A Moslem Seeker after God
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- Introduction by Dr. J. Rendel. Harris
I. The Eleventh Century
"Between the civilizations of Christendom and Islam there is a gulf which no human genius, no concourse of events, can entirely bridge over. The most celebrated Orientals, whether in war or policy, in literature or learning, are little more than names for Europeans."
- "The Assemblies of Al-Hariri" by Thomas Chenery.
"With the time came the man. He was Al-Ghazali, 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. The equal of Augustine in philosophical and theological importance. By his side the Aristotelian philosophers of Islam, Ibn Rushd and all the rest, seem beggarly compilers and scholiasts. Only Al-Farabi, and that in virtue of his mysticism, approaches him. In his own person he took up the life of his time on all its sides and with it all its problems. He lived through them all and drew his theology from his experience."
- "Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theory," by D. B. Macdonald.
THE great characters of history may be compared to mountain peaks that rise high above the plains and the lower foot hills and are visible from great distances because they dominate the landscape. In the historical study of Islam four names stand out prominently. They are those of Mohammed himself; of Al Bokhari, the most celebrated collector of the Traditions; of Al-Ash ari, the great dogmatic theologian and the opponent of rationalism; and of Al-Ghazali, the reformer and mystic. The last named has left a larger imprint upon the history of Islam than any man save Mohammed himself. "If there had been a prophet after Mohammed," said As-Suyuti, " it would have been Al-Ghazali." It is in his life, and more especially in his writings, that I believe we can see Islam at its best. In trying to escape the dead weight of Tradition and the formalism of its requirements, Moslems are more and more finding relief in the way of the mystic. Of all those who have found a deeper spiritual meaning in the teachings of the Koran and even in the multitudinous and puerile detail of the Moslem ritual, none can equal Al-Ghazali. " He was," says Jamal-ud-Din, " the pivot of existence and the common pool of refreshing waters for all, the soul of the purest part of the people of the Faith, and the road for obtaining the satisfaction of the Merciful. . . . He became the unique one of his own day and for all time among the Moslem learned." "Al-Ghazali," said another writer, nearly contemporary, " is an imam by whose name breasts are dilated and souls revived, in whose literary productions the ink horn exults and the paper quivers with joy, and at the hearing of whose message voices are hushed and heads are bowed."
A celebrated saint, Ahmed As-Sayyed Al-Yamani Az-Zabidi, also a contemporary of Al-Ghazali, said, " When I was sitting one day, lo, I perceived the gates of heaven opened, and a company of blessed angels descended, having with them a green robe and a precious steed. They stood by a certain grave and brought forth its tenant and clothed him in the green robe and set him on the steed and ascended with him from heaven to heaven, till he passed the seven heavens and rent after them sixty veils, and I know not whither at last he reached. Then I asked about him, and was answered, This is the Imam Al-Ghazali! That was after his death; may God Most High have mercy on him! "
Another story is related of him as follows: "In our time there was a man in Egypt who disliked Al-Ghazali and abused him and slandered him. And he saw the Prophet (God bless him and give him peace!) in a dream; Abu Bakr and Omar (may God be well pleased with both of them!) were at his side, and Al-Ghazali was sitting before him, saying, O Apostle of God, this man speaks against me! Thereupon the Prophet said, Bring the whips! So the man was beaten on account of Al-Ghazali. Then the man arose from sleep, and the marks of the whips remained on his back, and he was wont to weep and tell the story."
And should this praise seem oriental and extravagant, we add the words of Professor Duncan B. Macdonald, who has made a more thorough study of Al-Ghazali’s life and writings than any other student of Islam: " What rigidity of grasp the hand of Islam would have exercised but for the influence of Al-Ghazali might be hard to tell; he saved it from scholastic decrepitude, opened before the orthodox Moslem the possibility of a life hid in God, was persecuted in his life as a heretic, and now ranks as the greatest doctor of the Moslem Church."
To understand the importance of Al-Ghazali and of his teaching we must transport ourselves to the time in which he lived. We cannot understand a man unless we know his environment. Biography is only a thread in the vast web of history, in which time is broad as well as long. Al-Ghazali belongs to the small company of torch bearers in the Dark Ages.
He was born at Tus, in Khorasan, Persia, in the year 1058 A. D., and died in 1111 A. D. When Al-Ghazali was born Togrul Bey had just taken Bagdad, Henry IV was Emperor, Nicholas II was Pope, the Norman conquest had just begun in the west, and Asia Minor was overrun by the Turks in the Near East. Among Al-Ghazali’s other contemporaries in the west were Hildebrand the Pope, Abelard, Bernard, Anselm, and Peter the Hermit. About the time he wrote his greatest work, God frey of Bouillon was King of Jerusalem. Al-Ghazali was struggling with the problem of Islam in its relation to the human heart thirsting for God, about two hundred years after Al-Kindi had written his remarkable apology for the Christian faith at the court of Haroun-ar-Rashid and two hundred years before Raymond Lull laid down his life a martyr in North Africa.
The condition of the Moslem world had utterly changed since the days when Busrah with its rival city Kufa were dominated by the victorious Arabs of Omar's Caliphate. The Abbasside Caliphs of the eleventh century were almost as much the shadows of former power as the Emperors of the East; they retained little more than their religious supremacy. Togrul Bey, the grandson of Seljuk, had been confirmed by the powerless Caliph Al-Qa im bi-amr Allah, in all his conquests, loaded with honours, saluted as King of the East and West, and endowed with the hand of the Caliph's daughter. In the next reign, that of Al-Muqtadi, the Seljuk Turks captured Jerusalem.
"About the year 1000," says Noldeke "Islam was in a very bad way. The Abbasside Caliphate had long ceased to be of any importance, the power of the Arabs had long ago been broken. There was a multitude of Islamite States, great and small; but even the most powerful of these, that of the Fatirnids, was very far from being able to give solidity to the whole, especially as it was Shi'ite.
"...These nomads (the Turks) caused dreadful devastation, trampled to the ground the flourishing civilization of vast territories, and contributed almost nothing to the culture of the human race; but they mightily strengthened the religion of Mohammed. The rude Turks took up with zeal the faith which was just within reach of their intellectual powers, and they became its true, often fanatical, champions against the outside world. They founded the powerful empire of the Seljuks, and conquered new regions for Islam in the northwest. After the downfall of the Seljuk empire they still continued to be the ruling people in all its older portions. Had not the warlike character of Islam been revived by the Turks, the Crusaders perhaps might have had some prospect of more enduring success."
- "Sketches from Eastern History," Theodore Noldeke. London, 1892, p. 98.
Togrul Bey was invested with the title of Sultan in the royal city of Nishapur, A. D. 1038. Accord ing to Gibbon, he was the " father of his soldiers and of his people. By a firm and equal administration Persia was relieved from the evils of an archy; and the same hands which had been imbrued in blood became the guardians of justice and the public peace. The more rustic, perhaps the wisest, portion of the Turkmans continued to dwell in the tents of their ancestors; and, from the Oxus to the Euphrates, these military colonies were protected and propagated by their native princes. But the Turks of the court and city were refined by busi ness and softened by pleasure: they imitated the dress, language, and manners of Persia; and the royal palaces of Nishapur and Rei displayed the order and magnificence of a great monarchy. The most deserving of the Arabians and Persians were promoted to the honours of the state; and the whole body of the Turkish nation embraced with fervour and sincerity the religion of Mahomet."
The first of the great Seljuk Sultans was conspicuous by his zeal for the Moslem faith. He spent much time in prayer, and in every city which he conquered built new mosques. By force of arms he delivered the Caliph of Bagdad at the head of an irresistible force and taught the people " Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."
THE ELEVENTH CENTUEY 27
of Mosul and Bagdad the lesson of obedience. Rescued from his enemies, the alliance between the Caliph and the Sultan was cemented by the mar riage of Togrul’s sister with the successor of the Prophet. In 1063 Togrul died and his nephew Alp Arslan succeeded him. His name, therefore, was pronounced after that of the Caliph in public prayer by all the Moslems of the Near East.
The character of his rule Gibbon gives us in a sentence: "The myriads of Turkish horse over spread a frontier of 600 miles from Taurus to Erzeroum, and the blood of 136,000 Christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet." The " valiant lion," for that is the significance of his name, displayed at once the fierceness and gener osity of a typical Oriental ruler. Christians suf fered dreadful persecution. Enemies were assas sinated; but the learned, the rich, and the favoured were lavishly rewarded. Arslan was a valiant warrior of the faith and as eager for the battle field as those whom Moore describes:
" One of that saintly murderous brood To carnage and the Koran given, Who think through unbeliever’s blood Lies their directest path to heaven. One who will pause and kneel unshod In the warm blood his hand hath poured To mutter o er some text of God Engraven on his reeking sword."
Armenia was laid waste in the crudest manner when the capital was taken on June 6, 1064. We are told that "human blood flowed in torrents, and so great was the carnage, that the streets were literally choked up with dead bodies; and the waters of the river were reddened from the quantity of bloody corpses." The wealthy inhabitants were tortured, the churches pillaged, and the priests flayed alive. Al-Ghazali was then six years old.
In 1072 Alp Arslan was assassinated. His eldest son, Malek Shah, succeeded him. He extended the conquests of his father beyond the Oxus as far as Bokhara and Samarkand, until his name was inserted on the coins and in the prayers of the Tartar kingdom on the borders of China. " From the Chinese frontiers, he stretched his immediate jurisdiction or feudatory sway to the west and south, as far as the mountains of Georgia, the neighbourhood of Constantinople, the holy city of Jerusalem, and the spicy groves of Arabia Felix. Instead of resigning himself to the luxury of the harem, the shepherd king, both in peace and war, was in action in the field."
Nizam Al-Mulk was his vizier, and it is largely due to his influence that the study of science and literature revived to such a remarkable degree. The calendar was reformed, schools and colleges erected, and the learned competed with each other for the favour of royalty. For thirty years Nizam Al-Mulk was honoured by the Caliph as the very oracle of religion and science. But at the age of ninety-three, the venerable statesman, to whom, as we shall see later, Al-Ghazali owed so much, was dismissed by his master, accused by his enemies, and murdered by a fanatic. The last words of Nizam attested his innocence, and the remainder of Malek’s life was short and inglorious.
The Arabic language had become dominant everywhere. Its vocabulary had leavened the whole lump of languages in the Near East. Every race with which the Arabs came in contact was more or less Arabized. " The extent of this influence," says Chenery," may be perceived by comparing the Persian of Firdausi with that of Sa'di.
The language of the former, who flourished in the early part of our eleventh century, is tolerably pure, while the Gulistan, which was produced some two hundred and fifty years later, is in some places little more than a piecing together of Arabic words with a cement of the original tongue. It is to be noticed, also, that the latter author introduces continually Arabic verses, as the highest ornaments of his work, and assumes that his readers are acquainted with this classic and sacred tongue."
Trade routes extended everywhere. There was intercourse with India and China on the east, as well as with the Spice Islands, so called, of Malaysia. Caravans carried trade across the whole of Central Asia and Northern Arabia to the emporiums of the West. Spain had intercourse with Persia. Al-Hariri praises Busrah " as the spot where the ship and the camel meet, the sea fish and the lizard, the camel-leader and the sailor, the fisher and the tiller." In other words it was the port and emporium for all the lands watered by the Euphrates and Tigris. The same was true of Alexandria for the West.
We have evidences that an extensive trade was carried on between Arabia and China in walrus and ivory. An extensive work exists written in Chinese in the twelfth century on trade with the Arabs of which a recent translation has been published at Petrograd. More remarkable still is the fact that in Scandinavia thousands of Kufic coins have been found, nearly all of which date from the eleventh century. This would indicate that even this re mote part of Europe was in touch with the Near East.
Judging from literature and history, it was a time of looseness of morals and of divorce between religion and ethics, even more startling than in the world of Islam to-day. There were those who wrote commentaries on the marvels of the Koran, like Al-Harawi, yet did not scruple to indulge in private wine-drinking and carousals and loose con versation. The place of wine, women, and song, not only in popular literature and poetry, but even in the table talk of theologians and philosophers is clear evidence. Huart remarks in regard to the celebrated " Book of the Monasteries," which is an anthology of the convents of the Near East: " We must not forget that, when Moslems went to Chris tian cloisters, it was not to seek devotional impulses, but simply for the sake of an opportunity of drinking wine, the use of which was forbidden in the Mohammedan towns. The poets, out of gratitude, sang the praises of the blessed spots where they had enjoyed the delights of intoxication." Those who dared to preach and write against this public immorality had to suffer the consequences; and because hypocrites were in power reformers were not heeded.
We read of Ibn Hamdun (1101-1167), that when he openly attacked the evils which he saw around him in Bagdad, he was dismissed from his public office as secretary of state, cast into prison, and left to die. Punishments were cruel. Amputations for theft, in accordance with the Koran legislation, were matters of such every-day occurence that the maimed man was always a suspect. We read of Al-Zamakhshari, that one of his feet had been frost-bitten during a winter storm, necessitating an amputation, and so he went about with a wooden leg, but he also carried about with him a written testimony of witnesses to prove that he had been maimed by accident, and not in punishment for a crime.
Al-Baihaki, the chronicler of the court at Bagdad, shows us that the zeal for the faith was often accompanied by a reckless disregard for the law of Islam as regards the use of fermented liquor. Not only the soldiers and their officers had drunken brawls, but the Sultan Mas ud used to enjoy regular bouts in which he frequently saw his fellow topers " under the table." Here is a scene repre sented as having taken place at Ghazni, the capital of Khorasan province. " Fifty goblets and flagons of wine were brought from the pavilion into the garden, and the cups began to go round. Fair measure/ said the amir, and equal cups let us drink fair/ They grew merry and the minstrels sang. One of the courtiers had finished five tank ards each held nearly a pint of wine but the sixth confused him, the seventh bereft him of his senses, and at the eighth he was consigned to his servants. The doctor was carried off at his fifth cup; Khalil Dawud managed ten, Siyabiruz nine, and then they were taken home; everybody rolled or was rolled away, till only the Sultan and the Khwaja Abd-ar-Razzak remained. The Khwaja finished eighteen goblets and then rose, saying, If your slave has any more he will lose both his wits and his respect for your Majesty. Mas ud went on alone, and after he had drunk twenty-seven full cups, he too arose, called for water and prayer-carpet, washed, and recited the belated noon and sunset prayers together as soberly as if he had not tasted a drop; then mounted his elephant and rode to the palace."
Mas ud was put to death in 1040. His sons and descendants for more than a century ruled this part of the Moslem world. But Ghazni fell from the proud position of the capital of a kingdom to a mere dependency of the Empire of Malek Shah.
The eleventh century was a period when the nations of Western Europe were beginning to crystallize both as regards their governments and civilization. Their influence was felt at home and abroad, although the masses were still in the depths of barbarism. Among the clergy and nobility something of order and civilization, and social development had appeared, but we are told by one writer that it was a striking characteristic of the time to find side by side with barbarian violence and disorder, and the constant display of the most brutal passions, a strong religious feeling. This feeling often took the form of superstition and fanaticism, the performance of meritorious works, especially a pilgrimage to the holy sepulcher. Thousands risked their life and health, and spent all their fortune to reach the holy city, with the same devotion and sacrifice which we still witness among the ardent Russian pilgrims of to-day.
When Asia Minor and Syria were conquered by the Turks this access to Jerusalem was cut off. In 1076 (Al-Ghazali was then eighteen years old) they massacred three thousand of these Christian people and their subsequent rule was relentless in its tyranny. We read that " the venerable Patriarch was dragged by the hair along the streets, and cast into a dungeon; the clergy of every sect were insulted; and the unhappy pilgrims were made to suffer every indignity and abuse."
This treatment of Christian pilgrims produced a storm of indignation and anger throughout the West. Peter the Hermit himself visited Jerusalem and returned to Europe to arouse the nations. The result was the first Crusade, in which Pope Urban II cooperated. Three hundred thousand half armed, half-naked peasants forced their way across Europe along the Rhine and the Danube. Only one-third of their number reached the shores of Asia. There they were utterly destroyed and only a pyramid of bones remained to tell of their fate.
The Crusade under Godfrey of Bouillon was a well-appointed military expedition embracing the flower of Europe. There are said to have been mustered in the plains of Bithynia one hundred thousand horsemen in full armour and six hundred thousand footmen. These numbers may be exaggerated, and pestilence and famine thinned their ranks, but in less than three years they had attained the great object of their expedition. In 1097 they laid siege to Nicea and captured it. They advanced against Antioch and after seven weary months laid siege to the city. In 1099 they advanced on Jerusalem and after a siege of forty days the holy city surrendered. " The merciless Franks did not fail to inflict a terrible vengeance for their own sufferings and the indignities which had been heaped upon their religion and their race. The Jews were burned in their synagogues; and seventy thousand Moslems were put to the sword. For three days the city was given up to indiscriminate pillage and massacre, until a pestilence was bred by the putrefaction of the slain."
Soon Godfrey and his successors extended their dominions until only four cities, Aleppo, Damascus, Hamath, and Hums remained in the possession of the Moslems in Syria. Everywhere the followers of the Prophet were filled with grief and shame and with a great longing to wipe away the disgrace which had fallen on their religion.
" In the year 492 A. H.," says Muir, "consternation was spread throughout the land by the capture of Jerusalem, and cruel treatment of its in habitants. Preachers went about proclaiming the sad story, kindling revenge, and rousing men to recover from infidel hands the Mosque of Omar, and scene of the Prophet’s heavenly flight. But whatever the success elsewhere, the mission failed in the East, which was occupied with its own troubles, and moreover cared little for the Holy Land, dominated as it then was by the Fatimide faith. Crowds of exiles, driven for refuge to Bagdad, and joined there by the populace, cried out for war against the Franks. But neither Sultan nor Caliph had ears to hear. For two Fridays the insurgents, with this cry, stormed the Great Mosque, broke the pulpit and throne of the Caliph in pieces, and shouted down the service; but that was all. No army went."
Among Moslems themselves religious rancour abounded. At present the four orthodox sects worship together and live in peace as neighbours, but in those days there were frequent and hot disputes between the rival schools and much controversial literature arose, so that the hatred between the sects was deep and bitter. The Persian his torian, Mirkhond, has recorded a fact which shows how implacable the feeling had become towards the close of the Caliphate. When the Mongols of Genghiz Khan appeared before the city of Rei, they found it divided into two factions the one com posed of Shafi ites, the other of Hanifites. The former at once entered into secret negotiations undertaking to deliver up the city at night, on condition that the Mongols massacred the members of the other sect. The Mongols, never reluctant to shed blood, gladly accepted these proposals, and being admitted into the city, slaughtered the Hanifites without mercy.
It was in this atmosphere of mutual hatred, of war and bloodshed, that Al-Ghazali spent the last years of his life. We may excuse in him much of what would otherwise seem intolerant and hateful, when we remember how the passion of war blinds human judgment and makes it impossible to see any virtue in the invader.
We must not forget that Al-Ghazali came into close touch with Oriental Christians from his boy hood. 1 Christianity was established in Persia at the time of the Moslem conquest, and the Nestorian Church withstood its terrific impact when Zoroatrianism was almost destroyed. The coming of the Arabs meant to the Christians only a change of masters. The Nestorians became the rayah, " people of protection," of the Caliphs. They did not immediately sink into their present deplorable condition. They still conducted foreign missions and during the entire Abbasside period remained a very important factor of civilization in the East.
That there was not only close social, but religious and polemical contact between the learned men of Christian sects and those of Islam long before this period, and especially during the life of Al-Ghazali is well known. See especially the life and writings of Al-Kindi, John of Damascus, and Theodor Abu Qurra as given by A. Keller in " Der Geisteskampf des Christentums gegen den Islam biszur Zeit der Kreuzziige" (Leipzig, 1896) and " Christliches Polemik und Islamische Dogmenbilding," by C. H. Becker ("Festschrift Ignaz Goldziher," pp. 175-195). The latter shows clearly that Islam borrowed considerably from Christianity, through controversy, both in its dogma and ritual even as late as the tenth century.
They were permitted to restore their Churches, but not to build new ones; they were forbidden to bear arms or ride a horse, save in case of necessity, and they even then had to dismount on meeting a Moslem; they were subject to the usual poll-tax. Yet the Nestorians were the most powerful non-Moslem community while the Caliphs reigned at Bagdad (750-1258), and had a higher tradition of civilization than their masters. They were used at court as physicians, scribes, and secretaries, and thus gained great influence, having much freedom in canonical matters, elected Patriarchs, etc. The Arab scholarship which came to Spain, and was a great factor in mediaeval learning, begins in great part with the Nestorians of Bagdad. They handed on to their Arab masters the Greek culture which was inherited in Syriac translations. So we find the Caliphs treating them as chief of the Christian communities, and at times civil authority over all Christians had been given to the Nestorian Patriarch.
Early in the eleventh century Al-Biruni, a Moslem writer from Khiva, mentions the Nestorians as the most civilized of the Christian communities under the Caliph. He says that there are three sects of Christians Melchites, Nestorians and Jacobites. " The most numerous of them are the Melchites and Nestorians; because Greece and the adjacent countries are all inhabited by Melchites, whilst the majority of the inhabitants of Syria,
Irak and Mesopotamia and Khorasan are Nestorians.":
Al-Ghazali spent his first twenty years in Khorasan. Did he ever become acquainted with Christianity through perusal of the Gospel? We know that Arabic, if not Persian, translations existed at this period; and not only are there many references to Christ and His teaching in Al-Ghazali’s works, but there are some very few passages accurate enough to be called quotations. He himself states as we shall see later: " I have read in the Gospel."
That there were translations of the Bible into Arabic to which Al-Ghazali may have had access is probable. Dr. Kilgour tells of Arabic Gospel man uscripts of the ninth century and of translations of the Old Testament and portions of the New made in the Fayyoum before 942 A. D. " To the tenth century belong versions of some books of the Old Testament from Syriac, others from the LXX., and from the Coptic; and some fresh translations of the Pentateuch, using the Samaritan text as well as the Massoretic." 3
Diglot manuscripts in Syriac and Arabic are quite numerous. The manuscript of the four Gos pels, of which a few leaves are now in the British Museum, is a good specimen of such a diglot. It was brought by Tischendorf from the Syrian Con
- Cf. "The lyesser Eastern Churches," Adrian Fortescue,
London, 1913. 1 Cf . The Moslem World, Vol. VI, p. 385*
40 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD
vent of St. Mary Deipara in the Nitrian Desert. In the early part of the eleventh century an Arabic scholar made a version of Tatian’s Diatessaron, that early Syriac Harmony of the Gospels which helped the Christian Church to realize the main facts concerning our Saviour. A version of the Psalms was prepared in the middle of the same century for use in the Church services of the papal or Melchite Greeks. This was translated from the Greek Psalter, and, from the place where it was first printed, became known afterwards as the Aleppo Psalter. 1 It remains an interesting ques tion whether Al-Ghazali in his travels, or while still in Khorasan, ever examined the New Testament.
We are told that the Jews translated their law into Persian by 827 A. D. It is, therefore, hard to acquit the Christians of Persia of negligence. Their bishops found time to write learned treatises in Persian and Arabic, and even to translate Aris totle, but not to give Moslems the Scriptures. Yet Al-Kindi and others like him, many of whose names and writings are lost, were not afraid to give their testimony even at the court of the Caliphs. " The Church," says W. T. Whiteley, 2 " had not failed to exercise an influence on Islam around it, while Christians might not, on peril of death, seek
See article on "The Arabic Bible" in The Moslem World, October, 1916.
2 " Missionary Achievement: " A survey of world-wide Evangelization, I/mdon, 1907, pp. 22, 26.
THE ELEVENTH CENTUKY 41
to win converts direct, a command occasionally violated with honour and success, yet all the devel opment of Islam at Damascus and Bagdad was in a Christian atmosphere."
The Christianity of that period was, however, not the religion of Christ in its purity nor after the example of His love and toleration. Mutual hatred and suspicion prevented real intercourse of those who, as devout Christians and devout Moslems, were both seeking God. The Moslem was feared and the Christian despised. The followers of Jesus were the enemies of Allah in the eyes of Moslems.
How Christians were regarded at this time we may learn from the books of canon law of this period, and that immediately following upon it. They were considered infidels in the Moslem sense of the word, and were protected only by the pay ment of a poll tax, which gave them certain rights as subjects. The most distinguished jurist of the Shaft ite sect, An-Nawawi, who taught at Damas cus in 1267, lays down the law 1 as follows: "An infidel who has to pay his poll tax should be treated by the tax collector with disdain; the collector re maining seated and the infidel standing before him, the head bent and the body bowed. The infidel should personally place the money in the balance,
"Minhaj et Talibin of An-Nawawi," trans, from the French of L. W. C. Van Den Berg by E. C. Howard, London, 1914, pp. 467 and 469.
42 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD
while the collector holds him by the beard and strikes him upon both cheeks. Infidels should be forbidden to have houses higher than those of their Moslem neighbours, or even to have them as high; a rule, however, that does not apply to the infidels who inhabit a separate quarter. An infidel subject of our Sovereign may not ride a horse; but a donkey or a mule is permitted him, whatever may be its value. He must use an ikaf, and wooden spurs, those of iron being forbidden him, as well as a saddle. He must go to the side of the road to let a Moslem pass. He must not be treated as a per son of importance, nor given the first place at a gathering. He should be distinguished by a suit of coloured cloth and a girdle outside his clothes. If he enters a bathing house where there are Moslems, or if he undresses anywhere else in their presence, the infidel should wear round his neck an iron or leaden necklace, or some other mark of servitude. He is forbidden to offend Moslems, either by making them hear his false doctrines, or by speaking aloud of Esdras or of the Messiah, or by ostentatiously drinking wine or eating pork. And infidels are forbidden to sound the bells of their churches or of their synagogues, or celebrate ostentatiously their sacrilegious rites. "
2 Richard Gottheil gives the contents of a fatwa on the appointment of Dhimmis to office dated about A. D. 1126
THE ELEVENTH CENTUBY 43
" The history of Christian communities," says Margoliouth, 1 " under Moslem rule cannot be ade quately written; the members of those communities had no opportunity of describing their condition safely, and the Moslems naturally devote little space to their concerns. Generally speaking, they seem to have been regarded as certain old Greek and Roman sages regarded women: as a necessary annoyance. Owing to their being unarmed their prosperity was always hazardous; and though it is true that this was the case with all the subjects of a despotic state under an irresponsible ruler, the non Moslem population was at the mercy of the mob as well as of the sovereign; they were likely scape goats whenever there was distress, and even in the best governed countries periods of distress fre quently arose."
There are darker shades in the treatment of Christians and in the moral condition of this period over which one might well draw the veil, but some of the chapters of Ghazali’s Ihya reflect such ter
and given by one Ahmad ibn Al Husain. " To place an infidel in authority over a Moslem would never enter the mind of one who had a sound heart. He who does so must either be a godless fellow or be ignorant of Moslem law and practice. He attempts to prove that a Dhimmi (i. e. Jew or Christian) is not even to be used as a .scribe, a money-changer, or a butcher; citing passages from the Koran and the Traditions" ("Festschrift Ignaz Goldziher von Carl Bezold," Strassburg, 1911, pp. 203-208). 1 " The Early Development of Mohammedanism," London,
44 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD
rible conditions as Margoliouth describes: "A form of passion which is nameless would appear at one time to have been as familiar among Moslems as of old among Hellenes. Christian lads seem often to have been the unhappy objects of this pas sion. A story is told us by the biographer Yakut of a young monk of Edessa or Urfah who had the misfortune to attract the fancy of one Sa ad the copyist. The visits and attentions of this Moslem became so offensive that the monks had to put a stop to them. Thereupon this personage pined away, and was finally found dead outside the mon astery wall. The Moslem population declared that the monks had killed him, and the governor pro posed to execute and burn the young monk who had occasioned the disaster, and scourge his col leagues. They finally got off by paying a sum of 100,000 dirhems."
Not only among Moslems, however, but among Christians as well, morals were at a low ebb in the eleventh century. One of the annalists of the Roman Church says it was an iron age barren of all goodness, a leaden age abounding in all wicked ness. " Christ was then, as it appears, in a very deep sleep, when the ship was covered with waves; and what seemed worse, when the Lord was thus asleep, there were no disciples, who by their cries might awaken him, being themselves all fast asleep."
Enemies of the Papacy have perhaps exaggerated
THE ELEVENTH CENTUEY 45
the vices and crimes of the popes in this and the preceding century; but the Church, on the testi mony of its own writers, was immersed in pro faneness, sensuality, and lewdness. When Otho I, Emperor of Germany, came to Rome, he intro duced moral reforms by the power of the sword, but according to Milner, 1 " The effect of Otho’s regulations was that the popes exchanged the vices of the rake and the debauchee for those of the ambitious politician and the hypocrite; and gradu ally recovered, by a prudent conduct, the domineer ing ascendency, which had been lost by vicious ex cesses. But this did not begin to take place till the latter end of the eleventh century."
Missionary effort in this century was confined to work in Hungary, the unevangelized portions of Denmark, Poland, and Prussia. Adam of Bremen, who wrote in 1080, says: " Look at the very ferocious nation of the Danes. For a long time they have been accustomed, in the praises of God, to resound Alleluia. Look at that piratical people. They are now content with the fruits of their own country. Look at that horrid region, formerly altogether inaccessible on account of idolatry; they now eagerly admit the preachers of the word."
The Prussians continued pagans in a great meas ure throughout this century. We read that eighteen missionaries sent out to labour among them were
Milner, "The History of the Church of Christ," , 1834, p. 531, Vol. II.
46 A MOSLEM SEEKEB AFTEB GOD
massacred. They seemed to have been among the last of the European nations to submit to the yoke of Christ.
The noblest figure of the century in the West, in the annals of Christendom, was undoubtedly that of Anselm. He was born about the time of Al Ghazali, and died in 1109. His life in many re spects is a parallel to that of his contemporary. Both were theologians and both were mystics, seek ing rest for their souls in withdrawing from the world and its allurements. Both were apologists for the Faith and opponents of infidelity and philos ophy. Both exerted an immense influence by their writings as well as through teaching; and if Al Ghazali sought the revival of religious life in Islam through his Ihya, Anselm gave employment to his active mind in writing his celebrated treatise " Cur I Deus Homo? " Both of them refuted philosophers in their effort to establish the Faith.
It is interesting to note in this connection that Anselm’s famous book is now used in Arabic trans lation by missionaries to Moslems, and that Al Ghazali’s "Confessions" have been put into the hands of the English reader as a testimony of his sincerity and devotion.
Both Anselm and Al-Ghazali lived and wrote under a deep consciousness of the world to come, the terrors of the judgment day, and the doom of the wicked. This also was characteristic of the times.
THE ELEVENTH CENTUBY 47
To understand the time in which Al-Ghazali lived we must also remember that it was one of great literary activity under the Abbasside Caliphs of Bagdad and the Seljuk sultans. We have seen how rulers rewarded literary genius, established schools, and furthered education on religious lines. Arabic literature affords a galaxy of names during the latter half of the eleventh century in almost every department of Moslem learning.
Among Ghazali’s celebrated contemporaries, men of literary fame, we may mention Abiwardi (d. 1113), the poet; Ibn Al-Khayyat, who was born at Damascus in 1058 and died in Persia in 1125; Al-Ghazi (b. 1049), who composed elegies and panegyrics at Nizamiyya College, was a col lege mate of Ghazali s, and died in Khorasan; Al Tarabalusi (b. 1080), a younger contemporary. But the most famous poet of all was Al-Hariri (1054-1122), whose "Assemblies " throw so much light on the manners and morals of this period. Among the men at the Nizamiyya University were Al-Khatib (b. 1030), the great philologist; and Ibn Al-Arabi, born at Seville in 1076, who visited Bagdad to attend the teaching of Al-Ghazali. The greatest of all the Shafi ite doctors, Al-Ruyani, was also a contemporary of Al-Ghazali. He taught at Nishapur and wrote the most voluminous book on jurisprudence in existence, called " The Sea of Doctrine." In 1108, just as he had finished one of his lectures he was murdered by a fanatic of the
48 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD
Assassin sect, who were then holding the castle of Alamut in the mountains. We must also mention a schoolmate of Al-Ghazali, Al-Harrasi (1058 1110), who studied at Nishapur under the Imam Al-Haramain, was made his assistant, and then went to Bagdad, where he taught theology in the Nizamiyya University for the rest of his life. Nor must we forget Al-Baghawi, who wrote a famous commentary on the Koran, and other works of the ology (1122); Al-Raghib Al-Ispahani, who died in 1108, and wrote a dictionary of the Koran, ar ranged in alphabetical order, called Mufradat alfaz Al-Koran, with quotations from the traditions and from the poets; he also wrote a treatise on morals, which Al-Ghazali always carried about with .him (Kitab ad-dharia), and a commentary on the Koran. Among the early contemporaries of Al Ghazali we must not forget to mention Ali bin Uthman Al-Jullabi Al-Hujwiri, the author of the oldest Persian treatise on Sufism extant. He was born in Ghazni, Afghanistan, and died in A.D. 1062, when Al-Ghazali was fourteen years old. Al Hujwiri travelled far and wide through the Mohammedan Empire and his famous work Kashf al-Mahjub anticipates much of the teaching of Al-Ghazali, who must have been familiar with this author. And to complete this already long list of celebrities, we may mention Al-Maidani of Nishapur, who died in 1124, having written a great work on Arabic proverbs; Al-Zamakhshari,
THE ELEVENTH CENTUEY 49
born in 1074, who wrote a famous commentary on the Koran; Ibn Tumart, the noted philosopher of the West who attended Al-Ghazali’s lectures at Nizamiyya; and ash-Shahristani who wrote on the various religions and sects the standard work among all Moslems to-day on comparative re ligion. The period was in many respects the golden age of Islamic literature, and it is high praise indeed that, in the judgment of Moslem and Christian, Al-Ghazali surpassed all his literary contemporaries, if not in style and eloquence, at least in the scope and character of his writings still more by the enduring and outreaching in fluence of his life. The story of that life and the character of his message we will now attempt to sketch for the reader.
II. Birth and Education
"Ghazali is without doubt the most remarkable figure in all Islam. His doctrine is the expression of his own personality. He abandoned the attempt to understand this world. But the religious problem he comprehended much more profoundly than did the philosophers of his time. These were intellectual in their methods, like their Greek predecessors, and consequently regarded the doctrines of Religion as merely the products of the conception or fancy or even caprice of the lawgiver. According to them Religion was either blind obedience, or a kind of knowledge which contained truth of an inferior order.
" On the other hand Ghazali represents Religion as the experience of his inner Being. It is for him more than law and more than Doctrine; it is the Soul’s experience."
- "Philosophy in Islam," T. DeBoer.
AS already stated, Al-Ghazali was born and educated in Khorasan, Persia, and there also he spent the closing years of his life. Persia, as Huart expresses it, possessed " an in tangible force, the Aryan genius, the powerful, imaginative, and creative mind of the great Indo-European family, the artistic, philosophic, and intellectual brain which, from the Abbasside period on ward, so mightily affected Arab literature, enabling it to develop in every quarter of the Caliph’s realms, and to produce the enormous aggregate of works." It was this Aryan genius which explains much of the powerful influence of Al-Ghazali upon Moslem thought, and the revival of that influence in our day when Islam is again facing disintegrating forces. At the time of Al-Ghazali, Persian in fluence was supreme. It pervaded everything. The Arabs had ceased to write. The realms of poetry, theology, and science, were dominated by those of Persian birth. All posts, administrative and legal, were held by men who were not Arabs, and yet the language they used was that of the Koran, and remained the sole literary language of the huge empire of the Caliphs. "All races, Persians, Syrians, Berbers from Maghrib, were melted and amalgamated in this mighty crucible."
Al-Ghazali was a Persian by birth, an Aryan in his modes of thought, a Semite in his religion and he became a cosmopolitan by travel and education. His long residence in all the great centres of Islam of his day brought him into close touch with men of every school of thought and followers of all manners of religions and philosophies. When we remember this, we have the key to his enormous literary productiveness. His horizon stretched from Afghanistan to Spain, and from Kurdistan to Southern Arabia. What happened outside the Dar ul Islam in infidel Europe was brought to the notice of all by the Crusades.
Men of learning had intercourse by correspondence with those of similar tastes in every part of the Moslem world. We have records of letters received by Al-Ghazali from Spain and Morocco as well as from Egypt, Syria, and Palestine. Questions of jurisprudence, philosophy, and theology were referred by Sultans to celebrated authorities for reply. All this produced the cosmopolitan atmosphere we find in his works.
The poet Moore describes Al-Ghazali's native land as
"...the delightful Province of the Sun,
The first of Persian lands he shines upon,Among Merou’s bright palaces and groves."
Where, all the loveliest children of his beam,
Flowerets and fruits blush over every stream,
And, fairest of all streams, the Murga roves
Khorasan, indeed, signifies " the land of the sun," and was one of the four geographical divisions into which the ancient kingdom of the Sassanians was divided. They were named according to the cardinal points of the compass. After the Arab conquests the name was used both for a definite province and also in a looser sense for the whole eastern region of Persia. Even now the boundaries of the province are scarcely determined. The total area is about 150,000 square miles, and the present population not over 800,000. It was doubtless far more in Al-Ghazali's day.
Towards the north and southwest Khorasan is mountainous. In the east the country is hilly, but between the mountain ranges there extend broad tracts of waste land. By far the most extensive of these saline wastes is the Dasht-i-Kabir, or Great Salt Desert of Khorasan. Throughout the province, and especially near Tus, the arid plains and the grassy valleys have been engaged in a perpetual struggle for the mastery. The shifting sands have already absorbed some towns and villages. There are scarcely any rivers, and the few streams are brackish and intermittent, losing themselves in the great salt desert. The salt brought down by the rivers is deposited in the marshes. The fierce summer heat dries these up until the winter floods occur again. This process being repeated for ages, in the course of time the whole stretch of soil over which the marsh extends has become incrusted with salt.
Travellers and students of climate seem to be agreed that the country offers unmistakable evidence of desiccation. Ruins of cities and villages are incredibly numerous and point to a larger population and better climate and irrigation in the days past. It would not be just to attribute the decay of Persia entirely to the devastations of war and the misrule of Islam.
"A comparison of the four provinces of Khorasan, Azerbaijan, Kirman, and Seyistan is instructive" says Ellsworth Huntington. Khorasan "has suffered from war more severely than has any other province of Persia. Its northern portion, where the rainfall is heaviest, and where the great est amount of fighting has taken place, is to-day one of the most prosperous portions of Persia. It contains numerous ruins, but they are by no means such impressive features as are those farther south. The southern and drier part of the province is full of ruins, and has suffered great depopulation. Azerbaijan, which . . . has suffered from war more than any province except Khorasan, is the most prosperous and thickly settled part of Persia. The relative abundance of its water supply renders its future hopeful. Seyistan has suffered from wars, but less severely than the two preceding provinces. Nevertheless, it has been depopulated to a far greater extent. Its extreme aridity renders recovery well-nigh impossible, except along the Helmund. Kirman lies so remote behind its barriers of desert and mountains that it has suffered from war much less than any of the three other provinces. Yet its ruined cities and its appearance of hopeless depopulation are almost as impressive as those of Seyistan. If war and misgovernment are the cause of the decay of Persia, it is remark able that the two provinces which have suffered most from war, and not less from misgovernment, should now be the most prosperous and least depopulated; while the two which have suffered less from war and no more from misgovernment have been fearfully, and, it would seem, irreparably depopulated."
The surface of the province of Khorasan to-day consists mainly of highlands, the saline deserts, and the fruitful well-watered upland valleys. In these fruitful regions rice, cotton, saffron, but especially melons and other fruits, are raised in profusion. Other products are manna, gum, asafoetida for export to India, and turquois. The chief manufactures have always been sabres, pottery, carpets, woolen and cotton goods.
The town of Mashad, the present capital of Khorasan, has supplanted the older city and district of Tus, which was an ancient capital. The ruins of this city lie fifteen miles to the northwest.
As early as the tenth century we have references to the birthplace of Al-Ghazali. Thus Mis arMuhalhil (about 941 A. D.) writes: " Tus is made up of the union of four towns, two of which are large and the other two of minor importance; its area is a square mile. It has beautiful monuments that date from the time of Islam, such as the house of Hamid, son of Kahtabah, the tomb of Ali, son of Musa, and that of Rashid in the environs (lit. gardens) of the town." Istakhri (951 A. D.), writing ten years later, speaks of Tus as a dependency with four large towns or settlements. He says: "Taking Tus as a dependency of the province of Nishapur, its towns are Radkan, Tabaran, Bazdghur, and Naukan, in which (latter) is the tomb of Ali, son of Musa ar-Riza (may the peace of God be upon him), and the tomb of Haroun ar-Rashid. . . . The tomb of Ar-Riza is about one-quarter of a farsakh distant towards the village called Sanabadh." The best summary of the history of Tus and description of its present condition is given by Professor A. V. Williams Jack son in his most interesting book, "From Constanti nople to the Home of Omar Khayyam." He tells us that the name of the town is as old as the half-legendary warrior Tusa of the Avesta, who gave battle against Turan. Alexander the Great passed through it in pursuit of Bessus, the slayer of the last Darius. During the Zoroastrian sway, the city of Tus shared with Nishapur the distinction of being the seat of a Nestorian Christian bishop. When the Arab conquest of Persia came Tus fell before the invaders and it became a great Moslem centre, famous especially as the home of the poet Firdausi, who was born there about 935 A. D. and died 1025 A. D.
Professor Jackson thus describes the present ruined condition of the city: " The crumbling walls of the dead city were once broad and lofty ramparts of clay and rubble, much like those already mentioned at Bustam and Rei, but they had be come much flattened with the lapse of ages, although traces of their towers were still to be seen, while their outline showed the contour of the town, which must have formed a very irregular quadrilateral, following roughly the points of the compass. . . . The scene, as we saw it, presented a strange paradox of the destructive effects of the hand of man, and the eternal power of nature to rise and bloom again. The devastating inroads of the Ghuzz hordes and the Mongol armies, aided by earthquakes, had indeed laid mighty Tus in ruins: but its dust still contains the resurrection seed of flowers and grain, bringing life anew in the midst of death. Acres of barley and fields of thick clover spread their rich green on all sides, in contrast with stretches of arid waste that told only too well the story of ruin wrought in the past." Professor Jackson goes on to say: " It is clear that the ruined site of Tus we have been examining, with the Rudbar and Rizan Gates, formed part of the borough of Tabaran, an important section of the town in Firdausi’s day, when the city covered a large area comprising several thickly populated centres, as we know from the Oriental geographers of the tenth century, or the period covering the better portion of the poet’s life." It was in Tabaran that Al-Ghazali was buried, and there he must have had his home during the closing years of his life."
Religious disputation must have been the very
1 See however Gardner’s Al-Ghazali in the " Islam Series " (pp. 1-3) where we have this note: " The district of Tus contained four towns, Radkan, Tabaran, Bazdghur, and Nawqan, (Yaqut gives the spelling as Nuqan) and more than 1,000 villages. (See Yaqut, quoting Mis ar bin Muk halhil, vol. vi, p. 7. Ibn Khallikan, vol. i, p. 29. Jackson, From Constantinople to the Home of Omar Khayyam, p. 267, 284 ff.) Of these four towns, Tabaran was the capital, while Nawqan was the most populous. It was outside of Nawqan that AH bin Musa ar-Rida and Haroun Ar-Rashid were buried. Thus, the present Mashad represents the old Nawqan, and must cover some at least of the site of that city; while the ruins now known as Tus represent the old city of Tabaran, which, having been the capital of the dis trict, was commonly called by the name of the district. It was outside Tabaran that Al-Ghazali and Firdausi were buried. It is a mistake to regard Tus as having been a metropolis containing four boroughs. That there ever ex isted a city of Tus stretching thirty-five miles, from Mashad to Radkan, is incredible. As-Sam ani, in the Kitabu l-Ansab, says that Tus contained two towns and over one thousand villages.
BIETH AND EDUCATION 61
atmosphere of Tus. Christians were numerous and the Moslem Shiahs were almost as strong as the orthodox. Some of their most celebrated writers and scholars, for example Abu Ja far Muhammed, were born at Tus; and Ibn Abi Hatim, one of the earliest and most important critics of the science of Tradition, died at Tus in 939. In spite of its learned men, however, Tus did not have a high reputation, as we know from the following anecdote related of Ibn-Habbariyya. He was asked by an enemy of Nizam Al-Mulk to compose a satire on this ruler. " How can I attack a man to whose kindness I owe everything I see in my house?" asked the poet. However, on being pressed, he penned these lines:
" What wonder is it that Nizam Al-Mulk should rule, And that Fate should be on his side? Fortune is like the water-wheel Which raises water from the well None but oxen can turn it! "
When the vizier was informed of this attack upon him, he merely remarked that the poet had simply intended to allude to his origin he came from Tus in Khorasan, and, according to a popular saying, all the men of Tus were oxen (one would say asses, nowadays).
" The people of Khorasan," says Chenery, "were renowned for their stinginess, and it is not sur prising that the inhabitants of the mother town
62 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD
were said to excel in it all the rest of the world. Witness the story, related in Sa adi’s Gulistan, if I remember well, of the merchant of Merv, who would not allow his son to eat cheese, but made him rub his bread against the glass cover under which it was kept/
To prove the stupidity of the Khorasanis to-day, Major P. M. Sykes * tells a story of three Persians who met and were all praising their own provinces. The Kermani said, " Kerman produces fruit of seven colours." The Shirazi continued, " The waters of Ruknabad issue from the very rock." But the poor Khorasani could only say, " From Khorasan come all the fools like myself."
Yet Khorasan, in the words of Hujwiri, was that land " where the shadow of God’s favour rested," as regards the teaching of the Mystics. He men tions nine leading Sufis who belong to Khorasan, and taught there before Al-Ghazali’s day, all of them distinguished for the " sublimity of their aspiration, the eloquence of their discourse, and the sagacity of their intelligence." He then goes on to say: " It would be difficult to mention all the sheikhs of Khorasan. I have met three hundred in that province alone who had such mystical en dowments that a single man of them would have been enough for the whole world. This is due to
1 " The Glory of the Shiah World," London, 1910. In this book we have an interesting picture of Mashad and Tus as they are to-day.
BIRTH AND EDUCATION 63
the fact that the sun of love and the fortune of the Sufi Path is in the ascendant in Khorasan.":
In view of such statements it is clear that Al Ghazali owed much to his environment as well as to his own genius. He did not originate mysticism, but used what his predecessors had already written on the subject. The very chapter headings of Kashf al-Mahjub are the same as those found in Al-Ghazali’s books on mysticism.
According to Murtadha (who follows As-Subqi), Al-Ghazali’s full name was Abu Hamid Moham med bin Mohammed bin Mohammed at-Tusi al Ghazali, and he was born at Tus in the year of the Hegira 450 (A. D. 1058). In regard to his name, it is related that others before him had the peculiarity of the family name three times re peated. " Ibn-Kutaibah states that Abu 1-Bakh tari’s name was Wahb b. Wahb b. Wahb, the same name thrice in one continuation; and that similar to this among the names of the Persian kings was that of Bahram b. Bahram b. Bahram; among the Talibis (the descendants of Abu-Talib) that of Hasan b. Hasan b. Hasan, and among the Ghassan that of al-Harith the junior b. al-Harith and the senior b. al-Harith." 2
Concerning the spelling of his name, whether it should be spelled with two z’s or with one, there has been long and strong dispute. Professor Mac
"Kashf al-Mahjub," pp. 173-174. 2 " Hayat-ul-Hayawan," by Damiri.
64 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD
donald thinks the name should be spelt Ghaszali and has given his arguments in a special essay. 1 This spelling is given by Ibn Khallikan in his biographical dictionary (d. A. D. 1282). But ap parently, according to the authority of As-Sam ani, the name is derived from Ghazala, a village near Tus, and is not a professional noun, such as are common among patronymics. Abu Sa d Abd al Karim As-Sam ani was born only two years after Al-Ghazali’s death, and wrote a famous book of patronymics in eight volumes. He was, therefore, an expert in names and genealogies, and we may well accept his authority for the spelling of the name of the great imam, who was his own coun tryman. The sheikhs of the Azhar University in Cairo all follow this authority and write Al Ghazali. 2
1 Referred to in his " Life of Al-Ghazzali ."
2 Ibn Khallikan (Vol. I, p. 29, Cairo, 1310) leaves little doubt that Sama ani spells it with one " z," Ghasali. So also is the spelling of German Orientalists including Brock elmann. He writes (Vol. I, p. 419) "So, als Nisbe zu Gazala, einem kleinen Orte bei Tus, nach dem atisdrucklichen Zeugnis des Sam anis, jenes ausgezeichneten Kenners iranischer Namen, (s. o. p. 330) b. j. Hall, nr. 37; die von Gosche i, I, nr. 3 auf Grund spater, persischer Quellen verteidigte Schreibung Gazzali verdankt offenbar einer Volksetymologie ihr Dasein in Anlehnung an die nach al Sam ani in Hwarizm gebrauchlichen Nisben, wie al Qassari fiir al Qassar. Sujuti den Gosche citiert bestatigt keines wegs seine auffassung, sondern gibt seine Qtielle als Sam ani genau wieder." Clement Huart (" History of Arabic Litera ture," p. 265) gives the preference to Ghasali; so do the
BIBTHIAND EDUCATION 65
Some say that there had already been two scholars in the family, one an elder Al-Ghazali, at whose tomb in the cemetery of Tus prayer was an swered. This was a paternal uncle of Ghazali’s father. The other was a son of the same. The story is told, apparently on the authority of Ghazali himself, that at the time of his father’s death he committed his two boys, Mohammed and Ahmed, to the care of a trusted Sufi friend for their educa tion. He himself seems to have had unfulfilled de sires in regard to his own education and was de termined that his boys should have a better oppor tunity. So he left in trust what money he had for the purpose with this friend, who proved faithful and taught and cared for them until the money was all gone. Then he advised them to go to a madrasa, where, according to Moslem custom, they would receive food for their need and shelter. Ghazali used to tell the story of this experience in after life, and would add the remark, " We became students for the sake of something else than God,
French Orientalists in the Revue du Monde Mussulman, Goldziher in his latest work Vorlesungen ilber den Islam (1910), and the well-known Dutch Arabist, Snouck Hur gronje. Yet in spite of all this those who prefer " Ghazzali " may appeal to the highest Moslem authority, namely, Mo hammed the Prophet who is said to have declared to some one in a dream that this was the correct spelling. (See "Murtadha," Vol. I, p. 18.) I have a fatwa from the Sheikhs of Al-Azhar, Cairo, however, stating that the true spelling is now agreed on by Moslems as Ghazali with one middle radical.
66 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD
but He was unwilling that it should be for the sake of anything but Himself." This instance doubt less throws light on the motives for his studies and his great diligence. At the outset he was in search rather of reputation and wealth through learning than of piety. 1
Of Al-Ghazali’s home life at Tus, and of his own family life afterwards, we know next to nothing. His name Abu Hamid was doubtless given him much later, and would seem to indicate that he had a son of that name who probably died in infancy. We know that he married before he was twenty and that at least three daughters survived him. Of his younger brother, however, who died fif teen years after he did (1126), and was buried at Kazvin, we know the following: He succeeded Al-Ghazali in the professorial chair at the Niza miyya School. Like him, he was a mystic and preached his views with great eloquence as well as with a prolific pen. We are told that he was a man of splendid appearance, and had the gift of healing. So fond was he of public preaching that he neglected his judicial studies. He wrote an abridgement of his brother’s great work, and also a celebrated treatise on mysticism called Minhaj al-albab (Path for Hearts), in which he deals with the advantages of poverty, and advocates the wearing of a special garb by the dervishes. An other of his books was in defense of music, called
BIETH AND EDUCATION 67
Bawariq al-ilma; but this was considered frivolous by strict Moslems, although the Sufis used music to produce the state of ecstasy.
Of Al-Ghazali’s mother we know nothing be yond the fact that she survived her husband and lived to see both her sons famous at Bagdad, whither apparently she accompanied or followed them. An interesting story is told of how, when Abu Hamid was at the height of his fame at Bagdad, his brother Ahmed not merely failed to show him proper respect, but acted in such a man ner as to discredit him in the eyes of the people. The full account is worth giving. " He had a brother called Ahmed, surnamed Jamal-ud-Din, or, as others say, Zain-ud-Din, who, notwithstanding the high rank which his brother held, would not take part with him in the prayers (i. e., would not recognize him as a man fitted to lead the public prayers), even while thousands of the commonalty and nobility arranged themselves in ranks behind him. So he complained to his mother what he ex perienced at his brother’s hands, (saying) that it almost led to people doubting him, seeing that his brother was celebrated for his good conduct and piety, and he asked his mother to order him (Ahmed) to treat him as other people did. He complained about this repeatedly, and pressed his demand. His mother urged him (Ahmed) time and again to agree to this, and he agreed on con dition that he stand apart from the ranks. The
68 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD
Imam accepted this condition, and when one of the appointed times of prayer arrived, the Imam went to the Mosque, and the people followed him, till, when the Imam began the prayer, and the people began it after him, Jamal-ud-Din followed him in the prayer in the distance. And while they were praying Jamal-ud-Din suddenly interrupted him. So this trial was worse than the first; and when he was asked the reason (of his conduct) he replied that it was impossible for him to take as his pat tern an Imam whose heart was full of blood, indi cating by this expression the vileness of one who took a share in the work of worldly men of learn ing." 1
Al-Ghazali must have begun his education at a very early age, and his studies at Tus met with such success that he went to the larger educational centre of Jurjan before the age of twenty, a dis tance of over one hundred miles, and no inconsider able journey at that time.
In Al-Ghazali’s autobiography we have a glimpse of how he himself conceived the growth of a child in wisdom and stature. " The first sense revealed to man," he says, " is touch, by means of which he perceives a certain group of qualities heat, cold, moist, dry. The sense of touch does not perceive colours and forms, which are for it as though they did not exist. Next comes the
the Biography given at the end of Miskat-ul Anwar, Cairo edition (1322).
BERTH AND EDUCATION 69
sense of sight, which makes him acquainted with colours and forms; that is to say, with that which occupies the highest rank in the world of sensation. The sense of hearing succeeds, and then the senses of smell and taste. When the human being can elevate himself above the world of sense, towards the age of seven, he receives the faculty of discrimination; he enters then upon a new phase of existence and can experience, thanks to this faculty, impressions, superior to those of the senses, which do not occur in the sphere of sensa tion."
Al-Ghazali must have been an early riser from his youth. In his " Beginner’s Guide to Religion and Morals " (Al Badayet) he writes: " When you awaken from sleep, endeavour to arise before early dawn, and may the first thing that enters your heart and your tongue be the remembrance of God Most High, saying, Thanks be to God who hath given us life after the death of sleep. To Him do we return. He hath awakened us and awakened all nature. The greatness and the power belong to God; the majesty and the dominion to the Lord of the worlds. He hath awakened us to the religion of Islam and the testimony of His unity, and the religion of His Prophet Mohammed and the sect of our father Abraham, who was a Hanif and a Moslem, and not a polytheist. O God, I ask Thee that Thou wouldst this day send me all good and deliver me from all evil. By Thee, O God, do we
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arise from sleep, and by Thee do we reach the even tide. In Thee do we live and die and to Thee do we return/ And when you put on your garments, remember that God desires you to cover your nakedness with them and to show forth God’s beauty to those around you."
In another place in the same little volume he again inculcates early rising by saying: " Know that the night and the day consist of twenty-four hours. Let therefore your sleep during the night and day be not more than eight hours; for it will suffice you to think after you have lived sixty years that you have lost twenty years of it solely in sleep."
He probably began to read even before the age of seven, for we find that his studies at Tus, and afterwards at Jurjan, apparently included not only religious science but also a thorough knowledge of Persian and Arabic. Of his religious studies we will speak later. He himself tells us that the philosophical sciences taught included " mathe matics, logic, physics, metaphysics, politics, and moral philosophy." And although he does not speak in his Confessions of his earliest studies, what he says in regard to mathematics throws a flood of light on his youthful scepticism. He says, " Mathematics comprises the knowledge of calcula tion, geometry, and cosmography: it has no con nection with the religious sciences, and proves noth ing for or against religion; it rests on a foundation
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of proofs which, once known and understood, can not be refuted. Mathematics tend, however, to produce two bad results. The first is this: Whoever studies this science admires the subtlety and clear ness of its proofs. His confidence in philosophy increases, and he thinks that all its departments are capable of the same clearness and solidity of proofs as mathematics. But when he hears people speak of the unbelief and impiety of mathema ticians, of their professed disregard for the divine Law, which is notorious, it is true that, out of regard for authority, he echoes these accusations, but he says to himself at the same time that, if there was truth in religion, it would not have escaped those who have displayed so much keen ness of intellect in the study of mathematics.
Next, when he becomes aware of the unbelief and rejection of religion on the part of these learned men, he concludes that to reject religion is reasonable. " How many of such men gone astray I have met, whose sole argument was that just mentioned! " (p. 28).
Not only mathematics but astronomy and other sciences were then in alleged conflict with the facts of revelation. Al-Ghazali must have felt this very keenly, for he says: " The ignorant Moslem thinks the best way to defend religion is by rejecting all the exact sciences. Accusing their professors of being astray, he rejects their theories of the eclipses of the sun and moon, and condemns them
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in the name of religion. These accusations are carried far and wide, they reach the ears of the philosopher who knows that these theories rest on infallible proofs; far from losing confidence in them, he believes, on the contrary, that Islam has ignorance and the denial of scientific proofs for its basis, and his devotion to philosophy increases with his hatred to religion. It is therefore a great injury to religion to suppose that the defense of Islam involves the condemnation of the exact sciences. The religious law contains nothing which approves them or condemns them, and in their turn they make no attack on religion. The words of the Prophet: The sun and moon are two signs of the power of God; they are not eclipsed for the birth or the death of any one; when you see these signs take refuge in prayer, and invoke the name of God these words I say, do not in any way condemn the astronomical calculations which define the orbits of these two bodies, their conjunction and opposition according to particular laws.": We must remember in this connection that it was Omar Khayyam, the poet astronomer, who at this very time was leading many into scepticism.
After a knowledge of Arabic grammar, and memorizing the Koran, the diligent student would take up its critical and devotional study. Al-Ghazali's teachers undoubtedly emphasized, as he
1 "The Confessions of Al-Ghazali," trans, by Claud Field, London, 1909.
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did himself, the importance of correct reading of the sacred volume. In one of the most beautiful passages in his Ihya, Al-Ghazali himself notes the following points: The reader must be clean out wardly, and respect the book with outward rever ence. He must read the proper quantity. He quotes with approval the practice of Sa ad and Othman, that the Koran should be read through once a week. One should use chanting (tartil), for this is helpful to the memory, and makes us read slowly, and rapid reading is not approved. One should read it with weeping, i. e., sorrow for sins. One should give the proper responses in the proper places. One should use the opening prayer before beginning to read. It may be read secretly or aloud. It must be read beautifully according to the Tradition: "Adorn the Koran by the sweet ness of your voice;" or another Tradition: "He who does not sing the Koran is not of our religion." One day when the Prophet heard Abu Musa read ing the Koran he said: " Verily, to this reader God has given the voice of David when he wrote the Psalms."
We may believe that Yusuf Nassaj, his first teacher, who was a mystic, as well as, later, the Imam al-Haramain, laid considerable emphasis on the points here mentioned. The atmosphere in which Al-Ghazali was educated, we must never forget, was that of mysticism.
The study of the Koran was followed by that of the Traditions, of which the standard collections were already in circulation. After this, a youth in Al-Ghazali’s day would begin the study of Fiqh, or Moslem jurisprudence. We know from the contents of the standard works on this subject, written before Al-Ghazali’s time, and later by himself, what engrossed the attention in the schools of Tus and Jurjan. 1 His first lesson would be on ceremonial purity by the use of ablution, the bath, the tooth-pick and the various circumstances of legal defilement when ghasl or complete ablution is prescribed; of the ailments of women and the duration of pregnancy. Then came the second part of the book on prayer, its occasions, conditions, and requirements, including the four things in which the prayer of a woman differs from that of a man. He would learn all about the poor-rate (sakat), about fasting and pilgrimage, about the laws of barter and sale and debt; about inheritance and wills a most difficult and complicated sub ject. Then the pupil would pass on to marriage and divorce, a very large subject, and one on which Moslem law books show no reserve, and leave no detail unmentioned. Then would follow the laws in regard to crime and violence, Holy War, and the ritual of sacrifice at the Great Feast. The last three chapters of books on Fiqh generally deal with oaths, evidence, and the manumission of slaves. 3
- Cf. Appendix VII in Macdonald’s "Muslim Theology,
Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theology." 8 1 follow here the contents of Ghazali’s own Wajis.
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From his youth up Al-Ghazali belonged to the Shafi School, one of the four orthodox systems of jurisprudence. The Imam ash-Shafii , whose tomb at Cairo was afterwards visited by Al-Ghazali, and is still a place of pilgrimage, died in A. H. 20-i. He chose the via media between the slavery of tradi tion and the freedom of logic and deduction in Moslem law. According to Macdonald, "Ash Shafi i was without question one of the greatest figures in the history of law. Perhaps he had not the originality and keenness of Abu Hanifa; but he had a balance of mind and temper, a clear vision and full grasp of means and ends, that enabled him to say what proved to be the last word in the matter. After him came attempts to tear down; but they failed. The fabric of the Muslim canon law stood firm." The adherents of the school of Shafii now number some sixty million persons, of whom about a half are in the Netherland Indies, and the rest in Egypt, Syria, Hadramaut, Southern India, and Malaysia. Among all of these Al Ghazali the Shafi ite naturally holds a place of su preme honour.
An interesting story is told in connection with his studies under the Imam Abu Nasr al-Isma ili. He took copious notes under this celebrated teacher, but neglected to memorize what he had written. This seems to have been a characteristic of his, according to Macdonald, because his quota tions are often exceedingly careless; and one of the charges brought against him by his assailants afterwards was that he falsified tradition. " On his way back to Tus from Jurjan, however, he got his lesson. He tells the story himself. Robbers fell upon him, stripped him, and even carried off the bag with his manuscripts. This was more than he could stand; he ran after them, clung to them though threatened with death, and entreated the return of the notes they were of no use to them. Al-Ghazali had a certain quality of dry humour, and was evidently tickled by the idea of these thieves studying law. The robber chief asked him what were these notes of his. Said Al-Ghazali with great simplicity: They are writings in that bag; I travelled for the sake of hearing them and writing them down, and knowing the science in them/ Thereat the robber chief laughed consumedly, and said: How can you profess to know the science in them, when we have taken them from you and stripped you of the knowledge, and there you are without any science? But he gave them him back. And/ says Al-Ghazali, this man was sent by God to teach me/ So Al-Ghazali went back to Tus, and spent three years there committing his notes to memory as a precaution against future robbers.
Shortly afterwards Al-Ghazali left Tus a second time to pursue his studies at Nishapur under the
1 D. B. Macdonald, " Life of Al-Ghazzali," Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. XX, p. 76.
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most celebrated teacher of that period in this great literary centre. Nishapur was situated forty-nine miles west of Tus, and was captured by the Arabs in A. H. 31. Yakut, in his geographical dictionary, says that of all the cities he had visited this was the finest. It was in this city that Hamadhani wrote his four-hundred Maqamat and vanquished his great literary rival.
Other great names are connected with the city, among them Omar Khayyam the poet, the Koran commentator Ahmed al-Tha labi, and Maidani the author of the well-known collection of Arabic proverbs.
The older name of the town or district was Abrashahr. The importance of the place under the Sasanians was in part religious; one of the three holiest fire temples was in its neighbourhood. Nishapur under the Moslems contained a large Arab element; it became the capital of Khorasan, and greatly increased in prosperity, under the almost independent princes of the house of Tahir (A. D. 820-873). Istakhri describes it as a wellfortified town, a league square, with a great export of cotton goods and raw silk. In the decline of the empire the city had much to suffer from the Turkomans, whose raids have in modern times destroyed the prosperity of this whole region. In 1153 it was utterly ruined by the Ghuzz Turkomans, but soon rose again, because, as Yakut remarks, its position gave it command of the entire caravan trade with the East. It was taken and razed to the ground by Mongols in 1221, but a century later Ibn Batuta found the city again flourishing, with four col leges, numerous students, and an export of silk stuffs to India. Nishapur was famous for its fruits and gardens which gave it the epithet of "little Damascus."
We have an interesting portrait of Al-Ghazali’s chief teacher while he was at Nishapur, Abul Ma ali Abdal-Malik Al-Juwaini Imam al-Hara main. He was born at Bushtaniqan, near Nishapur, on the twelfth of February, 1028, and was one of the most learned and celebrated teachers of Mos lem law in his day. " On the death of his father, Abu Muhammed Abdallah ibn Yusuf, who was a teacher in the latter town, he took his place, though barely twenty years of age." But this was a time of literary prodigies due to precocious talent and prodigious power of memory. " To complete his own studies, and to make the sacred pilgrimage, he went to Bagdad and thence to the two holy cities, Mecca and Medina, where he taught for four years; hence his surname, which signifies the teacher of the two holy places/ When he returned to Nishapur, Nizam Al-Mulk founded a school for him, in which he gave courses of lessons till his death, which overtook him on the twentieth of August, 1085, while on a visit to his native village, whither he had gone in the hope of recovering from an illness. Along with his professorial duties, he had discharged those of a preacher. At Nishapur he held gatherings every Friday, at which he preached sermons, and presided over discus sions on various doctrinal points: to these occupa tions he added that of managing the waqfs, or landed property devoted to the support of pious undertakings. For more than thirty years he con tinued in undisputed possession of these various posts. When he died, the mourning was general; the great pulpit of the Mosque from which he had delivered his sermons was broken up, and his pupils, to the number of four hundred and one, des troyed their pens and ink-horns, and gave up their studies for a year." It is certain that Al-Ghazali sat at his feet as a learner, both at Nishapur and Bagdad, and we may imagine that he had a part also in the general mourning at the death of the Imam, the manuscript of whose masterpiece, Nihayat al-Matlab (Finality of Inquiry), is still preserved in Cairo in the Sultania Library.
At Nishapur, Al-Ghazali was one of the favourite pupils of this Imam, and here his studies were of the broadest, embracing theology, dialectics, philosophy and logic. He was a teacher as well as a student, for we are told that he would " read to his fellow students and teach them, until in a short time he became infirm and weak." Under the double task his health failed, but he did not give up his studies. The Imam once said of him, and
- Huart, "Arabic literature."
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two other notable pupils: "Al-Ghazali is a sea to drown in, Al-Kiya is a tearing lion, and Al Khawafi is a burning fire." Another saying of his about the same three was: " Whenever they contend together, the proof belongs to Al-Khawafi, the warlike attacks to Al-Ghazali, and clearness to Al-Kiya." To this time of his life belongs the remark also, made by some one unnamed, "The youth Al-Ghazali showed externally a vain-glori ous disposition, but underneath there was some thing that when it did appear showed graceful ex pression and delicate allusion, soundness of at tention, and strength of character."
" I cannot ascertain," says Macdonald in speak ing of this period of Al-Ghazali’s life, " whether while he was still at Nishapur he touched those depths of scepticism of which he speaks in the Munqidh. They must certainly have been reached some time before the year A. H. 484, and must have been the outcome of a long drift of de velopment; but probably so long as he was under the influence of the Imam-al-Haramain a devout Sufi, he would be held more or less fast to the old faith."
Of these struggles of his soul in an age of doubt and how he found relief the next chapter will tell us.
III. Teaching, Conversion, and Retirement
"Al-Ghazali is one of the deepest thinkers, greatest theologians and profoundest moralists of Islam. In all Muhamadan lands he is celebrated both as an apologist of orthodoxy and a warm advocate of Sufi mysticism. Intimately acquainted with all the learn ing of his time, he was not only one of the numerous Oriental philosophers who traverse every sphere of intellectual activity, but one of those rarer minds whose originality is not crushed by their learning. He was imbued with a sacred enthusiasm for the triumph of his faith, and his whole life was dedicated to one purpose, the defense of Islam."
" Mystics and Saints of Islam," Claud Field.
WITH the death of the Imam in A. H. 478 a great change came into the life of Al-Ghazali. He left Nishapur to seek his fortune and it brought him to the camp court of the great Vizier Nizam Al-Mulk. Here Al-Ghazali sought advancement and the honours of learning.
The camp court was the travelling capital of the Seljuk Sultans. This imperial camp was laid out into squares and streets. We read how in a few hours a city, as if built by enchantment, would rise on the uninhabited plain. The camp exhibited a motley collection of tents and dwellings and palm leaf huts. The only regular part of the encampment were the streets of shops, each of which was constructed in the manner of a booth at an English fair. Moore gives us the picture in these words:
" Whose are the gilded tents that crowd the way,
Where all was waste and silent yesterday?
This City of War, which, in a few short hours,
Hath sprung up here, as if the magic powers
Of him who, in the twinkling of a star,
Built the high pillar d halls of Chilminar,
Had conjured up, far as the eye can see,
This world of tents and domes and sun-bright armoury.
Princely pavilions, screen'd by many a fold
Of crimson cloth, and topp d with balls of gold;
Steeds, with their housings of rich silver spun,
And camels, tufted o er with Yemen’s shells,
Shaking in every breeze their light-toned bells." J
As for Nizam Al-Mulk we have an interesting autobiography which he wrote and left as a memo rial for future statesmen. (It is quoted in Mirkhond's "History of the Assassins.") "One of the greatest of the wise men of Khorasan," says he, " was the Imam Mowaffak of Nishapur, a man highly honoured and reverenced, may God re joice his soul; his illustrious years exceeded eighty five, and it was the universal belief that every boy who read the Koran or studied the traditions in his presence would assuredly attain to honour and happiness. For this cause did my father send me from Tus to Nishapur with Abd-us-Samad, the doctor of law, that I might employ myself in study and learning under the guidance of that illustrious teacher. Towards me he ever turned an eye of favour and kindness, and as his pupil I felt for him extreme affection and devotion, so that I passed four years in his service. When I first came there, "Lalla Rookh."
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I found two other pupils of mine own age newly arrived Hakim Omar Khayyam, and the ill-fated Ibn Sabbah, founder of the sect of the Assassins. Both were endowed with sharpness of wit and the highest natural powers; and we three formed a close friendship together. When the Imam rose from his lectures, they used to join me, and we repeated to each other the lessons we had heard. Now Omar was a native of Nishapur, while Hasan Ibn Sabbah’s father was one AH, a man of austere life and practice but heretical in his creed and doc trine. One day Hasan said to me and to Khay yam: It is a universal belief that the pupils of the Imam Mowaffak will attain to fortune. Now, even if we all do not attain thereto, without doubt one of us will; what then shall be our mutual pledge and bond? We answered: Be it what you please/ Well/ he said, let us make a vow, that to whomsoever this fortune falls, he shall share it equally with the rest, and reserve no preeminence for himself/ Be it so/ we both replied, and on these terms we mutually pledged our words. Years rolled on, and I went from Khorasan to Trans oxiana, and wandered to Ghazni and Kabul; and when I returned I was invested with office, and rose to be administrator of affairs during the Sultanate of Sultan Alp Arslan."
After his education at Nishapur Nizam Al-Mulk served Alp Arslan, the successor of Togrul Bey, and for more than twenty years the burden of the
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empire of the Seljuks rested on his shoulders. When Alp Arslan died in 465 Malek Shah suc ceeded him and from that time until his assassina tion, on the tenth of Ramadan, 485, Nizam Al Mulk was the greatest man in the empire and its real ruler. He was a friend of learning and letters and established colleges in many centres.
In A. H. 484, Al-Ghazali gained high fame at court and was appointed by Nizam Al-Mulk to teach in the Madrasa at Bagdad, the capital of the whole of Eastern Islam.
We have an interesting picture of the city of Bagdad about this time from the pen of Rabbi Benjamin, of Tudela, who visited the city some years after Al-Ghazali’s death (1160). He says: " The circumference of the city of Bagdad meas ures three miles; the country in which it is situated is rich in palm-trees, gardens and orchards, so that nothing equals it in Mesopotamia; merchants of all countries resort thither for purposes of trade, and it contains many wise philosophers well skilled in sciences, and magicians proficient in all sorts of witchcraft. The palace of the Caliph at Bag dad is three miles in extent. It contains a large park of all sorts of trees, both useful and orna mental, and all sorts of beasts, as well as a pond of water led thither from the river Tigris; and when ever the Caliph desires to enjoy himself and to sport and to carouse, birds, beasts and fishes are prepared for him and for his councillors, whom
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he invites to his palace/ He gives us a glimpse of what went on behind the walls of these royal palaces when he says: " All the brothers and other members of the Caliph’s family are accustomed to kiss his garments, and every one of them possesses a palace within that of the Caliph; but they are all fettered by chains of iron, and a special officer is appointed over every household to prevent their rising in rebellion against the great king. These measures are enacted in consequence of an occur rence which took place some time ago, and upon which occasion the brothers rebelled and elected a king among themselves. To prevent this in future, it was decreed that all the members of the Caliph’s family should be chained, in order to prevent their rebellious intentions. Every one of them, how ever, resides in his palace, is there much honoured, and they possess villages and towns, the rents of which are collected for them by their stewards; they eat and drink, and lead a merry life.
" The palace of the great king contains large buildings, pillars of gold and silver, and treasures of precious stones. The Caliph leaves his palace but once every year, viz., at the time of the feast called Ramadan. Upon this occasion many vis itors assemble from distant parts, in order to have an opportunity of beholding his countenance. He then bestrides the royal mule, dressed in kingly robes, which are composed of gold and silver cloth. On his head he wears a turban, ornamented with
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precious stones of inestimable value; but over this turban is thrown a black veil, as a sign of humility, and as much as to say: See, all this worldly honour will be converted into darkness on the day of death/ He is accompanied by a numerous retinue of Mohammedan nobles, arrayed in rich dresses, and riding upon horses; princes of Arabia, of Media, of Persia, and even of Thibet, a country distant three months journey from Arabia. This procession goes from the Palace to the Mosque at the Basra gate, which is the Metropolitan Mosque. All those who walk in procession are dressed in silk and purple, both men and women. The streets and squares are enlivened by singing, rejoicings, and by parties who dance before the great king, called Caliph. He is loudly saluted by the as sembled crowd, who cry, Blessed art thou, our lord and king/ He thereupon kisses his garment, and by holding it in his hand, acknowledges and returns the compliment. The procession moves on into the court of the Mosque, where the Caliph mounts a wooden pulpit, and expounds their law unto them. The learned Mohammedans rise, pray for him, and praise his great kindness and piety; upon which the whole assembly answer, Amen/ He then pronounces his blessing and kills a camel, which is led thither for that purpose, and this is their offering, which is distributed to the nobles. These send portions of it to their friends, who are eager to taste of the meat killed by the hands of
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their holy king, and are much rejoiced therewith. He then leaves the Mosque, and returns alone to his Palace along the banks of the Tigris, the noble Mohammedans accompanying him in boats until he enters his buildings. He never returns by the way he came, and the path on the bank of the river is carefully guarded all the year around, so as to pre vent any one treading in his footsteps. The Caliph never leaves his palace again for a whole year.
" He is a pious and benevolent man, and has erected buildings on the other side of the river, on the banks of an arm of the Euphrates which runs on one side of the city. These buildings include many large houses, streets, and hostelries for the sick poor, who resort thither in order to be cured. There are about sixty medical warehouses here, all well provided from the king’s stores with spices and other necessaries; and every patient who claims assistance is fed at the king’s expense until his cure is completed. There is further the large building called Dar-ul-Marastan (the abode of the insane), in w r hich are locked up all those insane persons who are met with, particularly during the hot season, every one of whom is secured by iron chains until his reason returns, when he is allowed to return to his home."
We may add what the poet, Al-Hamadhani, a contemporary, tells us of the luxuries of the table at Bagdad: " We found ourselves among a com pany who were passing their time amid bunches of
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myrtle twigs, and bouquets of roses, broached wine vats and the sound of the flute and the lute. We approached them and they advanced to receive us. Then we clave to a table whose vessels were rilled, whose gardens were in flower, and whose dishes were arranged in rows with viands of various hues; opposite a dish of something intensely black was something exceedingly white, and against some thing very red was arranged something. very yel low." And in another place: " I was in Bagdad in a famine year, and so I approached a company, united like the Pleiades, in order to ask something of them. Now there was among them a youth with a lisp in his tongue and a space between his front teeth. He asked: What is thy affair? I replied: Two conditions in which a man pros pers not: that of a beggar harassed by hunger, and that of an exile to whom return is impossible. The boy then said: Which of the two breaches dost thou wish stopped first? I answered: Hunger, for it has become extreme with me. He said: What sayest thou to a white cake on a clean table, picked herbs with very sour vinegar, fine date wine with pungent mustard, roast meat ranged on a skewer with a little salt, placed now before thee by one who will not put thee off with a promise nor torture thee with delay, and who will afterwards follow it up with golden goblets of the juice of grape? Is that preferable to thee, or a large company, full cups, variety of dessert, spread
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carpets, brilliant lights, and a skilful minstrel with the eye and neck of a gazelle? "
From all this we can imagine what Al-Ghazali enjoyed when he went to dine with the Nizam Al Mulk or other men of wealth and there was no famine in Bagdad!
The Nizamiyya College which Al-Ghazali at tended and in which he was one of the leading lecturers at two periods of his life, was built on the eastern river bank of the Tigris, near the Bridge of Boats and close to the wharf and the large market-place. The college was founded in A. D. 1065, being especially established for the teaching of Shafi ite law. Close to the college was another college called the Bahaiyah and the Hos pital Maristan Tutushi.
The traveller, Ibn Jubayr, attended prayers in the Nizamiyya on the first Friday after his arrival in Bagdad, in the year 581 (A. D. 1185), and he describes it as the most splendid of the thirty and odd colleges which then adorned the City of East Bagdad. . . . Ibn Jubayr further reports that in his day the endowments derived from domains and rents belonging to the college amply sufficed both to pay the stipends of professors and to keep the building in good order, besides supplying an extra fund for the sustenance of poor scholars. The Suk, or market of the Nizamiyya, was one of the great thoroughfares of this quarter, and it is described as lying adjacent to the " Mashra ah " or
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wharf, which proves that the college must have stood near the Tigris bank. 1 . . . Writing a dozen years later than Ibn Batuta, Hamd-Allah, the Persian historian, briefly alludes to the Nizamiyya, which he calls " the mother of the Madrasahs " in Bagdad. This proves that down to the middle of the fourteenth century A. D. the col lege was still standing, though at the present time all vestiges of it have disappeared, as indeed appears already to have been the case in the middle of the last century, for Niebuhr found no traces of the Nizamiyya to describe in his painstaking account of the ruins in the city of Caliphs, as these still ex isted in the time of his visit.
It was here, at the Nizamiyya School, that Al Ghazali first embarked on his career as an inde pendent teacher. His lectures drew crowds. He gave fatwas, or legal opinions, on matters of the law, 2 he wrote books, he preached in the mosque, and was a leader of the people. Then suddenly in the midst of all this prosperity a great change came over him. He seemed to be attacked by a myste rious disease. His speech became hampered, his appetite failed, and his physicians said the malady was due to mental unrest. He suddenly left Bag dad in the month of Dhu-1-Qada, 488, appointed his brother Ahmed to teach in his place, and aban
1 " Baghdad under the Abbasside Caliphate," G. L,e Strange, Oxford, 1900, p. 298. 8 Several of these are given at length by Murtadha.
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doned all his property, except so much as was nec essary for his own support and that of his children.
This sudden retirement from active life and aca demic honour was unintelligible to the theologians cf his days. They looked upon it as a calamity for Islam. Some interpreted it as fear of the Govern ment, a flight from responsibility, but the real rea son of his renunciation he himself tells us in his " Confessions." This book reveals the story of his spiritual experiences from his youth up to his fiftieth year.
He says: "Know then, my brother (may God direct you in the right way), that the diversity in beliefs and religions, and the variety of doctrines and sects which divide men, are like a deep ocean strewn with shipwrecks, from which very few es cape safe and sound. Each sect, it is true, believes itself in possession of the truth and of salvation;
- each party/ as the Koran saith, rejoices in its
own creed; but as the chief of apostles, whose word is always truthful, has told us, My people will be divided into more than seventy sects of whom only one will be saved/ This prediction, like all others of the Prophet, must be fulfilled. J
" From the period of adolescence, that is to say, . f
previous to reaching my twentieth year to the present time when I have passed my fiftieth, I have ventured into this vast ocean; I have interrogated the beliefs of each sect and scrutinized the mys teries of each doctrine, in order to disentangle truth
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from error and orthodoxy from heresy. I have never met one who maintained the hidden meaning of the Koran without investigating the nature of his belief, nor a partisan of its exterior sense with out inquiring into the results of his doctrine. There is no philosopher whose system I have not fathomed, nor theologian the intricacies of whose doctrine I have not followed out.
" Sufism has no secrets into which I have not penetrated; the devout adorer of Deity has revealed to me the aim of his austerities; the atheist has not been able to conceal from me the real reason of his unbelief. The thirst for knowledge was innate in me from my early age; it was like a second nature implanted by God, without any will on my part. No sooner had I emerged from boyhood than I had already broken the fetters of tradition and freed myself from hereditary beliefs.
" Having noticed how easily the children of Christians become Christians, and the children of Moslems embrace Islam, and remembering also the traditional saying ascribed to the Prophet: Every child has in him the germ of Islam, then his par ents make him Jew, Christian, or Zoroastrian, I was moved by a keen desire to learn what was this innate disposition in the child, the nature of the accidental beliefs imposed on him by the authority of his parents and his masters, and finally the un reasoned convictions which he derives from their instructions."
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Again he is full of doubts when he says: " Per haps also Death is that state [he is speaking of a possible state of being which will bear the same relation to our present state as this does to the con dition when asleep], according to a saying of the Prince of Prophets: Men are asleep; when they die, they wake/ Our present life in relation to the future is perhaps only a dream, and man, once dead, will see things in direct opposition to those now before his eyes.
" Such thoughts as these threatened to shake my reason, and I sought to find an escape from them. But how? In order to disentangle the knot of this difficulty, a proof was necessary. Now a proof must be based on primary assumptions, and it was precisely these of which I was in doubt. This un happy state lasted about two months, during which I was not, it is true, explicitly or by profession, but morally and essentially a thoroughgoing sceptic"
That Al-Ghazali was driven to scepticism must not surprise us. Schools of free thinkers had been established fifty years earlier at Bagdad and Bus rah. Every Friday they gathered together. Some were rationalists, some downright materialists. Not only philosophers but poets were the leaders of these circles. Among them we must mention Abu l Ala Al-Ma arri, born in 9T3 A. D. This blind poet is said to have written a Koran in imitation of Mohammed, and when some one complained to him that although the book was well written it did
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not make the same impression as the true Koran, he replied: " Let it be read from the pulpit of the mosques for four hundred years and then you will all be delighted with it." His quatrains rival those of Omar Al-Kayyam in their utter pessimism and rank infidelity from the orthodox Moslem stand point. For example, he writes:
" Lo: there are many ways and many traps
And many guides and which of them is Lord? For verily Mohammed has the sword And he may have the truth perhaps? perhaps?
Now this religion happens to prevail Until by that one it is overthrown, Because men dare not live with men alone,
But always with another fairy-tale.
Religion is a charming girl, I say;
But over this poor threshold will not pass, Because I can t unveil her, and alas;
The bridal gift I can t afford to pay."
Nor could this poet have had much reverence for the religion of Islam when he wrote:
" Where is the valiance of the folk who sing These valiant stories of the world to come? Which they describe, forsooth, as if it swung In air and anchored with a yard of string."
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" Two merchantmen decided they would battle, To prove at last who sold the finest wares; And while Mohammed shrieked his call to
prayers, The true Messiah waved his wooden rattle."
As in the nineteenth century for Christianity, so in the eleventh century for Islam, the struggle be tween science and orthodoxy waged fiercely. The rationalistic school of the Mu atazilites still exer cised great influence while the literalists and the blind followers of traditional Islam were often more distinguished for Pharisaism than piety.
We need only turn to the " Maqamat " of Al Hamadhani to know what the sceptic of that day thought of the public religious services.
" So I slipped away from my companions," says his hero, " taking advantage of the opportunity of joining in public prayers, and dreading, at the same time, the loss of the caravan I was leaving. But I sought aid against the difficulty of the desert through the blessing of prayer, and, therefore, I went to the front row and stood up. The Imam went up to the niche and recited the opening chap ter of the Quran according to the intonation of Hamza, in regard to using Madda and Hamsa while I experienced disquieting grief at the thought of missing the caravan, and of separation from the mount. Then he followed up the Surat Al-Fatiha with Surat Al-Waq ia while I suffered the fire of impatience and tasked myself severely. I was
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roasting and grilling on the live coal of rage. But, from what I knew of the savage fanaticism of the people of that place, if prayers were cut short of the final salutation, there was no alternative but silence and endurance, or speech and the grave! So I remained standing thus on the foot of neces sity till the end of the chapter. I had now de spaired of the caravan and given up all hope of the supplies and the mount. He next bent his back for the two prostrations with such humility and emo tion, the like of which I had never seen before. Then he raised his hands and his head and said: May God accept the praise of him who praises Him/ and remained standing till I doubted not but that he had fallen asleep. Then he placed his right hand on the ground, put his forehead on the earth and pressed his face thereto. I raised my head to look for an opportunity to slip away, but I per ceived no opening in the rows, so I re-addressed myself to prayer until he repeated the Takbir for the sitting posture. Then he stood up for the sec ond prostration, recited the Suras of Al-Fatiha and Al-Qaria with an intonation which occupied the duration of the Last Day and well-nigh exhausted the spirits of the congregation. Now, when he had finished his two prostrations and proceeded to wag his jaws to pronounce the testimony to God’s unity, and to turn his face to the right and to the left for the final salutation, I said: * Now God has made escape easy, and deliverance is nigh; but a
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man stood up and said: Whosoever of you loves the companions of the Moslem community let him lend me his ears for a moment. " Such was the impression made by the formalities of orthodoxy!
Al-Ghazali found no help for his doubts among these scholastic theologians nor has any Moslem since his day. Professor Macdonald tells us why. " Grant the theologians their premises, and they could argue; deny them, and there was no common ground on which to meet. Their science had been founded by Al-Ash ari to meet the Mu tazilites; it had done that victoriously, but could do no more. They could hold the faith against heretics, expose their inconsistencies and weaknesses; but against the sceptic they could do nothing. It is true that they had attempted to go further back and meet the students of philosophy on their own ground, to deal with substances and attributes and first prin ciples generally; but their efforts had been fruitless. They lacked the necessary knowledge of the sub ject, had no scientific basis, and were constrained eventually to fall back on authority/
"Nor did he find light in philosophy, although he thoroughly studied the various systems of his day and refuted them. Religion is not merely of the mind but of the heart; philosophy had its place but could satisfy only the intellect and left the deepest longings of the soul unsatisfied. Next he examined the teachings of the Ta limites, the con 1 Macdonald, p. 88.
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temporary sect of the Ishmaelites founded by Has san Ibn as Sabbah. Theirs was the doctrine of an Imam or infallible spiritual guide and the sect found large following. But Al-Ghazali, so far from being attracted by them, wrote several books against them." No other path remained open for the perplexed and sceptical seeker after God than the way of the mystics. It was a return to the early teaching he received at Tus and Nishapur and to the atmosphere of his native land which was for centuries steeped in mysticism. Of this period of his life he was wont to say:
" When I wished to plunge into following the people and to drink of their drink, I looked at my soul and I saw how much it was curtained in, so I retired into solitude and busied myself with re ligious exercises for forty days, and there was doled to me of knowledge I had not had purer and finer than what I had known. Then I looked upon it, and lo, in it was a legal element. So I returned to solitude and busied myself with religious exer cises for forty days, and there was doled to me other knowledge, purer and finer than what had befallen me at first, and I rejoiced in it. Then I looked upon it, and lo, in it was a speculative ele ment. So I returned to solitude a third time for forty days, and there was doled to me other knowl edge that is known (i. e., not simply perceived, felt), and I did not attain to the people of the in 1 Macdonald, p. 90, and see Bibliography.
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ward sciences. So I know that writing on a sur face from which something has been erased is not like writing on a surface in its first purity and cleanness, and I never separated myself from spec ulation except in a few things."
Who can read this and doubt his utter sincerity in the search for God and for Truth?
He tells the rest of the story in his " Confes sions": "I saw that Sufism consists in experi ences rather than in definitions, and that what I was lacking belonged to the domain, not of instruc tion but of ecstasy and initiation.
" The researches to which I had devoted myself, the path which I had traversed in studying religious and speculative branches of knowledge, had given me a firm faith in three things God, inspiration, and the Last Judgment. These three fundamental articles of belief were confirmed in me, not merely by definite arguments, but by a chain of causes, cir cumstances, and proofs which it is impossible to re count. I saw that one can only hope for salvation by devotion and the conquest of one’s passions, a procedure which presupposes renouncement and detachment from this world of falsehood in order to turn towards eternity and meditation on God. Finally, I saw that the only condition of success was to sacrifice honours and riches and to sever the ties and attachments of worldly life.
" Coming seriously to consider my state, I found myself bound down on all sides by these trammels.
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Examining my actions, the most fair-seeming of which were my lecturing and professorial occupa tions, I found to my surprise that I was engrossed in several studies of little value, and profitless as regards my salvation. I probed the motives of my teaching and found that, in place of being sincerely consecrated to God, it was only actuated by a vain desire of honour and reputation. I perceived that I was on the edge of an abyss, and that without an immediate conversion I should be doomed to eter nal fire. In these reflections I spent a long time. Still a prey to uncertainty, one day I decided to leave Bagdad and to give up everything; the next day I gave up my resolution. I advanced one step and immediately relapsed. In the morning I was sincerely resolved only to occupy myself with the future life; in the evening a crowd of carnal thoughts assailed and dispersed my resolutions. On the one side the world kept me bound to my post in the chains of covetousness, on the other side the voice of religion cried to me: Up, Up, thy life is nearing its end, and thou hast a long journey to make. All thy pretended knowledge is nought but falsehood and fantasy. If thou dost not think now of thy salvation, when wilt thou think of it? If thou dost not break thy chains to-day, when wilt thou break them? Then my resolve was strengthened, I wished to give up all and flee; but the Tempter returning to the attack said: You are suffering from a transitory feeling; don t give
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way to it, for it will soon pass. If you obey it, if you give up this fine position, this honourable post exempt from trouble and rivalry, this seat of au thority safe from attack you will regret it later on without being able to recover it.
" Thus I remained, torn asunder by the oppo site forces of earthly passions and religious aspira tions, for about six months from the month Rajab of the year A. D. 1096. At the close of them my will yielded and I gave myself up to destiny. God caused an impediment to chain my tongue and pre vented me from lecturing. Vainly I desired, in the interest of my pupils, to go on with my teaching, but my mouth became dumb.
" The enfeeblement of my physical powers was such that the doctors despairing of saving me, said: The mischief is in the heart, and has communi cated itself to the whole organism; there is no hope unless the cause of his grievous sadness be ar rested/
" Finally, conscious of my weakness and the prostration of my soul, I took refuge in God as a man at the end of himself and without resources. He who hears the wretched when they cry (Koran, xxviii. 63) deigned to hear me; He made easy to me the sacrifice of honours, wealth, and family" ("The Confessions," pp. 42-45).
That his conversion did not mean ethically all that the word means in the Christian sense is evi dent from what immediately follows. He dis
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sembled: " I gave out publicly that I intended to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, while I secretly re solved to go to Syria, not wishing that the Caliph (may God magnify him) or my friends should know my intention of settling in that country. I made all kinds of clever excuses for leaving Bag dad with the fixed intention of not returning thither. The Imams of Irak criticized me with one accord Not one of them would admit that this sacrifice had a religious motive, because they considered my position as the highest attainable in the religious community. Behold how far their knowledge goes (Koran, liii. 31). All kinds of explanations of my conduct were forthcoming. Those who were outside the limits of Irak at tributed it to the fear with which the Government inspired me. Those who were on the spot and saw how the authorities wished to detain me, their displeasure at my resolution and my refusal of their request, said to themselves, * It is a calamity which one can only impute to a fate which has be fallen the Faithful and Learning/
"At last I left Bagdad, giving up all my fortune. Only, as lands and property in Irak can afford an endowment for pious purposes, I obtained a legal authorization to preserve as much as was necessary for my support and that of my children; for there is surely nothing more lawful in the world than that a learned man should provide sufficient to support his family. I then betook myself to Syria, where
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I remained for two years, which I devoted to re tirement, meditation, and devout exercises. I only thought of self-improvement and discipline and of purification of the heart by prayer in going through the forms of devotion which the Sufis had taught me. I used to live a solitary life in the Mosque of Damascus, and was in the habit of spending my days on the minaret after closing the door behind me" (pp. 45-46).
When Al-Ghazali determined to abandon the world and set out as a pilgrim he was only fol lowing the custom of his time. Not only religious men but adventurers found in travel relief and recreation. The pious did it, as they asserted, in imitation of Jesus, the Messiah, whose name is often interpreted as meaning " one who travels constantly." And the worldly-minded often donned the garb of religious fakirs to satisfy their desire for adventure and their ambition to see distant lands.
Because of facilities for travel by post and cara van routes, this period seemed one of wanderlust second to none. A scholar was not satisfied unless he had seen the world of Islam. Of At-Tabrizi (A. D. 1030-1100), one of the contemporaries of Al-Ghazali, who was also professor at the Niza miyya School, we read that when he desired to go on a journey for literary purposes " he had no money wherewith to hire a horse, so he put his book into a sack and started to walk the long journey from Persia to Syria. The sweat on his
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back oozed through the material of his sack and stained the precious manuscript, which was long preserved and shown to visitors in one of the libraries of Bagdad." The Persian poet Sa adi was left an orphan at an early age, went to Bagdad to attend the Nizamiyya University course, made the Mecca pilgrimage several times over, acted, out of charity, as a water-carrier in the markets of Jerusalem and the Syrian towns, was taken pris oner by the Franks, and forced to work with Jews at cleaning out the moats of Tripoli in Syria; he was ransomed by an Aleppan, who gave him his daughter in marriage. He himself mentions his visits to Kashgar in Turkestan, to Abyssinia, and Asia Minor. He even travelled about India, pass ing through Afghanistan on his way.
We have a picture of such a dervish (a dishonest one, however) in Hamadhani’s forty-second Maqamat: " So I started wandering, as though I was the Messiah, and I journeyed over Khorasan, its deserted and populous parts, to Kirman, Siji stan, Jilan, Tabaristan, Oman, to Sind and Hind, to Nubia and Egypt, Yemen, Hijaz, Mecca and al Ta if. I roamed over deserts and wastes, seeking warmth and the fire and taking shelter with the ass, till both my cheeks were blackened. And thus I collected of anecdotes and fables, witticisms and traditions, poems of the humorists, the diversions of the frivolous, the fabrications of the lovesick, the saws of the pseudo-philosophers, the tricks of
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the conjurors, the artifices of the artful, the rare sayings of convivial companions, the fraud of the astrologers, the finesse of quacks, the deception of the effeminate, the guile of the cheats, the devilry of the fiends, such that the legal decisions of al Sha abi, the memory of al-Dabbi and the learning of al-Kalbi would have fallen short of. And I solicited gifts and asked for presents. I had re course to influence and I begged. I eulogized and satirized, till I acquired much property, got posses sion of Indian swords and Yemen blades, fine coats of mail of Sabur and leathern shields of Thibet, spears of al-Khatt and javelins of Barbary, excel lent fleet horses with short coats, Armenian mules, and Mirris asses, silk brocades of Rum and woolen stuffs of Sus."
To the honest traveller, like Al-Ghazali, however, it was not so easy a life. Not only were there the hardships of travel and its loneliness, but the asceticism of the beggar and the wayfarer. "And to such a pass did we come," says Hariri, " through assailing fortune and prostrating need, that we were shod with soreness, and fed on choking, and filled our bellies with ache, and wrapped our en trails upon hunger, and anointed our eyes with watching, and made pits our home, and deemed thorns a smooth bed, and came to forget our sad dles, and thought destroying death to be sweet and the ordained day to be tardy."
" The Maqamat."
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We may believe that so keen an observer as Al Ghazali carried his " Baedeker " with him on his travels. He was doubtless acquainted with the chief geographical works of that period, some of which contained maps and even illustrations. The most important work was that by Abu Abdallah al-Maqdisi, who spent a great part of his life travelling all over the Moslem empire, with the possible exception of India and Spain. His book was entitled: " The Best Classification for the Knowledge of Climates." It was written in A. D. 985. Another work of a contemporary of Al Ghazali, Abu Ubaid al-Bakri of Cordova, was a general geography of all the roads and provinces of the Moslem world.
Although we have no details of Al-Ghazali’s wanderings we can at least follow him on his journeys and learn something of the places he visited and their condition in his day. The course of his travels seems to have been from Bagdad to Damascus, a journey of nearly five hundred miles, from Damascus to Jerusalem and Hebron, thence on to the birthplace of the Prophet at Mecca and his tomb at Medina and back over a thousand miles more of caravan travel.
All through this period of Al-Ghazali’s life Damascus was experiencing the storm and stress of war. Shortly before his time the city was taken by the Karmatians and much of it was destroyed by fire. There were frequent changes of gov
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ernors, uprisings and riots. In 1068 the great Mosque was set on fire. In 1076 the Seljuk gen erals seized the city, built anew the citadel and other buildings, among them a famous hospital. This was about fifteen years before Al-Ghazali’s arrival there from Bagdad.
The great Ummayad Mosque of Damascus was said to be the grandest of all Mohammedan build ings. There was praying space for 20,000 men; and it is said to have taken the whole revenue of Syria for forty-seven years, not counting eighteen shiploads of gold and silver from Cyprus to com plete the building. " When the wondrous work was finished, the Caliph would not look at the ac counts brought to him on eighteen laden mules, but ordered that they should be burned and thus ad dressed the crowd: Men of Damascus, you possess four glories above other people; you are proud of your water, your air, your fruits, your baths; your mosque shall be your fifth glory/
Like other famous places of Moslem worship, this mosque was once the site of a Christian church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, to whom there is still an imposing shrine. For some years the building was shared between Christians and Mohammedans, but in A. D. 708 the Christians were driven out. To this day one of the three minarets is called by the name of Isa (Jesus), and above a gate, long since closed, is the Greek inscrip tion, " THY KINGDOM, O CHRIST, is AN EVERLAST
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ING KINGDOM, AND THY DOMINION ENDURETH THROUGHOUT ALL GENERATIONS/
Al-Ghazali spent many hours for many years under the shadow of this great building, and it was in the minaret of Jesus that he had long medita tions. The minaret of Jesus, according to H. Sala din, 1 was built in the eleventh century, shortly be fore the time of Al-Ghazali’s visit. Did he ever find or understand the inscription on the gate and meditate on that Prophet whose kingdom has no end and no frontier?
- " Manuel d Art Musulman," Vol. I, Paris, 1907.
IV. Wanderings, Later Years, and Death
"Then came the immediate breaking up of the Seljukian Empire into a number of independent principalities. Syria, Palestine, and all Asia Minor, were partitioned among a dozen different Turkish Emirs. Khorasan and Irak became the scene of a fierce civil war, extending over several years, be tween two sons of Malek Shah, Barkiaroc and Muhammed. Drought was added to the horrors of war; the people perished by thousands of famine; the incessant marching and counter-marching of the hostile armies destroyed the remnant of food which had survived the want of rain. To crown all, from the borders of Christendom a fresh scourge was be held preparing for Islam. The hosts of the Red Cross passed the Bosphorus, and fought their way knee-deep in blood to the walls of Jerusalem. The capture of the Holy City struck like the point of a poisoned dagger to the heart of every true Moslem." " Islam under the Khalifs of Baghdad by Robert Dune Osborn.
WANDERINGS, LATER YEARS, AND DEATH
THE chronology of Al-Ghazali’s life was a puzzle even to those who wrote only a century after his death. There seems great uncertainty not only as to the time of his various journeyings but as to their order, and there is dispute even regarding the places he visited. We know that the date of his conversion was A. H. 488 (A. a 1095), when he was thirty-eight years old, and that shortly after this he went into exile. In A. H. 498 (A. D. 1104) he is said to have returned to active life, and to have spent two years in retirement in Syria. The other dates are quite uncertain. Following the best authorities at our disposal, especially his own " Confessions," we continue the story where we left off in the last chapter. 1
" From Damascus," says Al-Ghazali, " I pro ceeded to Jerusalem, and every day secluded my self in the Sanctuary of the Rock. After that I
1 Compare on the chronology the first chapters of Gard ner’s "Al-Ghazali," 1919 (Christian Lit. Soc. for India).
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felt a desire to accomplish the Pilgrimage, and to receive a full effusion of grace by visiting Mecca, Medina, and the Tomb of the Prophet. After visiting the shrine of the Friend of God (Abra ham), I went to the Hejaz. Finally, the longings of my heart and the prayers of my children brought me back to my country, although I was so firmly resolved at first never to revisit it. At any rate, I meant, if I did return, to live there solitary and in religious meditation; but events, family care, and vicissitudes of life changed my resolutions and troubled my meditative calm. However irregular the intervals which I could give to devotional ecstasy, my confidence in it did not diminish; and the more I was diverted by hindrances, the more steadfastly I returned to it. Ten years passed in this manner."
According to this account his pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Hebron, to Medina and Mecca, was part of one itinerary; it also is the natural route of travel from Bagdad to the birthplace of Islam. The statement made by some authorities that he first remained ten years at Damascus is therefore probably inaccurate. If we are to believe al Isnawi, the course of events was as follows: He set out in the year A. D. 1095 for the Hejaz. On his return from the pilgrimage, he journeyed to Damascus, and made his abode there for some years in the minaret of the Grand Mosque, com posing several works of which the Ihya is said to
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be one. Then after visiting Jerusalem and per haps Cairo and Alexandria, he returned to his home at Tus.
According to one Arabic authority, when Al Ghazali left Damascus in his wanderings, he was accompanied by a disciple, a certain Abu Tahir Ibrahim, who had been a pupil also at Nishapur under the great Imam; he returned afterwards to Jurjan, his native place, and died a martyr in A. H. 513. Other pupils of his at Damascus are also mentioned, but the authorities do not agree.
Among many shrines at Jerusalem, Al-Ghazali visited the Mosque of Omar, and the Dome of the Rock. In Sura xvii. 1, Mohammed is represented as having taken his flight from Mecca to Jeru salem. " Celebrated be the praises of Him who by night took his servant from the Masjidu l-Haram (the Sacred Mosque) to the Masjidu l-Aqsa (the Remote Mosque), the precinct of which we have blessed."
As-Suyuti says Jerusalem is specially honoured by Moslems as being the scene of the repentance of David and Solomon. " The place where God sent His angel to Solomon, announced glad tidings to Zacharias and John, showed David a plan of the Temple, and put all the beasts of the earth and fowls of the air in subjection to him. It was at Jerusalem that the prophets sacrificed; that Jesus was born and spoke in His cradle; and it was from Jerusalem that Jesus ascended to heaven; and it
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will be there that He will again descend. Gog and Magog shall subdue every place on the earth but Jerusalem, and it will be there that God Al mighty will destroy them. It is in the holy land of Jerusalem that Adam and Abraham, and Isaac and Mary are buried. And in the last days there will be a general flight to Jerusalem, when the Ark and the Shechinah will be again restored to the Temple. There will all mankind be gathered at the Resurrection for judgment, and God will enter, surrounded by His angels, into the Holy Temple, when He comes to judge the earth."
Here Al-Ghazali would see the sacred footprint of Mohammed made in the rock on his journey to heaven; the praying places of Abraham and Elijah would be pointed out to him; the round hole where the rock let Mohammed through when he ascended to heaven; the holy place in the roof of the cavern where it arose to allow him to stand erect and to pray; the tongue with which it spoke; and the marks of the Angel Gabriel’s finger where it had to be held down from following him in his ascen sion! The place is also pointed out by Moslems to-day where Solomon tormented the demons, and also near the eastern wall where the throne stood whereon he sat when dead, the corpse leaning on his staff to cheat the demons until the worms had gnawed it through and the body fell forward. All this is found in Moslem Tradition, and must have stirred the credulity or the scepticism of Al
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Ghazali. He himself tells us in one of his books that on the last day Israfil, who, with Gabriel and Michael, has been restored to life, " standing on the rock of the temple of Jerusalem, will at the com mand of God call together the souls from all parts, those of believers from Paradise and the unbe lievers from hell, and throw them into his trumpet. There they will be ranged in little holes, like bees in a hive, and will, on his giving the last sound, be thrust out and fly like bees, filling the whole space between earth and heaven. Then they will repair to their respective bodies. The earth will then be an immense plain without hills or villages, and the dead, after they have risen, will sit down each one on his tomb, anxiously waiting for what is to come." *
A modern traveller describes other Moslem superstitions connected with this Mosque. " The little arcades at the top of the steps of the plat form are called * Balances, because the scales of judgment are to be suspended there on the Great Day. The Dome of the Chain owes its name to the circumstance that there a golden chain hung at David’s place of judgment, which had to be grasped by witnesses and dropped a link when a lie was told. A place in the outer wall is shown from which a wire will be suspended on the Day of Judgment, whose other end will be made fast to the
Quoted in Klein’s "Islam," page 87, from the Ihya, IV: 220.
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Mount of Olives. Christ will sit on the wall and Mohammed on the mount. Over this wire must all men find their way, but only the good will cross, the wicked falling into the valley beneath. In the Al-Aqsa Mosque a couple of pillars stand very near each other, so worn that they are perceptibly thinned. The space between them bulges, and a piece of spiked iron work is now inserted between them. These are another test for the final award he who could squeeze himself between them, and he alone, had found the true narrow way to heaven. "
We have descriptions of Jerusalem by a Moslem who wrote at the end of the tenth, and by another of the middle of the eleventh century. The latter estimated the population at twenty thousand, and fancied that as many more Moslem pilgrims came to the city in the month of their pilgrimage; Chris tians and Jews then visited the city as they do to-day. Both these writers praise the place for its cleanliness, which they attribute to its geographical position and natural drainage. Yet the history of Jerusalem throughout this century is little more than the record of damage and repair to Christian and Moslem sanctuaries. In A. D. 1010 the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was destroyed by the mad Sultan Hakim. This was followed by other humiliations of the pilgrims and persecutions, until Peter the Hermit arose in protest and the Crusades began.
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We have no information as to how Al-Ghazali spent his days during this visit at Jerusalem. It was a time of war and tumult throughout Syria, on the eve of the Crusades. One can imagine with what interest Al-Ghazali studied the whole situa tion and how this ardent champion of the Moslem faith was stirred by the coming events whose shadows were already resting on the Holy Land at the time of his visit there. We do know that he lived the life of a mystic, and devoted himself to prayer and fasting. Prayer occupies a large place in the life of every conscientious Moslem. Not only are there the five ritual prayers, but the night prayer which, according to Al-Ghazali himself, must be performed between midnight and the be ginning of dawn. It has been calculated that a Moslem conscientiously performing his devotions recites the same form of prayer at least seventy five times a day. In addition to these prayers, how ever, there are prayers called witr to be performed after the night prayer; dhuha, the prayer used in the forenoon; and the prayer of night vigils, which take place between the last evening prayer and mid night. In addition to observing all the above men tioned prayers, those who would reach a high de gree of perfection are recommended by Al-Ghazali, in accordance with his own practices at this period, to engage in certain additional devotional exer cises called wird. We may best note the character of this mystical devotion, in which he spent whole
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days and nights, by quoting in substance from the Ihya as follows:
" From many verses of the Koran it appears that the only way of becoming united with God is con stant intercourse with Him. This is the object of the devotional services called wird in which the be liever can engage at all times of the day as well as the night. The wirds to be observed during the day are seven: First wird. The Moslem on rising early mentions the name of God, and praises Him, reciting certain petitions; while dressing, he re cites the appointed petitions, cleans his teeth with the miswak, performs the Wudhu, then prays two Sunna raka’s of dawn. 1 After this he repeats a petition and goes to the mosque with collected thoughts. He enters the mosque solemnly and re spectfully with the right foot first, saying the ap pointed petitions on entering and leaving. He enters the first rank of worshippers if there be room, and prays the two raka’s of dawn, if he has not done so already at home; then two raka’s of Saluting the Mosque/ and sits down repeating petitions and praises, awaiting the assembling of the congregation. After having repeated the obligatory prayer of dawn, he remains sitting in the mosque till sunrise, meditating and repeating certain petitions, and praises a certain number of times, counting them by the rosary, and reciting
For the significance of these terms consult Hughes " Dictionary of Islam."
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portions of the Koran. [We know that the rosary was in general use from a reference to it in the "Assemblies " of al-Hariri, and in Al-Ghazali’s "Alchemy of Happiness."] The second wird is be tween sunrise and an advanced forenoon hour; the worshipper says a prayer of two raka s, and when the sun has risen the length of a lance above the horizon two more raka s. This is the time when the believer may perform good works, such as visiting the sick, etc. When nothing of the kind requires his attention, he spends his time in repeat ing petitions, in zikr, meditation and reading the Koran. The third wird is between morning and the ascending of the sun; the believer, after taking care of his worldly affairs, engages in the devo tional exercises as before mentioned. Between the time when the sun has become somewhat high and the noon prayer, four raka’s between the Azan and the Ikama are said and portions of the Koran are recited; this is the fourth wird. The fifth, sixth and seventh occur after this until vespers. Finally there are the wirds of the night which are five, divided and described as follows: First night wird: after sunset, when the prayer of sunset has been performed, to the time when darkness has set in, the worshipper says two raka s, in which certain portions of the Koran are recited, then four long raka s, and as much of the Koran as time allows. This wird may be performed at home; but it is preferable to do so in the mosque. Second night
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wird: this is from the darkness of the last Isha to the time when people retire to sleep. This con sists of three things: (1) the obligatory Isha prayer; ten raka s, viz., four before it and six after it; (2) performing a prayer of thirteen raka s, the last of which is the witr prayer. In this about three hundred verses of the Koran are to be re cited. (3) The witr prayer before going to sleep, unless one is accustomed to rise in the night, when it may be performed later on, which is more merito rious. Third night wird: this consists of sleep, and sleep may well be considered a devotional act, if enjoyed in the proper way. Fourth night wird: this is from the time when the first half of the night is spent to when only one-sixth of it still remains. At this time the believer ought to rise from sleep and perform the prayer of tahajjud. This prayer is also called the hujud. Mohammed mostly made it a prayer of thirteen raka s. Fifth night wird: this begins with the last sixth of the night, called the Sahar, the early morning before dawn to the appearing of dawn." To these devo tional exercises, described in the Ihya, it was con sidered meritorious to add four additional good actions: fasting, almsgiving, visiting the sick, at tending funerals; and finally all this punctilious re membrance of God through prayer was supple mented by what is called dhikr the special method of worship used by the Sufi saints.
Al-Ghazali describes the method and effects of
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this practice in a passage which Macdonald has summarized as follows: "Let the worshipper re duce his heart to a state in which the existence of anything and its non-existence are the same to him. Then let him sit alone in some corner, limiting his religious duties to what is absolutely necessary, and not occupying himself either with reciting the Koran or considering its meaning or with books of religious traditions or with anything of the sort. And let him see to it that nothing save God most High enters his mind. Then, as he sits in solitude, let him not cease saying continuously with his tongue, Allah, Allah/ keeping his thought on it. At last he will reach a state when the motion of his tongue will cease, and it will seem as though the word flowed from it. Let him persevere in this until all trace of motion is removed from his tongue, and he finds his heart persevering in the thought. Let him still persevere until the form of the word, its letters and shape, is removed from his heart, and there remains the idea alone, as though clinging to his heart, inseparable from it. So far, all is dependent on his will and choice; but to bring the mercy of God does not stand in his will or choice. He has now laid himself bare to the breathings of that mercy, and nothing remains but to wait what God will open to him, as God has done after this manner to prophets and saints. If he follows the above course, he may be sure that the light of the Real will shine out in his heart. At
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first unstable, like a flash of lightning, it turns and returns; though sometimes it hangs back. And if it returns, sometimes it abides and sometimes it is momentary. And if it abides, sometimes its abid ing is long, and sometimes short."
Such is the teaching of Al-Ghazali in regard to the true life of devotion and such we may believe was his own practice at Damascus and Jerusalem during the years that followed his life of exile the endless repetition of God’s great names and "prayer without ceasing" in the Moslem sense. One wonders what part of the day remained for the literary work and teaching in which we know he was also engaged. 1
An interesting story is told of his life at Jeru salem in these words: " There came together the Imams Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali and Ismail Al Kakimi and Ibrahim Ash-Shibaki and Abu-1-Hasan Al-Basri, and a large number of foreign elders, in the Cradle of Isa (upon him be peace!) in Jeru salem, and he (Al-Ghazali, apparently) recited these two lines:
" May I be thy ransom! were it not for love thou wouldst have ransomed me, but by the magic of two eye-pupils thou hast taken me captive.
- That this method of seeking God is still a refuge for
the most earnest and sincere among Moslems is clear from such books as "The Autobiography of Imad-ud-Din the Indian Convert " (C. M. $., London).
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I came to thee when my breast was straitened through love, and if thou hadst known how was my longing, thou wouldst have come to me/
Then Abu-1-Hasan Al-Basri constrained himself to an ecstasy which affected those that were present, and eyes wept and garments were rent and Mo hammed Al-Kazarimi died in the midst of the as sembly in ecstasy."
In Jerusalem he is said to have written his Risalat Al-Qudsiya; and the date of his visit there must have been shortly before A. H. 492, for in that year Jerusalem was captured by the Crusaders. 1
It was natural for one of Al-Ghazali’s tempera ment to desire to pay homage also at the tomb of Abraham, whom Moslems delight to call the " Friend of God." The religion of Islam is con tinually called the religion of Abraham in the Koran. Tradition locates the so-called Machpelah Cave in the eastern part of the present-day Hebron, on the edge of the valley, and the mosque which now stands there is supposed to enclose the grave. Hebron is about seventeen miles southwest of Jerusalem. Before the twelfth century the Cave of Machpelah began to attract visitors and pil grims. " Benjamin of Tudela relates: At Hebron there is a large place of worship called " St. Abra
1 Gardner finds evidence that the book mentioned was not written there.
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ham/* which was previously a Jewish synagogue. The natives erected there six sepulchres, which they tell foreigners are those of the Patriarchs and their wives, demanding money as a condition of seeing them. If a Jew gives an additional fee to the keeper of the cave, an iron door which dates from the time of our forefathers opens, and the visitor descends with a lighted candle. He crosses two empty caves, and in the third sees six tombs, on which the names of the three Patriarchs and their wives are inscribed in Hebrew characters. The cave is filled with barrels containing bones of people, which are taken there as to a sacred place. At the end of the field of the Machpelah stands Abraham’s house with a spring in front of it. " 1
The mosque of Hebron, over the tomb of Abra ham, consists at present of a quadrangular platform about seventy yards long by thirty-five wide. The tomb which it covers is one of the sites which few Christian eyes have seen. It is permitted to none but Moslems to approach nearer the entrance than the seventh step of the staircase along the eastern wall. 8
"The Jewish Encyclopaedia," article "Machpelah." 2 A recent traveller says: "There is a hole in the wall which is supposed to communicate with the cave below. Jews write letters to Abraham and place them in this hole, to tell him how badly they are being treated by the Moslems. But the Moslem boys are said to know that the hole has no great depth, and to collect these letters and burn them before Abraham has seen them."
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Hebron is one of the oldest cities in the world and legends of all sorts have gathered about the place. Even in Al-Ghazali’s day it was spoken of as the place of Adam’s creation and death, the scene of Abel’s murder, and the place where Abra ham made his home.
After Al-Ghazali’s visit to Hebron he probably made his pilgrimage to Mecca. Whether the jour ney was made by sea or by land, we do not know. In any case it was full of peril at that period. Very possibly Al-Ghazali took the long caravan journey, following the route of the Damascus pilgrimage in our day. It was considered proper, however, to visit Mecca first, and Medina on the return jour ney. Al-Ghazali himself advises this in his direc tions for the correct performance of the rites of pilgrimage. 1
In what spirit he fulfilled the rites we know from one of his spiritual teachers whose text-book on the subject Al-Ghazali had mastered. "A man who had just returned from the pilgrimage came to Junayd. Junayd said: From the hour when you first journeyed from your home have you also been journeying away from all sins? He said No. Then, said Junayd, you have made no journey. At every stage where you halted for the night did you traverse a station on the way to God? No, he replied. Then, said Junayd, you have not trodden the road, stage by stage.
"Cf. his "Ihya" and also his "Al-Wajiz."
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When you put on the pilgrim’s garb at the proper place, did you discard the qualities of human nature as you cast off your clothes? * No. Then you have not put on the pilgrim’s garb. When you stood on Arafat, did you stand one moment in contemplation of God? No. Then you have not stood at Arafat. When you went to Muzdalifa and achieved your desire, did you re nounce all sensual desires? No. Then you have not gone to Muzdalifa. When you circum ambulated the Ka aba, did you behold the im material beauty of God in the abode of purifica tion? No. Then you have not circum ambulated the Ka aba. When you ran between Safa and Marwa, did you attain to purity (safa) and virtue (muruwwat)? No. Then you have not run. When you came to Mina, did all your wishes (muna) cease? No. Then you have not yet visited Mina. When you reached the slaughter place and offered sacrifices, did you sacrifice the objects of worldly desire? No/ Then you have not sacrificed. When you threw the pebbles, did you throw away whatever sensual thoughts were accompanying you? No/ Then you have not yet thrown the pebbles, and you have not yet performed the pilgrimage/ "
Such was the mystical interpretation of the rites at Mecca taught by the Sufis to their disciples.
Mecca, when Al-Ghazali made the pilgrimage, was under the rule of the Sherif Abu Hashim
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(A. D. 1063-1094). Half a century earlier the Karmathians, perhaps the most fanatic of all Mos lem sects, had besieged Mecca, captured the city, murdered the pilgrims by thousands, and carried away the famous black stone to Bahrein on the Persian Gulf. 1 By taking away this sacred treas ure they hoped to put an end to the pilgrimage, but were disappointed. In A. D. 950 the stone was re turned for a heavy ransom. 8 It was because of the constant disputes between the Caliphs of Bag dad and Egypt that the defense of the holy cities was finally given into the hand of the Sherifs.
Abu Hashim was a time-server, and cared more for bribes than for religion, according to the testi mony of Arabian chroniclers. In A. D. 1070 he changed the name of the Fatimide Sultans for that of the Abbassides at Friday prayers, and received much bounty. In 1075 he sold the same privilege to the Fatimides, and in 1076 to the Caliphs of Bagdad. This conduct so enraged the Sultan of Bagdad that in 1091 he sent bands of Turkomans against Mecca.
Chronicles of the holy city during this period show that the pilgrimage was accompanied by grave dangers because of Bedouin robbers as well as disturbances in Mecca itself. Sometimes these
1 M. J. De Goeje, " Memoire sur les Carmathes du Bahrain et Les Fatimides," (Leiden, 1886) pp. 104-114.
2 In the Ihya Al-Ghazali gives the prayer to be offered when kissing the Black Stone.
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uprisings were directed by Abu Hashim himself, as was the case in A. D. 1094. 1
Just about the time of Al-Ghazali’s visit, the various buildings at Mecca and the Beit Allah it self, had been repaired and beautified. The four maqams or places of prayer for the orthodox sects as they now stand were built in A. H. 1074. The place of the Shafi* sect to which Al-Ghazali be longed, is directly over the well of Zem Zem, to which it serves as an upper chamber. The build ing, erected in 1072, is in use to-day. The great pulpit of white marble was sent to Mecca in A. H. 969 by the Sultan of Egypt. It is still in use. Perchance Al-Ghazali ascended these very stairs and addressed the pilgrims. In A. D. 1030 a violent torrent swept over Mecca, and nearly ruined the Ka aba. The repairs were not finished until 1040. 2
With his religious pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina it seems that Al-Ghazali’s life of strict retirement ended, except for his visit to Alexandria and beyond. Apparently he proposed to make a journey to Spain and the great Sultan of the West, Yusuf bin Tashfin, on whose behalf he had given Fatwas or religious decisions, but the news of the Sultan’s death put an end to his plans, according to some authorities. Others say that at this time he was summoned to teach again at Nishapur.
1 " Mekka," Dr. C. Snouck Hurgronje, Vol. I, den Haag, 1888. 2 Burton’s " Pilgrimage," Vol. II, Appendix, pp. 323-324.
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The details of his life during the mysterious ten years of his wanderings are most conflicting. Ac cording to Abd al-Ghafir, a personal friend of Al Ghazali, he went a second time to Mecca, after wards to Syria, and then wandered from shrine to shrine for nearly ten years. Next to " The Confes sions," the best authority on his life is undoubtedly this same Abd al-Ghafir. What he tells us of Al Ghazali’s life must have been gained from per sonal knowledge, or go back immediately to Al Ghazali himself. "According to him, Al-Ghazali set out on pilgrimage to Mecca, then went to Syria, and remained there wandering from place to place and shrine to shrine nearly ten years. At this time he composed several of his works, the Ihya and books abbreviated from it, such as the Arba in and the Rasa il; besides labouring at his own spiritual advancement and growth through the religious ex ercises of the Sufis. Then he returned to his home and lived there a retired life for some time, ab sorbed in meditation, but gradually becoming more and more sought after as a teacher and guide to the spiritual life. At length Fakhr al-Mulk AH b. Nizam Al-Mulk Jamal Ash-Shuhada, who had pre viously been Wazir to Barqiyaruq, became Wazir to Sinjar the son of Malik Shah at Nishapur, and by him such pressure was put on Al-Ghazali that he finally consented to resume teaching in the May r muna Nizamiyya Madrasa there."
1 Macdonald, " The Life of Al-Ghazzali," pp. 97-9&
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We have reference to but no detail of Al-Gha zali’s visit to Cairo, the great centre of Moslem architecture and learning in the West, as Bagdad was in the East. Nor, strange to say, have I found reference in his works to this visit. It is possible that he was not received altogether with favour by the religious leaders of Al-Azhar at the time, but his reputation was already world-wide, and many of his pupils at Bagdad and Nishapur were from Egypt and North Africa.
At the time of Al-Ghazali’s visit, Cairo was still the great centre of Arab civilization, and had all the glory which the Fatimid dynasty had bestowed upon it. The splendid palaces of the Caliphs formed the central portion of the town. The three massive gates which still command admira tion at the present day, Bab Al-Futuh, Bab Al Nasr and Bab Az Zuwaila, led into the city. In A. D. 1087 the walls were rebuilt, and these massive gateways constructed along with others which are no longer standing. In the vault of the archways of these gates, there used to be two chambers, and these were used by the Egyptian sovereigns and their friends to watch the various spectacles, espe cially the departure and return of the sacred carpet.
The intellectual and religious life of the city centred in the great mosque of Al-Azhar, which had been completed in A. D. 1012. Cairo was not yet the economic centre for all Egypt which it be came later, but it was the seat of a splendid court,
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with military pageantry, as well as a centre of re ligious learning. Ibn Tuwair and others have given us vivid pictures of the ceremonial proces sions and festivals, the magazines, treasuries, stables, and royal household.
As for Alexandria, where we know Al-Ghazali lived for some time before his return to Syria, it did not have a high reputation at that time for learning. It was rather a port of trade, from which men passed on to Misr (Cairo) or went by sea to Syria. Hamadhani makes one of his char acters say:
" I?m of the citizens of Alexandria, Of sound and pure stock among them, The age and the people thereof are stupid, Therefore I made my stupidity my steed! "
But in Moslem tradition, Alexandria has high honour. Moslems show the tomb of Daniel the prophet, also that of Alexander the Great whose story is told in the Koran. Alexandria also boasts two celebrated Walis or holy men. One is Mo hammed al Busiri, the author of the poem called Al Burdah, universally celebrated; and the other Abu Abbas Al-Andalusi, at whose tomb prayer is never offered in vain. There is also a prophecy that when Mecca falls into the hands of the in fidels Alexandria will succeed to its honours. 1
burton’s "Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah," Vol.
I, p. 12.
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From Alexandria Al-Ghazali went to Damascus and then to Nishapur and from there to Bagdad, or from Damascus direct to Bagdad, where he taught the Ihya and preached. As-Subki tells us that the people crowded to hear him, and that notes of his sermons to the number of 183 were taken by one of those present, who read them to Al-Ghazali be fore they were circulated.
The following story is told of his life at this time: Once while teaching the Ihya at Bagdad, he began to quote: " He has made beloved the homes of men, as abodes of desire which the heart has decreed; whenever they remember their homes these remind them of the pledges of youth there, and they long thither." Then he wept, and those present wept with him. Thereafter some one saw him in the open country with a patched dervish garment on, a water-vessel and an iron-shod staff in his hand, all in strange contrast to the states in which he had seen him before, with three hundred pupils around him, including one hundred of the chief men of Bagdad. So he said, " O Imam, is not the teaching of science more fitting?" But Al-Ghazali looked at him with red eyes and said, " When the full moon of happiness rises in the firmament of will, the sun of setting departs in the East of union." Then he recited, " I abandoned the love of Layla and my happiness was far, and I returned to the companionship of my first alight ing-place; then cried to me my longings, Wei
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come! these are the alighting-places of her whom thou lovest, draw up and alight/
Of his spiritual experiences during these ten years of retirement and wandering, and during the years that followed, when he taught others the way of the mystic, we will speak later.
We know that he left Bagdad, returned to Tus, his native place, and settled down to study and con templation. Strange to say, at this time of his life he seems to have found the greatest delight in go ing back again to the study of Tradition, especially the collections of Al-Bokhari and of Muslim. All his biographers seem to agree in this. He had charge of a madrasa and of the khanka or monas tery for Sufis. Every moment was filled with study and devotion until in the fifty-fifth year of his life (lunar calendar) the end came.
The austerity and privations of his long wan derings doubtless wore down his strength. One who had risen to so high a position of authority on religious matters also had to pay the price of leadership in controversy with opponents, and of their envy, and their slander, as we are told by al Ghafir. This may have been, Macdonald thinks, one of the causes for his removal from Nishapur to Tus. A friend remarks in regard to his attitude towards those who opposed his teaching and envied his influence: " However much he met of contra diction and attack and slander, it made no impres sion on him, and he did not trouble himself to an
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swer his assailants. I visited him many times, and it was no bare conjecture of mine that he, in spite of what I saw in him in time past of maliciousness and roughness towards people, and how he looked upon them contemptuously through his being led astray by what God had granted him of ease in word and thought and expression, and through the seeking of rank and position, had come to be the very opposite and was purified from these stains. And I used to think that he was wrapping himself in the garment of pretense, but I realized after in vestigation that the thing was the opposite of what I had thought, and that the man had recovered after being mad."
Al-Ghazali died on Monday, the fourteenth of Jumada II, A. H.505 (Dec. 18th, 1111). His brother Ahmad (quoted by Murtadha from Ibn Jawzi’s Kitab ath-thdbat ind-al-mamat) gives the follow ing account of his death: " On Monday, at dawn, my brother performed the ablution and prayed. Then he said, Bring me my grave-clothes/ and he took them and kissed them and laid them on his eyes and said, I hear and obey to go in to the King. And he stretched out his feet towards Mecca, and was taken to the good will of God Most High. He was buried at, or outside of, Tabran, the citadel of Tus, and Ibn As-Sama ni visited his grave there."
Later biographers were not satisfied with the bare facts of his decease. Murtadha gives a far
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more interesting story. " When death drew near to the Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, he com manded his servant, an excellent and religious man, to dig his grave in the middle of his house, and to summon the people of the neighbouring villages to attend his funeral; that they should not touch him, but that a company of three men unknown in the region of AlIraq would come out of the desert, that two of them would wash him, and the third would undertake the prayer over him without the advice or command of any one. Then, when he died, the servant did according to all that he had commanded, and required the presence of the peo ple. And when the people gathered to attend the funeral, they saw three men who had come out of the desert. Two of them began to wash the corpse, while the third vanished and did not appear. But when they had washed him and arranged him in the grave-clothes, and carried his bier and laid it on the edge of the grave, the third appeared wrapped in his robe with a black border on both sides, turbaned with wool, and he prayed for him and the people prayed with him. Then he gave the benediction and departed and hid from the people. And some of the excellent of the people of AlIraq who were present at the funeral had noticed him carefully, but did not know him until some of them heard a Hatif in the night saying to them, The man who led the people in prayer is Abu Abd Allah Mohammed b. Ishaq Amghar, the Sharif.
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He came from the farthest Maghrib, from Ayn al-Qatr, and those who washed the corpse are his comrades Abu Shu ayb Ayyub b. Sa id and Abu Isa Wajih. And when they heard that they journeyed from AlIraq to Sanhaja of the farthest Maghrib, and when they had reached them and asked of them their prayers, they returned to Al Iraq and related it to the Sufis and published their miracle (karama). Then a company of them, when they heard that, went to visit them and found them to be those whom they noticed carefully, and they asked of them their prayers. And this is a strange story.":
An equally remarkable story is told of the death of Al-Ghazali’s younger brother in the books of the Persian mystics. 3 The verses given might well ap ply to Al-Ghazali himself and his views of life and death. " Moghith related, on the authority of Kadiri tradition, how the famous AhmedAl Ghazali, native of Tus in Persia, said one day to his disciples, Go and bring me new and white garments/ They went; and on returning with the objects required, found their master dead; by his side was a paper on which were written the follow ing stanzas:
- Tell my friends, who behold me dead,
Weeping and mourning my loss a while,
1 Macdonald’s "Life of Al-Ghazzali," pp. 105, 107-10$ quoted from Murtadha.
2 Quoted in Hayat-ul-Hayawan.
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Think not this corpse before you myself:
That corpse is mine, but it is not I.
I am an undying life, and this is not my body,
Many years my house and my garment of change;
I am the bird, and this body was my cage,
I have wing d my flight elsewhere, and left it for
I am the pearl, and this my shell, Broken open and abandon d to worthlessness; I am the treasure, and this was a spell Thrown over me, till the treasure was released in
Thanks be to God, who has delivered me, And has assign d me a lasting abode in the highest. There am I now the day conversing with the happy, And beholding face to face unveiled Deity; Contemplating the Mirror wherein I see and read Past and present, and whatever remains to be. Food and drink too are mine, yet both are one; Mystery known to him who is worthy to know. It is not " wine sweet of taste " that I drink; No, nor " water," but the pure milk of a mother. Understand my meaning aright, for the secret Is signified by words of symbol and figure, I have journey d on, and left you behind; How could I make an abode of your halting-stage? Ruin then my house and break my cage in pieces, And let the shell go perish with kindred illusions; Tear my garment, the veil once thrown over me; Then bury all these, and leave them alike for I go. Deem not death death, for it is in truth Life of lives, the goal of all our longings.
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Think lovingly of a God whose Name is love, Who joys in rewarding, and come on secure of fear. Whence I am, I behold you undying spirits like
myself, And see that our lot is one, and you as I/ "
We are indebted to the Rev. Dwight M. Donald son of Mashad, Persia, for the interesting photo graphs of the ruins of Tus and of the supposed tomb of Al-Ghazali. The mosque is very old and probably dates from the time of Al-Ghazali. The grave shown in the picture, however, may not be the grave of Al-Ghazali the mystic but of another celebrated Ghazali. For we read in As-Subqi (Vol. Ill, p. 36) that there was one called Ahmed ibn Mohammed Abu Hamed Al-Ghazali, the older and earlier one. He says that people have thrown doubt upon his very existence, but that after care ful inquiry he has found mention of this man in several books, including the Kitab Al Ansab of Ibn As-Sam ani. He mentions the fact that this man also lived in Khorasan, was celebrated for his learning, wrote books on theological questions, and was buried at Tus, where his grave was well known; and because of this people called him the Old Ghazali, and used to come to his grave in or der to obtain answers to their prayers. He thinks that this Ghazali was either the uncle or the grand uncle of Al-Ghazali, whose biography we have written. Incidentally we may conclude from this statement of As-Subqi that the name of Al-Ghazali
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was not given to him because his father was a spinner of wool! It must have been an old family name.
Mr. Donaldson gives this interesting informa tion: " The walls of the old city of Tus still stand. It is one farsakh around them, three and a third miles. There are many fragments of towers and in nine places there are remains of gates. The wall was originally five yards wide. In the largest cemetery the tombstone of Ahmad Ghazali may still be seen. This cemetery lies southwest from the city and while the bulk of it is now under culti vation, the more distant part that lies on the higher ground beyond the waterway has been kept a cemetery.
"The picture I have enclosed of Ghazali’s tomb is not as satisfactory as I would have liked. It shows that a large chip has been taken from one corner of the grave. The stone is about two yards long, one-third yard wide, and one-third yard high. There are positive indications of an effort having been made to cut off the portion on which the name of Ahmed Al-Ghazali appears. It is the part that is chipped in the picture. About at the point where the chipping appears to begin there is a straight line cut about one inch deep across the top of the stone.
" On the road that runs through the city from the southwest gate the old mosque is imposing even in its ruined condition. It stands eighteen yards high and the inner measurements show it to consist of
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a square base, five yards high, then an octagonal structure eight yards high. (See illustration.)
" Outside the southwest gate an ancient bridge is still in use, as caravans from Mashad come through the old city of Tus. This bridge has eight arches, each four and one-half yards wide. The name of the stream is the Kashf Rud.
" The fortress itself is interesting; it is sur rounded by a moat and a wall, within which lies a large courtyard and the high approach to the fort it self. At present we could walk around the wall and approach the fort by a passage in the rear. In the courtyard they are now raising the best water melons we have eaten in Persia. Four gigantic corner fragments of the fort are now standing. In the midst of the debris of bricks within these old walls we found interesting fragments of pottery."
In another letter from Mashad, Persia, dated January 17, 1917, the Rev. Dwight M. Donaldson writes: " This week I made another trip to Tus, carefully examining again the tombstone of Ghazali. As I wrote you before, the stone has been badly worn and in addition to that has been mutilated. However, on the point of doubt as to whether the stone photographed was really the one marking Mohammed Al-Ghazali’s tomb, or the tomb of another Ahmad Al-Ghazali, I can now say that I believe it is the tomb of Abu Hamed ibn Mohammed ibn Mohammed ibn Mohammed Al Ghazali, for the reason that we can clearly read
WAKDEEINGS, LATEE YEAES, DEATH 143
on the corner of the top of the stone, the end which some one in times past attempted to cut off, the name <Ji and ^. And as one studies the stone he is almost willing to declare that the name is fully intelligible with the exception of the initial aleph. The whole top is badly worn in deed, but the word that my mirza first read as Ahmad is clearly not Ahmad, but what it is we cannot tell. The damage is too complete.
" You will notice that Ghazzali appears in the stone to have been spelled with a tashdeed and yet the mark we have considered a tashdeed is not the usual form (v instead of w)."
This investigation, therefore, would seem to settle two points: that we have at Tus the neglected and mutilated grave of the great mystic and theo logian, Al-Ghazali; and that on this grave the middle letter of the name is double. In view of the common usage, however, and in deference to the authorities of Moslems themselves, we have uniformly written Ghazali.
V. His Creed and Credulity
"This man, (Al-Ghazali) if ever any have deserved the name, was truly a divine/ and he may be justly placed on a level with Origen, so remarkable was he for learning and ingenuity, and gifted with such a rare faculty for the skilful and worthy exposition of doctrine. All that is good, noble, and sublime that his great soul had compassed he bestowed upon Mohammedanism, and he adorned the doctrines of the Koran with so much piety and learning that, in the form given them by him, they seem, in my opinion, worthy the assent of Christians. Whatsoever was most excellent in the philosophy of Aristotle or in the Sufic mysticism he discreetly adapted to the Mohammedan theology; from every school he sought the means of shedding light and honour upon religion; while his sincere piety and lofty conscientiousness imparted to all his writings a sacred majesty. He was the first of Mohammedan divines."
- Dr. August Tholuck.
ALTHOUGH, according to his own testimony in his "Confessions," Al-Ghazali was troubled from his earliest years with doubt and scepticism, he was not willing to yield to it, and his faith rose triumphant above all his doubts. This is one of the outstanding facts in his biography. He could say with the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews that " faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." Not only did he find God in nature and in his own conscience and consciousness, but he was a firm believer in revelation. Naturally the only revelation to which Al-Ghazali turned as the basis, the very bed-rock of religious faith, was the Koran, the eternal, uncreated word of God according to Moslem teaching; and also to the life of the Prophet Mohammed, his practices and his precepts handed down in orthodox Tradition this also was a revelation from God. Whether he ever read the Old and New Testament is a question we consider unanswered. He did not draw his creed from this source. Al-Ghazali gives the distinction very clearly, almost as clearly as the Epistle of James, between faith and works. He was a dogmatic theologian and laid down, as we shall see in this chapter, with punctilious care every point of dogma; but he was also a moralist and a man of high ideals which he sought to attain through prayer and fasting and pilgrimage, and a life of utter devotion to the will of God. His faith was living and practical, not theoretical and scholastic. In his great work, the Ihya, he discusses the whole subject of faith, and enumerates the following classes of believers: "He who combines inner belief with outward confession and good works is a true believer and enters Paradise. "He who combines inner belief with outward confession and some good works but commits one or more great sins, does not thereby cease to be a believer, though his faith is not of the highest degree. The Mu tazila deny that such a one can be considered a believer, but that nevertheless by committing deadly sins he does not become an unbeliever but is in an intermediate state between a believer and an infidel. An infidel is an impious person and goes into everlasting hell-fire." The opinions with regard to the person who combines inner belief with outward confession, but has no good works are divided. Abu Talibu l Makki says: " Good works are part of the faith, and faith cannot exist without them." The Sunni doctors of Islam, however, reject this opinion as absolutely false, for they say that it is a truth accepted by general agreement, that a man who believes and confesses and dies before he has done any good work, is a true believer and enters Paradise; that good works cannot consequently be considered as a necessary part of faith, and that faith can exist without them. "He who believes in his heart, but dies before he has either confessed or performed good works, is nevertheless a true believer and enters into Paradise. Those who consider confession a necessary part of faith naturally consider that such a one has died without faith, an opinion absolutely contrary to the Sunni dogma. "He who believes in his heart, and has time and opportunity of confessing, and knows that it is the duty of the Moslem to do so, and does not confess his faith, is nevertheless a believer in the sight of God, and will not be cast into everlasting hell-fire, for faith is the mere belief, intellectual conviction and assent, and this belief does not cease to exist through the want of outward confession. Such a man is a believer in the sight of God, but an unbeliever in this world before the court of justice and with regard to the rights of Moslems. In case of an impediment of the tongue, a sign with the hand is as good as confession with the tongue. The sect of the Murji a go too far by saying that a believer, even if he act wickedly, will never enter hell-fire. The orthodox doctrine on this subject is that every one, even the most perfect believer, will enter hell-fire, for no one is free from committing some sins, for which he must enter fire; only infidels, however, will remain in it forever." "He who confesses with the tongue saying: 'There is no God but God, and Mohammed is His apostle' but does not believe it in his heart is an infidel in the sight of God, and will be cast into eternal hell-fire. In this world, however, he is to be considered and treated as a believer and a Moslem, for man cannot penetrate into the secrets of the heart, and the confession of the mouth must be taken to be the interpreter of the thoughts of the heart. In order, however, to make a man a Moslem in this world, before the law, in the sight of the Qadi, confession is necessary." Not only does he classify believers in this careful way, but he also discusses the question, in the first book of his Ihya, whether Islam is the same thing as iman (faith) or not, and if these two are not the same thing, can they exist separately or must they necessarily be combined? " Some say that Islam and Iman are synonymous terms and that consequently every believer is a Moslem and every Moslem a believer." This is the opinion held by the orthodox school. Others say that they are distinct things but joined together. Al-Ghazali answers this difficult question in this way: Iman (Faith), from the linguistic point of view, means belief, intellectual conviction and assent; Islam means submission, subjection, obedience. The seat of Iman is the heart or mind, and the tongue is its interpreter. Islam comprises belief with the heart and confession with the tongue, and good works by the members of the body, and is consequently a more comprehensive term than Iman. Iman is one of the component parts of Islam, and Islam, therefore, includes it; but Iman, being a more restricted term, does not include Islam. From a linguistic point of view the two terms are therefore not synonymous. From the point of view of the law and religion, and in a theological sense the two terms are sometimes used as being synonymous, and sometimes as having different meanings and as being intermingled, comprised in each other. Iman and Islam are found in the individual who believes in his heart and outwardly observes the precepts of Islam; Islam exists separately in the individual, who only believes in his heart; but neither confesses, nor does good works, and Islam exists separately in him who outwardly observes the precepts of Islam, without inner belief. What the faith of Islam meant to Al-Ghazali we know from all his works, especially from the Ihya, which besides other topics gives a full exposition of Moslem belief in regard to the six articles of their creed and the five pillars of practice. The reader may judge for himself both the contents and omissions of Al-Ghazali's credo from the following brief exposition which he wrote for his pupils:
"We say and in God is our trust Praise belongeth unto God, the Beginner, the Bringer-back, the Doer of what He willeth, the Lord of the Glorious Throne and of Mighty Grasp, the Guider of His chosen creatures to the right path and to the true way, the Granter of benefits to them after the witness to the Unity (tawhid) by guarding their articles of belief from obscurities of doubt and opposition. He that bringeth them to follow His Apostle, the Chosen one (Al-Mustafa) and to imitate the traces of His Companions, the most honoured, through His aid and right guidance revealed to them in His essence and His works by His beautiful qualities which none perceives, save he who inclines his ear. He is the witness who maketh known to them that He in His essence is One without any partner (sharik). Single without any similar, Eternal without any opposite, Separate without any like. He is One, Prior (qadim) with nothing before Him, from eternity (asali) without any beginning, abiding in existence with none after Him, to eternity (abadi) without any end, substituting without ending, abiding without termination. He hath not ceased and He will not cease to be described with glorious epithets; finishing and ending, though the cutting off of the ages and the terminating of allotted times have no rule over Him, but He is the First and Last, the External and the Internal, and He knoweth everything.
"We witness that He is not a body possessing form, nor a substance possessing bounds and limits; He does not resemble bodies, either in limitation or in accepting division. He is not a substance and substances do not exist in Him; and He is not an accident and accidents do not exist in Him, nay He does not resemble an entity, and no entity resembles Him; nothing is like Him and He is not like anything; measure does not bound Him and boundaries do not contain Him; the directions do not surround Him and neither the earth nor the Heavens are on different sides of Him. Lo, He is seated firmly upon His throne ( f arsh), after the manner which He has said, and in the sense in which He willed a being-seated firmly (istawa), which is far removed from contact and fixity of location and being established and being enveloped and being removed. The Throne does not carry Him, but the Throne and those that carry it are carried by the grace of His power and mastered by His grasp. He is above the Throne and the Heavens and above everything unto the limit of the Pleiades, with an aboveness which does not bring Him nearer to the Throne and the Heavens, just as it does not make Him further from the earth and the Pleiades. Nay, He is exalted by degrees from the Throne and the Heavens, just as He is exalted by degrees from the earth and the Pleiades; and He, in spite of that, is near to every entity and is nearer to a creature than the artery of his neck (Koran 50, 15), and He witnesseth everything, since His nearness does not resemble the nearness of bodies, just as His essence does not resemble the essence of bodies. He does not exist in anything, just as nothing exists in Him; He has exalted Him self far therefrom that a place should contain Him, just as He has sanctified Himself far therefrom that time should limit Him. Nay, He was before He had created Time and Place and He is now above that which He was above, and distinct from His creatures through His qualities. There is not in His essence His equal, nor in His equal His es sence. He is far removed from change of state or of place. Events have no place in Him, and mis haps do not befall Him. Nay, He does not cease, through His glorious epithets, to be far removed from changing, and through His perfect qualities to be independent of perfecting increase. The existence of His essence is known by reason; His essence is seen with the eyes, a benefit from Him and a grace to the pious, in the Abiding Abode and a completion in beatitude from Him, through gazing upon His gracious face.
" We witness that He is living, powerful, commanding, conquering; inadequacy and weakness be fall Him not; slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep. Passing away does not happen to Him, nor death. He is Lord of the Worlds, the Visible and the Invisible, that of Force and that of Might; He possesses Rule and Conquest and Creation and Com mand; the heavens are rolled in His right hand and the created things are overcome in His grasp; He is separate in creating and inventing; He is one in bringing into existence and innovating; He created the creation and their works and decreed their sustenance and their terms of life; not a decreed thing escapes His grasp and the mutations of things are not distant from His power; the things which He hath decreed cannot be reckoned and the things which He knoweth have no end.
" We witness that He knoweth all the things that can be known, comprehending that which happeneth from the bounds of the earth unto the topmost heavens; no grain in the earth or the heavens is dis tant from His knowledge. Yea, He knows the creeping of the black ant upon the rugged rock in a dark night, and He perceives the movement of the mote in the midst of the air; He knows the secret and the concealed and has knowledge of the suggestions of the minds and the movements of the thoughts and the concealed things of the inmost parts, by a knowledge which is prior from eternity; He has not ceased to be describable by it, from the ages of the ages, not by a knowledge which renews itself and arises in His essence by arrival and removal.
" We witness that He is a Wilier of the things that are, a Director of the things that happen; there does not come about in the world seen or unseen, little or much, small or great, good or evil, advantage or disadvantage, faith or unbelief, knowledge or ignorance, success or loss, increase or diminution, obedience or rebellion, except by His will. What He wills is, and what He wills not is not. Not a glance of one who looks, or a slip of one who thinks is outside of His will; He is the creator, the Bringer back, the Doer of that which He wills. There is no opponent of His command and no repeater of His destiny and no refuge for a creature from disobeying Him, except by His help and His mercy, and no strength to a creature to obey Him except by His will. Even though mankind and the Jinn and the Angels and the Shaytans were to unite to remove a single grain in the world or to bring it to rest without His will, they would be too weak for that. His will subsists in His essence as one of His qualities; He hath not ceased to be described through it as a Wilier, in His infinity of the existence of things at their appointed times which He hath decreed. So they come into existence at their appointed times even as He has willed in His infinity without precedence or sequence. They happen according to the agreement of His knowledge and His will, without exchange or change in planning of things, nor with arranging of thoughts or awaiting of time, and therefore one thing does not distract Him from another.
"And we witness that He is a Hearer and a Seer. He hears and sees and no audible thing is distant from His hearing, and no visible thing is far from His seeing, however fine it may be. Distance does not curtain off His hearing and darkness does not dull His seeing; He sees without eyeball or eyelid, and hears without earholes or ears, just as He knows without a brain and seizes without a limb and creates without an instrument, since His qualities do not resemble that quality of created things, just as His essence does not resemble the essences of created things.
"And we witness that He speaks, commanding, forbidding, praising, threatening, with a speech from all eternity, prior, subsisting in His essence not resembling the speech of created things. It is not a sound which originates through the slipping out of air, or striking of bodies; nor is it a letter which is separated off by closing down a lip or moving a tongue. And the Koran and the Tawrat (the Law of Moses) and the Injil (the Gospel) and the Zabbur (the Psalms) are His books revealed to His Apostles. And the Koran is repeated by tongues, written in copies, preserved in hearts; yet it, in spite of that, is prior subsisting in the essence of God, not subject to division and separation through being transferred to hearts and leaves. And Musa heard the speech of God without a sound and without a letter, just as the pious see the essence of God, in the other world without a substance or an attribute.
"And since He has those qualities, He is living, Knowing, Powerful, a Wilier, a Hearer, a Seer, a Speaker, through Life, Power, Knowledge, Will, Hearing, Seeing, Speech, not by a thing separated from His essence.
"We witness that there is no entity besides Him, except what is originated from His action and proceeds from His justice, after the most beautiful and perfect and complete and just of ways. He is wise in His actions, just in His determinations; there is no analogy between His justice and the justice of creatures, since tyranny is conceivable in the case of a creature, when he deals with the property of some other than himself, but tyranny is not conceivable in the case of God. For He never en counters any property of some other than Himself so that His dealing with it might be tyranny. Everything besides Him, consisting of men and Jinn and Angels and Shay tans and the heavens and the earth and animals and plants and inanimate things and substance and attribute and things perceived and things felt, is an originated thing, which He created by His power before any other had created it, after it had not existed, and which He invented after that it had not been a thing, since He in eternity was an entity by Himself, and there was not along with Him any other than He. So He originated the creation thereafter, by way of manifestation of His power, and verification of that which had preceded of His Will, and of that which existed in eternity of His Word; not because He has any lack of it or need of it. And He is gracious in creating and in making for the first time and in imposing of duty not of necessity and He is generous in befitting; and well-doing and gracious helping belong to Him, since He is able to bring upon His creatures different kinds of punishment and to test them with different varieties of pains and ailments. And if He did that it would be justice on His part, and would not be a vile action or tyranny in Him. He rewardeth His believing creatures for their acts of obedience by a decision which is of generosity and of promise and not of right and of obligation, since no particular action towards any one is incumbent upon Him, and tyranny is inconceivable in Him, and no one possesses a right against Him. And His right to acts of obedience is binding upon the creatures because He has made it binding through the tongues of His prophets, not by reason alone. But He sent apostles and manifested their truth by plain miracles, and they brought His commands and forbiddings and promisings and threatenings. So, belief in them as to what they have brought is incumbent upon the creation.
"The second Word of Witnessing is witnessing that the apostolate belongs to the apostle, and that God sent the unlettered Qurayshite prophet, Mohammed, with his apostolate to the totality of Arabs and foreigners and Jinn and men. And He abrogated by his law the other Laws except so much of them as He confirmed; and made him excellent over the rest of the prophets and made him the Lord of Mankind and declared incomplete the Faith that consists in witnessing the Unity, which is saying, * There is no god except God, so long as there is not joined that of witnessing to the Apostle, which is saying Mohammed is the Apostle of God. And He made obligatory upon the creation belief in Him, as to all which He narrated concern ing the things of this world and the next. And then He would not accept the faith of a creature, so long as he did not believe in that which the Prophet narrated concerning things after death. The first of these is the question of Munkar and Nakir; these are two awful and terrible beings who will cause the creature to sit up in his grave, complete, both soul and body; and they will ask him, Who is thy Lord, and what is thy religion (din), and who is thy Prophet? They are the two testers in the grave and their questioning is the first testing after death. And that he should be lieve in the punishment of the grave that it is a Verity and that its judgment upon the body and the soul is just, according to what God wills. And that he should believe in the Balance it with the two scales and the tongue, the magnitude of which is like unto the stages of the heavens and the earth. In it, deeds are weighed by the power of God Most High; and its weights in that day will be the weight of motes and mustard seeds, to show the exactitude of its justice. The leaves of the good deeds will be placed in a beautiful form in the scale of light; and then the Balance will be weighed down by them according to the measure of their degree with God, by the grace of God. And the leaves of evil deeds will be cast in a vile form into the scale of darkness, and the Balance will be light with them, through the justice of God. And that he should believe that the Bridge (as-Sirat) is a Verity; it is a bridge stretched over the back of Hell (Jahannam), sharper than a sword and finer than a hair. The feet of the unbelievers slip upon it, by the decree of God, and fall with them into the Fire. But the feet of believers stand firm upon it, by the grace of God, and so they pass into the Abiding Abode. And that he should believe in the Tank (Hawdh), to which the people shall go down, the Tank of Mohammed from which the believers shall drink before entering the Garden and after passing the Bridge. Whoever drinks of it a single draught will never thirst again thereafter. Its breadth is a journey of a month; its water is whiter than milk and sweeter than honey; around it are ewers in numbers like the stars of heaven; into it flow two canals from Al-Kaivthar (Koran 108). And that he should believe in the Reckoning and in the dis tinctions between men in it, him with whom it will go hard in the Reckoning and him to whom compassion will be shown therein, and him who enters the Garden without reckoning, these are the honoured (muqarrab). God Most High will ask whomsoever He will of the prophets, concerning the carrying of His message, and whomsoever He will of the unbelievers, concerning the rejection of the messengers; and He will ask the innovators (Mubtadis) concerning the Sunna; and the Moslems concerning works. And that he should be lieve that the attestors of God's Unity (muwahhids) will be brought forth from the Fire, after vengeance has been taken on them, so that there will not remain in Hell an attestor of God's Unity. And that he should believe in the intercession (shafa a) of the prophets, next of the learned ( ulama), next of the martyrs, next of the rest of the believers each according to his dignity and rank with God Most High. And he who remains of the believers, and has no intercessor, shall be brought forth of the grace of God, whose are Might and Majesty. So there shall not abide eternally in the Fire a single believer, but whoever has in his heart the weight of a single grain of faith shall be brought forth therefrom. And that he should confess the excellence of the Companions May God be well pleased with them and their rank; and that the most excellent of mankind, after the Prophet is Abu Bakr, next Umar, next Uthman, next AH May God be well pleased with them; And that he should think well of all the Companions and should praise them like as he praises God, whose are Might and Majesty, and His Apostles. All this is that which has been handed down in tradition from the Prophet and in narratives from the followers. He who confesses all this, relying upon it, is of the People of the Truth and the Company of the Sunna, and hath separated himself from the band of error and the sect of innovation (bid a). So we ask from God perfection of certainty and firm standing in the Faith (din) for us and for all Moslems through His compassion. Lo! He is the Most Compassionate! and may the blessing of God be upon our Lord Mohammed and upon every chosen creature."
The above is Doctor Macdonald's careful translation of what Al-Ghazali taught was involved when Moslems say: There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is Allah’s Apostle. Surely he gave this shortest of all creeds its full significance and value.
It is necessary, however, not only to see in it the faith of Al-Ghazali but his credulity as well, if we desire to understand the man and his times. Once his early scepticism was overcome, he was always and everywhere an orthodox Moslem, and therefore swallowed the Traditions and the Koran apparently without any philosophic doubt. He believed that Mohammed was the greatest of all the prophets, and that, so he says, " God has established Mohammed's prophetic character by miracles, such as the splitting of the moon, and the praising of him by stones, the gushing out of water from between his fingers. One of the greatest miracles, proving his divine mission, is the Koran, for none of the Arabs were able to produce any thing like it. Another sign of his prophetic character is his being able to foretell things which are to come to pass, such as his victorious entry into Mecca, the defeat of the Greeks and their subsequent victories." (See the special chapter in the Ihya on this subject.)
He was a predestinarian in the fullest sense. In one place he writes: " When God Almighty let His hands pass over the back of Adam and gathered men into His two hands, He placed some of them in His right hand and the others in His left; then He opened both His hands before Adam, and Adam looked at them and saw them like imperceptible atoms. Then God said: "These are destined for Paradise and these are destined for hell-fire" He then asked them: Am I not your Lord? And they replied: Certainly, we testify that Thou art our Lord/ God then asked Adam and the angels to be witnesses to the act; after this God replaced them into the loins of Adam. They were at that time purely spiritual beings without bodies. He then caused them to die, but gathered them and kept them in a receptacle near His throne. When the germ of a new being is placed in the womb of the mother, it remains there till its body is sufficiently developed; the soul in the same is then dead yet. When God Almighty breathes into the spirit, He restores to it its most precious part of which it had been deprived while preserved in the receptacle near the throne. This is the first death and the second life. Then God places man in this world till he has reached the term fixed for him."
The great Mystic was also superstitious. Some of his books deal with magical formulae taken from the Koran and the medicinal use of its text or of the names of God. One of the most celebrated magic squares used on amulets, etc., is called the " Square of Al-Ghazali " or Al-Buduh. It may interest in conclusion to give an account of this form of magic, approved by Al-Ghazali, because it is one of the things by which he is best known among the masses in the world of Islam.
In the older Arabic books on magic this formula plays a comparatively minor part; but after it was taken up by Al-Ghazali and cited in his Munkidh (pp. 46 and 50 of ed. of Cairo, 1303) as an inexplicable, but certain assistance in cases of difficult labour, it came to be universally known as "the three-fold talisman, or seal, or table of Al-Ghazali " (al-wakf, al-khatam, al-jadwal, al-muthallath lil-Ghasali) and finally has become the starting point for the whole "Science of Letters" ( ( Ilm ul-huruf) (e. g. f Cf. Al-Buni’s Shems ul Mu arif A. H. 622).
Al-Ghazali is said to have developed the formula, under divine inspiration (ilham), from the combinations of letters which open Suras xix. and xlii. of the Koran, and which by themselves are also used as talismans. Others trace the formula back to Adam, from whom it passed down to Al-Ghazali.
For the popular mind Buduh has become a Jinn whose services can be secured by writing his name either in letters or numbers. The uses of the word are most varied to invoke both good and bad for tune. It is used against menorrhagia, against pains in the stomach, to render oneself invisible, against temporary impotence, etc. Lane’s Cairo magician also used it with his ink mirror (" Modern Egyptians/ chap. xii. ) . We find the same in magical treatises. It is also engraved upon jewels and metal plates or rings which are carried as per manent talismans, and it is inscribed at the beginning of books as a preservative. But by far the most common use is to ensure the arrival of letters and packages. No letter from one pious Moslem to another is ever posted in the Near East without putting the figure 8642 in Arabic on the outside of the envelope where it is sealed. And one may see thousands of children in Egypt who have never heard of Al-Ghazali and cannot read the letters of his name wearing his magic square on lead or silver amulet to protect them from the hideous power of the ChildWitch (Um-as-Subyan). In the Azhar University men study his creed but in the villages they follow his credulity and to all the fellahin of Egypt Buduh has become a guardian Angel!
VI. His Writings
" I saw the Prophet in a dream, and he was con tending with Moses and Jesus regarding the superi ority of excellence of the Imam Al-Ghazali, and say ing to them, Have you had in your sects such a learned and righteous man? alluding to Al-Ghazali, and they both replied, No/ The Shaikh, the Imam, one acquainted with God, the Master, the support of religious law and truth, Abu lAbbas al Mursi said, when mention was made of Al-Ghazali, Testimony has been already borne to his great and extreme veracity, and it is sufficient for you (to know) that it was he regarding whom the Prophet contended with Moses and Jesus, and to whose great and extreme veracity the most truthful have borne testimony "
Ad-Damiri’s Hay at al-Hayawan.
" Verily I saw in the Gospel of Jesus (on him be peace) that he said: From the moment the dead is placed on the bier until he rests on the edge of the open grave God Most High asks of him forty ques tions."
Al-Ghazali in Risalat Ayyuha l walad (sec. 5).
MORE by far is known of Al-Ghazali from his writings than from the records of his life. The meagre facts of the biographers and even the spelling of his name, as we have seen, are disputed. His pen, however, left so large a legacy that many of his works are still found only in rare manuscripts, and have never been published. Moslem writers mention ninety nine works, and Brockelmann in his " History of Arabic Literature " catalogues sixty-nine which are still in existence. They include systems of theol ogy, eschatology, works on philosophy, lectures on mysticism, on ethics, and on canon law.
Many have assigned to Al-Ghazali the highest position among all Moslem writers. Ismael Ibn Mohammed Al Hadrami says: "Mohammed the son of Abdullah was the Prince of all the Prophets; Mohammed the son of Idris Al-Shafi was the Prince of Imams; but Mohammed the son of Mo hammed, the son of Mohammed Al-Ghazali, was the Prince of Writers."
We have interesting evidence of Al-Ghazali’s position as a writer even in his own day in the pre 171
172 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD
cious relic shown in our illustration. In the Arabic Museum at Cairo there is a maqlama or pen-case which once belonged to Al-Ghazali. It was pre sented to the Museum by M. Kyticas and is made of brass overlaid with silver. It bears the follow ing inscription: "Made for the library of our Mas ter, the most great and noble Imam, our revered Leader, the Mouthpiece of verity, the greatest Scholar of the world, the King of wise men, the Stay of all living, the Treasury of truth, the most illustrious among his contemporaries, the Restorer of religion, [an illegible word] Hujjat ul-Islam, Mohammed Al-Ghazali."
This bronze is the oldest piece of damascened metal work and the only example of that epoch with naskhi inscription in the possession of the Museum. That the case was not made at a later period and presented to Al-Ghazali’s library after his death is evident from the fact that it was the custom to present a book or celestial globe to a library, but not a pen-case or even an inkstand. Then, too, the word " al-marhum," meaning " de ceased," does not appear on it as it does on other objects which were offered in memory of a de ceased person. An objection to the authenticity of the bronze is the use of silver in a pen-case de signed to be used by a Sufi doctor pledged in some measure to an ascetic life. But this objection may be answered by stating that the case was not made to the order of Al-Ghazali personally, but by his
Pen case of Al Ghazali, made of brass inlaid with silver, preserved in the Arab Museum, Cairo.
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disciples in order to obtain his good-will and pat ronage. 1
We need not, moreover, be surprised at the ap parent lack of modesty which the inscription on the pen-case indicates. Judging from other instances of this period, Al-Ghazali himself might well have written the inscription.
An almost complete list of Al-Ghazali’s writings as well as of the translations of his works into other languages, especially Hebrew, Latin, French, Ger man, and English, is given in the appendix. 2 Be fore we speak of some of his more important works a summary will interest the reader. The Jazvahir al-Koran (Jewels of the Koran) contains observa tions on some of the verses of the Koran which have special value; the Aqida is a statement of the articles of the Moslem faith, and was published by Pococke in his Specimen; the Precious Pearl (Al Durrat Al-Fakhira) is a treatise on the last judg ment and the end of the world, i. e., his eschatology and has been translated and published by L. Gautier. The morality and theology of the mys tics are codified in the Ihya ulum id-din (Revivifi cation of the Religious Sciences) . The Misan Al amal (The Balance of Works) has been translated
1 See a paper on this subject by Ali Bey Bargat, Sur Deux Bronzes du Musee Arabe " Bulletin de 1 Inst, Egypt," IV: 7
2 For critical notes on his works see R. Gosche, pp. 249 300, also Gardner’s remarks and list.
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into Hebrew by Ibrahim bin Hasdai of Barcelona, and published by Goldenthal. The Kimiya as sa ada (Alchemy of Happiness) is a popular lec ture founded on mysticism; this work which was originally written in Persian, has been twice trans lated into English, by H. A. Homes in 1873 and more recently by Claud Field. Ayyuha l-walad (O Child!) is a celebrated moral treatise, which has been translated into German and published by Ham mer-Purgstall. Among works on jurisprudence, his treatises on Shafi ite law have earned great reputation in the Moslem world; his Basit, Wasit, and Wajiz are all abridgments of them. In the domain of philosophy, the Tahafut al-Falasifa (Collapse of the Philosophers) is an attack on the adherents of the Greek Philosophy; it has been edited by De Boer. The Maqasid al-Falasifa (Aims of the Philosophers) is a sort of introduc tion to the above. The text has been published by G. Beer, and a Latin translation by Gondisalvi is in existence, which was printed in Venice in 1506. Al-Munqidh min ad-Dalai (The Deliverer from Error), written after the author commenced his life as a teacher at Nishapur for the second time, describes the development of his philosophy. It was translated and published by Schmolders in his " Essay on the Schools of Philosophy Among the Arabs "; a second and greatly improved translation was published in the Journal Asiatique for 1877, by the learned savant, Barbier de Meynard. More re
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cently it appeared in English under the title " The Confessions of Al-Ghazali." It is one of his shortest but most famous books and can be com pared with the " Confessions " of St. Augustine, or John Bunyan’s " Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners." Several of Al-Ghazali’s numerous works are very brief, in the shape of epistles or tractates.
Among his shorter works the following may be mentioned: Al-Addb fi Din, a short treatise on the ethics of politeness, prepared for the use of his pupils. It speaks of the ideal pupil, the ideal teacher, of the ethics of eating, drinking, marriage and the religious life. A smaller work already mentioned is the Risala Ayyuh Al-Walad (" O Child!"). In it he defines faith and works and distinguishes between them. A curious passage occurs in the introduction which reflects on Al Ghazali’s accuracy of statement, or at least raises the question as to which " Gospel " he refers to. He says: " O my child, live as you please for you are already dead; love whom you wish, for you are bound to be separated; and do what you will, for you are sure to be judged for it. Verily I saw in the Gospel of Jesus (upon Him be prayers and peace) that He said, * From the hour in which the dead is put upon the bier until the time when he rests on the edge of the grave God will ask him forty questions, the first of which is, O my serv ant, you have purified yourself to appear before
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men many years and not for one hour have you purified yourself for my gates, and every day a voice was sounded in your ears saying, What you do for others why do you not do for me who sur rounds you with my mercy! but you were deaf and not willing to hear/
In his "Alchemy of Happiness " there is a beau tiful chapter on " Know Thyself." The parable there used regarding man’s soul and the enemies that lay siege against it reminds one very much of Bunyan’s "Holy War." The shortest of his works, as far as I am aware, is called Al-Qawa id Al-Ashara (The Ten Articles); this has been frequently reprinted. It consists of ten principles of faith and conduct, and is scarcely longer than an ordinary letter. Of a similar character is Risalat-ut-Tair the parable of the birds. His most celebrated treatise on ethics and conduct is entitled Mizan ul Amal It might be compared to the book of Ecclesiastes or the first chapters of the book of Proverbs. In the introduction Al-Ghazali shows the folly of those who neglect to secure the happiness of their immortal souls as well as the peril of those who despise faith in the world to come. The true way of happiness consists in knowing the right and doing it. The soul is a unit and its various powers are knit together and are interdependent. The path of the mystic unites true faith with true practice. He also speaks of the possibility of change of character through religious
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devotion and mentions the virtues that are to be cultivated and the vices to be shunned on this path way to God and to true happiness.
To emphasize the importance of life with its brevity and the supreme importance of eternity Al-Ghazali says: " Suppose we imagine that the whole world is filled with dust and that a little bird should come and snatch up one atom of dust every thousand years. We know that there would be an end of its task, but nothing would have been taken away from the everlasting character of that eter nity which has no end." Although the moral teaching of this book is very noble, it is after all based entirely on the principle of salvation by works. There is no hint of the possibility of the transformation of character through regeneration of the heart, nor is the way pointed to the victori ous life by overcoming temptation through a power that is not our own.
Of all his writings none is celebrated more justly than his greatest work " The Revival of Religious Sciences " (Ihya ulum id Din). It is a veritable encyclopaedia of Moslem teaching and ethics and covers the whole range of Moslem thought. Many editions of this work have been printed and com mentaries written on it, the most celebrated of which is by Mohammed-uz-Zubeidi Al-Murtadha, in ten large volumes. The work itself consists of four volumes of ten books each and has a total of over one thousand closely printed pages. Although
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widely read in its original form, popular demand has called forth several abbreviated compendia of the work. One of them entitled "A Homily for Believers," by Mohammed Jamal-ud-Din of Da mascus, is used as a text-book on Islam in the The ological Seminary of the American Mission in Cairo.
The first part of the original work is entitled " Things that pertain to worship "; the second part, " Things that pertain to practice "; the third part, " Things that destroy the soul," i. e., the vices; the fourth part, " Things that deliver the soul," i. e., the virtues. The contents are as follows:
" THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO WORSHIP " I. The Book of Knowledge, which has seven divisions:
1. The Benefits of Learning.
2. What Kind of Knowledge is Forbidden
3. Theological Learning and Nomencla
4. Conditions of Debate and Controversy.
5. The Relation of Teacher and Pupil.
6. The Dangers of Learning.
7. The Mind and its Uses.
II. The Book of Dogma, which has four divisions:
1. The Moslem Creed.
2. Degrees of Faith.
3. God, His Being, Attributes, Work.
4. Faith and Islam.
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III. The Book of the Mysteries of Purity, which
has three divisions:
1. Purification from Unclean Objects.
2. Purification from Unclean States.
3. Purification from Unclean Matters that
cling to the Body (finger-nails, ears, etc.).
IV. The Book of the Mysteries of Prayer, which
has seven divisions:
1. The Benefits of Prayer.
2. Outward Observance of Prayer.
3. Conditions of Prayer.
4. The Imam.
5. Friday Prayers.
6. Miscellaneous Matters.
7. Special Prayers.
V. The Book of the Mysteries of Almsgiving, which has four divisions:
1. Kinds of Alms.
2. Conditions of Giving.
3. To Whom.
4. How they are Observed.
VI. The Book of the Mysteries of Fasting, which has three divisions:
1. Its Necessity.
2. Its Mysteries.
3. Obedience through Fasting.
VII. The Book of the Mysteries of the Pilgrimage, which has three divisions:
1. Its Benefits and Character.
2. The Order of Procedure.
3. Its Inward Significance.
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VIII. The Book of the Perusal of the Koran. IX. The Book of Zikr and Prayer. X. The Book of the Night Meditation.
" THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO PRACTICE " I. The Ethics of Eating and Drinking. II. The Ethics of Marriage.
III. The Ethics of Trade.
IV. Things that are Allowed and Forbidden. V. Ethics of Friendship and Conversation.
VI. The Life of Seclusion. VII. The Ethics of Journeying. VIII. The Ethics of Music and Poetry. IX. On Favours and Offenses. X. The Ethics of True Living and the Virtues of the Prophet.
" THINGS THAT DESTROY THE SOUL " I. The Wonders of the Heart. II. The Exercise of the Soul.
III. The Dangers of the Two Desires, namely, of
the Appetite and of Lust.
IV. The Evils of the Tongue.
V. The Evils of Anger and Envy. VI. On Despi sing the World. VII. On Despising Property and Greed. VIII. On Despising the Love of Honour and
Hypocrisy. IX. On Despising Vanities.
" THINGS THAT DELIVER THE SOUL " I. The Book of Repentance. II. The Book of Patience and Thankfulness.
A facsimile page of the Ihya (Vol. II, page 180, Cairo Ed.). gives a diagram of the prayer kibla and the rules to be observed in facing it correctly.
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III. The Book of Fear.
IV. The Book of Poverty and Asceticism. V. The Book of the Unity of God.
VI. The Book of Love.
VII. The Book of Good Intent and Sincerity.
VIII. The Book of Self-examination.
IX. The Book of Meditation.
X. The Book of the Remembrance of Death.
Especially the third and fourth parts of his great work show us Al-Ghazali as a mystic and a preacher cf righteousness. His ten books on " Things that deliver the soul " furnish material from which it would not be difficult to collect a beautiful anthology or a daily calendar of spiritual thoughts. Such a rosary of pearls from Al Ghazali’s works might well be used for devotion by Christians as well as by Moslems.
Another most interesting book is that on the names of God, entitled Al-Maksad ul-Asna Sharh Asma -Allah ul Husna, "The Highest Aim: the Explanation of the Beautiful Names of God." The book is divided into three parts of which the first deals philosophically with the meaning of the word " name " and its distinction from the nam ing of the thing and the thing named itself: also how it is possible for God to have many names and yet to be one essence. The second part of the book is the longest and treats of the ninety-nine names of God in order showing how they are comprehended in the seven attributes and the one essence. The
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third part is brief and shows that there are really more than ninety-nine names, but that this was the number fixed upon for good reasons. And finally there is a section telling how God may and may not be described.
Al-Ghazali teaches in this book that the imitation of God’s attributes is the highest happiness for the believer. There are three degrees in the knowl edge of God, and in this respect he says: "The virtues of the righteous are the faults of the Saints "; by which he means that the nearer we approach to God the more perfect is our standard of character. The three degrees of knowledge are (1) intellectual, (2) that of admiration and at tempted imitation, (3) that of actual acquirements of God’s attributes such as the angels. Nearness to God is by rank and degree, not in regard to posi tion or place. He quotes with approval the famous saying of Junaid: " No one knows God save God Himself Most High, and therefore even to the best of His creatures He has only revealed His names, in which He hides Himself." He says that two statements are true in regard to God and the believer. The true believer must say, " I know nothing but God," and " I know nothing of God."
The last book Al-Ghazali wrote was the Minhaj al-Abidin or " Guide of True Worshippers." It is said to have been written for those who could not understand the Ihya and deals with the creed and
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ritual of Islam from the standpoint of the mystic. Our illustration shows in facsimile the first page of this celebrated work from a recent Cairo edition. On the margin of the text we have the Beginner’s Guide, already spoken of. These two works of Al-Ghazali are very popular and have recently had an increasing circulation.
The Minhaj shows that Al-Ghazali at the close of his life had adopted the vocabulary of the mys tics even for popular teaching. The various chap ters are called " stages " in the progress of the soul towards salvation and peace. The first stage is that of knowledge, then follows repentance, a list of the hindrances on the road to God, things that delay the soul in its onward progress, such as the world and its allurements, the flesh, the devil, the senses. Other hindrances are the cares of gaining a living, the perplexities and troubles of life, while the last stages in the road of the mystic are those of praise to God under all circumstances, and ear nest endeavour to attain to the reality of the ex perience of His presence.
So difficult is the road which Al-Ghazali de scribes that he says: " Some seekers can only finish these stages in seventy years, some in twenty, some in ten. Others there are, however, whose souls are so enlightened, so free from the care and perplexity of the world, that they finish the journey and arrive at the goal in a year, a month, what do I say, in an hour; so that they awaken like the Companions of
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the Cave, and the change they see in themselves and those about them is to them as a dream."
His teaching on prayer as given in the Ihya cer tainly rises very high above that of the ritualist who puts all his attention on the punctiliousness of outward observance. " Prayers are of three de grees, of which the first are those that are simply spoken with the lips. Prayers are of the second kind when with difficulty, and only by a most reso lute effort, the soul is able to fix its thoughts on divine things without being disturbed by evil im aginations; they are of the third kind when one finds it difficult to turn away the mind from dwell ing on divine things. But it is the very marrow of prayer when He who is invoked takes possession of the soul of the suppliant, and the soul of him who prays is absorbed into God, to whom he prays, and, his prayer ceasing, all consciousness of self has de parted, and to such a degree that all thought what soever of the praying is felt as a veil between the soul and God. This state is called by the Sufis absorption/ for the reason that the man is so ab sorbed that he takes no thought of his body, or of anything that happens externally, or even of the movements of his own soul, but is first engaged in going towards his Lord, and finally is wholly in his Lord. If even the thought occurs that he is ab sorbed in the Absolute it is a blemish, for that absorption only is worthy of the name, though they will be called, as I well know, but foolish babbling
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by raw theologians, are yet by no means without significance. For consider: The condition of which I speak resembles that of a person who loves any other object, such as wealth, honour, or pleas ure. We see such persons so carried away with their love, and others with their anger, that they do not hear one who speaks to them, nor see those passing before their eyes. Nay, so absorbed are they in their passion that they do not perceive their absorption; you necessarily; Jurn it away from that which is the object of it/
Elsewhere Al-Ghazali says: " The commence ment of this life is the going to God; then follows the finding Him, when the absorption takes place. This at first is momentary, as the lightning swiftly glancing upon the eye, but afterwards, confirmed by use, it introduces the soul into a higher world, where, the most pure essential essence meeting it, fills the soul with the images of the spiritual world, while the majesty of Deity discovers itself. "\
The evident sincerity and the moral earnestness of Al-Ghazali shown in his works and in the ex tracts which we have quoted, surely explains in a large degree why his influence has been so deep and permanent, far greater than that of the merely in tellectual philosophers, such as Averroes. While he discouraged scholastic philosophy, he encour aged moral philosophy. The reader will remember how he carried a book of ethics with him on his journeys. After his death several famous ethical
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treatises were composed which derived much from him. Claud Field says " the most important of these is the Akhlaq-i-Jalali, by Jalaluddin Asa ad Aldawani, which has been ably translated into English by Mr. W. F. Thompson. The Akhlaq-i Jalali itself is largely a translation into Persian from the Arabic, the original of which appeared in the tenth century under the name of Kitab-ut Taharat. Two centuries after it was translated into Persian by Abu Nasr, and named Akhlaq Nasiri, enriched with some important additions from Avicenna. In the fifteenth century it as sumed a still further improved form under its pres ent name, the Akhlaq-i-Jalali. " *
That Al-Ghazali was a careful student of nature is evident in all his writings. Those portions of the Koran which deal with natural theology and the proof of God’s existence from the starry heavens, from the fertile ground, the animal crea tion, and the sea with its terrors, especially seem to appeal to him. One of his books is entitled Al Hikmat fi Makhlukat Allah (The Wisdom of God Shown in the Marvels of Creation). It is one of his shorter writings but full of beautiful passages on the glory of the starry heavens, the earth and the sea, and the four primal elements. One long chapter is devoted to embryology and the physical wonders of the human frame. Another is on birds, another on quadrupeds and on fishes. The con "The Mystics of Islam."
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elusion of the whole treatise is the argument from design, for the goodness and greatness of the Cre ator as shown in His works. What he says in re gard to the benefits to be obtained from gazing into the starry vault may be compared with David’s words in the eighth and the nineteenth Psalms. Says Al-Ghazali: " To look up into the vault of heaven drives away anxiety, removes the whisper ings of Satan, takes away idle fear, reminds us of God, brings the heart to magnify Him, banishes evil thoughts, cures pessimism, comforts the pas sionate, delights the lover, and it is the best Kibla for those who call to God in prayer."
Al-Ghazali was also a dogmatic theologian and controversialist. He wrote a commentary on the Koran in forty volumes, never printed; and a dozen books against various heretics, including one en titled: " The Best Reply to Those Who Have Tam pered with the Gospel." Al-Ghazali, who was himself cursed for alleged heresy, is memorable among the theologians of Islam in that by his breadth of sympathy he forbade the cursing of Yazid, the notorious slayer of Hussein, Moham med’s grandson, and gave his opinion in these words: " It is forbidden to curse a Moslem: Yazid was a Moslem. It is not certain that he slew Al Husain, and it is forbidden to think ill of a Mos lem. We cannot be certain that he ordered his death; really we cannot be certain of the cause of the death of any great man, especially at such a
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distance of time. We have also to remember the party spirit and false statements in this particular case. Again, if he did kill him, he is not an unbe liever because of that; he is only disobedient to God. Again, he may have repented before he died. Further, to abstain from cursing is no crime. No one will be asked if he ever cursed Satan; if he has cursed him he may be asked, Why? The only ac cursed ones of whom we know are those who die infidels." *
Among his books against the philosophers we must mention three which are closely related to one another. They are the Maqasid-ul-Falasifa, a statement of the true teachings of the philosophers and a presentation of their views of the world; the Tahafut ul Falasifa which overthrows their views and shows that they are untenable to those who would follow Islam with heart and mind; the Qawa id, which shows the truths that must be built up to take the place of the errors of the philos ophers. In the first-named book, according to Macdonald, he " smites the philosophers hip and thigh, turns their own weapons against them and goes to the extreme of intellectual scepticism; seven hundred years before Hume he cuts the bond of causality with the edge of his dialectic and proclaims that we can know nothing of cause or effect, but simply that one thing follows an other/
1 Macdonald, p. 72.
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Al-Ghazali’s great work " The Revival of Re ligious Sciences," caused great scandal in Anda lusia. There the intolerance of the learned passed all bounds because of the narrowness of their views. Their theology was limited to minute knowledge of Canon Law. They had no place for the religion which Ghazali preached, which was personal and passionate, a religion of the heart. When he attacked contemporary theologians busy with questions of legality and the externals of re ligion, he touched these pharisees of the law at the quick and they not only squirmed but screamed loudly. According to Dozy, " the Kady of Cor dova, Ibn Hamdin, declared that any man who read Al-Ghazali’s book was an infidel ripe for damna tion, and he drew up a fatwa condemning all copies of the book to the flames. This fatwa, signed by the Fakihs of Cordova, was formally approved by AH. Al-Ghazali’s book was accordingly burnt in Cordova and all the other cities of the Empire, and possession of a copy was interdicted on pain of death and confiscation of property."
But this opinion was not shared by Moslems elsewhere. In his lifetime and especially after his death his works against philosophy and his great exposition of Islam found ever larger circles of readers and commentators.
He has been accused, and not without good rea son, both by Moslem writers and European critics, of carelessness and inaccuracy in his quotations
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and references to other books. 1 One of the charges brought against him by his assailants is that he falsified Tradition. Macdonald’s judgment is very charitable when he says that " he quoted from memory too freely, because he was a man of too large a calibre to watch his quotations and they were loose to the end of his life."
As-Subqi in his Tabakat-ash-Shafa iya al Kubra devotes a special section to what is entitled "A List of all the Traditions given by Al-Ghazali in his Ihya which have no isnad f or pedigree, i. e., Tradi tions quoted by him as authoritative and yet which from the standpoint of Moslem criticism are on this account absolutely worthless. This section of the book referred to covers many pages and by actual count I found over six hundred Traditions each catalogued by reference to the chapter in which they occur. Now we have no reason to doubt that As-Subqi (d. 771 A. H.) was an ad mirer of Al-Ghazali and esteemed his teaching, yet what shall we say when in this collection of the lives of the saints so strong an indictment is made of Al-Ghazali’s inaccuracy by one of his own dis ciples?
When reading this collection of " true sayings " of the Prophet (which are after all often ascribed to him without any authority or foundation) one is shocked both at the credulity and the lack of love
1 Compare the two statements facing this chapter; also the Deferences to " The Gospel," in Chapter IX.
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for veracity in this greatest of all Moslem apolo gists. If even Al-Ghazali handled Tradition so carelessly as to ascribe to Mohammed so much that is altogether puerile, fabulous and often immoral, what confidence can we put in other and later tra dition-mongers and how can we clear Al-Ghazali from the charge of using pious falsehood?
We add another fact of great interest in regard to his writings. Al-Ghazali exercised a command ing influence on Jewish thought in the Middle Ages. In the appendix is a list of some of the translations of his books made in Hebrew. Jewish students of philosophy, including Maimonides, drew many of their theories from the Maqasid and his other works. Al-Ghazali’s attacks on philos ophy were imitated by Judah ha-Levy in his Cumri; but it was chiefly his ethical teaching rather than through his philosophy that Al-Ghazali at tracted the Jewish thinkers. Broyde says, " He approached the ethical ideal of Judaism to such an extent that some supposed him to be actually drift ing in that direction, and his works were eagerly studied and used by Jewish writers. Abraham ibn Ezra borrowed from Al-Ghazali’s Misan al Amal his comparison between the limbs of the human body and the functionaries of a king, and used it for the subject of his beautiful admonition Yeshene Leb; Abraham ibn Dawud borrowed from the same work the parable used by Al-Ghazali to prove the difference in value between various branches of
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science; and Simon Duran cites in his Keshet a pas sage from the Mozene ha-Iyyunim, which he calls Mozene ha-Hokmah":
The translations of his works into Hebrew were made as early as the thirteenth century. Not less than eleven Hebrew commentaries are known on the Maqasid. " Johanan Alemanno recommends Ghazali’s hermeneutic methods, and compares the order and graduation of lights in Ghazali’s theory with those of the theory of the cabalists."
In regard to science, Al-Ghazali’s views were naturally those of his contemporaries. His world was built on the Ptolemaic system. There are four elements only. Existence has three modes: the world of sense, the world of God’s eternal de cree, and the world of ideals or of God’s power. In dreams and visions we are in contact with the two other worlds. Al-Ghazali avoids the difficul ties of concrete Moslem teaching by this method. There may be things which are real and actual and yet do not belong to the world of sense. 2
Doctor Macdonald admirably summarizes his influence on Islam as four-fold. " First of all he led men back from mere scholastic dogma to a liv ing contact with the Koran and the Traditions as the true source of Islam. He might be called a Biblical theologian in our modern use of the word, understanding by Bible always the Moslem bible,
"Jewish Encyclopaedia," article "Ghazali."
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namely the Koran. Nearly every paragraph of his Ihya begins with a Koran quotation, and his interpretation of the book is not a slavish following of the earlier commentators but a spiritual interpre tation of the text."
" In the second place he reintroduced into Islam the element of fear. In the earliest days, as for example in the Koran itself, the terrors of the day of judgment and the horrors of hell operated in order to lead men to repentance. Al-Ghazali em phasized this part of the Moslem teaching to the utmost, witness his little book Al-Durra al-Fak hira, which has to this day great acceptance among pious Moslems."
In the third place mysticism, already existing in Islam, but looked upon in many quarters as heret ical, received its birthright through Al-Ghazali’s life and teachings, and from his day on held an assured position in orthodox Islam.
Lastly, he brought philosophy within the range of the ordinary mind, warning the people against its dangers as well as showing them its fundamental principles and above all illustrating through his writings how true philosophy and true Islam are not contradictory. In this respect he resembles Raymond Lull who also desired to use philosophy as the handmaid of Christianity. 1
1 In regard to the influence of Al-Ghazali’s writings, R. Gosche remarks: " It is characteristic how his influence has spread. The later mystical portions of his Ihya have es
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Macdonald thinks that of these four phases of his work and influence the first and the third were undoubtedly the most important. These alone made him a reformer of the first rank in the history of Islam.
pecially influenced Mohammedan circles in India. His two works on philosophy exerted influence in Spain and among later Jewish writers, for the best manuscripts of the Tahafut are found in Maghrabi character."
VII His Ethics
" The religion of Christ contains whole fields of morality and whole realms of thought which are all but outside the religion of Mohammed. It opens humility, purity of heart, forgiveness of injuries, sacrifice of self to man’s moral nature; it gives scope for toleration, development, boundless progress to his mind; its motive power is stronger, even as a friend is better than a king and love higher than obedience. Its realized ideals in the various paths of human greatness have been more commanding, more many sided, more holy, as Averroes is below Newton, Haroun below Alfred, and AH below St. Paul. Finally, the ideal life of all is far more elevating, far more majestic, far more inspiring even as the life of the founder of Mohammedanism is below the life of the Founder of Christianity."
" Life of Mohammed" R. Bosworth Smith.
VII HIS ETHICS
MARTENSEN defines Christian ethics as " the science of morals conditioned by Christianity." But the three funda mental concepts of Christian ethics are all of them challenged by the teaching of Islam. The Mo hammedan idea of the Highest Good, of Virtue and of the Moral Law are not in accord with those of Christianity. This is evident both from the character of Mohammed himself and from his re corded sayings. Ideal virtue is to be found through imitation of Mohammed. And the moral law is practically abrogated because of loose views as to its real character, its teaching and finality. " The ethics of Islam bear the character of an out wardly and crudely conceived doctrine: of righteous ness; conscientiousness in the sphere of the social relations, faithfulness to conviction and to one’s word, and the bringing of an action into relation to God, are its bright points; but there is a lack of heart-depth, of a basing of the moral in love. The highest good is the very outwardly and very sensu ously conceived happiness of the individual."
Adolf Wuttke, "Christian Ethics," Vol. I, p. 172. 197
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This statement needs no proof to those who know Islam from its original sources, the Koran and Tradition. Professor Margoliouth uses lan guage which is strong but not unfair when he says in regard to the saints of the Moslem calendar that is the companions and followers of Moham med " Those who recount the history of Islam have to lay aside all ordinary canons of morality, else the picture would have no lights; they could not write at all if they let themselves be shocked by perfidy or bloodthirstiness, by cruelty or lust, yet both the Koran and Tradition forbid the first three, and assign some limits to the fourth." A stream cannot rise higher than its source; a tower cannot be broader than its foundation. The measure of the moral stature of Mohammed is the source and foundation of all moral ideals in Islam. His con duct is the standard of character. We need not be surprised, therefore, that the ethical standard is so low even in Al-Ghazali, although he ofttimes rises high above the Koran and the Prophet.
In nearly every one of his books on morals the Prophet of Arabia is held up as the highest ideal of character. In his " Precious Pearl/ however, there is a passage quoted from a tradition in which he pays this high tribute to Jesus Christ (page 24 Cairo Edition), "Go to Jesus, on Him be peace, for He is the truest of those who were sent as apostles, and who knew most of God, and the most ascetic in life of them all, and the mos* eloquent of all in
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wisdom, perchance He will intercede for you." The quotation, however, refers to the day of resur rection when the various nations seek God’s favour and forgiveness.
When we consider the age in which Al-Ghazali lived and his Moslem education in ethics, Macdonald says, 1 " the position of Al-Ghazali is a simple one. All our laws and theories upon the subject, the analysis of the qualities of the mind, good and bad, the tracing of hidden defects to their causes, and the methods of combating these causes, all these things [Al-Ghazali teaches] we owe to the saints of God to whom God Himself has revealed them. Of these there have been many at all times and in all countries, God has never left Himself without a witness, and without them and their labours and the light which God has vouchsafed to them we could never know ourselves. Here as everywhere, comes out clearly Al-Ghazali’s funda mental position that the ultimate source of all knowledge is revelation from God. It may be major revelation, through accredited prophets who come forward as teachers, divinely sent and sup ported by miracles and by the evident truth of their message appealing to the human heait; or it may be minor revelation subsidiary and explanatory through the vast body of saints of different grades to whom God has granted immediate knowledge of Himself. Where the saints leave off, the prophets 1 Macdonald, pp. 118-119.
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begin; and, apart from such teaching, man, even in physical science, would be groping in the dark."
But we must add to this clear statement of Al Ghazali’s theory of ethics, lest it be wholly misun derstood, that the revelation referred to is the Koran and that " the saints " were the Moslem saints of the early Caliphate, and their followers.
Moslem doctors of jurisprudence, including Al Ghazali, define sin as " a conscious act of a respon sible being against known law." Therefore sins of ignorance and of childhood are not reckoned as real sin. They divide sin into " great " and " lit tle " sins. Some say there are seven great sins: idolatry, murder, false charge of adultery, wasting the substance of orphans, taking interest on money, desertion from Jihad and disobedience to parents. Others say there are seventeen, and include wine drinking, witchcraft and perjury among them. The lack of all distinction between the ceremonial and the moral law is very evident in the traditional sayings of Mohammed, which are, of course, at the basis of ethics. Take one example: " The Prophet, upon him be prayers and peace, said, One dirhem of usury which a man takes knowing it to be so is more grievous than thirty-six fornications, and whosoever has done so is worthy of hell fire."
Orthodox Moslems divide sins into greater and lesser. Al-Ghazali quotes one who said, " There are no greater and lesser sins, but everything which
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is contrary to God’s will is a great sin," but gives Koran passages contradicting this and then escapes the moral difficulty by showing that the smaller sins may become great if we continue in them: " like the dropping of water wearing away a stone "; and " when the servant of God reckons his sin great, God reckons it small, and when he reckons it small, then God reckons it great."
He divides the sins which overcome the heart into four classes: egoistic, satanic, brutal and cruel. Under the first he puts pride, conceit, boasting, selfishness, etc.; envy, hatred, deceit, malice, cor ruption and unbelief, belong to the second; while greed, gluttony, lust, adultery, sodomy, theft, and the robbing of orphans are classed as brutal sins; and anger, passion, abuse, cursing, murder, rob bery, etc., are cruel.
Yet in all of Al-Ghazali’s works on ethics and many of his smaller treatises are on this subject, there is no clear distinction made between the ritual and the moral law. In fact one word used for ethics in Arabic (adab) refers to propriety of con duct, etiquette, politeness, and decency in outward behaviour, reverence in the presence of superiors, rather than to the keeping of the ten command ments or of the principles that are fundamental to noble character. This becomes very clear when we study the contents, for example, of one of his shorter books entitled Al-Adab fi Din (Ethics in Religion) .
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The book begins by giving the basis of ethical teaching in these words: " Praise be to God who created us and perfected our creation, and taught us morals and beautified our morals, and honoured us by sending His Prophet Mohammed (upon whom may God’s blessing rest), and hath taught us how to honour him. Truly the most perfect ele ment in character and the most elevated, and the best of good works, and the most glorious, is cor rect behaviour as regards religion, which teaches what a true believer should know of the work of the Lord of the worlds and the Creator of the prophets and apostles; and God hath taught us and clearly enlightened us concerning this in the Koran, and hath given us the example of conduct in his Prophet Mohammed according to his Traditions. He is our example, and likewise are his companions and immediate followers. These have shown us what it is necessary for us to follow in their con duct, which we have here recorded for all those who would follow."
The paragraphs or sections of this handbook are entitled: Ethics of the believer in the presence of God; of the teacher; of the pupil; of those who hear the Koran read; of the reader; of the school teacher; of those who seek to understand Tradi tion; of the scribe; of the preacher; of the ascetic; of the nobleman; ethics of sleeping; of night watching; of fulfilling a call of nature; of the bath; of washing; of entering the mosque; of the call to
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prayer; of prayer; of intercession; of the Friday sermon; of the feast-days; of conduct during an eclipse; of conduct during drought; of sickness; of funerals; of almsgiving; of the rich and the poor; of fasting; of pilgrimage; of the merchant; of the money-changer; of eating and drinking; of mar riage (this has several subdivisions); of sitting by the wayside; of the child with its parents; of the parent with the child; of brothers; of neighbours; of the master with the servant; of the Sultan with his subjects; of the Judge; of the witness; of the prisoner. The final chapter of this interesting treatise deals with miscellaneous maxims on polite behaviour under all circumstances.
A translation of the section on eating, which is about the same length as the other paragraphs, will give a clear idea of the contents: "One should wash one’s hands before partaking of food and after, and pronounce the name of God before be ginning to eat, and eat with the right hand. Take small portions from the dish, chew the food thor oughly, and do not look into the faces of the other guests while you are eating; nor should you recline nor eat to excess beyond the demands of hunger; and you should ask to be excused as soon as you have had enough, so that your guest may not be embarrassed or any one who has greater need. And one should eat from the edge of the platter and not from the middle, and wipe his fingers after the meal, and return praise to God. Nor should one
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mention death at dinner for fear of bringing bad luck upon those who are present."
All this is interesting and important, for the Moslem child, as table etiquette. Obedience, hu mility in outward behaviour, reverence in the mosque, respect " to those above us in age or sta tion," and many other social virtues are likewise commended. But the omissions of the Book sur prise us. There is nothing on truth, heart-purity, moral courage or the . nobility of chivalry the things that make a man.
One section of the Ihya (Vol. Ill, p. 96 ff.) deals with the question as to when lies are justifi able, and clearly shows that according to Al-Gha zali, in the realm of truth at least, the end justifies the means. " Know," he says, " that a lie is not haram (wrong) in itself, but only because of the evil conclusions to which it leads the hearer, mak ing him believe something that is not really the case. Ignorance sometimes is an advantage, and if a lie causes this kind of ignorance it may be al lowed. It is sometimes a duty to lie. Maimun Ibn Muhran said, A lie is sometimes better than truth: for instance, if you see a man seeking for another in order to kill him, what do you reply to the question as to where he is? Of course you will reply thus, for such a lie is lawful. We say that the end justifies the means/
"If lying and truth both lead to a good result, you must tell the truth, for a lie is forbidden in this
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case. If a lie is the only way to reach a good re sult, it is allowable (hallal). A lie is lawful when it is the only path to duty. For example, if a Mos lem flees from an unjust one and you are asked about him, you are obliged to lie in order to save him. If the outcome of war, reconciliation be tween two separated friends, or the safety of an oppressed depends on a lie, then a lie is allowed. In all cases we must be careful not to lie when there is no necessity for it, lest it be haram (wrong). If a wicked person asks a man about his wealth he has to deny having any; and so if a sultan asks a man about a crime he has committed, he has to deny it and say, I have not stolen/ when he did steal; nor done any vice/ when he has done. The Prophet said, He who has done a shameful deed must conceal it, for revealing one disgrace is an other disgrace/ A person must deny the sins of others as well. Making peace between wives is a duty, even by pretending to each of them that she is loved the most, and by making promises to please her.
" We must lie when truth leads to unpleasant re sults, but tell the truth when it leads to good re sults. Lying for one’s pleasure, or for increase of wealth, or for fame is forbidden. One wife must not lie for her husband to tease another wife. Ly ing is allowed in persuading children to go to school; also false promises and false threats."
We get another view of Al-Ghazali’s ethics in his
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teaching regarding education. There is a special section in the Ihya (Vol. Ill, p. 53) which deals with the education of boys and the improvement of their morals. It is not surprising that nothing is said as regards the education of girls, for even now many Moslem authorities consider it inadvisable that they should be taught to read and write. The chapter referred to begins as follows:
" It is most important to know how to bring up a boy, for a boy is a trust in the hands of his father, and his pure heart is a precious jewel like a tablet without inscription. It is therefore ready to re ceive whatever impression is applied. If he learns to do good and is taught it, he grows up accord ingly, and is happy in this world and the next and his parents and teachers will have the reward for their action. But if he learns evil and grows up in neglect like the dumb cattle, he will turn away from the truth and perish, and his sin will be on the neck of his guardian. Allah has said, O ye who believe, guard yourselves and your family from the fire; and even as the father would guard his son from the fire of this world, by how much the more should he guard him from the fire of the world to come? He will guard him from it by chastising him and educating him and teaching him the best virtues. To this end he will only give his boy to be nursed by a good, pious woman who eats the proper food, for the milk from forbidden food has no blessing in it."
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He then goes on to show that the education of a child consists in teaching him table manners, the avoidance of unclean food, gluttony and impolite ness. He advises parents to dress their children simply and not in costly clothing. To quote once more:
"After teaching him these things it is wise to send him to school where he shall learn the Koran and the pious traditions, and the tales of the righteous and their lives, in order that a love of the pious may be imprinted in his heart; and he should be kept from reading erotic poetry and pre vented from mixing with those people of education who think that this sort of reading is profitable and elevating, because, on the contrary, it produces in the hearts of children the seeds of corruption. Whenever the boy shows a good character or an act which is praiseworthy, he must be honoured for it and rewarded, so that he will be happy; and this should especially be done in the presence of others. If, on the contrary, he should act otherwise once and again, it is necessary to take no notice of it, nor to lay bare his fault, as though you imagine no one would dare to do such a thing, especially if the boy himself conceals it, and has determined to hide it; for exposing would only make him more bold in the future. If he should repeat the fault, he can be punished in secret."
Such is the strange ethical teaching a mingling of good and bad advice on the part of one who
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has always been considered as the pillar of ortho doxy and one of the great authorities on Moslem morals.
The ethics of marriage holds a large place in Moslem literature, and also in the works of Al Ghazali. Marriage is enjoined upon every Moslem, and celibacy is discouraged. " Marriage," said Mohammed the Prophet, " is my custom, and he who dislikes it does not belong to my people." And in another tradition: " Marriage is one-half of true religion." Even the members of the ascetic orders in Islam are generally married. The vow of celibacy was therefore not known among the mystics. Marriage is denned by Moslem jurists as " a contract by which the husband obtains posses sion of the wife and is allowed to enjoy her, if there be no legal impediment preventing the same." " Marriage," says Al-Ghazali himself, " is a kind of slavery, for the wife becomes the slave of her husband and it is her duty to obey him absolutely in everything he requires of her, except in what is contrary to the laws of Islam."
In the selection of a wife, Al-Ghazali advises his disciples to look for the following qualifications: (1) piety, (2) good character, (3) beauty, (4) a moderate dowry, (5) ability to bear children, (6) that she be a virgin, (7) of a good family, (8) that she be not of near relation. The duties of the husband to the wife and the duties of the wife to her husband are given in detail by Al-Ghazali in
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his Ihya and in some of his other works. The hus band, according to this teaching, ought to main tain a golden mean in dealing with his wife in twelve points, that is, he means that there should be no excess of kindness or excess of harshness in any of these particulars: (1) the marriage feast; (2) behaviour; (3) playfulness or caressing; (4) maintaining his dignity; (5) jealousy; (6) pecuniary allowance; (7) teaching; (8) granting every wife her rights (in the Moslem sense); (9) chastisement; (10) the rules of cohabitation; (11) childbirth; (12) divorce. In one place he says if the wife be disobedient and obstinate, the husband has the right to punish her and force her to obey him, but he must proceed gradually, ex hort, admonish, threaten, abstain from intercourse with her for three days, beat her so as to let her feel the pain, but be careful not to wound her in the face, make her blood flow abundantly or break a bone! The teaching of Al-Ghazali on divorce and slavery is so thoroughly Moslem that much of it is untranslatable. Suffice it to say that he agrees with other doctors of Moslem law in excusing onanism and other sins under certain circum stances, and even indicates that it may become a duty if practiced in order to escape from greater sins. 1
In spite of his Islamic conception of the sexual
1 " Ihya," Vol. II, pp. 32-33, " Mizan al Amal," pp. 126-128, etc.
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relation, Al-Ghazali certainly inspires our respect by what he says on the kindly treatment of the wife and the evil of divorce. Only one would like to know whether he himself had more than one wife and whether she was a worthy helpmeet to her husband and he to her. His biographers are silent.
"A man should remain on good terms with his wife. This does not mean that he should never cause her pain, but that he should bear any annoy ance she causes him, whether by her unreasonable ness or ingratitude, patiently. Woman is created weak, arid requiring concealment; she should there fore be borne with patiently, and kept secluded. The Prophet said, He who bears the ill-humour of his wife patiently will earn as much merit as Job did by the patient endurance of his trials/ On his deathbed also he was heard to say, Continue in prayer and treat your wives well, for they are your prisoners.
" Wise men have said, Consult women, and act the contrary to what they advise/ In truth there is something perverse in women, and if they are allowed even a little license, they get out of control altogether, and it is difficult to reduce them to order again. In dealing with them one should endeavour to use a mixture of severity and tenderness, with a greater proportion of the latter. The Prophet said, Woman was formed of a crooked rib; if you try to bend her, you will break her; if you leave her
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alone, she will grow more and more crooked; there fore treat her tenderly. *
"The greatest care should be taken to avoid divorce, for, though divorce is permitted, yet God disapproves of it, because the very utterance of the word divorce causes a woman pain, and how can it be right to pain any one? When divorce is abso lutely necessary, the formula for it should not be repeated thrice all at once, but on three different occasions. A woman should be divorced kindly, not through anger and contempt, and not without a reason. After divorce a man should give his for mer wife a present, and not tell others that she has been divorced for such and such a fault. Of a certain man who was instituting divorce proceed ings against his wife it is related that people asked him, Why are you divorcing her? He answered, I do not reveal my wife’s secrets/ When he had actually divorced her, he was asked again, and said, She is a stranger to me now; I have nothing to do with her private affairs/
All the relations of life, its pleasures and duties pass under review in books on Adab. Every de tail of outward conduct is regulated by what is said to have been the practice of the Prophet. How to eat a pomegranate correctly, how to take a bath, how to use the Misivak, or tooth-brush, how to behave towards Jews and Christians, and what ornaments are allowed all this comes under the "Alchemy of Happiness," pp. 94-96.
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head of Moslem Ethics. We give the reader one striking example.
In his work, " The Alchemy of Happiness," there is a chapter concerning " Music and Dancing as Aids to the Religious Life/ The question of musical instruments was discussed as earnestly in the days of Al-Ghazali as it has been more recently among Christians who dread the desecration of God’s house by the " cist of whistles." There was much dispute among theologians as to the lawful ness of music and dancing as religious exercises. The Sufis had already introduced the practice. The following paragraphs show Al-Ghazali’s com mon sense, keen humour, and at the same time his rather doubtful conclusion; for he even justifies erotic poetry if sung for the glory of God:
" The heart of man has been so constituted by the Almighty that, like a flint, it contains a hidden fire which is evoked by music and harmony, and renders man beside himself with ecstasy. These harmonies are echoes of that higher world of beauty which we call the world of spirits; they remind man of his relationship to that world, and produce in him an emotion so deep and strange that he himself is powerless to explain it. The effect of music and dancing is deeper in proportion as the nature on which they act are simple and prone to emotion; they fan into a flame whatever love is al ready dormant in the heart, whether it be earthly and sensual, or divine and spiritual. . . .
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" Passing over the cases where music and danc ing rouse into a flame evil desires already dormant in the heart, we come to those cases where they are quite lawful. Such are those of the pilgrims who celebrate the glories of the House of God at Mecca in song, and thus incite others to go on pilgrimage, and of minstrels whose music and songs stir up martial ardour in the breasts of their auditors and incite them to fight against the infidels. Similarly, mournful music which excites sorrow for sin and failure in the religious life is lawful; of this nature was the music of David. But dirges which in crease sorrow for the dead are not lawful, for it is written in the Koran, Despair not over what you have lost/ On the other hand, joyful music at weddings and feasts and on such occasions as a circumcision or the return from a journey is law ful. . . .
" The states of ecstasy into which the Sufis fall vary according to the emotions which predominate in them love, fear, desire, repentance, etc. These states, as we have mentioned above, are often the result not only of hearing verses of the Koran, but erotic poetry. Some have objected to the reciting of poetry, as well as of the Koran, on these occa sions; but it should be remembered that all the verses of the Koran are not adapted to stir the emotions such, for instance, as that which com mands that a man should leave his mother the sixth part of his property and his sister the half, or that
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which orders that a widow must wait four months after the death of her husband before becoming espoused to another man. The natures which can be thrown into religious ecstasy by the recital of such verses are peculiarly sensitive and very rare. * They certainly are!
The inconsistencies and contradictions in Al Ghazali’s theory of conduct surprise us when we peruse his works. Sometimes he leads us to high mountain ranges whose summits are gilded with the light of heaven, the great truths of Theism, the ideals of eternity; and again he plunges us into the sloughs of sensuous and worldly discussion themes unworthy of his pen.
Let us get back to the mountain tops where the air is healthier. Al-Ghazali, whatever may have been his failure in other respects, had high ideals for the attainment of morals from the Moslem standpoint. In his " The Alchemy of Happiness " he says, " When in the crucible of abstinence the soul is purged from carnal passions it attains to the highest, and in place of being a slave to lust and anger becomes endued with angelic qualities. At taining that state, man finds his heaven in the con templation of Eternal Beauty, and no longer in fleshly delights. The spiritual alchemy which operates this change in him, like that which trans mutes base metals into gold, is not easily dis covered, nor to be found in the house of every old
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And in the attainment of this ideal he is sure that there must be a fight for character. The goal is not to be reached by easy stages. The war fare against passion is real and costs sacrifice. He gives us a picture of this Holy War almost in the language of John Bunyan. " For the carrying on of this spiritual warfare by which the knowledge of oneself and of God is to be obtained, the body may be figured as a kingdom, the soul as its king and the different senses and faculties as constitut ing an army. Reason may be called the vizier, or prime minister, passion the revenue-collector, and anger the police-officer. Under the guise of col lecting revenue, passion is continually prone to plunder on its own account, while resentment is always inclined to harshness and extreme severity. Both of these, the revenue-collector and the police officer, have to be kept in due subordination to the king, but not killed or expelled, as they have their own proper functions to fulfil. But if passion and resentment master reason, the ruin of the soul in fallibly ensues. A soul which allows its lower faculties to dominate the higher is as one who should hand over an angel to the power of a dog or a Mussalman to the tyranny of an unbeliever."
The struggle is, therefore, between the flesh and the spirit. Like St. Paul, Al-Ghazali must have experienced that which he describes: "The good that I would I do not, and the evil that I would not, that I do." He is conscious of the inner,
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struggle between the higher and the lower natures in man. Again and again he contrasts the body and the soul as to their eternal value in their struggle for supremacy. Both are of God, His gift to us; both show His wisdom and His power; but there is no comparison when we try to estimate their real values.
"The body, so to speak, is simply the riding animal of the soul, and perishes while the soul tn dures. The soul should take care of the body, just as a pilgrim on his way to Mecca takes care of his camel; but if the pilgrim spends his whole time in feeding and adorning his camel, the caravan will leave him behind, and he will perish in the desert."
The four leading virtues the mothers of all other good qualities Al-Ghazali says are " Wis dom, temperance, bravery, and modetation (or the golden mean of conduct)."! This classification he has borrowed from Plato with so much else on the theory of conduct. He explains all these virtues in terms of the Koran and illustrates them from the lives of Mohammed and the early saints of Islam as well as the later mystics.
He is at his best when he speaks of vices and their opposite virtues. No one can read his chap ter against pride and boasting without seeing that he gives us again a page from his own experience. He begins by quoting the saying of the Prophet, " No one shall enter paradise in whose heart there
a " Alchemy of Happiness."‘s " Mizan al Amal."
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is the weight of a grain of mustard seed of pride." And another saying, " Said God Most High, Pride is my mantle and majesty is my cloak, and whosoever takes away one of them from me I will cast him into hell, and I care not/ " Another say ing attributed to Mohammed is evidently taken from the Gospel, " Whoso humbleth himself be fore God, God will exalt him, and whosoever is proud God will bring him low." His definition of humility is beautiful: " True humility is to be sub ject to the truth and to be corrected by it even though thou shouldst hear it from a mere boy on the street." In this connection he quotes also a saying of Jesus: "Said the Messiah (upon Him be peace), Blessed is he to whom God has taught His book. He shall never die in his pride/
Pride is shown in different ways. Al-Ghazali enumerates pride of knowledge, of worship, of race and blood, of beauty and dress, of wealth, of bodily strength, of leadership. He quotes Mo hammed as an example of humility, and also Abl Saeed el Khudri, who said, " Oh, my son, eat unto God and drink unto God and dress unto God. But whatsoever thou doest of all of these and there enters into them pride or hypocrisy it is disobedi ence. Whatever you do in your house do it your self as did the Apostle of God, for he used to milk the goats and patch his sandals and sew his cloak and eat with the servants and buy in the bazaar, nor did his pride forbid him carrying his own pack-*
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ages home; and he was friendly to the rich and to the poor and he gave greetings himself first to every one whom he met, etc."
It is noteworthy that when he rises to the highest ethical teaching he bases his remarks on the sayings (mostly apocryphal) of Christ, which we collate in our final chapter. Al-Ghazali tried hard but failed to find in Mohammed the ideals of his own heart. This is the tragedy of Islam.
" Mysticism is religion, and supplies a refuge for men of religious minds who find it no longer possible for them to rest on external authority as George Tyrrell both expounded and illustrated for us. Once turn away from revelation and little choice remains to you but the choice between Mysticism and Ration alism. There is not so much choice between these things, it is true, as enthusiasts on either side are apt to imagine. The difference between them is very much a matter of temperament, or perhaps we may even say of temperature. The Mystic blows hot, the Rationalist cold. Warm up a Rationalist and you inevitably get a Mystic; chill down a Mystic and you find yourself with a Rationalist on your hands. The history of thought illustrates repeatedly the easy pas sage from one to the other. Each centers himself in himself, and the human self is not so big that it makes any large difference where within yourself you take your center. Nevertheless just because Mysticism blows hot, its eccentricity is the more attractive to men of lively religious feeling."
Benjamin B. War field, in the "Princeton Theological Review."
VIII. Al-Ghazali as a Mystic
ONE of the earliest mystics in Islam was Rabia , who was buried in Jerusalem. She was a native of Busrah and died at Jerusalem as early as the second century of Islam. Her tomb, according to Ibn Khallikan, was an ob ject of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, and was probably visited by Al-Ghazali. The following verses are quoted from her in the Ihya (vol. iv. p. 298):
" Two ways I love Thee: selfishly, And next, as worthy is of Thee. Tis selfish love that I do naught Save think on Thee with every thought: Tis purest love when Thou dost raise The veil to my adoring gaze. Not mine the praise in that or this, Thine is the praise in both, I wis."
The Moslem mystics, or Sufis, however, received their name through Abu Khair, who lived at the end of the second century of the Hegira. His disciples wore a woolen garment, and from the word suf, which means wool, they obtained their nainc. .In the next century, al-Junaid (\. 11. ~U7), one of Al-Ohazali’s favourite authorities, was the great leader of tlie movement, which spread throughout Islam. It was a reaction from the barren monotheism and the rigid ritualism of Islam. This kind ot orthodoxy did not meet the needs of the more imaginative mind ot the Kastern races who accepted Islam. The preachers of the new doctrine travelled everywhere and mixed with men of all conditions. In this way they adopted ideas from many sources, although always pro fessing to base their teaching on the Koran and Tradition.
According to Nicholson, the Mystics of Islam bor rowed not only from Christianity and Neoplato nism, but from (Gnosticism and Buddhism. Many Gospel texts and sayings of Jesus, most of them apocrvphal, are cited in the oldest Suti writings. Kroni Christianity they took the use of the woollen dress, the vows of silence, the litanies (/ikr), and other ascetic practices. Their teaching also has manv interesting parallels which Nicholson sum marizes as follows: " The same expressions are applied to the founder of Islam which are used by St. John, St. Paul, and later mystical theologians concerning Christ. Thus, Mohammed is called the Light of Cod, lie is said to have existed before the creation ot the world, he is adored as the source ot all life, actual and possible, he is the Perfect Man in whom all the divine attributes are manifested, and a Suii tradition ascribes to him the saying, He that hath seen me hath seen Allah. In the Moslem scheme, however, the Logos doctrine oc cupies a subordinate place, as it obviously must when the whole duty of man is believed to consist in realizing the unity of God."
Neoplatouism gave them the doctrine of emana tion and ecstasy. The following version of the doctrine of the seventy thousand veils, as ex pounded to Canon Gairduer by a modern dervish, shows clear traces of Gnosticism. " Seventy Thousand Veils separate Allah, the One reality, from the world of matter and of sense. And every soul passes before his birth through these seventy thousand. The inner half of these are veils of light: the outer half, veils of darkness. For every one of the veils of light passed through, in this journey towards birth, the soul puts otT a divine quality; and for every one of the dark veils, it puts on an earthly quality. Thus the child is born weeping, for the soul knows its separation from Allah, the one Reality. And when the child cries in its sleep, it is because the soul remembers something of what it has lost. Otherwise, the passage through the veils has brought with it for get fulness (nisyan): and for this reason man is called insan. He is now, as it were, in prison in his body, separated by these thick curtains from "The Mystics of Islam."
Allah. But the whole purpose of Sufism, the Way of the dervish, is to give him an escape from this prison, an apocalypse of the Seventy Thou sand Veils, a recovery of the original unity with The One, while still in this body." *
In regard to Buddhist influence, Professor Goldziher has called attention to the fact that in the eleventh century the teaching of Buddha ex erted considerable influence in eastern Persia, especially at Balkh, a city famous for the number of Sufis who dwelt in it. From the Buddhists came the use of the rosary (afterwards adopted by Christians in Europe), and perhaps also the doc trine of fana or absorption into God.
" While fana/ says Nicholson, " in its panthe istic form is radically different from Nirvana, the terms coincide so closely in other ways that we cannot regard them as being altogether uncon nected. Fana has an ethical aspect: it involves the extinction of all passions and desires. The pass ing away of evil qualities and of the evil actions which they produce is said to be brought about by the continuance of the corresponding good quali ties and actions."! The cultivation of character by the contemplation of God in a mystical sense was the real goal. To know God was to be like Him and to be like Him ended in absorption or
"The Way of a Mystic," The Moslem World, Vol. II, p. 171.
"Mystics of Islam," p. 18.
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ecstasy. 1 One of their favourite sayings was that attributed to God by the Prophet, " I was a hidden treasure and I desired to be known, so I created the creation in order that I might be known." Just as the universe is the mirror of God’s being, so the heart of man is to the Sufi the mirror of the uni verse. If he would know God or Truth he must look into his own heart.
To quote Al-Ghazali himself: "The aim which the Sufis set before them is as follows: To free the soul from the tyrannical yoke of the passions, to deliver it from its wrong inclinations and evil in stincts, in order that in the purified heart there should only remain room for God and for the in vocation of His holy name.
"As it was more easy to learn their doctrine than to practise it, I studied first of all those of their books which contain it: The Nourishment of Hearts, by Abu Talib of Mecca, the works of Hareth el Muhasibi, and the fragments which still remain, of Junaid, Shibli, Abu Yezid, Bustami and other leaders (whose souls may God sanctify). I acquired a thorough knowledge of their researches, and I learned all that was possible to learn of their methods by study and oral teaching. It became clear that the last stage could not be reached by
- Yet strange to say there was often an utter divorce be
tween these high ideals and practical morality. A surprising statement is made by Al-Ghazali regarding Junaid in this connection. " Ihya," Vol. II, p. 19.
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mere instruction, but only by transport, ecstasy, and the transformation of the moral being " (p. 41, "Confessions").
"Among the teachings of the Sufis was that of the preexistence of Mohammed the Prophet in the Essence of Light. According to the Traditions, I was a prophet while Adam was yet between earth and clay, and There is no prophet after me/ Sufis hold that Mohammed was a prophet even before the creation and that he still holds office. This identification of Mohammed with the Primal Element explains the names sometimes given him, such as Universal Reason, the Great Spirit, the Truth of Humanity, the Possessor of the Ray of Light the Nur-i-Muhammadi from God’s own splendour."
Absorption in God, therefore, or union with Him is the goal of all the Sufi teachings and prac tices. The entire negation of self clears the way for the apprehension of the Truth. This journey towards God has its stages which are generally given as eight in number: service, love, abstraction, knowledge, ecstasy, truth, union, extinction. Some of the Sufis went so far as to set aside external religion, and showed an utter indifference to the ritual as well as to the moral law. Al-Ghazali was not of their number. He teaches, however, that the ordinary theologian cannot enter on the mystic path, for he is still in bondage to dogma and wan
- " Essays on Islam," by Rev. E. Sell, Madras, 1901, p. 13.
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ders about in darkness. Prayer, fasting, pilgrim age in all their requirements and the details of their observations have, therefore, a twofold signifi cance; the outward and formal one which is under stood by the common people, and the spiritual, real, esoteric significance which is only grasped by those who give themselves entirely to God.
Al-Ghazali was thoroughly aware of the dangers of Sufism both in its creed by way of becoming pantheistic, and in its antinomian practices. He saw that divorce between religion and morals would be disastrous and must therefore have been shocked by such verses as those of Omar Khayyam:
" Khayyam! why weep you that your life is bad; What boots it thus to mourn? Rather be glad. He that sins not can make no claim to mercy; Mercy was made for sinners be not sad."
His teaching regarding sin and repentance was, as we shall see later, altogether more fundamental.
From the earliest times pantheistic Sufism found a home in Khorasan among the Moslems. The old idea of incarnation emerged when the Shiah sect separated itself and paid such high veneration to Ali. The sect of the Khattahiyah worshipped the Imam Jafar Sadik as God. Others believed that the divine spirit had descended upon Abdallah Ibn Amr. In Khorasan the opinion was widely spread that Abu Muslim, the great general who overturned the dynasty of the Ommeyads and set up that of the Abbassides, was an incarnation of the spirit of God. In the same province under Al Mansur, the second Abbasside Caliph, a religious leader named Ostasys professed to be an emanation of the God head. He collected thousands of followers, and the movement was not suppressed without much fighting. Under the Caliph Mahdi a self-styled Avatar named Ata arose, who on account of a golden mask which he continually wore was called Mokanna, or " the veiled prophet. * He also had a numerous following, and held the Caliph’s armies in check for several years, till in A. D. 7T9, being closely invested in his castle, he, with his whole harem and servants, put an end to themselves.
What Al-Ghazali himself thought of these specu lations of the Sufis and the danger of this kind of mysticism we learn from his book: " The specula tions of the Sufis may be divided into two classes: to the first category belong all the phases about love to God and union with Him, which according to them compensate for all outward works. Many of them allege that they have attained to com plete oneness with God; that for them the veil has been lifted; that they have not only seen the Most High with their eyes, but have spoken with Him, and so far as to say The Most High spoke thus and thus. They wish to imitate Hallaj, who was crucified for using such expressions, and justify themselves by quoting his saying, I am the Truth/ They also refer to Abu Yazid Bistami, who is re ported to have exclaimed, * Praise be to me! in
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stead of Praise be to God! This kind of specu lation is extremely dangerous for the common people, and it is notorious that a number of crafts men have left their occupation to make similar assertions. Such speeches are highly popular, as they hold out to men the prospect of laying aside active work with the idea of purging the soul through mystical ecstasies and transports. The common people are not slow to claim similar rights for themselves and to catch up wild and whirling expressions. As regards the second class of Sufi speculation, it consists in the use of unintelligible phrases which by their outward apparent meaning and boldness attract attention, but which on closer inspection prove to be devoid of any real sense."
Not only did Al-Ghazali realize the danger on the side of pantheism, but he was aware that such religious enthusiasm often led to gross hypocrisy. In his Ihya he mentions " that the prophet com manded that whoever did not feel moved to tears at the recitation of the Koran should pretend to weep and to be deeply moved "; for, adds Al Ghazali sagely, " in these matters one begins by forcing oneself to do what afterwards comes spontaneously." Moreover, the fact that religious excitement was looked upon as the mark of a fervent mind and devout intensity, vastly increased the number of those who claimed mystic illumina tion. He divides the ecstatic conditions which the hearing of poetical recitations produces into four
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classes. The first, which is the lowest, is that of the simple sensuous delight in melody. The sec ond class is that of pleasure in the melody and of understanding the words in their apparent sense. The third class consists of those who apply the meaning of the words to the relations between man and God. To this class belongs the would-be initi ate into Sufism. He goes on to say, " He has necessarily a goal marked out for him to aim at, and this goal is the knowledge of God, meeting Him and union with Him by the way of secret contemplation, and the removal of the veil which conceals Him. In order to compass this aim the Sufi has a special path to follow; he must perform various ascetic practices and overcome certain spiri tual obstacles in doing so. Now when, during the recitation of poetry, the Sufi hears mention made of blame or praise, of acceptance or refusal, of union with the Beloved or separation from Him, of lament over a departed joy or longing for a look, as often occurs in Arabic poetry, one or the other of these accords with his spiritual state and acts upon him like a spark on tinder, to set his heart aflame. Longing and love overpower him and unfold to him manifold vistas of spiritual ex perience."
"The fourth and highest class is that of the fully initiated who have passed through the stages above mentioned, and whose minds are closed to everything except God. Such an one is wholly
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denuded of self, so that he no longer knows his own experiences and practices, and, as though with senses sealed, sinks into the ocean of the contempla tion of God. This condition the Sufis characterize as self-annihilation (Fana)." ("The Confes sions.")
Elsewhere he compares this highest condition of ecstasy of the human soul to a clear mirror of course he means the mirror of the ancients made of polished brass or bronze which reflects the colours of anything towards which it is directed. Again and again he comes back to this metaphor in his books. Sin is like rust on the mirror of the soul. Light is reflected in it, but the rays are no longer clear, until by repentance the rust of guilt and passion are removed.
Al-Ghazali’s mysticism was always accompanied by orthodox insistence on the six articles of faith and the five pillars of practice, through which alone the soul can receive its fundamental impulse to wards God.
Yet Al-Ghazali’s mysticism leads him to empha size always the spiritual side of worship. The mere form is nothing in itself. The author of the Masnavi had mastered Al-Ghazali and absorbed his spirit when he wrote:
" Fools laud and magnify the mosque, While they strive to oppress holy men of heart. But the former is mere form, the latter spirit and truth.
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The only true mosque is that in the hearts of saints. The mosque that is built in the heart of the saints Is the place of worship of all, for* God dwells there."
What he says on the imitation of God is based al most literally on Al-Ghazali’s book describing God’s attributes.
" God calls Himself Seeing/ to the end that His eye may every moment scare you from sinning. God calls Himself Hearing/ to the end that You may close your lips against foul discourse. God calls Himself Knowing/ to the end that You may be afraid to plot evil. These names are not mere accidental names of God, As a negro may be called Kafur (white); They are names derived from God’s essential
attributes, Not mere vain titles of the First Cause."
Abu Sa id bin Abu-1-Khair, also of Khorasan (A. H. 396-440), was one of Al-Ghazali’s teachers in the school of mysticism. When he was asked what a Sufi was he said: " Whatever is in thy head, forget it; whatever is in thy hand, give it away; and whatever happens to thee, disregard it."
In regard to the rise of Sufic teaching, its origin and character, Dr. C. Snouck Hurgronje re marks: " The lamp which Allah had caused Mo hammed to hold up to guide mankind with its light, was raised higher and higher after the Prophet’s
Facsimile title page of the last book Ghazali wrote, entitled
"Minhaj-Al-Abidin." On the margin this Cairo edition gives
another of his celebrated works, "Badayat-al-Hadaya."
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death, in order to shed its light over an ever in creasing part of humanity. This was not possible, however, without its reservoir being replenished with all the different kinds of oil that had from time immemorial given light to those different nations. The oil of mysticism came from Chris tian circles, and its Neoplatonic origin was quite unmistakable; Persia and India also contributed to it. There were those who, by asceticism, v by dif ferent methods of mortifying the flesh, liberated the spirit that it might rise and become united with the origin of all being; to such an extent that with some the profession of faith was reduced to the blasphemous exclamation: I am Allah/
But he goes on to say that although many went to such extremes and in their pantheistic ideas lost sight of the moral law and the restriction of con duct it was Al-Ghazali who rescued Islam to a large degree from this danger. He recommended moral perfection of the soul by asceticism as the only way through which men could approach nearer to God. " His mysticism wished to avoid the danger of pantheism, to which so many others were led by their contemplations, and which so often engendered disregard of the revealed law, or even of morality."
It is therefore from the days of Al-Ghazali that ethical mysticism obtained its birthright in the world of Islam together with law and dogma. These now form the sacred trio of religious
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sciences, and are taught in every great centre of Moslem learning. For dogma other writers are more authoritative. For Moslem law there is the study of the great writers of the four Schools, but in matters of ethics Al-Ghazali still holds his own.
To quote once more from Hurgronje: " The ethical mysticism of Al-Ghazali is generally recog nized as orthodox; and the possibility of attaining to a higher spiritual sphere by means of methodic asceticism and contemplation is doubted by few. The following opinion has come to prevail in wide circles: the Law offers the bread of life to all the faithful, the dogmatics are the arsenal from which the weapons must be taken to defend the treasures of religion against unbelief and heresy, but mysti cism shows the earthly pilgrim the way to Heaven." *
In one particular, however, this ethical teaching is utterly disappointing. Al-Ghazali’s mysticism is not for the multitude. It is esoteric, for a par ticular class who are filled with religious pride that they, in this respect, are not as other men. Even the noblest minds in Islam restrict true religious life to an aristocratic minority, and, like the Phari sees of old, consider the ignorance of the multi tude an evil that cannot be remedied. The teach ing of Al-Ghazali was intended not for the masses but for the initiates.
"Mohammedanism," C. Snouck Hurgronje, New York and London, 1916.
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It is remarkable that while he founded a cloister for Sufis at Tus and taught and governed there himself during the closing years of his life, he left no established order behind him. Professor Mac donald thinks that in his time the movement to wards continuous corporations and brotherhoods had not yet begun. But this is a mistake, for in the Kashf-al-Mahjub (A. H. 456) we already find a list of the various schools of Dervishes and their peculiar methods of devotion. Al-Ghazali’s teach ing, however, is popular among all the Dervish orders of to-day.
A special study has been made of one of Al Ghazali’s esoteric works on mysticism entitled Mishkat atAnwar, by Canon W. H. T. Gairdner, in which he answers the critics of this work, and shows conclusively that whatever may have been Al-Ghazali’s method he was sincere. We borrow from this interesting and scholarly paper two paragraphs to illustrate the method of Al-Gha zali:
" In expounding the tradition of the Seventy Thousand Veils with which Allah had veiled Him self from the vision of man, Ghazali finds oppor tunity to graduate various religions and sects ac cording as they are more, or less, thickly veiled from the light; i. e., according as they more or less nearly approximate to Absolute Truth (al-Haqq the Real Allah). The veils which veil the vari ous religions and sects from the Divine Light are
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conceived of as twofold in character, light veils and dark veils, and the principle of graduation is ac cording as the followers of these religions and sects are veiled (a) by dark veils, (b) by dark and light mixed, or (c) by light veils only. The recital closes with a short passage which tells us that the Attainers (al-wasilun) have had the Sufi doc trine of kashf in its most explicit and striking form.
" (a) Those veiled by pure darkness, called here the mulhida, are those who deny the existence of Allah and of a Last Day. They have two main divisions, those who have inquired for a cause to account for the world and have made Nature that cause; and those who have made no such inquiry. The former are clearly the Naturists or dahriya who were the very abomination of desolation to Ghazali. It is curious that nothing further is said of their evil conduct, and it is entirely characteristic of mediaeval thought that the deepest damnation is thus reserved for false opinion, rather than for evil life. Evil doers form the second division (which, however, is not definitely said to be higher than the first), composed of those who are too greedy and selfish so much as to look for a cause, or in fact to think of anything except their vile selves. These we might style the Egotists; they are ranged in ascending order into (1) seekers of sensual pleasure, (2) seekers of dominion, (3) money-grubbers, (4) lovers of vain-glory.
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In the first he has the ordinary sensual herd in view, as well as the philosophers of sensualism; their veils are the veils of the bestial attributes, while those of the second are the ferocious ones (saba iya). The denotation of the latter class is quaintly given as Arabs, some Kurds and very numerous Fools. The third and fourth subdivi sions do not call for comment.
" Mounting from these regions of unmitigated darkness we come to (&), those veiled by light and darkness mixed. Ghazali’s idea of the dark veils in general may be gathered from a com parison of this and the previous section. In this section the dark veils are shown to be the false conceptions of deity, which the human mind is deluded into making by the gross and limited ele ments in its own constitution, namely (in ascend ing order) by the Senses, the Phantasy or Imagina tion and the Discursive Reason. The dark veils of the previous section were the unmitigated ego tism and materialism which employed these facul ties for self and the world alone, without a thought of deity. The light veils, accordingly, are the true but partial intuitions whereby man rises to the idea of deity, or to a something at least higher than himself. These intuitions are no more than partial, because they fix upon some one aspect or attribute of deity, majesty, beauty, and so forth, and be lieving it to be all in all proceed to deify all ma jestic, beautiful, etc., things. Thus they half re
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veal, half conceal, Allah, and so are literally veils of light." *
Does not this remind us of St. Paul’s words: " Now we see through (in) a glass darkly but then face to face, etc."? Did Al-Ghazali borrow from the Gospel here also?
It has been pointed out by Margoliouth and others that Mohammedan Sufism is largely based on Christian teaching. This is especially true in the case of Abu Talib, Al-Ghazali’s favourite writer on this subject. " Sometimes the matter is taken over bodily; thus the Parable of the Sower is told by the earliest Sufi writer. Abu Talib takes over the dialogue in the Gospel eschatology be tween the Saviour and those who are taunted with having seen Him hungry and refused Him food; only for the questioner he substitutes Allah, and for the least of these his Moslem brother. Not a few of the Beatitudes are taken over sometimes with the name of their author. Commonplaces which are found in Christian homiletic works re appear with little or no alteration in the Sufi ser mons. In the Acts of Thomas, the Apostle, when employed by a king to build a palace, spends the money in charity to the poor. Presently the king’s brother dies, and finds that a wonderful palace has been built for the king in Paradise with the Alms
111 Der Islam," Band V, Heft 2/3 article, "Al-Ghazali’s Mishkat Al-Anwar and the Ghazali Problem," by Canon W. H. T. Gairdner.
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which Thomas bestowed in his name. This story reappears in the doctrine of Abu Talib that when a poor man takes charity from the wealthy, he is thereby building him a house in Paradise." =
Not only in Qut-ul-Qulub, the famous book of Abu Talib, but in all Al-Ghazali’s works we have numerous quotations and references to the Gospels apocryphal or genuine, as we shall see later.
Al-Ghazali prescribed forms for morning and evening prayer which do not differ greatly from the prayers recommended in Christian manuals of de votion. His teaching on prayer is an effort to spiritualize the ceremony, and in this he follows the teaching of the older Sufis. Absorption in God during prayer was their ideal. To avoid distrac tion men were advised to pray towards a blank wall, lest any architectural ornament might dis tract their attention. Others boasted that they could attain to absorption under any circumstances. " There were saints who when they started their salat told their womenfolk that they might chatter as much as they liked and even beat drums; they were too much absorbed in prayer to hear, how ever loud the noise. When one of them was say ing his salat in the Mosque of Basrah a column fell, bringing down with it an erection of four storeys; he continued praying, and when after he had finished the people congratulated him on his escape, he asked, what from? Great names were 1 " Development of Mohammedanism," pp. 143-144.
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quoted for the practice of praying hastily, and so shortening the time taken by the devotion as to give Satan no chance of distracting the thoughts."
Al-Ghazali, however, believed in reverence and emphasized outward and inward preparation for this act of devotion. " Prayer, * says he, " is a nearness to God and a gift which we present to the King of kings even as one who comes from a dis tant village brings it before the ruler. And your gift is accepted of God and will be returned to you on the great day of judgment, so that you are responsible to present it as beautiful as possible." He quotes with approval a saying of Mohammed: " True prayer is to make one’s self meek and humble," and adds that the presence of the heart is the soul of true prayer and that absent-minded ness destroys all its value.
" True prayer," he continues, " consists of six things: the presence of the heart, understanding, magnifying God, fear, hope, and a sense of shame." He then treats successively these elements of true prayer, showing in what they consist, how they are occasioned and how they may be secured. We secure the presence of our hearts by a deep sense of the eternal. What he says in regard to God’s greatness may well be compared with such passages as the eighth Psalm, " What is man that Thou art mindful of him? " Our sense of shame is quick ened, he says, by remembering our shortcomings in
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worship. The only way we can secure the presence of the heart in prayer is by drawing oun thoughts away from outward diversions and from those within. We should not pray in the public streets, for there our mind is diverted. If we can pray towards a dead wall on which there is nothing to see it will be helpful. But the inward withdrawal of the heart is still more important.
What he says about the true kibla is also worth quoting. " It is the turning away of your out ward gaze from everything save the direction of the holy house of God. Do you not then think that the turning aside of your heart from all other things to the consideration of God Most High is required of you? It certainly is. Nothing else is required of you in prayer than this, so that I would say the face of your heart must turn with the face of your body; and even as no one is able to face the house of God save by turning away from every other direction, so the heart does not truly turn towards God save by being separated from every thing else than himself."
" When you stand up to pray," he says, " re member the day when you must stand before God’s throne and be judged. Be clear of hypocrisy in prayer. Do not follow those who profess to wor ship the face of God and at the same time seek the praise of men. . . . Flee from the devil, for he is as a devouring lion. How can any one who is pursued by a lion or an enemy who would devour
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him or kill him say, I take refuge with God from them in this castle or in this fort/ and still linger without entering the fort? Surely this will not profit him. The only way to secure protection is to change his place. In like manner whoever fol lows his lusts, which are the lurking place of Satan and the abomination of the Merciful, the mere say ing, I take refuge in God will not profit. Who soever takes his passions for a God he is under the reign of the devil and not in the safe keeping of his Lord."
He gives a long spiritual interpretation of the fatihah which is beautiful. "At the conclusion of your formal prayer, * he says, " offer your humble petitions and thanksgivings and expect an answer and join in your petition your parents and the rest of true believers. And when you give the final salaams remember the two angels who sit on your shoulders."
In the giving of alms he says seven things are required: promptness, secrecy, example (and in this connection he quotes a Tradition ascribed to the Prophet about the left hand not knowing what the right hand doeth) absence of boasting or pride, the gift must not be spoken of as great, our best is demanded, for God is supremely good and He will only take the best, and we must give our alms to the right persons. Of these he mentions six classes: the pious, the learned, the righteous, the deserving poor, those in need because of sick
A Mihrab or prayer-niche made of cedar wood and dat ing from the Eleventh Century. (Cairo Museum.)
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ness or family distress, and relatives. With him, charity ends at home.
It is clear, however, from Al-Ghazali’s teaching that only Moslems are intended in his classification of those who may receive the Zakat. There is no universal brotherhood in Islam. Jews and Chris tians are outside the pale, save as they have " the rights of neighbours."
Christians might well regard Al-Ghazali’s mys tical method of reading the Koran in their perusal of the Scriptures. He tells us we must regard eight things: the greatness of the revelation; the majesty of the Speaker; the need of a prepared heart; meditation; understanding the content of the passage, not twisting its meaning; we are to make the application to ourselves; and finally we must read it so that its effect may show in our lives. By the word Koran, he says, " we mean not the reading but the following of the teaching, for the movement of the tongue in pronouncing the words is of little value. The true reading is when the tongue and the mind and the heart are associ ated. The part of the tongue is to pronounce the words clearly in chanting. The part of the mind is to interpret the meaning. The part of the heart is to translate it into life. So that the tongue chants and the mind interprets and the heart is a preacher and a warner."
The greatest chapter of his opus magnum is un doubtedly that on Repentance. It may well be
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compared with the fifty-first Psalm or the seventh chapter of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. That Al-Ghazali himself had a deep sense of sin, no one can doubt. He was not a Pharisee but an earnest seeker after God. He teaches clearly that all the prophets, including Mohammed, were sinners, al though he nowhere mentions any sinfulness in Jesus Christ.
One of the most important passages is that in which he speaks of the benefit of asking pardon. It reads as follows: " Said Mohammed the Prophet (upon him be peace): Verily, I ask forgiveness of God and repent towards Him every day seventy times/ He said this, so says Al-Ghazali, al though God had already testified, " We have for given thee, thy former and thy latter sins." " Said the Prophet of God, i Truly a faintness comes over my heart until I ask God forgiveness every day one hundred times/ And said the Prophet (on him be peace), * Whosoever says when he goes to sleep, " I ask forgiveness of the Great God, than whom there is no other, the living, and I repent of my sins three times," God will forgive him his sins even though they were as the foam of the seas or its sands piled up, or as the numbers of the leaves on the trees or the days of the world/ And said the Prophet of God (upon him be peace), Whosoever says that word I will forgive his sins though he deserts the army/ Al-Ghazali relates a story of one Hudhifa, who said, " I was accus
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tomed to speak sharply to my wife, and I said, O, Apostle of God, I am afraid lest my tongue should cause me to enter the fire, and then the Prophet of God (upon whom be peace) said, Where art thou in asking for forgiveness compared with me, for I ask forgiveness of God every day one hundred times/ And Ayesha said (may God give her His favour), concerning the Prophet, He said to me, " If you have committed a sin ask forgiveness of God and repent to Him, for true repentance for a sin is turning away from it and asking forgiveness." And the Apostle of God (upon whom be peace) was accustomed to say when he asked for forgive ness: O God, forgive my sin and my ignorance and my excess in what I have done, and what Thou knowest better than I do. O God, forgive me my trifling and my earnestness, my mistakes and my wrong intentions and all that I have done. O God, forgive me that which I have committed in the past and that which I will commit in the future, and what I have hidden and what I have revealed and what Thou knowest better than I do, Thou who art the first and the last and Thou art the Almighty/ " * How different all this is from the present day superficial teaching about the sinlessness of Mo hammed which is current in popular Islam.
Since Al-Ghazali tells this about Mohammed and his need for forgiveness, he naturally deals with repentance in no superficial fashion but as one who
1 " Ihya," chapter on Repentance.
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has tasted the bitterness of remorse and has dis covered his own inability to meet the demands of the Moral Law. His book on repentance has the following sections: (1) The reality of repentance. (2) The necessity for repentance. (3) True re pentance expected by God. (4) Of what a man should repent, namely, the character of sm. (5) How small sins become great. (6) Perfect re pentance, its conditions and its duration. (7) The degree of repentance. (8) How to become truly penitent.
One can only give a summary of his teaching. He rises far above the Koran. In fact in some cases his proof texts, when we consider the context, are a terrible indictment of the Prophet. 1
He says the necessity of repentance always and for all men is evident because no one of the human race is free from sin. " For even though in some cases he is free from outward sin of his bodily members, he is not free from sin of the heart; though free from passion he is not free from the whisperings of Satan and forgetfulness of God, or of coming short of the knowledge of God and His
1 One of the texts he uses is (Surah 2, verse 222), " Verily, God loves those who repent and loves those who are puri fied." The context is in relation to the infamous statement " Your wives are your tillage, etc.," which many Moslem commentators interpret as a license for immorality. No wonder that Al-Ghazali was led in this connection to begin to speak on the text "all have sinned" although he does not quote St. Paul’s first chapter to the Romans.
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attributes and His works." All this is a failure of attainment and has its reasons; but if a man should forsake the causes of this forgetfulness and employ himself with the opposite virtues it would be a re turn to the right way; and the significance of re pentance is the return. You cannot imagine that any one of us is free from this defect, for we only differ in degrees, but the root undoubtedly exists in us. Of course he ignores original sin, being a Moslem, but he makes a great deal of the effect that unrepented sin causes; but it enters deeper and deeper into the heart until the image of God on the mirror of the human soul is effaced.
Another illustration he uses is that of the heart as a goodly garment which has been dragged through filth and needs to be washed again with soap and water. " Using the heart in the exercise of our passions makes it filthy. We must there fore wash it in the water of tears and by the rubbing of repentance. It is for you to rub it clean and then God will accept it." How near and yet how far from the teaching of David and Isaiah and St. Paul! Did Al-Ghazali ever hear some pious Jew quote Isaiah’s statement that "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags "?
True repentance has a twofold result according to this Moslem theologian. Although he does not touch the deeper problem of how God can be just and justify the sinner, he teaches that the result of the forgiveness of our sins is that "we stand
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before God as though we had none," and that " we attain a higher degree of righteousness." The cross of Christ is the missing link in Al-Ghazali’s creed. He comes very close to Christianity and yet always misses the heart of its teaching. He is groping towards the light but does not grasp the hand of a friend or find a Redeemer. It is all a righteousness by works and an attainment of the knowledge of God by meditation without justifica tion through an atonement.
Yet Al-Ghazali’s teaching on " the Practice of the Presence of God " is very much like that of Brother Lawrence in his celebrated Essay. In his "Beginner’s Guide to Religion and Morals" (Al Badayet) he writes: "Know, therefore, that your companion who never deserts you at home or abroad, when you are asleep or when you are awake, whether you are dead or alive, is your Lord and Master, your Creator and Preserver, and when soever you remember Him He is sitting beside you. For God Himself hath said, I am the close com panion of those who remember me/ And when ever your heart is contrite with sorrow because of your neglect of religion He is your companion who keeps close to you, for God hath said, I am with those who are broken-hearted on my account. And if you only knew Him as you ought to know Him you would take Him as a companion and forsake all men for His sake. But as you are unable to do this at all times, I warn you that you
AL-GHAZATI AS A MYSTIC 249
set aside a certain time by night and by day for communion with your Creator that you may de light yourself in Him and that He may deliver you from evil." * At times, especially when he speaks of the veils that hide reality and God, we are re minded of the lines of Whitehead on " the Second Day of Creation ":
" I gaze aloof at the tissued roof
Where time and space are the warp and woof, Which the King of Kings, like a curtain flings, O er the dreadfulness of eternal things.
But if I could see, as in truth they be,
The glories that encircle me,
I should lightly hold this tissued fold
With its marvellous curtain of blue and gold;
For soon the whole, like a parched scroll,
Shall before my amazed eyes unroll, And without a screen at one burst be seen The Presence in which I have always been."
But Al-Ghazali did not know God’s nearness through the Incarnation of Christ. The hoped-for Vision of God was always full of fear and dread of judgment. The fear of God was the beginning and end of wisdom. What he understood by the fear of God is clear from the following passage taken from the " Revival of Religious Sciences ": " By the fear of God I do not mean a fear like that of women when their eyes swim and their J "Al-Badajet," Cairo Edition, p. 41.
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hearts beat at hearing some eloquent religious dis course, which they quickly forget and turn again to frivolity. That is no real fear at all. He who fears a thing flees from it, and he who hopes for a thing strives for it, and the only fear that will save thee is that fear that forbids sinning against God and instils obedience to Him. Beware of the shallow fear of women and fools, who, when they hear of the terrors of the Lord, say lightly, * We take refuge in God/ and at the same time continue in the very sins which will destroy them. Satan laughs at such pious ejaculations. They are like a man who should meet a lion in a desert, while there is a fortress at no great distance away, and when he sees the ravenous beast, should stand exclaim ing, I take refuge in God/ God will not protect thee from the terrors of His judgment unless thou really take refuge in Him."
Included with his fear of God there was always a fear of death which can best be described as mediaeval or early Moslem. Towards the close of his life he composed a short work on eschatology called " The Precious Pearl." It is no less lurid in its terrible pictures of death and the judgment than some of his older works. In it he says: "When you watch a dead man and see that the saliva has run from his mouth, that his lips are contracted, his face black, the whites of his eyes showing, know that he is damned, and that the fact of his damnation in the other world has just
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been revealed to him. But if you see the dead with a smile on his lips, a serene countenance, his eyes half -closed, know that he has just received the good news of the happiness which awaits him in the other world. . . .
"On the day of Judgment, when all men are gath ered before the throne of God, their accounts are all cast up, and their good and evil deeds weighed. During all this time each man believes he is the only one with whom God is dealing. Though peradventure at the same moment God is taking account of countless multitudes whose number is known to Him only. Men do not see each other or hear each other speak."
In summing up the character of the Mystic Claud Field says: "As St. Augustine found de liverance from doubt and error in his inward ex perience of God, and Descartes in self-conscious ness, so Ghazali, unsatisfied with speculation and troubled by scepticism, surrenders himself to the will of God. Leaving others to demonstrate the existence of God from the external world, he finds God revealed in the depths of his own conscious ness and the mystery of his own free will. . . . He is a unique and lonely figure in Islam, and has to this day been only partially understood. In the Middle Ages his fame was eclipsed by that of Averroes, whose commentary on Aristotle is al luded to by Dante, and was studied by Thomas Aquinas and the schoolman. Averroes system
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was rounded and complete, but Ghazali was one of those whose reach exceeds their grasp; he was always striking after something he had not at tained, and stands in many respects nearer to mod ern mind than Averroes. Renan, though far from sympathizing with his religious earnestness, calls him the most original mind among Arabian philosophers/
The disciple of Al-Ghazali is perhaps of all Mos lems the nearest to the Gospel, and we may hope that when his works are carefully studied and com pared with the teaching of Christianity many may find in him a schoolmaster to lead them to Christ. Educated Moslems of to-day may well heed the warning with which Al-Ghazali closes his " Con fessions ": " The knowledge of which we speak is not derived from sources accessible to human dili gence, and that is why progress in mere worldly knowledge renders the sinner more hardened in his revolt against God. True knowledge, on the con trary, inspires in him who is initiated in it more fear and more reverence, and raises a barrier of defense between him and sin. He may slip and stumble, it is true, as is inevitable with one encom passed by human infirmity, but these slips and stumbles will not weaken his faith. The true Mos lem succumbs occasionally to temptation but he repents and will not persevere obstinately in the path of error. I pray God the Omnipotent to place us in the ranks of His chosen, among the number
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of those whom He directs in the path of safety, in whom He inspires fervour lest they forget Him; whom He cleanses from all defilement, that nothing may remain in them except Himself; yea of those whom He indwells completely, that they may adore none beside Him."
Being a Moslem, Al-Ghazali was either too proud to search for the true historical facts of the Christian religion, or perhaps it would be more charitable to say that he had no adequate oppor tunity, in spite of his quotations and misquotations from the " Gospels." Otherwise he could have found there what would have met his heart-hunger and satisfied his soul the manifestation of God not in some intangible principle, but in a living person, in Jesus Christ, who " is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature. For by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; in Him are all things, and by Him all things con sist." (Colossians 1: 15-17.) Those who dwell in Christ and in whom He dwells are a part of His spiritual body. They are the branches of the living Vine. They are one in life and purpose, al though they remain conscious evermore of their own individual existence; they are fitted progress ively for a deeper communion with God. To such a conception the Sufi never attained. Al-Ghazali admits that no man has seen God at any time, but
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he failed to realize that " the Only Begotten, Who is in the bosom of the Father, hath declared Him." The artificial glory of Mohammed in his case, as for centuries afterwards, hid the light of the knowl edge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Yet not altogether, as the next chapter will make clear.
Jesus Christ in Al-Ghazali
Jesus, the very thought of Thee With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see, And in Thy presence rest.
Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find, A sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
O Saviour of mankind!
O hope of every contrite heart!
O joy of all the meek! To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah! this Nor tongue nor pen can show:
The love of Jesus what it is None but His loved ones know.
-Bernard of Clalrvaux almost a contempo rary (1091-1152).
JESUS CHRIST IN AL-GHAZALI
JESUS CHRIST is the Touch-Stone of char acter, the Master of all spiritual leaders and the one supreme and infallible Judge who can pronounce an unerring verdict concerning the truth of any religious system or teaching. What place has Jesus in the teaching of the greatest of all Moslem theologians, what place had He in the heart of this great mystic, this seeker after God, who, whatever else he may have been, was utterly sincere in his search? Al-Ghazali, as a student of the Koran, must have noticed that in this book Christ occupies a high place; no fewer than three of the chapters of the Koran, namely, that of Amram’s Family (Surah III), that of The Table (Surah V), and that of Mary (Surah XIX), de rive their names from references to Jesus Christ and His work. The very fact that Jesus Christ has a place in the literature of Islam, and is acknowledged by all Moslems as one of their greater prophets in itself therefore challenges com parison between Him and Mohammed. Did Al 257
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Ghazali ever meet this challenge and in how far did he compare Mohammed with Christ? It is our purpose in this chapter to answer the question by collating all the important references in the Ihya and his other works and then to draw some con clusions both as to his sources and his opinions. The reader may judge for himself how far Al Ghazali is a schoolmaster to lead Moslems to Christ.
We search in vain among all his works for a sketch of the life of Christ or of His teaching, Al-Ghazali doubtless had read and was probably well acquainted with the only popular work known which gives a connected account of the life of Jesus Christ according to Moslem sources, namely, Kitab qusus al Anbiya by Ibn Ibrahim Ath Tha labi, a doctor of theology of the Shafi School, who died in A. H. 427 (A. D. 1036). The fabulous character of this mass of traditions has been shown in a translation of the section which deals with Jesus Christ. 1 Al-Ghazali does not give altogether the same stories as are given by Ath-Tha labi but gives a great number of other incidents and re ported sayings, many of which resemble those found in the Gospels and others which are wholly apocryphal.
The question again arises where did Al-Ghazali gain this knowledge of the Gospel? Did he have access to a Persian or Arabic translation; or was
Zwemer, "The Moslem Christ."
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all this material which we have collated, the result of hearsay, gathered from the lips of Christian monks and Jewish rabbis? It is perfectly clear that he was acquainted with Old Testament tradition even more than with that of the New Testament. There are scores of passages in which he refers to the teachings of Moses, the Psalms of David, and the lives of the Old Testament Prophets. We have already referred to translations of the Bible into Arabic before the time of Al-Ghazali in our first chapter. There is a tradition that " the People of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and in terpret it in Arabic to the followers of Islam." Another tradition says that " Ka ab the Rabbi brought a book to Omar the Caliph and said, Here is the Torah, read it. " We learn from the Jew ish Encyclopaedia that "The fihrist of al-Nadim mentions an Ahmed ibn Abd Allah ibn Salam who translated the Bible into Arabic, at the time of Haroun ar-Rashid, and that Fahr ud-Din ar-Rasi mentions a translation of Habbakuk by the son of Rabban At-Tabari. Many of the Arabic His torians as At-Tabari, Mas udi, Hamza, and Biruni cite passages and recount the early history of the Jews in a most circumstantial manner. Ibn Ku taibah, the historian (d. 889), says that he read the Bible; and he even made a collection of Biblical passages in a work which has been preserved by Ibn Jauzi of the twelfth century." The first im
1 Goldziher, in " Z. D. M. G.," XXXII, 344.
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portant Arabic translation is that of Sa adia Gaon (892-942). The influence of this translation was in its way as great as that of Gaon’s philosophical work.
A version of the Psalms was made by Hafiz al Quti in the tenth century and from internal evi dence we know that the author had been Christian. Another translation of the Old Testament in Arabic was made by the Jews in Cairo in the middle of the eleventh century. The translation of Sa adia had become a standard work in Egypt, Palestine and Syria, by the end of the tenth century, and it was revised about A. D. 1070. 1 As regards Persian translations of the Bible we learn from the Jewish Encyclopaedia that according to Maimonides, the Pentateuch was translated into Persian many hun dred years previous to Mohammed. But this statement cannot be further substantiated. In re gard to Arabic versions of the Gospels we have already given Dr. Kilgour’s statement.
Is it not probable that one or other of these versions of the Gospel was known to Al-Ghazali? Does he not himself state: " I have read in the Gospel "? Not only does he reproduce the stories and sayings of Christ from the Gospels but in some cases, as the reader will see, the very words of the text. It is true that there is much apocryphal matter also of which the canonical Gospels know nothing. We are in ignorance and we must re
- " Jewish Encyclopaedia," Art. Bible Versions.
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main in ignorance whence Al-Ghazali derived this material; or did he invent it even as the men of his day invented stories about Mohammed?
In the Ihya we find the following incidents, real and apocryphal, regarding the life of Christ on earth as a prophet and saint. 1 We begin with Al Ghazali’s witness to His sinlessness: "It is said that the devil (may God curse him) appeared to Jesus and said, Say there is no God but God/ He replied: The word is true but I will not repeat it after you/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 23.) Again: " It is related that when Jesus was born, the devils came to Satan and said: All the idols have fallen on their faces/ He said: This has happened on your account/ Then he flew until he reached the regions of the earth; there he found Jesus had been born and the angels were protecting him. So he returned to the devils and said to them: Truly a Prophet was born yesterday. No woman has ever given birth before to a child when I was not present except in this case/ And that is why men now despair of worshipping idols/ (Vol. Ill, p. 26.)
" It is related that Jesus one day was pillowing his head on a stone; and the devil passed by and
After completing this research I found a fuller account of all references to Jesus Christ in Moslem Literature, espe cially the Ihya as given by Michael Asin et Palacios in Logia et Agrapha Domini Jesus apud Moslemicos, etc., in Patrologia Orientalis, Tome XIII fascicule 3. Paris 1917.
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said: O Jesus, now you have shown your love for the world! Then Jesus picked up the stone, threw it at him and said: Take it and the world. (Vol. Ill, p. 26.) We find this reference to the days of His youth in Nazareth: " Some one said to Jesus: Who gave you your education? He replied: No one. But I beheld the ignorance of the foolish despicable and so I departed from it. " Jesus the Prophet was of those who were espe cially favoured. Among the proofs of it is this that he called down peace upon himself, for he said: Peace be on me the day I was born and the day I shall die and the day I shall be raised up alive/ And this was because of his peace of mind and his loving kindness towards men. But as for John the son of Zachariah (on him be peace), he took the place of awe and fear towards God and did not utter these words until after they were re peated to him by his Creator, who said: Peace be upon him the day he was born and the day he died and the day he was raised again/ This is an in teresting critical comment on the two passages re ferred to, which occur in the same chapter of the Koran, and I have never seen them used elsewhere as an argument for the superiority of Christ to John. (Vol. IV, p. 245.)
Al-Ghazali gives Jesus the usual titles given Him in the Koran, namely, Son of Mary, Spirit of God, Word of God, Prophet and Apostle. But these latter titles mean little because he endorses the
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strange Moslem theory that there have been no less than 124,000 prophets since the world began. In his book "Al-Iqtasad " he devotes a long argu ment to prove to the Jews that Jesus was indeed a prophet, basing it upon his teaching and miracles (pp. 83-86). In his Jazvahir ul-Koran he even classes Mary the Virgin with the prophets and gives the list of these worthies in the following curious order: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Zachariah, John, Jesus, Mary, David, Solo mon, Joshua, Lot, Idris, Khudra, Shu aib, Elijah, and Mohammed!
Regarding the fasting of our Lord, Al-Ghazali says: " It is related that Jesus (on him be peace) remained for sixty days without eating, engaged in prayer; then he began to think of bread and behold a loaf of bread appeared between his hands; then he sat weeping because he had forgotten his prayers. And behold an old man came to him and Jesus said: God bless you, O servant of God. Call upon God Most High, for I too was in a sad condition and I thought of bread until my prayer departed/ Then the old man prayed: O God, if thou knowest any occasion when the thought of bread entered my head when I was praying do not forgive me! Then he said to Jesus: When anything is brought to me to eat I eat it without even thinking what it is. " (Vol. Ill, p. 61.) The following story seems to be based on the in junction of the Gospel " to pluck out the eye " that
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offends: " It is related of Jesus (on him be peace) that he once went out to pray for rain and when the people gathered together Jesus said to them, Whosoever of you hath committed a sin let him turn back/ so they all turned away and there was no one left in the cave with him save one. And Jesus said unto him, Have you any sin? He replied: By God, I do not know of any except that one day when I was praying a woman passed by me and I looked upon her with this eye and when she had passed I put my finger in my eye and plucked it out and followed her to ask her pardon. Then Jesus said to him, Call upon God that I may believe in your sincerity/ Then the man prayed and the heavens were covered with clouds and the rain poured down." (Vol. II, p. 217.)
The following stories are related of the miracle working Christ: " Said the disciples to Jesus: What do you think of the ^war-piece (money)? They said: We think it is good/ He said: But as for me I value it and ashes the same/ (Vol. Ill, p. 161.) "It was said to the Prophet that Jesus (upon him be peace) used to walk upon the water. He replied: * Had he still more striven after holiness, he would have walked on the air/ * (Vol. IV, p. 71.) "It is related that a certain robber waylaid travellers among the children of Israel for forty years. Jesus passed by that way and behind him walked a saint of the worshippers of the people of Israel, one of his disciples. Said
JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 265
the robber to himself: This is the Prophet of God who passes by and with him one of his dis ciples. If I should come down I would be the third. He then goes on to say that the robber tried to show his humility by following not Christ but his disciple. Jesus rebukes them both because of their sins. (Vol. IV, p. 110.) " It is related that Jesus (on him be peace) passed by a blind man who was a leper and lame of both feet because of paralysis and his flesh was consumed by leprosy, and he was saying: Praise be to God who has kept me in good health and saved me from many things which have befallen others of his creatures/ Then Jesus said to him: O thou friend, from what kind of affliction do I see that you are free? and he replied: O Spirit of God, I am better than those in whose heart God has not put anything of his knowledge and his grace/ And Jesus said: You have spoken truly. Stretch forth your hand/ and he stretched forth his hand and became of per fect health both as to his body and his appearance, for God had taken away all his sickness. So he accompanied Jesus and worshipped with him." (Vol. IV, p. 250.)
Al-Ghazali often pictures the power of Jesus to heal the sick, for Christ as the Merciful One ap peals to Moslems always and everywhere. We have for example in the Masnavi-i-Ma anavi this beautiful picture which can be found in prose, section by section in Al-Ghazali too.
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" The house of Isa was the banquet of men of heart, Ho! afflicted one, quit not this door! From all sides the people ever thronged, Many blind and lame, and halt and afflicted, To the door of the house of Tsa at dawn, That with his breath he might heal their ailments. As soon as he had finished his orisons, That holy one would come forth at the third hour. He viewed these impotent folk, troop by troop, Sitting at his door in hope and expectation; He spoke to them, saying, O stricken ones! The desires of all of you have been granted by
Arise, walk without pain or affliction. Acknowledge the mercy and beneficence of God! Then all, as camels whose feet are shackled, When you loose their feet in the road, Straightway rush in joy and delight to the halting place So did they run upon their feet at his command."
Many of the miracles, however, are puerile, as in this story: "A certain man accompanied Jesus the Son of Mary (upon him be peace) and said: I would like to be with you as your companion/ So they departed and arrived at the bank of a river and sat down and took their meal. Now they had three loaves, so they ate two and one remained. Then Jesus arose and went to the river to drink and returning did not find the remaining loaf. He said to the man: Who took the loaf? He replied: I know not. So he departed with his
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companion and saw a gazelle with her two young, and Jesus called one of them and it came to him and he killed it and prepared it and they ate to gether. Then he said to the young gazelle: * Get up by God’s will/ and it arose and departed. And he turned to the man and said: I ask you in the name of Him who worked this miracle before your eyes, who took the loaf? He answered: I know not/ So they departed to a cave and Jesus (upon whom be peace) began to collect the pebbles on the sand and said: Become bread by God’s permis sion! and they became bread; then he divided them into three parts and said: A third is for me, a third is for you and a third is for the man who took the loaf/ and the man said: I am he who took the loaf/ Jesus replied: Take all of it and depart from me/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 188.) This story is related by Al-Ghazali in his chapter on greed and covetousness to show that he who loves this world cannot be a companion of the saints!
That Jesus was gentle in word and conduct seems to be the lesson taught in the following two stories: " It is related of Jesus that once a pig passed by him and he said to it: Go in peace/ They said to him: O Spirit of God, why do you say this to a pig/ He replied: I dislike to accustom my tongue to use any evil words/ (Vol. Ill, p. 87.) "!t is related that Jesus with his disciples once passed the carcase of a dog. Said the disciples: How noisome is the smell of this dog/ Said
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Jesus (on him be peace): How beautiful is the shine of his white teeth, as if he wanted to rebuke them for abusing the dog and to warn them not to mention anything of what God has created save at its best." (Vol. Ill, p. 150.) This incident is given by Jallal ud Din in poetic form:
" One evening Jesus lingered in the market-place, Teaching the people parables of truth and grace, When in the square remote a crowd was seen to
rise And stop with loathing gestures and abhorring
The Master and His meek disciples went to see What cause for this commotion and disgust could
And found a poor dead dog beside the gutter laid: Revolting sight! at which each face its hate be trayed. One held his nose, one shut his eyes, one turned
And all among themselves began aloud to say, Detested creature! he pollutes the earth and air! His eyes are bleared! His ears are foul! His
ribs are bare! In his torn hide there is not a decent shoe-string
No doubt the execrable cur was hung for theft! Then Jesus spake and dropped on him this saving
Even pearls are dark before the whiteness of his teeth! "
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We add the following quotations which set forth the poverty, humility and homelessness of the Christ taken from Al-Ghazali’s " Precious Pearl ": " Consider Jesus Christ, for it is related of him that he owned nothing save one garment of wool which he wore for twenty years and that he took nothing with him on all his wanderings save a cruse and a rosary and a comb. One day he saw a man drink ing from a stream with his hands, so he cast away the cruse and did not use it again. He saw an other man combing his beard with his fingers so he threw away his comb and did not use it again. And Jesus was accustomed to say, * My steed is my legs, and my houses are the caves of the earth, and my food are its vegetables, and my drink is from its rivers, and my dwelling-place among the sons of Adam! In another connection he writes: " It was said to Jesus: If you would take possession of a house and live there it would be better for you/ and he said: Where are the houses of those who lived before us? " (Ihya, Vol. Ill, p. 140.)
A story is related (Vol. IV, p. 326) to show that Christ knew what was in the hearts of men and could change their purposes by prayer to God. In this case He makes an old man cease from his work of cleaning the ground, go to sleep and after wards return to his work.
Another story is as follows: " It is related that Jesus (upon him be peace) in his wanderings
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passed by a man asleep, wrapped up in his garment. So he wakened him and said: O them that sleep est! arise and make mention of God. He re plied: What do you want from me? I have for saken the world to its own/ Jesus replied: Sleep on then my beloved/ " (Vol. IV, p. 140.) " It is related concerning Jesus that he sat in the shade of a wall of a certain man, who saw him and made him get up, but he replied: * You have not made me arise but verily God made me arise. He does not wish me to delight in the shade by day/" (Vol. IV, p. 163.) The least of life’s pleasures is not for the ascetic saint.
" Said John to Jesus (on them be peace): Do not be angry/ Jesus replied: I am not able to cease from anger altogether for I am human/ Then said John: Do not desire property/ Jesus replied: That is possible/" (Vol. Ill, p. 114.)
He quotes the following prayer of Jesus (Vol. I, p. 222): "Jesus was accustomed to say to God, O God, I have arisen from my sleep, and am not able to ward off that which I hate and am not able to possess the benefit of that which I desire and the matter rests in hands other than mine. And I have pledged myself to my work and there is no man so poor as I am. O God, let not mine enemies rejoice over me and let not my friends deal ill with me, and let not my afflictions come to me in the matter of my religion. And do not allow the world to
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occupy my care and do not allow the unmerciful to overcome me, O Thou Eternal!:
" It is related concerning Jesus (on him be peace) that God spoke to him saying: Though you serve me with the worship of the people of heaven and earth and do not have love towards God in your heart but hatred toward Him it will not enrich you at all. " (Vol. II, p. 210.) "God Most High said to Jesus (on him be peace),
- Verily when I look upon the secret thoughts of
my servant and do not find in them love either for this world or the world to come I fill him with my own love and I put him in my safe-keeping. (Vol. IV, p. 258.) In the "Alchemy of Happi ness" we already found allusion to this subject: "Jesus (upon him be peace) saw the world in the form of an ugly old hag. He asked her how many husbands she had possessed; she replied that they were countless. He asked whether they had died or been divorced; she said that she had slain them all. I marvel, he said, at the fools who see what you have done to others, and still desire you. "Jesus (on him be peace) said, The lover of the world is like a man drinking sea-water; the more he drinks, the more thirsty he gets, till at last he perishes with thirst unquenched/
Al-Ghazali, however, never seems to have drawn the conclusion from the life of Christ which a care ful study of the Gospel would have made possible. Namely, that a true renunciation of the world is
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only possible in the service of others and not by withdrawing from men. Mohammedan mysticism has always resulted in two evils, as Major Durie Osborn points out: " It has dug a deep gulf be tween those who can know God and those who must wander in darkness, feeding upon the husks of rites and ceremonies. It has affirmed with em phasis, that only by a complete renunciation of the world is it possible to attain the true end of man’s existence. Thus all the best and truest natures the men who might have put a soul in the decaying Church of Islam have been cut off from their proper task to wander about in deserts and solitary places, or expend their lives in idle and profitless passivity disguised under the title of spiritual con templation/ (zikr) But this has only been part of the evil. The logical result of Pantheism is the destruction of the moral law. If God be all in all, and man’s apparent individuality a delusion of the perceptive faculty, there exists no will which can act, no conscience which can reprove and applaud. . . . Thousands of reckless and profligate spirits have entered the orders of the dervishes to enjoy the license thereby obtained. Their af fectation of piety is simply a cloak for the practice of sensuality; their emancipation from the ritual of Islam involves a liberation also from its moral re straints. And thus a movement, animated at its outset by a high and lofty purpose, has degenerated into a fruitful source of ill. The stream which
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ought to have expanded into a fertilising river, has become a vast swamp, exhaling vapours charged with disease and death."
Regarding the teaching of Jesus we find the fol lowing passages in the Ihya. I have indicated the parallel passages in the New Testament where pos sible. Some of them are taken from the Gospel according to Matthew, especially from the Sermon on the Mount. These are given first and then the apocryphal sayings, for it is difficult to follow any logical order.
" Said Jesus: If a man come to you when he is fasting let him anoint his head and wipe his lips that men may not say he is fasting; and if he gives alms with his right hand let not his left hand know; and if he prays let him put a curtain over his door, for verily God divines his trouble even as He does our daily food. " (Vol. Ill, p. 203. )
" Said Jesus (upon him be peace), Whosoever shall do and teach shall be called great in the King dom of Heaven. " (Vol. I, p. 6; cf. Matt. 5. 19.)
" Said Jesus, * Do not hang pearls on the necks of swine; for wisdom is better than pearls. " (Vol. I, p. 43; cf . Matt. 7:6.) " Said Jesus, How long will ye describe the right road to those who are going astray and ye yourselves remain with those who are perplexed. " (Vol. I, p. 44; cf. Matt. 23: 13.)
- The story is repeated in Vol. Ill, p. 206; cf. Matt.
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" Said Jesus, The teachers of evil are like a big stone which has fallen on the mouth of a well so that the water cannot reach the sown fields/ " (Vol. I, p. 45; cf. Matt. 23: 13.)
" Said Jesus, How can that man belong to the people of wisdom who from the beginning of his life until the end looks only after the things of the world? " (Vol. I, p. 46; cf. Matt. 6: 33.)
Again he makes God address Jesus as follows: O Son of Mary, preach to yourself for if you preach to yourself you will be able to preach to man and if not fear him. " (Vol. I, p. 47.)
"Said Jesus (on him be peace), * Blessed are those who humble themselves in this world, for they shall be the possessors of thrones on the day of judgment. Blessed are those who make peace between men in this world, for they shall inherit Paradise on the day of resurrection. Blessed are they who are poor in this world, for they shall be hold God Most High on the day of resurrection/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 237; cf. Matt. 5: 3-9.)
" Some one said to Jesus: Let me go with you on your wanderings/ He replied: Dispose of all that you have and follow me/ " (Vol. IV, p. 170; cf. Luke 9: 57 and Matt. 19: 21.) Here two pas sages are mixed.
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), It has been told of ancient times: a tooth for a tooth and a nose for a nose; but I say unto you, do not return evil for evil, but whosoever strikes you on the right cheek,
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turn to him the left also; and whosoever desireth you to go with him a mile go with him twain; and whosoever taketh away your cloak give him your inner garment also. " (Vol. IV, p. 52; cf. Matt. 5: 30-41.) These verses seem to be fairly accu rate quotations, though not without some con fusion, from some translation of the Sermon on the Mount.
" Said the disciples to Jesus (on him be peace), 1 Behold this mosque how beautiful it is. He re plied: O my nation! O my nation! In truth I say unto you, God will not suffer a stone to remain upon a stone in it but he will destroy it because of the sins of its people. Truly God does not care for gold and silver nor does he care for these stones at which ye marvel; but the things which God loves most are pure hearts, with them God can build up the earth, and if they are not good they are wasted. " ("Ihya," Vol. Ill, p. 288; cf. Matt. 24:2.)
" Said Jesus: Do not take the world for your master, for she will make you her slave. Lay up your treasures with him who will not lose them. For he who lays up treasure in the earth fears that which will destroy them; but he who has treasures with God does not fear for anything that may in jure them (Matt. 6:9-21). And Jesus said also: O company of the Apostles, behold I have poured out the world upon the ground, therefore do not take hold of it again after me, for the evil of
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this world is that men disobey God in it. And the evil of the world also is that the other world can not be obtained without abandoning the present. Therefore pass through the world but do not build in it. Know that the root of all sin is the love of the world and perchance the desire of an hour will cause those who follow it to lose the other world altogether/ He also said: I have cast the world before you and ye have sat upon its back, do not therefore suffer kings or women to dispute its pos session with you. As for kings, do not dispute with them for its possession, for they will not give it back to you. And as for women, guard your selves against them by prayer and fasting/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 139.) "Said Jesus: The love of this world and of the world to come cannot abide in the same heart even as water and fire cannot abide in one vessel. " (Vol. Ill, p. 140.)
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), O ye teachers of wickedness! Ye fast and pray and give alms and do not what ye command others and ye teach that which ye do not understand. How evil is that which ye do. Ye repent only with words but your deeds are without value. In vain do ye purify your skins while your hearts are covered with evil. I say unto you, be not as the sieve from which the good flour passes out and all that remains in it are the si f tings. Thus ye make the truth to pass out of your mouths, but deceit remains in your hearts, O servants of the world! How can any one under
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stand the other world while his desires cling to this? Of a truth I say unto you that your hearts shall weep because of your deeds. Ye have put the world upon your tongues and trampled upon good deeds. Of a truth I say unto you, ye have cor rupted your future life, for ye are more in love with the good things of this world than of the good things of the world to come. Which of the chil dren suffers greater loss than ye do, if only ye knew it! Woe be to you! How long will ye describe the right way to those who are in darkness and ye yourselves remain in the place of doubt? It is as if ye invite the children of the world to forsake its pleasure in order to leave it for yourselves a little while. Woe be to you! What benefit is it to the darkened house if the candle be put on its roof while the rooms of the house remain in darkness? In the same way ye will not be enriched if the light of knowledge is on your lips, while your hearts re main in darkness. O ye servants of the world! what of your righteousness or your freedom? Perchance the world will pluck you up by the roots and cast you upon your faces and drag you in the dust. It will expose your sins upon your fore heads, then it will drive you before it until you are delivered up to the angel of judgment, every one of you naked. Then shall you be punished by your evil deeds/" (Vol. Ill, p. 183; cf. Matt. 23: 1-27.)
" Do not be anxious about the food of to-mor
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row, for perhaps to-morrow will be your time of death." (Vol. IV, p. 330; cf. Matt. 6: 34)
" Behold the bird, it does not sow nor reap nor lay up store and God Most High provides for it." (Vol. IV, p. 190; cf. Matt. 6: 26.)
"Said Jesus (on him be peace), He is not wise who does not rejoice when he enters upon trials and sicknesses of the body and loss of his possessions; for in it he may find atonement for his sins/ " (Vol. IV, p. 205; cf. Matt. 5: 10.)
" It is related of Jesus that he said: If you see a young man passionately fond of prayer to God you will know that he has escaped all tempta tions. " (Vol. IV, p. 221; cf. Matt. 26:41.) The reference might be to Christ’s words in the Garden of Gethsemane.
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), Serve God by hating the people who transgress, and draw near to God by departing from them. Seek the good will of God by hating them/ They said to him: O spirit of God, with whom then shall we keep company? * He answered them: Keep company with those who make you remember God and those whose words improve your conduct and those whose example makes you earnest for the world to come/" (Vol. II, p. 110.)
" It is related of Jesus (on him be peace) that he said to the children of Israel: Where does that which ye sow grow? They replied: In the good ground/ and he said: Verily I say unto you,
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wisdom does not grow except in the heart which is good soil/" (Vol. IV, p. 256; cf. Matt. 13: 1-9.)
"Said Jesus (on him be peace), Truly the harvest does not grow on the mountain but in the plain. Thus wisdom works in the heart of those that are humble and not in the heart of the proud/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 240; cf. Matt 13: 23.)
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), Fine garments make proud looks/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 247.)
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), What ails you that ye come in the garments of monks and your hearts are the hearts of ravening wolves? Wear the garments of monks if you wish but humble your hearts with godly fear/" (Vol. Ill, p. 247; cf. Matt. 7: 15.)
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), O company of disciples, call upon God Most High that he may make light for you this terror, namely, death. For I fear death in such a fashion that I stand afraid of the same/ Is it possible that Al-Ghazali here refers to the agony in Gethsemane? The chapter in which this passage occurs is entitled " The ter rors of death/ (Vol. IV, p. 324; cf. Matt. 26: 38.)
We now give other " sayings " of Jesus, as Al Ghazali himself does, in somewhat confused order. Although not quotations or even misquotations from the Gospels, they are of interest as completing the list and also because they show what Al-Ghazali
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and other Moslems thought was the teaching of Jesus the Prophet.
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), How many a sound body and beautiful face and eloquent tongue will to-morrow cry out in the fires of hell! " (Vol. IV, p. 383.)
" Said Jesus, Which of you can build a house upon the waves of the sea? Such is the world; therefore do not take it as an abiding place/ (Vol. Ill, p. 141.)
" They said to Jesus, Teach us the secret of the love of God/ He replied: * Hate the world and God will love you/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 141; cf. James 4:4.)
" Said Jesus, O my disciples, be satisfied with the least of the world as long as your religion is at peace even as the people of the world are satisfied with the least of religion and their possessions are at peace/" (Vol. Ill, p. 142.)
" Said Jesus, O thou who seekest the world for the sake of pure gold, the forsaking of the world is greater treasure/ (Vol. Ill, p. 142.)
" They asked Jesus (on him be peace) which is the best of good works. He replied: To accept whatever God does with pleasure and to love him/" (Vol. IV, p. 258.)
" Said Jesus the Son of Mary (on him be peace), * Woe to the lover of this world how soon he shall die and leave it and all that is in it. The world deceives him and he trusts it and has confi
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dence in it, etc/" (Vol. Ill, p. 141; cf. Luke 12:21.)
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), Mortify then your bodies that your soul may see your Lord. (Vol. Ill, p. 56; cf. Rom. 8: 13.)
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), The likeness of him who teaches good works and does not do them is that of a woman who commits adultery in secret and then the result of her crime becomes evi dent to all around her from her condition. (Vol. I, p. 48.)
"Said Jesus (on him be peace), * Whosoever turns away a beggar from his house the angels will not visit that dwelling for seven days/ (Vol. II, p. 162.) This saying is often quoted by Moslems to-day. They all believe Jesus was the friend of the poor and needy.
"Said Jesus (upon him be peace), * Blessed is he to whom God has taught his book; he will not die a proud oppressor/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 235.)
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), Blessed is the eye which sleeps and does not regard transgression but is wide-awake for that which is not sinful/ (Vol. IV, p. 260.)
" The disciples said to Jesus (on him be peace), What is the best of good works? J He replied: That which is done to God and in which you seek the praise of no one else/ " (Vol. IV, p. 273. )
" Said the disciples of Jesus the Son of Mary: O Spirit of God! Is there any one on earth like
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thee? He replied: Yes. For whosoever is girded with the remembrance of God and is silent because of this and who looks only for the favour of God, he is like me/ " (Vol. IV, p. 305.)
" Said Jesus, Beware of the evil look, for when it is in the heart it produces lust and evil desire. (Vol. IV, p. T4;cf. Matt. 5:28.)
"Said Jesus (on him be peace), Whosoever multiplies lies his beauty departs from him: and whosoever increases care his body becomes ill; and whosoever has a bad character punishes himself/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 85.)
" Said Jesus: The greatest sin with God is that his servant should say, God Knows/ concerning something which he knows is untrue, or that he tell lies concerning what he has seen in his dreams/ (Vol. Ill, p. 98.)
" Said Jesus (on him be peace) to his disciples: How would you act if you saw one of your brothers sleeping and the wind had taken off his garment? They said: We would cover him/ Said Jesus: No, but you would expose him/ They said: God forbid! Who would do such a thing! He replied: When one of you hears a word against his brother he exaggerates it and spreads the report to others! " (Vol. II, p. 142. )
" It is related that Jesus (upon him be peace) said, O company of disciples, ye are free of trans gression, but we the company of apostles are free of infidelity/ " (Vol. IV, p. 124.)
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" Said Jesus (on him be peace), With difficulty will the rich man enter paradise/ " (Vol. IV, p. 140; cf. Christ’s saying, Matt. 19: 23.)
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), Truly I do not love a fixed dwelling place and I dislike the pleasure of the world/ " (Vol. IV, p. 140.)
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), Do not look upon the property of the people of this world for its glory is as nothing in the light of your faith/ (Vol. IV, p. 144.)
" It was said to Jesus: If you will allow us we will build a house and worship God in it/ He re plied: Go and build a house upon the sea/ They said: How can we build upon such a foundation? He replied: How can your worship exist together with your love of the world? " (Vol. IV, p. 158.)
"It is related that Jesus said: Four things do not come to us except with difficulty. Silence, which is the first principle of worship, humility, the abundant remembrance of God and poverty in all things/" (Vol. IV, p. 159.)
" Said Jesus (on him be peace), Verily I say unto you, whosoever seeketh heaven let him eat barley-bread and sleep on the dunghill with the dogs. This is enough for me/ " (Vol. IV, p. 164.)
" Jesus was accustomed to say, O children of Israel, let the water of the brook suffice you and the vegetable of the field and the barley loaf; and
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beware of the white loaf for it will keep you from worship/ " (Vol. IV, p. 164.)
"Said Jesus (on him be peace), * My food is hunger; all my thoughts are fear of God; my dress is wool; my warming-place in winter is the rays of the sun; my candle is the moon; my steed is my legs; my food is fruit that springs from the ground; I go to bed and have nothing and arise without anything; and yet there is no one richer than I am/ " (Vol. IV, p. 146.)
" Said Jesus (upon him be peace), The world is a bridge; therefore cross over it and do not build on it/" (Vol. Ill, p. 149.)
"Said Jesus (on him be peace), Whosoever seeks the world is like him who drinks water from the salt sea. The more he drinks the more he thirsts/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 149.) This occurs for the second time, but Al-Ghazali loves to repeat his own sayings as well, often in the same book.
" It is related in the gospels that whosoever shall ask for forgiveness of him who praises him, has driven away the devil." (Vol. Ill, p. 127.)
The following quotations or references to the Gospel occur in some of his shorter works. In the "Alchemy of Happiness," there is this reference to the Gospel: " Whosoever sows reaps, whosoever sets out arrives, and whosoever seeks finds." (Cf. Matt. 7: 7.) We have already quoted the words from his epistle, " O Child ": " Verily I have seen in the Gospels, etc." In the same epistle he refers
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to the parable of Dives and Lazarus: " When the people of hell will say to the people of the garden, Give us a little water from that which God has granted you to cool our tongues/ He quotes Jesus as saying: "I was not unable to raise the dead, but I was unable to cure the folly of fools," and quotes the Golden Rule in several places with out acknowledging its source as being the Gospel of Jesus.
All this and what he says in his "Alchemy of Happiness " about the love of God leaves no doubt in my mind that he had read the New Testament. It is a sort of Moslem Version of St. John’s Epistles and St. John’s Gospel. The great Mystic gives seven signs of love to God. The first is not to be afraid of death. The second is to prefer the love of God to any worldly object. The third sign of a man’s love to God is that the remembrance of God is always fresh in his heart. He never ceases to meditate upon God. Every man thinks and calls to mind an object in proportion to his love to it. The fourth is love and respect for the Koran. The fifth, secret prayer. The sixth, to find the worship of God delightful. And the seventh sign of love to God is, " That a man loves the sincere friends and obedient servants of God, and regards them all as his friends. He regards all the enemies of God as his enemies and abhors them. And God thus speaks in his eternal word: His com panions are terrible towards the infidels, and tender
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towards each other/ A Sheikh was once asked, Who are the friends of the exalted and blessed God? He replied: The friends of God are those who are more compassionate to the friends of God themselves, than a father or a mother to their chil dren/ " * (Compare Psalm 103.)
There seems a great difference between Al-Gha zali as dogmatic theologian, always compelled to agree with the Koran, and Al-Ghazali as the Mys tic, when he begins to speculate and lift the veil. We are constantly reminded of the words of An selm in his great work on the existence of God: " I do not attempt, O Lord, to penetrate Thy depths, for I by no means think my intellect equal to them; but I long to understand in some degree Thy truth, which my heart believes and loves, for I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand"
Whenever Al-Ghazali speaks of God’s nearness to us and of the soul’s desire for human fellowship with the creator, he comes very close to the Chris tian idea of the Incarnation, and yet always stops short of it. In his " Alchemy of Happiness," for example, he mentions as the fourth cause of love to God the affinity that exists between man and his Maker, referring to the saying of the Prophet:
1 These last quotations are from the translation by Homes which was from the Turkish. There seem to be several editions of the "Alchemy of Happiness" and the text varies as well as the number of chapters.
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" Verily God created man in his own likeness." Immediately afterwards, however, he goes on to say: "This is a somewhat dangerous topic to dwell upon, as it is beyond the understanding of common people, and even intelligent men have stumbled in treating of it, and come to believe in incarnation and union with God. Still the affinity which does exist between man and God disposes of the objection of those theologians mentioned above, who maintain that man cannot love a Being who is not of his own species. However great a distance between them, man can love God because of the affinity indicated in the saying, God created man in His own likeness/
Al-Ghazali would doubtless have accepted the statement in the Gospel, " No man hath seen God at any time," but he omits " the only Begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath de clared Him." In speaking of the vision of God he says, "All Moslems profess to believe that the Vision of God is the summit of human felicity be cause it is so stated in the Law; but with many this is a mere lip-profession which arouses no emotion in their hearts. This is quite natural, for how can a man long for a thing of which he has no knowl edge? We will endeavour to show briefly why the vision of God is the greatest happiness to which a man can attain.
" In the first place, every one of man’s faculties has its appropriate function which it delights to
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fulfill. This holds good of them all, from the low est bodily appetite to the highest form of intellec tual apprehension. But even a comparatively low form of mental exertion affords greater pleasure than the satisfaction of bodily appetites. Thus if a man happens to be absorbed in a game of chess, he will not come to his meal though repeatedly summoned. And the greater the subject-matter of our knowledge, the greater is our delight in it; for instance, we would take more pleasure in knowing the secrets of a king than the secrets of a vizier. Seeing then that God is the highest possible object of knowledge, the knowledge of Him must afford more delight than any other. He who knows God, even in this world, dwells, as it were, in a paradise, the breadth of which is as the breadth of the heavens and the earth/ a paradise the fruits of which no envy can prevent him plucking, and the extent of which is not narrowed by the multitude of those who occupy it." (See 1 John 4: 7-21.)
" But the delight of knowledge still falls short of the delight of vision, just as our pleasure in thinking of those we love is much less than the pleasure afforded by the actual sight of them. Our imprisonment in bodies of clay and water and en tanglement in the things of sense constitute a veil which hides the vision of God from us, although it does not prevent our attaining to some knowledge of Him. For this reason God said to Moses on Mount Sinai, Thou shalt not see Me. "
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In this book also we are reminded of the state ment that only " the pure in heart " can see God, and it seems scarcely possible that what Al-Ghazali here teaches is not based on a knowledge of the Gospel. He says: "He in whose heart the love of God has prevailed over all else will derive more joy from this vision than he in whose heart it has not so prevailed; just as in the case of two men with equally powerful eyesight gazing on a beauti ful face, he who already loves the possessor of that face will rejoice in beholding it more than he who does not. For perfect happiness, mere knowledge is not enough unaccompanied by love, and the love of God cannot take possession of a man’s heart till it is purified from the love of the world, which purification can only be effected by abstinence and austerity." How close is this teaching to the words of Christ, " Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God "! It is the vision of God which Al-Ghazali sought through all his religious experi ences as the highest good in this world and in the next. Yet with all his efforts to explain the nature of the soul and of God, he still finds himself before a blank wall. He covets the vision of God but cannot shake himself free from the Moslem concep tion that God is unknowable and that nothing in creation resembles the Creator. As Muhammed Iqbal says: "To this day it is difficult to define with accuracy Al-Ghazali’s view of the nature of God. In him, like Borger and Solger in Germany,
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Sufi pantheism and the Ash arite dogma of person ality appear to harmonize together, a reconciliation which makes it difficult to say whether he was a Pantheist, or a Personal Pantheist of the type of Lotze. The soul, according to Al-Ghazali, per ceives things. But perception as an attribute can exist only in a substance or essence which is abso lutely free from all the attributes of body. In his 1 Al-Madnun, he explains why the prophet declined to reveal the nature of the soul. There are, he says, two kinds of men: ordinary men and thinkers. The former who look upon materiality as a condi tion of existence, cannot conceive an immaterial substance. The latter are led, by their logic, to a conception of the soul which sweeps away all dif ference between God and the individual soul. Al Ghazali, therefore, realized the Pantheist drift of his own inquiry and preferred silence as to the ultimate nature of the soul."
We have seen what Al-Ghazali teaches regarding the life and character of Jesus and also of God’s relation to us through the love of those who seek Him with all their hearts. Are these only Mos lems, or is there a wider love of God? Are all souls in His keeping?
What were Al-Ghazali’s ideas regarding the salvation of those not in the fold of Islam? We have two striking passages in this connection which seem to contradict each other. They were prob
J "The Development of Metaphysics in Persia," p. 75.
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ably written at different periods of his life. The first passage which is remarkable indeed for his day and his place in Islam occurs on page 22 of his book Faisul Al-Tafriqa Bain al Islam w al Zandiqa and reads as follows: " I here state that most Christians of the Greeks and of the Turks in our day will be included in the mercy of God. Namely, those who are on the confines of the empire and to whom the call to embrace Islam has not come. For they consist of three classes: One class has never heard the name of Mohammed (upon whom be prayers and peace) and they are excusable. An other class have heard of his name and title and the miracles which were wrought by him; they who live as neighbours among Moslems; these are the true infidels and sceptics. And the other class are between these two; they have heard of the name of Mohammed (upon him be prayers and peace), but have not heard of his title and character. On the contrary they have heard from their youth up that he is a liar and deceiver called Mohammed, who pretended to have the gift of prophecy: in the same way as our children have heard of a false prophet in Khorasan called Al-Mukaffa who pretended to be a prophet. And these last, in my opinion, be long to the first class as to their hope for the fu ture." This account is the more remarkable be cause in this very chapter he says that God told Adam, according to Tradition, " that out of a thousand of his descendants nine-hundred-and
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ninety-nine go to hell and one only will be saved."
On the last page of the Ihya, however, Al-Gha zali expresses the opinion that on the day of judgment not a single Mohammedan, whatever be his character, will enter the fire! He then quotes a tradition which says that for every Moslem de signed to go to hell God will at the last day substitute a Jew or a Christian, evidently approving this substitution-doctrine as satisfactory to God’s mercy towards all who confess Mohammed and to His decree that hell shall be filled with its quota of un believers. (See Surah 50: 29.) The last page of the Ihya, alas, again shows the Moslem spirit of intolerance which prevails even to-day. Men do not remember the more liberal judgment in his other treatise. Al-Ghazali’s attitude towards Christian ity and his quotations from the Gospel narrative did much to leaven Persian thought and gave Jesus of Nazareth a large place in later mysticism espe cially in the foremost mystical poet the immortal author of the Masnavi, Jallal-ud-Din Ar Rumi. He draws the great Lesson from the life of Christ which Al-Ghazali only hints at in his quotations; namely that Jesus is the Life-giver:
" Thyself reckon dead, and then thou shalt fly
Free, free, from the prison of earth to the sky!
Spring may come, but on granite will grow no
It was barren in winter, tis barren in spring;
And granite man’s heart is, till grace intervene.
And, crushing it, clothe the long barren with green,
When the fresh breath of Jesus shall touch the heart’s core,
It will live, it will breathe, it will blossom once
The City of Mashad, close to the ruins of Tus, where Al-Ghazali was born and where he died, has been truly described as the Mecca of the Persian world. Its streets are crowded with a hundred thousand pilgrims every year. The American Presbyterian Church has an important work there, and the Bible Societies report thousands of copies of the Bible sold there. " We have inundated the City of Mashad with the Word of God," wrote the late Mr. Esselstyn; " in the bazaars I have repeat edly been warned some one will kill me if we do not stop selling the Scriptures and preaching. But Lo, I am with you always keeps ringing in my ears and we continue. The Scriptures that have been sold in and around Mashad are sown seed and in due time we shall reap if we faint not."
To-day the black-browed Afghan, the Uzbek Tartar, the dervish, travel-stained and footsore, nay the poorest lad of Khorasan can buy the whole story of what Jesus did and taught. No Moslem is now dependent on Al-Ghazali’s few quotations from the Gospel. A new day has dawned for
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Persia and the Near East. Everywhere the New Testament is better known than any of the ninety nine works of Al-Ghazali, and we may also say, without exaggeration, that the New Testament finds a larger circle of readers. The mystics in Islam are near the Kingdom of God and for them Al-Ghazali may be used as a schoolmaster to lead men to Christ. Did not the author of the Gulshan i-Raz (the Garden of Mysteries) write: "Dost thou know what Christianity is? I shall tell it thee. It digs up thine own Ego, and carries thee to God. Thy soul is a monastery wherein dwells oneness, thou art Jerusalem, where the Eternal is enthroned; the Holy Spirit works this miracle, for know that God’s being rests in the Holy Spirit as in His Own Spirit." And such seekers after God to-day will find those who will lead them to CHRIST. For, as Dr. J. Rendel Harris expressed it: "All of us who love Christ are beginning to realize that we live in the same street and are on the same telephone, some of us that we are lodged next door to one another and can knock on the partitions, a few that we are all under the same roof and all within arm’s length and heart reach."
- "The Assemblies of al-Hariri," trans, by Thomas Chenery. London, 1867. Vol. I, Introduction, p. 5.
- Der Islam, Band V, Heft 2/3; C. H. Becker, Strassburg, PP. 239, 291.
- "The Caliphate, its Rise, Decline and Fall," 1892, p. 578.
- These badges of servitude, called Ghayar, are referred to as obligatory in Al-Ghazali’s " Wajiz." See the chapter on infidel-subjects.
- "The Pulse of Asia," Houghton, Mifflin & Co., New York, 1907, p. 325.
- An exposition of the Creed of the People of the Sunna on the two Words of Witnessing (kalimatai sh-shahada) which form one of the foundations of Islam. This creed is intended to be committed to memory by children. It forms the first section of the second book of Ghazali’s Ihya, VoL II, pp. 17-42 of edit, of Cairo with commentary of the Sayyid Murtadha. We are indebted for the translation to Professor Macdonald (Muslim Theology and Jurisprudence)
- For the process see pp. 170 et seq. of " Mafatih Al-Ghalb" (Cairo, 1327) by Ahmed Al-Zarkawi, a contemporary Egyptian magician, and on the subject in general, the sixth and seventh Risalas in that volume.
- Cf. "Al-Faidh al Mutawalli of Ahmed Damanhtiri, Cairo, 1331.
- " Encyclopaedia of Islam," article Buduh.