In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
The article was collected by Ummu Mariam.
Verily, all praises and thanks are due to Allah, we praise Him, seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evils of our souls and evils of our deeds. One whom Allah guides none can lead him astray, and one whom He misguides, none can guide him. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAAS) is His servant and His messenger.
"O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. (Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always), and die not except in a state of Islam [as Muslims (with complete submission to Allah)]." (Al-Qur‘aan 3:102 - interpretation of the meaning)
"O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you." (Al-Qur‘aan 4:1 - interpretation of the meaning)
"O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (SAAS) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise)." (Al-Qur‘aan 33:70-71 - interpretation of the meaning)
Ammaa ba'd (as for what follows), the best of speech is the speech of Allah that is the Book of Allah. The best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAAS). Of all matters, the worst are innovations; and everything new is an innovation, and every innovation is a deviation, and every deviation leads to Hell-fire.
The following questions and answers concerning Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali were taken from: www.islam-qa.com.
Could you shed some light on who Imam al-Ghazzaali was?
All praises and thanks are due to Allah.
The life of al-Ghazzaali needs to be discussed at length because he went through a number of stages. He indulged in philosophy, then he recanted and rejected that. After that he indulged in what is known as 'ilm-ul-kalaam (Islamic philosophy) and gained a sound grasp of its basic principles; then he rejected that after it became clear to him that it was corrupt and filled with contradictions. He was focusing on 'ilm-ul-kalaam during the period when he refuted philosophy, and at that time he was given the title of hujjat-ul-Islam, after he had refuted the arguments of the philosophers. Then he recanted 'ilm-ul-kalaam and turned away from it. He followed the path of the Baateniyyah and learned their knowledge, but then he rejected that and showed the beliefs of the Baateniyyah to be false, and exposed the manner in which they tamper with the texts and rulings. Then he followed the path of Sufism. These are the four stages that al-Ghazzaali went through. Sheikh Abu 'Umar ibn as-Salaah (may Allah have mercy on him) spoke well of him when he said: "A lot has been said about Abu Haamid and a lot has been narrated from him. As for these books – meaning al-Ghazzaali's books which contradict the truth – no attention should be paid to them. As for the man himself, we should keep quiet about him, and refer his case to Allah." See Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali wat-Tasawwuf by 'Abdurrahman Dimashqiyyah.
No fair-minded person would deny the rare level of intelligence, ingenuity and cleverness that Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali attained. Adh-Dhahabi said of him: "Al-Ghazzaali, the imam and sheikh, the prominent scholar, hujjat-ul-Islam, the wonder of his time, Zayn ad-Din Abu Haamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad at-Toosi ash-Shaafi'i al-Ghazzaali, the author of many books and one possessed of utter intelligence. He studied fiqh in his own town, then he moved to Neyshabur in the company of a group of students. He stayed with the imam of al-Haramayn and gained a deep knowledge of fiqh within a short period. He became well-versed in 'ilm-ul-kalaam and debate, until he became the best of debaters…" (Siyar A'laam an-Nubalaa‘, part 9, p. 323)
You will find that even though Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali had such a deep knowledge of fiqh, Sufism, 'ilm-ul-kalaam, usool-ul-fiqh (the basic principles of fiqh), etc., and even though he was such an ascetic and devoted worshipper, and had such a good intention and vast knowledge of Islamic sciences, he still had an inclination towards philosophy. But his philosophy emerged in the form of Sufism and was expressed through Islamic ideas. Hence the Muslim scholars, including his closest companion Abu Bakr ibn al-'Arabi, refuted his ideas. Abu Bakr ibn al-'Arabi said: Our sheikh Abu Haamid went deep into philosophy, then he wanted to come out of it but he was unable to. There were narrated from him opinions which sound like the Baateni way of speaking, and that may be verified by looking in al-Ghazzaali's books. See Majmuu' al-Fataawaa, part 4, p. 66.
Even though al-Ghazzaali was very advanced in knowledge, he had little knowledge of hadiith and its sciences, and he could not distinguish between sound ahaadiith and weak ones. Sheikh-ul-Islam ibn Taymiyah rahimahullaah said: "If we assume that someone narrated the view of the salaf but what he narrated is far removed from what the view of the salaf actually is, then he has little knowledge of the view of the salaf, such as Abu al-Ma'aali, Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali, ibn al-Khateeb and the like, who did not have enough knowledge of hadiith to qualify them as ordinary scholars of hadiith, let alone as prominent scholars in that field. For none of these people had any knowledge of al-Bukhari and Muslim and their ahaadiith, apart from what they heard, which is similar to the situation of the ordinary Muslim, who cannot distinguish between a hadiith which is regarded as sahiih and mutawaatir according to the scholars of hadiith, and a hadiith which is fabricated and false. Their books bear witness to that, for they contain strange things and most of these scholars of 'ilm-ul-kalaam and Sufis who have drifted away from the path of the salaf admit that, either at the time of death or before death. There are many such well-known stories … This Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali, despite his brilliance, his devotion to Allah, his knowledge of kalaam and philosophy, his asceticism and spiritual practices and his Sufism, ended up in a state of confusion and resorted to the path of those who claim to find out things through dreams and spiritual methods…" (Majmuu' al-Fataawaa, part 4, p. 71)
He also said: Hence, even though Abu Haamid refuted the philosophers and classed them as kuffaar, and expressed veneration of Prophethood [as opposed to philosophy], etc., and even though some of what he says is true and good, and indeed of great benefit, nevertheless some of his writings contain philosophical material and matters where he followed the corrupt principles of philosophy that contradict Prophethood and even contradict sound common sense. Hence a group of scholars from Khorasan, Iraq and the Maghreb criticized him, such as his friend Abu Ishaaq al-Margheenaani, Abu al-Wafaa‘ ibn 'Aqeel, al-Qushayri, at-Tartooshi, ibn Rushd, al-Maaziri and a group of earlier scholars. This was even mentioned by Sheikh Abu 'Amr ibn as-Salaah in his book Tabaqaat Ashaab ash-Shafi'i, and was confirmed by Sheikh Abu Zakariya an-Nawawi, who said in this book: "Chapter explaining some important things for which Imam al-Ghazzaali was denounced in his books which were unacceptable to the scholars of his madhhab and others, namely his odd statements such as what he said in Muqaddimaat al-Manteq at the beginning of al-Mustasfi: 'This is the introduction to all knowledge, and whoever does not learn this, his knowledge cannot be trusted at all.'"
Sheikh Abu 'Amr said: "I heard Sheikh al-'Imaad ibn Yuunus narrating from Yuusuf ad-Dimashqi, the teacher of an-nidhaamiyyah in Baghdad, who was one of the famous deans of the school, that he used to denounce these words and say, "Abu Bakr and 'Umar and So-and-so and So-and-so…" meaning that these great leaders had a great deal of certainty and faith even though they had no knowledge of this muqaddimah and of any of the ideas contained in it." (Al-'Aqeedat-ul-Isfahaaniyyah, part 1, p. 169)
Adh-Dhahabi narrated in his book Siyar A'laam an-Nubalaa‘ that Muhammad ibn al-Waleed at-Tartooshi said in a letter which he sent to ibn Mudhaffar: As for what you mentioned about Abu Haamid, I have seen him and spoken to him, and I think that he is a man of great knowledge, he is intelligent and capable, and has been studying all of his life, spending most of his time in study, but then he drifted away from the path of the scholars and entered the crowd of worshippers. Then he became a Sufi and forsook knowledge and its people, then he got involved with "inspiration", those who claim to have spiritual knowledge, and the insinuating whispers of Satan. Then he mixed that with the views of the philosophers and the symbolic phrases of al-Hallaaj, and he started to criticize the fuqahaa‘ and the scholars of 'ilm-ul-kalaam. He almost went astray from the religion altogether. When he wrote al-Ihyaa‘ [i.e., Ihyaa‘ 'Uluum ad-Din], he started to speak of the inspiration and symbolic words of the Sufis, although he was not qualified to do that and had no deep knowledge of such matters. Hence he failed, and filled his book with fabricated reports.
I (adh-Dhahabi) say: "As for al-Ihyaa‘, it contains many false ahaadiith, and it contains much that is good. I wish that it did not contain etiquette, rituals and asceticism that are in accordance with the ways of the philosophers and deviant Sufis. We ask Allah for beneficial knowledge. Do you know what is beneficial knowledge? It is that which Allah revealed in al-Qur‘aan, which was explained by the Messenger (SAAS) in word and deed, and the type of knowledge which we are not forbidden to acquire. The Prophet (SAAS) said: "Whoever turns away from my Sunnah does not belong to me." So, my brother, you must ponder the words of Allah and persist in studying as-Sahiihayn (Sahiih al-Bukhari and Sahiih Muslim), Sunan an-Nasaa‘ee, Riyaad an-Nawawi and al-Adhkaar by an-Nawawi, then you will succeed and prosper.
Beware of the opinions of the philosophers, the practice of spiritual exercises, the starvation of monks, and the nonsense talk of those who stay alone for long periods in their monasteries. All goodness is to be found in following al-haniifiyyah as-samhah (the pure and tolerant way of Islamic Monotheism). And seek the help of Allah. O Allah, guide us to Your straight path..."
Al-Maaziri praised Abu Haamid with regard to fiqh, and said that he had more knowledge of fiqh than of usool-ul-fiqh (the basic principles of fiqh). With regard to 'ilm-ul-kalaam which is usool-ud-din (the basic principles of the religion), he wrote books in this field, but he did not have deep knowledge of it. I realized that he was lacking in experience in this field, because he studied the branches of philosophy before he studied usool-ul-fiqh, so philosophy made him audacious in criticizing ideas and attacking facts, because philosophy goes along with one's train of thought, without any sharee'ah guidelines.
A friend of his told me that he spent a lot of time studying Rasaa‘il Ikhwaan as-Safaa, which contains fifty-one essays. It was written by someone who has studied sharee'ah and philosophy, then had mixed the two. He was a man who was known as ibn Sina, who filled the world with his books. He had a good knowledge of philosophy, which led him to try to refer all the basic principles of 'aqeedah to philosophy. He strove hard and achieved what others had failed to do. I have seen some of his books and I noticed that Abu Haamid quotes him a great deal when he speaks of philosophy. With regard to Sufi views, I do not know where he got them from, but I have seen that some of his companions mention the books of ibn Sina and their contents, and he also mentioned the books of Abu Hayyaan at-Tauhiidi. As far as I am concerned, he picked up his Sufi ideas from him. I was told that Abu Hayyaan wrote a huge book about these Sufi ideas, and al-Ihyaa‘ contains a lot of baseless ideas … then he said: In al-Ihyaa‘ he mentioned ideas that have no basis, such as starting with the index finger when cutting the nails because it is superior to the other fingers, as it is the finger used in tasbeeh; then moving on to the middle finger because it is to the right of the index finger, and ending with the thumb of the right hand. He narrated a report concerning that.
I (adh-Dhahabi) say: this is a fabricated report. Abu al-Faraj al-Jawzi said: Abu Haamid wrote al-Ihyaa‘ and filled it with fabricated ahaadiith which he did not know were fabricated. He spoke of inspiration and deviated from the framework of fiqh. He said that what is meant by the stars, moon and sun that Ibrahim saw was the barriers of light that keep a person from Allah, not the things that are well known. This is like the words of the Baateniyyah. (Siyar A'laam an-Nubalaa‘, part 19, p. 340)
Then at the end of his life, al-Ghazzaali rahimahullaah came back to the belief of Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah. He focused on al-Qur‘aan and as-Sunnah and condemned 'ilm-ul-kalaam and its proponents. He advised the ummah to come back to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (SAAS), and to act in accordance with them, as was the way of the sahaabah (may Allah be pleased with them and those who follow them in truth until the Day of Judgement). Sheikh-ul-Islam rahimahullaah said: After that he came back to the path of the scholars of hadiith, and wrote Iljaam al-'Awaam 'an 'Ilm-il-Kalaam. (Majmuu' al-Fataawaa, part 4, p. 72)
A glance at Iljaam al-'Awaam 'an 'Ilm-il-Kalaam will prove to us that he had indeed changed in many ways:
1 – In this book he advocated the belief of the salaf, and pointed out that the way of the salaf was the truth, and that whoever went against them was an innovator or follower of bid'ah.
2 – He emphatically denounced ta‘weel (interpretation of the attributes of Allah in a manner that differs from their apparent meaning). He advocated affirming the attributes of Allah and not misinterpreting them in a manner that would lead to denying the attributes of Allah.
3 – He emphatically denounced the scholars of 'ilm-ul-kalaam and described all their principles and standards as "reprehensible innovations" which had harmed a great number of people and created trouble for the Muslims. He said: "The harm caused to a great number of people is something that has been seen, witnessed and experienced. The evil that has resulted since 'ilm-ul-kalaam began has become widespread even though people at the time of the sahaabah (RAA) forbade that. This is also indicated by the fact that the Messenger (SAAS) and the sahaabah (RAA), by consensus, did not follow the way of the scholars of 'ilm-ul-kalaam when they produced arguments and evidence and analysis. That was not because they were incapable of doing so; if they had thought that was something good, they would have done it in the best manner, and they would have studied the matter hard, more than they did with regard to the division of the estate among the heirs (al-faraa‘id)."
He also said: "As-sahaabah (RAA) needed to prove the Prophethood of Muhammad (SAAS) to the Jews and Nazarenes, but they did not add anything to the evidence of al-Qur‘aan; they did not resort to arguments or lay down philosophical principles. That was because they knew that doing so would provoke trouble and cause confusion. Whoever is not convinced by the evidence of al-Qur‘aan will not be convinced by anything other than the sword, for there is no proof after the proof of Allah." See the book Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali wat-Tasawwuf.
These are a few of the comments that trustworthy scholars have made about al-Ghazzaali rahimahullaah. Perhaps this is enough for those who wish to be guided.
And Allah is the Guide to the straight path.
Question # 27328:
Do you advise us to read the book Ihyaa‘ 'Uluum ad-Din by Sheikh Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali?
All praises and thanks are due to Allah.
Al-Ihyaa‘ contains da'iif (weak) ahaadiith and reports, and even many maudoo' (fabricated) reports. It contains many of the errors and myths of the Sufis.
Nevertheless it also contains some of the words of Sufi sheikhs who correctly understand the actions of the heart in accordance with al-Qur‘aan and Sunnah, and it speaks of acts of worship and etiquette in accordance with al-Qur‘aan and as-Sunnah; such material outweighs the material that is to be rejected. This is why people differed and disputed concerning it." (Majmuu' al-Fataawaa, vol 10, p. 551)
Hence our advice is that people should not read it, especially since there other books in the same field which mean that there is no need for it, such as Haadi al-Arwaah, al-Fawaa‘id, Zaad-ul-Ma'aad by ibn al-Qayyim; al-'Ubuudiyyah and al-Eemaan by Sheikh-ul-Islam ibn Taymiyah; Lataa‘if-ul-Ma'aarif, and Risaalat-ul-Khoshuu' fii as-Salaah, by ibn Rajab. There is also a summary of Ihyaa‘ 'Uluum ad-Din from which one may benefit, such as Mukhtasar Manhaaj al-Qaasediin by ibn Qudaamah. In the case of a student (taalib-ul-'ilm) who has a strong foundation of knowledge, there is nothing wrong with him reading it if he is able to distinguish between what is sahiih (sound) and what is da'iif (weak), what is true and what is false.
And Allah knows best.
Published on Friday the 1st of Muharram, 1428/the 19th of January, 2007