Al-Ghazali and the Ismailis: A Debate on Reason and by Farouk Mitha

By Farouk Mitha

Al-Ghazali is arguably probably the most influential thinkers within the background of Islam, and his writings have acquired larger scholarly consciousness within the West than these of the other Muslim pupil. This learn explores a major size of his suggestion that has now not but been absolutely tested, specifically, his polemical engagement with the Ismailis of the Fatimid and early Alamut periods.Published in organization with The Institute of Ismaili reports.

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In addition to studying the full range of the so-called ‘religious sciences’ (Qur¢an, hadith and the commentaries on both) with emphasis on fiqh, alGhazålí was also exposed to Ash™arí kalåm. 21 By 484/1091 he had been appointed to teach Shåfi™í law at the Niúåmiyya in Baghdad where, as we now know, he remained for only four years until 488/1095. The drama, if you will, of these four years in Baghdad sits at the centre of our enquiry. The K. al-Mustaúhirí was written almost at the end of this period, yet it was preceded by a significant amount of activity, all of which has a bearing on our analysis of this text.

Al-Ghazålí’s Muqaddima: A Justification The K. al-Mustaúhirí begins with a customary muqaddima (preamble) which consists of an introductory khu†ba (exordium): an explanation of the circumstances which led him to write the present work; a brief statement on the objectives of the text and a list of the titles of all ten chapters in the text (an equivalent, perhaps, to a table of contents). The deployment of a preamble such as this had become an almost standard feature of texts written in medieval Islam.

The silence in the K. al-Mustaúhirí should thus be read as a posture that needs to be discerned between the lines, for only then can the implications of al-Ghazålí’s theory of an Islamic government in this work be adequately understood. Regardless of the theoretical model that was elaborated, it is important to keep in mind that al-Ghazålí’s theory was not a creatio ex nihilo. It was formulated within the framework and conventions of the siyåsa shar ™iyya tradition. By the time of al-Ghazålí, this tradition had become structured around a working relationship between the caliph, the Turkic sultans and the ™ulamå¢.

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