Al Ghazali is an influential thinker of medieval Islam. He describes his education and his intellectual crisis, which left him so full of doubt and questions, to the extent that he he resigned from his professorship in Baghdad, and felt the need to retire from the world. However, his faith returned after years of questioning and seeking, during which he achieved direct knowledge of God in the form of the experience of the Sufis. Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali’s ‘Al-Munqidh Min Ad-Dalal’ successfully allows the reader a brief and revealing window into the life of a great intellectual. It is an autobiographical account of Ghazali’s struggle during a period of spiritual unrest in his life that begins with him as a teacher at a prestigious academic institution at the age of thirty-three, and continues through his severe journey of questioning and curiosity, and ends upon his return to his teaching career but instead being a complete God-orientated man. The book opens with Ghazali replying to a colleague who had questioned him regarding “the aims and inmost nature of sciences and the perplexing depths of the religious systems” and the reasons for Ghazali’s actions at this stage of his life. He is a curious man who focuses on everything using his analyzing eye. This habit and custom he describes as “a God-given nature, a matter of temperament, and not of my choice or contriving.”
With this attitude he starts to question the different types of knowledge around him. He systematically and thoroughly deals with each science which influences man’s spiritual and religious state of mind, covering the four main sciences of the time: theology, authoritative instruction, philosophy and mysticism. All four continue to play significant roles today. The analysis is carried out in detail, unbiased and authoritatively. He analyzes each science like a trained surgeon and then transports his results and evaluations with accuracy and care. Included in this book is a passage which...
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