Inspired Knowledge in Islamic Thought: Al-Ghazali’s Theory of Mystical Cognition and Its Avicennian Foundation
INSPIRED KNOWLEDGE IN ISLAMIC THOUGHT –Book Sample
INSPIRED KNOWLEDGE IN ISLAMIC THOUGHT – intro
It has been customary to see the Muslim theologian Abū H. āmid al-Ghazālī (d. 1111) as a vehement critic of philosophy, who rejected it in favor of Islamic mysticism (Sufism), a view which has come under increased scrutiny in recent years.
This book argues that al-Ghazālī was, instead, one of the greatest popularizers of philosophy in medieval Islam. The author supplies new evidence showing that al-Ghazālī was indebted to philosophy in his theory of mystical cognition and his eschatology, and that, moreover, in these two areas he accepted even those philosophical teachings which he ostensibly criticized.
Through careful translation into English and detailed discussion of more than 80 key passages (with many more surveyed throughout the book), the author shows how al-Ghazālī’s understanding of “mystical cognition” is patterned after the philosophy of Avicenna (d. 1037). Arguing that despite overt criticism, al-Ghazālī never rejected Avicennian philosophy and that his mysticism itself is grounded in Avicenna’s teachings, the book offers a clear and systematic presentation of al-Ghazālī’s “philosophical mysticism.”
Challenging popular assumptions about one of the greatest Muslim theologians of all time, this is an important reference for scholars and laymen interested in Islamic theology and in the relations between philosophy and mysticism.
Alexander Treiger is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. His research focuses on Islamic theology, Arabic philosophy, and Syriac and Arabic Christianity, with emphasis on the transmission of theological and mystical ideas from Late Antiquity to early Islam.
This series studies the Middle East through the twin foci of its diverse cultures and civilizations. Comprising original monographs as well as scholarly surveys, it covers topics in the fields of Middle Eastern literature, archaeology, law, history, philosophy, science, folklore, art, architecture, and language. While there is a plurality of views, the series presents serious scholarship in a lucid and stimulating fashion.
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