Imam Al-Ghazzali

Early Life & Education

Turns to Sufism

Reconciles Sufism & Islam

Ihya Uloom-ud-Din

Role of Mujaheda

Fragrant Flowers From Al-Ghazzali










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Role of Mujaheda (Spiritual Strivings)

   He says: "Practice of mujaheda (spiritual striving) is the first important and indispensable act on the Path of spiritual ascendency and not mere theological knowledge as imparted by the theologians (Ulema)." He supports his claim by the Traditions (sayings and the exemplary ways of life of the Holy Prophet (sas)) and the awe inspiring spiritual experiences and practical lives of the great Sufi dervishes who actually merged their identity into the Light of Allah and thus realized His Oneness.

   Iman Al-Ghazzali thus gives to the world a vast and most wonderful knowledge emanating from the Divinely-blessed prophets and great saints. This is the greatest contribution to Sufism by Imam Al-Ghazzali for which he stands alone, singularly distinguishable, as one of the greatest thinkers, writers, Sufis and enlightened souls, against theologians who depended on mere orthodoxy and rituals.

   He combines characteristic firmness with sublime introspection and unchangeable logic acquired by his own personal mystical experiments and experiences. He thus won for himself an honorable and accredited place in official Islam. Before him, the theologians had not enriched their lives with renunciation and austerities and had no personal experience of the Divine Light but had strictly adhered only to the letter of the Qur'an in preference to its spirit or the underlying esoteric wisdom. They, therefore, passed dicta of heresy on many a sincere and innocent Sufi believer like Mansur Al-Hallaj who proclaimed "AnaI Haqq" (I am the Creative Truth) and whom they hanged under the Laws of Shariat.

   But against Imam Al-Ghazzali's solid, logical and spiritual experiences they found themselves quite helpless and had to surrender and accept his esoteric interpretations of the Qur'an duly supported by the Traditions of the Prophet (sas) and the spiritual experiences of the great Sufi saints who, despite all orthodox opposition, refused to swerve from their belief and Path. He thus earned a high place forever for his mystical experiences among the orthodox Islamic circles. Great Sufi luminaries like Jalaluddin Rumi, Fariduddin Attar, Junaid Baghdadi, Bayazid Bastami, Ibrahim Adham and a score of others have, in fact, followed the same lines which were explored and confirmed by Imam Al-Ghazzali.

   He was the first to propagate Arabian mysticism in Persia, marked with austerities and penances through his prominent work Keemia-e-Sa'aadat. The popularity of his work full of erudition and marked by mystical experiences, interspersed with commentary and notes, made over a thousand top Islamic scholars accept him as their spiritual guide and preceptor. "If all the knowledge of the world were lost, he could revive it with lhya-ul-Uloom, said Abu Mohammed Quzrani. Al-Ghazzali's contemporary Iraqi called it "a superb work" and his classmate Abdul Ghafoor Farsi said "it was the Essence of Qur'an."

   It has been acknowledged by many keen readers that "the mere reading of his works produces a magnetic effect in the heart of even a casual reader; every word cuts like file dagger thrust and pierces like a lancet. A miraculous change and ecstasy follow the reading with a purpose." In achieving his spiritual experiences and the relevant precious material for his works, Imam Al-Ghazzali had to pass many years as a dervish in the forlorn mosques and khanaqahs (monasteries) of Damascus and other places in Syria where he met many seers and saints of Jewish and Christian faiths to reconcile and profit his own experiments. This catholicism enabled him to gain a deep insight into the Divine mysteries.