Al-Ghazali full name Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad aṭ-Ṭūsiyy al-Ġazzālīy (أَبُو حَامِدٍ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ ٱلطُّوسِيُّ ٱلْغَزَالِيُّ), and known in Persian-speaking countries as Imam Muhammad-i Ghazali (Persian: امام محمد غزالی) or in Medieval Europe by the Latinized as Algazelus or Algazel, was a Persian polymath. He is known as one of the most prominent and influential philosophers, theologians, jurists, logicians and mystics.
He is considered to be the 5th century's Mujaddid, a renewer of the faith, who, according to the prophetic hadith, appears once every 100 years to restore the faith of the Islamic Community. His works were so highly acclaimed by his contemporaries that al-Ghazali was awarded the honorific title "Proof of Islam" (Ḥujjat al-Islām).
Al-Ghazali believed that the Islamic spiritual tradition had become moribund and that the spiritual sciences taught by the first generation of Muslims had been forgotten. This belief led him to write his magnum opus entitled Iḥyā’ ‘ulūm ad-dīn ("The Revival of the Religious Sciences"). Among his other works, the Tahāfut al-Falāsifa ("Incoherence of the Philosophers") is a landmark in the history of philosophy, as it advances the critique of Aristotelian science developed later in 14th-century Europe.
The believed date of al-Ghazali's birth, as given by Ibn al-Jawzi, is AH 450 (1058/9). Modern estimates place it at AH 448 (1056/7), on the basis of certain statements in al-Ghazali's correspondence and autobiography. He was a Muslim scholar, law specialist, rationalist, and spiritualist of Persian descent. He was born in Tabaran, a town in the district of Tus, Khorasan (now part of Iran), not long after Seljuks entered Baghdad and ended Shia Buyid Amir al-umaras. This marked the start of Seljuk influence over Caliphate. While the Seljuk dynasty's influence grew, Abu Suleiman Dawud Chaghri Beg married his daughter, Arslan Khatun Khadija to caliph Al-Qa'im in 1056.
A posthumous tradition, the authenticity of which has been questioned in recent scholarship, is that his father died in poverty and left the young al-Ghazali and his brother Ahmad to the care of a Sufi. Al-Ghazali's contemporary and first biographer, 'Abd al-Ghafir al-Farisi, records merely that al-Ghazali began to receive instruction in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) from Ahmad al-Radhakani, a local teacher and Abu ali Farmadi, a Naqshbandi sufi from Tus. He later studied under al-Juwayni, the distinguished jurist and theologian and "the most outstanding Muslim scholar of his time," in Nishapur, perhaps after a period of study in Gurgan. After al-Juwayni's death in 1085, al-Ghazali departed from Nishapur and joined the court of Nizam al-Mulk, the powerful vizier of the Seljuq empire, which was likely centered in Isfahan. After bestowing upon him the titles of "Brilliance of the Religion" and "Eminence among the Religious Leaders," Nizam al-Mulk advanced al-Ghazali in July 1091 to the "most prestigious and most challenging" professorial position at the time: the Nizamiyya madrasa in Baghdad.
A total of about 70 works can be attributed to Al-Ghazali. He is also known to have written a fatwa against the Taifa kings of Al Andalus, declaring them to be unprincipled, not fit to rule and that they should be removed from power. This fatwa was used by Yusuf ibn Tashfin to justify his conquest of al-Andalus.
Books by Al-Ghazali
Abu Hamid al-Ghazali was born in 1058 AD in the city of Tus in modern day Iran. He was a reputed scholar, philosopher and Shafi'i jurist who was a professor of theology at the Nizamiyya College of Baghdad. At the peak of his fame, he was gripped by a...