• Book Title:
 The Just Balance
  • Book Author:
Imam Al-Ghazali
  • Total Pages
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About the Book

This is the work Ghazāli refers to in Paras. 68, 69, 70. 75, and 76. I translate the title as The Correct Balance. The expression occurs twice in the Qur’ān: 17.37/35 and 26.182. Blachére translates “la balance exacte,” and Arberry “the straight balance.” Ghazālī appropriately took his title from the Qur’ān, since this work is a somewhat curious attempt to Islamicize, or “Qurānize,” some of the Aristotelian, and Stoic, logic which he expounded more “scientifically” in others of his works. I have used the Arabic text edited by Victor Chelhot, S.J.-al-Qistās al-Mustaqīm, Beyrouth, 1959, and his French translation Institut Français de Damas, Bulletin d’Etudes orientales, Tome XV, annèes 1955-1957, Damas, 1958. “Ar” followed by a number indicates the pagination of the Arabic text, and “Fr” that of the French text. Some discrepancies seem due to the fact that Father Chelhot did his French translation from other texts before he himself edited the Arabic text. I have enclosed in brackets references, transliterations, variant translations, and explanatory notes. No great deal of explanation is needed. The reader unfamiliar with Arabic will no doubt be interested, and perhaps even intrigued, by the light this work throws on the character and thought of its brilliant author.

Introduction – THE JUST BALANCE

1   First I praise God Most High; secondly I invoke His blessings on His Elect Apostle. Then I say: My brethren, is there among you one who will lend me his ears that I may relate to him something [that took place in one] of my conversations? On a certain trip a companion who belonged to the group professing al-ta‘līm [authoritative instruction; a Bāţinite] unexpectedly questioned me and disputed with me like one sure of his skill and his brilliant argument. He said: I see that you claim the perfection of knowledge. By what balance, then, is true knowledge perceived? Is it by the balance of independent reasoning [al-ra’y] and analogy [al-qiyās]? But that is extremely contradictory and ambiguous and is the cause of disagreement among men. Or is it by the balance of authoritative instruction? In this case you would be obliged to follow the infallible Teacher-Imam-but I do not see you desirous of seeking him out.

2   I replied: As for the balance of independent reasoning and analogy, God forbid that I should cling to it!-for it is the balance of Satan. And I ask God Most High to protect religion from the evil of any of my friends who alleges that it is the balance of knowledge, for he is an ignorant friend of religion-and such a one is worse than an intelligent enemy. Had he been gifted with the happiness of [professing] the doctrine of authoritative instruction [Ghazālī is being sarcastic], he would first have learned how to dispute from the Qur’ān, where the Most High said: “Call thou to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and good admonition, and dispute with them in the better way” [16.126/125]. God thus taught that some men are called by wisdom [philosophy; Chelhot: connaissance rationelle, as opposed to the vision of faith], and some by admonition [exhortation, preaching], and some by disputation [dialectic].

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