In order to understand a person's life it is usually helpful to know something of his or her social, political and cultural contexts. How important this is depends, on the one hand, upon theoretical considerations and, on the other hand, upon the person him or herself. The theoretical issue is the extent to which a person is understood in term of interiority vis-à-vis in terms of openness and relation to others. Indeed, deep reflection suggests that the degree of one's interiority and reflective self-possession is the key to one's ability to relate to others with that free and passionate sense of justice which is the fruit of love.

This is important for a personal history. Without this balanced sense of the person, on the one hand, a life would be interpreted simply in terms of external events or powerful political authorities, in relation to whose concerns the individual is but a marionette. Worse still, any claim to personal and free decision making would be interpreted as fraud or deceit. On the other hand, that same life could be interpreted in a simply self-reflective manner, reducing it to egoistic self-seeking, missing its social concern and impact, and -- even more -- losing the significance of personal and religious interiority for the life of society as a whole.

All of this is especially true in the concrete case of Ghazali who lived at the center of an intensely religious culture, the understanding and development of which was his central concern and major accomplishment. D.B. MacDonald described him as "the greatest, certainly the most sympathetic figure in the history of Islam, and the only teacher of the after generations ever put by a Muslim on a level with the four great Imams." For W.M. Watt "al-Ghazali has sometimes been claimed in both East and West as the greatest Muslim after Muhammad, and he is by no means unworthy of that dignity." To H.A.R. Gibb he was "a man who stands on a level with Augustine and Luther in religious insight and intellectual vigor."1

In this light the socio-political, indeed the geo-cultural context, can be seen in its true importance. To do this it is helpful to take up the suggestion of Marshal G. Hodgson, at the beginning of the first volume of his The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization.2 He argues effectively that to understand not only Islam but world civilization it is necessary to break free from Eurocentrism. One must appreciate that in the Middle Ages the central drama of world civilization was not being played out in the small kingdoms of Western and Southern Europe. Rather it consisted in the emergence of Islam in confrontation with Byzantium to the East, from the Nile to the Oxus, where the Irano-Semitic culture is found. In this context, the Roman Empire and Western Christianity is put in perspective in relation to the importance of the emergence of Islam to the East.

Prior to Ghazali Islam had undergone an explosive development. In the century after the life of the Prophet Muhammad 570-632 A.D., it expanded with remarkable swiftness across Africa to Spain in the West and far to the East within 100 years of the Prophet. The unity of religious and social authority in Muhammad and in the Islamic community faced heavy challenges during the second century of Islam when the spiritual authority of the Caliph was submerged by the military, and hence political, power of the Sultans. The early orthodox Caliphate of Uthmân and others was succeeded by the Umayyad caliphate and this, in turn, by the 'Abbasid caliphate. It was during the later, declining period of this caliphate that Ghazali lived (1058-1111 A.D., or the years 450-505 A.H. counting from Muhammad's Hegira or trek from Mecca to Medinà).

The guard of the Abbasid Caliphs, which was drawn from foreign, especially Turkish, elements assumed the real political power. They were replaced by the Persian Buwayhides from 945-1055, who were replaced in turn for a century by the Turkish Seljoukides, when the Caliph al-Qa'im, recognized Toghrul Beg as Sultan in Baghdad. This began a line which for a century would rule the vast expanse from the Mediterranean to Afghanistan.

During this time, which was that of Ghazali, a strong attempt was underway by the Fatmides of Egypt to supplant the sunnite Abbasid Caliphs in order to assume the religious and political leadership of all Islam. Claiming to be descendents of Ali, successor of Muhammad, and Fatima, his daughter, they brought together the shi'ite Alides and conquered North Africa, where Cairo became their capital. Their intent was to dominate Iraq, Syria, Khorasam and the entire Abbasid empire. To this end Hassan b Sabbah, founder of Batinism ta'limite, a new form of Ismaélism, sent emissaries against the sunnite Moslems.

Among these there were assassins whose most famous victims were Nizam al-Mulk, Wazir to Sultan Malikshah, and his son, Fakhr al-Mulk. It had been the custom of the learned Nizam al-Mulk to have among his court a group of famous jurists and theologians. By teaching Shafé'ism and Ash'ariam they provided a counterforce against the Schi'ism of the Fatimides in favor of the sunnite Abbasids and the Seljoukides. To this end he founded many schools, led by that in Baghdad. It was precisely as director of this school that he appointed al-Ghazali in 484/1091. In the religio-political complex of Islam at that time, this was the critical post.


The earliest biography of Ghazali is by 'Abd al-Ghafir al-Farisi3 who knew personally "Muhammad son of Muhammad son of Muhammad Abã Hamid al-Ghazali." He was born in Tãs (450/1058) and began his studies in fiqh (Islamic law) there in the school of Radkana. Hence, he moved to Forjan under Abu'l-Qasim al-Isma'îli. Finally he became an outstanding student at Nîshapãr under, among others, al-Juwayne', sunnite Imam al-uramayn. His studies included law, jurisprudence, dialectics, religion and logic, reading works on hikma and falasifa.

After some time he experienced some distaste for the abstract sciences and turned toward the Sufi religious approach under Faramdhi, (died 477), one of the most famous shaykhs of the time. Though he followed the religious practices of cult and ejaculatory prayer and overcame the obstacles, he did not achieve the religious experiences he sought, so he returned then to the abstract sciences.

In epistemology he held all proofs to be equally valid, which left him bemired in casuistry: a brilliant dilettante, but without bases for certitude regarding the three great truths, namely, the existence of God, the last judgment, and prophecy. Fiqh does not justify these fundamental beliefs, but supposes them. Ghazali excelled in reasoning (anzar) and argumentation and early began to write his own works. But this dilettantism may have been the reason why his famous teacher al-Juwayne came to be somewhat put off by the brilliant but aggressive argumentation of his student.

Upon the deaths of Faramdhi and of al-Juwayn in 478, his education was complete. He was the sole major heir to the cultural tradition of his native Khorasan, which excelled in both thought and Sufi religious experience. Soon he joined Nizam Al-Mulk at his 'Askar or military-political base. There he brought together in brilliant discussion the many visiting leading ulemas, imams and men of letters so that his fame spread widely. At 34 he was appointed by Nizam head of the Nizamiyya School in Baghdad which he led with great distinction 484-488 (1091-1095).

At the beginning he was still the brilliant dilettante. Later, from the position of a mature wisdom and holiness, he would apologize for the arrogance with which he pursued argumentation in that earlier less mature period, when his search was too centered upon honor and fame.

Farisi reports that at the Nizamiyya he undertook important study in three major directions. He researched the science of the roots or sources of jurisprudence ('ilm al-usãl); he redeveloped the school of Shafi'ite jurisprudence; and he carried out al-khilaf or comparative jurisprudence. On all of these he wrote works and acquired a surpassing fame and an entourage.

This attention to sciences concerned with the concrete and the practical,4 suggests Jabre, gave him the illusion of standing on solid ground and contributing to the realization and defence of a human-divine kingdom in this life. He had joined Nizam al-Mulk in his battle against the threat of Ta'limism as a new form of shi'ite batinism which stressed the essential importance of the teaching of the Immam in a different line of succession which went back to very early Muslim times.

This effort received a shattering blow on 10 Ramadan 485/1092 when Nizam al-Mulk, Wazir or Prime Minister of the Seljoukide Sultan and patron of Ghazali, was assassinated by a young Batinite, as would be the son of Nizam, Fakhr al-Mulk, in 500/1107 fifteen years later.

According to abã Bakr ibn'al-'Arabi it was early the next year (486/1093-1904) that al Ghazali made a definitive conversion to Sufism and turned from the sciences of things here below to those of the hidden, transcendent aspects of religion. The character and content of this conversion is the centerpiece of the Munqidh. It is no exaggeration to say that all else in the book has been chosen and ordered precisely in order to explain that conversion and the new dimension of knowledge which was opened to him by the Way of the Sufis.

It is not possible to say what weight the political facts of his day, particularly the assassination of Nizam, had on the conversion of Ghazali. He himself does not refer to them in the Munqidh. There he holds to the description of the alternate orders of knowledge or of religion proposed by others and to his own thorough investigation and critique of them. By their exclusion he points to the Way of the Sufis. This was based not simply on its being the sole remaining speculative alternative, but also on the distinction of theory and practice and its implication that it was necessary to move beyond speculation to a higher level of experience. This experience provides its own positive warranty.

Some would want to hold only to his own spiritual experience and suggest that the fear which he mentions at this time was not fear of a fate similar to that of Nizam, but fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom.5 This would seem to separate Ghazali from the circumstances of his time in which -- if one recognizes the role of sunnite vs shi'ite theology as the coordinating matrices of the conflicting temporal regimes of the time -- he was centrally engaged.

Further, this position separates violently soul from body to focus entirely upon disincarnate mind. But it is no derogation of the soul and its spiritual journey to place it firmly in matter or body, in time or history. That one learns true values by reflecting on the death of others or upon the circumstances which threaten one's life is as common an occurrence as taking part in a burial or even visiting a hospital. It is then not surprising that his earlier attempt to practice Sufism was taken up once again with a renewed vigor by Ghazali. His sincerity in this is testified by the decade-long ascetic retreat which he would soon take up and which he would never really abandon.

In the Munqidh he writes at length on a long debate within himself about making a definitive break with his present life of honor and adulation by students and leaders. Did this begin from the death of Nizam or, as would seem more probable, had it begun before, been catalyzed by the death of Nizam, and come to a conclusive decision in 486 AH. If so was the subsequent time in Baghdad concerned only with tactics for carrying out his decision to leave his post there.

At any rate, in 488/1095 he left Baghdad as part of a plan to definitively abandon his post there and the country as a whole, but letting on only that he intended to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. He wandered as a hermit in Damascus, Jerusalem, Hebron (and possibly Alexandria) for nearly two years. During that time he made the 489/1095-1096, pilgrimage to Mecca. Ibn'al-'Arabi reports seeing him in Baghdad in Jumada 489/1095-1096, engaged in teaching, investigating the doctrines of the philosophers and writing. If he is correct about that date, later that year Ghazali made a definitive break from Baghdad. By 491, or 492/1094 at the latest, he returned to his home in Tãs where he lived a life of prayer, worship, meditation and study.

This retreat lasted some ten years when the son of Nizam al-mulk, Fakhr al-Mulk, who was trying to lay down a firm line of defence against Batinism ta'limite summoned him to return once again to his earliest teaching post at Nîshapur.

At this point, Ghazali reports, he was coming to the conclusion that, due to the pervasive corruption in society, interior prayer was not enough; to it the work of teaching must be added. The invitation added an external impetus to his interior inclinations, and he took up his teaching once again in 499/1106. This was to be of short duration, for the following year Fakhr al-Mulk too was assassinated. Soon Ghazali returned to his home in Tãs. There at the side of his home he built a school for teaching fiqh, which always had been his main area of teaching, as well as a Sufi monastery for those in search of prayer, spiritual learning and ascetic practice. Ghazali himself undertook for the first time intensive study of hadith or the traditions regarding the prophet. He continued writing till his very last days and passed away on Monday 14 Jumada II, 505.


The writings of Ghazali, like that of many great thinkers of his day, are very vast, both in breadth and in overall length. A few notes on the categories of his works might convey some sense of their scope.6

1. The Islamic Sciences of fiqh and Kalam: fiqh was the center of his teaching and some of his writing in this field remain classics to the present day. On Kalam his only work is al-Iqtiad fi l-I'tiqad (The Golden Mean of Belief), which is a fine summary of its main theological questions. He seemed to place little trust in Kalam or apologetic theology. Indeed, his very last work was Iljam al-'Awamm 'an al-khaw fi 'Ilm al-Kalam (Restricting the Masses from Engaging in the Science of Kalam).

2. Against Batinism: combatting Batinism, especially the Ta'limites, was a major political and cultural campaign of the time. Ghazali played a central role in the intellectual dimension of this effort by his teaching and through a number of sharply written works.

3. Philosophy: Ghazali speaks of the need to understand thoroughly the ideas of philosophy and in Maqaid al-Falasifa (The Aims of the Philosophers -- Intentiones Philosophorum) produced a classic summary of Greek logic, physics and metaphysics as presented by the Islamic philosophers of his day. The work was much used in the Middle Ages, especially in the West, as a definitive handbook of philosophy. However, Ghazali's intent in the work was to lay there the groundwork for the decisive attack on philosophy which he carried out in Tahafut al-Falasifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers; Destructio Philosophorum). Despite Averroes's reply in Tahafut al-Tahafut some decades later, Ghazali succeeded in quite marginalizing philosophy, especially in Sunnite Islam, and thereby terminating the tradition of Islamic work in Greek philosophy.

The Munqidh min al-Dalal, the center of concern here, is a semi-autobiographical work. Through a tour of the intellectual horizons of the day, it leads the reader to Sufism as the only sure access to truth.

The title used here is a combination of two titles: Munqidh min al-Dalal wa l'mufi 'an al-Ahwal (What Saves from Error and Unveils the [Mystical] States [of the Soul]) and al-Munqidh min al-Dalal wa l-Muwassil ila Dhi l-'Izza wu l-Jalal (What Saves from Error and Unites with Power and Glory).

4. Spiritual Guidance: The Iya' 'Ulém al Din (The Revitalization of the Sciences of Religion) is his great spiritual work. Where the Munqidh leads one to the Sufi Way, this work enters into detail in describing what is discovered as one proceeds along this Way -- the savored experience itself, of course, remaining beyond words. The Ihya is composed of four parts, each having ten books. Part I begins with a book on knowledge which is followed by books on "The Five Pillars of Islam", i.e., the profession of belief, the canonical prayers, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage. Part II concerns 'adat, or ways of acting regarding food, marriage, etc. Part III treats al-muhlikat (the things that lead to damnation). It begins with a psychological masterpiece on the mysteries of the heart and follows with books on ascetical practices for overcoming the appetites. Part IV concerns al-munjiyat (the things that lead to salvation) and constitutes his spiritual masterpiece. It treats repentance, gratitude, fear, hope, poverty, love, openness to God, spiritual awareness, the review of conscience, meditation, death and the next life. All this is written with such great beauty that McCarthy cites an ancient author to the effect that "the Iya would supply for all Islamic literature if the latter were to be lost" for it conveys "all that is best and most appealing in Islam as a religion and as a 'revelation' of God's love for man and the heights attainable by man's love for God."7


The Work

Al Ghazali wrote the Munqidh between 499/110 and 500/1107 in Nisphapér. He was fifty years old at the time and about to return to teaching. As a personal testimony it calls to mind Augustine's Confessions, Descartes' Discourse on Method and Newman's Apologia pro vita sua. Its complex intellectual structure and purpose makes it one of the most outstanding works in world literature. Al Ghazali states in the introduction that he wrote the work at the request of a brother in the faith who asked him "to reveal . . . the purpose of the sciences, the evil and the depths of the schools of thought." This could be a real account and/or a literary device; in any case, most agree that it was meant for a type of reader, not for only one individual. The work is intended to explain how he first established the bases and limits of reason, and later broke beyond reason to find the Way to definitive certitude and spiritual fulfillment. By a process of exclusion his review of the competencies and limits of kalam, of philosophy and of the doctrine of the ta`limites led him to Sufism. There he found the Way which could take him to the prophetic light beyond what "there was no other light on the face of the earth."8

Proximately, he was worried by the Bainites who wished to propose, as an infallible Imam, the Fatimid Caliph of Cairo. Ghazali considered this prerogative to have belonged only to Muhammad himself. Like the Ash'ari facing the Mu'tazilites two centuries earlier, he was forced to rethink for himself and his contemporaries sunnite dogma, and thereby to renew the religious spirit. It was, moveover, a task which it had been prophesied would be needed at the beginning of each century.

To appreciate this project it may be helpful to look first at its structure, especially as analyzed by Farid Jabre,9 and then to consider its meaning and accomplishment.

General Introduction (pp. 63)

Ghazali notes that from his early youth, before the age of 20, he had been concerned with the problem of certitude and had examined critically all the roads leading not only to religious conviction, but even to nihilism. Rather than acceptthe easy but blind conformism of taqlid, however, he attempted to seize the deep basic reality of things, especially of human nature itself as it opened to the divine. In this regard what he sought was certain knowledge, which he described as a state of soul so bound to, and satisfied by, its object that nothing could detach it therefrom.

The First Crisis: Sophistry and Denail of

All Knowledge (pp. 66)

In search of this perfect certitude he turned first to sense knowledge but soon recognized the illusions it generated. When he turned to reason and its first principles, however, he had difficulty distinguishing their certitude from that which he had experienced in dreams; indeed for the Sufis the whole of this life was a dream. After two months of despair with regard to knowledge he regained confidence in the directives of reason. This confidence, however, came not as a clear deduction from any methodical reasoning, but by light which God projected into his heart.

Evaluation of Other Ways (p. 70)

Long after -- his education having been completed, and now at the head of the school at Baghdad -- he returned once again to this issue of certitude. Now, however, it was not merely the general question of how certitude could be had in any reasoning, rather it was how one could be bound irrevocably in blessed union with God. As truth is sought by four different groups each proposing its own path, some time after 484/1091 and over a period of years at Baghdad Ghazali set about studying each in depth to see which provided the true Way to God.

1. Kalam: (pp. 71) Through the Prophet God revealed the body of true beliefs upon which depends man's happiness in this life and the next. Because some deny this and attempt to disturb the faith of the believers, an apologetic approach (the kalam) was developed. This seeks to argue from premises which these unbelievers do admit in order to show the contradictions into which they are lead by their unbelief. Kalam is of little service, however, for it can serve only those with a strong sense of the first and necessary principles of reason, but generally these persons limit their convictions solely to such principles. In time kalam broadened its concerns to search into the deep reality of things through the use of such philosophical categories as substance and accidents, but it could attain little sure knowledge.

2. Falasifa: (pp.73) Thinking that this had never seriously been studied, in Baghdad Ghazali spent two years reading the works of the Falasifa and a third in organizing his thoughts. He divided the Falasifa into three categories and quickly rejected the first two: the nihilists (dahriyyãn) or Zanadiqa who deny the existence of God, and the naturalists (tabi-'iyyun) who believe in a powerful and wise being, but reject life after death.

In contrast, he gave extensive attention to the third category, the theists (ilahiyyãn), which include especially not only the Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, but the Islamic philosophers, Avicenna and al-Farabi. Ghazali does not propose rejecting all their positions: mathematics, logic, physics, politics and ethics could be accepted with care and prudence. The difficulties of the philosophers come especially in the field of theodicy where they did not have success in furnishing the kinds of proofs demanded by their logic.

He warns against the dangers in either totally accepting or totally rejecting the philosophers, arguing strenuously for an open attitude to truth wherever it appears. Truth is not contaminated by being juxtaposed to errors, nor does it become false when included in books which contain errors on other matters. Thus, similarities between revealed truths in his works and elements in the works of some philosophers do not render the revealed matters any less true.

In sum, however, Falasafa will not suffice because reason is unable to know the basic truths of things, especially (but not only) with regard to the spirit in man and its union with God.

3. The Theory of Teaching (pp. 84): A competing claimant to provide a sure way to God -- and one most obtrusive in his day, even to the point of assassinations -- was the company of those who claimed that such truth could not at all be approached by reason, but only through instruction by a teacher, particularly by the infallible Imam of the shi'ites. Ghazali proceeded to develop a clearer statement of their principles than could they themselves, but he did so in order to refute them. He accepted the principles of the ta'limites regarding the need for a doctrine and for an infallible teacher, but turned this against them by pointing out that such a teacher was only Muhammad. More basically, however, he rejected the general skepticism regarding reason implicit in their argument and their reduction of faith to blind conformism.

With regard to the contingent social order Ghazali considered error to be always possible, but not to have eternal implications. Where teaching has been received from an infallible but now dead teacher it should be followed; otherwise jurisprudential judgement (ijtihad) must suffice.

With regard to the fundamental truths of belief, these exist in the Qur'an and the Sunna or community. As shown in his book, The Just Balance, these truths can be argued. But, as was true even with Muhammad's teaching, there is no guarantee that all persons will be convinced.

Ghazali argues that the ta'limit position is not consistent, for the authority of any text which would affirm the existence and infallibility of their Imam would need to be based on prophecy and certified by miracles. The appreciation and application of such certification, however, requires precisely the kind of reasoning capability rejected by that position.

The Mystical Way of Sufism (pp. 91)

By exclusion he then turned to the way of Sufism which he notes to be both a knowledge and, even more fundamentally, a practice which constitutes a yet deeper knowledge. As practice, its goal is detachment from all else for the purpose of attachment to God. He attained information and some understanding of Sufism by reading the works of Makki, Muhasibi, Junayd, Shibli and Bistami. But he noted that the essence of Sufism was a matter not of knowledge, but of lived experience described as savoring the truth.

Hence he had to reorient himself from an outward search for objective truth to the realization of an inward state of soul; it was not a matter of knowing the definition of detachment, but of becoming detached step by step. This spiritual turn was for him a matter of great drama and pain. He had always held the three great truths: The Existence of God, Prophecy, and Resurrection or the Last Day, and had stoutly taught and defended them. But he notes with regret that he had done so with attachment to worldly honor, even to the point of treating others harshly. If, however, eternal happiness depended not on attachment but on detachment, then he had a crucial choice to make: to remain with all the attachments of his life as leader of the school in Baghdad or to break away.

The pressure of the growing awareness of this choice progressively paralysed him over a six months period beginning from Rajab 488 to the point at which he could neither speak nor eat. At that point, by God's help, he was able to make the break. For the rest of his life he led the life of prayer. He was a hermit for two years in Syria and Palestine; he notes especially his time in the minaret of the mosque in Damascus. Family cares recalled him once again to his home, which he left but briefly to teach at Nîshapur. But with progressive practice of the Sufi Way of self-denial, prayer and meditation in Tãs the spirit of God suffused him entirely.

He recounts the stages of the Sufi Way as the purification of the heart of all that is not God and total absorption in God through annihilation of Self. Each interior step of the heart is accompanied by a corresponding step of knowledge unveiling and contemplating the truth. These take one to a proximity with God, but this is not yet the state of inherence or true union. For that it is necessary to proceed by lived, even savored, experience. This has three levels: (1) knowledge by faith or belief based on the good opinion one has of one's spiritual masters or teachers; (2) indirect knowledge by verification with the help of reasoning; (3) direct knowledge by taste, which he describes as tasted or savored in order to insist upon the subjectivity of an interior appreciation of God as present beyond any objective, exterior knowledge.

All these levels are permeated by the notion of prophecy; it is the Prophet who achieves most vividly the direct experience of God which is the goal of the Sufi Way. Hence at this point he undertakes a detailed progressive analysis of the nature of prophecy in order to be as clear as possible regarding the reality of the divine union which is both the Way and the truth, both knowledge and practice, and, beyond all, life divine.

The Nature of Prophecy: An Urgent Human Need (pp. 98)

Here Ghazali mounts a major effort to communicate to his readers/friends the character of the lived experience to which the Sufi Way leads. He begins with a detailed sequence of the development of the various senses, followed by the ability to discern things beyond the sense level at seven years of age, and then the ability to grasp abstract notions, i.e. things as necessary, possible or impossible. Finally, there opens the eye of prophecy which grasps a domain beyond reason. He exemplifies the transcendence of this world beyond that of reason by comparing the latter to the insensitivity of a blind person before colors or of reason before the world of dreams. This capacity of the human for trans-rational experience is a special gift of God.

He treats three questions regarding prophecy: its possibility, its existence and its realization in a particular person. Its possibility is illustrated by knowledge of the laws of medicine and astrology. These are known to be true but are not subject to rational deduction. Moreover, dreams testify to the fact of a realm of knowledge beyond reason. Prophetic knowledge exists in the experience which can be developed by following the Way of Sufism.

Like knowledge of whether someone is authentically a doctor or jurist, recognition of the existence of prophecy in a particular person requires first some sense of the nature of prophecy. This can be had by meeting such persons and considering their teaching and actions. But the life of the Prophet is its own best witness. More than external miracles, which upset the laws of nature, prophecy is itself a miracle which perfects nature beyond anything to which nature of itself could aspire.10 Thus it is by being with Sufis that one comes to know that the higher experience has been attained by some and thus that it does exist and can be attained by their Way.

Practical Problems and the Return to Teaching (pp. 102)

The remainder of the work focuses on the practical problems or difficulties in bringing the Way into more general practice.

In their substance humans are both body and spirit or heart. The later is the proper place of knowledge of God, but like the body it too can die if it lacks knowledge of God or falls ill through disobedience to Him. What is more, just as the body is healed by medical properties which the reason cannot understand, so the heart can be healed by practices of cult which only the higher experience of the prophet can appreciate.

Ghazali explained the nature of prophecy by leading the reader step by step toward experiences that transcends both the senses and reason. But in order to be attracted toward such a goal one needs to experience it in others. Here, the difficulty is precisely the bad examples of those supposedly learned persons who should be practicing it, or the defects and bad examples of others who do attempt to practice the Way. The result is a general tepidity.

Ghazali responded both in theory and in practice. Regarding theory or truth to those whose tepidity is due to:

- ta'limism, as a virus aggressively promoted in his day and proposing passive dependence on an infallible Imam, Ghazali directs that they read his work: The Just Balance.

- the teaching of the falasifa, who aggressively extend the realm of reason and reduce all else in the Qur'an to mere allegory, Ghazali directs that they review his teaching on prophecy as transcending the capacities of reason.

- the arguments of the libertines, Ghazali directs that they read his work, The Alchemy of Happiness.

- the claim that prophecy is only for the common people, but not for those who can understand its contents and develop an empirical ethics (hakim) based on God, Ghazali teaches that in fact they reject prophecy because they reduce what is distinctive about it, namely, its transcendence of reason, to the level of a sage usage of reason.

But Ghazali is conscious that holiness as an inner reality can be betrayed above all from within, that those who should exemplify the experiences achieved from the Way in fact may be impeded by various temptations and therefore generate scandal rather than constituting beacons for others. Ghazali attempts to protect against this by assuring: (1) that all have knowledge of the difference between good and evil and should not be misled by anyone who falls before temptations which everyone experiences, and (2) that knowledge of the Way is itself a corrective for it directs one to repent and move on, not to remain in sin.

But Ghazali had a practical response to make as well. Seeing that tepidity seemed to be spreading he became convinced that a strenuous effort at education was needed. He made a last effort in that direction by accepting the invitation of the son of Nizam to take charge of the school at Nîshapãr. When this was cut short by the assassination of his patron, he moved his effort to his home in Tãs, where he built a school and monastery to teach and promote the practice of Sufism.


The above analysis of the structure of the text has attempted closely to follow its structure. The text, however, is not simply autobiographical, but a somewhat stylized ordering of the elements of his life and hence of his Sufi experience. In this his goal, he says, is to respond to the question of the purpose of the related sacred sciences and the evil and depth of the relevant schools of thought. Hence, in order further to unfold the import of the Munqidh it may help to add here some reflections upon the different philosophical issues involved.


The issue of knowledge11 and its competencies is basic here, for his purpose is to show not only what reason can do in order progressively to lead toward the Way, but even more what reason cannot do in order, through contrast, to make manifest what is distinctive and indispensable in the mystical Way of the Sufis. Moreover, beyond the issue of the way to personal perfection, Ghazali's understanding of knowledge was the key to his work on The Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahafut al-Falasifa) which played a central role in the Islamic rejection of its heritage of work on the Greek philosophers' classic elaboration of reason. This may be related, on the one hand, to the troubled history of the relation of religion to the processes of modernization derived from the scientific elaboration of reason. On the other hand, it may relate also to the mystical direction of Islamic thought and its potential for contributing to the present renewal of the search for spiritual meaning in response to the loss of meaning in our increasingly rationalized society.12

To see how this can be so one should note with Farid Jabre that while the work was written toward the end of Ghazali's life its literary point of view is rather that of the period of his leadership of the school at Baghdad. Particularly, it reflects the point at which he comes seriously to investigate the adequacy of the sciences and schools of thought. From this point of view the work -- and his life -- clearly divide into two parts: the first is preliminary and is devoted to the basis for scientific reasoning, the second main section is devoted to questioning these bases with a view to showing the need, the nature and the goal of the Way of the Sufis.

Each phase is marked by a personal crisis, the first of which foreshadows the second. McCarthy downplays the first as the relatively universal step of the late adolescent forced to take up responsibility for his or her own capacity of knowledge.13 In contrast, Jabre,14 as it were, places a magnifying glass on this first crisis in order to uncover much more precisely the nature of the epistemology which Ghazali developed for human reason. This would remain with him throughout his life and would be the point of reference against which he would delineate the further step to the mystical and the prophetic.

Further, because Ghazali later notes that he never doubted the great truths of the faith, Jabre would distinguish this first crisis from Descartes's universal doubt and limit it to the motives of credibility of faith before the judgment of reason. But if Descartes could stress the importance of keeping one's fundamental beliefs even while applying the technique of his methodic doubt,15 the young Ghazali could claim to have done no less in his own general state of initial confusion.

Jabre would focus Ghazali's early crisis on the rational means or motives which justify belief and considers that this defines all that follow. In contrast, Ghazali himself seems there to describe a more general crisis regarding the validity of reason. This is but an introductory first step toward the general epistemological question which he evolves later in the main body of the text. It is there that he treats the nature and ability of reason to achieve the real nature, or by spatial analogy, the deep reality (haqiqa or pulp) of things as opposed to merely their surface appearance.

To this spatial analogy of levels on the part of the object, there corresponds in Ghazali's thought a parallel set of levels on the part of the self. The deepest level is the transrational goal of the Sufis, but this can be illumined through contrast to the more surface or preliminary levels, which are those of sense and reason that Ghazali lists in his section on prophecy. Let us attempt a more precise delineation of his notion of reason; by contrast this could provide insight not only into his perception of the nature of the goal of the mystical Way, but also into the limitation of the sciences. Through the Tahafut this forces the break of the subsequent Islamic tradition from its earlier work in the Greek tradition.

In Aristotle's logic, which ruled his development of the structure of the sciences, all begins from first principles such as that of non-contradiction first sketched out by Parmenides. These have absolute and universal value from the beginning of the work of reason. In this light, by a process of induction from the particular to the universal, the natures of things are abstracted and with these the deductive syllogism is constructed in the various sciences, each with their distinctive universal principles.

Jabre suggests that Ghazali took only the form of such syllogistic reasoning (via the Arab qiyas), and into this poured a quite different content. This was not simply the results of induction from concrete sense experience, even in the cases of the positive sciences. For Ghazali the intellect does see, but its objects are not simply human constructs. Absolute judgments regarding the necessary, the possible and the impossible are always present, but with regard to other judgments the human intellect is only a capacity. Hence, it needs to be enlightened by the hikma, of which the greatest is the word of God, especially the Qur'an by which vision is accomplished.

What then of "the first principles"? For Ghazali these are grasped directly in and for themselves; they have an unchangeable character which is imposed with necessity upon the mind. Their purpose is to prepare the mind by providing an anticipated experience of necessity, which truly is had only by God and the truth of the Prophet. Despite even this, however, they could yet be considered a mirage or illusion, for their definitive truth is had only when they are envisaged in terms of, that is, in and by Islam.

To understand this seeming affirmation and yet negation of the competency of reason it is necessary to recall that epistemology is essentially dependent upon metaphysics for an understanding of the nature and origin of its object, since knowledge too is a reality and subject to the laws of being. McCarthy points out that in his metaphysics Ghazali was always a convinced occasionalist. God in creating nature and mankind remained the one truly Real Being and hence the source of all action. Men may act, but the reality or being of the effect was the result of the activity not of man, but of God. For knowledge this means that man may think, but that the reality of knowledge and truth is the effect not of man, but of God.

An intermediate position was held by the Christian Platonists of the School of St. Augustine for whom a special light or illumination was needed in order to explain the universality and necessity of the human knowledge which man drew from particular and changing reality. In response to this position, it was the contribution of Thomas Aquinas to see that the power of God implied that his creatures be self-sufficient. This meant that in their own (created) right they possessed all the competencies needed in order to realize all the actions which were in accord with their nature.16 This extended the power of God proportionately and by participation to all His work.

(This was an important corrective by Thomas to one of the main defects which Ghazali found in Averroes. Ghazali was concerned that too close a following of Aristotle led Averroes to attenuate the reality of the individual's spiritual soul and to an inadequate affirmation of the resurrection on the Last Day. This Ghazali classified as heretical.)17

For Ghazali the conviction that the realization of truth was the effect of God, not of man, meant that the first truths could be looked upon in two ways. If seen in relation to the truth about God and constituting part of knowledge about God, they received therefrom truly definitive power.

The first principles could, however, be looked upon in another way, namely, as principles for any reasoning to God, or indeed for any reasoning whatsoever. Such knowledge is not certain. This is expressed by the phrase "the equivalence of proofs" (takafu' al-adilla) indicating that "falsehood on the part of a proof does not entail the falsity of the object it proves." It can apply either to the necessary principles and to all properly speculative knowledge or only to the latter, all which it blankets with doubt.

Up to 28 years of age, during the period when Ghazali was introduced to philosophy, kalam, fiqh and all the sciences, his mind was molded according to this pattern by his teacher, Juwayni, who was among the initiators of this view, which Ibn Khaldãn considers the distinguishing doctrine between "the ancients" and "the moderns". It is not surprising then that Ghazali would be the one to write the Tahafut al-Falasifa and thereby the major figure in the discontinuation of the Islamic strain of Greek philosophy. Averroes's belated effort to answer in his Tahafut al tahafut was destined beforehand to be ineffective, for no reasoned reply could be effective when reason was no longer held to provide knowledge that was certain.

The Metaphysics of Mysticism

Ghazali's epistemology did not change in the second period of his life, beginning from the age of 34, when he was placed in charge of the Nizamiyya School in Baghdad. Writing as he does from this epistemological perspective, Farid Jabre tends to down play the philosophical significance of this second period.18 He sees it as but a repetition of the first period, though now in psychological and phenomenal terms describing Ghazali's lived experience of the limitation of reason. To McCarthy, however, it is just the opposite; having reduced Ghazali's first crisis to being simply a universal experience of passing from adolescence, he places all the meaning in the second phase of his life,19 which all agree to be the main focus of the Munqidh.

It is suggested here that the truth lies between these two positions.20 That is, the main lines of his epistemology can indeed be traced in the earlier period, as Jabre has so effectively done. He is correct in observing that during that earlier period Ghazali did not advance beyond the realm of reason and that it lacked definitive certainty. But if that be so, when in the second period he does actively apply himself to the Way that leads beyond reason, identifies its veracity, and then applies himself in a ten year retreat to the assiduous practice of the Way from which results his Ihya, the landmark of Islamic spirituality, certainly something of the greatest moment has taken place. It is hardly a mere "répétition de la première . . . sous un autre form,"21 as claims Jabre. His failure to appreciate the distinctive reality of the achievement of the second phase of Ghazali's life would seem to result from seeing it only in psychological terms as the flow of phenomena of a human order, rather than appreciating it in metaphysical terms, e.g., of a Heidegger, as the unveiling of Being Itself through the intentional life of dasein, or in the properly mystical terms which McCarthy approaches with great respect, even awe, as before a sanctuary of the divine. This enables McCarthy to grasp the tremendous fascination of the religious event lived by Ghazali and described in the main body of his text.22

If the Munqidh has a consistent message, it is that at its highest reason remains insufficient and that even in its efforts to defend religion in the Kalam it is weak and largely ineffectual.

One cannot come to the reality of the divine in the depth of the human heart by mere belief according to dogmatic formula, for they remain surface, brittle and subject to dissolution. The approach to the divine is rather by ascetic and ritual practices which progressively remove the chains that bind the heart so as to allow it to open before the corresponding unveiling of the divine. It is in this that one comes to certain knowledge (yaqin), rising above religious conformism (taqlid) through actively savoring the experience of God. Here, reason as prepared by the practices of cult and informed by meditation upon the prophetic teaching, has only to reflect upon itself as a concrete reality.

In contrast to the objective and relatively exterior stance of pure speculative reason which can lead only to I'tiqad, Ghazali insists that in the mystical Way of the Sufi's the divine is seized immediately and savored. He stresses thus the interiority and lived subjectivity of this process. This accords with his description of certainty as a state of soul so bound to, and satisfied by, its object that nothing could detach it therefore. Even more, it is real union with God and definitive fulfillment, of which the certainty is but a sign.

In this light it is possible to appreciate more deeply the meaning of the Munqidh. It is not only a gripping account of a psychological drama with deep sonorities lived by Ghazali in Baghdad. His discovery upon their review that all other ways were wanting -- philosophy, kalam and especially talqid -- and his being led thereby to the Sufi Way of self-abnegation and union with God was not only the progression of the life of one person. Beyond this it is a description of the Way of continued emergence of the divine in time through prophecy and of the opening of hearts thereto through the mystical path. It is truly an account of God with us, which transforms human life and history.

One who appreciated the implications of this less thoroughly and less deeply than Ghazali would have worked out some pragmatic compromise allowing him to stay in Baghdad -- after all, as a spiritually sensitive director he would be better for the school than he had been when he acted too much on the basis of human reason and for the too human motives of fame and honor. It is testimony to his sincerity and charity that he could not act on the basis of any such compromise. In turn, it suggests responses to problems raised from a number of directions.

Ghazali himself was conscious that some would suggest that he was being led by his ego to attempt to become the reformer of his century, according to the prophecy that each century would begin with a major reformer.23 But if ever human reason could conceive such a hope it would certainly be based upon his position as director of the great Nizamiyya school in Baghdad, not as a hermit enclosed in the minaret of the mosque at Damascus or in his hometown of Tãs.

Others would cite his phrase that all his prior life had been led by the search for fame, that his teaching "had not been directed towards God the Almighty alone . . . (but to) seek glory and renown."24 Based on this they would question the sincerity of his conversion and hence of this account.25

But the remark would be meaningless except in the context of conversion from such motivation. There are those who would question the sincerity of Descartes's references to God and in effect eviscerate Books III-V of his Meditations in order to protect the forced reductionism of their materialist reading of Books II and VI. Similarly, there are critics who, in order to protect their own overly literal and out-of-context reading of a very few lines, would reject the seriousness of Ghazali's account of his conversion and by implication the authenticity of the whole teaching of his massive Iya' 'Ulãm ad-Din. But they must be guided by something other than Ghazali's text or his life.

Still others26 would see his departure from Baghdad not in the spiritual terms in which he depicts it, but rather as fear generated by the assassination of his sponsor, Nizam al-Mulk. Certainly, the Nizamiyya school at Baghdad was the key intellectual battlefield and Ghazali was its key figure. He does not hide the element of fear, which was not unnatural in the circumstances. But Ghazali places it within the context of the much broader and deeper sweep of the challenge of conversion in his life. Undoubtedly, the assassination of the patron of his School was too great and threatening a happening to be ignored, but this account, written when he was an advanced Sufi, naturally describes all in terms of his awareness of the Providence of God, rather than as simply the machinations of mere humans. The description of his life is in terms of his search for the Way and of what can be communicated of this that has meaning for a broad class of readers interested in the Way to truth. In these terms the assassinations and other turmoils of his particular time are of marginal importance.

It might be noted further that even late in his ten year period of retreat, when he was considering how to respond to the tepidity abroad in Islam, he considered it important to have an authoritative patron. This could be taken as an issue of protection, but it seems more probable that it was considered important as an element in the plan of Nizam to develop an alliance of faith and political power which could protect against Batinism and promote the Sunnite Islamic faith. The assassination of Nisa meant, of course, the sudden collapse of this worldly hope. The Munqidh then may not be adequate history, for which reason this had to be supplied at the beginning of this introduction. But the work has survived because it focused not upon surface events that happen only once, but upon what is essential in the human pilgrimage and gives it ultimate meaning.

One would hope then that he would have written much more extensively about his lived experience of the Way during his retreat following his departure from Baghdad. But, of course, he has done this brilliantly and in the greatest detail in the 40 books of the Iya; it is there that one must turn for the enduring harvest of his life of faith.


For Islam the impact of the Munqidh was decisive, especially if one includes the pattern of work it reflects, including Ghazali's decisive critique of philosophy in the Tahafut, his description of the discovery of the mystical way though a critique of the sciences, including kalam, in the Munqidh itself, and the massively imposing Iya with its detailed exposition of the spiritual wisdom gained from his decade long Sufi retreat. It is not without reason that Ghazali has been described as the greatest Muslim after Muhammad himself.

As the classical sciences of kalam and fiqh had come to appear respectively as too apologetic and too external, there was urgent need to renew access to the religious wellsprings of Islam. The obvious candidate for such an expedition was reason. This had been developed to a high state by the Greeks, whose major works had been translated into Arabic. It had been richly developed by such ingenious Islamic thinkers as al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Averroes. But was reason enough -- particularly as developed in terms of a culture of the ancient Greek gods, rather than the revelation of the One God? Three responses were possible.

The first, by Ibn Sina and Averroes, was that reason could be of great assistance in this effort to discover the religious meaning of life and to order all life in that light. Indeed, their great works illustrate this point so well that no external certification of their significance need be added to that which shines from within.

There is, however, a fatal weakness in human reason. As human it is limited and can never be adequate to the divine which transcends it. Yet, as reason it looks for universal principles and laws which order all and render all intelligible to a limited mind. This tension shows up most in the Platonic and neo-Platonic line of Greek reasoning upon which, especially, the Islamic philosophers drew. The result was a tendency to tailor such realities as the "assemblage" or resurrection" of the body on the last day and the personal spiritual principle to categories which were not really adequate to the task. Ghazali drew up a list of twenty such points, three of which he cites in the Munqidh. Ghazali's judgment in the Tahafut that this avenue was simply too dangerous to the integrity of revelation and should effectively be abandoned was accepted, despite the somewhat later protestations of Averroes.

The second was that of Ghazali himself. In three years of work on the philosophers he quite mastered their work and indeed wrote one of the major summaries of their thought for his time, the Maqasid al-Falasifa. In the end he felt, nonetheless, that he needed to abandon that avenue as well as Kalam, his teaching of fiqh and, of course, the position of the ta'limites, for by exclusion he could see clearly that he must devote himself to the mystical Way of the Sufis. This led precisely beyond objective reason to an interior path of abnegation until his heart could open to a divine embrace so intimate and life giving that it could actively be savored.

The impact upon Islam of this step, so effectively presented in the Munquidh, was of the highest order. Matching the turn away from Greek philosophy, there came a new appreciation of the spiritual and mystical dimension of Islam. However, while Ghazali's work leaves no question about the need to go beyond the sciences in faith, it is not iconoclastic. That is, its objective is not to destroy these sciences or to impede people from their study. He is at pains to plead against this and to stress the need to look for truth everywhere, to accept it wherever it is found, and to recognize that it can be found even in the presence of error. Hence, upon discovering for himself the Way of Sufi he remained ever the teacher of fiqh, and indeed returned to that work formally at the end of his life.

In assessing the impact of his life, then, scholars speak of it not as an attack on the sacred sciences, but as aiding to overcome their arid scholasticism, as narrowing the gulf between them and the wellsprings of the spirit, and even as discovering ways to infuse this new life into the old sciences.

To this should be added then a corrective of the commonplace that scholarship ended with, and even by, Ghazali. Though this may be true largely of the field of Greek philosophy, scholarship in Islam took on a new mode. Spiritually it became more deep and rich and corresponded more to the intensive life of faith of the people. Or perhaps this should be put the other way round, namely, that Ghazali's strong religious mark on the subsequent cultural history of Islam reflects, second only to Muhammad himself, the pilgrimage made by Ghazali and described in his Munqidh.

If so, this certainly is due in part to the fact that Ghazali recognized, explored and effectively presented a dimension of Islam not previously given so great a place. Some, writing from the individualistic Anglo-Saxon perspective, refer to this as an individualization of the Islamic faith, but the closed, self-centered character of individualism hardly does justice to the Sufi Way through the self to the Infinite source and goal of all. By abnegation one truly dies to self in order to be opened to the transcendent. Hence it would seem more true to speak not of an individualization, but of a personalization of the life of faith. This would no longer be the affair only of great leaders -- caliphs or sultans -- but of the millions of persons who practiced this religion. And if these cultic practices are carried out in unison by large bodies of persons they are seen by Ghazali as making the heart flexible and nimble for the Way which each must follow toward union with God. In other words, all was given new life by Ghazali's work which described the Way to the divine Source and Goal of life. In turn this marks the character of each of the faithful and hence of the community of believers, Islam, as a whole.

There is, however, a possible third response to the relation of reason to this path of faith. We have seen the first response, that of Ibn Sina and Averroes, which gave primacy to reason in an attempt to reconcile it with faith. We saw also the second response, that of Ghazali, which did not move against reason, but was concerned above all with how this needed to be transcended in the Way to God.

The third response comes not from Islam, but from Christianity. This honored the works of the Arabic philosophers, not least Ghazali's Maqasid al-falasifa, which may have been the most effective summary of Greek line of philosophy for the times.

In the Christian medieval context there were both those who greatly admired this philosophy and others who, with Ghazali, pointed to its defects with regard to the spiritual dimension of the person, resurrection, etc. It was the proper contribution of Thomas Aquinas during the following century to work out a resolution of these problems. He did do so neither by simply repeating Aristotle nor by abandoning his metaphysics, but by appreciating the deepened sense of being unveiled in a cultural context marked by faith. The creative work to heal the discrepancies between Greek philosophy and a faith-filled vision of life and meaning could be considered quite properly a continuation of the work of the Islamic philosophers.

On the one hand, its thrust was not to oppose Ghazali, as had Averroes in his Tahafut al Tahafut, but to respond positively to his concerns for the literal integrity of the faith. With Ghazali, it acknowledged the inadequacy of Greek thought for the vision of man in this world and the next which had emerged under the light of faith. But it then went about the creative and properly philosophical work of resolving these conflicts by developing philosophy itself. In this sense it moved philosophy forward into an era of faith, Islamic and Christian.

On the other hand, with the philosophers, Thomas acknowledged the need to reconcile reason and faith, rather than simply to surpass reason. For though faith was more than reason, it did not contradict reason, but was aided by it. Thus, the work of Thomas included very detailed commentaries on the works of Aristotle. Aquinas's Disputed Questions and Summa Theologiae constitute a detailed philosophy of the human person and an ethics.

While Thomas thus provided the context in which a spiritual theology could be constructed, it is notable that R. Garrigou-Lagrange, an eminent Thomist, in actually carrying out such a construction drew notably on the mystic experience of Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross.27 This may suggest that this third alternative of Thomas Aquinas did not succeed in adequately integrating the first approach by objective reason with the second by mystical interiority, and that Ghazali's work has a further major role to play in any such integration.

Nevertheless, this third response by Thomas Aquinas, by resolving the problems pointed out by Ghazali in the first alternative by Ibn Sina and Averroes made it possible to continue to mine the vein of Islamic-Greek philosophy with its primacy on reason. This opened the way for developments which before long would evolve into the development of the sciences and their accompanying technology that have characterized the modern age. Indeed, to the degree that the modern developments of scientific thought are especially Platonic in character they correspond more to the Platonic character of Islamic philosophy than to the ultimately Aristotelian character of Thomas's own thought.

Commonly it is noted, however, that in modern times attention to reason has degenerated into rationalism, accompanied by a desiccating lack of adequate attention to the life of the spirit. Indeed, the triumphs of rationalism in the 20th century have been characterized by an oppressive totalitarianism and a deadening consumerism. These deficiencies of rationalism call for Ghazali's clear proclamation of the distinctive character of the spirit, and of the Way which leads thereto. Healing our times must begin with the Spirit and the Way, for only in their higher light can we face the unfinished task of working out the relation of reason to the fullness of the human spirit.

This suggests then that the goal of Ghazali for our times would be that reason be inspired by, and directed to, life in the Spirit. This, in turn, would enable the progress of reason truly to serve men and women, not only as images, but indeed as intimates of God. This is the central message of Ghazali's Munqidh, if not for his day, then certainly for ours.


1. Richard Joseph McCarthy, Freedom and Fulfillment (Boston: Twayne, 1980), pp. xii-xiii and xlvi-xlvii.

2. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1974), 3 vols, especially the Introduction and General Prologue in Vol. I, pp. 30-99.

3. McCarthy, pp. xiv-xx.

4. Farid Jabre in al-Ghazali, Al-Munqidh min Adalal (Erreur et Délivrance) tran., intro., notes par Farid Jabre (Beyrouth: Commision Internationale pour la Tradãction des Chefs-d'Oeuvre, 1959), pp. 21-22.

5. McCarthy, pp. xxxv-xlii.

6. Ibid., pp. xxi-xxiv; Jabre, p. 53.

7. Ibid., pp. xxiii.

8. Munqidh, chapter 4.

9. Jabre, pp. 27-41.

10. Gerald Stanly, Contemplation as Fulfillment of the Human Person", in George F McLean, ed., Personalist Ethics and Human Subjectivity, Vol. II of Ethics at the Crossroads (Washington, D.C.: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 1995), appendix, pp. 365.

11. Jabre, pp. 41-51.

12. V. Havel, "Address in Philadelphia", July 4, 1994 in The Washington Post, July 6, A 19.

13. McCarthy, pp. 121-122, nn. 43-44.

14. Farid Jabre, pp. 41-47.

15. R. Descartes, Discourse on Method, III.

16. G. F. McLean, "Philosophic Continuity and Thomism" in Teaching Thomism Today (Washington: Catholic University, 1963), pp. 23-28.

17. Munqidh, chapter 2, part 2.

18. Jabre, p. 48.

19. McCarthy, p 121, n. 43.

20. Hodgson, vol. II, p. 186, n. 18, points insightfully in this direction noting that the philosophy/theology of Paul Tillich may be the best modern correspondent to the thought of Ghazali on how "reason leads to the need for ultimate faith, but awaits revelation to carry it further. . . . (This) is not a matter of supplementing reason on its own level, but of complementing it in total experience."

21. Jabre, p. 48.

22. McCarthy, pp. lvi-lx.

23. McCarthy, pp. xxvi-xxix.

24. Munqidh, chap. 2, part 3.

25. 'Abd al-Da 'im al-Baqari, I'tirafat al-Ghazali, aw kayfa 'avrakla al-Ghazali nafsahu (The Confessions of al-Ghazali) (Cairo: 1943). See McCarthy, pp. xxvi-xxix.

26. F. Jabre, al-Munqidh, pp. 22-23. See McCarthy's response, pp. xxxv-xlii.

27. R. Garrigou Lagrange, Christian Perfection and Contemplation according to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John of the Cross, trans. M.T. Doyle (London: Herder, 1937); The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Prelude to Eternal Life, trans. M.T. Doyle (London: Herder: 1947);

Translator's Introduction - Table of Contents - E-mail - Guest book - Translation