General Information About Al-Ghazali (Ghazali)June 26, 2021
During the time of Ghazali, there was a great political and intellectual turmoil in the Islamic world. The power of the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad began to weaken. The borders of the Great Seljuk State were expanding and its population was increasing.
The period in which Ghazali lived coincided with the period of Melikşah, the ruler of this state. Melikşah’s vizier Nizamülmülk won victories on the battlefields and opened the leading scientific assemblies and madrasahs of the time. The Shiite-Fatimid dynasty was on the throne of Egypt. In Europe, the Andalusian Umayyad State was in decline. The first Crusade was also made during the period of Ghazali, and when he was 40 years old, Antakya was besieged and a year later Jerusalem was captured. Hasan Sabbah and Ömer Hayyam are also well-known people living in the same era as Ghazali. Politically, this confusion in the Islamic world was complemented by an intellectual collapse. At that time, ideas that would directly affect the unity of Islam were spreading rapidly. According to Ghazali, on the one hand, the philosophers who tried to rewrite the Greek philosophy and the Islamic belief, on the other hand, the Bâtinîs, who made the clear verses of the Qur’an the subject of dark and mysterious interpretations, were doing great damage to the religion of Islam and the integrity of the Ahl al-Sunnah creed.
Ghazali greatly influenced Muslim and medieval Christian philosophers. Margaret Smith in her book Al-Ghazali The Mystic: (London 1944); There is no doubt that Ghazali’s work was the first thing that caught the attention of European scholars. Then he emphasizes that one of the greatest Christian writers, Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), and many Arab writers were also influenced by him. Although al-Ghazali’s influence has been compared to the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas on Christian theology, there are great differences in method and belief between the two. Moreover, Ghazali rejects thinkers and their ideas who do not have Muslim faith (for example, Ancient Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Socrates). Thomas Aquinas, on the other hand, showed Greek and Latin influences in his works and embraced all. Ghazali also played a large role in the field of Sufism and Sharia. He combined the concept of Sufism with Sharia laws in full harmony. In addition, he first explained Sufism in a theoretical sense in his works. It can also be said that he adopted the Ahl as-Sunnah view in his works and was against other views. Batinidism emerged during the reign of Ghazali and the vizier of the Great Seljuk State, Nizamülmülk, was killed by the members of this view. During this period, Ghazali wrote refutations against the ideologies of Bâtinî and other non-Ahl al-Sunnah groups and denied them. Ghazali’s books have been translated into many Western languages. His book Eyyühe’l Veled was translated into French, English and Spanish by UNESCO in 1951, and many of his books were translated and published in various languages.
The city of Tus, the birthplace of Ghazali, was known as a major Sufi center in that century. The place where Ghazali lived from his childhood was the Sufi region. In his student life, Sufism remained in the background. After the mental depression he had, he turned more towards Sufism. He took lessons from his teacher, Ebu Ali Farmi, who was from Silsile-i Saadat in Sufism, and made progress with him. In this way, he repeated his success in the external sciences in the science of Sufism, and received permission from his teacher. According to Ghazali, the science of Sufism is the most important factor in getting rid of spiritual diseases. Gazali, in his book named Chemistry-i Saadet, declared the way to get rid of this science as follows:
“The body is the land of the heart. There are many soldiers of the heart in this country. The heart was created for the Hereafter. To know Allah is to know what He has created. The adjectives in the inner part of man are those belonging to general animals, some to predators, some to devils and angels. Because man cannot find the right way if he does not know these things. The food of each of these adjectives is different. The food of the animal is eating, sleeping and mating. The food of predators is happiness, as well as tearing, attacking and killing. The food of demons is deception, cheating and doing evil. The food of angels If it is, it is to observe the beauty of Allah. Ambition, animal and predatory animal attributes are not the way to angelhood. If you are actually an angelic substance, try to know Allah and make yourself aware of that beauty. Save yourself from the grip of anger and lust, and let go of these animal attributes. Try to understand why you were created.”
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook