1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ghazālī

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GHAZĀLĪ [Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī] (1058–1111), Arabian philosopher and theologian, was born at Tūs, and belonged to a family of Ghazāla (near Tūs) distinguished for its knowledge of canon law. Educated at first in Tūs, then in Jorjān, and again in Tūs, he went to college at Nīshāpūr, where he studied under Juwainī (known as the Imām ul-Ḥaramain) until 1085, when he visited the celebrated vizier Nizām ul-Mulk, who appointed him to a professorship in his college at Bagdad in 1091. Here he was engaged in writing against the Isma’ilites (Assassins). After four years of this work he suddenly gave up his chair, left home and family and gave himself to an ascetic life. This was due to a growing scepticism, which caused him much mental unrest and which gradually gave way to mysticism. Having secured his chair for his brother he went to Damascus, Jerusalem, Hebron, Mecca, Medina and Alexandria, studying, meditating and writing in these cities. In 1106 he was tempted to go to the West, where the Moravid (Almoravid) reformation was being led by Yūsuf ibn Tāshfīn, with whom he had been in correspondence earlier. Yūsuf, however, died in this year, and Ghazālī abandoned his idea. At the wish of the sultan Malik Shah he again undertook professorial work, this time in the college of Nizām ul-Mulk at Nīshāpūr, but returned soon after to Tūs, where he died in December 1111.

Sixty-nine works are ascribed to Ghazālī (cf. C. Brockelmann’s Gesch. d. arabischen Litteratur, i. 421–426, Weimar, 1898). The most important of those which have been published are: a treatise on eschatology called Ad-durra ul-fākhira (“The precious pearl”), ed. L. Gautier (Geneva, 1878); the great work, Ihyā ul-`Ulūm (“Revival of the sciences”) (Bulaq, 1872; Cairo, 1889); see a commentary by al-Murtada called the Itḥāf, published in 13 vols. at Fez, 1885–1887, and in 10 vols. at Cairo, 1893; the Bidayat ul-Hidāya (Bulaq, 1870, and often at Cairo); a compendium of ethics, Mizān ul-‘Amal, translated into Hebrew, ed. J. Goldenthal (Paris, 1839); a more popular treatise on ethics, the Kimīya us-Sa‘āda, published at Lucknow, Bombay and Constantinople, ed. H. A. Homes as The Alchemy of Happiness (Albany, N.Y., 1873); the ethical work O Child, ed. by Hammer-Purgstall in Arabic and German (Vienna, 1838); the Destruction of Philosophers (Tahafūt ul-Falāsifa) (Cairo, 1885, and Bombay, 1887). Of this work a French translation was begun by Carra de Vaux in Muséon, vol. xviii. (1899); the Maqāṣid ul-Falāsifa, of which the first part on logic was translated into Latin by Dom. Gundisalvi (Venice, 1506), ed. with notes by G. Beer (Leiden, 1888); the Kitāb ul-Munqid, giving an account of the changes in his philosophical ideas, ed. by F. A. Schmölders in his Essai sur les écoles philosophiques chez les Arabes (Paris, 1842), also printed at Constantinople, 1876, and translated into French by Barbier de Meynard in the Journal asiatique (1877, i. 1-93); answers to questions asked of him ed. in Arabic and Hebrew, with German translation and notes by H. Malter (Frankfort, 1896); Eng. trans., Confessions of al-Ghazzali, by Claud Field (1909).

For Ghazālī’s life see McG. de Slane’s translation of Ibn Khallikān, ii. 621 ff.; R. Gösche’s Über Ghazzali’s Leben und Werke (Berlin, 1859); D. B. Macdonald’s “Life of al-Ghazzali,” in Journal of American Oriental Society, vol. xx. (1899), and Carra de Vaux’s Gazali (Paris, 1902); see Arabian Philosophy. (G. W. T.)