thought. See Supplement.


A man of Persian descent, GÚaza@l^ (variant name GÚazza@l^; Med. Latin form, Algazel; honorific title, H®ojjat-al-Esla@m "The Proof of Islam"), was born at T®u@s in Khorasan in 450/1058 and grew up as an orphan together with his younger brother Ahámad GÚaza@l^ (d. 520/1126; q.v.). After instruction in Islamic jurisprudence as a teenager in Jorja@n, he became a student of the leading Ash¿arite theologian and Shafi¿ite jurist Ema@m-al-H®aramayn Abu'l-Ma¿a@l^ Z˜^a@÷-al-D^n ¿Abd-al-Malek Jovayn^ (d. 478/1085) in N^æa@pu@r, where he also studied with the Sufi master Abu@ ¿Al^ Fa@rmadò^ (d. 477/1084-85), a disciple of Abu@ Sa¿^d b. Abi'l-K¨ayr (d. 440/1049, q.v.), Abu'l-Qa@sem Qoæayr^ (d. 465/1072), and Abu'l-Qa@sem Korraka@n^ (d. 469/1076). In 478/1085, after the death of his teachers, GÚaza@l^ joined the circle of scholars at the camp and court of the Saljuq vizier Kúa@ja Nezáa@m-al-Molk (assassinated in 485/1092, q.v.), the patron of colleges (madrasas) he had founded. Appointed by Nezáa@m-al-Molk in 484/1091, GÚaza@l^ became an influential professor on Shafi¿ite jurisprudence for four years at the Nezáa@m^ya madrasa in Baghdad (Glaasen, pp. 131-75). Overcome by a severe physical illness and plagued by a nagging skepticism born of his intensive self-study of Islamic philosophy, GÚaza@l^ decided to abandon his teaching position in 488/1095 in favor of his brother Ahámad. This year signaled a deep identity crisis in GÚaza@l^. Shaken by epistemological doubt, he resolved to seek certitude (yaq^n) as the underpinnings of his intellectual knowledge. His crisis occurred only a few years after political rivals, in concert with Neza@r^ Isma¿ili enemies against whom GÚaza@l^ had written a refutation on the order of caliph al-Mostazáher (487-512/1094-1118), had engineered his patron's assassination. Using a pilgrimage to Mecca as the pretext to escape Baghdad, GÚaza@l^ gave up his academic career. He was particularly disillusioned by the corruption affecting the scholarly circles of the college in the aftermath of the political turmoil following Rokn-al-D^n Bark^a@roq's (q.v.) teenage accession to the Saljuq sultanate in 485/1092.

The next eleven years, from 488/1095 until 499/1106, when GÚaza@l^ returned to his academic career as a professor at the college of N^æa@pu@r, were doubtless a period of intense intellectual incubation, although specific details about his life and work in this period remain historically uncertain. According to his autobiography, GÚaza@l^ first went to Damascus where he taught in the za@w^a of Nasár Maqdes^ (d. 490/1097; Makdisi, p. 45). Then he journeyed from Syria to Jerusalem and visited the tomb of Abraham at Hebron in 489/1096, where he made the vow never again to take money from the government, never again to serve a ruler, and never again to enter into scholastic disputations (van Ess, p. 61). He then went to Medina and Mecca, where he performed the pilgrimage in 489/1096, returned to Syria, possibly after a short visit to Alexandria in Egypt, and finally, after a brief stay in Baghdad in 490/1097, settled down at T®u@s. During this intellectual exile from organized teaching, GÚaza@l^ lived in great solitude and poverty, engaged in ascetical exercises and mystical prayer, and composed his most famous work, Eháya@÷ ¿olu@m al-d^n "The revival of the religious sciences," which advocates Sufi spirituality as the fulcrum of Islamic religion. Although this work bears all the marks of the manual of a great teacher and would thus presuppose GÚaza@l^ lecturing to students, the sources offer few clues about who his crucial Sufi contacts might have been on his journeys, or, barring a few minor exceptions, who his audience might have been in his hometown.

In 499/1106, Nezáa@m-al-Molk's son Fakòr-al-Molk (q.v.), who had become the vizier of Sanjar, the Saljuq sultan of Khorasan, invited GÚaza@l^ to return to lecturing at the Nezáa@m^ya of N^æa@pu@r. Breaking the vow he had made at Abraham's tomb, GÚaza@l^ accepted the invitation and taught in N^æa@pu@r until shortly before his death, animated by his belief that it was God's will for him to function as the renewer of religion (mojadded) at the threshold of the new Islamic century. His autobiography, al-Monqedò men al-zµala@l "The deliverer from error" (cf. Watt, 1953; tr. McCarthy, pp. 61-143; first translation into French by A. Schmölders, Paris, 1842) dates from this final period of GÚaza@l^'s teaching, during the last months of which he retired to the Sufi retreat (kòa@naqa@h) he had established for his disciples earlier in T®u@s. He died there in Joma@da@ II 505/December 1111. The chronology of GÚaza@l^'s biography has been established by Margaret Smith (1944), Maurice Bouyges and Michel Allard, and W. Montgomery Watt, (1963) on the basis of GÚaza@l^'s autobiography and a great number of biographical accounts found in the Arabic primary sources (listed in D¨ahab^, p. 115).

GÚaza@l^ was a prolific author whose writings, examined chronologically by Bouyges and Allard (pp. 85-170; Badaw^), number about five dozen authentic works, in addition to which some 300 other titles of works of uncertain, doubtful, or spurious authorship, many of them duplicates owing to varying titles, are cited in Muslim bibliographical literature. The charge that books were falsely ascribed to GÚaza@l^ increased after the dissemination of the large corpus of Ebn ¿Arab^'s works (d. 638/1240, q.v.). Nevertheless, it is a questionable criterion of authenticity to reject works of GÚaza@l^ that are highly mystical or esoteric in character as spurious, separating them from works said to be genuine because they are rather rational or exoteric in nature. It is also an all-too simplistic assumption that GÚaza@l^'s writings move from exoteric topics to mystical ones as he advances in age, though some of the most esoteric writings attributed to Ga@za@l^ do belong to the last phase of his literary activity. The rule-of-thumb criterion suggested by Watt (1952, pp. 24-45; idem, 1961, pp. 121-31) that GÚaza@l^ never directly contradicted on "higher" levels what he maintained on lower levels, forces a harmonizing consistency on a highly prolific author who underwent severe personal crises and shifts of intellectual outlook. Already Ebn T®ofayl (d. 581/1185, q.v.) observed that GÚaza@l^ wrote for different audiences, ordinary men and the elite (pp. 69-72), and GÚaza@l^ himself completed the rather moderate theological treatise, Elja@m al-¿awa@mm ¿an ¿elm al-kala@m "The restraining of ordinary men from theology," in the last month before his death (cf. Hourani).

In addition to the aforementioned autobiography, which is the retrospective story of his religious development rather than a historical account of his life curve, the following are considered to be the major works of GÚaza@l^, all undisputedly penned by him. The legal writings of GÚaza@l^, who followed the Shafi¿ite school of law, include the compendia, known as al-Bas^tÂ, al-Was^tÂ, and al-Waj^z that still await scholarly analysis and may represent paraphrases of his teachers' works. The first two are treatises on legal applications (foru@¿ al-feqh) written early in his career, while the third one is an epitome compiled in 495/1101. GÚaza@l^'s principal treatise on the foundations of Islamic jurisprudence, entitled al-Mostasáfa@ men ¿elm al-osáu@l "The essential theory of legal thought" was written in 503/1109 at N^æa@pu@r (Ebn Kòalleka@n, ed. ¿Abba@s, IV, p. 217). This last great treatise, completed two years before his death, examines the rules of law (aháka@m) and their foundations (osáu@l) with unparalleled methodical acumen (Laoust, pp. 152-82). A generation after GÚaza@l^, scholars such as Abu@ ¿Abd-Alla@h Moháammad b. ¿Al^ Maza@r^ (d. 536/1141-42), praised GÚaza@l^ for his comprehensive knowledge of the legal applications but criticized his grasp of the legal foundations (Sobk^, T®abaqa@t2 VI, p. 241). High praise was expressed also by Ebn ¿Abba@d Rond^ (d. 792/1390), who, on account of GÚaza@l^'s first half of his voluminous Eháya@÷, called GÚaza@l^ an authority on Islamic jurisprudence (pp. 88-89). Except for Sufism, no other field of the Islamic sciences absorbed so much of GÚaza@l^'s time and energy as that of jurisprudence (Lazarus Yafeh, pp. 373-411). He was in the first place a professor of Shafi¿ite law.

GÚaza@l^'s study of Islamic philosophy received initial motivation from his teacher Jovayn^, but benefited mainly from his self-study of the works of Abu@ Nasár Fa@ra@b^ and Avicenna (qq.v.) during his years as professor at the Nezáa@m^ya of Baghdad. GÚaza@l^ approached philosophy in three stages. First (pace Graef, ZDMG 110, 1961, pp. 162-63), he summarized the principal points of philosophy by compiling a systematic exposition, entitled Maqa@sáed al-fala@sefa "The intentions of the philosophers," which became a highly acclaimed treatise in medieval Europe upon its translation into Latin (Logica et Philosophia Algazelis Arabis) by Dominic Gundisalvi in the 12th century (Muckle; cf. P. Liechtenstein's Latin edition, Venices, 1506), and into Hebrew in the 13th century (Steinschneider). Second, in the first fortnight of 488/1095, he completed the Taha@fot al-fala@sefa "The incoherence of the philosophers" (ed. M. Bouyges with a summary in Latin, Beirut, 1927), a controversial work of refutation which provoked the great philosopher of Muslim Spain, Ebn Roæd/Averroes (d. 595/1198) to reply with his own refutation (Taha@fot al-taha@fot). In the Taha@fot al-fala@sefa GÚaza@l^ enumerated twenty maxims of the philosophers that he found to be objectionable or inconsistent with their own claims, three of them justifying the charge of unbelief: the philosophers' claim of the eternity of the world, their denial of God's knowledge of particulars, and their repudiation of the resurrection of the body. GÚaza@l^ tended to reject the necessary link of causality since all that can be affirmed is a post-hoc rather than a propter hoc, as shown by his example that the combustion of cotton occurs at the moment of its contact with fire, while it cannot be demonstrated that it occurs because of the contact between cotton and fire. For GÚaza@l^ human reason alone is unable to attain certitude, though he paradoxically uses his own certain reason to destroy the certitudes of the philosophers by borrowing their method for his arguments! Third, GÚaza@l^ authored three treatises that prepared the ground for his subsequent systematic writings on theology, his elaborate Me¿ya@r al-¿elm "The standard of knowledge" and his brief Meháakk al-nazáar "The touchstone of thought," both treatises on logic, as well as his M^za@n al-¿amal "The balance of action," a tract on philosophical ethics.

GÚaza@l^'s writings on Islamic theology (¿elm al-kala@m) signal a significant stage of development for its rational methodology because he used the Aristotelian syllogism and systematically applied it to theological thought. GÚaza@l^'s influence on theological method, noted in Ebn K¨aldu@n's (d. 808/1406, q.v.) Moqaddema (tr., III, p. 52), is evidenced in his principal work on Islamic theology, al-Eqtesáa@d fi'l- e¿teqa@d "The just mean in belief" (Asín Palacios, 1929) completed in 488/1095, the year of his departure from Baghdad. This work weighs traditional theological maxims (maintained by major scholars of law, e.g., ˆa@fe¿^, Ma@lek b. Anas, Abu@ H®an^fa, Ebn H®anbal) against GÚaza@l^'s own opinions and expresses strong reservations about a theology based on faith in authority (taql^d) and marked by polemics. In the Eháya@÷ and the Monqedò this reserve turns into outright rejection of theology as a reliable way to certain truth and, in the Elja@m, into a warning against the dangers hidden in its study. GÚaza@l^, however, engaged in theological polemics himself, and his more systematic writings on theology were preceded by his polemical treatise against the Ba@tÂen^ya sect of Nezáa@r^ Isma¿ilism. This refutation, al-Mostazáher^ f^ fazµa@÷ehá al-Ba@tÂen^ya "The abominations of the sectarians" (Goldziher, 1916), was named after the caliph al-Mostazáher (acceded to the caliphate in 487/1094), on whose order GÚaza@l^ wrote the work in Baghdad. Two later works that reflect GÚaza@l^'s intellectual struggle with the principle of hermeneutics (ta÷w^l), upheld by the authoritative teaching (ta¿l^m) of the Ba@tÂen^ya, are the al-QestÂa@s al-mostaq^m "The correct balance" (tr. McCarthy, pp. 287-332) and the Faysáal al-tafreqa bayna'l-Esla@m wa'l-zandaqa "The arbiter between Islam and heresy" (tr. McCarthy, pp. 145-74), the latter of which includes an innovative argument for the tolerance of heterodox groups within the Islamic community (Griffel, pp. 34-42). The authenticity of GÚaza@l^'s al-Radd al-jam^l ¿ala'l-ela@h^yat ¿Èsa@ sáar^há al-Enj^l "The excellent refutation of the divinity of Jesus from the clear evidence of the Gospel" is maintained by Louis Massignon (pp. 491-536), although questioned by others (Lazarus-Yafeh, pp. 458-87).

GÚaza@l^'s most important work, the monumental Eháya@÷ ¿olu@m al-d^n, written during his years of travel and retreat between his teaching at Baghdad and N^æa@pu@r, represents a moderate form of Sufism, one stressing religious knowledge and righteous action (cf. the analysis of Bousquet). The work as a whole reflects GÚaza@l^'s self-perception as one chosen to revive religion, being a complete guide to Islamic piety, divided into four volumes of ten "books" each (¿eba@da@t "religious duties," ¿a@da@t "social customs," mohleka@t "faults of character," and monj^ya@t "virtues"). Convinced that in his time the scholars of law and religion (¿olama@÷) had debased religious knowledge, making it a business of this-worldly gain, GÚaza@l^ tried to revive a true religiosity that, in his view, had become moribund. To this end he wrote his work in an eloquent didactic style, addressing himself to the common people yet also adding insights for the mystically attuned elite. A teacher and preacher more than an original thinker, he intended, through clarity of thought rather than brilliance of diction, to convert others to following the path to God. Though GÚaza@l^ used Abu@ T®a@leb Makk^'s (d. 386/996) Qu@t al-qolu@b and Qoæayr^'s Resa@la as major sources, and even copied pages of Makk^'s work wholesale, the work is an independent and freshly organized compendium drawn from his broad knowledge of the Islamic sciences. After the completion of his monumental work GÚaza@l^ wrote a short summary of it, entitled Keta@b al-arba¿^n "The book of the forty," compiled the al-Maqsáad al-asna@ f^ asma@÷ Alla@h al-háosna@ "The noblest of aims," an exposition of the most beautiful names of God (al-asma@÷ al-háosna@) and answered the critics of the Eháya@÷ with his al-Emla@÷ ¿ala@ moækel al-Eháya@÷ (printed in its margin). Among the smaller treatises, written after the Eháya@÷, mention may be made of the eschatological tract, al-Dorra al-fa@kòera f^ kaæf ¿olu@m al-a@kòera. Finally, an extensive commentary on the Eháya@÷ (Etháa@f al-sa@dat al-mottaq^n) was compiled by Moháammad b. Moháammad Zab^d^, known as Sayyed Mortazµa@ (d. 1205/1791), while in modern times dozens of the "books" of GÚaza@l^'s magnum opus have been translated into Western languages (such as, e.g. the annotated translation of Gramlich).

The scholarly analysis of works of GÚaza@l^, and his Sufi writings in particular, has been controversial for about a century (Macdonald, pp. 71-132; Carra de Vaux; Asín Palacios, 1931-41; Wensinck; Obermann; Jabre; Watt, 1963; Laoust; Lazarus-Yafeh) because of the predominant emphasis on GÚaza@l^ as an orthodox rationalist. In addition, his monumental Eháya@÷, which deals with Sufi topics for only half the work, has overshadowed a number of smaller Sufi treatises GÚaza@l^ authored especially in the later stages of his life. The crux of the question about the extent to which GÚaza@l^ may be interpreted as a mystical philosopher is centered on his Meæka@t al-anwa@r "Niche of lights." The work was first studied and translated by William H. T. Gairdner (1924; 1914, pp. 121-53), whose attribution and analyses were challenged by W. Montgomery Watt (pp. 5-22), and ¿Abd-al-Ra@háma@n Badaw^ (pp. 193-98) added the observation in 1948 that a collective manuscript of GÚaza@l^'s writings, copied only four years after his death (MS ‡ehit Ali 1712), included the entire Meæka@t al-anwa@r. In a recent study, Hermann Landolt (pp. 19-72) assembled a series of arguments in favor of the authenticity of the work and of the consistency of its ideas with esoteric passages of the Eháya@÷. More textual studies on other small Sufi treatises of GÚaza@l^, in comparison with the Eháya@÷, are needed to clarify our understanding of GÚaza@l^'s mystical philosophy. Such small treatises of disputed authenticity are the Menha@j al-¿a@bed^n (Bouyges and Allard, pp. 82-84), assumed to have been his last work, and the al-Mazµnu@n (Cairo, 1303/1885-86; Bouyges and Allard, pp. 51-56), addressed to his brother Ahámad. Meticulous manuscript study is also required to support the authenticity of the Resa@la al-ladon^ya (M. Smith, 1938, pp. 177-200, 353-74; idem, 1944, p. 212), which is frequently held to be a work of Ebn ¿Arab^ (Bouyges and Allard, pp. 124-25).

Because the vast majority of GÚaza@l^'s writings are compiled in Arabic, little scholarly attention is commonly given to the books he wrote in Persian. His K^m^a@-ye sa¿a@dat "Alchemy of happiness" is a Persian synopsis of his Eháya@÷ for his disciples, rather than its popularized version (Pretzl, p. 17). Completed shortly before 499/1106 (Bouyges and Allard, p. 60), the work is a well-organized religious ethics (de Fouche‚cour, pp. 223-52), enriched by mystical reflections on the heart (qalb) that is "alchemically" purified and empowered to reach God. Succinctly put, the K^m^a@-ye sa¿a@dat finds the solution of GÚaza@l^'s own original crisis concerning the human heart, held in the physical body, though fashioned from the substance of angels, as being in the image of God. As the organ of intimate union with God and the locus of the inborn nature (fetára), it is the seat of the knowledge and love of God as well as the source of moral action. In his brief refutation of the eba@há^ya (Islamic freethinkers) written in Persian in 499/1106, GÚaza@l^ tries to safeguard his moderate mystical synthesis by attacking antinomian Sufi extremism (ed. Pretzl). It may also be noted that GÚaza@l^'s short Ayyoha'l-walad "Oh child" (cf. Hammer-Purgstall), written after the Eháya@÷, was originally composed in Persian, and only later translated into Arabic under the title Kòola@sáat al-tasáa@n^f (Bouyges and Allard, pp. 60-61, 97-98).

Another Persian work is the Nasá^háat al-molu@k "Counsel for kings" (tr. into Arabic well after GÚaza@l^'s death by Abu'l-H®asan ¿Al^ b. Moba@rak b. Mawhu@b Erb^l^ as al-Tebr al-masbu@k; Meier, pp. 395-408), which was compiled about 503/1109 and belongs to the literary genre of "mirrors for princes." Weaving together anecdotes of Sasanian court literature and stories of Muslim lore, the book is written in a pleasing Persian and divided into two parts, a theological part, explaining the beliefs and principles on which a ruler should act, and an ethical part, including counsels and maxims according to which a ruler should administer his charge. It is generally assumed that the Nasá^háat al-molu@k was written for the Saljuq sultan Moháammad b. Malekæa@h, whose rule (498-511/1104-17) followed that of his brother Bark^a@roq (Meier, p. 395; Ga@za@l^, tr. Bagley, pp. xvii-xviii). In her dissertation on GÚaza@l^'s letters and public addresses, however, Dorothea Krawulsky argues (pp. 20-25; Laoust, pp. 144-52) that the book was addressed to the Saljuq sultan Sanjar, the brother of his two predecessors, who, prior to his own rule (513-52/1119-57), administered the eastern half of the sultanate in his two brothers' stead as "king of the east" (malek-e maæreq). Then again, attribution of the second part of the Nasá^háat al-molu@k has been seriously questioned by C. H. de Fouche‚cour (pp. 389-412), while Patricia Crone has rejected its authenticity altogether (pp. 167-91). The compilation of the small treatise, Serr al-¿a@lamayn "The secret of the two worlds," also in the genre of "mirror for princes" though written in Arabic, is linked with an often repeated, yet doubtful, story about Ebn Tu@mart (d. 524/1130). The Mahdi of the Almohads, said to have copied the book while studying with GÚaza@l^ in Baghdad, informed the master about the public burning of his Eháya@÷ in Cordoba and throughout the Almoravid dominions (Goldziher, 1903, pp. 18-19).

Given the great volume of GÚaza@l^'s writings, it is difficult to state succinctly the significance and influence of his life and work. Nevertheless, GÚaza@l^'s own confession, in the opening pages of his Monqedò (ed. Jabre, pp. 10-11), of a thirst to free his inborn intellectual nature (fetÂra) from the blind adherence (taql^d) to inherited religion may reflect the core of his religious quest and provide the key to his work. A more balanced interpretation of Gaza@l^ may well lie in the acknowledgment that his manifold ideas evolved over a long career, rather than in the insistence upon either an objectivist or subjectivist approach to his thought. The richness of GÚaza@l^'s legacy embraces not only a systematic study of law and theology that rejects both legal casuistry and scholastic ingenuity, yet includes a polemical fervor against philosophers and heretics, but it also embodies a high standard of morals and a deep mystical insight. GÚaza@l^'s influence on the rationalist philosophy of the Islamic West as well as on the scholasticism of Judaism and Christianity in medieval southern Europe has been highlighted for centuries; the study of his impact on the inner life and mystical thought of the Persian-speaking world has barely begun.

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