Page:Alchemy of Happiness - Field.djvu/14

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10
PREFACE

which permit one to neglect useful labour with the idea of acquiring spiritual purity through the attainment of certain mysterious degrees and qualities. This notion is productive of great injury, so that the death of one of these foolish babblers would be a greater benefit to the cause of true religion than the saving alive of ten of them."

For himself Ghazzali was a practical mystic. His aim was to make men better by leading them from a merely notional acquiescence in the stereotyped creed of Islam to a real knowledge of God. The first four chapters of The Alchemy of Happiness are a commentary on the famous verse in the Hadis (traditional sayings of Muhammad), "He who knows himself knows God." He is especially scornful of the parrot-like repetition of orthodox phrases. Thus alluding to the almost hourly use by Muslims of the phrase, "I take refuge in God" (Maʻudhibʼillah!), Ghazzali says, in the Ihya-ul-ulum: "Satan laughs at such pious ejaculations. Those who utter them are like a man who should meet a lion in a desert, while there is a fort at no great distance, and, when he sees the evil beast, should stand exclaiming, 'I take refuge in that fortress,' without moving a step towards it. What will such an ejaculation profit him? In the same way the mere exclamation, 'I take refuge in God,' will not protect thee from the terrors of His