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Full text of "A Moslem seeker after God: showing Islam at its best in the life and teaching of al-Ghazali, mystic and theologian of the eleventh century"

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A Moslem Seeker After God 



By 
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The old ruined Mosque at Tus, Persia, probably dating from 
the Eleventh Century. 




The supposed grave of Abu Hamid Al Ghazali at Tus. 



A Moslem Seeker 
After God: 



Showing Islam at its Best 

in 

the Life and Teaching of Al-Ghazali 

Mystic and Theologian of the 

Eleventh Century 



By 
SAMUEL M. ZWEMER 

Author of " The Disintegration of Islam" "Child- 
hood in the Moslem World" etc. 



ILLUSTRATED 




NEW YORK CHICAGO 

Fleming H. Revell Company 

LONDON AND EDINBURGH 



Copyright, 1920, by 
FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY 



J3P- 



CARPENT1ER 



New York: 158 Fifth Avenue 
Chicago : 1 7 North Wabash Ave. 
London : 2 1 Paternoster Square 
Edinburgh : 75 Princes Street 



To the Faculties and Students 

of the 
Theological Seminary, New Brunswick, N. J. 

and the 

College of Missions, Indianapolis, Ind. 

where the several chapters of this 

book were given as lectures 

1918-1920 



M204015 



Introduction 

By DR. J. RENDEL HARRIS 

AL-GHAZALI was a rare combination of 
scholar and saint, of the orthodox Mos- 
lem and the aberrant Sufi. This work is 
a real contribution to the history of religion, and 
will have a peculiar value which attaches to Sufism 
at the present time. On the one hand we have the 
anthropologists engaged in the task (and for the 
most part successfully engaged) of tracing all re^ 
ligions to a common root, or roots, in the constitu- 
tion and the fears of primitive man ; on the other 
hand we have the mystics, of whom the Sufi is a 
leading representative, who are occupied in demon- 
strating experimentally that all religions which 
start at the bottom find their way to the top. 
William Penn said something in the same direc- 
tion when he affirmed that all good men were 
of the same religion, and that they would 
know one another when the livery was off. But 
what did he mean by taking the livery off? The 
abstinence from rites, ceremonies and the like is a 
negative process which certainly would not satisfy 

7 



8 INTEODUCnON 

the genuine Sufi. He would say with St. Paul, 
" Not that we would be unclothed, but rather 
clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up 
of life." That is real mystic language, and sug- 
gests that we shall know one another, not so much 
by being denuded of tradition and superstition 
(however desirable the process may be in some 
points of view), as by putting on the robe of light 
and sitting down in the heavenly places with Jesus 
Christ, and with any one else whom He calls into 
His companionship. 

Al-Ghazali tells us in his Confessions that he 
found the true way of life in Sufism, that is, in 
Pantheism, yet he remained an orthodox Moslem, 
that is, a Transcendentalist. At the present time, 
when the effects of a war of unheard and un- 
equalled severity are still perplexing men, the 
Transcendent and the Immanent views of God are 
alike hard put to it. Sufism is on its back, Trans- 
cendentalism can scarcely keep its feet. It is a 
poor time of day for seeing God in all, almost as 
ill a time for believing Him to be over all. Where 
speculation fails, or limps along with lame feet or 
with broken wing, there must be some other way of 
taking us to God Himself, beyond reason and safer 
than imagination. Al-Ghazali found it, when he 
abandoned his lecture-room and went into the 
wilderness. While he still continued to recite the 
formulas, which affirm the Unity of God and the 
authority of His Apostle, he found his way into 



DSTTEODUOTION 9 

the Sufi inner sanctuary, where one understands 

that 

" he who lies, 

Folded in favour on the Sultan's breast, 
Needs not a letter nor a messenger." 

The book tells us something about this side of his 
experience in the Quest of Life, and when the story 
is finished we are reminded not to seek the Living 
among the dead, but to believe that the same Lord 
is rich unto all that call upon Him in truth. 

J. K H. 

Friends' Settlement, 
Woodbrooke, England. 



Preface 

THERE are a score of lives of Mohammed, 
the great Arabian Prophet, in the English 
language, yet there is no popular biog- 
raphy of the greatest of all Moslems since his day, 
Al-Ghazali. Even the Encyclop&dia Britannica 
gives only scant information. Professor Duncan 
B. Macdonald prepared a life of Al-Ghazali with 
special reference to his religious experiences and 
influence in a paper published in the twentieth vol- 
ume of " The Journal of the American Oriental 
Society" (1899), but now out of print His 
scholarly investigations and conclusions, however, 
deal with Al-Ghazali's inner experiences and his 
philosophy, rather than with his environment and 
the events of his life. We acknowledge our great 
indebtedness to his paper and to the original Arabic 
sources on which it was based, especially the intro- 
duction to the Commentary on the Ihya by Sayyid 
Murtadha in ten volumes and entitled Ithaf as- 
sa'ada. I have found additional material in Al-Gha- 
zali's writings and other books mentioned in the 
bibliography given in the appendix of this book, 
especially the Tabaqat ash-shafai'ya by As-Subqi, 
who wrote long before Murtadha and to whom 
Macdonald refers, but whose work he did not use. 

ii 



12 PREFACE 

The study of Al-Ghazali's fife and writings will, 
more than anything else, awaken a deeper sym- 
pathy for that which is highest and strongest in 
the religion of Islam ; for the student of his works 
learns to appreciate Islam at its best. As Jalal-ud- 
din says: 

" Fools buy false coins because they are like the true. 
If in the world no genuine minted coin 
Were current, how would forgers pass the false ? 
Falsehood were nothing unless truth were there, 
To make it specious. 'Tis the love of right 
Lures men to wrong. Let poison but be mixed 
With sugar, they will cram it into their mouths. 
Oh, cry not that all creeds are vain ! Some scent 
Of truth they have, else they would not beguile." 

There is a real sense in which Al-Ghazali may be 
used as a schoolmaster to lead Moslems to Christ. 
His books are full of references to the teaching of 
Christ. He was a true seeker after God. 

Islam is the prodigal son, the Ishmael, among the 
non-Christian religions; this is a fact we may not 
forget. Now we read in Christ's matchless para- 
ble of the prodigal how " When he was yet a great 
way off his father saw him and ran out to meet 
him and fell on his neck and kissed him." Have 
missionaries always had this spirit? No one can 
read the story of Al-Ghazali's life, so near and yet 
so far from the Kingdom of God, so eager to enter 
and yet always groping for the doorway, without 



PEEFACE 13 

fervently wishing that Al-Ghazali could have met a 
true ambassador of Christ. Then surely this great 
champion of the Moslem faith would have become 
an apostle of Christianity in his own day and 
generation. By striving to understand Al-Ghazali 
we may at least better fit ourselves to help those 
who, like him, are earnest seekers after God amid 
the twilight shadows of Islam. His life also has 
a lesson for us all in its devout Theism and in its 
call to the practice of the Presence of God. 

S. M. Z. 
Cairo, Egypt, 



Contents 

I. THE ELEVENTH CENTURY ... 19 

II. BIRTH AND EDUCATION . . .51 

III. TEACHING, CONVERSION, AND RETIRE- 

MENT 81 

IV. WANDERINGS, LATER YEARS AND DEATH 1 1 1 

V. His CREED AND CREDULITY . . .145 

VI. His WRITINGS 169 

VII. His ETHICS 195 

VIII. AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC . . . 219 

IX. JESUS CHRIST IN AL-GHAZALI . .255 
APPENDIX : 

A. Bibliography .... 295 

B. Translations of Al-Ghazali's Works 297 

C. List of Al-Ghazali's Works . . 299 

D. Comparative Table of Events . 303 



5 



Illustrations 

The old ruined Mosque at Tus, Persia, probably dating 

from the Eleventh Century . . . Frontispiece 

The supposed grave of Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali at Tus " 

Facing page 
The East Gate, Damascus 54 

Interior of the Great Mosque at Damascus. In the 

center the Mihrab showing the direction of prayer 106 
and to the right the Great Pulpit 

The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, as seen from the 

'Lutheran Church . , . . . .126 

Pen-case of Al-Ghazali, made of brass inlaid with silver, 

preserved in the Arab Museum, Cairo . . 172 

A facsimile page of the Ihya (Vol. II, page 180, Cairo 
Ed.). It gives a diagram of the prayer kibla and 
the rules to be observed in facing it correctly . 1 80 

Facsimile title page of the last book Al-Ghazali wrote, 
entitled " Minhaj-Al-'Abidin." On the margin 
this Cairo edition gives another of his celebrated 
works, " Badayat-al-Hadaya " . . . .232 

A Mihrab or prayer-niche made of cedar wood and 
dating from the Eleventh Century. (Cairo 
Museum) 242 



I 

The Eleventh Century 



"Between the civilizations of Christendom and 
Islam there is a gulf which no human genius, no 
concourse of events, can entirely bridge over. The 
most celebrated Orientals, whether in war or policy, 
in literature or learning, are little more than names 
for Europeans." 

" The Assemblies of Al-Hariri," by 
Thomas Chenery. 

" With the time came the man. He was Al-Ghazali, 
the greatest, certainly the most sympathetic figure in 
the history of Islam, and the only teacher of the after 
generations ever put by a Muslim on a level with the 
four great Imams. The equal of Augustine in 
philosophical and theological importance. By his side 
the Aristotelian philosophers of Islam, Ibn Rushd 
and all the rest, seem beggarly compilers and 
scholiasts. Only Al-Farabi, and that in virtue of his 
mysticism, approaches him. In his own person he 
took up the life of his time on all its sides and with 
it all its problems. He lived through them all and 
drew his theology from his experience." 

"Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Con- 
stitutional Theory," by D. B. Macdonald. 



THE ELEVENTH CENTURY 

THE great characters of history may be 
compared to mountain peaks that rise 
high above the plains and the lower foot- 
hills and are visible from great distances because 
they dominate the landscape. In the historical 
study of Islam four names stand out prominently. 
They are those of Mohammed himself; of Al- 
Bokhari, the most celebrated collector of the 
Traditions; of Al-Ash'ari, the great dogmatic 
theologian and the opponent of rationalism ; and of 
Al-Ghazali, the reformer and mystic. The last 
named has left a larger imprint upon the history 
of Islam than any man save Mohammed himself. 
"If there had been a prophet after Mohammed," 
said As-Suyuti, " it would have been Al-Ghazali." 
It is in his life, and more especially in his writ- 
ings, that I believe we can see Islam at its best. 
In trying to escape the dead weight of Tradition 
and the formalism of its requirements, Moslems 
are more and more finding relief in the way of the 
mystic. Of all those who have found a deeper 
spiritual meaning in the teachings of the Koran and 

21 



22 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

even in the multitudinous and puerile detail of the 
Moslem ritual, none can equal Al-Ghazali. " He 
was," says Jamal-ud-Din, " the pivot of existence 
and the common pool of refreshing waters for all, 
the soul of the purest part of the people of the 
Faith, and the road for obtaining the satisfaction 
of the Merciful. . . . He became the unique 
one of his own day and for all time among the 
Moslem learned." "Al-Ghazali," said another 
writer, nearly contemporary, " is an i^am by 
whose name breasts are dilated and souls revived, 
in whose literary productions the ink horn exults 
and the paper quivers with joy, and at the hearing 
of whose message voices are hushed and heads are 
bowed." 

A celebrated saint, Ahmed As-Sayyed Al- 
Yamani Az-Zabidi, also a contemporary of Al- 
Ghazali, said, " When I was sitting one day, lo, I 
perceived the gates of heaven opened, and a com- 
pany of blessed angels descended, having with them 
a green robe and a precious steed. They stood by 
a certain grave and brought forth its tenant and 
clothed him in the green robe and set him on the 
steed and ascended with him from heaven to 
heaven, till he passed the seven heavens and rent 
after them sixty veils, and I know not whither at 
last he reached. Then I asked about him, and 
was answered, ' This is the Imam Al-Ghazali/ 
That was after his death; may God Most High 
have mercy on him ! " 



THE ELEVENTH CENTUEY 23 

Another story is related of him as follows: " In 
our time there was a man in Egypt who disliked 
Al-Ghazali and abused him and slandered him. 
And he saw the Prophet (God bless him and give 
him peace!) in a dream; Abu Bakr and 'Omar 
(may God be well pleased with both of them!) 
were at his side, and Al-Ghazali was sitting before 
him, saying, ' O Apostle of God, this man speaks 
against me ! ' Thereupon the Prophet said, ' Bring 
the whips ! ' So the man was beaten on account of 
Al-Ghazali. Then the man arose from sleep, and 
the marks of the whips remained on his back, and 
he was wont to weep and tell the story." 

And should this praise seem oriental and ex- 
travagant, we add the words of Professor Duncan 
B. Macdonald, who has made a more thorough 
study of Al-Ghazali's life and writings than any 
other student of Islam: " What rigidity of grasp 
the hand of Islam would have exercised but for the 
influence of Al-Ghazali might be hard to tell; he 
saved it from scholastic decrepitude, opened before 
the orthodox Moslem the possibility of a life hid in 
God, was persecuted in his life as a heretic, and 
now ranks as the greatest doctor of the Moslem 
Church." 

To understand the importance of Al-Ghazali and 
of his teaching we must transport ourselves to the 
time in which he lived. We cannot understand a 
man unless we know his environment. Biography 
is only a thread in the vast web of history, in 



24 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

which time is broad as well as long. Al-Ghazali 
belongs to the small company of torch bearers in 
the Dark Ages. 

He was born at Tus, in Khorasan, Persia, in the 
year 1058 A. D., and died in 1111 A. D. When 
Al-Ghazali was born Togrul Bey had just taken 
Bagdad, Henry IV was Emperor, Nicholas II was 
Pope, the Norman conquest had just begun in the 
west, and Asia Minor was overrun by the Turks in 
the Near East. Among Al-Ghazali's other con- 
temporaries in the west were Hildebrand the Pope, 
Abelard, Bernard, Anselm, and Peter the Hermit. 
About the time he wrote his greatest work, God- 
frey of Bouillon was King of Jerusalem. Al- 
Ghazali was struggling with the problem of Islam 
in its relation to the human heart thirsting for God, 
about two hundred years after Al-Kindi had written 
his remarkable apology for the Christian faith at 
the court of Haroun-ar-Rashid and two hundred 
years before Raymond Lull laid down his life a 
martyr in North Africa. 

The condition of the Moslem world had utterly 
changed since the days when Busrah with its rival 
city Kufa were dominated by the victorious Arabs 
of Omar's Caliphate. The Abbasside Caliphs ^f 
the eleventh century were almost as much the 
shadows of former power as the Emperors of the 
East ; they retained little more than their religious 
supremacy. Togrul Bey, the grandson of Seljuk, 
had been confirmed by the powerless Caliph Al- 



THE ELEVENTH CENTUEY 25 

Qa'im bi-amr Allah, in all his conquests, loaded 
with honours, saluted as King of the East and 
West, and endowed with the hand of the Caliph's 
daughter. In the next reign, that of Al-Muqtadi, 
the Seljuk Turks captured Jerusalem. 

"About the year 1000," says Noldeke, 1 " Islam 
was in a very bad way. The Abbasside Caliphate 
had long ceased to be of any importance, the power 
of the Arabs had long ago been broken. There 
was a multitude of Islamite States, great and 
small; but even the most powerful of these, that of 
the Fatimids, was very far from being able to give 
solidity to the whole, especially as it was Shi'ite. 
. . . These nomads (the Turks) caused dread- 
ful devastation, trampled to the ground the flourish- 
ing civilization of vast territories, and contributed 
almost nothing to the culture of the human race; 
but they mightily strengthened the religion of Mo- 
hammed. The rude Turks took up with zeal the 
faith which was just within reach of their intellec- 
tual powers, and they became its true, often fanat- 
ical, champions against the outside world. They 
founded the powerful empire of the Seljuks, and 
conquered new regions for Islam in the northwest. 
After the downfall of the Seljuk empire they still 
continued to be the ruling people in all its older 
portions. Had not the warlike character of Islam 
been revived by the Turks, the Crusaders perhaps 

*" Sketches from Eastern History," Theodore Noldeke. 
London, 1892, p. 98. 



26 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

might have had some prospect of more enduring 
success." 

Togrul Bey was invested with the title of Sultan 
in the royal city of Nishapur, A. D. 1038. Accord- 
ing to Gibbon, he was the " father of his soldiers 
and of his people. By a firm and equal adminis- 
tration Persia was relieved from the evils of an- 
archy ; and the same hands which had been imbrued 
in blood became the guardians of justice and the 
public peace. The more rustic, perhaps the wisest, 
portion of the Turkmans continued to dwell in the 
tents of their ancestors ; and, from the Oxus to the 
Euphrates, these military colonies were protected 
and propagated by their native princes. But the 
Turks of the court and city were refined by busi- 
ness and softened by pleasure: they imitated the 
dress, language, and manners of Persia; and the 
royal palaces of Nishapur and Rei displayed the 
order and magnificence of a great monarchy. The 
most deserving of the Arabians and Persians were 
promoted to the honours of the state; and the 
whole body of the Turkish nation embraced with 
fervour and sincerity the religion of Mahomet/' 

The first of the great Seljuk Sultans was con- 
spicuous by his zeal for the Moslem faith. He 
spent much time in prayer, and in every city which 
he conquered built new mosques. By force of 
arms he delivered the Caliph of Bagdad at the 
head of an irresistible force and taught the people 
*" Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." 



THE ELEVENTH CENTURY 27 

of Mosul and Bagdad the lesson of obedience. 
Rescued from his enemies, the alliance between the 
Caliph and the Sultan was cemented by the mar- 
riage of Togrul's sister with the successor of the 
Prophet. In 1063 Togrul died and his nephew 
Alp Arslan succeeded him. His name, therefore, 
was pronounced after that of the Caliph in public 
prayer by all the Moslems of the Near East. 

The character of his rule Gibbon gives us in a 
sentence: "The myriads of Turkish horse over- 
spread a frontier of 600 miles from Taurus to 
Erzeroum, and the blood of 136,000 Christians was 
a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet." The 
" valiant lion," for that is the significance of his 
name, displayed at once the fierceness and gener- 
osity of a typical Oriental ruler. Christians suf- 
fered dreadful persecution. Enemies were assas- 
sinated ; but the learned, the rich, and the favoured 
were lavishly rewarded. Arslan was a valiant 
warrior of the faith and as eager for the battle- 
field as those whom Moore describes: 

" One of that saintly murderous brood 
To carnage and the Koran given, 
Who think through unbeliever's blood 
Lies their directest path to heaven. 
One who will pause and kneel unshod 
In the warm blood his hand hath poured 
To mutter o'er some text of God 
Engraven on his reeking sword." 

Armenia was laid waste in the cruelest manner 



28 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

when the capital was taken on June 6, 1064 We 
are told that " human blood flowed in torrents, and 
so great was the carnage, that the streets were 
literally choked up with dead bodies; and the 
waters of the river were reddened from the quan- 
tity of bloody corpses." The wealthy inhabitants 
were tortured, the churches pillaged, and the priests 
flayed alive. Al-Ghazali was then six years old. 

In 1072 Alp Arslan was assassinated. His 
eldest son, Malek Shah, succeeded him. He ex- 
tended the conquests of his father beyond the Oxus 
as far as Bokhara and Samarkand, until his name 
was inserted on the coins and in the prayers of the 
Tartar kingdom on the borders of China. " From 
the Chinese frontiers, he stretched his immediate 
jurisdiction or feudatory sway to the west and 
south, as far as the mountains of Georgia, the 
neighbourhood of Constantinople, the holy city of 
Jerusalem, and the spicy groves of Arabia Felix. 
Instead of resigning himself to the luxury of the 
harem, the shepherd king, both in peace and war, 
was in action in the field." 

Nizam Al-Mulk was his vizier, and it is largely 
due to his influence that the study of science and 
literature revived to such a remarkable degree. 
The calendar was reformed, schools and colleges 
erected, and the learned competed with each other 
for the favour of royalty. For thirty years Nizam 
Al-Mulk was honoured by the Caliph as the very 
oracle of religion and science. But at the age of 



THE ELEVENTH OENTTJEY 29 

ninety-three, the venerable statesman, to whom, as 
we shall see later, Al-Ghazali owed so much, was 
dismissed by his master, accused by his enemies, 
and murdered by a fanatic. The last words of 
Nizam attested his innocence, and the remainder of 
Malek's life was short and inglorious. 

The Arabic language had become dominant 
everywhere. Its vocabulary had leavened the 
whole lump of languages in the Near East. Every 
race with which the Arabs came in contact was 
more or less Arabized. " The extent of this influ- 
ence," says Chenery, 1 " may be perceived by com- 
paring the Persian of Firdausi with that of Sa'di. 
The language of the former, who flourished in the 
early part of our eleventh century, is tolerably pure, 
while the Gulistan, which was produced some two 
hundred and fifty years later, is in some places little 
more than a piecing together of Arabic words with 
a cement of the original tongue. It is to be noticed, 
also, that the latter author introduces continually 
Arabic verses, as the highest ornaments of his 
work, and assumes that his readers are acquainted 
with this classic and sacred tongue." 

Trade routes extended everywhere. There was 
intercourse with India and China on the east, as 
well as with the Spice Islands, so called, of Malay- 
sia. Caravans carried trade across the whole of 
Central Asia and Northern Arabia to the empo- 

1 " The Assemblies of al-Hariri," trans, by Thomas 
Chenery. I^ondon, 1867. Vol. I, Introduction, p. 5. 



80 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

riums of the West. Spain had intercourse with 
Persia. Al-Hariri praises Busrah " as the spot 
where the ship and the camel meet, the sea fish and 
the lizard, the camel-leader and the sailor, the fisher 
and the tiller." In other words it was the port and 
emporium for all the lands watered by the Eu- 
phrates and Tigris. The same was true of Alex- 
andria for the West. 

We have evidences that an extensive trade was 
carried on between Arabia and China in walrus and 
ivory. An extensive work exists written in Chinese 
in the twelfth century on trade with the Arabs of 
which a recent translation has been published at 
Petrograd. More remarkable still is the fact that 
in Scandinavia thousands of Kufic coins have been 
found, nearly all of which date from the eleventh 
century. This would indicate that even this re- 
mote part of Europe was in touch with the Near 
East. 1 

Judging from literature and history, it was a 
time of looseness of morals and of divorce between 
religion and ethics, even more startling than in the 
world of Islam to-day. There were those who 
wrote commentaries on the marvels of the Koran, 
like Al-Harawi, yet did not scruple to indulge in 
private wine-drinking and carousals and loose con- 
versation. The place of wine, women, and song, 
not only in popular literature and poetry, but ev,en 

*Der Islam, Band V, Heft 2/3; C. H. Becker, Strassburg, 
1914, pp. 239, 291. 



THE ELEVENTH OENTUEY 31 

in the table talk of theologians and philosophers is 
clear evidence. Huart remarks in regard to the 
celebrated " Book of the Monasteries/' which is an 
anthology of the convents of the Near East: " We 
must not forget that, when Moslems went to Chris- 
tian cloisters, it was not to seek devotional im- 
pulses, but simply for the sake of an opportunity 
of drinking wine, the use of which was forbidden 
in the Mohammedan towns. The poets, out of 
gratitude, sang the praises of the blessed spots 
where they had enjoyed the delights of intoxica- 
tion." Those who dared to preach and write 
against this public immorality had to suffer the 
consequences; and because hypocrites were in 
power reformers were not heeded. 

We read of Ibn Hamdun (1101-1167), that 
when he openly attacked the evils which he saw 
around him in Bagdad, he was dismissed from his 
public office as secretary of state, cast into prison, 
and left to die. Punishments were cruel. Ampu- 
tations for theft, in accordance with the Koran 
legislation, were matters of such every-day occur- 
rence that the maimed man was always a suspect. 
We read of Al-Zamakhshari, that one of his feet 
had been frost-bitten during a winter storm, neces- 
sitating an amputation, and so he went about with 
a wooden leg, but he also carried about with him a 
written testimony of witnesses to prove that he had 
been maimed by accident, and not in punishment 
for a crime. 



32 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

Al-Baihaki, the chronicler of the court at Bag- 
dad, shows us that the zeal for the faith was often 
accompanied by a reckless disregard for the law of 
Islam as regards the use of fermented liquor. Not 
only the soldiers and their officers had drunken 
brawls, but the Sultan Mas'ud used to enjoy regu- 
lar bouts in which he frequently saw his fellow 
topers " under the table." Here is a scene repre- 
sented as having taken place at Ghazni, the capital 
of Khorasan province. " Fifty goblets and flagons 
of wine were brought from the pavilion into the 
garden, and the cups began to go round. ' Fair 
measure/ said the amir, ' and equal cups let us 
drink fair/ They grew merry and the minstrels 
sang. One of the courtiers had finished five tank- 
ards each held nearly a pint of wine but the 
sixth confused him, the seventh bereft him of his 
senses, and at the eighth he was consigned to his 
servants. The doctor was carried off at his fifth 
cup; Khalil Dawud managed ten, Siyabiruz nine, 
and then they were taken home ; everybody rolled 
or was rolled away, till only the Sultan and the 
Khwaja Abd-ar-Razzak remained. The Khwaja 
finished eighteen goblets and then rose, saying, 
' If your slave has any more he will lose both his 
wits and his respect for your Majesty/ Mas'ud 
went on alone, and after he had drunk twenty- 
seven full cups, he too arose, called for water and 
prayer-carpet, washed, and recited the belated noon 
and sunset prayers together as soberly as if he had 



THE ELEVENTH CENTUBY 33 

not tasted a drop; then mounted his elephant and 
rode to the palace." 

Mas'ud was put to death in 1040. His sons and 
descendants for more than a century ruled this part 
of the Moslem world. But Ghazni fell from the 
proud position of the capital of a kingdom to a 
mere dependency of the Empire of Malek Shah. 

The eleventh century was a period when the na- 
tions of Western Europe were beginning to crys- 
tallize both as regards their governments and civ- 
ilization. Their influence was felt at home and 
abroad, although the masses were still in the depths 
of barbarism. Among the clergy and nobility 
something of order and civilization, and social de- 
velopment had appeared, but we are told by one 
writer that it was a striking characteristic of the 
time to find side by side with barbarian violence 
and disorder, and the constant display of the most 
brutal passions, a strong religious feeling. This 
feeling often took the form of superstition and 
fanaticism, the performance of meritorious works, 
especially a pilgrimage to the holy sepulcher. 
Thousands risked their life and health, and spent 
all their fortune to reach the holy city, with the 
same devotion and sacrifice which we still witness 
among the ardent Russian pilgrims of to-day. 

When Asia Minor and Syria were conquered by 
the Turks this access to Jerusalem was cut off. In 

1 Mediaeval India, in "The Story of the Nations Series," 
Stanley I^ane-Poole, New York, 1903, p. 37. 



34 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

1076 (Al-Ghazali was then eighteen years old) 
they massacred three thousand of these Christian 
people and their subsequent rule was relentless in 
its tyranny. We read that " the venerable Patri- 
arch was dragged by the hair along the streets, and 
cast into a dungeon ; the clergy of every sect were 
insulted; and the unhappy pilgrims were made to 
suffer every indignity and abuse." 

This treatment of Christian pilgrims produced a 
storm of indignation and anger throughout the 
West. Peter the Hermit himself visited Jerusalem 
and returned to Europe to arouse the nations. The 
result was the first Crusade, in which Pope Urban 
II cooperated. Three hundred thousand half- 
armed, half-naked peasants forced their way across 
Europe along the Rhine and the Danube. Only 
one-third of their number reached the shores of 
Asia. There they were utterly destroyed and 
only a pyramid of bones remained to tell of their 
fate. 

The Crusade under Godfrey of Bouillon was a 
well-appointed military expedition embracing the 
flower of Europe. There are said to have been 
mustered in the plains of Bithynia one hundred 
thousand horsemen in full armour and six hundred 
thousand footmen. These numbers may be exag- 
gerated, and pestilence and famine thinned their 
ranks, but in less than three years they had attained 
the great object of their expedition. In 1097 they 
laid siege to Nicea and captured it. They ad- 



THE ELEVENTH CENTUEY 35 

vanced against Antioch and after seven weary 
months laid siege to the city. In 1099 they ad- 
vanced on Jerusalem and after a siege of forty days 
the holy city surrendered. " The merciless Franks 
did not fail to inflict a terrible vengeance for their 
own sufferings and the indignities which had been 
heaped upon their religion and their race. The 
Jews were burned in their synagogues ; and seventy 
thousand Moslems were put to the sword. For 
three days the city was given up to indiscriminate 
pillage and massacre, until a pestilence was bred by 
the putrefaction of the slain." 

Soon Godfrey and his successors extended their 
dominions until only four cities, Aleppo, Damas- 
cus, Hamath, and Hums remained in the possession 
of the Moslems in Syria. Everywhere the fol- 
lowers of the Prophet were filled with grief and 
shame and with a great longing to wipe away the 
disgrace which had fallen on their religion. 

" In the year 493 A. H.," says Muir, 1 " conster- 
nation was spread throughout the land by the cap- 
ture of Jerusalem, and cruel treatment of its in- 
habitants. Preachers went about proclaiming the 
sad story, kindling revenge, and rousing men to 
recover from infidel hands the Mosque of Omar, 
and scene of the Prophet's heavenly flight. But 
whatever the success elsewhere, the mission failed 
in the East, which was occupied with its own trou- 
bles, and moreover cared little for the Holy Land, 

1 " The Caliphate, its Rise, Decline and Fall," 1892, p. 57& 



36 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

dominated as it then was by the Fatimide faith. 
Crowds of exiles, driven for refuge to Bagdad, and 
joined there by the populace, cried out for war 
against the Franks. But neither Sultan nor Caliph 
had ears to hear. For two Fridays the insurgents, 
with this cry, stormed the Great Mosque, broke the 
pulpit and throne of the Caliph in pieces, and 
shouted down the service; but that was all. No 
army went/' 

Among Moslems themselves religious rancour 
abounded. At present the four orthodox sects 
worship together and live in peace as neighbours, 
but in those days there were frequent and hot dis- 
putes between the rival schools and much contro- 
versial literature arose, so that the hatred between 
the sects was deep and bitter. The Persian his- 
torian, Mirkhond, has recorded a fact which shows 
how implacable the feeling had become towards the 
close of the Caliphate. When the Mongols of 
Genghiz Khan appeared before the city of Rei, they 
found it divided into two factions the one com- 
posed of Shafi'ites, the other of Hanifites. The 
former at once entered into secret negotiations un- 
dertaking to deliver up the city at night, on condi- 
tion that the Mongols massacred the members ^>f 
the other sect. The Mongols, never reluctant to 
shed blood, gladly accepted these proposals, and 
being admitted into the city, slaughtered the 
Hanifites without mercy. 

It was in this atmosphere of mutual hatred, of 



THE ELEVENTH CENTTJEY 37 

War and bloodshed, that Al-Ghazali spent the last 
years of his life. We may excuse in him much of 
what would otherwise seem intolerant and hateful, 
when we remember how the passion of war blinds 
human judgment and makes it impossible to see 
any virtue in the invader. 

We must not forget that Al-Ghazali came into 
close touch with Oriental Christians from his boy- 
hood. 1 Christianity was established in Persia at 
the time of the Moslem conquest, and the Nestorian 
Church withstood its terrific impact when Zoroas- 
trianism was almost destroyed. The coming of 
the Arabs meant to the Christians only a change of 
masters. The Nestorians became the rayah, " peo- 
ple of protection/' of the Caliphs. They did not 
immediately sink into their present deplorable con- 
dition. They still conducted foreign missions 
and during the entire Abbasside period remained 
a very important factor of civilization in the East. 

*That there was not only close social, but religious and 
polemical contact between the learned men of Christian 
sects and those of Islam long before this period, and es- 
pecially during the life of Al-Ghazali is well known. See 
especially the life and writings of Al-Kindi, John of 
Damascus, and Theodor Abu Qurra as given by A. Keller in 
"Der Geisteskampf des Christentums gegen den Islam bis 
zur Zeit der Kreuzziige" (Leipzig, 1896) and " Christliches 
Polemik und Islamische Dogmenbilding," by C. H. Becker 
("Festschrift Ignaz Goldziher," pp. 175-195). The latter 
shows clearly that Islam borrowed considerably from Chris- 
tianity, through controversy, both in its dogma and ritual 
even as late as the tenth century. 



38 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

They were permitted to restore their Churches, but 
not to build new ones ; they were forbidden to bear 
arms or ride a horse, save in case of necessity, and 
they even then had to dismount on meeting a Mos- 
lem; they were subject to the usual poll-tax. Yet 
the Nestorians were the most powerful non-Mos- 
lem community while the Caliphs reigned at Bag- 
dad (750-1258), and had a higher tradition of 
civilization than their masters. They were used at 
court as physicians, scribes, and secretaries, and 
thus gained great influence, having much freedom 
in canonical matters, elected Patriarchs, etc. The 
Arab scholarship which came to Spain, and was a 
great factor in mediaeval learning, begins in great 
part with the Nestorians of Bagdad. They handed 
on to their Arab masters the Greek culture which 
was inherited in Syriac translations. So we find 
the Caliphs treating them as chief of the Christian 
communities, and at times civil authority over all 
Christians had been given to the Nestorian Patri- 
arch. 

Early in the eleventh century Al-Biruni, a Mos- 
lem writer from Khiva, mentions the Nestorians as 
the most civilized of the Christian communities 
under the Caliph. He says that there are three 
sects of Christians Melchites, Nestorians and Jac- 
obites. "The most numerous of them are the 
Melchites and Nestorians ; because Greece and the 
adjacent countries are all inhabited by Melchites, 
whilst the majority of the inhabitants of Syria, 



THE ELEVENTH CEOTUKY 39 

Irak and Mesopotamia and Khorasan are Nes- 
torians." 

Al-Ghazali spent his first twenty years in Kho- 
rasan. Did he ever become acquainted with Chris- 
tianity through perusal of the Gospel ? We know 
that Arabic, if not Persian, translations existed at 
this period ; and not only are there many references 
to Christ and His teaching in Al-Ghazali's works, 
but there are some very few passages accurate 
enough to be called quotations. He himself states 
as we shall see later: " I have read in the Gospel." 

That there were translations of the Bible into 
Arabic to which Al-Ghazali may have had access is 
probable. Dr. Kilgour tells of Arabic Gospel man- 
uscripts of the ninth century and of translations of 
the Old Testament and portions of the New made 
in the Fayyoum before 942 A. D. " To the tenth 
century belong versions of some books of the Old 
Testament from Syriac, others from the LXX., 
and from the Coptic; and some fresh translations 
of the Pentateuch, using the Samaritan text as well 
as the Massoretic." 

Diglot manuscripts in Syriac and Arabic are 
quite numerous. The manuscript of the four Gos- 
pels, of which a few leaves are now in the British 
Museum, is a good specimen of such a diglot. It 
was brought by Tischendorf from the Syrian Con- 

1 Cf . " The Lesser Eastern Churches," Adrian Fortescue, 
London, 1913. 
3 Cf . The Moslem World, Vol. VI, p. 385. 



40 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

vent of St. Mary Deipara in the Nitrian Desert. 
In the early part of the eleventh century an Arabic 
scholar made a version of Tatian's Diatessaron, 
that early Syriac Harmony of the Gospels which 
helped the Christian Church to realize the main 
facts concerning our Saviour. A version of the 
Psalms was prepared in the middle of the same 
century for use in the Church services of the papal 
or Melchite Greeks. This was translated from 
the Greek Psalter, and, from the place where it was 
first printed, became known afterwards as the 
Aleppo Psalter. 1 It remains an interesting ques- 
tion whether Al-Ghazali in his travels, or while still 
in Khorasan, ever examined the New Testament. 

We are told that the Jews translated their law 
into Persian by 827 A. D. It is, therefore, hard to 
acquit the Christians of Persia of negligence. 
Their bishops found time to write learned treatises 
in Persian and Arabic, and even to translate Aris- 
totle, but not to give Moslems the Scriptures. Yet 
Al-Kindi and others like him, many of whose 
names and writings are lost, were not afraid to give 
their testimony even at the court of the Caliphs. 
" The Church," says W. T. Whiteley, 2 " had not 
failed to exercise an influence on Islam around it, 
while Christians might not, on peril of death, seek 

'See article on "The Arabic Bible" in The Moslem 
World, October, 1916. 

2 " Missionary Achievement : " A survey of world-wide 
Evangelization, Condon, 1907, pp. 22, 26. 



THE ELEVENTH CENTUKY 41 

to win converts direct, a command occasionally 
violated with honour and success, yet all the devel- 
opment of Islam at Damascus and Bagdad was in 
a Christian atmosphere/' 

The Christianity of that period was, however, 
not the religion of Christ in its purity nor after the 
example of His love and toleration. Mutual hatred 
and suspicion prevented real intercourse of those 
who, as devout Christians and devout Moslems, 
were both seeking God. The Moslem was feared 
and the Christian despised. The followers of 
Jesus were the enemies of Allah in the eyes of 
Moslems. 

How Christians were regarded at this time we 
may learn from the books of canon law of this 
period, and that immediately following upon it. 
They were considered infidels in the Moslem sense 
of the word, and were protected only by the pay- 
ment of a poll tax, which gave them certain rights 
as subjects. The most distinguished jurist of the 
Shafi'ite sect, An-Nawawi, who taught at Damas- 
cus in 1267, lays down the law 1 as follows: "An 
infidel who has to pay his poll tax should be treated 
by the tax collector with disdain; the collector re- 
maining seated and the infidel standing before him, 
the head bent and the body bowed. The infidel 
should personally place the money in the balance, 

*"Minhaj et Talibin of An-Nawawi," trans, from the 
French of L. W. C. Van Den Berg by E. C. Howard, 
London, 1914, pp. 467 and 469. 



42 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

while the collector holds him by the beard and 
strikes him upon both cheeks. Infidels should be 
forbidden to have houses higher than those of their 
Moslem neighbours, or even to have them as high ; 
a rule, however, that does not apply to the infidels 
who inhabit a separate quarter. An infidel subject 
of our Sovereign may not ride a horse; but a don- 
key or a mule is permitted him, whatever may be its 
value. He must use an ikaf, and wooden spurs, 
those of iron being forbidden him, as well as a 
saddle. He must go to the side of the road to let 
a Moslem pass. He must not be treated as a per- 
son of importance, nor given the first place at a 
gathering. He should be distinguished by a suit 
of coloured cloth and a girdle outside his clothes. 
If he enters a bathing house where there are Mos- 
lems, or if he undresses anywhere else in their 
presence, the infidel should wear round his neck an 
iron or leaden necklace, or some other mark of 
servitude. 1 He is forbidden to offend Moslems, 
either by making them hear his false doctrines, or 
by speaking aloud of Esdras or of the Messiah, or 
by ostentatiously drinking wine or eating pork. 
And infidels are forbidden to sound the bells of 
their churches or of their synagogues, or celebrate^ 
ostentatiously their sacrilegious rites." 

1 These badges of servitude, called Ghayar, are referred to 
as obligatory in Al-Ghazali's " Wajiz." See the chapter on 
infidel-subjects. 

2 Richard Gottheil gives the contents of a fatwa on the 
appointment of Dhimmis to office dated about A. D. 1126 



THE ELEVENTH CENTURY 43 

"The history of Christian communities/' says 
Margoliouth, 1 " under Moslem rule cannot be ade- 
quately written; the members of those communities 
had no opportunity of describing their condition 
safely, and the Moslems naturally devote little 
space to their concerns. Generally speaking, they 
seem to have been regarded as certain old Greek 
and Roman sages regarded women: as a necessary 
annoyance. Owing to their being unarmed their 
prosperity was always hazardous ; and though it is 
true that this was the case with all the subjects of a 
despotic state under an irresponsible ruler, the non- 
Moslem population was at the mercy of the mob as 
well as of the sovereign; they were likely scape- 
goats whenever there was distress, and even in the 
best governed countries periods of distress fre- 
quently arose." 

There are darker shades in the treatment of 
Christians and in the moral condition of this period 
over which one might well draw the veil, but some 
of the chapters of Ghazali's Ihya reflect such ter- 

and given by one Ahmad ibn Al Husain. "To place an 
infidel in authority over a Moslem would never enter the 
mind of one who had a sound heart. He who does so must 
either be a godless fellow or be ignorant of Moslem law 
and practice. He attempts to prove that a Dhimmi (i. e. 
Jew or Christian) is not even to be used as a scribe, a 
money-changer, or a butcher; citing passages from the 
Koran and the Traditions" ("Festschrift Ignaz Goldziher 
von Carl Bezold," Strassburg, 1911, pp. 203-208). 

1 " The Early Development of Mohammedanism/ 1 Condon, 
1914, p. 131. 



44 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

rible conditions as Margoliouth describes: "A 
form of passion which is nameless would appear at 
one time to have been as familiar among Moslems 
as of old among Hellenes. Christian lads seem 
often to have been the unhappy objects of this pas- 
sion. A story is told us by the biographer Yakut 
of a young monk of Edessa or Urfah who had the 
misfortune to attract the fancy of one Sa'ad the 
copyist. The visits and attentions of this Moslem 
became so offensive that the monks had to put a 
stop to them. Thereupon this personage pined 
away, and was finally found dead outside the mon- 
astery wall. The Moslem population declared that 
the monks had killed him, and the governor pro- 
posed to execute and burn the young monk who 
had occasioned the disaster, and scourge his col- 
leagues. They finally got off by paying a sum of 
100,000 dirhems." 

Not only among Moslems, however, but among 
Christians as well, morals were at a low ebb in the 
eleventh century. One of the annalists of the 
Roman Church says it was an iron age barren of 
all goodness, a leaden age abounding in all wicked- 
ness. " Christ was then, as it appears, in a very 
deep sleep, when the ship was covered with waves ; 
and what seemed worse, when the Lord was thus 
asleep, there were no disciples, who by their cries 
might awaken him, being themselves all fast 
asleep." 

Enemies of the Papacy have perhaps exaggerated 



THE ELEVENTH CENTUET 45 

the vices and crimes of the popes in this and the 
preceding century; but the Church, on the testi- 
mony of its own writers, was immersed in pro- 
f aneness, sensuality, and lewdness. When Otho I, 
Emperor of Germany, came to Rome, he intro- 
duced moral reforms by the power of the sword, 
but according to Milner, 1 " The effect of Otho's 
regulations was that the popes exchanged the vices 
of the rake and the debauchee for those of the 
ambitious politician and the hypocrite ; and gradu- 
ally recovered, by a prudent conduct, the domineer- 
ing ascendency, which had been lost by vicious ex- 
cesses. But this did not begin to take place till 
the latter end of the eleventh century." 

Missionary effort in this century was confined to 
work in Hungary, the unevangelized portions of 
Denmark, Poland, and Prussia. Adam of Bremen, 
who wrote in 1080, says: "Look at the very 
ferocious nation of the Danes. For a long time 
they have been accustomed, in the praises of God, 
to resound Alleluia. Look at that piratical people. 
They are now content with the fruits of their own 
country. Look at that horrid region, formerly 
altogether inaccessible on account of idolatry; they 
now eagerly admit the preachers of the word." 

The Prussians continued pagans in a great meas- 
ure throughout this century. We read that eighteen 
missionaries sent out to labour among them were 

'Milner, "The History of the Church of Christ/' 
London, 1834, p. 31, Vol. II. 



46 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

massacred. They seemed to have been among the 
last of the European nations to submit to the yoke 
of Christ. 

The noblest figure of the century in the West, in 
the annals of Christendom, was undoubtedly that 
of Anselm. He was born about the time of Al- 
Ghazali, and died in 1109. His life in many re- 
spects is a parallel to that of his contemporary. 
Both were theologians and both were mystics, seek- 
ing rest for their souls in withdrawing from the 
world and its allurements. Both were apologists 
for the Faith and opponents of Infidelity and philos- 
ophy. Both exerted an immense influence by their 
writings as well as through teaching; and if Al- 
Ghazali sought the revival of religious life in Islam 
through his Ihya, Anselm gave employment to his 
active mind in writing his celebrated treatise " Cur 
Deus Homo? " Both of them refuted philosophers 
in their effort to establish the Faith. 

It is interesting to note in this connection that 
Anselm's famous book is now used in Arabic trans- 
lation by missionaries to Moslems, and that Al- 
Ghazali's " Confessions " have been put into the 
hands of the English reader as a testimony of his 
sincerity and devotion. 

Both Anselm and Al-Ghazali lived and wrote 
under a deep consciousness of the world to come, 
the terrors of the judgment day, and the doom of 
the wicked. This also was characteristic of the 
times. 



THE ELEVENTH CENTTTKY 47 

To understand the time in which Al-Ghazali 
lived we must also remember that it was one of 
great literary activity under the Abbasside Caliphs 
of Bagdad and the Seljuk sultans. We have seen 
how rulers rewarded literary genius, established 
schools, and furthered education on religious lines. 
Arabic literature affords a galaxy of names during 
the latter half of the eleventh century in almost 
every department of Moslem learning. 

Among Ghazali's celebrated contemporaries, 
men of literary fame, we may mention Abiwardi 
(d. 1113), the poet; Ibn Al-Khayyat, who was 
born at Damascus in 1058 and died in Persia in 
1125; Al-Ghazi (b. 1049), who composed elegies 
and panegyrics at Nizamiyya College, was a col- 
lege mate of Ghazali's, and died in Khorasan ; Al- 
Tarabalusi (b. 1080), a younger contemporary. 
But the most famous poet of all was Al-Hariri 
(1054-1122), whose "Assemblies" throw so much 
light on the manners and morals of this period. 
Among the men at the Nizamiyya University were 
Al-Khatib (b. 1030), the great philologist; and 
Ibn Al-Arabi, born at Seville in 1076, who visited 
Bagdad to attend the teaching of Al-Ghazali. The 
greatest of all the Shafi'ite doctors, Al-Ruyani, was 
also a contemporary of Al-Ghazali. He taught at 
Nishapur and wrote the most voluminous book on 
jurisprudence in existence, called " The Sea of 
Doctrine." In 1108, just as he had finished one of 
his lectures he was murdered by a fanatic of the 



48 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

Assassin sect, who were then holding the castle of 
Alamut in the mountains. We must also mention 
a schoolmate of Al-Ghazali, Al-Harrasi (1058- 
1110), who studied at Nishapur under the Imam 
Al-Haramain, was made his assistant, and then 
went to Bagdad, where he taught theology in the 
Nizamiyya University for the rest of his life. Nor 
must we forget Al-Baghawi, who wrote a famous 
commentary on the Koran, and other works of the- 
ology (1122); Al-Raghib Al-Ispahani, who died 
in 1108, and wrote a dictionary of the Koran, ar- 
ranged in alphabetical order, called Mufradat alfaz 
Al-Koran, with quotations from the traditions and 
from the poets ; he also wrote a treatise on morals, 
which Al-Ghazali always carried about with him 
(Kitab ad-dharia), and a commentary on the 
Koran. Among the early contemporaries of Al- 
Ghazali we must not forget to mention Ali bin 
'Uthman Al-Jullabi Al-Hujwiri, the author of the 
oldest Persian treatise on Sufism extant. He was 
born in Ghazni, Afghanistan, and died in A.D. 1062, 
when Al-Ghazali was fourteen years old. Al- 
Hujwiri travelled far and wide through the 
Mohammedan Empire and his famous work 
Kashf al-Mahjub anticipates much of the teaching 
of Al-Ghazali, who must have been familiar with 
this author. And to complete this already long 
list of celebrities, we may mention Al-Maidani of 
Nishapur, who died in 1124, having written a 
great work on Arabic proverbs; Al-Zamakhshari, 



THE ELEVENTH CENTURY 49 

born in 1074, who wrote a famous commentary 
on the Koran; Ibn Tumart, the noted philosopher 
of the West who attended Al-Ghazali's lectures at 
Nizamiyya ; and ash-Shahristani who wrote on the 
various religions and sects the standard work 
among all Moslems to-day on comparative re- 
ligion. The period was in many respects the 
golden age of Islamic literature, and it is high 
praise indeed that, in the judgment of Moslem and 
Christian, Al-Ghazali surpassed all his literary 
contemporaries, if not in style and eloquence, at 
least in the scope and character of his writings 
still more by the enduring and outreaching in- 
fluence of his life. The story of that life and the 
character of his message we will now attempt to 
sketch for the reader. 



II 

Birth and Education 



"Ghazali is without doubt the most remarkable 
figure in all Islam. His doctrine is the expression of 
his own personality. He abandoned the attempt to 
understand this world. But the religious problem he 
, comprehended much more profoundly than did the 
philosophers of his time. These were intellectual in 
their methods, like their Greek predecessors, and 
consequently regarded the .doctrines of Religion as 
merely the products of the conception or fancy or 
even caprice of the lawgiver. According to them 
Religion was either blind obedience, or a kind of 
knowledge which contained truth of an inferior order. 

" On the other hand Ghazali represents Religion as 
the experience of his inner Being. It is for him 
more than law and more than Doctrine; it is the 
Soul's experience.^) 

"Philosophy In Islam," 7\ 7. DeBoer. 



n 

BIRTH AND EDUCATION 

AS already stated, Al-Ghazali was born and 
educated in Khorasan, Persia, and there 
also he spent the closing years of his life. 
Persia, as Huart expresses it, possessed " an in- 
tangible force, the Aryan genius, the powerful, 
imaginative, and creative mind of the great Indo- 
European family, the artistic, philosophic, and in- 
tellectual brain which, from the Abbasside period on- 
ward, so mightily affected Arab literature, enabling 
it to develop in every quarter of the Caliph's realms, 
and to produce the enormous aggregate of works/' 
It was this Aryan genius which explains much of 
the powerful influence of Al-Ghazali upon Moslem 
thought, and the revival of that influence in our 
day when Islam is again facing disintegrating 
forces. At the time of Al-Ghazali, Persian in- 
fluence was supreme. It pervaded everything. 
The Arabs had ceased to write. The realms of 
poetry, theology, and science, were dominated by 
those of Persian birth. All posts, administrative 
and legal, were held by men who were not Arabs, 
and yet the language they used was that of the 
Koran, and remained the sole literary language of 
the huge empire of the Caliphs. "All races, Per- 

53 



54 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

sians, Syrians, Berbers from Maghrib, were melted 
and amalgamated in this mighty crucible." 

Al-Ghazali was a Persian by birth, an Aryan in 
his modes of thought, a Semite in his religion and 
he became a cosmopolitan by travel and education. 
His long residence in all the great centres of Islam 
of his day brought him into close touch with men 
of every school of thought and followers of all 
manners of religions and philosophies. When we 
remember this, we have the key to his enormous 
literary productiveness. His horizon stretched 
from Afghanistan to Spain, and from Kurdistan 
to Southern Arabia. What happened outside the 
Dar ul Islam in infidel Europe was brought to the 
notice of all by the Crusades. 

Men of learning had intercourse by correspond- 
ence with those of similar tastes in every part of 
the Moslem world. We have records of letters re- 
ceived by Al-Ghazali from Spain and Morocco as 
well as from Egypt, Syria, and Palestine. Ques- 
tions of jurisprudence, philosophy, and theology 
were referred by Sultans to celebrated authorities 
for reply. All this produced the cosmopolitan at- 
mosphere we find in his works. 

The poet Moore describes Al-Ghazali's native 
land as 

"... the delightful Province of the Sun, 
The first of Persian lands he shines upon, 
Where, all the loveliest children of his beam, 
Flowerets and fruits blush over every stream, 



BIETH AND EDUCATION 65 

And, fairest of all streams, the Murga roves 
Among Merou's bright palaces and groves." 

Khorasan, indeed, signifies " the land of the 
sun," and was one of the four geographical divi- 
sions into which the ancient kingdom of the Sas- 
sanians was divided. They were named according 
to the cardinal points of the compass. After the 
Arab conquests the name was used both for a 
definite province and also in a looser sense for the 
whole eastern region of Persia. Even now the 
boundaries of the province are scarcely determined. 
The total area is about 150,000 square miles, and 
the present population not over 800,000. It was 
doubtless far more in Al-Ghazali's day. 

Towards the north and southwest Khorasan is 
mountainous. In the east the country is hilly, but 
between the mountain ranges there extend broad 
tracts of waste land. By far the most extensive 
of these saline wastes is the Dasht-i-Kabir, or Great 
Salt Desert of Khorasan. Throughout the prov- 
ince, and especially near Tus, the arid plains and 
the grassy valleys have been engaged in a perpetual 
struggle for the mastery. The shifting sands have 
already absorbed some towns and villages. There 
are scarcely any rivers, and the few streams are 
brackish and intermittent, losing themselves in the 
great salt desert. The salt brought down by the 
rivers is deposited in the marshes. The fierce 
summer heat dries these up until the winter floods 
occur again. This process being repeated for ages, 



56 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

in the course of time the whole stretch of soil over 
which the marsh extends has become incrusted 
with salt. 

Travellers and students of climate seem to be 
agreed that the country offers unmistakable evi- 
dence of desiccation. Ruins of cities and villages 
are incredibly numerous and point to a larger popu- 
lation and better climate and irrigation in the days 
past. It would not be just to attribute the decay 
of Persia entirely to the devastations of war and 
the misrule of Islam. 

"A comparison of the four provinces of Khora- 
san, Azerbaijan, Kirman, and Seyistan is instruct- 
ive," says Ellsworth Huntington. 1 Khorasan "has 
suffered from war more severely than has any 
other province of Persia. Its northern portion, 
where the rainfall is heaviest, and where the great- 
est amount of fighting has taken place, is to-day 
one of the most prosperous portions of Persia. It 
contains numerous ruins, but they are by no means 
such impressive features as are those farther south. 
The southern and drier part of the province is full 
of ruins, and has suffered great depopulation. 
Azerbaijan, which . . . has suffered from war 
more than any province except Khorasan, is the 
most prosperous and thickly settled part of Persia. 
The relative abundance of its water supply renders 
its future hopeful. Seyistan has suffered from 

'"The Pulse of Asia," Houghton, Mifflin & Co., New 
York, 1907, p. 325. 



BIETH AND EDUCATION 57 

wars, but less severely than the two preceding prov- 
inces. Nevertheless, it has been depopulated to a 
far greater extent. Its extreme aridity renders 
recovery well-nigh impossible, except along the 
Helmund. Kirman lies so remote behind its bar- 
riers of desert and mountains that it has suffered 
from war much less than any of the three other 
provinces. Yet its ruined cities and its appearance 
of hopeless depopulation are almost as impressive 
as those of Seyistan. If war and misgovernment 
are the cause of the decay of Persia, it is remark- 
able that the two provinces which have suffered 
most from war, and not less from misgovernment, 
should now be the most prosperous and least de- 
populated ; while the two which have suffered less 
from war and no more from misgovernment have 
been fearfully, and, it would seem, irreparably 
depopulated." 

The surface of the province of Khorasan to-day 
consists mainly of highlands, the saline deserts, and 
the fruitful well-watered upland valleys. In these 
fruitful regions rice, cotton, saffron, but especially 
melons and other fruits, are raised in profusion. 
Other products are manna, gum, asafcetida for ex- 
port to India, and turquois. The chief manu- 
factures have always been sabres, pottery, carpets, 
woolen and cotton goods. 

The town of Mashad, the present capital of 
Khorasan, has supplanted the older city and dis- 
trict of Tus, which was an ancient capital. The 



58 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

ruins of this city lie fifteen miles to the northwest. 
As early as the tenth century we have references 
to the birthplace of Al-Ghazali. Thus Mis'ar 
Muhalhil (about 941 A. D.) writes: " Tus is made 
up of the union of four towns, two of which are 
large and the other two of minor importance; its 
area is a square mile. It has beautiful monuments 
that date from the time of Islam, such as the house 
of Hamid, son of Kahtabah, the tomb of Ali, son 
of Musa, and that of Rashid in the environs (lit. 
gardens) of the town." Istakhri (951 A. D.), 
writing ten years later, speaks of Tus as a depend- 
ency with four large towns or settlements. He 
says: "Taking Tus as a dependency of the province 
of Nishapur, its towns are Radkan, Tabaran, 
Bazdghur, and Naukan, in which (latter) is the 
tomb of Ali, son of Musa ar-Riza (may the peace 
of God be upon him), and the tomb of Haroun 
ar-Rashid. . . . The tomb of Ar-Riza is about 
one-quarter of a farsakh distant towards the vil- 
lage called Sanabadh." The best summary of the 
history of Tus and description of its present con- 
dition is given by Professor A. V. Williams Jack- 
son in his most interesting book, " From Constanti- 
nople to the Home of Omar Khayyam." He tells 
us that the name of the town is as old as the half- 
legendary warrior Tusa of the Avesta, who gave 
battle against Turan. Alexander the Great 
passed through it in pursuit of Bessus, the slayer 
of the last Darius. During the Zoroastrian sway, 



BIETH AND EDUCATION 69 

the city of Tus shared with Nishapur the distinc- 
tion of being the seat of a Nestorian Christian 
bishop. When the Arab conquest of Persia came 
Tus fell before the invaders and it became a great 
Moslem centre, famous especially as the home of 
the poet Firdausi, who was born there about 935 
A. D. and died 1025 A. D. 

Professor Jackson thus describes the present 
ruined condition of the city: " The crumbling walls 
of the dead city were once broad and lofty ram- 
parts of clay and rubble, much like those already 
mentioned at Bustam and Rei, but they had be- 
come much flattened with the lapse of ages, al- 
though traces of their towers were still to be seen, 
while their outline showed the contour of the town, 
which must have formed a very irregular quadri- 
lateral, following roughly the points of the com- 
pass. . . . The scene, as we saw it, presented 
a strange paradox of the destructive effects of the 
hand of man, and the eternal power of nature to 
rise and bloom again. The devastating inroads of 
the Ghuzz hordes and the Mongol armies, aided 
by earthquakes, had indeed laid mighty Tus in 
ruins: but its dust still contains the resurrection 
seed of flowers and grain, bringing life anew in 
the midst of death. Acres of barley and fields of 
thick clover spread their rich green on all sides, in 
contrast with stretches of arid waste that told only 
too well the story of ruin wrought in the past." 
Professor Jackson goes on to say: " It is clear that 



60 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

the ruined site of Tus we have been examining, 
with the Rudbar and Rizan Gates, formed part of 
the borough of Tabaran, an important section of 
the town in Firdausi's day, when the city covered 
a large area comprising several thickly populated 
centres, as we know from the Oriental geographers 
of the tenth century, or the period covering the 
better portion of the poet's life." It was in 
Tabaran that Al-Ghazali was buried, and there he 
must have had his home during the closing years 
of his life." * 

Religious disputation must have been the very 

J See however Gardner's Al-Ghazali in the " Islam Series " 
(PP. 1-3) where we have this note: "The district of Tus 
contained four towns, Radkan, Tabaran, Bazdghur, and 
Nawqan, (Yaqut gives the spelling as Nuqan) and more 
than 1,000 villages. (See Yaqut, quoting Mis'ar bin Muk- 
halhil, vol. vi, p. 7. Ibn Khallikan, vol. i, p. 29. Jackson, 
From Constantinople to the Home of Omar Khayyam, p. 
267, 284 ff.) Of these four towns, Tabaran was the capital, 
while Nawqan was the most populous. It was outside of 
Nawqan that ' AH bin Musa ar-Rida and Haroun Ar-Rashid 
were buried. Thus, the present Mashad represents the old' 
Nawqan, and must cover some at least of the site of that 
city; while the ruins now known as Tus represent the old 
city of Tabaran, which, having been the capital of the dis- 
trict, was commonly called by the name of the district. It 
was outside Tabaran that Al-Ghazali and Firdausi were 
buried. It is a mistake to regard Tus as having been a 
metropolis containing four boroughs. That there ever ex- 
isted a city of Tus stretching thirty-five miles, from Mashad 
to Radkan, is incredible. As-Sam'ani, in the Kitabu'l-Ansab, 
says that Tus contained two towns and over one thousand 
villages. 



BIETH AND EDUCATION 61 

atmosphere of Tus. Christians were numerous 
and the Moslem Shiahs were almost as strong as 
the orthodox. Some of their most celebrated 
writers and scholars, for example Abu Ja'far 
Muhammed, were born at Tus ; and Ibn Abi Hatim, 
one of the earliest and most important critics of the 
science of Tradition, died at Tus in 939. In spite 
of its learned men, however, Tus did not have a 
high reputation, as we know from the following 
anecdote related of Ibn-Habbariyya. He was 
asked by an enemy of Nizam Al-Mulk to compose 
a satire on this ruler. " How can I attack a man 
to whose kindness I owe everything I see in my 
house ? " asked the poet. However, on being 
pressed, he penned these lines: 

" What wonder is it that Nizam Al-Mulk should rule, 
And that Fate should be on his side ? 
Fortune is like the water-wheel 
Which raises water from the well 
None but oxen can turn it ! " 

When the vizier was informed of this attack upon 
him, he merely remarked that the poet had simply 
intended to allude to his origin he came from Tus 
in Khorasan, and, according to a popular saying, 
all the men of Tus were oxen (one would say asses, 
nowadays). 

" The people of Khorasan," says Chenery, "were 
renowned for their stinginess, and it is not sur- 
prising that the inhabitants of the mother town 



62 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

were said to excel in it all the rest of the world. 
Witness the story, related in Sa'adi's Gulistan, if I 
remember well, of the merchant of Merv, who 
would not allow his son to eat cheese, but made 
him rub his bread against the glass cover under 
which it was kept." 

To prove the stupidity of the Khorasanis to-day, 
Major P. M. Sykes * tells a story of three Persians 
who met and were all praising their own provinces. 
The Kermani said, " Kerman produces fruit of 
seven colours." The Shirazi continued, " The 
waters of Ruknabad issue from the very rock." 
But the poor Khorasani could only say, " From 
Khorasan come all the fools like myself." 

Yet Khorasan, in the words of Hujwiri, was that 
land " where the shadow of God's favour rested," 
as regards the teaching of the Mystics. He men- 
tions nine leading Sufis who belong to Khorasan, 
and taught there before Al-Ghazali's day, all of 
them distinguished for the " sublimity of their 
aspiration, the eloquence of their discourse, and 
the sagacity of their intelligence." He then goes 
on to say: " It would be difficult to mention all the 
sheikhs of Khorasan. I have met three hundred 
in that province alone who had such mystical en- 
dowments that a single man of them would have 
been enough for the whole world. This is due to 

1 " The Glory of the Shiah World," London, 1910. In this 
book we have an interesting picture of Mashad and Tus as 
they are to-day. 



BIETH AND EDUCATION 63 

the fact that the sun of love and the fortune of the 
Sufi Path is in the ascendant in Khorasan." 

In view of such statements it is clear that Al- 
Ghazali owed much to his environment as well as 
to his own genius. He did not originate mysticism, 
but used what his predecessors had already written 
on the subject. The very chapter headings of 
Kashf al-Mahjub are the same as those found in 
Al-Ghazali's books on mysticism. 

According to Murtadha (who follows As-Subqi), 
Al-Ghazali's full name was Abu Hamid Moham- 
med bin Mohammed bin Mohammed at-Tusi al- 
Ghazali, and he was born at Tus in the year of 
the Hegira 450 (A. D. 1058). In regard to his 
name, it is related that others before him had the 
peculiarity of the family name three times re- 
peated. " Ibn-Kutaibah states that Abu'1-Bakh- 
tari's name was Wahb b. Wahb b. Wahb, the same 
name thrice in one continuation; and that similar 
to this among the names of the Persian kings was 
that of Bahram b. Bahram b. Bahram ; among the 
Talibis (the descendants of Abu-Talib) that of 
Hasan b. Hasan b. Hasan, and among the Ghassan 
that of al-Harith the junior b. al-Harith and the 
senior b. al-Harith." 3 

Concerning the spelling of his name, whether it 
should be spelled with two z's or with one, there 
has been long and strong dispute. Professor Mac- 

1 " Kashf al-Mahjub," pp. 173-174. 
2 " Hayat-ul-Hayawan," by Damiri. 



64 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

donald thinks the name should be spelt Ghazzali 
and has given his arguments in a special essay. 1 
This spelling is given by Ibn Khallikan in his 
biographical dictionary (d. A. D. 1282). But ap- 
parently, according to the authority of As-Sam'ani, 
the name is derived from Ghazala, a village near 
Tus, and is not a professional noun, such as are 
common among patronymics. Abu Sa'd 'Abd al- 
Karim As-Sam'ani was born only two years after 
Al-Ghazali's death, and wrote a famous book of 
patronymics in eight volumes. He was, therefore, 
an expert in names and genealogies, and we may 
well accept his authority for the spelling of the 
name of the great imam, who was his own coun- 
tryman. The sheikhs of the Azhar University in 
Cairo all follow this authority and write Al~ 
Ghazali? 

1 Referred to in his " Life of Al-Ghazzali." 

* Ibn Khallikan (Vol. I, p. 29, Cairo, 1310) leaves little 
doubt that Sama'ani spells it with one "z," Ghazali. So 
also is the spelling of German Orientalists including Brock- 
elmann. He writes (Vol. I, p. 419) "So, als Nisbe zu 
Gazala, einem kleinen Orte bei Tus, nach dem ausdriicklichen 
Zeugnis des Sam'anis, jenes ausgezeichneten Kenners 
iranischer Namen, (s. o. p. 330) b. j. Hall, nr. 37; die von 
Gosche I, I, nr. 3 auf Grund spater, persischer Quellen 
verteidigte Schreibung ' Gazzali ' verdankt offenbar einer 
Volksetymologie ihr Dasein in Anlehnung an die nach al 
Sam'ani in Hwarizm gebrauchlichen Nisben, wie al Qassari 
fur al Qassar. Sujuti den Gosche citiert bestatigt keines- 
wegs seine auffassung, sondern gibt seine Quelle als Sam'ani 
genau wieder." Clement Huart (" History of Arabic Litera- 
ture," p. 265) gives the preference to Ghazali; so do the 



BIBTHfAND EDUCATION 65 

Some say that there had already been two 
scholars in the family, one an elder Al-Ghazali, at 
whose tomb in the cemetery of Tus prayer was an- 
swered. This was a paternal uncle of Ghazali's 
father. The other was a son of the same. The 
story is told, apparently on the authority of Ghazali 
himself, that at the time of his father's death he 
committed his two boys, Mohammed and Ahmed, 
to the care of a trusted Sufi friend for their educa- 
tion. He himself seems to have had unfulfilled de- 
sires in regard to his own education and was de- 
termined that his boys should have a better oppor- 
tunity. So he left in trust what money he had for 
the purpose with this friend, who proved faithful 
and taught and cared for them until the money was 
all gone. Then he advised them to go to a 
madrasa, where, according to Moslem custom, they 
would receive food for their need and shelter. 
Ghazali used to tell the story of this experience in 
after life, and would add the remark, " We became 
students for the sake of something else than God, 

French Orientalists in the Revue du Monde Mussulman, 
Goldziher in his latest work Vorlesungen iiber den Islam 
(1910), and the well-known Dutch Arabist, Snouck Hur- 
gronje. Yet in spite of all this those who prefer " Ghazzali " 
may appeal to the highest Moslem authority, namely, Mo- 
hammed the Prophet who is said to have declared to some 
one in a dream that this was the correct spelling. (See 
"Murtadha," Vol. I, p. 18.) I have a fatwa from the 
Sheikhs of Al-Azhar, Cairo, however, stating that the true 
spelling is now agreed on by Moslems as Ghazali with one 
middle radical. 



66 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

but He was unwilling that it should be for the sake 
of anything but Himself." This instance doubt- 
less throws light on the motives for his studies and 
his great diligence. At the outset he was in search 
rather of reputation and wealth through learning 
than of piety. 1 

Of Al-Ghazali's home life at Tus, and of his own 
family life afterwards, we know next to nothing. 
His name Abu Hamid was doubtless given him 
much later, and would seem to indicate that he had 
a son of that name who probably died in infancy. 
We know that he married before he was twenty 
and that at least three daughters survived him. 
Of his younger brother, however, who died fif- 
teen years after he did (1126), and was buried at 
Kazvin, we know the following: He succeeded 
Al-Ghazali in the professorial chair at the Niza- 
miyya School. Like him, he was a mystic and 
preached his views with great eloquence as well as 
with a prolific pen. We are told that he was a 
man of splendid appearance, and had the gift of 
healing. So fond was he of public preaching that 
he neglected his judicial studies. He wrote an 
abridgement of his brother's great work, and also 
a celebrated treatise on mysticism called Minhafc 
al-albab (Path for Hearts), in which he deals 
with the advantages of poverty, and advocates the 
wearing of a special garb by the dervishes. An- 
other of his books was in defense of music, called 
1 Macdonald. 



, BIETH AND EDUCATION 67 

Bawariq al-ilma; but this was considered frivolous 
by strict Moslems, although the Sufis used music 
to produce the state of ecstasy. 

Of Al-Ghazali's mother we know nothing be- 
yond the fact that she survived her husband and 
lived to see both her sons famous at Bagdad, 
whither apparently she accompanied or followed 
them. An interesting story is told of how, when 
Abu Hamid was at the height of his fame at 
Bagdad, his brother Ahmed not merely failed to 
show him proper respect, but acted in such a man- 
ner as to discredit him in the eyes of the people. 
The full account is worth giving. " He had a 
brother called Ahmed, surnamed Jamal-ud-Din, or, 
as others say, Zain-ud-Din, who, notwithstanding 
the high rank which his brother held, would not 
take part with him in the prayers (i. e., would not 
recognize him as a man fitted to lead the public 
prayers), even while thousands of the commonalty 
and nobility arranged themselves in ranks behind 
him. So he complained to his mother what he ex- 
perienced at his brother's hands, (saying) that it 
almost led to people doubting him, seeing that his 
brother was celebrated for his good conduct and 
piety, and he asked his mother to order him 
(Ahmed) to treat him as other people did. He 
complained about this repeatedly, and pressed his 
demand. His mother urged him (Ahmed) time 
and again to agree to this, and he agreed on con- 
dition that he stand apart from the ranks. The 



68 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

Imam accepted this condition, and when one of the 
appointed times of prayer arrived, the Imam went 
to the Mosque, and the people followed him, till, 
when the Imam began the prayer, and the people 
began it after him, Jamal-ud-Din followed him in 
the prayer in the distance. And while they were 
praying Jamal-ud-Din suddenly interrupted him. 
So this trial was worse than the first ; and when he 
was asked the reason (of his conduct) he replied 
that it was impossible for him to take as his pat- 
tern an Imam whose heart was full of blood, indi- 
cating by this expression the vileness of one who 
took a share in the work of worldly men of learn- 
fag."' 

Al-Ghazali must have begun his education at a 
very early age, and his studies at Tus met with 
such success that he went to the larger educational 
centre of Jurjan before the age of twenty, a dis- 
tance of over one hundred miles, and no inconsider- 
able journey at that time. 

In Al-Ghazali's autobiography we have a 
glimpse of how he himself conceived the growth of 
a child in wisdom and stature. " The first sense 
revealed to man," he says, " is touch, by means of 
which he perceives a certain group of qualities 
heat, cold, moist, dry. The sense of touch does 
not perceive colours and forms, which are for it 
as though they did not exist. Next comes the 

'From the Biography given at the end of Miskat-ul- 
Anwar, Cairo edition (1322). 



BIETH AND EDUCATION 69 

sense of sight, which makes him acquainted with 
colours and forms ; that is to say, with that which 
occupies the highest rank in the world of sensation. 
The sense of hearing succeeds, and then the senses 
of smell and taste. When the human being 
can elevate himself above the world of sense, 
towards the age of seven, he receives the faculty 
of discrimination; he enters then upon a new 
phase of existence and can experience, thanks to 
this faculty, impressions, superior to those of the 
senses, which do not occur in the sphere of sensa- 
tion." 

Al-Ghazali must have been an early riser from 
his youth. In his " Beginner's Guide to Religion 
and Morals " (Al Badayet) he writes: " When you 
awaken from sleep, endeavour to arise before early 
dawn, and may the first thing that enters your 
heart and your tongue be the remembrance of God 
Most High, saying, ' Thanks be to God who hath 
given us life after the death of sleep. To Him do 
we return. He hath awakened us and awakened 
all nature. The greatness and the power belong to 
God ; the majesty and the dominion to the Lord of 
the worlds. He hath awakened us to the religion 
of Islam and the testimony of His unity, and the 
religion of His Prophet Mohammed and the sect 
of our father Abraham, who was a Hanif and a 
Moslem, and not a polytheist. O God, I ask Thee 
that Thou wouldst this day send me all good and 
deliver me from all evil. By Thee, O God, do we 



70 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

arise from sleep, and by Thee do we reach the even- 
tide. In Thee do we live and die and to Thee do 
we return/ And when you put on your garments, 
remember that God desires you to cover your 
nakedness with them and to show forth God's 
beauty to those around you." 

In another place in the same little volume he 
again inculcates early rising by saying: " Know 
that the night and the day consist of twenty-four 
hours. Let therefore your sleep during the night 
and day be not more than eight hours ; for it will 
suffice you to think after you have lived sixty 
years that you have lost twenty years of it solely 
in sleep." 

He probably began to read even before the age 
of seven, for we find that his studies at Tus, and 
afterwards at Jurjan, apparently included not only 
religious science but also a thorough knowledge of 
Persian and Arabic. Of his religious studies we 
will speak later. He himself tells us that the 
philosophical sciences taught included " mathe- 
matics, logic, physics, metaphysics, politics, and 
moral philosophy." And although he does not 
speak in his Confessions of his earliest studies, 
what he says in regard to mathematics throws a 
flood of light on his youthful scepticism. He says, 
" Mathematics comprises the knowledge of calcula- 
tion, geometry, and cosmography: it has no con- 
nection with the religious sciences, and proves noth- 
ing for or against religion ; it rests on a foundation 



BIETH AND EDUCATION 71 

of proofs which, once known and understood, can- 
not be refuted. Mathematics tend, however, to 
produce two bad results. The first is this: Whoever 
studies this science admires the subtlety and clear- 
ness of its proofs. His confidence in philosophy 
increases, and he thinks that all its departments 
are capable of the same clearness and solidity of 
proofs as mathematics. But when he hears people 
speak of the unbelief and impiety of mathema- 
ticians, of their professed disregard for the divine 
Law, which is notorious, it is true that, out of 
regard for authority, he echoes these accusations, 
but he says to himself at the same time that, if 
there was truth in religion, it would not have 
escaped those who have displayed so much keen- 
ness of intellect in the study of mathematics. 

Next, when he becomes aware of the unbelief 
and rejection of religion on the part of these 
learned men, he concludes that to reject religion 
is reasonable. " How many of such men gone 
astray I have met, whose sole argument was that 
just mentioned! " (p. 28). 

Not only mathematics but astronomy and other 
sciences were then in alleged conflict with the facts 
of revelation. Al-Ghazali must have felt this very 
keenly, for he says: " The ignorant Moslem thinks 
the best way to defend religion is by rejecting all 
the exact sciences. Accusing their professors of 
being astray, he rejects their theories of the 
eclipses of the sun and moon, and condemns them 



72 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

in the name of religion. These accusations are 
carried far and wide, they reach the ears of the 
philosopher who knows that these theories rest on 
infallible proofs; far from losing confidence in 
them, he believes, on the contrary, that Islam has 
ignorance and the denial of scientific proofs for 
its basis, and his devotion to philosophy increases 
with his hatred to religion. It is therefore a great 
injury to religion to suppose that the defense of 
Islam involves the condemnation of the exact 
sciences. The religious law contains nothing which 
approves them or condemns them, and in their turn 
they make no attack on religion. The words of 
the Prophet: ' The sun and moon are two signs of 
the power of God; they are not eclipsed for the 
birth or the death of any one ; when you see these 
signs take refuge in prayer, and invoke the name of 
God ' these words I say, do not in any way con- 
demn the astronomical calculations which define 
the orbits of these two bodies, their conjunction 
and opposition according to particular laws." M 
We must remember in this connection that it was 
Omar Khayyam, the poet astronomer, who at this 
very time was leading many into scepticism. 

After a knowledge of Arabic grammar, and 
memorizing the Koran, the diligent student would 
take up its critical and devotional study. Al- 
Ghazali's teachers undoubtedly emphasized, as he 

'"The Confessions of Al-Ghazali," trans, by Claud Field, 
London, 1909. 



BIETH AND EDUCATION 78 

did himself, the importance of correct reading of 
the sacred volume. In one of the most beautiful 
passages in his Ihya, Al-Ghazali himself notes the 
following points: The reader must be clean out- 
wardly, and respect the book with outward rever- 
ence. He must read the proper quantity. He 
quotes with approval the practice of Sa'ad and 
Othman, that the Koran should be read through 
once a week. One should use chanting (tar til}, 
for this is helpful to the memory, and makes us 
read slowly, and rapid reading is not approved. 
One should read it with weeping, i. e., sorrow for 
sins. One should give the proper responses in the 
proper places. One should use the opening prayer 
before beginning to read. It may be read secretly 
or aloud. It must be read beautifully according 
to the Tradition: "Adorn the Koran by the sweet- 
ness of your voice; " or another Tradition: " He 
who does not sing the Koran is not of our religion." 
One day when the Prophet heard Abu Musa read- 
ing the Koran he said: " Verily, to this reader God 
has given the voice of David when he wrote the 
Psalms." 

We may believe that Yusuf Nassaj, his first 
teacher, who was a mystic, as well as, later, the 
Imam al-Haramain, laid considerable emphasis on 
the points here mentioned. The atmosphere in 
which Al-Ghazali was educated, we must never 
forget, was that of mysticism. 

The study of the Koran was followed by that 



74 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

of the Traditions, of which the standard collec- 
tions were already in circulation. After this, a 
youth in Al-Ghazali's day would begin the study 
of Fiqh, or Moslem jurisprudence. We know 
from the contents of the standard works on this 
subject, written before Al-Ghazali's time, and later 
by himself, what engrossed the attention in the 
schools of Tus and Jurjan. 1 His first lesson would 
be on ceremonial purity by the use of ablution, the 
bath, the tooth-pick and the various circumstances 
of legal defilement when ghasl or complete ablution 
is prescribed; of the ailments of women and the 
duration of pregnancy. Then came the second part 
of the book on prayer, its occasions, conditions, 
and requirements, including the four things in 
which the prayer of a woman differs from that of 
a man. He would learn all about the poor-rate 
(zakat), about fasting and pilgrimage, about the 
laws of barter and sale and debt ; about inheritance 
and wills a most difficult and complicated sub- 
ject. Then the pupil would pass on to marriage 
and divorce, a very large subject, and one on which 
Moslem law books show no reserve, and leave no 
detail unmentioned. Then would follow the laws 
in regard to crime and violence, Holy War, and the 
ritual of sacrifice at the Great Feast. The last 
three chapters of books on Fiqh generally deal with 
oaths, evidence, and the manumission of slaves. 8 

1 Cf . Appendix VII in Macdonald's " Muslim Theology, 
Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theology." 
8 1 follow here the contents of Ghazali's own Wajiz. 



BIETH AND EDUCATION 75 

From his youth up Al-Ghazali belonged to the 
Shaft' School, one of the four orthodox systems of 
jurisprudence. The Imam ash-Shafii', whose tomb 
at Cairo was afterwards visited by Al-Ghazali, and 
is still a place of pilgrimage, died in A. H. 204 He 
chose the via media between the slavery of tradi- 
tion and the freedom of logic and deduction in 
Moslem law. According to Macdonald, "Ash- 
Shafi'i was without question one of the greatest 
figures in the history of law. Perhaps he had not 
the originality and keenness of Abu Hanifa; but 
he had a balance of mind and temper, a clear vision 
and full grasp of means and ends, that enabled him 
to say what proved to be the last word in the 
matter. After him came attempts to tear down; 
but they failed. The fabric of the Muslim canon 
law stood firm." The adherents of the school of 
Shafii' now number some sixty million persons, of 
whom about a half are in the Netherland Indies, 
and the rest in Egypt, Syria, Hadramaut, Southern 
India, and Malaysia. Among all of these Al- 
Ghazali the Shafi'ite naturally holds a place of su- 
preme honour. 

An interesting story is told in connection with 
his studies under the Imam Abu Nasr al-Isma'ili. 
He took copious notes under this celebrated 
teacher, but neglected to memorize what he had 
written. This seems to have been a characteristic 
of his, according to Macdonald, because his quota- 
tions are often exceedingly careless; and one of 



76 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

the charges brought against him by his assailants 
afterwards was that he falsified tradition. " On his 
way back to Tus from Jurjan, however, he got his 
lesson. He tells the story himself. Robbers fell 
upon him, stripped him, and even carried off the 
bag with his manuscripts. This was more than he 
could stand; he ran after them, clung to them 
though threatened with death, and entreated the 
return of the notes they were of no use to them. 
Al-Ghazali had a certain quality of dry humour, 
and was evidently tickled by the idea of these 
thieves studying law. The robber chief asked him 
what were these notes of his. Said Al-Ghazali 
with great simplicity: 'They are writings in that 
bag; I travelled for the sake of hearing them and 
writing them down, and knowing the science in 
them/ Thereat the robber chief laughed con- 
sumedly, and said: ' How can you profess to know 
the science in them, when we have taken them from 
you and stripped you of the knowledge, and there 
you are without any science ? ' But he gave them 
him back. 'And/ says Al-Ghazali, 'this man 
was sent by God to teach me/ So Al-Ghazali 
went back to Tus, and spent three years there com- 
mitting his notes to memory as a precaution against 
future robbers/' 

Shortly afterwards Al-Ghazali left Tus a second 
time to pursue his studies at Nishapur under the 

1 D. B. Macdonald, " Life of Al-Ghazzali," Journal of the 
American Oriental Society, Vol. XX, p. 76. 



BIETH AND EDUCATION 77 

most celebrated teacher of that period in this great 
literary centre. Nishapur was situated forty-nine 
miles west of Tus, and was captured by the Arabs 
in A. H. 31. Yakut, in his geographical dictionary, 
says that of all the cities he had visited this was the 
finest. It was in this city that Hamadhani wrote 
his four-hundred Maqamat and vanquished his 
great literary rival. 

Other great names are connected with the city, 
among them Omar Khayyam the poet, the Koran 
commentator Ahmed al-Tha'labi, and Maidani the 
author of the well-known collection of Arabic 
proverbs. 

The older name of the town or district was 
Abrashahr. The importance of the place under 
the Sasanians was in part religious; one of the 
three holiest fire temples was in its neighbourhood. 
Nishapur under the Moslems contained a large Arab 
element; it became the capital of Khorasan, and 
greatly increased in prosperity, under the almost 
independent princes of the house of Tahir (A. D. 
820-873). Istakhri describes it as a well-fortified 
town, a league square, with a great export of cotton 
goods and raw silk. In the decline of the empire 
the city had much to suffer from the Turkomans, 
whose raids have in modern times destroyed the 
prosperity of this whole region. In 1153 it was 
utterly ruined by the Ghuzz Turkomans, but soon 
rose again, because, as Yakut remarks, its position 
jjave it command of the entire caravan trade with 



78 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

the East. It was taken and razed to the ground by 
Mongols in 1221, but a century later Ibn Batuta 
found the city again flourishing, with four col- 
leges, numerous students, and an export of silk- 
stuffs to India. Nishapur was famous for its fruits 
and gardens which gave it, the epithet of " little 
Damascus." 

We have an interesting portrait of Al-Ghazali's 
chief teacher while he was at Nishapur, Abul- 
Ma'ali 'Abdal-Malik Al-Juwaini Imam al-Hara- 
main. He was born at Bushtaniqan, near Nishapur, 
on the twelfth of February, 1028, and was one of 
the most learned and celebrated teachers of Mos- 
lem law in his day. " On the death of his father, 
Abu Muhammed 'Abdallah ibn Yusuf, who was a 
teacher in the latter town, he took his place, though 
barely twenty years of age." But this was a time 
of literary prodigies due to precocious talent and 
prodigious power of memory. " To complete his 
own studies, and to make the sacred pilgrimage, he 
went to Bagdad and thence to the two holy cities, 
Mecca and Medina, where he taught for four 
years; hence his surname, which signifies 'the 
teacher of the two holy places.' When he returned 
to Nishapur, Nizam Al-Mulk founded a school for 
him, in which he gave courses of lessons till his 
death, which overtook him on the twentieth of 
August, 1085, while on a visit to his native village, 
whither he had gone in the hope of recovering 
from an illness. Along with his professorial 



BIETH AND EDUCATION 79 

duties, he had discharged those of a preacher. At 
Nishapur he held gatherings every Friday, at which 
he preached sermons, and presided over discus- 
sions on various doctrinal points: to these occupa- 
tions he added that of managing the waqfs, or 
landed property devoted to the support of pious 
undertakings. For more than thirty years he con- 
tinued in undisputed possession of these various 
posts. When he died, the mourning was general; 
the great pulpit of the Mosque from which he had 
delivered his sermons was broken up, and his 
pupils, to the number of four hundred and one, des- 
troyed their pens and ink-horns, and gave up their 
studies for a year." It is certain that Al-Ghazali 
sat at his feet as a learner, both at Nishapur and 
Bagdad, and we may imagine that he had a part 
also in the general mourning at the death of the 
Imam, the manuscript of whose masterpiece, 
Nihayat al-Matldb (Finality of Inquiry), is still 
preserved in Cairo in the Sultania Library. 

At Nishapur, Al-Ghazali was one of the favourite 
pupils of this Imam, and here his studies were of 
the broadest, embracing theology, dialectics, 
philosophy and logic. He was a teacher as well 
as a student, for we are told that he would " read to 
his fellow students and teach them, until in a short 
time he became infirm and weak." Under the 
double task his health failed, but he did not give 
up his studies. The Imam once said of him, and 
*Huart, "Arabic Literature." 



80 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

two other notable pupils: "Al-Ghazali is a sea to 
drown in, Al-Kiya is a tearing lion, and Al- 
Khawafi is a burning fire." Another saying of 
his about the same three was: "Whenever they 
contend together, the proof belongs to Al-Khawafi, 
the warlike attacks to Al-Ghazali, and clearness to 
Al-Kiya." To this time of his life belongs the 
remark also, made by some one unnamed, "The 
youth Al-Ghazali showed externally a vain-glori- 
ous disposition, but underneath there was some- 
thing that when it did appear showed graceful ex- 
pression and delicate allusion, soundness of at- 
tention, and strength of character/' 

" I cannot ascertain," says Macdonald in speak- 
ing of this period of Al-Ghazali's life, " whether 
while he was still at Nishapur he touched those 
depths of scepticism of which he speaks in the 
Munqidh. They must certainly have been 
reached some time before the year A. H. 484, and 
must have been the outcome of a long drift of de- 
velopment; but probably so long as he was under 
the influence of the Imam-al-Haramain a devout 
Sufi, he would be held more or less fast to the old 
faith." 

Of these struggles of his soul in an age of doubt 
and how he found relief the next chapter will 
tell us. 



Ill 

Teaching, Conversion, and Retirement 



"Al-Ghazali is one of the deepest thinkers, greatest 
theologians and profoundest moralists of Islam. In 
all Muhamadan lands he is celebrated both as an 
apologist of orthodoxy and a warm advocate of Sufi 
mysticism. Intimately acquainted with all the learn- 
ing of his time, he was not only one of the numerous 
Oriental philosophers who traverse every sphere of 
intellectual activity, but one of those rarer minds 
whose originality is not crushed by their learning. 
He was imbued with a sacred enthusiasm for the 
triumph of his faith, and his whole life was dedicated 
to one purpose, the defense of Islam." 

" Mystics and Saints of Islam/ 9 Claud Field. 



Ill 

TEACHING, CONVERSION, AND 
RETIREMENT 

WITH the death of the Imam in A. H. 478 
a great change came into the life of 
Al-Ghazali. He left Nishapur to seek 
his fortune and it brought him to the camp court 
of the great Vizier Nizam Al-Mulk. Here Al- 
Ghazali sought advancement and the honours of 
learning. 

The camp court was the travelling capital of the 
Seljuk Sultans. This imperial camp was laid out 
into squares and streets. We read how in a few 
hours a city, as if built by enchantment, would rise 
on the uninhabited plain. The camp exhibited a 
motley collection of tents and dwellings and palm- 
leaf huts. The only regular part of the encamp- 
ment were the streets of shops, each of which was 
constructed in the manner of a booth at an English 
fair. Moore gives us the picture in these words : 

" Whose are the gilded tents that crowd the way, 
Where all was waste and silent yesterday? 
This City of War, which, in a few short hours, 
Hath sprung up here, as if the magic powers 



84 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

Of him who, in the twinkling of a star, 
Built the high pillar'd halls of Chilminar, 
Had conjured up, far as the eye can see, 
This world of tents and domes and sun-bright 

armoury. 

Princely pavilions, screened by many a fold 
Of crimson cloth, and topp'd with balls of gold ; 
Steeds, with their housings of rich silver spun, 
And camels, tufted o'er with Yemen's shells, 
Shaking in every breeze their light-toned bells." * 

As for Nizam Al-Mulk we have an interesting 
autobiography which he wrote and left as a memo- 
rial for future statesmen. (It is quoted in Mirk- 
hond's "History of the Assassins/') "One of 
the greatest of the wise men of Khorasan," says 
he, " was the Imam Mowaffak of Nishapur, a man 
highly honoured and reverenced, may God re- 
joice his soul ; his illustrious years exceeded eighty- 
five, and it was the universal belief that every boy 
who read the Koran or studied the traditions in 
his presence would assuredly attain to honour and 
happiness. For this cause did my father send me 
from Tus to Nishapur with Abd-us-Samad, the 
doctor of law, that I might employ myself in study 
and learning under the guidance of that illustrious 
teacher. Towards me he ever turned an eye of 
favour and kindness, and as his pupil I felt for him 
extreme affection and devotion, so that I passed 
four years in his service. When I first came there, 

Rookh." 



TEACHING AND CONVEESION 85 

I found two other pupils of mine own age newly 
arrived Hakim Omar Khayyam, and the ill-fated 
Ibn Sabbah, founder of the sect of the Assassins. 
Both were endowed with sharpness of wit and the 
highest natural powers; and we three formed a 
close friendship together. When the Imam rose 
from his lectures, they used to join me, and we 
repeated to each other the lessons we had heard. 
Now Omar was a native of Nishapur, while Hasan 
Ibn Sabbah's father was one Ali, a man of austere 
life and practice but heretical in his creed and doc- 
trine. One day Hasan said to me and to Khay- 
yam: ' It is a universal belief that the pupils of the 
Imam Mowaffak will attain to fortune. Now, even 
if we all do not attain thereto, without doubt one of 
us will ; what then shall be our mutual pledge and 
bond?' We answered: 'Be it what you please/ 
'Well/ he said, 'let us make a vow, that to 
whomsoever this fortune falls, he shall share it 
equally with the rest, and reserve no preeminence 
for himself.' ' Be it so/ we both replied, and on 
these terms we mutually pledged our words. Years 
rolled on, and I went from Khorasan to Trans- 
oxiana, and wandered to Ghazni and Kabul; and 
when I returned I was invested with office, and rose 
to be administrator of affairs during the Sultanate 
of Sultan Alp Arslan." 

After his education at Nishapur Nizam Al-Mulk 
served Alp Arslan, the successor of Togrul Bey, 
and for more than twenty years the burden of the 



86 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

empire of the Seljuks rested on his shoulders. 
When Alp Arslan died in 465 Malek Shah suc- 
ceeded him and from that time until his assassina- 
tion, on the tenth of Ramadan, 485, Nizam Al- 
Mulk was the greatest man in the empire and its 
real ruler. He was a friend of learning and 
letters and established colleges in many centres. 

In A. H. 484, Al-Ghazali gained high fame at 
court and was appointed by Nizam Al-Mulk to 
teach in the Madrasa at Bagdad, the capital of the 
whole of Eastern Islam. 

We have an interesting picture of the city of 
Bagdad about this time from the pen of Rabbi 
Benjamin, of Tudela, who visited the city some 
years after Al-Ghazali's death (1160). He says: 
" The circumference of the city of Bagdad meas- 
ures three miles ; the country in which it is situated 
is rich in palm-trees, gardens and orchards, so that 
nothing equals it in Mesopotamia; merchants of 
all countries resort thither for purposes of trade, 
and it contains many wise philosophers well skilled 
in sciences, and magicians proficient in all sorts 
of witchcraft. The palace of the Caliph at Bag- 
dad is three miles in extent. It contains a large 
park of all sorts of trees, both useful and orna- 
mental, and all sorts of beasts, as well as a pond of 
water led thither from the river Tigris ; and when- 
ever the Caliph desires to enjoy himself and to 
sport and to carouse, birds, beasts and fishes are 
prepared for him and for his councillors, whom 



TEACHING AND CONVEBSION 87 

he invites to his palace." He gives us a glimpse of 
what went on behind the walls of these royal 
palaces when he says : " All the brothers and other 
members of the Caliph's family are accustomed to 
kiss his garments, and every one of them possesses 
a palace within that of the Caliph; but they are all 
fettered by chains of iron, and a special officer is 
appointed over every household to prevent their 
rising in rebellion against the great king. These 
measures are enacted in consequence of an occur- 
rence which took place some time ago, and upon 
which occasion the brothers rebelled and elected a 
king among themselves. To prevent this in future, 
it was decreed that all the members of the Caliph's 
family should be chained, in order to prevent their 
rebellious intentions. Every one of them, how- 
ever, resides in his palace, is there much honoured, 
and they possess villages and towns, the rents of 
which are collected for them by their stewards; 
they eat and drink, and lead a merry life. 

" The palace of the great king contains large 
buildings, pillars of gold and silver, and treasures 
of precious stones. The Caliph leaves his palace 
but once every year, viz., at the time of the feast 
called Ramadan. Upon this occasion many vis- 
itors assemble from distant parts, in order to have 
an opportunity of beholding his countenance. He 
then bestrides the royal mule, dressed in kingly 
robes, which are composed of gold and silver cloth. 
On his head he wears a turban, ornamented with 



88 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

precious stones of inestimable value; but over this 
turban is thrown a black veil, as a sign of humility, 
and as much as to say: ' See, all this worldly 
honour will be converted into darkness on the day 
of death.' He is accompanied by a numerous 
retinue of Mohammedan nobles, arrayed in rich 
dresses, and riding upon horses ; princes of Arabia, 
of Media, of Persia, and even of Thibet, a country 
distant three months 1 journey from Arabia. This 
procession goes from the Palace to the Mosque at 
the Basra gate, which is the Metropolitan Mosque. 
All those who walk in procession are dressed in 
silk and purple, both men and women. The streets 
and squares are enlivened by singing, rejoicings, 
and by parties who dance before the great king, 
called Caliph. He is loudly saluted by the as- 
sembled crowd, who cry, 'Blessed art thou, our 
lord and king/ He thereupon kisses his garment, 
and by holding it in his hand, acknowledges and 
returns the compliment. The procession moves on 
into the court of the Mosque, where the Caliph 
mounts a wooden pulpit, and expounds their law 
unto them. The learned Mohammedans rise, pray 
for him, and praise his great kindness and piety; 
upon which the whole assembly answer, 'Amen/ 
He then pronounces his blessing and kills a camel, 
which is led thither for that purpose, and this is 
their offering, which is distributed to the nobles. 
These send portions of it to their friends, who are 
eager to taste of the meat killed by the hands of 



TEACHING AND CONVEKSION 89 

their holy king, and are much rejoiced therewith. 
He then leaves the Mosque, and returns alone to 
his Palace along the banks of the Tigris, the noble 
Mohammedans accompanying him in boats until he 
enters his buildings. He never returns by the way 
he came, and the path on the bank of the river is 
carefully guarded all the year around, so as to pre- 
vent any one treading in his footsteps. The Caliph 
never leaves his palace again for a whole year. 

" He is a pious and benevolent man, and has 
erected buildings on the other side of the river, on 
the banks of an arm of the Euphrates which runs 
on one side of the city. These buildings include 
many large houses, streets, and hostelries for the 
sick poor, who resort thither in order to be cured. 
There are about sixty medical warehouses here, 
all well provided from the king's stores with spices 
and other necessaries ; and every patient who claims 
assistance is fed at the king's expense until his cure 
is completed. There is further the large building 
called Dar-ul-Marastan (the abode of the insane), 
in which are locked up all those insane persons who 
are met with, particularly during the hot season, 
every one of whom is secured by iron chains until 
his reason returns, when he is allowed to return 
to his home." 

We may add what the poet, Al-Hamadhani, a 
contemporary, tells us of the luxuries of the table 
at Bagdad: "We found ourselves among a com- 
pany who were passing their time amid bunches of 



90 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

myrtle twigs, and bouquets of roses, broached wine 
vats and the sound of the flute and the lute. We 
approached them and they advanced to receive us. 
Then we clave to a table whose vessels were filled, 
whose gardens were in flower, and whose dishes 
were arranged in rows with viands of various hues ; 
opposite a dish of something intensely black was 
something exceedingly white, and against some- 
thing very red was arranged something very yel- 
low." And in another place: " I was in Bagdad in 
a famine year, and so I approached a company, 
united like the Pleiades, in order to ask something 
of them. Now there was among them a youth 
with a lisp in his tongue and a space between his 
front teeth. He asked: 'What is thy affair?' 
I replied: 'Two conditions in which a man pros- 
pers not: that of a beggar harassed by hunger, and 
that of an exile to whom return is impossible/ 
The boy then said: 'Which of the two breaches 
dost thou wish stopped first?' I answered: 
' Hunger, for it has become extreme with me.' 
He said : ' What sayest thou to a white cake on a 
clean table, picked herbs with very sour vinegar, 
fine date wine with pungent mustard, roast meat 
ranged on a skewer with a little salt, placed now 
before thee by one who will not put thee off with 
a promise nor torture thee with delay, and who will 
afterwards follow it up with golden goblets of the 
juice of grape? Is that preferable to thee, or a 
large company, full cups, variety of dessert, spread 



TEACHING AND CONVEKSION 91 

carpets, brilliant lights, and a skilful minstrel with 
the eye and neck of a gazelle ? ' " 

From all this we can imagine what Al-Ghazali 
enjoyed when he went to dine with the Nizam Al- 
Mulk or other men of wealth and there was no 
famine in Bagdad ! 

The Nizamiyya College which Al-Ghazali at- 
tended and in which he was one of the leading 
lecturers at two periods of his life, was built on 
the eastern river bank of the Tigris, near the 
Bridge of Boats and close to the wharf and the 
large market-place. The college was founded in 
A. D. 1065, being especially established for the 
teaching of Shafi'ite law. Close to the college was 
another college called the Bahaiyah and the hos- 
pital Maristan Tutushi. 

The traveller, Ibn Jubayr, attended prayers in 
the Nizamiyya on the first Friday after his arrival 
in Bagdad, in the year 581 (A. D. 1185), and he 
describes it as the most splendid of the thirty and 
odd colleges which then adorned the City of East 
Bagdad. . . . Ibn Jubayr further reports that 
in his day the endowments derived from domains 
and rents belonging to the college amply sufficed 
both to pay the stipends of professors and to keep 
the building in good order, besides supplying an 
extra fund for the sustenance of poor scholars. 
The Suk, or market of the Nizamiyya, was one of 
the great thoroughfares of this quarter, and it is 
described as lying adjacent to the te Mashra'ah " or 



92 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

wharf, which proves that the college must have 
stood near the Tigris bank. 1 . . . Writing a 
dozen years later than Ibn Batuta, Hamd-Allah, 
the Persian historian, briefly alludes to the 
Nizamiyya, which he calls "the mother of the 
Madrasahs " in Bagdad. This proves that down to 
the middle of the fourteenth century A. D. the col- 
lege was still standing, though at the present time 
all vestiges of it have disappeared, as indeed appears 
already to have been the case in the middle of the 
last century, for Niebuhr found no traces of the 
Nizamiyya to describe in his painstaking account 
of the ruins in the city of Caliphs, as these still ex- 
isted in the time of his visit. 

It was here, at the Nizamiyya School, that Al- 
Ghazali first embarked on his career as an inde- 
pendent teacher. His lectures drew crowds. He 
gave fatzvas, or legal opinions, on matters of the 
law, 2 he wrote books, he preached in the mosque, 
and was a leader of the' people. Then suddenly in 
the midst of all this prosperity a great change came 
over him. He seemed to be attacked by a myste- 
rious disease. His speech became hampered, his 
appetite failed, and his physicians said the malady 
was due to mental unrest. He suddenly left Bag- 
dad in the month of Dhu-1-Qada, 488, appointed 
his brother Ahmed to teach in his place, and aban- 



1 " 



Baghdad under the Abbasside Caliphate," G. I*e Strange, 
Oxford, 1900, p. 298. 
2 Several of these are given at length by Murtadha. 



TEACHING AND CONVEESION 93 

doned all his property, except so much as was nec- 
essary for his own support and that of his children. 

This sudden retirement from active life and aca- 
demic honour was unintelligible to the theologians 
cf his days. They looked upon it as a calamity for 
Islam. Some interpreted it as fear of the Govern- 
ment, a flight from responsibility, but the real rea- 
son of his renunciation he himself tells us in his 
" Confessions." This book reveals the story of 
his spiritual experiences from his youth up to his 
fiftieth year. 

He says: " Know then, my brother (may God 
direct you in the right way), that the diversity in 
beliefs and religions, and the variety of doctrines 
and sects which divide men, are like a deep ocean 
strewn with shipwrecks, from which very few es- 
cape safe and sound. Each sect, it is true, believes 
itself in possession of the truth and of salvation; 
' each party,' as the Koran saith, ' rejoices in its 
own creed ' ; but as the chief of apostles, whose 
word is always truthful, has told us, ' My people 
will be divided into more than seventy sects of 
whom only one will be saved.' This prediction, 
like all others of the Prophet, must be fulfilled. 

" From the period of adolescence, that is to say, 
previous to reaching my twentieth year to the 
present time when I have passed my fiftieth, I have 
ventured into this vast ocean; I have interrogated 
the beliefs of each sect and scrutinized the mys- 
teries of each doctrine, in order to disentangle truth 



94 A MOSLEM SEEKER APTEE GOD 

from error and orthodoxy from heresy. I have 
never met one who maintained the hidden meaning 
of the Koran without investigating the nature of 
his belief, nor a partisan of its exterior sense with- 
out inquiring into the results of his doctrine. 
There is no philosopher whose system I have not 
fathomed, nor theologian the intricacies of whose 
doctrine I have not followed out. 

" Sufism has no secrets into which I have not 
penetrated ; the devout adorer of Deity has revealed 
to me the aim of his austerities ; the atheist has not 
been able to conceal from me the real reason of his 
unbelief. The thirst for knowledge was innate in 
me from my early age ; it was like a second nature 
implanted by God, without any will on my part. 
No sooner had I emerged from boyhood than I had 
already broken the fetters of tradition and freed 
myself from hereditary beliefs. 

" Having noticed how easily the children of 
Christians become Christians, and the children of 
Moslems embrace Islam, and remembering also the 
traditional saying ascribed to the Prophet: ' Every 
child has in him the germ of Islam, then his par- 
ents make him Jew, Christian, or Zoroastrian/ I 
was moved by a keen desire to learn what was this 
innate disposition in the child, the nature of the 
accidental beliefs imposed on him by the authority 
of his parents and his masters, and finally the un- 
reasoned convictions which he derives from their 
instructions." 



TEACHING AND CONVEBSION 95 

Again he is full of doubts when he says : " Per- 
haps also Death is that state [he is speaking of a 
possible state of being which will bear the same 
relation to our present state as this does to the con- 
dition when asleep], according to a saying of the 
Prince of Prophets: ' Men are asleep; when they 
die, they wake.' Our present life in relation to the 
future is perhaps only a dream, and man, once 
dead, will see things in direct opposition to those 
now before his eyes. 

" Such thoughts as these threatened to shake my 
reason, and I sought to find an escape from them. 
But how ? In order to disentangle the knot of this 
difficulty, a proof was necessary. Now a proof 
must be based on primary assumptions, and it was 
precisely these of which I was in doubt. This un- 
happy state lasted about two months, during which 
I was not, it is true, explicitly or by profession, but 
morally and essentially a thoroughgoing sceptic." 

That Al-Ghazali was driven to scepticism must 
not surprise us. Schools of free thinkers had been 
established fifty years earlier at Bagdad and Bus- 
rah. Every Friday they gathered together. Some 
were rationalists, some downright materialists. 
Not only philosophers but poets were the leaders of 
these circles. Among them we_ must mention 
Abu'l 'Ala Al-Ma'arri, born in 973 A. D. This blind 
poet is said to have written a Koran in imitation 
of Mohammed, and when some one complained to 
him that although the book was well written it did 



96 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

not make the same impression as the true Koran, 
he replied: " Let it be read from the pulpit of the 
mosques for four hundred years and then you will 
all be delighted with it." His quatrains rival those 
of Omar Al-Kayyam in their utter pessimism and 
rank infidelity from the orthodox Moslem stand- 
point. For example, he writes: 

" Lo : there are many ways and many traps 

And many guides and which of them is Lord ? 
For verily Mohammed has the sword 
And he may have the truth perhaps ? perhaps? 

Now this religion happens to prevail 
Until by that one it is overthrown, 
Because men dare not live with men alone, 

But always with another fairy-tale. 

Religion is a charming girl, I say ; 
But over this poor threshold will not pass, 
Because I can't unveil her, and alas ; 

The bridal gift I can't afford to pay." 

Nor could this poet have had much reverence for 
the religion of Islam when he wrote: 

" Where is the valiance of the folk who sing 
These valiant stories of the world to come? 
Which they describe, forsooth, as if it swung 
In air and anchored with a yard of string." 



TEACHING AND CONVEESION 97 

" Two merchantmen decided they would battle, 
To prove at last who sold the finest wares ; 
And while Mohammed shrieked his call to 

prayers, 
The true Messiah waved his wooden rattle." 

As in the nineteenth century for Christianity, so 
in the eleventh century for Islam, the struggle be- 
tween science and orthodoxy waged fiercely. The 
rationalistic school of the Mu'atazilites still exer- 
cised great influence while the literalists and the 
blind followers of traditional Islam were often 
more distinguished for Pharisaism than piety. 

We need only turn to the " Maqamat " of Al- 
Hamadhani to know what the sceptic of that day 
thought of the public religious services. 

" So I slipped away from my companions," says 
his hero, " taking advantage of the opportunity of 
joining in public prayers, and dreading, at the same 
time, the loss of the caravan I was leaving. But I 
sought aid against the difficulty of the desert 
through the blessing of prayer, and, therefore, I 
went to the front row and stood up. The Imam 
went up to the niche and recited the opening chap- 
ter of the Quran according to the intonation of 
Hamza, in regard to using ' Madda ' and ' Hamsa/ 
while I experienced disquieting grief at the thought 
of missing the caravan, and of separation from the 
mount. Then he followed up the Surat Al-Fatiha 
with Surat Al-Waq'ia while I suffered the fire of 
impatience and tasked myself severely. I was 



98 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

roasting and grilling on the live coal of rage. But, 
from what I knew of the savage fanaticism of the 
people of that place, if prayers were cut short of 
the final salutation, there was no alternative but 
silence and endurance, or speech and the grave! 
So I remained standing thus on the foot of neces- 
sity till the end of the chapter. I had now de- 
spaired of the caravan and given up all hope of the 
supplies and the mount. He next bent his back for 
the two prostrations with such humility and emo- 
tion, the like of which I had never seen before. 
Then he raised his hands and his head and said: 
' May God accept the praise of him who praises 
Him/ and remained standing till I doubted not but 
that he had fallen asleep. Then he placed his right 
hand on the ground, put his forehead on the earth 
and pressed his face thereto. I raised my head to 
look for an opportunity to slip away, but I per- 
ceived no opening in the rows, so I re-addressed 
myself to prayer until he repeated the Takbir for 
the sitting posture. Then he stood up for the sec- 
ond prostration, recited the Suras of Al-Fatiha and 
Al-Qaria with an intonation which occupied the 
duration of the Last Day and well-nigh exhausted 
the spirits of the congregation. Now, when he 
had finished his two prostrations and proceeded to 
wag his jaws to pronounce the testimony to God's 
unity, and to turn his face to the right and to the 
left for the final salutation, I said: ' Now God has 
made escape easy, and deliverance is nigh ' ; but a 



TEACHING AND CONYEESION 99 

man stood up and said: ' Whosoever of you loves 
the companions of the Moslem community let him 
lend me his ears for a moment/ " Such was the 
impression made by the formalities of orthodoxy ! 

Al-Ghazali found no help for his doubts among 
these scholastic theologians nor has any Moslem 
since his day. Professor Macdonald tells us why. 
^ Grant the theologians their premises, and they 
could argue ; deny them, and there was no common 
ground on which to meefTI Their science had been 
founded by Al-Ash'ari to meet the Mu'tazilites ; it 
had done that victoriously, but could do no more. 
JEhey could hold the faith against heretics, expose 
their inconsistencies and weaknesses; but against 
the sceptic they could do nothingj It is true that 
they had attempted to go further back and meet the 
students of philosophy on their own ground, to 
deal with substances and attributes and first prin- 
ciples generally ; but their efforts had been fruitless. 
They lacked the necessary knowledge of the sub- 
ject, had no scientific basis, and were constrained 
eventually to fall back on authority." * 

"Nor did he find light in philosophy, although he 
thoroughly studied the various systems of his day 
and refuted them. Religion is not merely of the 
mind but of the heart; philosophy had its place 
but could satisfy only the intellect and left the 
deepest longings of the soul unsatisfied. Next he 
examined the teachings of the Ta'limites, the con- 
1 Macdonald, p. 88. 



100 A MOSLEM SEEKER APTEE GOD 

temporary sect of the Ishmaelites founded by Has- 
san Ibn as Sabbah. Theirs was the doctrine of 
an Imam or infallible spiritual guide and the sect 
found large following. But Al-Ghazali, so far 
from being attracted by them, wrote several books 
against them." No other path remained open for 
the perplexed and sceptical seeker after God than 
the way of the mystics. It was a return to the 
early teaching he received at Tus and Nishapur and 
to the atmosphere of his native land which was for 
centuries steeped in mysticism. Of this period of 
his life he was wont to say: 

" When I wished to plunge into following the 
people and to drink of their drink, I looked at my 
soul and I saw how much it was curtained in, so 
I retired into solitude and busied myself with re- 
ligious exercises for forty days, and there was 
doled to me of knowledge I had not had purer and 
finer than what I had known. Then I looked upon 
it, and lo, in it was a legal element. So I returned 
to solitude and busied myself with religious exer- 
cises for forty days, and there was doled to me 
other knowledge, purer and finer than what had 
befallen me at first, and I rejoiced in it. Then I 
looked upon it, and lo, in it was a speculative ele- 
ment. So I returned to solitude a third time for 
forty days, and there was doled to me other knowl- 
edge that is known (i. e. f not simply perceived, 
felt), and I did not attain to the people of the in- 
a Macdonald, p. 90, and see Bibliography. 



TEACHING AND CONVEBSION 101 

ward sciences. So I know that writing on a sur- 
face from which something has been erased is not 
like writing on a surface in its first purity and 
cleanness, and I never separated myself from spec- 
ulation except in a few things." 

Who can read this and doubt his utter sincerity 
in the search for God and for Truth ? 
X He tells the rest of the story in his " Confes- 
sions " : "I saw that Sufism consists in experi- 
ences rather than in definitions, and that what I 
was lacking belonged to the domain, not of instruc- 
tion but of ecstasy and initiation. 

" The researches to which I had devoted myself, 
the path which I had traversed in studying religious 
and speculative branches of knowledge, had given 
me a firm faith in three things God, inspiration, 
and the Last Judgment. These three fundamental 
articles of belief were confirmed in me, not merely 
by definite arguments, but by a chain of causes, cir- 
cumstances, and proofs which it is impossible to re- 
count. I saw that one can only hope for salvation 
by devotion and the conquest of one's passions, a 
procedure which presupposes renouncement and 
detachment from this world of falsehood in order 
to turn towards eternity and meditation on God. 
Finally, I saw that the only condition of success 
was to sacrifice honours and riches and to sever the 
ties and attachments of worldly life. 

" Coming seriously to consider my state, I found 
myself bound down on all sides by these trammels. 



102 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

Examining my actions, the most fair-seeming of 
which were my lecturing and professorial occupa- 
tions, I found to my surprise that I was engrossed 
in several studies of little value, and profitless as 
regards my salvation. I probed the motives of my 
teaching and found that, in place of being sincerely 
consecrated to God, it was only actuated by a vain 
desire of honour and reputation. I perceived that 
I was on the edge of an abyss, and that without an 
immediate conversion I should be doomed to eter- 
nal fire. In these reflections I spent a long time. 
Still a prey to uncertainty, one day I decided to 
leave Bagdad and to give up everything; the next 
day I gave up my resolution. I advanced one step 
and immediately relapsed. In the morning I was 
sincerely resolved only to occupy myself with the 
future life; in the evening a crowd of carnal 
thoughts assailed and dispersed my resolutions. 
On the one side the world kept me bound to my 
post in the chains of covetousness, on the other side 
the voice of religion cried to me: 'Up, Up, thy 
life is nearing its end, and thou hast a long journey 
to make. All thy pretended knowledge is nought 
but falsehood and fantasy. If thou dost not think 
now of thy salvation, when wilt thou think of it? 
If thou dost not break thy chains to-day, when 
wilt thou break them?' Then my resolve was 
strengthened, I wished to give up all and flee ; but 
the Tempter returning to the attack said: 'You 
are suffering from a transitory feeling ; don't give 



TEACHING AND CONVEBSION 103 

way to it, for. it will soon pass. If you obey it, if 
you give up this fine position, this honourable post 
exempt from trouble and rivalry, this seat of au- 
thority safe from attack you will regret it later on 
without being able to recover it/ 

" Thus I remained, torn asunder by the oppo- 
site forces of earthly passions and religious aspira- 
tions, for about six months from the month Rajab 
of the year A. D. 1096. At the close of them my 
will yielded and I gave myself up to destiny. God 
caused an impediment to chain my tongue and pre- 
vented me from lecturing. Vainly I desired, in the 
interest of my pupils, to go on with my teaching, 
but my mouth became dumb. 

" The enfeeblement of my physical powers was 
such that the doctors despairing of saving me, said: 
' The mischief is in the heart, and has communi- 
cated itself to the whole organism; there is no hope 
unless the cause of his grievous sadness be ar- 
rested/ 

" Finally, conscious of my weakness and the 
prostration of my soul, I took refuge in God as a 
man at the end of himself and without resources. 
4 He who hears the wretched when they cry ' 
(Koran, xxviii. 63) deigned to hear me; He 
made easy to me the sacrifice of honours, wealth, 
and family " ("The Confessions," pp. 42-45). 

That his conversion did not mean ethically all 
that the word means in the Christian sense is evi- 
dent from what immediately follows. He dis- 



104 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

sembled : " I gave out publicly that I intended to 
make the pilgrimage to Mecca, while I secretly re- 
solved to go to Syria," not wishing that the Caliph 
(may God magnify him) or my friends should 
know my intention of settling in that country. I 
made all kinds of clever excuses for leaving Bag- 
dad with the fixed intention of not returning 
thither. The Imams of Irak criticized me with 
one accord. Not one of them would admit that 
this sacrifice had a religious motive, because they 
considered my position as the highest attainable 
in the religious community. ' Behold how far 
their knowledge goes ' (Koran, liii. 31). All kinds 
of explanations of my conduct were forthcoming. 
Those who were outside the limits of Irak at- 
tributed it to the fear with which the Government 
inspired me. Those who were on the spot and 
saw how the authorities wished to detain me, their 
displeasure at my resolution and my refusal of 
their request, said to themselves, ' It is a calamity 
which one can only impute to a fate which has be- 
fallen the Faithful and Learning/ 

"At last I left Bagdad, giving up all my fortune. 
Only, as lands and property in Irak can afford an 
endowment for pious purposes, I obtained a legal 
authorization to preserve as much as was necessary 
for my support and that of my children ; for there 
is surely nothing more lawful in the world than that 
a learned man should provide sufficient to support 
his family. I then betook myself to Syria, where 



TEACHING AND CONVEESION 105 

I remained for two years, which I devoted to re- 
tirement, meditation, and devout exercises. I only 
thought of self-improvement and discipline and of 
purification of the heart by prayer in going through 
the forms of devotion which the Sufis had taught 
me. I used to live a solitary life in the Mosque of 
Damascus, and was in the habit of spending my 
days on the minaret after closing the door behind 
me" (pp. 45-46). 

When Al-Ghazali determined to abandon the 
world and set out as a pilgrim he was only fol- 
lowing the custom of his time. Not only religious 
men but adventurers found in travel relief and 
recreation. The pious did it, as they asserted, in 
imitation of Jesus, the Messiah, whose name is 
often interpreted as meaning " one who travels 
constantly." And the worldly-minded often donned 
the garb of religious fakirs to satisfy their desire for 
adventure and their ambition to see distant lands. 

Because of facilities for travel by post and cara- 
van routes, this period seemed one of wanderlust 
second to none. A scholar was not satisfied unless 
he had seen the world of Islam. Of At-Tabrizi 
(A. D. 1030-1100), one of the contemporaries of 
Al-Ghazali, who was also professor at the Niza- 
miyya School, we read that when he desired to go 
on a journey for literary purposes "he had no 
money wherewith to hire a horse, so he put his 
book into a sack and started to walk the long 
journey from Persia to Syria. The sweat on his 



106 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

back oozed through the material of his sack and 
stained the precious manuscript, which was long 
preserved and shown to visitors in one of the 
libraries of Bagdad." The Persian poet Sa'adi 
was left an orphan at an early age, went to Bagdad 
-to attend the Nizamiyya University course, made 
the Mecca pilgrimage several times over, acted, out 
of charity, as a water-carrier in the markets of 
Jerusalem and the Syrian towns, was taken pris- 
oner by the Franks, and forced to work with Jews 
at cleaning out the moats of Tripoli in Syria; he 
was ransomed by an Aleppan, who gave him his 
daughter in marriage. He himself mentions his 
visits to Kashgar in Turkestan, to Abyssinia, and 
Asia Minor. He even travelled about India, pass- 
ing through Afghanistan on his way. 

We have a picture of such a dervish (a dishonest 
one, however) in Hamadhani's forty-second 
Maqamat: " So I started wandering, as though I 
was the Messiah, and I journeyed over Khorasan, 
its deserted and populous parts, to Kirman, Siji- 
stan, Jilan, Tabaristan, Oman, to Sind and Hind, 
to Nubia and Egypt, Yemen, Hijaz, Mecca and al 
Ta'if. I roamed over deserts and wastes, seeking 
warmth and the fire and taking shelter with the 
ass, till both my cheeks were blackened. And thus 
I collected of anecdotes and fables, witticisms and 
traditions, poems of the humorists, the diversions 
of the frivolous, the fabrications of the lovesick, 
the saws of the pseudo-philosophers, the tricks of 







o 

a; 

<-M 

o 

!_ 
O 



TEACHING AND CONVEESION 107 

the conjurors, the artifices of the artful, the rare 
sayings of convivial companions, the fraud of the 
astrologers, the finesse of quacks, the deception of 
the effeminate, the guile of the cheats, the devilry 
of the fiends, such that the legal decisions of al- 
Sha'abi, the memory of al-Dabbi and the learning 
of al-Kalbi would have fallen short of. And I 
solicited gifts and asked for presents. I had re- 
course to influence and I begged. I eulogized and 
satirized, till I acquired much property, got posses- 
sion of Indian swords and Yemen blades, fine coats 
of mail of Sabur and leathern shields of Thibet, 
spears of al-Khatt and javelins of Barbary, excel- 
lent fleet horses with short coats, Armenian mules, 
and Mirris asses, silk brocades of Rum and woolen 
stuffs of Sus." * 

To the honest traveller, like Al-Ghazali, however, 
it was not so easy a life. Not only were there the 
hardships of travel and its loneliness, but the 
asceticism of the beggar and the wayfarer. "And 
to such a pass did we come," says Hariri, " through 
assailing fortune and prostrating need, that we 
were shod with soreness, and fed on choking, and 
filled our bellies with ache, and wrapped our en- 
trails upon hunger, and anointed our eyes with 
watching, and made pits our home, and deemed 
thorns a smooth bed, and came to forget our sad- 
dles, and thought destroying death to be sweet and 
the ordained day to be tardy." 

"'The Maqamat." 



108 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

We may believe that so keen an observer as Al- 
Ghazali carried his " Baedeker " with him on his 
travels. He was doubtless acquainted with the 
chief geographical works of that period, some of 
which contained maps and even illustrations. The 
most important work was that by Abu' Abdallah 
al-Maqdisi, who spent a great part of his life 
travelling all over the Moslem empire, with the 
possible exception of India and Spain. His book 
was entitled: "The Best Classification for the 
Knowledge of Climates." It was written in A. D. 
985. Another work of a contemporary of Al- 
Ghazali, Abu' Ubaid al-Bakri of Cordova, was a 
general geography of all the roads and provinces 
of the Moslem world. 

Although we have no details of Al-Ghazali's 
wanderings we can at least follow him on his 
journeys and learn something of the places he 
visited and their condition in his day. The course 
of his travels seems to have been from Bagdad to 
Damascus, a journey of nearly five hundred miles, 
from Damascus to Jerusalem and Hebron, thence 
on to the birthplace of the Prophet at Mecca and 
his tomb at Medina and back over a thousand miles 
more of caravan travel. 

All through this period of Al-Ghazali's life 
Damascus was experiencing the storm and stress 
of war. Shortly before his time the city was taken 
by the Karmatians and much of it was destroyed 
by fire. There were frequent changes of gov- 



TEACHING AND CONVEESION 109 

ernors, uprisings and riots. In 1068 the great 
Mosque was set on fire. In 1076 the Seljuk gen- 
erals seized the city, built anew the citadel and 
other buildings, among them a famous hospital. 
This was about fifteen years before Al-Ghazali's 
arrival there from Bagdad. 

The great Ummayad Mosque of Damascus was 
said to be the grandest of all Mohammedan build- 
ings. There was praying space for 20,000 men; 
and it is said to have taken the whole revenue of 
Syria for forty-seven years, not counting eighteen 
shiploads of gold and silver from Cyprus to com- 
plete the building. "When the wondrous work 
was finished, the Caliph would not look at the ac- 
counts brought to him on eighteen laden mules, but 
ordered that they should be burned and thus ad- 
dressed the crowd: ' Men of Damascus, you possess 
four glories above other people ; you are proud of 
your water, your air, your fruits, your baths ; your 
mosque shall be your fifth glory/ " 

Like other famous places of Moslem worship, 
this mosque was once the site of a Christian church, 
dedicated to St. John the Baptist, to whom there is 
still an imposing shrine. For some years the 
building was shared between Christians and 
Mohammedans, but in A. D. 708 the Christians 
were driven out. To this day one of the three 
minarets is called by the name of Isa (Jesus), and 
above a gate, long since closed, is the Greek inscrip- 
tion, " THY KINGDOM, O CHRIST, is AN EVERLAST- 



110 A MOSLEM SEEKER APTEE GOD 

ING KINGDOM, AND THY DOMINION ENDURETH 
THROUGHOUT ALL GENERATIONS." 

Al-Ghazali spent many hours for many years 
under the shadow of this great building, and it was 
in the minaret of Jesus that he had long medita- 
tions. The minaret of Jesus, according to H. Sala- 
din, 1 was built in the eleventh century, shortly be- 
fore the time of Al-Ghazali's visit. Did he ever 
find or understand the inscription on the gate and 
meditate on that Prophet whose kingdom has no 
end and no frontier ? 

*" Manuel d'Art Musulman," Vol. I, Paris, 1907. 



IV 

Wanderings, Later Years, and Death 



"Then came the immediate breaking up of the 
Seljukian Empire into a number of independent 
principalities. Syria, Palestine, and all Asia Minor, 
were partitioned among a dozen different Turkish 
Emirs. Khorasan and Irak became the scene of a 
fierce civil war, extending over several years, be- 
tween two sons of Malek Shah, Barkiaroc and 
Muhammed. Drought was added to the horrors of 
war; the people perished by thousands of famine; 
the incessant marching and counter-marching of the 
hostile armies destroyed the remnant of food which 
had survived the want of rain. To crown all, from 
the borders of Christendom a fresh scourge was be- 
held preparing for Islam. The hosts of the Red 
Cross passed the Bosphorus, and fought their way 
knee-deep in blood to the walls of Jerusalem. The 
capture of the Holy City struck like the point of a 
poisoned dagger to the heart of every true Moslem." 
" Islam under the Khalifs of Baghdad/' 
by Robert Dune Osborn. 




IV 

WANDERINGS, LATER YEARS, AND 
DEATH 

iHE chronology of Al-Ghazali's life was a 
puzzle even to those who wrote only a 
century after his death. There seems 
great uncertainty not only as to the time of his 
various journeyings but as to their order, and there 
is dispute even regarding the places he visited. 
We know that the date of his conversion was 
A. H. 488 (A. D. 1095), when he was thirty-eight 
years old, and that shortly after this he went into 
exile. In A. H. 498 (A. D. 1104) he is said to have 
returned to active life, and to have spent two years 
in retirement in Syria. The other dates are quite 
uncertain. Following the best authorities at our 
disposal, especially his own " Confessions," we 
continue the story where we left off in the last 
chapter. 1 

" From Damascus," says Al-Ghazali, " I pro- 
ceeded to Jerusalem, and every day secluded my- 
self in the Sanctuary of the Rock. After that I 

1 Compare on the chronology the first chapters of Gard- 
ner's "Al-Ghazali," 1919 (Christian Lit. Soc. for India). 

"3 



114 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

felt a desire to accomplish the Pilgrimage, and to 
receive a full effusion of grace by visiting Mecca, 
Medina, and the Tomb of the Prophet. After 
visiting the shrine of the Friend of God (Abra- 
ham), I went to the Hejaz. Finally, the longings 
of my heart and the prayers of my children brought 
me back to my country, although I was so firmly 
resolved at first never to revisit it. At any rate, 
I meant, if I did return, to live there solitary and 
in religious meditation; but events, family care, 
and vicissitudes of life changed my resolutions and 
troubled my meditative calm. However irregular 
the intervals which I could give to devotional 
ecstasy, my confidence in it did not diminish ; and 
the more I was diverted by hindrances, the more 
steadfastly I returned to it. Ten years passed in 
this manner." 

According to this account his pilgrimage to 
Jerusalem and Hebron, to Medina and Mecca, was 
part of one itinerary ; it also is the natural route of 
travel from Bagdad to the birthplace of Islam. 
The statement made by some authorities that he 
first remained ten years at Damascus is therefore 
probably inaccurate. If we are to believe al- 
Isnawi, the course of events was as follows: He 
set out in the year A. D. 1095 for the Hejaz. On 
his return from the pilgrimage, he journeyed to 
Damascus, and made his abode there for some 
years in the minaret of the Grand Mosque, com- 
posing several works of which the Ihya is said to 



WANDEEINGS, LATEE YEAES, DEATH 115 

be one. Then after visiting Jerusalem and per- 
haps Cairo and Alexandria, he returned to his home 
at Tus. 

According to one Arabic authority, when Al- 
Ghazali left Damascus in his wanderings, he was 
accompanied by a disciple, a certain Abu Tahir 
Ibrahim, who had been a pupil also at Nishapur 
under the great Imam ; he returned afterwards to 
Jurjan, his native place, and died a martyr in 
A. H. 513. Other pupils of his at Damascus are 
also mentioned, but the authorities do not agree. 

Among many shrines at Jerusalem, Al-Ghazali 
visited the Mosque of Omar, and the Dome of the 
Rock. In Sura xvii. 1, Mohammed is represented 
as having taken his flight from Mecca to Jeru- 
salem. " Celebrated be the praises of Him who by 
night took his servant from the Masjidu 'l-Haram 
(the Sacred Mosque) to the Masjidu 'l-Aqsa (the 
Remote Mosque), the precinct of which we have 
blessed." 

As-Suyuti says Jerusalem is specially honoured 
by Moslems as being the scene of the repentance 
of David and Solomon. " The place where God 
sent His angel to Solomon, announced glad tidings 
to Zacharias and John, showed David a plan of the 
Temple, and put all the beasts of the earth and 
fowls of the air in subjection to him. It was at 
Jerusalem that the prophets sacrificed; that Jesus 
was born and spoke in His cradle ; and it was from 
Jerusalem that Jesus ascended to heaven; and it 



116 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

will be there that He will again descend. Gog 
and Magog shall subdue every place on the earth 
but Jerusalem, and it will be there that God Al- 
mighty will destroy them. It is in the holy land 
of Jerusalem that Adam and Abraham, and Isaac 
and Mary are buried. And in the last days there 
will be a general flight to Jerusalem, when the Ark 
and the Shechinah will be again restored to the 
Temple. There will all mankind be gathered at 
the Resurrection for judgment, and God will enter, 
surrounded by His angels, into the Holy Temple, 
when He comes to judge the earth." 

Here Al-Ghazali would see the sacred footprint 
of Mohammed made in the rock on his journey to 
heaven; the praying places of Abraham and Elijah 
would be pointed out to him ; the round hole where 
the rock let Mohammed through when he ascended 
to heaven; the holy place in the roof of the cavern 
where it arose to allow him to stand erect and to 
pray; the tongue with which it spoke; and the 
marks of the Angel Gabriel's finger where it had 
to be held down from following him in his ascen- 
sion! The place is also pointed out by Moslems 
to-day where Solomon tormented the demons, and 
also near the eastern wall where the throne stood 
whereon he sat when dead, the corpse leaning on 
his staff to cheat the demons until the worms had 
gnawed it through and the body fell forward. All 
this is found in Moslem Tradition, and must have 
stirred the credulity or the scepticism of Al- 



WANDERINGS, LATER YEARS, DEATH 117 

Ghazali. He himself tells us in one of his books 
that on the last day Israfil, who, with Gabriel and 
Michael, has been restored to life, " standing on the 
rock of the temple of Jerusalem, will at the com- 
mand of God call together the souls from all parts, 
those of believers from Paradise and the unbe- 
lievers from hell, and throw them into his trumpet. 
There they will be ranged in little holes, like bees 
in a hive, and will, on his giving the last sound, be 
thrust out and fly like bees, filling the whole space 
between earth and heaven. Then they will repair 
to their respective bodies. The earth will then be 
an immense plain without hills or villages, and the 
dead, after they have risen, will sit down each one 
on his tomb, anxiously waiting for what is to 
come." 

A modern traveller describes other Moslem 
superstitions connected with this Mosque. " The 
little arcades at the top of the steps of the plat- 
form are called ' Balances/ because the scales of 
judgment are to be suspended there on the Great 
Day. The Dome of the Chain owes its name to 
the circumstance that there a golden chain hung at 
David's place of judgment, which had to be 
grasped by witnesses and dropped a link when a 
lie was told. A place in the outer wall is shown 
from which a wire will be suspended on the Day of 
Judgment, whose other end will be made fast to the 

Quoted in Klein's "Islam," page 87, from the Ihya, 
IV: 320. 



118 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

Mount of Olives. Christ will sit on the wall and 
Mohammed on the mount. Over this wire must 
all men find their way, but only the good will cross, 
the wicked falling into the valley beneath. In the 
Al-Aqsa Mosque a couple of pillars stand very 
near each other, so worn that they are perceptibly 
thinned. The space between them bulges, and a 
piece of spiked iron work is now inserted between 
them. These are another test for the final award 
he who could squeeze himself between them, and 
he alone, had found the true ' narrow way to 
heaven.' " 

We have descriptions of Jerusalem by a Moslem 
who wrote at the end of the tenth, and by another 
of the middle of the eleventh century. The latter 
estimated the population at twenty thousand, and 
fancied that as many more Moslem pilgrims came 
to the city in the month of their pilgrimage; Chris- 
tians and Jews then visited the city as they do 
to-day. Both these writers praise the place for its 
cleanliness, which they attribute to its geographical 
position and natural drainage. Yet the history of 
Jerusalem throughout this century is little more 
than the record of damage and repair to Christian 
and Moslem sanctuaries. In A. D. 1010 the Church 
of the Holy Sepulchre was destroyed by the mad 
Sultan Hakim. This was followed by other 
humiliations of the pilgrims and persecutions, until 
Peter the Hermit arose in protest and the Crusades 
began. 



\ 



WANDEEINGS, LATEE YEAES, DEATH 119 



We have no information as to how Al-Ghazali 
spent his days during this visit at Jerusalem. It 
was a time of war and tumult throughout Syria, on 
the eve of the Crusades. One can imagine with 
what interest Al-Ghazali studied the whole situa- 
tion and how this ardent champion of the Moslem 
faith was stirred by the coming events whose 
shadows were already resting on the Holy Land at 
the time of his visit there. We do know that he 
lived the life of a mystic, and devoted himself to 
prayer and fasting. Prayer occupies a large place 
in the life of every conscientious Moslem. Not 
only are there the five ritual prayers, but the night 
prayer which, according to Al-Ghazali himself, 
must be performed between midnight and the be- 
ginning of dawn. It has been calculated that a 
Moslem conscientiously performing his devotions 
recites the same form of prayer at least seventy- 
five times a day. In addition to these prayers, how- 
ever, there are prayers called witr to be performed 
after the night prayer; dhuha, the prayer used in 
the forenoon ; and the prayer of night vigils, which 
take place between the last evening prayer and mid- 
night. In addition to observing all the above men- 
tioned prayers, those who would reach a high de- 
gree of perfection are recommended by Al-Ghazali, 
in accordance with his own practices at this period, 
to engage in certain additional devotional exer- 
cises called wird. We may best note the character 
of this mystical devotion, in which he spent whole 



120 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

days and nights, by quoting in substance from the 
Ihya as follows: 

" From many verses of the Koran it appears that 
the only way of becoming united with God is con- 
stant intercourse with Him. This is the object of 
the devotional services called wird in which the be- 
liever can engage at all times of the day as well as 
the night. The wirds to be observed during the 
day are seven: First wird. The Moslem on rising 
early mentions the name of God, and praises Him, 
reciting certain petitions; while dressing, he re- 
cites the appointed petitions, cleans his teeth with 
the miswak, performs the Wudhu, then prays two 
Sunna raka's of dawn. 1 After this he repeats a 
petition and goes to the mosque with collected 
thoughts. He enters the mosque solemnly and re- 
spectfully with the right foot first, saying the ap- 
pointed petitions on entering and leaving. He 
enters the first rank of worshippers if there be 
room, and prays the two raka's of dawn, if he has 
not done so already at home; then two raka's of 
' Saluting the Mosque/ and sits down repeating 
petitions and praises, awaiting the assembling of 
the congregation. After having repeated the 
obligatory prayer of dawn, he remains sitting in 
the mosque till sunrise, meditating and repeating 
certain petitions, and praises a certain number of 
times, counting them by the rosary, and reciting 

a For the significance of these terms consult Hughes' 
"Dictionary of Islam. 1 ' 



WANDERINGS, LATER YEAES, DEATH 121 

portions of the Koran. [We know that the rosary 
was in general use from a reference to it in the 
"Assemblies " of al-Hariri, and in Al-Ghazali's 
"Alchemy of Happiness."] The second wird is be- 
tween sunrise and an advanced forenoon hour ; the 
worshipper says a prayer of two raka's, and when 
the sun has risen the length of a lance above the 
horizon two more raka's. This is the time when 
the believer may perform good works, such as 
visiting the sick, etc. When nothing of the kind 
requires his attention, he spends his time in repeat- 
ing petitions, in zikr, meditation and reading the 
Koran. The third wird is between morning and 
the ascending of the sun; the believer, after taking 
care of his worldly affairs, engages in the devo- 
tional exercises as before mentioned. Between 
the time when the sun has become somewhat high 
and the noon prayer, four raka's between the Azan 
and the Ikania are said and portions of the Koran 
are recited; this is the fourth wird. The fifth, 
sixth and seventh occur after this until vespers. 
Finally there are the wirds of the night which are 
five, divided and described as follows: First night 
wird: after sunset, when the prayer of sunset has 
been performed, to the time when darkness has set 
in, the worshipper says two raka's, in which certain 
portions of the Koran are recited, then four long 
raka's, and as much of the Koran as time allows. 
This wird may be performed at home; but it is 
preferable to do so in the mosque. Second night 



122 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

wird: this is from the darkness of the last 'Isha 
to the time when people retire to sleep. This con- 
sists of three things: (1) the obligatory 'Isha 
prayer; ten raka's, viz., four before it and six after 
it; (2) performing a prayer of thirteen raka's, the 
last of which is the witr prayer. In this about 
three hundred verses of the Koran are to be re- 
cited. (3) The witr prayer before going to sleep, 
unless one is accustomed to rise in the night, when 
it may be performed later on, which is more merito- 
rious. Third night wird: this consists of sleep, 
and sleep may well be considered a devotional act, 
if enjoyed in the proper way. Fourth night wird: 
this is from the time when the first half of the 
night is spent to when only one-sixth of it still 
remains. At this time the believer ought to rise 
from sleep and perform the prayer of tahajjud. 
This prayer is also called the hujud. Mohammed 
mostly made it a prayer of thirteen raka's. Fifth 
night wird: this begins with the last sixth of the 
night, called the Sahar, the early morning before 
dawn to the appearing of dawn." To these devo- 
tional exercises, described in the Ihya, it was con- 
sidered meritorious to add four additional good 
actions: fasting, almsgiving, visiting the sick, at- 
tending funerals ; and finally all this punctilious re- 
membrance of God through prayer was supple- 
mented by what is called dhikr the special method 
of worship used by the Sufi saints. 

Al-Ghazali describes the method and effects of 



WANDEEINGS, LATEE YEAES, DEATH 123 

this practice in a passage which Macdonald has 
summarized as follows: "Let the worshipper re- 
duce his heart to a state in which the existence of 
anything and its non-existence are the same to him. 
Then let him sit alone in some corner, limiting his 
religious duties to what is absolutely necessary, and 
not occupying himself either with reciting the 
Koran or considering its meaning or with books of 
religious traditions or with anything of the sort. 
And let him see to it that nothing save God most 
High enters his mind. Then, as he sits in solitude, 
let him not cease saying continuously with his 
tongue, 'Allah, Allah/ keeping his thought on it. 
At last he will reach a state when the motion of his 
tongue will cease, and it will seem as though the 
word flowed from it. Let him persevere in this 
until all trace of motion is removed from his 
tongue, and he finds his heart persevering in the 
thought. Let him still persevere until the form of 
the word, its letters and shape, is removed from his 
heart, and there remains the idea alone, as though 
clinging to his heart, inseparable from it. So far, 
all is dependent on his will and choice ; but to bring 
the mercy of God does not stand in his will or 
choice. He has now laid himself bare to the 
breathings of that mercy, and nothing remains but 
to wait what God will open to him, as God has done 
after this manner to prophets and saints. If he 
follows the above course, he may be sure that the 
light of the Real will shine out in his heart. At 



124 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEB GOD 

first unstable, like a flash of lightning, it turns and 
returns; though sometimes it hangs back. And if 
it returns, sometimes it abides and sometimes it is 
momentary. And if it abides, sometimes its abid- 
ing is long, and sometimes short." 

Such is the teaching of Al-Ghazali in regard to 
the true life of devotion and such we may believe 
was his own practice at Damascus and Jerusalem 
during the years that followed his life of exile the 
endless repetition of God's great names and 
"prayer without ceasing" in the Moslem sense. 
One wonders what part of the day remained for 
the literary work and teaching in which we know 
he was also engaged. 1 

An interesting story is told of his life at Jeru- 
salem in these words: "There came together the 
Imams Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali and Ismail Al- 
Kakimi and Ibrahim Ash-Shibaki and Abu-1-Hasan 
Al-Basri, and a large number of foreign elders, in 
the Cradle of 'Isa (upon him be peace!) in Jeru- 
salem, and he (Al-Ghazali, apparently) recited 
these two lines: 

" ' May I be thy ransom ! were it not for love thou 
wouldst have ransomed me, but by the magic 
of two eye-pupils thou hast taken me captive. 

1 That this method of seeking God is still a refuge for 
the most earnest and sincere among Moslems is clear from 
such books as "The Autobiography of Imad-ud-Din the 
Indian Convert " (C. M. S., London). 



WAKDEEINGS, LATEE YEAES, DEATH 125 

I came to thee when my breast was straitened 
through love, and if thou hadst known how 
was my longing, thou wouldst have come 
to me/ 

Then Abu-1-Hasan Al-Basri constrained himself to 
an ecstasy which affected those that were present, 
and eyes wept and garments were rent and Mo- 
hammed Al-Kazaruni died in the midst of the as- 
sembly in ecstasy." 

In Jerusalem he is said to have written his Risalat 
Al-Qudsiya; and the date of his visit there must 
have been shortly before A. H. 492, for in that year 
Jerusalem was captured by the Crusaders. 1 

It was natural for one of Al-Ghazali's tempera- 
ment to desire to pay homage also at the tomb of 
Abraham, whom Moslems delight to call the 
" Friend of God." The religion of Islam is con- 
tinually called the religion of Abraham in the 
Koran. Tradition locates the so-called Machpelah 
Cave in the eastern part of the present-day Hebron, 
on the edge of the valley, and the mosque which 
now stands there is supposed to enclose the grave. 
Hebron is about seventeen miles southwest of 
Jerusalem. Before the twelfth century the Cave 
of Machpelah began to attract visitors and pil- 
grims. " Benjamin of Tudela relates: 'At Hebron 
there is a large place of worship called " St. Abra- 

1 Gardner finds evidence that the book mentioned was not 
written there. 



126 A MOSLEM SEEKEB AFTEE GOD 

ham/' which was previously a Jewish synagogue. 
The natives erected there six sepulchres, which 
they tell foreigners are those of the Patriarchs and 
their wives, demanding money as a condition of 
seeing them. If a Jew gives an additional fee to 
the keeper of the cave, an iron door which dates 
from the time of our forefathers opens, and the 
visitor descends with a lighted candle. He crosses 
two empty caves, and in the third sees six tombs, 
on which the names of the three Patriarchs and 
their wives are inscribed in Hebrew characters. 
The cave is filled with barrels containing bones of 
people, which are taken there as to a sacred place. 
At the end of the field of the Machpelah stands 
Abraham's house with a spring in front of it/ ' 

The mosque of Hebron, over the tomb of Abra- 
ham, consists at present of a quadrangular platform 
about seventy yards long by thirty-five wide. The 
tomb which it covers is one of the sites which few 
Christian eyes have seen. It is permitted to none 
but Moslems to approach nearer the entrance than 
the seventh step of the staircase along the eastern 
wall. 2 

1 " The Jewish Encyclopaedia," article " Machpelah." 
2 A recent traveller says: "There is a hole in the wall 
which is supposed to communicate with the cave below. 
Jews write letters to Abraham and place them in this hole, 
to tell him how badly they are being treated by the Moslems. 
But the Moslem boys are said to know that the hole has 
no great depth, and to collect these letters and burn them 
before Abraham has seen them." 



u 

rt 



WANDEEINGS, LATEE YEAES, DEATH 127 

Hebron is one of the oldest cities in the world 
and legends of all sorts have gathered about the 
place. Even in Al-Ghazali's day it was spoken 
of as the place of Adam's creation and death, the 
scene of Abel's murder, and the place where Abra- 
ham made his home. 

* After Al-Ghazali's visit to Hebron he probably 
made his pilgrimage to Mecca. Whether the jour- 
ney was made by sea or by land, we do not know. 
In any case it was full of peril at that period. Very 
possibly Al-Ghazali took the long caravan journey, 
following the route of the Damascus pilgrimage 
in our day. It was considered proper, however, to 
visit Mecca first, and Medina on the return jour- 
ney. Al-Ghazali himself advises this in his direc- 
tions for the correct performance of the rites of 
pilgrimage. 1 

In what spirit he fulfilled the rites we know from 
one of his spiritual teachers whose text-book on 
the subject Al-Ghazali had mastered. "A man 
who had just returned from the pilgrimage came 
to Junayd. Junayd said: 'From the hour when 
you first journeyed from your home have you also 
been journeying away from all sins ? ' He said 
' No/ ' Then/ said Junayd, ' you have made 
no journey. At every stage where you halted for 
the night did you traverse a station on the way to 
God?' 'No,' he replied. 'Then,' said Junayd, 
'you have not trodden the road, stage by stage. 
*Cf. his "Ihya" and also his "Al-Wajiz." 



128 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

When you put on the pilgrim's garb at the proper 
place, did you discard the qualities of human nature 
as you cast off your clothes?' 'No/ 'Then 
you have not put on the pilgrim's garb. When 
you stood on 'Arafat, did you stand one moment 
in contemplation of God ? ' * No.' * Then you 
have not stood at 'Arafat. When you went to 
Muzdalifa and achieved your desire, did you re- 
nounce all sensual desires?' 'No.' 'Then you 
have not gone to Muzdalifa. When you circum- 
ambulated the Ka'aba, did you behold the im- 
material beauty of God in the abode of purifica- 
tion?' 'No.' 'Then you have not circum- 
ambulated the Ka'aba. When you ran between 
Safa and Marwa, did you attain to purity (safa) 
and virtue (muruwivat) ? ' ' No.' ' Then you 
have not run. When you came to Mina, did all 
your wishes (muna) cease?' 'No.' 'Then you 
have not yet visited Mina. When you reached 
the slaughter place and offered sacrifices, did you 
sacrifice the objects of worldly desire?' 'No/ 
' Then you have not sacrificed. When you threw 
the pebbles, did you throw away whatever sensual 
thoughts were accompanying you ? ' ' No/ ' Then 
you have not yet thrown the pebbles, and you have 
not yet performed the pilgrimage/ " 

Such was the mystical interpretation of the rites 
at Mecca taught by the Sufis to their disciples. 

Mecca, when Al-Ghazali made the pilgrimage, 
was under the rule of the Sherif Abu Hashim 



WANDEEINGS, LATEE YEAES, DEATH 129 

(A. D. 1063-1094:). Half a century earlier the 
Karmathians, perhaps the most fanatic of all Mos- 
lem sects, had besieged Mecca, captured the city, 
murdered the pilgrims by thousands, and carried 
away the famous black stone to Bahrein on the 
Persian Gulf. 1 By taking away this sacred treas- 
ure they hoped to put an end to the pilgrimage, but 
were disappointed. In A. D. 950 the stone was re- 
turned for a heavy ransom. 8 It was because of 
the constant disputes between the Caliphs of Bag- 
dad and Egypt that the defense of the holy cities 
was finally given into the hand of the Sherifs. 

Abu Hashim was a time-server, and cared more 
for bribes than for religion, according to the testi- 
mony of Arabian chroniclers. In A. D. 1070 he 
changed the name of the Fatimide Sultans for that 
of the Abbassides at Friday prayers, and received 
much bounty. In 1075 he sold the same privilege 
to the Fatimides, and in 1076 to the Caliphs of 
Bagdad. This conduct so enraged the Sultan of 
Bagdad that in 1091 he sent bands of Turkomans 
against Mecca. 

Chronicles of the holy city during this period 
show that the pilgrimage was accompanied by 
grave dangers because of Bedouin robbers as well 
as disturbances in Mecca itself. Sometimes these 

1 M. J. De Goeje, " Memoire sur les Carmathes du Bahrain 
et I^es Fatimides," (Leiden, 1886) pp. 104-114. 

2 In the Ihya Al-Ghazali gives the prayer to be offered 
when kissing the Black Stone. 



130 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

uprisings were directed by Abu Hashim himself, as 
was the case in A. D. 1094. * 

Just about the time of Al-Ghazali's visit, the 
various buildings at Mecca and the Beit Allah it- 
self, had been repaired and beautified. The four 
maqams or places of prayer for the orthodox sects 
as they now stand were built in A. H. 1074. The 
place of the Shaft* sect to which Al-Ghazali be- 
longed, is directly over the well of Zem Zem, to 
which it serves as an upper chamber. The build- 
ing, erected in 1072, is in use to-day. The great 
pulpit of white marble was sent to Mecca in A. H. 
969 by the Sultan of Egypt. It is still in use. 
Perchance Al-Ghazali ascended these very stairs 
and addressed the pilgrims. In A. D. 1030 a violent 
torrent swept over Mecca, and nearly ruined the 
Ka'aba. The repairs were not finished until 1040.* 
-With his religious pilgrimage to Mecca and 
Medina it seems that Al-Ghazali's life of strict 
retirement ended, except for his visit to Alexandria 
and beyond. Apparently he proposed to make a 
journey to Spain and the great Sultan of the West, 
Yusuf bin Tashfin, on whose behalf he had given 
Fatwas or religious decisions, but the news of the 
Sultan's death put an end to his plans, according 
to some authorities. Others say that at this time 
he was summoned to teach again at Nishapur. 

1 " Mekka," Dr. C. Snouck Hurgronje, Vol. I, den Haag, 
1888. 
2 Burton's " Pilgrimage," Vol. II, Appendix, pp. 323-324- 



WANDEEINGS, LATEE YEAES, DEATH 131 

The details of his life during the mysterious ten 
years of his wanderings are most conflicting. Ac- 
cording to Abd al-Ghafir, a personal friend of Al- 
Ghazali, he went a second time to Mecca, after- 
wards to Syria, and then wandered from shrine to 
shrine for nearly ten years. Next to " The Confes- 
sions/ 5 the best authority on his life is undoubtedly 
this same Abd al-Ghafir. What he tells us of Al- 
Ghazali's life must have been gained from per- 
sonal knowledge, or go back immediately to Al- 
Ghazali himself. "According to him, Al-Ghazali 
set out on pilgrimage to Mecca, then went to Syria, 
and remained there wandering from place to place 
and shrine to shrine nearly ten years. At this time 
he composed several of his works, the Ihya and 
books abbreviated from it, such as the Arba'in and 
the Rasa'il; besides labouring at his own spiritual 
advancement and growth through the religious ex- 
ercises of the Sufis. Then he returned to his home 
and lived there a retired life for some time, ab- 
sorbed in meditation, but gradually becoming more 
and more sought after as a teacher and guide to 
the spiritual life. At length Fakhr al-Mulk 'Ali b. 
Nizam Al-Mulk Jamal Ash-Shuhada, who had pre- 
viously been Wazir to Barqiyaruq, became Wazir 
to Sinjar the son of Malik Shah at Nishapur, and 
by him such pressure was put on Al-Ghazali that he 
finally consented to resume teaching in the May- 
rauna Nizamiyya Madrasa there." 

1 Macdonald, " The Life of Al-Ghazzali," pp. 97-98- 



132 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

We have reference to but no detail of Al-Gha- 
zali's visit to Cairo, the great centre of Moslem 
architecture and learning in the West, as Bagdad 
was in the East. Nor, strange to say, have I found 
reference in his works to this visit. It is possible 
that he was not received altogether with favour by 
the religious leaders of Al-Azhar at the time, but 
his reputation was already world-wide, and many 
of his pupils at Bagdad and Nishapur were from 
Egypt and North Africa. 

At the time of Al-Ghazali's visit, Cairo was still 
the great centre of Arab civilization, and had all 
the glory which the Patimid dynasty had bestowed 
upon it. The splendid palaces of the Caliphs 
formed the central portion of the town. The 
three massive gates which still command admira- 
tion at the present day, Bab Al-Futuh, Bab Al- 
Nasr and Bab Az Zuwaila, led into the city. In 
A. D. 1087 the walls were rebuilt, and these massive 
gateways constructed along with others which are 
no longer standing. In the vault of the archways 
of these gates, there used to be two chambers, and 
these were used by the Egyptian sovereigns and 
their friends to watch the various spectacles, espe- 
cially the departure and return of the sacred carpet. 

The intellectual and religious life of the city 
centred in the great mosque of Al-Azhar, which 
had been completed in A. D. 1012. Cairo was not 
yet the economic centre for all Egypt which it be- 
came later, but it was the seat of a splendid court, 



WANDEEINGS, LATEE YEAES, DEATH 133 

with military pageantry, as well as a centre of re- 
ligious learning. Ibn Tuwair and others have 
given us vivid pictures of the ceremonial proces- 
sions and festivals, the magazines, treasuries, 
stables, and royal household. 

As for Alexandria, where we know Al-Ghazali 
lived for some time before his return to Syria, it 
did not have a high reputation at that time for 
learning. It was rather a port of trade, from 
which men passed on to Misr (Cairo) or went by 
sea to Syria. Hamadhani makes one of his char- 
acters say: 

" I ?m of the citizens of Alexandria, 
Of sound and pure stock among them, 
The age and the people thereof are stupid, 
Therefore I made my stupidity my steed ! " 

But in Moslem tradition, Alexandria has high 
honour. Moslems show the tomb of Daniel the 
prophet, also that of Alexander the Great whose 
story is told in the Koran. Alexandria also boasts 
two celebrated Walis or holy men. One is Mo- 
hammed al Busiri, the author of the poem called 
Al Burdah, universally celebrated; and the other 
Abu Abbas Al-Andalusi, at whose tomb prayer is 
never offered in vain. There is also a prophecy 
that when Mecca falls into the hands of the in- 
fidels Alexandria will succeed to its honours. 1 

1 Burton's " Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah," Vol. 

I, P. 12. 



134 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

From Alexandria Al-Ghazali went to Damascus 
and then to Nishapur and from there to Bagdad, or 
from Damascus direct to Bagdad, where he taught 
the Ihya and preached. As-Subki tells us that the 
people crowded to hear him, and that notes of his 
sermons to the number of 183 were taken by one 
of those present, who read them to Al-Ghazali be- 
fore they were circulated. 

The following story is told of his life at this 
time: Once while teaching the Ihya at Bagdad, he 
began to quote: " He has made beloved the homes 
of men, as abodes of desire which the heart has 
decreed; whenever they remember their homes 
these remind them of the pledges of youth there, 
and they long thither." Then he wept, and those 
present wept with him. Thereafter some one saw 
him in the open country with a patched dervish- 
garment on, a water-vessel and an iron-shod staff 
in his hand, all in strange contrast to the states in 
which he had seen him before, with three hundred 
pupils around him, including one hundred of the 
chief men of Bagdad. So he said, " O Imam, is 
not the teaching of science more fitting?" But 
Al-Ghazali looked at him with red *eyes and said, 
" When the full moon of happiness rises in the 
firmament of will, the sun of setting departs in the 
East of union." Then he recited, " I abandoned 
the love of Layla and my happiness was far, and I 
returned to the companionship of my first alight- 
ing-place ; then cried to me my longings, ' Wei- 



WANDEEINGS, LATEE YEAES, DEATH 135 

come ! these are the alighting-places of her whom 
thou lovest, draw up and alight.' ' 

Of his spiritual experiences during these ten 
years of retirement and wandering, and during the 
years that followed, when he taught others the way 
of the mystic, we will speak later. 

We know that he left Bagdad, returned to Tus, 
his native place, and settled down to study and con- 
templation. Strange to say, at this time of his life 
he seems to have found the greatest delight in go- 
ing back again to the study of Tradition, especially 
the collections of Al-Bokhari and of Muslim. All 
his biographers seem to agree in this. He had 
charge of a madrasa .and of the khanka or monas- 
tery for Sufis. Every moment was filled with 
study and devotion until in the fifty-fifth year of 
his life (lunar calendar) the end came. 

The austerity and privations of his long wan- 
derings doubtless wore down his strength. One 
who had risen to so high a position of authority 
on religious matters also had to pay the price of 
leadership in controversy with opponents, and of 
their envy, and their slander, as we are told by al- 
Ghafir. This may have been, Macdonald thinks, 
one of the causes for his removal from Nishapur to 
Tus. A friend remarks in regard to his attitude 
towards those who opposed his teaching and envied 
his influence: " However much he met of contra- 
diction and attack and slander, it made no impres- 
sion on him, and he did not trouble himself to an- 



136 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

swer his assailants. I visited him many times, and 
it was no bare conjecture of mine that he, in spite 
of what I saw in him in time past of maliciousness 
and roughness towards people, and how he looked 
upon them contemptuously through his being led 
astray by what God had granted him of ease in 
word and thought and expression, and through the 
seeking of rank and position, had come to be the 
very opposite and was purified from these stains. 
And I used to think that he was wrapping himself 
in the garment of pretense, but I realized after in- 
vestigation that the thing was the opposite of what 
I had thought, and that the man had recovered 
after being mad." 

^ Al-Ghazali died on Monday, the fourteenth of 
Jumada II, A. H. 505 (Dec. 18th, 1111). His brother 
Ahmad (quoted by Murtadha from Ibn Jawzi's 
Kitab ath-thdbat 'ind-al-mamat) gives the follow- 
ing account of his death: " On Monday, at dawn, 
my brother performed the ablution and prayed. 
Then he said, ' Bring me my grave-clothes/ and he 
took them and kissed them and laid them on his 
eyes and said, ' I hear and obey to go in to the 
King/ And he stretched out his feet towards 
Mecca, and was taken to the good will of God 
Most High. He was buried at, or outside of, 
Tabran, the citadel of Tus, and Ibn As-Sama'ni 
visited his grave there." 

Later biographers were not satisfied with the 
bare facts of his decease. Murtadha gives a far 



WANDERINGS, LATEE YEAES, DEATH 137 

more interesting story. " When death drew near 
to the Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, he com- 
manded his servant, an excellent and religious man, 
to dig his grave in the middle of his house, and to 
summon the people of the neighbouring villages to 
attend his funeral ; that they should not touch him, 
but that a company of three men unknown in the 
region of Al-'Iraq would come out of the desert, 
that two of them would wash him, and the third 
would undertake the prayer over him without the 
advice or command of any one. Then, when he 
died, the servant did according to all that he had 
commanded, and required the presence of the peo- 
ple. And when the people gathered to attend the 
funeral, they saw three men who had come out of 
the desert. Two of them began to wash the corpse, 
while the third vanished and did not appear. But 
when they had washed him and arranged him in 
the grave-clothes, and carried his bier and laid it 
on the edge of the grave, the third appeared 
wrapped in his robe with a black border on both 
sides, turbaned with wool, and he prayed for him 
and the people prayed with him. Then he gave the 
benediction and departed and hid from the people. 
And some of the excellent of the people of Al-'Iraq 
who were present at the funeral had noticed him 
carefully, but did not know him until some of them 
heard a Hatif in the night saying to them, ' The 
man who led the people in prayer is Abu 'Abd 
Allah Mohammed b. Ishaq Amghar, the Sharif. 



138 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

He came from the farthest Maghrib, from 'Ayn 
al-Qatr, and those who washed the corpse are his 
comrades Abu Shu'ayb Ayyub b. Sa'id and Abu 
'Isa Wajih.' And when they heard that they 
journeyed from Al-'Iraq to Sanhaja of the farthest 
Maghrib, and when they had reached them and 
asked of them their prayers, they returned to Al- 
'Iraq and related it to the Sufis and published their 
miracle (karama). Then a company of them, 
when they heard that, went to visit them and found 
them to be those whom they noticed carefully, and 
they asked of them their prayers. And this is a 
strange story." 

An equally remarkable story is told of the death 
of Al-Ghazali's younger brother in the books of the 
Persian mystics. 1 The verses given might well ap- 
ply to Al-Ghazali himself and his views of life and 
death. " Moghith related, on the authority of 
Kadiri tradition, how the famous Ahmed-Al- 
Ghazali, native of Tus in Persia, said one day to 
his disciples, ' Go and bring me new and white 
garments/ They went; and on returning with the 
objects required, found their master dead; by his 
side was a paper on which were written the follow- 
ing stanzas: 

" ' Tell my friends, who behold me dead, 
Weeping and mourning my loss a while, 

a Macdonald's "Life of Al-Ghazzali," pp. 105, 107-108, 
quoted from Murtadha. 
2 Quoted in Hayat-ul-Hayawan. 



WANDEEINGS, LATEE YEARS, DEATH 139 

Think not this corpse before you myself : 

That corpse is mine, but it is not I. 

I am an undying life, and this is not my body, 

Many years my house and my garment of change; 

I am the bird, and this body was my cage, 

I have wing'd my flight elsewhere, and left it for 

a token. 

I am the pearl, and this my shell, 
Broken open and abandon'd to worthlessness ; 
I am the treasure, and this was a spell 
Thrown over me, till the treasure was released in 

truth. 

Thanks be to God, who has delivered me, 
And has assigned me a lasting abode in the highest. 
There am I now the day conversing with the happy, 
And beholding face to face unveiled Deity ; 
Contemplating the Mirror wherein I see and read 
Past and present, and whatever remains to be. 
Food and drink too are mine, yet both are one ; 
Mystery known to him who is worthy to know. 
It is not " wine sweet of taste " that I drink ; 
No, nor " water," but the pure milk of a mother. 
Understand my meaning aright, for the secret 
Is signified by words of symbol and figure, 
I have journey'd on, and left you behind; 
How could I make an abode of your halting-stage? 
Ruin then my house and break my cage in pieces, 
And let the shell go perish with kindred illusions ; 
Tear my garment, the veil once thrown over me ; 
Then bury all these, and leave them alike for I go. 
Deem not death death, for it is in truth 
Life of lives, the goal of all our longings. 



140 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

Think lovingly of a God whose Name is love, 
Who joys in rewarding, and come on secure of fear. 
Whence I am, I behold you undying spirits like 

myself, 
And see that our lot is one, and you as I.' " 

We are indebted to the Rev. Dwight M. Donald- 
son of Mashad, Persia, for the interesting photo- 
graphs of the ruins of Tus and of the supposed 
tomb of Al-Ghazali. The mosque is very old and 
probably dates from the time of Al-Ghazali. The 
grave shown in the picture, however, may not be 
the grave of Al-Ghazali the mystic but of another 
celebrated Ghazali. For we read in As-Subqi (Vol. 
Ill, p. 36) that there was one called Ahmed ibn 
Mohammed Abu Hamed Al-Ghazali, the older and 
earlier one. He says that people have thrown 
doubt upon his very existence, but that after care- 
ful inquiry he has found mention of this man in 
several books, including the Kitab Al Ansdb of Ibn 
As-Sam'ani. He mentions the fact that this man 
also lived in Khorasan, was celebrated for his 
learning, wrote books on theological questions, and 
was buried at Tus, where his grave was well 
known; and because of this people called him the 
Old Ghazali, and used to come to his grave in or- 
der to obtain answers to their prayers. He thinks 
that this Ghazali was either the uncle or the grand- 
uncle of Al-Ghazali, whose biography we have 
written. Incidentally we may conclude from this 
statement of As-Subqi that the name of Al-Ghazali 



WANDERINGS, LATEE TEAES, DEATH 141 

was not given to him because his father was a 
spinner of wool ! It must have been an old family 
name. 

Mr. Donaldson gives this interesting informa- 
tion: " The walls of the old city of Tus still stand. 
It is one farsakh around them, three and a third 
miles. There are many fragments of towers and 
in nine places there are remains of gates. The 
wall was originally five yards wide. In the largest 
cemetery the tombstone of Ahmad Ghazali may 
still be seen. This cemetery lies southwest from 
the city and while the bulk of it is now under culti- 
vation, the more distant part that lies on the higher 
ground beyond the waterway has been kept a 
cemetery. 

"The picture I have enclosed of Ghazali's tomb is 
not as satisfactory as I would have liked. It shows 
that a large chip has been taken from one corner 
of the grave. The stone is about two yards long, 
one-third yard wide, and one-third yard high. 
There are positive indications of an effort having 
been made to cut off the portion on which the name 
of Ahmed Al-Ghazali appears. It is the part that 
is chipped in the picture. About at the point where 
the chipping appears to begin there is a straight line 
cut about one inch deep across the top of the stone. 

" On the road that runs through the city from the 
southwest gate the old mosque is imposing even in 
its ruined condition. It stands eighteen yards high 
and the inner measurements show it to consist of 



142 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

a square base, five yards high, then an octagonal 
structure eight yards high. (See illustration.) 

" Outside the southwest gate an ancient bridge is 
still in use, as caravans from Mashad come through 
the old city of Tus. This bridge has eight arches, 
each four and one-half yards wide. The name of 
the stream is the Kashf Rud. 

"The fortress itself is interesting; it is sur- 
rounded by a moat and a wall, within which lies a 
large courtyard and the high approach to the fort it- 
self. At present we could walk around the wall and 
approach the fort by a passage in the rear. In the 
courtyard they are now raising the best water- 
melons we have eaten in Persia. Four gigantic 
corner fragments of the fort are now standing. In 
the midst of the debris of bricks within these old 
walls we found interesting fragments of pottery." 

In another letter from Mashad, Persia, dated 
January 17, 1917, the Rev. Dwight M. Donaldson 
writes : " This week I made another trip to Tus, 
carefully examining again the tombstone of 
Ghazali. As I wrote you before, the stone has 
been badly worn and in addition to that has been 
mutilated. However, on the point of doubt as to 
whether the stone photographed was really the one 
marking Mohammed Al-Ghazali's tomb, or the 
tomb of another Ahmad Al-Ghazali, I can now say 
that I believe it is the tomb of Abu Hamed ibn 
Mohammed ibn Mohammed ibn Mohammed Al- 
Ghazali, for the reason that we can clearly read 



WANDEEINGS, LATEE YEAES, DEATH 143 

on the corner of the top of the stone, the end 
which some one in times past attempted to cut off, 
the name <J> and k*. And as one studies the 
stone he is almost willing to declare that the 
name is fully intelligible with the exception of 
the initial aleph. The whole top is badly worn in- 
deed, but the word that my mirza first read as 
Ahmad is clearly not Ahmad, but what it is we 
cannot tell. The damage is too complete. 

" You will notice that Ghazzali appears in the 
stone to have been spelled with a tashdeed and yet 
the mark we have considered a tashdeed is not the 
usual form (v instead of w)." 

This investigation, therefore, would seem to 
settle two points : that we have at Tus the neglected 
and mutilated grave of the great mystic and theo- 
logian, Al-Ghazali; and that on this grave the 
middle letter of the name is double. In view of 
the common usage, however, and in deference to 
the authorities of Moslems themselves, we have 
uniformly written Ghazali. 



V 
His Creed and Credulity 



"This man, (Al-Ghazali) if ever any have de- 
served the name, was truly a ' divine/ and he may be 
justly placed on a level with. Origen, so remarkable 
was he for learning and ingenuity, and gifted with 
such a rare faculty for the skilful and worthy exposi- 
tion of doctrine. All that is good, noble, and sublime 
that his great soul had compassed he bestowed upon 
Mohammedanism, and he adorned the doctrines of 
the Koran with so much piety and learning that, in 
the form given them by him, they seem, in my opinion, 
worthy the assent of Christians. Whatsoever was 
most excellent in the philosophy of Aristotle or in the 
Sufic mysticism he discreetly adapted to the Moham- 
medan theology; from every school he sought the 
means of shedding light and honour upon religion; 
while his sincere piety and lofty conscientiousness 
imparted to all his writings a sacred majesty. He 
was the first of Mohammedan divines." 

Dr. August Tholuck. 



V 

HIS CREED AND CREDULITY 

ALTHOUGH, according to his own testi- 
mony in his " Confessions/' Al-Ghazali 
was troubled from his earliest years with 
doubt and scepticism, he was not willing to yield 
to it, and his faith rose triumphant above all his 
doubts. This is one of the outstanding facts in 
his biography. He could say with the writer of 
the Epistle to the Hebrews that " faith is the sub- 
stance of things hoped for and the evidence of 
things not seen." Not only did he find God in 
nature and in his own conscience and conscious- 
ness, but he was a firm believer in revelation. 
Naturally the only revelation to which Al-Ghazali 
turned as the basis, the very bed-rock of religious 
faith, was the Koran, the eternal, uncreated word 
of God according to Moslem teaching; and also 
to the life of the Prophet Mohammed, his prac- 
tices and his precepts handed down in orthodox 
Tradition this also was a revelation from God. 

Whether he ever read the Old and New Testa- 
ment is a question we consider unanswered. He 
did not draw his creed from this source. 

Al-Ghazali gives the distinction very clearly, al- 



148 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

most as clearly as the Epistle of James, between 
faith and works. He was a dogmatic theologian 
and laid down, as we shall see in this chapter, with 
punctilious care every point of dogma ; but he was 
also a moralist and a man of high ideals which he 
sought to attain through prayer and fasting and 
pilgrimage, and a life of utter devotion to the will 
of God. His faith was living and practical, not 
theoretical and scholastic. In his great work, the 
Ihya, he discusses the whole subject of faith, and 
enumerates the following classes of believers: 

" He who combines inner belief with outward 
confession and good works is a true believer and 
enters Paradise. 

" He who combines inner belief with outward 
confession and some good works but commits one 
or more great sins, does not thereby cease to be a 
believer, though his faith is not of the highest de- 
gree. The Mu'tazila deny that such a one can be 
considered a believer, but that nevertheless by com- 
mitting deadly sins he does not become an un- 
believer but is in an intermediate state between a 
believer and an infidel. An infidel is an impious 
person and goes into everlasting hell-fire." 

The opinions with regard to the person who com- 
bines inner belief with outward confession, but has 
no good works are divided. Abu Talibu'l Makki 
says: " Good works are part of the faith, and faith 
cannot exist without them." The Sunni doctors 
of Islam, however, reject this opinion as absolutely 



HIS CEEED AND CEEDTILITY 149 

false, for they say that it is a truth accepted by 
general agreement, that a man who believes and 
confesses and dies before he has done any good 
work, is a true believer and enters Paradise; that 
good works cannot consequently be considered as 
a necessary part of faith, and that faith can exist 
without them. 

" He who believes in his heart, but dies before he 
has either confessed or performed good works, is 
nevertheless a true believer and enters into Para- 
dise. Those who consider confession a necessary 
part of faith naturally consider that such a one has 
died without faith, an opinion absolutely contrary 
to the Sunni dogma. 

" He who believes in his heart, and has time and 
opportunity of confessing, and knows that it is the 
duty of the Moslem to do so, and does not confess 
his faith, is nevertheless a believer in the sight of 
God, and will not be cast into everlasting hell-fire, 
for faith is the mere belief, intellectual conviction 
and assent, and this belief does not cease to exist 
through the want of outward confession. Such a 
man is a believer in the sight of God, but an un- 
believer in this world before the court of justice 
and with regard to the rights of Moslems. In case 
of an impediment of the tongue, a sign with the 
hand is as good as confession with the tongue. 
The sect of the Murji'a go too far by saying that a 
believer, even if he act wickedly, will never enter 
hell-fire. The orthodox doctrine on this subject 



150 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

is that every one, even the most perfect believer, 
will enter hell-fire, for no one is free from com- 
mitting some sins, for which he must enter fire; 
only infidels, however, will remain in it forever." 

" He who confesses with the tongue saying: 
' There is no God but God, and Mohammed is His 
apostle/ but does not believe it in his heart is an 
infidel in the sight of God, and will be cast into 
eternal hell-fire. In this world, however, he is to 
be considered and treated as a believer and a Mos- 
lem, for man cannot penetrate into the secrets of 
the heart, and the confession of the mouth must be 
taken to be the interpreter of the thoughts of the 
heart. In order, however, to make a man a Mos- 
lem in this world, before the law, in the sight of 
the Qadi, confession is necessary." 

Not only does he classify believers in this care- 
ful way, but he also discusses the question, in the 
first book of his Ihya, whether Islam is the same 
thing as iman (faith) or not, and if these two are 
not the same thing, can they exist separately or 
must they necessarily be combined ? " Some say 
that Islam and Iman are synonymous term^and 
that consequently every believer is a Moslem and 
every Moslem a believer." This is the opinion 
held by the orthodox school. Others say that they 
are distinct things but joined together. Al-Ghazali 
answers this difficult question in this way: Iman 
(Faith), from the linguistic point of view, means 
belief, intellectual conviction and assent; Islam 



HIS CEEED AND CEEDULITY 151 

means submission, subjection, obedience. The seat 
of Iman is the heart or mind, and the tongue is its 
interpreter. Islam comprises belief with the heart 
and confession with the tongue, and good works 
by the members of the body, and is consequently 
a more comprehensive term than Iman. Iman is 
one of the component parts of Islam, and Islam, 
therefore, includes it; but Iman, being a more re- 
stricted term, does not include Islam. From a 
linguistic point of view the two terms are therefore 
not synonymous. From the point of view of the 
law and religion, and in a theological sense the two 
terms are sometimes used as being synonymous, 
and sometimes as having different meanings and as 
being intermingled, comprised in each other. Iman 
and Islam are found in the individual who believes 
in his heart and outwardly observes the precepts of 
Islam; Islam exists separately in the individual, 
who only believes in his heart; but neither con- 
fesses, nor does good works, and Islam exists sepa- 
rately in him who outwardly observes the precepts 
of Islam, without inner belief. 

What the faith of Islam meant to Al-Ghazali we 
know from all his works, especially from the Ihya, 
which besides other topics gives a full exposition 
of Moslem belief in regard to the six articles of 
their creed and the five pillars of practice. The 
reader may judge for himself both the contents and 
omissions of Al-Ghazali's credo from the following 
brief exposition which he wrote for his pupils: 



152 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

HIS CREED 1 

" We say and in God is our trust Praise be- 
longeth unto God, the Beginner, the Bringer-back, 
the Doer of what He willeth, the Lord of the Glori- 
ous Throne and of Mighty Grasp, the Guider of 
Jlis chosen creatures to the right path and to the 
true way, the Granter of benefits to them after the 
witness to the Unity (tawhid) by guarding their 
articles of belief from obscurities of doubt and op- 
position. He that bringeth them to follow His 
Apostle, the Chosen one (Al-Mustafa) and to imi- 
tate the traces of His Companions, the most hon- 
oured, through His aid and right guidance revealed 
to them in His essence and His works by His beau- 
tiful qualities which none perceives, save he who 
inclines his ear. He is the witness who maketh 
known to them that He in His essence is One with- 
out any partner (sharik). Single without any 
similar, Eternal without any opposite, Separate 
without any like. He is One, Prior (qadim) with 
nothing before Him, from eternity (azali) without 
any beginning, abiding in existence with none after 
Him, to eternity (abadi) without any end, substi- 

*An exposition of the Creed of the People of the Sunna 
on the two Words of Witnessing (kalimatai 'sh-shahada) 
which form one of the foundations of Islam. This creed is 
intended to be committed to memory by children. It forms 
the first section of the second book of Ghazali's Ihya, VoL 
II, pp. 17-42 of edit, of Cairo with commentary of the 
Sayyid Murtadha. We are indebted for the translation to 
Professor Macdonald (Muslim Theology and Jurisprudence)'* 



HIS CEEED AND CEEDULITY 153 

tuting without ending, abiding without termination. 
He hath not ceased and He will not cease to be 
described with glorious epithets ; finishing and end- 
ing, though the cutting off of the ages and the ter- 
minating of allotted times have no rule over Him, 
but He is the First and Last, the External and the 
Internal, and He knoweth everything. 

" We witness that He is not a body possessing 
form, nor a substance possessing bounds and lim- 
its; He does not resemble bodies, either in limita- 
tion or in accepting division. He is not a substance 
and substances do not exist in Him ; and He is not 
an accident and accidents do not exist in Him, nay 
He does not resemble an entity, and no entity re- 
sembles Him; nothing is like Him and He is not 
like anything; measure does not bound Him and 
boundaries do not contain Him; the directions do 
not surround Him and neither the earth nor the 
Heavens are on different sides of Him. Lo, He 
is seated firmly upon His throne ('arsh), after the 
manner which He has said, and in the sense in 
which He willed a being-seated firmly (istawa), 
which is far removed from contact and fixity of 
location and being established and being enveloped 
and being removed. The Throne does not carry 
Him, but the Throne and those that carry it are 
carried by the grace of His power and mastered by 
His grasp. He is above the Throne and the 
Heavens and above everything unto the limit of the 
Pleiades, with an aboveness which does not bring 



154 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

Him nearer to the Throne and the Heavens, just as 
it does not make Him further from the earth and 
the Pleiades. Nay, He is exalted by degrees from 
the Throne and the Heavens, just as He is exalted 
by degrees from the earth and the Pleiades; and 
He, in spite of that, is near to every entity and 
is ' nearer to a creature than the artery of his neck ' 
(Koran 50, 15), and He witnesseth everything, 
since His nearness does not resemble the nearness 
of bodies, just as His essence does not resemble the 
essence of bodies. He does not exist in anything, 
just as nothing exists in Him ; He has exalted Him- 
self far therefrom that a place should contain Him, 
just as He has sanctified Himself far therefrom 
that time should limit Him. Nay, He was before 
He had created Time and Place and He is now 
above that which He was above, and distinct from 
His creatures through His qualities. There is not 
in His essence His equal, nor in His equal His es- 
sence. He is far removed from change of state or 
of place. Events have no place in Him, and mis- 
haps do not befall Him. Nay, He does not cease, 
through His glorious epithets, to be far removed 
from changing, and through His perfect qualities 
to be independent of perfecting increase. The ex- 
istence of His essence is known by reason ; His es- 
sence is seen with the eyes, a benefit from Him and 
a grace to the pious, in the Abiding Abode and a 
completion in beatitude from Him, through gazing 
upon His gracious face. 



HIS CEEED AND CEEDULITY 155 

" We witness that He is living, powerful, com- 
manding, conquering ; inadequacy and weakness be- 
fall Him not; slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep. 
Passing away does not happen to Him, nor death. 
He is Lord of the Worlds, the Visible and the In- 
visible, that of Force and that of Might; He pos- 
sesses Rule and Conquest and Creation and Com- 
mand ; the heavens are rolled in His right hand and 
the created things are overcome in His grasp; He 
is separate in creating and inventing ; He is one in 
bringing into existence and innovating ; He created 
the creation and their works and decreed their sus- 
tenance and their terms of life; not a decreed thing 
escapes His grasp and the mutations of things are 
not distant from His power ; the things which He 
hath decreed cannot be reckoned and the things 
which He knoweth have no end. 

" We witness that He knoweth all the things that 
can be known, comprehending that which happen- 
eth from the bounds of the earth unto the topmost 
heavens ; no grain in the earth or the heavens is dis- 
tant from His knowledge. Yea, He knows the 
creeping of the black ant upon the rugged rock in 
a dark nigfyt, and He perceives the movement of 
the mote in the midst of the air; He knows the 
secret and the concealed and has knowledge of the 
suggestions of the minds and the movements of the 
thoughts and the concealed things of the inmost 
parts, by a knowledge which is prior from eternity ; 
He has not ceased to be describable by it, from the 



156 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

ages of the ages, not by a knowledge which renews 
itself and arises in His essence by arrival and re- 
moval. 

" We witness that He is a Wilier of the things 
that are, a Director of the things that happen; there 
does not come about in the world seen or unseen, 
little or much, small or great, good or evil, advan- 
tage or disadvantage, faith or unbelief, knowledge 
or ignorance, success or loss, increase or diminu- 
tion, obedience or rebellion, except by His will. 
What He wills is, and what He wills not is not. 
Not a glance of one who looks, or a slip of one who 
thinks is outside of His will; He is the creator, the 
Bringer back, the Doer of that which He wills. 
There is no opponent of His command and no re- 
peater of His destiny and no refuge for a creature 
from disobeying Him, except by His help and His 
mercy, and no strength to a creature to obey Him 
except by His will. Even though mankind and the 
Jinn and the Angels and the Shaytans were to unite 
to remove a single grain in the world or to bring 
it to rest without His will, they would be too weak 
for that. His will subsists in His essence as one 
of His qualities ; He hath not ceased to be described 
through it as a Wilier, in His infinity of the exist- 
ence of things at their appointed times which He 
hath decreed. So they come into existence at their 
appointed times even as He has willed in His in- 
finity without precedence or sequence. They hap- 
pen according to the agreement of His knowledge 



HIS CEEED AND CEEDULITY 157 

and His will, without exchange or change in plan- 
ning of things, nor with arranging of thoughts or 
awaiting of time, and therefore one thing does not 
distract Him from another. 

"And we witness that He is a Hearer and a Seer. 
He hears and sees and no audible thing is distant 
from His hearing, and no visible thing is far from 
His seeing, however fine it may be. Distance does 
not curtain off His hearing and darkness does not 
dull His seeing ; He sees without eyeball or eyelid, 
and hears without earholes or ears, just as He 
knows without a brain and seizes without a limb 
and creates without an instrument, since His quali- 
ties do not resemble that quality of created things, 
just as His essence does not resemble the essences 
of created things. 

"And we witness that He speaks, commanding, 
forbidding, praising, threatening, with a speech 
from all eternity, prior, subsisting in His essence 
not resembling the speech of created things. It is 
not a sound which originates through the slipping 
out of air, or striking of bodies ; nor is it a letter 
which is separated off by closing down a lip or 
moving a tongue. And the Koran and the Tawrat 
(the Law of Moses) and the Injil (the Gospel) and 
the Zabbur (the Psalms) are His books revealed to 
His Apostles. And the Koran is repeated by 
tongues, written in copies, preserved in hearts ; yet 
it in spite of that, is prior subsisting in the essence 
of God, not subject to division and separation 



158 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

through being transferred to hearts and leaves. 
And Musa heard the speech of God without a 
sound and without a letter, just as the pious see the 
essence of God, in the other world without a sub- 
stance or an attribute. 

" And since He has those qualities, He is living, 
Knowing, Powerful, a Wilier, a Hearer, a Seer, a 
Speaker, through Life, Power, Knowledge, Will, 
Hearing, Seeing, Speech, not by a thing separated 
from His essence. 

" We witness that there is no entity besides Him, 
except what is originated from His action and pro- 
ceeds from His justice, after the most beautiful 
and perfect and complete and just of ways. He is 
wise in His actions, just in His determinations; 
there is no analogy between His justice and the 
justice of creatures, since tyranny is conceivable in 
the case of a creature, when he deals with the prop- 
erty of some other than himself, but tyranny is not 
conceivable in the case of God. For He never en- 
counters any property of some other than Himself 
so that His dealing with it might be tyranny. 
Everything besides Him, consisting of men and 
Jinn and Angels and Shaytans and the heavens and 
the earth and animals and plants and inanimate 
things and substance and attribute and things per- 
ceived and things felt, is an originated thing, which 
He created by His power before any other had cre- 
ated it, after it had not existed, and which He in- 
vented after that it had not been a thing, since He 



HIS CEEED AND CEEDULITY 159 

in eternity was an entity by Himself, and there was 
not along with Him any other than He. So He 
originated the creation thereafter, by way of mani- 
festation of His power, and verification of that 
which had preceded of His Will, and of that which 
existed in eternity of His Word; not because He 
has any lack of it or need of it. And He is gra- 
cious in creating and in making for the first time 
and in imposing of duty not of necessity and 
He is generous in befitting; and well-doing and 
gracious helping belong to Him, since He is able to 
bring upon His creatures different kinds of punish- 
ment and to test them with different varieties of 
pains and ailments. And if He did that it would 
be justice on His part, and would not be a vile ac- 
tion or tyranny in Him. He rewardeth His be- 
lieving creatures for their acts of obedience by a 
decision which is of generosity and of promise and 
not of right and of obligation, since no particular 
action towards any one is incumbent upon Him, and 
tyranny is inconceivable in Him, and no one pos- 
sesses a right against Him. And His right to acts 
of obedience is binding upon the creatures because 
He has made it binding through the tongues of His 
prophets, not by reason alone. But He sent apos- 
tles and manifested their truth by plain miracles, 
and they brought His commands and forbiddings 
and promisings and threatenings. So, belief in 
them as to what they have brought is incumbent 
upon the creation. 



160 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

" The second Word of Witnessing is witnessing 
that the apostolate belongs to the apostle, and that 
God sent the unlettered Qurayshite prophet, Mo- 
hammed, with his apostolate to the totality of 
Arabs and foreigners and Jinn and men. And He 
abrogated by his law the other Laws except so 
much of them as He confirmed ; and made him ex- 
cellent over the rest of the prophets and made him 
the Lord of Mankind and declared incomplete the 
Faith that consists in witnessing the Unity, which 
is saying, ' There is no god except God/ so long as 
there is not joined that of witnessing to the Apos- 
tle, which is saying ' Mohammed is the Apostle of 
God.' And He made obligatory upon the creation 
belief in Him, as to all which He narrated concern- 
ing the things of this world and the next. And 
then He would not accept the faith of a creature, 
so long as he did not believe in that which the 
Prophet narrated concerning things after death. 
The first of these is the question of Munkar and 
Nakir ; these are two awful and terrible beings who 
will cause the creature to sit up in his grave, com- 
plete, both soul and body; and they will ask him, 
' Who is thy Lord, and what is thy religion ( din), 
and who is thy Prophet ? ' They are the two 
testers in the grave and their questioning is the 
first testing after death. And that he should be- 
lieve in the punishment of the grave that it is a 
Verity and that its judgment upon the body and 
the soul is just, according to what God wills. And 



HIS CEEED AND CEEDULITY 161 

that he should believe in the Balance it with the 
two scales and the tongue, the magnitude of which 
is like unto the stages of the heavens and the earth. 
In it, deeds are weighed by the power of God Most 
High ; and its weights in that day will be the weight 
of motes and mustard seeds, to show the exactitude 
of its justice. The leaves of the good deeds will 
be placed in a beautiful form in the scale of light; 
and then the Balance will be weighed down by them 
according to the measure of their degree with God, 
by the grace of God. And the leaves of evil deeds 
will be cast in a vile form into the scale of darkness, 
and the Balance will be light with them, through 
the justice of God. And that he should believe 
that the Bridge (as-$irat) is a Verity; it is a bridge 
stretched over the back of Hell (Jahannam), 
sharper than a sword and finer than a hair. The 
feet of the unbelievers slip upon it, by the decree of 
God, and fall with them into the Fire. But the 
feet of believers stand firm upon it, by the grace of 
God, and so they pass into the Abiding Abode. 
And that he should believe in the Tank (Hawdh), 
to which the people shall go down, the Tank of 
Mohammed from which the believers shall drink 
before entering the Garden and after passing the 
Bridge. Whoever drinks of it a single draught 
will never thirst again thereafter. Its breadth is a 
journey of a month ; its water is whiter than milk 
and sweeter than honey; around it are ewers in 
numbers like the stars of heaven; into it flow two 



162 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

canals from Al-Kawthar (Koran 108). And that 
he should believe in the Reckoning and in the dis- 
tinctions between men in it, him with whom it will 
go hard in the Reckoning and him to whom com- 
passion will be shown therein, and him who enters 
the Garden without reckoning, these are the hon- 
oured (muqarrab). God Most High will ask 
whomsoever He will of the prophets, concerning 
the carrying of His message, and whomsoever He 
will of the unbelievers, concerning the rejection of 
the messengers; and He will ask the innovators 
(Mubtadi's) concerning the Sunna; and the Mos- 
lems concerning works. And that he should be- 
lieve that the attestors of God's Unity (muwah- 
hids) will be brought forth from the Fire, after 
vengeance has been taken on them, so that there 
will not remain in Hell an attestor of God's Unity. 
And that he should believe in the intercession 
(shafa'a) of the prophets, next of the learned 
('ulama), next of the martyrs, next of the rest of 
the believers each according to his dignity and 
rank with God Most High. And he who remains 
of the believers, and has no intercessor, shall be 
brought forth of the grace of God, whose are 
Might and Majesty. So there shall not abide eter- 
nally in the Fire a single believer, but whoever has 
in his heart the weight of a single grain of faith 
shall be brought forth therefrom. And that he 
should confess the excellence of the Companions 
May God be well pleased with them and their 



HIS CEEED AND CEEDULITY 163 

rank ; and that the most excellent of mankind, after 
the Prophet is Abu Bakr, next Umar, next Uth- 
man, next Ali May God be well pleased with 
them; And that he should think well of all the 
Companions and should praise them like as he 
praises God, whose are Might and Majesty, and 
His Apostles. All this is that which has been 
handed down in tradition from the Prophet and in 
narratives from the followers. He who confesses 
all this, relying upon it, is of the People of the 
Truth and the Company of the Sunna, and hath 
separated himself from the band of error and the 
sect of innovation (bid' a). So we ask from God 
perfection of certainty and firm standing in the 
Faith (din) for us and for all Moslems through 
His compassion. Lo ! He is the Most Compassion- 
ate! and may the blesSing of God be upon our 
Lord Mohammed and upon every chosen creature/* 

The above is Doctor Macdonald's careful trans- 
lation of what Al-Ghazali taught was involved 
when Moslems say: There is no God but Allah, 
and Mohammed is Allah's Apostle. Surely he gave 
this shortest of all creeds its full significance and 
value. 

It is necessary, however, not only to see in it the 
faith of Al-Ghazali but his credulity as well, if we 
desire to understand the man and his times. Once 
his early scepticism was overcome, he was always 
and everywhere an orthodox Moslem, and there- 



164 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

fore swallowed the Traditions and the Koran ap- 
parently without any philosophic doubt. He be- 
lieved that Mohammed was the greatest of all the 
prophets, and that, so he says, " God has estab- 
lished Mohammed's prophetic character by mir- 
acles, such as the splitting of the moon, and the 
praising of him by stones, the gushing out of water 
from between his fingers. One of the greatest 
miracles, proving his divine mission, is the Koran, 
for none of the Arabs were able to produce any- 
thing like it. Another sign of his prophetic char- 
acter is his being able to foretell things which are to 
come to pass, such as his victorious entry into 
Mecca, the defeat of the Greeks and their subse- 
quent victories." (See the special chapter in the 
Ihya on this subject.) 

He was a predestinarian in the fullest sense. In 
one place he writes: "When God Almighty let 
His hands pass over the back of Adam and gath- 
ered men into His two hands, He placed some of 
them in His right hand and the others in His left; 
then He opened both His hands before Adam, and 
Adam looked at them and saw them like imper- 
ceptible atoms. Then God said: "These are des- 
tined for Paradise and these are destined for hell- 
fire.' He then asked them: 'Am I not your 
Lord? ' And they replied: ' Certainly, we testify 
that Thou art our Lord/ God then asked Adam 
and the angels to be witnesses to the act ; after this 
God replaced them into the loins of Adam. They 



HIS CEEED AND CEEDULITY 165 

were at that time purely spiritual beings without 
bodies. He then caused them to die, but gathered 
them and kept them in a receptacle near His throne. 
When the germ of a new being is placed in the 
womb of the mother, it remains there till its body 
is sufficiently developed; the soul in the same is 
then dead yet. When God Almighty breathes into 
the spirit, He restores to it its most precious part 
of which it had been deprived while preserved in 
the receptacle near the throne. This is the first 
death and the second life. Then God places man 
in this world till he has reached the term fixed for 
him/' 

The great Mystic was also superstitious. Some 
of his books deal with magical formulae taken from 
the Koran and the medicinal use of its text or of 
the names of God. One of the most celebrated 
magic squares used on amulets, etc., is called the 
" Square of Al-Ghazali " or Al-Buduh. It may in- 
terest in conclusion to give an account of this form 
of magic, approved by Al-Ghazali, because it is one 
of the things by which he is best known among the 
masses in the world of Islam. 

In the older Arabic books on magic this formula 
plays a comparatively minor part ; but after it was 
taken up by Al-Ghazali and cited in his Munkidh 
(pp. 46 and 50 of ed. of Cairo, 1303) as an inex- 
plicable, but certain assistance in cases of difficult 
labour, it came to be universally known as "the 
three- fold talisman, or seal, or table of Al-Ghazali" 



166 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

(al-wakf, al-khatam, al-jadzval, al-muthallath HI- 
Ghasali) and finally has become the starting point 
for the whole "Science of Letters" ( f llm ul-huruf) 
(e. g., Cf. Al-Buni's Shems ul Mu'arif A. H. 622). 
Al-Ghazali is said to have developed the formula, 
under divine inspiration (ilham), from the com- 
binations of letters which open Suras xix. and xlii. 
of the Koran, and which by themselves are also 
used as talismans. 1 Others trace the formula back 
to Adam, from whom it passed down to Al- 
Ghazali. 3 

For the popular mind Buduh has become a Jinn 
whose services can be secured by writing his name 
either in letters or numbers. The uses of the word 
are most varied to invoke both good and bad for- 
tune. It is used against menorrhagia, against 
pains in the stomach, to render oneself invisible, 
against temporary impotence, etc. Lane's Cairo 
magician also used it with his ink mirror (" Mod- 
ern Egyptians," chap. xii.). We find the same in 
magical treatises. It is also engraved upon jewels 
and metal plates or rings which are carried as per- 
manent talismans, and it is inscribed at the begin- 
ning of books as a preservative. But by far the 
most common use is to ensure the arrival of letters 

1 For the process see pp. 170 et seq. of " Mafatih Al- 
Ghaib" (Cairo, 1327) by Ahmed Al-Zarkawi, a contem- 
porary Egyptian magician, and on the subject in general, 
the sixth and seventh Risalas in that volume. 

2 Cf. "Al-Faidh al Mutawalli of Ahmed Damanhtiri, 
Cairo, 1331. 



HIS CEEED AND CEEDULITY 



167 



and packages. 1 No letter from one pious Moslem 
to another is ever posted in the Near East without 
putting the figure 8642 in Arabic on the outside 
of the envelope where it is sealed. And one may 
see thousands of children in Egypt who have never 
heard of Al-Ghazali and cannot read the letters of 
his name wearing his magic square on lead or silver 
amulet to protect them from the hideous power of 
the Child- Witch (Um-as-Subyan). In the Azhar 
University men study his creed but in the villages 
they follow his credulity and to all the fellahin of 
Egypt Buduh has become a guardian Angel ! 
1 " Encyclopaedia of Islam," article Buduh. 



4 


9 


2 


3 


5 


7 


8 


1 


6 



Each letter 
stands for the 
number as in- 
dicated. 



J 



VI 

His Writings 



" I saw the Prophet in a dream, and he was con- 
tending with Moses and Jesus regarding the superi- 
ority of excellence of the Imam Al-Ghazali, and say- 
ing to them, ' Have you had in your sects such a 
learned and righteous man ? ' alluding to Al-Ghazali, 
and they both replied, 'No/ The Shaikh, the 
Imam, one acquainted with God, the Master, the 
support of religious law and truth, Abu'l-' Abbas al- 
Mursi said, when mention was made of Al-Ghazali, 
' Testimony has been already borne to his great and 
extreme veracity, and it is sufficient for you (to 
know) that it was he regarding whom the Prophet 
contended with Moses and Jesus, and to whose great 
and extreme veracity the most truthful have borne 
testimony. 9 " 

Ad-Damiri's Hayat al-Hayawan. 

" Verily I saw in the Gospel of Jesus (on him be 
peace) that he said: From the moment the dead is 
placed on the bier until he rests on the edge of the 
open grave God Most High asks of him forty ques- 
tions." 

Al-Ghazali in Risalat Ayyuha'l walad (sec. 5). 



VI 

HIS WRITINGS 

MORE by far is known of Al-Ghazali 
from his writings than from the records 
of his life. The meagre facts of the 
biographers and even the spelling of his name, as 
we have seen, are disputed. His pen, however, left 
so large a legacy that many of his works are still 
found only in rare manuscripts, and have never 
been published. Moslem writers mention ninety- 
nine works, and Brockelmann in his " History of 
Arabic Literature " catalogues sixty-nine which are 
still in existence. They include systems of theol- 
ogy, eschatology, works on philosophy, lectures on 
mysticism, on ethics, and on canon law* 

Many have assigned to Al-Ghazali the highest 
position among all Moslem writers. Ismael Ibn 
Mohammed Al Hadrami says: "Mohammed the 
son of Abdullah was the Prince of all the Prophets ; 
Mohammed the son of Idris Al-Shafi' was the 
Prince of Imams; but Mohammed the son of Mo- 
hammed, the son of Mohammed Al-Ghazali, was 
the Prince of Writers." 

We have interesting evidence of Al-Ghazali's 
position as a writer even in his own day in the pre- 

171 



172 A MOSLEM SBEKEE AFTER GOD 

cious relic shown in our illustration. In the Arabic 
Museum at Cairo there is a maqlama or pen-case 
which once belonged to Al-Ghazali. It was pre- 
sented to the Museum by M. Kyticas and is made 
of brass overlaid with silver. It bears the follow- 
ing inscription: "Made for the library of our Mas- 
ter, the most great and noble Imam, our revered 
Leader, the Mouthpiece of verity, the greatest 
Scholar of the world, the King of zvise men, the 
Stay of all living, the Treasury of truth, the most 
illustrious among his contemporaries, the Restorer 
of religion, [an illegible word] Hujjat ul-Islam, 
Mohammed Al-Ghazali." 

This bronze is the oldest piece of damascened 
metal work and the only example of that epoch 
with naskhi inscription in the possession of the 
Museum. That the case was not made at a later 
period and presented to Al-Ghazali's library after 
his death is evident from the fact that it was the 
custom to present a book or celestial globe to a 
library, but not a pen-case or even an inkstand. 
Then, too, the word " al-marhum," meaning " de- 
ceased," does not appear on it as it does on other 
objects which were offered in memory of a de- 
ceased person. An objection to the authenticity 
of the bronze is the use of silver in a pen-case de- 
signed to be used by a Sufi doctor pledged in some 
measure to an ascetic life. But this objection may 
be answered by stating that the case was not made 
to the order of Al-Ghazali personally, but by his 




Pen case of Al Ghazali, made of brass inlaid with silver, 
preserved in the Arab Museum, Cairo. 



HIS WEITINGS 173 

disciples in order to obtain his good-will and pat- 
ronage. 1 

We need not, moreover, be surprised at the ap- 
parent lack of modesty which the inscription on the 
pen-case indicates. Judging from other instances 
of this period, Al-Ghazali himself might well have 
written the inscription. 

An almost complete list of Al-Ghazali's writings 
as well as of the translations of his works into other 
languages, especially Hebrew, Latin, French, Ger- 
man, and English, is given in the appendix. 2 Be- 
fore we speak of some of his more important works 
a summary will interest the reader. The Jawahir 
al-Koran (Jewels of the Koran) contains observa- 
tions on some of the verses of the Koran which 
have special value; the 'Aqida is a statement of the 
articles of the Moslem faith, and was published by 
Pococke in his Specimen; the Precious Pearl (Al- 
Durrat Al-Fakhira) is a treatise on the last judg- 
ment and the end of the world, i. e., his eschatology 
and has been translated and published by L. 
Gautier. The morality and theology of the mys- 
tics are codified in the Ihya 'ulum id-din (Revivifi- 
cation of the Religious Sciences). The Mizan Al- 
'amal (The Balance of Works) has been translated 

1 See a paper on this subject by Ali Bey Bargat, Sur Deux 
Bronzes du Musee Arabe " Bulletin de 1'Inst, Egypt," IV : 
7- 

2 For critical notes on his works see R. Gosche, pp. 249- 
300, also Gardner's remarks and list. 



174 A MOSLEM SEEKEB AFTEE GOD 

into Hebrew by Ibrahim bin Hasdai of Barcelona, 
and published by Goldenthal. The Kimiya as- 
sa'ada (Alchemy of Happiness) is a popular lec- 
ture founded on mysticism; this work which was 
originally written in Persian, has been twice trans- 
lated into English, by H. A. Homes in 1873 and 
more recently by Claud Field. Ayyuha'l-walad (O 
Child!) is a celebrated moral treatise, which has 
been translated into German and published by Ham- 
mer-Purgstall. Among works on jurisprudence, 
his treatises on Shafi'ite law have earned great 
reputation in the Moslem world ; his Basil, Wasit, 
and Wajiz are all abridgments of them. In the 
domain of philosophy, the Tahafut al-Falasifa 
(Collapse of the Philosophers) is an attack on the 
adherents of the Greek Philosophy; it has been 
edited by De Boer. The Maqasid al-Falasifa 
(Aims of the Philosophers) is a sort of introduc- 
tion to the above. The text has been published by 
G. Beer, and a Latin translation by Gondisalvi is in 
existence, which was printed in Venice in 1506. 
Al-Munqidh min ad-Dalai (The Deliverer from 
Error), written after the author commenced his 
life as a teacher at Nishapur for the second time, 
describes the development of his philosophy. It 
was translated and published by Schmolders in his 
" Essay on the Schools of Philosophy Among the 
Arabs " ; a second and greatly improved translation 
was published in the Journal Asiatique for 1877, by 
the learned savant, Barbier de Meynard. More re- 



HIS WHITINGS 175 

cently it appeared in English under the title " The 
Confessions of Al-Ghazali." It is one of his 
shortest but most famous books and can be com- 
pared with the " Confessions " of St. Augustine, or 
John Bunyan's " Grace Abounding to the Chief 
of Sinners." Several of Al-Ghazali's numerous 
works are very brief, in the shape of epistles or 
tractates. 

Among his shorter works the following may be 
mentioned: Al-Adab fi Din, a short treatise on the 
ethics of politeness, prepared for the use of his 
pupils. It speaks of the ideal pupil, the ideal 
teacher, of the ethics of eating, drinking, marriage 
and the religious life. A smaller work already 
mentioned is the Risala Ayyuh' Al-Walad ("O 
Child!"). In it he defines faith and works and 
distinguishes between them. A curious passage 
occurs in the introduction which reflects on Al- 
Ghazali's accuracy of statement, or at least raises 
the question as to which " Gospel " he refers to. He 
says: " O my child, live as you please for you are 
already dead; love whom you wish, for you are 
bound to be separated ; and do what you will, for 
you are sure to be judged for it. Verily I saw in 
the Gospel of Jesus (upon Him be prayers and 
peace) that He said, ' From the hour in which the 
dead is put upon the bier until the time when he 
rests on the edge of the grave God will ask him 
forty questions, the first of which is, O my serv- 
ant, you have purified yourself to appear before 



176 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

men many years and not for one hour have you 
purified yourself for my gates, and every day a 
voice was sounded in your ears saying, ' What you 
do for others why do you not do for me who sur- 
rounds you with my mercy ! ' but you were deaf 
and not willing to hear.' " , 

In his "Alchemy of Happiness " there is a beau- 
tiful chapter on " Know Thyself.' 1 The parable 
there used regarding man's soul and the enemies 
that lay siege against it reminds one very much of 
Bunyan's "Holy War." The shortest of his 
works, as far as I am aware, is called Al-Qawa'id 
Al-Ashara (The Ten Articles) ; this has been 
frequently reprinted. It consists of ten principles 
of faith and conduct, and is scarcely longer than 
an ordinary letter. Of a similar character is 
Risalat-ut-Tair the parable of the birds. His most 
celebrated treatise on ethics and conduct is entitled 
Mizan ul 'Arnal. It might be compared to the 
book of Ecclesiastes or the first chapters of the 
book of Proverbs. In the introduction Al-Ghazali 
shows the folly of those who neglect to secure the 
happiness of their immortal souls as well as the 
peril of those who despise faith in the world to 
come. The true way of happiness consists in 
knowing the right and doing it. The soul is a unit 
and its various powers are knit together and are 
interdependent. The path of the mystic unites true 
faith with true practice. He also speaks of the 
possibility of change of character through religious 



HIS WEITINGS 177 

devotion and mentions the virtues that are to be 
cultivated and the vices to be shunned on this path- 
way to God and to true happiness. 

To emphasize the importance of life with its 
brevity and the supreme importance of eternity 
Al-Ghazali says: " Suppose we imagine that the 
whole world is filled with dust and that a little bird 
should come and snatch up one atom of dust every 
thousand years. We know that there would be an 
end of its task, but nothing would have been taken 
away from the everlasting character of that eter- 
nity which has no end/' Although the moral 
teaching of this book is very noble, it is after all 
based entirely on the principle of salvation by 
works. There is no hint of the possibility of the 
transformation of character through regeneration 
of the heart, nor is the way pointed to the victori- 
ous life by overcoming temptation through a power 
that is not our own. 

Of all his writings none is celebrated more justly 
than his greatest work " The Revival of Religious 
Sciences " (Ihya 'uhtm id Din). It is a veritable 
encyclopaedia of Moslem teaching and ethics and 
covers the whole range of Moslem thought. Many 
editions of this work have been printed and com- 
mentaries written on it, the most celebrated of 
which is by Mohammed-uz-Zubeidi Al-Murtadha, 
in ten large volumes. The work itself consists of 
four volumes of ten books each and has a total of 
over one thousand closely printed pages. Although 



178 A MOSLEM SBEKEE AFTEE GOD 

widely read in its original form, popular demand 
has called forth several abbreviated compendia of 
the work. One of them entitled "A Homily for 
Believers," by Mohammed Jamal-ud-Din of Da- 
mascus, is used as a text-book on Islam in the The- 
ological Seminary of the American Mission in 
Cairo. 

The first part of the original work is entitled 
" Things that pertain to worship " ; the second part, 
" Things that pertain to practice " ; the third part, 
" Things that destroy the soul," i. e., the vices ; the 
fourth part, " Things that deliver the soul," i. e., 
the virtues. The contents are as follows: 

" THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO WORSHIP " 
I. The Book of Knowledge, which has seven 
divisions : 

1. The Benefits of Learning. 

2. What Kind of Knowledge is Forbidden 

and Permitted. 

3. Theological Learning and Nomencla- 

ture. 

4. Conditions of Debate and Controversy. 

5. The Relation of Teacher and Pupil. 

6. The Dangers of Learning. 

7. The Mind and its Uses. 

II. The Book of Dogma, which has four divisions : 

1. The Moslem Creed. 

2. Degrees of Faith. 

3. God, His Being, Attributes, Work. 

4. Faith and Islam. 



HIS WBITINGS 179 

III. The Book of the Mysteries of Purity, which 

has three divisions : 

1. Purification from Unclean Objects. 

2. Purification from Unclean States. 

3. Purification from Unclean Matters that 

cling to the Body (finger-nails, ears, 
etc.). 

IV. The Book of the Mysteries of Prayer, which 

has seven divisions : 

1. The Benefits of Prayer. 

2. Outward Observance of Prayer. 

3. Conditions of Prayer. 

4. The Imam. 

5. Friday Prayers. 

6. Miscellaneous Matters. 

7. Special Prayers. 

V. The Book of the Mysteries of Almsgiving, 
which has four divisions : 

1. Kinds of Alms. 

2. Conditions of Giving. 

3. To Whom. 

4. How they are Observed. 

VI. The Book of the Mysteries of Fasting, which 
has three divisions : 

1. Its Necessity. 

2. Its Mysteries. 

3. Obedience through Fasting. 

VII. The Book of the Mysteries of the Pilgrimage, 
which has three divisions : 

1. Its Benefits and Character. 

2. The Order of Procedure. 

3. Its Inward Significance, 



180 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

VIII. The Book of the Perusal of the Koran. 
IX. The Book of Zikr and Prayer. 
X. The Book of the Night Meditation. 

" THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO PRACTICE " 
I. The Ethics of Eating and Drinking. 
II. The Ethics of Marriage. 

III. The Ethics of Trade. 

IV. Things that are Allowed and Forbidden. 
V. Ethics of Friendship and Conversation. 

VI. The Life of Seclusion. 
VII. The Ethics of Journeying. 
VIII. The Ethics of Music and Poetry. 
IX. On Favours and Offenses. 
X. The Ethics of. True Living and the Virtues of 
the Prophet. 

" THINGS THAT DESTROY THE SOUL " 
I. The Wonders of the Heart. 
II. The Exercise of the Soul. 

III. The Dangers of the Two Desires, namely, of 

the Appetite and of Lust. 

IV. The Evils of the Tongue. 

V. The Evils of Anger and Envy. 
VI. On Despising the World. 
VII. On Despising Property and Greed. 
VIII. On Despising the Love of Honour and 

Hypocrisy. 
IX. On Despising Vanities. 

" THINGS THAT DELIVER THE SOUL " 
I. The Book of Repentance. 
II. The Book of Patience and Thankfulness. 



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ill^j- UIIJIL Jl ^Ui-VUc Ll-l 
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A facsimile page of the Ihya (Vol. II, page 180, Cairo Ed.). It 

gives a diagram of the prayer kibla and the rules to be 

observed in facing it correctly. 



HIS WRITINGS 181 

III. The Book of Fear. 

IV. The Book of Poverty and Asceticism. 
V. The Book of the Unity of God. 

VI. The Book of Love. 

VII. The Book of Good Intent and Sincerity. 

VIII. The Book of Self-examination. 

IX. The Book of Meditation. 

X. The Book of the Remembrance of Death. 

Especially the third and fourth parts of his 
great work show us Al-Ghazali as a mystic and a 
preacher of righteousness. His ten books on 
" Things that deliver the soul " furnish material 
from which it would not be difficult to collect a 
beautiful anthology or a daily calendar of spiritual 
thoughts. Such a rosary of pearls from Al- 
Ghazali's works might well be used for devotion by 
Christians as well as by Moslems. 

Another most interesting book is that on the 
names of God, entitled Al-Maksad ul-Asna Shark- 
Asma' -Allah ul Husna, "The Highest Aim: the 
Explanation of the Beautiful Names of God." 
The book is divided into three parts of which the 
first deals philosophically with the meaning of the 
word " name " and its distinction from the nam- 
ing of the thing and the thing named itself: also 
how it is possible for God to have many names and 
yet to be one essence. The second part of the book 
is the longest and treats of the ninety-nine names of 
God in order showing how they are comprehended 
in the seven attributes and the one essence. The 



182 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

third part is brief and shows that there are really 
more than ninety-nine names, but that this was the 
number fixed upon for good reasons. And finally 
there is a section telling how God may and may not 
be described. 

Al-Ghazali teaches in this book that the imitation 
of God's attributes is the highest happiness for the 
believer. There are three degrees in the knowl- 
edge of God, and in this respect he says: "The 
virtues of the righteous are the faults of the 
Saints " ; by which he means that the nearer we 
approach to God the more perfect is our standard 
of character. The three degrees of knowledge are 
(1) intellectual, (2) that of admiration and at- 
tempted imitation, (3) that of actual acquirements 
of God's attributes such as the angels. Nearness 
to God is by rank and degree, not in regard to posi- 
tion or place. He quotes with approval the famous 
saying of Junaid: " No one knows God save God 
Himself Most High, and therefore even to the best 
of His creatures He has only revealed His names, 
in which He hides Himself." He says that two 
statements are true in regard to God and the 
believer. The true believer must say, " I know 
nothing but God," and " I know nothing of 
God." 

The last book Al-Ghazali wrote was the Minhaj 
al-Abidin or " Guide of True Worshippers." It 
is said to have been written for those who could not 
understand the Ihya and deals with the creed and 



HIS WEITINGS 183 

ritual of Islam from the standpoint of the mystic. 
Our illustration shows in facsimile the first page of 
this celebrated work from a recent Cairo edition. 
On the margin of the text we have the Beginner's 
Guide, already spoken of. These two works of 
Al-Ghazali are very popular and have recently had 
an increasing circulation. 

The Minhaj shows that Al-Ghazali at the close 
of his life had adopted the vocabulary of the mys- 
tics even for popular teaching. The various chap- 
ters are called " stages " in the progress of the soul 
towards salvation and peace. The first stage is 
that of knowledge, then follows repentance, a list 
of the hindrances on the road to God, things that 
delay the soul in its onward progress, such as the 
world and its allurements, the flesh, the devil, the 
senses. Other hindrances are the cares of gaining 
a living, the perplexities and troubles of life, while 
the last stages in the road of the mystic are those 
of praise to God under all circumstances, and ear- 
nest endeavour to attain to the reality of the ex- 
perience of His presence. 

So difficult is the road which Al-Ghazali de- 
scribes that he says: " Some seekers can only finish 
these stages in seventy years, some in twenty, some 
in ten. Others there are, however, whose souls are 
so enlightened, so free from the care and perplexity 
of the world, that they finish the journey and arrive 
at the goal in a year, a month, what do I say, in an 
hour; so that they awaken like the Companions of 



184 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

the Cave, and the change they see in themselves and 
those about them is to them as a dream." 

His teaching on prayer as given in the Ihya cer- 
tainly rises very high above that of the ritualist 
who puts all his attention on the punctiliousness of 
outward observance. " Prayers are of three de- 
grees, of which the first are those that are simply 
spoken with the lips. Prayers are of the second 
kind when with difficulty, and only by a most reso- 
lute effort, the soul is able to fix its thoughts on 
divine things without being disturbed by evil im- 
aginations; they are of the third kind when one 
finds it difficult to turn away the mind from dwell- 
ing on divine things. But it is the very marrow of 
prayer when He who is invoked takes possession of 
the soul of the suppliant, and the soul of him who 
prays is absorbed into God, to whom he prays, and, 
his prayer ceasing, all consciousness of self has de- 
parted, and to such a degree that all thought what- 
soever of the praying is felt as a veil between the 
soul and God. This state is called by the Sufis 
* absorption/ for the reason that the man is so ab- 
sorbed that he takes no thought of his body, or of 
anything that happens externally, or even of the 
movements of his own soul, but is first engaged in 
going towards his Lord, and finally is wholly in his 
Lord. If even the thought occurs that he is ab- 
sorbed in the Absolute it is a blemish, for that 
absorption only is worthy of the name, though they 
will be called, as I well know, but foolish babbling 



HIS WEITINGS 185 

by raw theologians, are yet by no means without 
significance. For consider: The condition of 
which I speak resembles that of a person who loves 
any other object, such as wealth, honour, or pleas- 
ure. We see such persons so carried away with 
their love, and others with their anger, that they do 
not hear one who speaks to them, nor see those 
passing before their eyes. Nay, so absorbed are 
they in their passion that they do not perceive their 
absorption ; you necessarily; turn it away from that 
which is the object of it/* 

Elsewhere Al-Ghazali says: "The commence- 
ment of this life is the going to God ; then follows 
the finding Him, when the absorption takes place. 
This at first is momentary, as the lightning swiftly 
glancing upon the eye, but afterwards, confirmed 
by use, it introduces the soul into a higher world, 
where, the most pure essential essence meeting it, 
fills the soul with the images of the spiritual world, 
while the majesty of Deity discovers itself." 

The evident sincerity and the moral earnestness 
of Al-Ghazali shown in his works and in the ex- 
tracts which we have quoted, surely explains in a 
large degree why his influence has been so deep and 
permanent, far greater than that of the merely in- 
tellectual philosophers, such as Averroes. While 
he discouraged scholastic philosophy, he encour- 
aged moral philosophy. The reader will remember 
how he carried a book of ethics with him on his 
journeys. After his death several famous ethical 



186 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

treatises were composed which derived much from 
him. Claud Field says " the most important of 
these is the 'Akhlaq-i-Jalali/ by Jalaluddin Asa'ad 
Aldawani, which has been ably translated into 
English by Mr. W. F. Thompson. The 'Akhlaq-i- 
Jalali ' itself is largely a translation into Persian 
from the Arabic, the original of which appeared in 
the tenth century under the name of ' Kitab-ut- 
Taharat.' Two centuries after it was translated 
into Persian by Abu Nasr, and named 'Akhlaq 
Nasiri/ enriched with some important additions 
from Avicenna. In the fifteenth century it as- 
sumed a still further improved form under its pres- 
ent name, the ' Akhlaq-i-Jalali.' " * 

That Al-Ghazali was a careful student of nature 
is evident in all his writings. Those portions of 
the Koran which deal with natural theology and 
the proof of God's existence from the starry 
heavens, from the fertile ground, the animal crea- 
tion, and the sea with its terrors, especially seem to 
appeal to him. One of his books is entitled Al 
Hikmat fi Makhlukat Allah (The Wisdom of God 
Shown in the Marvels of Creation). It is one of 
his shorter writings but full of beautiful passages 
on the glory of the starry heavens, the earth and 
the sea, and the four primal elements. One long 
chapter is devoted to embryology and the physical 
wonders of the human frame. Another is on birds, 
another on quadrupeds and on fishes. The con- 
'"The Mystics of Islam." 



HIS WEITINGS 187 

elusion of the whole treatise is the argument from 
design, for the goodness and greatness of the Cre- 
ator as shown in His works. What he says in re- 
gard to the benefits to be obtained from gazing into 
the starry vault may be compared with David's 
words in the eighth and the nineteenth Psalms. 
Says Al-Ghazali: " To look up into the vault of 
heaven drives away anxiety, removes the whisper- 
ings of Satan, takes away idle fear, reminds us of 
God, brings the heart to magnify Him, banishes 
evil thoughts, cures pessimism, comforts the pas- 
sionate, delights the lover, and it is the best Kibla 
for those who call to God in prayer." 

Al-Ghazali was also a dogmatic theologian and 
controversialist. He wrote a commentary on the 
Koran in forty volumes, never printed; and a dozen 
books against various heretics, including one en- 
titled: " The Best Reply to Those Who Have Tam- 
pered with the Gospel." Al-Ghazali, who was 
himself cursed for alleged heresy, is memorable 
among the theologians of Islam in that by his 
breadth of sympathy he forbade the cursing of 
Yazid, the notorious slayer of Hussein, Moham- 
med's grandson, and gave his opinion in these 
words: " It is forbidden to curse a Moslem: Yazid 
was a Moslem. It is not certain that he slew Al- 
Husain, and it is forbidden to think ill of a Mos- 
lem. We cannot be certain that he ordered his 
death ; really we cannot be certain of the cause of 
the death of any great man, especially at such a 



188 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

distance of time. We have also to remember the 
party spirit and false statements in this particular 
case. Again, if he did kill him, he is not an unbe- 
liever because of that; he is only disobedient to 
God. Again, he may have repented before he died. 
Further, to abstain from cursing is no crime. No 
one will be asked if he ever cursed Satan; if he has 
cursed him he may be asked, Why ? The only ac- 
cursed ones of whom we know are those who die 
infidels." * 

Among his books against the philosophers we 
must mention three which are closely related to 
one another. They are the Maqasid-iil-Falasifa, a 
statement of the true teachings of the philosophers 
and a presentation of their views of the world ; the 
Tahafut ul Fqlasifa which overthrows their views 
and shows that they are untenable to those who 
would follow Islam with heart and mind; the 
Qawa'id, which shows the truths that must be built 
up to take the place of the errors of the philos- 
ophers. In the first-named book, according to 
Macdonald, he " smites the philosophers hip and 
thigh, turns their own weapons against them and 
goes to the extreme of intellectual scepticism; seven 
hundred years before Hume he cuts the 6ond 
of causality with the edge of his dialectic and 
proclaims that we can know nothing of cause 
or effect, but simply that one thing follows an- 
other." 

1 Macdonald, p. 72. 



HIS WETTINGS 189 

Al-Ghazali's great work "The Revival of Re- 
ligious Sciences," caused great scandal in Anda/ 
lusia. There the intolerance of the learned passed 
all bounds because of the narrowness of their 
views. Their theology was limited to minute 
knowledge of Canon Law. They had no place 
for the religion which Ghazali preached, which was 
personal and passionate, a religion of the heart. 
When he attacked contemporary theologians busy 
with questions of legality and the externals of re- 
ligion, he touched these pharisees of the law at the 
quick and they not only squirmed but screamed 
loudly. According to Dozy, " the Kady of Cor- 
dova, Ibn Hamdin, declared that any man who read 
Al-Ghazali's book was an infidel ripe for damna- 
tion, and he drew up a fatwa condemning all copies 
of the book to the flames. This fatwa, signed by 
the Fakihs of Cordova, was formally approved by 
'Ali. Al-Ghazali's book was accordingly burnt in 
Cordova and all the other cities of the Empire, and 
possession of a copy was interdicted on pain of 
death and confiscation of property." 

But this opinion was not shared by Moslems 
elsewhere. In his lifetime and especially after his 
death his works against philosophy and his great 
exposition of Islam found ever larger circles of 
readers and commentators. 

He has been accused, and not without good rea- 
son, both by Moslem writers and European critics, 
of carelessness and inaccuracy in his quotations 



190 A MOSLEM SEBKEE AFTEE GOD 

and references to other books. 1 One of the charges 
brought against him by his assailants is that he 
falsified Tradition. Macdonald's judgment is very 
charitable when he says that "he quoted from 
memory too freely, because he was a man of too 
large a calibre to watch his quotations and they 
were loose to the end of his life/' 

As-Subqi in his Tabakat-ash-Shafa'iya al Kubra 
devotes a special section to what is entitled "A List 
of all the Traditions given by Al-Ghazali in his 
Ihya which have no isnad, or pedigree, i. e., Tradi- 
tions quoted by him as authoritative and yet which 
from the standpoint of Moslem criticism are on 
this account absolutely worthless. This section of 
the book referred to covers many pages and by 
actual count I found over six hundred Traditions 
each catalogued by reference to the chapter in 
which they occur. Now we have no reason to 
doubt that As-Subqi (d. 771 A. H.) was an ad- 
mirer of Al-Ghazali and esteemed his teaching, yet 
what shall we say when in this collection of the 
lives of the saints so strong an indictment is made 
of Al-Ghazali's inaccuracy by one of his own dis- 
ciples ? 

When reading this collection of " true sayings " 
of the Prophet (which are after all often ascribed 
to him without any authority or foundation) one is 
shocked both at the credulity and the lack of love 

1 Compare the two statements facing this chapter ; also the 
references to " The Gospel," in Chapter IX. 



HIS WETTINGS 191 

for veracity in this greatest of all Moslem apolo- 
gists. If even Al-G-hazali handled Tradition so 
carelessly as to ascribe to Mohammed so much that 
is altogether puerile, fabulous and often immoral, 
what confidence can we put in other and later tra- 
dition-mongers and how can we clear Al-Ghazali 
from the charge of using pious falsehood? 
' We add another fact of great interest in regard 
to his writings. Al-Ghazali exercised a command- 
ing influence on Jewish thought in the Middle 
Ages. In the appendix is a list of some of the 
translations of his books made in Hebrew. Jewish 
students of philosophy, including Maimonides, 
drew many of their theories from the Maqasid and 
his other works. Al-Ghazali's attacks on philos- 
ophy were imitated by Judah ha-Levy in his 
Cuzari; but it was chiefly his ethical teaching rather 
than through his philosophy that Al-Ghazali at- 
tracted the Jewish thinkers. Broyde says, " He 
approached the ethical ideal of Judaism to such an 
extent that some supposed him to be actually drift- 
ing in that direction, and his works were eagerly 
studied and used by Jewish writers. Abraham ibn 
Ezra borrowed from Al-Ghazali's Mizan al 'Amal 
his comparison between the limbs of the human 
body and the functionaries of a king, and used it 
for the subject of his beautiful admonition Yeshene 
Leb; Abraham ibn Dawud borrowed from the same 
work the parable used by Al-Ghazali to prove the 
difference in value between various branches of 



192 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

science ; and Simon Duran cites in his Keshet a pas- 
sage from the Mozene ha-Iyyunim, which he calls 
Mozene ha-Hokmah." 

The translations of his works into Hebrew were 
made as early as the thirteenth century. Not less 
than eleven Hebrew commentaries are known on 
the Maqasid. " Johanan Alemanno recommends 
Ghazali's hermeneutic methods, and compares 
the order and graduation of lights in Ghazali's 
theory with those of the theory of the cabalists." 

In regard to science, Al-Ghazali's views were 
naturally those of his contemporaries. His world 
was built on the Ptolemaic system. There are 
four elements only. Existence has three modes: 
the world of sense, the world of God's eternal de- 
cree, and the world of ideals or of God's power. 
In dreams and visions we are in contact with the 
two other worlds. Al-Ghazali avoids the difficul- 
ties of concrete Moslem teaching by this method. 
There may be things which are real and actual and 
yet do not belong to the world of sense. 2 

Doctor Macdonald admirably summarizes his 
influence on Islam as four-fold. " First of all he 
led men back from mere scholastic dogma to a liv- 
ing contact with the Koran and the Traditions as 
the true source of Islam. He might be called a 
Biblical theologian in our modern use of the word, 
understanding by ' Bible ' always the Moslem bible, 

'"Jewish Encyclopaedia," article "Ghazali." 
* Macdonald. 



HIS WHITINGS 193 

namely the Koran. Nearly every paragraph of 
his Ihya begins with a Koran quotation, and his 
interpretation of the book is not a slavish following 
of the earlier commentators but a spiritual interpre- 
tation of the text." 

" In the second place he reintroduced into Islam 
the element of fear. In the earliest days, as for 
example in the Koran itself, the terrors of the day 
of judgment and the horrors of hell operated in 
order to lead men to repentance. Al-Ghazali em- 
phasized this part of the Moslem teaching to the 
utmost, witness his little book Al-Durra al~Fak- 
hira, which has to this day great acceptance among 
pious Moslems." 

In the third place mysticism, already existing in 
Islam, but looked upon in many quarters as heret- 
ical, received its birthright through Al-Ghazali's 
life and teachings, and from his day on held an 
assured position in orthodox Islam. 

Lastly, he brought philosophy within the range 
of the ordinary mind, warning the people against 
its dangers as well as showing them its fundamental 
principles and above all illustrating through his 
writings how true philosophy and true Islam are 
not contradictory. In this respect he resembles 
Raymond Lull who also desired to use philosophy 
as the handmaid of Christianity/ 

1 In regard to the influence of Al-Ghazali's writings, R. 
Gosche remarks : " It is characteristic how his influence has 
spread. The later mystical portions of his Ihya have es- 



194 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

Macdonald thinks that of these four phases of 
his work and influence the first and the third were 
undoubtedly the most important. These alone 
made him a reformer of the first rank in the history 
of Islam. 

pecially influenced Mohammedan circles in India. His two 
works on philosophy exerted influence in Spain and among 
later Jewish writers, for the best manuscripts of the Tahafut 
are found in Maghrabi character." 



VII 

His Ethics 



"The religion of Christ contains whole fields of 
morality and whole realms of thought which are all 
but outside the religion of Mohammed. It opens 
humility, purity of heart, forgiveness of injuries, 
sacrifice of self to man's moral nature; it gives scope 
for toleration, development, boundless progress to his 
mind ; its motive power is stronger, even as a friend 
is better than a king and love higher than obedience. 
Its realized ideals in the various paths of human 
greatness have been more commanding, more many- 
sided, more holy, as Averroes is below Newton, 
Haroun below Alfred, and 'AH below St. Paul. 
Finally, the ideal life of all is far more elevating, far 
more majestic, far more inspiring even as the life of 
the founder of Mohammedanism is below the life of 
the Founder of Christianity." 

" Life of Mohammed," R. Bosworth Smith. 



VII 
HIS ETHICS 

MARTENSEN defines Christian ethics as 
" the science of morals conditioned by 
Christianity." But the three funda- 
mental concepts of Christian ethics are all of them 
challenged by the teaching of Islam. The Mo- 
hammedan idea of the Highest Good, of Virtue 
and of the Moral Law are not in accord with those 
of Christianity. This is evident both from the 
character of Mohammed himself and from his re- 
corded sayings. Ideal virtue is to be found 
through imitation of Mohammed. And the moral 
law is practically abrogated because of loose views 
as to its real character, its teaching and finality. 
" The ethics of Islam bear the character of an out- 
wardly and crudely conceived doctrine: of righteous- 
ness; conscientiousness in the sphere of the social 
relations, faithfulness to conviction and to one's 
word, and the bringing of an action into relation to 
God, are its bright points; but there is a lack of 
heart-depth, of a basing of the moral in love. The 
highest good is the very outwardly and very sensu- 
ously conceived happiness of the individual." 

1 Adolf Wuttke, " Christian Ethics," Vol. I, p. 172. 
197 



198 A MOSLEM SEEKEE APTEB GOD 

This statement needs no proof to those who 
know Islam from its original sources, the Koran 
and Tradition. Professor Margoliouth uses lan- 
guage which is strong but not unfair when he says 
in regard to the saints of the Moslem calendar 
that is the companions and followers of Moham- 
med "Those who recount the history of Islam 
have to lay aside all ordinary canons of morality, 
else the picture would have no lights; they could 
not write at all if they let themselves be shocked by 
perfidy or bloodthirstiness, by cruelty or lust, yet 
both the Koran and Tradition forbid the first three, 
and assign some limits to the fourth." A stream 
cannot rise higher than its source ; a tower cannot 
be broader than its foundation. The measure of 
the moral stature of Mohammed is the source and 
foundation of all moral ideals in Islam. His con- 
duct is the standard of character. We need not be 
surprised, therefore, that the ethical standard is so 
low even in Al-Ghazali, although he ofttimes rises 
high above the Koran and the Prophet. 

In nearly every one of his books on morals the 
Prophet of Arabia is held up as the highest ideal 
of character. In his " Precious Pearl," however, 
there is a passage quoted from a tradition in which 
he pays this high tribute to Jesus Christ (page 24 
Cairo Edition), "Go to Jesus, on Him be peace, for 
He is the truest of those who were sent as apostles, 
and who knew most of God, and the most ascetic in 
life of them all, and the most eloquent of all in 



HIS ETHICS 199 

wisdom, perchance He will intercede for you." 
The quotation, however, refers to the day of resur- 
rection when the various nations seek God's favour 
and forgiveness. 

When we consider the age in which Al-Ghazali 
lived and his Moslem education in ethics, Macdonald 
says, 1 " the position of Al-Ghazali is a simple one. 
All our laws and theories upon the subject, 
the analysis of the qualities of the mind, good and 
bad, the tracing of hidden defects to their causes, 
and the methods of combating these causes, all 
these things [Al-Ghazali teaches] we owe to the 
saints of God to whom God Himself has revealed 
them. Of these there have been many at all times 
and in all countries, God has never left Himself 
without a witness, and without them and their 
labours and the light which God has vouchsafed to 
them we could never know ourselves. Here as 
everywhere, comes out clearly Al-Ghazali's funda- 
mental position that the ultimate source of all 
knowledge is revelation from God. It may be 
major revelation, through accredited prophets who 
come forward as teachers, divinely sent and sup- 
ported by miracles and by the evident truth of their 
message appealing to the human heart; or it may 
be minor revelation subsidiary and explanatory 
through the vast body of saints of different grades 
to whom God has granted immediate knowledge of 
Himself. Where the saints leave off, the prophets 
1 Macdonald, pp. 118-119. 



200 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

begin ; and, apart from such teaching, man, even in 
physical science, would be groping in the dark." 

But we must -add to this clear statement of Al- 
Ghazali's theory of ethics, lest it be wholly misun- 
derstood, that the revelation referred to is the 
Koran and that "the saints" were the Moslem 
saints of the early Caliphate, and their followers. 

Moslem doctors of jurisprudence, including Al- 
Ghazali, define sin as " a conscious act of a respon- 
sible being against known law." Therefore sins 
of ignorance and of childhood are not reckoned as 
real sin. x They divide sin into " great " and " lit- 
tle" sins. Some say there are seven great sins: 
idolatry, murder, false charge of adultery, wasting 
the substance of orphans, taking interest on money, 
desertion from Jihad and disobedience to parents. 
Others say there are seventeen, and include wine- 
drinking, witchcraft and perjury among them. 
The lack of all distinction between the ceremonial 
and the moral law is very evident in the traditional 
sayings of Mohammed, which are, of course, at the 
basis of ethics. Take one example: " The Prophet, 
upon him be prayers and peace, said, One dirhem 
of usury which a man takes knowing it to be so 
is more grievous than thirty-six fornications, 
and whosoever has done so is worthy of hell- 
fire." 

Orthodox Moslems divide sins into greater and 
lesser. Al-Ghazali quotes one who said, " There 
are no greater and lesser sins, but everything which 



HIS ETHICS 201 

is contrary to God's will is a great sin," but gives 
Koran passages contradicting this and then escapes 
the moral difficulty by showing that the smaller 
sins may become great if we continue in them: 
" like the dropping of water wearing away a 
stone " ; and " when the servant of God reckons his 
sin great, God reckons it small, and when he 
reckons it small, then God reckons it great." 

He divides the sins which overcome the heart 
into four classes : egoistic, satanic, brutal and cruel. 
Under the first he puts pride, conceit, boasting, 
selfishness, etc. ; envy, hatred, deceit, malice, cor- 
ruption and unbelief, belong to the second; while 
greed, gluttony, lust, adultery, sodomy, theft, and 
the robbing of orphans are classed as brutal sins; 
and anger, passion, abuse, cursing, murder, rob- 
bery, etc., are cruel. 

Yet in all of Al-Ghazali's works on ethics and 
many of his smaller treatises are on this subject, 
there is no clear distinction made between the ritual 
and the moral law. In fact one word used for 
ethics in Arabic (addb) refers to propriety of con- 
duct, etiquette, politeness, and decency in outward 
behaviour, reverence in the presence of superiors, 
rather than to the keeping of the ten command- 
ments or of the principles that are fundamental to 
noble character. This becomes very clear when we 
study the contents, for example, of one of his 
shorter books entitled Al-Adab fi Din (Ethics in 
Religion). 



202 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

The book begins by giving the basis of ethical 
teaching in these words: " Praise be to God who 
created us and perfected our creation, and taught 
us morals and beautified our morals, and honoured 
us by sending His Prophet Mohammed (upon 
whom may God's blessing rest), and hath taught 
us how to honour him. Truly the most perfect ele- 
ment in character and the most elevated, and the 
best of good works, and the most glorious, is cor- 
rect behaviour as regards religion, which teaches 
what a true believer should know of the work of 
the Lord of the worlds and the Creator of the 
prophets and apostles ; and God hath taught us and 
clearly enlightened us concerning this in the Koran, 
and hath given us the example of conduct in his 
Prophet Mohammed according to his Traditions. 
He is our example, and likewise are his companions 
and immediate followers. These have shown us 
what it is necessary for us to follow in their con- 
duct, which we have here recorded for all those 
who would follow." 

The paragraphs or sections of this handbook 
are entitled: Ethics of the believer in the presence 
of God ; of the teacher; of the pupil; of those who 
hear the Koran read ; of the reader ; of the schdol- 
teacher; of those who seek to understand Tradi- 
tion; of the scribe; of the preacher; of the ascetic; 
of the nobleman; ethics of sleeping; of night- 
watching; of fulfilling a call of nature ; of the bath ; 
of washing; of entering the mosque; of the call to 



HIS ETHICS 203 

prayer; of prayer; of intercession; of the Friday 
sermon; of the feast-days; of conduct during an 
eclipse; of conduct during drought; of sickness; of 
funerals; of almsgiving; of the rich and the poor; 
of fasting; of pilgrimage; of the merchant; of the 
money-changer; of eating and drinking; of mar- 
riage (this has several subdivisions) ; of sitting by 
the wayside; of the child with its parents; of the 
parent with the child ; of brothers ; of neighbours ; 
of the master with the servant; of the Sultan with 
his subjects; of the Judge; of the witness; of the 
prisoner. The final chapter of this interesting 
treatise deals with miscellaneous maxims on polite 
behaviour under all circumstances. 

A translation of the section on eating, which is 
about the same length as the other paragraphs, will 
give a clear idea of the contents: "One should 
wash one's hands before partaking of food and 
after, and pronounce the name of God before be- 
ginning to eat, and eat with the right hand. Take 
small portions from the dish, chew the food thor- 
oughly, and do not look into the faces of the other 
guests while you are eating ; nor should you recline 
nor eat to excess beyond the demands of hunger; 
and you should ask to be excused as soon as you 
have had enough, so that your guest may not be 
embarrassed or any one who has greater need. And 
one should eat from the edge of the platter and not 
from the middle, and wipe his fingers after the 
meal, and return praise to God. Nor should one 



204 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

mention death at dinner for fear of bringing bad 
luck upon those who are present." 

All this is interesting and important, for the 
Moslem child, as table etiquette. Obedience, hu- 
mility in outward behaviour, reverence in the 
mosque, respect " to those above us in age or sta- 
tion," and many other social virtues are likewise 
commended. But the omissions of the Book sur- 
prise us. There is nothing on truth, heart-purity, 
moral courage or the nobility of chivalry the 
things that make a man. 

One section of the Ihya (Vol. Ill, p. 96 ff.) 
deals with the question as to when lies are justifi- 
able, and clearly shows that according to Al-Gha- 
zali, in the realm of truth at least, the end justifies 
the means. " Know," he says, " that a lie is not 
haram (wrong) in itself, but only because of the 
evil conclusions to which it leads the hearer, mak- 
ing him believe something that is not really the 
case. Ignorance sometimes is an advantage, and if 
a lie causes this kind of ignorance it may be al- 
lowed. It is sometimes a duty to lie. Maimun 
Ibn Muhran said, * A lie is sometimes better than 
truth: for instance, if you see a man seeking for 
another in order to kill him, what do you repty to 
the question as to where he is ? Of course you will 
reply thus, for such a lie is lawful. We say that 
the end justifies the means.' 

" If lying and truth both lead to a good result, 
you must tell the truth, for a lie is forbidden in this 



HIS ETHICS 205 

case. If a lie is the only way to reach a good re- 
sult, it is allowable (hallal). A lie is lawful when 
it is the only path to duty. For example, if a Mos- 
lem flees from an unjust one and you are asked 
about him, you are obliged to lie in order to save 
him. If the outcome of war, reconciliation be- 
tween two separated friends, or the safety of an 
oppressed depends on a lie, then a lie is allowed. 
In all cases we must be careful not to lie when there 
is no necessity for it, lest it be haram (wrong). If 
a wicked person asks a man about his wealth he 
has to deny having any; and so if a sultan asks a 
man about a crime he has committed, he has to 
deny it and say, ' I have not stolen/ when he did 
steal ; ' nor done any vice/ when he has done. The 
Prophet said, * He who has done a shameful deed 
must conceal it, for revealing one disgrace is an- 
other disgrace/ A person must deny the sins of 
others as well. Making peace between wives is a 
duty, even by pretending to each of them that she 
is loved the most, and by making promises to please 
her. 

" We must lie when truth leads to unpleasant re- 
sults, but tell the truth when it leads to good re- 
sults. Lying for one's pleasure, or for increase of 
wealth, or for fame is forbidden. One wife must 
not lie for her husband to tease another wife. Ly- 
ing is allowed in persuading children to go to 
school ; also false promises and false threats/' 

We get another view of Al-Ghazali's ethics in his 



206 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

teaching regarding education. There is a special 
section in the Ihya (Vol. Ill, p. 53) which deals 
with the education of boys and the improvement of 
their morals. It is not surprising that nothing is 
said as regards the education of girls, for even now 
many Moslem authorities consider it inadvisable 
that they should be taught to read and write. The 
chapter referred to begins as follows: 

" It is most important to know how to bring up 
a boy, for a boy is a trust in the hands of his father, 
and his pure heart is a precious jewel like a tablet 
without inscription. It is therefore ready to re- 
ceive whatever impression is applied. If he learns 
to do good and is taught it, he grows up accord- 
ingly, and is happy in this world and the next and 
his parents and teachers will have the reward for 
their action. But if he learns evil and grows up in 
neglect like the dumb cattle, he will turn away 
from the truth and perish, and his sin will be on 
the neck of his guardian. Allah has said, ' O ye 
who believe, guard yourselves and your family 
from the fire ; and even as the father would guard 
his son from the fire of this world, by how much 
the more should he guard him from the fire of the 
world to come? He will guard him from it by 
chastising him and educating him and teaching him 
the best virtues. To this end he will only give his 
boy to be nursed by a good, pious woman who eats 
the proper food, for the milk from forbidden food 
has no blessing in it." 



HIS ETHICS 207 

He then goes on to show that the education of a 
child consists in teaching him table manners, the 
avoidance of unclean food, gluttony and impolite- 
ness. He advises parents to dress their children 
simply and not in costly clothing. To quote once 
more: 

"After teaching him these things it is wise to 
send him to school where he shall learn the Koran 
and the pious traditions, and the tales of the 
righteous and their lives, in order that a love of 
the pious may be imprinted in his heart; and he 
should be kept from reading erotic poetry and pre- 
vented from mixing with those people of education 
who think that this sort of reading is profitable and 
elevating, because, on the contrary, it produces in 
the hearts of children the seeds of corruption. 
Whenever the boy shows a good character or an 
act which is praiseworthy, he must be honoured for 
it and rewarded, so that he will be happy ; and this 
should especially be done in the presence of others. 
If, on the contrary, he should act otherwise once 
and again, it is 'necessary to take no notice of it, 
nor to lay bare his fault, as though you imagine no 
one would dare to do such a thing, especially if the 
boy himself conceals it, and has determined to 
hide it; for exposing would only make him more 
bold in the future. If he should repeat the fault, 
he can be punished in secret." 

Such is the strange ethical teaching a mingling 
of good and bad advice on the part of one who 



208 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

has always been considered as the pillar of ortho- 
doxy and one of the great authorities on Moslem 
morals. 

The ethics of marriage holds a large place in 
Moslem literature, and also in the works of Al- 
Ghazali. Marriage is enjoined upon every Moslem, 
and celibacy is discouraged. " Marriage/' said 
Mohammed the Prophet, " is my custom, and he 
who dislikes it does not belorig to my people." 
And in another tradition: "Marriage is one-half 
of true religion." Even the members of the ascetic 
orders in Islam are generally married. The vow 
of celibacy was therefore not known among the 
mystics. Marriage is defined by Moslem jurists as 
" a contract by which the husband obtains posses- 
sion of the wife and is allowed to enjoy her, if 
there be no legal impediment preventing the same." 
" Marriage," says Al-Ghazali himself, " is a kind 
of slavery, for the wife becomes the slave of her 
husband and it is her duty to obey him absolutely 
in everything he requires of her, except in what is 
contrary to the laws of Islam." 

In the selection of a wife, Al-Ghazali advises his 
disciples to look for the following qualifications: 
(1) piety, (2) good character, (3) beauty, (4) a 
moderate dowry, (5) ability to bear children, 
(6) that she be a virgin, (7) of a good family, 
(8) that she be not of near relation. The duties of 
the husband to the wife and the duties of the wife 
to her husband are given in detail by Al-Ghazali in 



HIS ETHICS 209 

his Ihya and in some of his other works. The hus- 
band, according to this teaching, ought to main- 
tain a golden mean in dealing with his wife in 
twelve points, that is, he means that there should 
be no excess of kindness or excess of harshness in 
any of these particulars: (1) the marriage feast; 
(2) behaviour; (3) playfulness or caressing; 
(4) maintaining his dignity; (5) jealousy; (6) 
pecuniary allowance; (7) teaching; (8) granting 
every wife her rights (in the Moslem sense) ; 
(9) chastisement; (10) the rules of cohabitation; 
(11) childbirth; (12) divorce. In one place he 
says if the wife be disobedient and obstinate, the 
husband has the right to punish her and force her 
to obey him, but he must proceed gradually, ex- 
hort, admonish, threaten, abstain from intercourse 
with her for three days, beat her so as to let her 
feel the pain, but be careful not to wound her in 
the face, make her blood flow abundantly or break 
a bone! The teaching of Al-Ghazali on divorce 
and slavery is so thoroughly Moslem that much of 
it is untranslatable. Suffice it to say that he agrees 
with other doctors of Moslem law in excusing 
onanism and other sins under certain circum- 
stances, and even indicates that it may become a 
duty if practiced in order to escape from greater 
sins. 1 

In spite of his Islamic conception of the sexual 

1 " Ihya," Vol. II, pp. 32-33, " Mizan al 'Amal," pp. 126-128, 
etc. 



210 A MOSLEM SEEEEB AFTEE GOD 

relation, Al-Ghazali certainly inspires our respect 
by. what he says on the kindly treatment of the wife 
and the evil of divorce. Only one would like to 
know whether he himself had more than one wife 
and whether she was a worthy helpmeet to her 
husband and he to her. His biographers are 
silent. 

"A man should remain on good terms with his 
wife. This does not mean that he should never 
cause her pain, but that he should bear any annoy- 
ance she causes him, whether by her unreasonable- 
ness or ingratitude, patiently. Woman is created 
weak, and requiring concealment ; she should there- 
fore be borne with patiently, and kept secluded. 
The Prophet said, ' He who bears the ill-humour 
of his wife patiently will earn as much merit as 
Job did by the patient endurance of his trials/ On 
his deathbed also he was heard to say, ' Continue 
in prayer and treat your wives well, for they are 
your prisoners/ 

" Wise men have said, ' Consult women, and act 
the contrary to what they advise/ In truth there 
is something perverse in women, and if they are 
allowed even a little license, they get out of control 
altogether, and it is difficult to reduce them to order 
again. In dealing with them one should endeavour 
to use a mixture of severity and tenderness, with a 
greater proportion of the latter. The Prophet said, 
' Woman was formed of a crooked rib; if you try 
to bend her, you will break her; if you leave her 



HIS ETHICS 211 

alone, she will grow more and more crooked ; there- 
fore treat her tenderly.' * 

"The greatest care should be taken to avoid 
divorce, for, though divorce is permitted, yet God 
disapproves of it, because the very utterance of the 
word ' divorce ' causes a woman pain, and how can 
it be right to pain any one ? When divorce is abso- 
lutely necessary, the formula for it should not be 
repeated thrice all at once, but on three different 
occasions. A woman should be divorced kindly, 
not through anger and contempt, and not without a 
reason. After divorce a man should give his for- 
mer wife a present, and not tell others that she has 
been divorced for such and such a fault. Of a 
certain man who was instituting divorce proceed- 
ings against his wife it is related that people asked 
him, ' Why are you divorcing her ? ' He answered, 
* I do not reveal my wife's secrets.' When he had 
actually divorced her, he was asked again, and said, 
' She is a stranger to me now ; I have nothing to do 
with her private affairs.' ' 

All the relations of life, its pleasures and duties 
pass under review in books on A dab. Every de- 
tail of outward conduct is regulated by what is 
said to have been the practice of the Prophet. How 
to eat a pomegranate correctly, how to take a bath, 
how to use the Miswak, or tooth-brush, how to 
behave towards Jews and Christians, and what 
ornaments are allowed all this comes under the 

1 " Alchemy of Happiness," pp. 94-96. 



212 A MOSLEM SEEKER APTEE GOD 

head of Moslem Ethics. We give the reader one 
striking example. 

In his work, " The Alchemy of Happiness," 
there is a chapter concerning " Music and Dancing 
as Aids to the Religious Life." The question of 
musical instruments was discussed as earnestly in 
the days of Al-Ghazali as it has been more recently 
among Christians who dread the desecration of 
God's house by the " cist of whistles." There was 
much dispute among theologians as to the lawful- 
ness of music and dancing as religious exercises. 
The Sufis had already introduced the practice. 
The following paragraphs show Al-Ghazali's com- 
mon sense, keen humour, and at the same time his 
rather doubtful conclusion; for he even justifies 
erotic poetry if sung for the glory of God: 

" The heart of man has been so constituted by 
the Almighty that, like a flint, it contains a hidden 
fire which is evoked by music and harmony, and 
renders man beside himself with ecstasy. These 
harmonies are echoes of that higher world of 
beauty which we call the world of spirits; they 
remind man of his relationship to that world, and 
produce in him an emotion so deep and strange that 
he himself is powerless to explain it. The effect 
of music and dancing is deeper in proportion as the 
nature on which they act are simple and prone to 
emotion ; they fan into a flame whatever love is al- 
ready dormant in the heart, whether it be earthly 
and sensual, or divine and spiritual. . . . 



HIS ETHICS 213 

" Passing over the cases where music and danc- 
ing rouse into a flame evil desires already dormant 
in the heart, we come to those cases where they are 
quite lawful. Such are those of the pilgrims who 
celebrate the glories of the House of God at Mecca 
in song, and thus incite others to go on pilgrimage, 
and of minstrels whose music and songs stir up 
martial ardour in the breasts of their auditors and 
incite them to fight against the infidels. Similarly, 
mournful music which excites sorrow for sin and 
failure in the religious life is lawful; of this nature 
was the music of David. But dirges which in- 
crease sorrow for the dead are not lawful, for it 
is written in the Koran, ' Despair not over what 
you have lost/ On the other hand, joyful music 
at weddings and feasts and on such occasions as a 
circumcision or the return from a journey is law- 
ful. . . . 

" The states of ecstasy into which the Sufis fall 
vary according to the emotions which predominate 
in them love, fear, desire, repentance, etc. These 
states, as we have mentioned above, are often the 
result not only of hearing verses of the Koran, but 
erotic poetry. Some have objected to the reciting 
of poetry, as well as of the Koran, on these occa- 
sions; but it should be remembered that all the 
verses of the Koran are not adapted to stir the 
emotions such, for instance, as that which com- 
mands that a man should leave his mother the sixth 
part of his property and his sister the half, or that 



214 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

which orders that a widow must wait four months 
after the death of her husband before becoming 
espoused to another man. The natures which can 
be thrown into religious ecstasy by the recital of 
such verses are peculiarly sensitive and very rare." 
They certainly are ! 

The inconsistencies and contradictions in Al- 
Ghazali's theory of conduct surprise us when we 
peruse his works. Sometimes he leads us to high 
mountain ranges whose summits are gilded with 
the light of heaven, the great truths of Theism, the 
ideals of eternity; and again he plunges us into the 
sloughs of sensuous and worldly discussion 
themes unworthy of his pen. 

Let us get back to the mountain tops where the 
air is healthier. Al-Ghazali, whatever may have 
been his failure in other respects, had high ideals 
for the attainment of morals from the Moslem 
standpoint. In his " The Alchemy of Happiness " 
he says, " When in the crucible of abstinence the 
soul is purged from carnal passions it attains to the 
highest, and in place of being a slave to lust and 
anger becomes endued with angelic qualities. At- 
taining that state, man finds his heaven in the con- 
templation of Eternal Beauty, and no longer in 
fleshly delights. The spiritual alchemy which 
operates this change in him, like that which trans- 
mutes base metals into gold, is not easily dis- 
covered, nor to be found in the house of every old 
woman." 



HIS ETHICS 215 

And in the attainment of this ideal he is sure 
that there must be a fight for character. The 
goal is not to be reached by easy stages. The war- 
fare against passion is real and costs sacrifice. He 
gives us a picture of this Holy War almost in the 
language of John Bunyan. " For the carrying on 
of this spiritual warfare by which the knowledge 
of oneself and of God is to be obtained, the body 
may be figured as a kingdom, the soul as its king 
and the different senses and faculties as constitut- 
ing an army. Reason may be called the vizier, or 
prime minister, passion the revenue-collector, and 
anger the police-officer. Under the guise of col- 
lecting revenue, passion is continually prone to 
plunder on its own account, while resentment is 
always inclined to harshness and extreme severity. 
Both of these, the revenue-collector and the police- 
officer, have to be kept in due subordination to the 
king, but not killed or expelled, as they have their 
own proper functions to fulfil. But if passion and 
resentment master reason, the ruin of the soul in- 
fallibly ensues. A soul which allows its lower 
faculties to dominate the higher is as one who 
should hand over an angel to the power of a dog 
or a Mussalman to the tyranny of an unbeliever." 

The struggle is, therefore, between the flesh and 
the spirit. Like St. Paul, Al-Ghazali must have 
experienced that which he describes: "The good 
that I would I do not, and the evil that I would 
not, that I do." He is conscious of the inner; 



216 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

struggle between the higher and the lower natures 
in man. Again and again he contrasts the body 
and the soul as to their eternal value in their 
struggle for supremacy. Both are of God, His 
gift to us; both show His wisdom and His power; 
but there is no comparison when we try to estimate 
their real values. 

"The body, so to speak, is simply the riding 
animal of the soul, and perishes while the soul en- 
dures. The soul should take care of the body, just 
as a pilgrim on his way to Mecca takes care of his 
camel; but if the pilgrim spends his whole time in 
feeding and adorning his camel, the caravan will 
leave him behind, and he will perish in the desert." 

The four leading virtues the mothers of all 
other good qualities Al-Ghazali says are " Wis- 
dom, temperance, bravery, and moderation (or the 
golden mean of conduct) ." This classification he 
has borrowed from Plato with so much else on the 
theory of conduct. He explains all these virtues 
in terms of the Koran and illustrates them from 
the lives of Mohammed and the early saints of 
Islam as well as the later mystics. 

He is at his best when he speaks of vices and 
their opposite virtues. No one can read his chap- 
ter against pride and boasting without seeing that 
he gives us again a page from his own experience. 
He begins by quoting the saying of the Prophet, 
" No one shall enter paradise in whose heart there 

1 " Alchemy of Happiness." 8 " Mizan al 'Amal." 



HIS ETHICS 217 

is the weight of a grain of mustard seed of pride/' 
And another saying, " Said God Most High, 
' Pride is my mantle and majesty is my cloak, and 
whosoever takes away one of them from me I will 
cast him into hell, and I care not/ " Another say- 
ing attributed to Mohammed is evidently taken 
from the Gospel, " Whoso humbleth himself be- 
fore God, God will exalt him, and whosoever is 
proud God will bring him low/' His definition of 
humility is beautiful: " True humility is to be sub- 
ject to the truth and to be corrected by it even 
though thou shouldst hear it from a mere boy on 
the street." In this connection he quotes also a 
saying of Jesus: "Said the Messiah (upon Him 
be peace), ' Blessed is he to whom God has taught 
His book. He shall never die in his pride/ " 

Pride is shown in different ways. Al-Ghazali 
enumerates pride of knowledge, of worship, of 
race and blood, of beauty and dress, of wealth, of 
bodily strength, of leadership. He quotes Mo- 
hammed as an example of humility, and also Abi 
Saeed el Khudri, who said, " Oh, my son, eat unto 
God and drink unto God and dress unto God. But 
whatsoever thou doest of all of these and there 
enters into them pride or hypocrisy it is disobedi- 
ence. Whatever you do in your house do it your- 
self as did the Apostle of God, for he used to milk 
the goats and patch his sandals and sew his cloak 
and eat with the servants and buy in the bazaar, 
nor did his pride forbid him carrying his own pack- 



218 A MOSLEM 8EEKEE AFTEE GOD 

ages home ; and he was friendly to the rich and to 
the poor and he gave greetings himself first to every 
one whom he met, etc/' 

It is noteworthy that when he rises to the highest 
ethical teaching he bases his remarks on the sayings 
(mostly apocryphal) of Christ, which we collate 
in our final chapter. Al-Ghazali tried hard but 
failed to find in Mohammed the ideals of his own 
heart. This is the tragedy of Islam. 



VIII 

Al-Ghazali as a Mystic 



" Mysticism is religion, and supplies a refuge for 
men of religious minds who find it no longer possible 
for them to rest on ' external authority ' as George 
Tyrrell both expounded and illustrated for us. Once 
turn away from revelation and little choice remains 
to you but the choice between Mysticism and Ration- 
alism. There is not so much choice between these 
things, it is true, as enthusiasts on either side are apt 
to imagine. The difference between them is very 
much a matter of temperament, or perhaps we may 
even say of temperature. The Mystic blows hot, the 
Rationalist cold. Warm up a Rationalist and you 
inevitably get a Mystic ; chill down a Mystic and you 
find yourself with a Rationalist on your hands. The 
history of thought illustrates repeatedly the easy pas- 
sage from one to the other. Each centers himself in 
himself, and the human self is not so big that it makes 
any large difference where within yourself you take 
your center. Nevertheless just because Mysticism 
blows hot, its 'eccentricity' is the more attractive 
to men of lively religious feeling." 

Benjamin B. War field, in the "Princeton 
Theological Review." 



VIII 
AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 

ONE of the earliest mystics in Islam was 
Rabia', who was buried in Jerusalem. 
She was a native of Busrah and died at 
Jerusalem as early as the second century of Islam. 
Her tomb, according to Ibn Khallikan, was an ob- 
ject of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, and was 
probably visited by Al-Ghazali. The following 
verses are quoted from her in the Ihya (vol. iv. 
p. 298) : 

" Two ways I love Thee : selfishly, 
And next, as worthy is of Thee. 
'Tis selfish love that I do naught 
Save think on Thee with every thought : 
'Tis purest love when Thou dost raise 
The veil to my adoring gaze. 
Not mine the praise in that or this, 
Thine is the praise in both, I wis." 

The Moslem mystics, or Sufis, however, received 
their name through Abu Khair, who lived at the 
end of the second century of the Hegira. His 
disciples wore a woolen garment, and from the 

221 



222 A MOSLEM SEEKEE APTEE GOD 

word suf, which means wool, they obtained their 
name. In the next century, al-Junaid (A. H. 297), 
one of Al-Ghazali's favourite authorities, was the 
great leader of the movement, which spread 
throughout Islam. It was a reaction from the 
barren monotheism and the rigid ritualism of 
Islam. This kind of orthodoxy did not meet the 
needs of the more imaginative mind of the Eastern 
races who accepted Islam. The preachers of the 
new doctrine travelled everywhere and mixed with 
men of all conditions. In this way they adopted 
ideas from many sources, although always pro- 
fessing to base their teaching on the Koran and 
Tradition. 

According to Nicholson, the Mystics of Islam bor- 
rowed not only from Christianity and Neoplato- 
nism, but from Gnosticism and Buddhism. Many 
Gospel texts and sayings of Jesus, most of them 
apocryphal, are cited in the oldest Sufi writings. 
From Christianity they took the use of the woollen 
dress, the vows of silence, the litanies (Zikr), and 
other ascetic practices. Their teaching also has 
many interesting parallels which Nicholson sum- 
marizes as follows: "The same expressions are 
applied to the founder of Islam which are used by 
St. John, St. Paul, and later mystical theologians 
concerning Christ. Thus, Mohammed is called the 
Light of God, he is said to have existed before the 
creation of the world, he is adored as the source of 
all life, actual and possible, he is the Perfect Man 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 223 

in whom all the divine attributes are manifested, 
and a Sufi tradition ascribes to him the saying, 
' He that hath seen me hath seen Allah/ In the 
Moslem scheme, however, the Logos doctrine oc- 
cupies a subordinate place, as it obviously must 
when the whole duty of man is believed to consist 
in realizing the unity of God." 

Neoplatonism gave them the doctrine of emana- 
tion and ecstasy. The following version of the 
doctrine of the seventy thousand veils, as ex- 
pounded to Canon Gairdner by a modern dervish, 
shows clear traces of Gnosticism. " Seventy 
Thousand Veils separate Allah, the One reality, 
from the world of matter and of sense. And every 
soul passes before his birth through these seventy 
thousand. The inner half of these are veils of 
light: the outer half, veils of darkness. For every 
one of the veils of light passed through, in this 
journey towards birth, the soul puts off a divine 
quality; and for every one of the dark veils, it 
puts on an earthly quality. ^Thus the child is 
born weeping, for the soul knows its separation 
from Allah, the one Reality. And when the child 
cries in its sleep, it is because the soul remembers 
something of what it has lost. Otherwise, the 
passage through the veils has brought with it for- 
getfulness (nisyan): and for this reason man is 
called insan? He is now, as it were, in prison in 
his body, separated by these thick curtains from 
'"The Mystics of Islam." 



224 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

Allah. But the whole purpose of Sufism, the 
Way of the dervish, is to give him an escape from 
this prison, an apocalypse of the Seventy Thou- 
sand Veils, a recovery of the original unity with 
The One, while still in this body." * 

In regard to Buddhist influence, Professor 
Goldziher has called attention to the fact that in 
the eleventh century the teaching of Buddha ex- 
erted considerable influence in eastern Persia, 
especially at Balkh, a city famous for the number 
of Sufis who dwelt in it. From the Buddhists 
came the use of the rosary (afterwards adopted by 
Christians in Europe), and perhaps also the doc- 
trine of fana or absorption into God. 

" While fana/' says Nicholson, " in its panthe- 
istic form is radically different from Nirvana, the 
terms coincide so closely in other ways that we 
cannot regard them as being altogether uncon- 
nected. Fana has an ethical aspect: it involves the 
extinction of all passions and desires. The pass- 
ing away of evil qualities and of the evil actions 
which they produce is said to be brought about by 
the continuance of the corresponding good quali- 
ties and actions/' 2 The cultivation of character 
by the contemplation of God in a mystical sense 
was the real goal. To know God was to be like 
Him and to be like Him ended in absorption or 

"'The Way of a Mystic," The Moslem World. Vol. II, 
p. 171. 

"Mystics of Islam," p. i& 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 225 

ecstasy. 1 One of their favourite sayings was that 
attributed to God by the Prophet, " I was a hidden 
treasure and I desired to be known, so I created the 
creation in order that I might be known/' Just 
as the universe is the mirror of God's being, so the 
heart of man is to the Sufi the mirror of the uni- 
verse. If he would know God or Truth he must 
look into his own heart. 

To quote Al-Ghazali himself: "The aim which 
the Sufis set before them is as follows: To free the 
soul from the tyrannical yoke of the passions, to 
deliver it from its wrong inclinations and evil in- 
stincts, in order that in the purified heart there 
should only remain room for God and for the in- 
vocation of His holy name. 

"As it was more easy to learn their doctrine than 
to practise it, I studied first of all those of their 
books which contain it: The Nourishment of 
Hearts, by Abu Talib of Mecca, the works of 
Hareth el Muhasibi, and the fragments which still 
remain, of Junaid, Shibli, Abu Yezid, Bustami and 
other leaders (whose souls may God sanctify). I 
acquired a thorough knowledge of their researches, 
and I learned all that was possible to learn of their 
methods by study and oral teaching. It became 
clear that the last stage could not be reached by 

*Yet strange to say there was often an utter divorce be- 
tween these high ideals and practical morality. A surprising 
statement is made by Al-Ghazali regarding Junaid in this 
connection. " Ihya," Vol. II, p. 19. 



226 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

mere instruction, but only by transport, ecstasy, 
and the transformation of the moral being " (p. 41, 
"Confessions"). 

"Among the teachings of the Sufis was that of 
the preexistence of Mohammed the Prophet in the 
Essence of Light. According to the Traditions, 
' I was a prophet while Adam was yet between 
earth and clay/ and 'There is no prophet after 
me/ Sufis hold that Mohammed was a prophet even 
before the creation and that he still, holds office. 
This identification of Mohammed with the Primal 
Element explains the names sometimes given him, 
such as Universal Reason, the Great Spirit, the 
Truth of Humanity, the Possessor of the Ray of 
Light the Nur-i-Muhammadi from God's own 
splendour." * 

Absorption in God, therefore, or union with 
Him is the goal of all the Sufi teachings and prac- 
tices. The entire negation of self clears the way 
for the apprehension of the Truth. This journey 
towards God has its stages which are generally 
given as eight in number: service, love, abstraction, 
knowledge, ecstasy, truth, union, extinction. Some 
of the Sufis went so far as to set aside external 
religion, and showed an utter indifference to the 
ritual as well as to the moral law. Al-Ghazali was 
not of their number. He teaches, however, that 
the ordinary theologian cannot enter on the mystic 
path, for he is still in bondage to dogma and wan- 
1 " Essays on Islam," by Rev. E. Sell, Madras, 1901, p. 13. 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 227 

ders about in darkness. Prayer, fasting, pilgrim- 
age in all their requirements and the details of their 
observations have, therefore, a twofold signifi- 
cance ; the outward and formal one which is under- 
stood by the common people, and the spiritual, real, 
esoteric significance which is only grasped by those 
who give themselves entirely to God. 

Al-Ghazali was thoroughly aware of the dangers 
of Sufism both in its creed by way of becoming 
pantheistic, and in its antinomian practices. He 
saw that divorce between religion and morals would 
be disastrous and must therefore have been shocked 
by such verses as those of Omar Khayyam: 

" Khayyam ! why weep you that your life is bad ; 
What boots it thus to mourn ? Rather be glad. 
He that sins not can make no claim to mercy ; 
Mercy was made for sinners be not sad." 

His teaching regarding sin and repentance was, as 
we shall see later, altogether more fundamental. . 

From the earliest times pantheistic Sufism found 
a home in Khorasan among the Moslems. The old 
idea of incarnation emerged when the Shiah sect 
separated itself and paid such high veneration to 
Ali. The sect of the Khattahiyah worshipped the 
Imam Jafar Sadik as God. Others believed that 
the divine spirit had descended upon Abdallah Ibn 
Amr. In Khorasan the opinion was widely spread 
that Abu Muslim, the great general who overturned 
the dynasty of the Ommeyads and set up that of 
the Abbassides, was an incarnation of the spirit of 



228 A MOSLEM SEEKEE APTEE GOD 

God. In the same province under Al Mansur, the 
second Abbasside Caliph, a religious leader named 
Ostasys professed to be an emanation of the God- 
head. He collected thousands of followers, and 
the movement was not suppressed without much 
fighting. Under the Caliph Mahdi a self-styled 
Avatar named Ata arose, who on account of a 
golden mask which he continually wore was called 
Mokanna, or " the veiled prophet." He also had 
a numerous following, and held the Caliph's armies 
in check for several years, till in A. D. 779, being 
closely invested in his castle, he, with his whole 
harem and servants, put an end to themselves. 

What Al-Ghazali himself thought of these specu- 
lations of the Sufis and the danger of this kind of 
mysticism we learn from his book: " The specula- 
tions of the Sufis may be divided into two classes: 
to the first category belong all the phases about 
love to God and union with Him, which according 
to them compensate for all outward works. Many 
of them allege that they have attained to com- 
plete oneness with God; that for them the veil has 
been lifted ; that they have not only seen the Most 
High with their eyes, but have spoken with Him, 
and so far as to say ' The Most High spoke thus 
and thus/ They wish to imitate Hallaj, who was 
crucified for using such expressions, and justify 
themselves by quoting his saying, ' I am the Truth/ 
They also refer to Abu Yazid Bistami, who is re- 
ported to have exclaimed, ' Praise be to me ! ' in- 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 229 

stead of ' Praise be to God ! ' This kind of specu- 
lation is extremely dangerous for the common 
people, and it is notorious that a number of crafts- 
men have left their occupation to make similar 
assertions. Such speeches are highly popular, as 
they hold out to men the prospect of laying aside 
active work with the idea of purging the soul 
through mystical ecstasies and transports. The 
common people are not slow to claim similar rights 
for themselves and to catch up wild and whirling 
expressions. As regards the second class of Sufi 
speculation, it consists in the use of unintelligible 
phrases which by their outward apparent meaning 
and boldness attract attention, but which on closer 
inspection prove to be devoid of any real sense." 

Not only did Al-Ghazali realize the danger on 
the side of pantheism, but he was aware that such 
religious enthusiasm often led to gross hypocrisy. 
In his Ihya he mentions " that the prophet com- 
manded that whoever did not feel moved to tears 
at the recitation of the Koran should pretend to 
weep and to be deeply moved " ; for, adds Al- 
Ghazali sagely, " in these matters one begins by 
forcing oneself to do what afterwards comes 
spontaneously/' Moreover, the fact that religious 
excitement was looked upon as the mark of a 
fervent mind and devout intensity, vastly increased 
the number of those who claimed mystic illumina- 
tion. He divides the ecstatic conditions which the 
hearing of poetical recitations produces into four 



230 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

classes. The first, which is the lowest, is that of 
the simple sensuous delight in melody. The sec- 
ond class is that of pleasure in the melody and of 
understanding the words in their apparent sense. 
The third class consists of those who apply the 
meaning of the words to the relations between man 
and God. To this class belongs the would-be initi- 
ate into Sufism. He goes on to say, " He has 
necessarily a goal marked out for him to aim at, 
and this goal is the knowledge of God, meeting 
Him and union with Him by the way of secret 
contemplation, and the removal of the veil which 
conceals Him. In order to compass this aim the 
Sufi has a special path to follow; he must perform 
various ascetic practices and overcome certain spiri- 
tual obstacles in doing so. Now when, during the 
recitation of poetry, the Sufi hears mention made 
of blame or praise, of acceptance or refusal, of 
union with the Beloved or separation from Him, 
of lament over a departed joy or longing for a 
look, as often occurs in Arabic poetry, one or the 
other of these accords with his spiritual state and 
acts upon him like a spark on tinder, to set his 
heart aflame. Longing and love overpower him 
and unfold to him manifold vistas of spiritual ex- 
perience." 

"The fourth and highest class is that of the 
fully initiated who have passed through the stages 
above mentioned, and whose minds are closed to 
everything except God. Such an one is wholly 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 231 

denuded of self, so that he no longer knows his 
own experiences and practices, and, as though with 
senses sealed, sinks into the ocean of the contempla- 
tion of God. This condition the Sufis characterize 
as self-annihilation (Fana)" ("The Confes- 
sions.") 

Elsewhere he compares this highest condition of 
ecstasy of the human soul to a clear mirror of 
course he means the mirror of the ancients made 
of polished brass or bronze which reflects the 
colours of anything towards which it is directed. 
Again and again he comes back to this metaphor 
in his books. Sin is like rust on the mirror of the 
soul. Light is reflected in it, but the rays are no 
longer clear, until by repentance the rust of guilt 
and passion are removed. 

Al-Ghazali's mysticism was always accompanied 
by orthodox insistence on the six articles of faith 
and the five pillars of practice, through which alone 
the soul can receive its fundamental impulse to- 
wards God. 

Yet Al-Ghazali's mysticism leads him to empha- 
size always the spiritual side of worship. The 
mere form is nothing in itself. The author of the 
Masnavi had mastered Al-Ghazali and absorbed his 
spirit when he wrote: 

" Fools laud and magnify the mosque, 
While they strive to oppress holy men of heart. 
But the former is mere form, the latter spirit and 
truth. 



232 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

The only true mosque is that in the hearts of saints. 
The mosque that is built in the heart of the saints 
Is the place of worship of all, for 1 God dwells there." 

What he says on the imitation of God is based al- 
most literally on Al-Ghazali's book describing 
God's attributes. 

" God calls Himself ' Seeing/ to the end that 
His eye may every moment scare you from sinning. 
God calls Himself ' Hearing/ to the end that 
You may close your lips against foul discourse. 
God calls Himself ' Knowing/ to the end that 
You may be afraid to plot evil. 
These names are not mere accidental names of God, 
As a negro may be called Kafur (white) ; 
They are names derived from God's essential 

attributes, 
Not mere vain titles of the First Cause." 

Abu Sa'id bin Abu-1-Khair, also of Khorasan 
(A. H. 396-440), was one of Al-Ghazali's teachers 
in the school of mysticism. When he was asked 
what a Sufi was he said: " Whatever is in thy head, 
forget it; whatever is in thy hand, give it away; 
and whatever happens to thee, disregard it." 

In regard to the rise of Sufic teaching, its origin 
and character, Dr. C. Snouck Hurgronje re- 
marks: "The lamp which Allah had caused Mo- 
hammed to hold up to guide mankind with its light, 
was raised higher and higher after the Prophet's 



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Facsimile title page of the last book Ghazali wrote, entitled 

"Minhaj-Al-Abidin." On the margin this Cairo edition gives 

another of his celebrated works, "Badayat-al-Hadaya." 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 233 

I 

death, in order to shed its light over an ever in- 
creasing part of humanity. This was not possible, 
however, without its reservoir being replenished 
with all the different kinds of oil that had from 
time immemorial given light to those different 
nations. The oil of mysticism came from Chris- 
tian circles, and its Neoplatonic origin was quite 
unmistakable ; Persia and India also contributed to 
it. There were those who, by asceticism, J}y dif- 
ferent methods of mortifying the flesh, liberated 
the spirit that it might rise and become united with 
the origin of all being; to such an extent that with 
some the profession of faith was reduced to the 
blasphemous exclamation: 'I am Allah/' 

But he goes on to say that although many went 
to such extremes and in their pantheistic ideas lost 
sight of the moral law and the restriction of con- 
duct it was Al-Ghazali who rescued Islam to a 
large degree from this danger. He recommended 
moral perfection of the soul by asceticism as the 
only way through which men could approach nearer 
to God. " His mysticism wished to avoid the 
danger of pantheism, to which so many others were 
led by their contemplations, and which so often 
engendered disregard of the revealed law, or even 
of morality." 

It is therefore from the days of Al-Ghazali that 
ethical mysticism obtained its birthright in the 
world of Islam together with law and dogma. 
These now form the sacred trio of religious 



234 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

sciences, and are taught in every great centre of 
Moslem learning. For dogma other writers are 
more authoritative. For Moslem law there is the 
study of the great writers of the four Schools, but 
in matters of ethics Al-Ghazali still holds his own. 

To quote once more from Hurgronje: "The 
ethical mysticism of Al-Ghazali is generally recog- 
nized as orthodox; and the possibility of attaining 
to a higher spiritual sphere by means of methodic 
asceticism and contemplation is doubted by few. 
The following opinion has come to prevail in wide 
circles: the Law offers the bread of life to all the 
faithful, the dogmatics are the arsenal from which 
the weapons must be taken to defend the treasures 
of religion against unbelief and heresy, but mysti- 
cism shows the earthly pilgrim the way to 
Heaven." a 

In one particular, however, this ethical teaching 
is utterly disappointing. Al-Ghazali's mysticism is 
not for the multitude. It is esoteric, for a par- 
ticular class who are filled with religious pride that 
they, in this respect, are not as other men. Even 
the noblest minds in Islam restrict true religious 
life to an aristocratic minority, and, like the Phari- 
sees of old, consider the ignorance of the multi- 
tude an evil that cannot be remedied. The teach- 
ing of Al-Ghazali was intended not for the masses 
but for the initiates. 

" Mohammedanism," C. Snouck Hurgronje, New York 
and London, 1916. 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 235 

It is remarkable that while he founded a cloister 
for Sufis at Tus and taught and governed there 
himself during the closing years of his life, he left 
no established order behind him. Professor Mac- 
donald thinks that in his time the movement to- 
wards continuous corporations and brotherhoods 
had not yet begun. But this is a mistake, for in 
the Kashf-al-Mahjub (A. H. 456) we already find 
a list of the various schools of Dervishes and their 
peculiar methods of devotion. Al-Ghazali's teach- 
ing, however, is popular among all the Dervish 
orders of to-day. 

A special study has been made of one of Al- 
Ghazali's esoteric works on mysticism entitled 
Mishkat al-Anwar, by Canon W. H. T. Gairdner, 
in which he answers the critics of this work, and 
shows conclusively that whatever may have been 
Al-Ghazali's method he was sincere. We borrow 
from this interesting and scholarly paper two 
paragraphs to illustrate the method of Al-Gha- 
zali: 

" In expounding the tradition of the Seventy 
Thousand Veils with which Allah had veiled Him- 
self from the vision of man, Ghazali finds oppor- 
tunity to graduate various religions and sects ac- 
cording as they are more, or less, thickly veiled 
from the light ; i. e., according as they more or less 
nearly approximate to Absolute Truth (al-Haqq 
the Real Allah). The veils which veil the vari- 
ous religions and sects from the Divine Light are 



236 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

conceived of as twofold in character, light veils and 
dark veils, and the principle of graduation is ac- 
cording as the followers of these religions and 
sects are veiled (a) by dark veils, (b) by dark and 
light mixed, or (c) by light veils only. The recital 
closes with a short passage which tells us that 
the Attainers (al-wasilun) have had the Sufi doc- 
trine of kashf in its most explicit and striking 
form. 

" (a) Those veiled by pure darkness, called here 
the mulhida, are those who deny the existence of 
Allah and of a Last Day. They have two main 
divisions, those who have inquired for a cause to 
account for the world and have made Nature that 
cause ; and those who have made no such inquiry. 
The former are clearly the Naturists or dahriya 
who were the very abomination of desolation to 
Ghazali. It is curious that nothing further is said 
of their evil conduct, and it is entirely characteristic 
of mediaeval thought that the deepest damnation is 
thus reserved for false opinion, rather than for 
evil life. Evil doers form the second division 
(which, however, is not definitely said to be 
higher than the first), composed of those who are 
too greedy and selfish so much as to look for a 
cause, or in fact to think of anything except their 
vile selves. These we might style the Egotists; 
they are ranged in ascending order into (1) seekers 
of sensual pleasure, (2) seekers of dominion, 
(3) money-grubbers, (4) lovers of vain-glory. 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 237 

In the first he has the ordinary sensual herd in 
view, as well as the philosophers of sensualism; 
their veils are the veils of the bestial attributes, 
while those of the second are the ferocious ones 
(saba'iya). The denotation of the latter class is 
quaintly given as Arabs, some Kurds and very 
numerous Fools. The third and fourth subdivi- 
sions do not call for comment. 

" Mounting from these regions of unmitigated 
darkness we come to (&), those veiled by light 
and darkness mixed. Ghazali's idea of the dark 
veils in general may be gathered from a com- 
parison of this and the previous section. In this 
section the dark veils are shown to be the false 
conceptions of deity, which the human mind is 
deluded into making by the gross and limited ele- 
ments in its own constitution, namely (in ascend- 
ing order) by the Senses, the Phantasy or Imagina- 
tion and the Discursive Reason. The dark veils 
of the previous section were the unmitigated ego- 
tism and materialism which employed these facul- 
ties for self and the world alone, without a thought 
of deity. The light veils, accordingly, are the true 
but partial intuitions whereby man rises to the idea 
of deity, or to a something at least higher than 
himself. These intuitions are no more than partial, 
because they fix upon some one aspect or attribute 
of deity, majesty, beauty, and so forth, and be- 
lieving it to be all in all proceed to deify all ma- 
jestic, beautiful, etc., things. Thus they half re- 



238 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

veal, half conceal, Allah, and so are literally veils 
of light." 1 

Does not this remind us of St. Paul's words: 
" Now we see through (in) a glass darkly but then 
face to face, etc." ? Did Al-Ghazali borrow from 
the Gospel here also ? 

It has been pointed out by Margoliouth and 
others that Mohammedan Sufism is largely based 
on Christian teaching. This is especially true in 
the case of Abu Talib, Al-Ghazali's favourite 
writer on this subject. " Sometimes the matter 
is taken over bodily ; thus the Parable of the Sower 
is told by the earliest Sufi writer. Abu Talib takes 
over the dialogue in the Gospel eschatology be- 
tween the Saviour and those who are taunted with 
having seen Him hungry and refused Him food; 
only for the questioner he substitutes Allah, and 
for ' the least of these ' his Moslem brother. Not 
a few of the Beatitudes are taken over sometimes 
with the name of their author. Commonplaces 
which are found in Christian homiletic works re- 
appear with little or no alteration in the Sufi ser- 
mons. In the Acts of Thomas, the Apostle, when 
employed by a king to build a palace, spends the 
money in charity to the poor. Presently the king's 
brother dies, and finds that a wonderful palace has 
been built for the king in Paradise with the Alms 

*"Der Islam," Band V, Heft 2/3 article, "Al-Ghazali's 
Mishkat Al-Anwar and the Ghazali Problem," by Canon 
W. H. T. Gairdner. 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 239 

which Thomas bestowed in his name. This story 
reappears in the doctrine of Abu Talib that when 
a poor man takes charity from the wealthy, he is 
thereby building him a house in Paradise." 

Not only in Qut-ul-Qulub, the famous book of 
Abu Talib, but in all Al-Ghazali's works we have 
numerous quotations and references to the Gospels 
apocryphal or genuine, as we shall see later. 

Al-Ghazali prescribed forms for morning and 
evening prayer which do not differ greatly from the 
prayers recommended in Christian manuals of de- 
votion. His teaching on prayer is an effort to 
spiritualize the ceremony, and in this he follows the 
teaching of the older Sufis. Absorption in God 
during prayer was their ideal. To avoid distrac- 
tion men were advised to pray towards a blank 
wall, lest any architectural ornament might dis- 
tract their attention. Others boasted that they 
could attain to absorption under any circumstances. 
" There were saints who when they started their 
salat told their women- folk that they might chatter 
as much as they liked and even beat drums ; they 
were too much absorbed in prayer to hear, how- 
ever loud the noise. When one of them was say- 
ing his salat in the Mosque of Basrah a column 
fell, bringing down with it an erection of four 
storeys; he continued praying, and when after he 
had finished the people congratulated him on his 
escape, he asked, what from? Great names were 

1 " Development of Mohammedanism," pp. 143-144. 



240 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

quoted for the practice of praying hastily, and 
so shortening the time taken by the devotion as 
to give Satan no chance of distracting the 
thoughts." 

Al-Ghazali, however, believed in reverence and 
emphasized outward and inward preparation for 
this act of devotion. " Prayer/' says he, " is a 
nearness to God and a gift which we present to the 
King of kings even as one who comes from a dis- 
tant village brings it before the ruler. And your 
gift is accepted of God and will be returned to 
you on the great day of judgment, so that you are 
responsible to present it as beautiful as possible." 
He quotes with approval a saying of Mohammed: 
" True prayer is to make one's self meek and 
humble," and adds that the presence of the heart 
is the soul of true prayer and that absent-minded- 
ness destroys all its value. 

" True prayer," he continues, " consists of six 
things: the presence of the heart, understanding, 
magnifying God, fear, hope, and a sense of shame." 
He then treats successively these elements of true 
prayer, showing in what they consist, how they are 
occasioned and how they may be secured. We 
secure the presence of our hearts by a deep sense of 
the eternal. What he says in regard to God's 
greatness may well be compared with such passages 
as the eighth Psalm, " What is man that Thou art 
mindful of him? " Our sense of shame is quick- 
ened, he says, by remembering our shortcomings in 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 241 

worship. The only way we can secure the presence 
of the heart in prayer is by drawing our thoughts 
away from outward diversions and from those 
within. We should not pray in the public streets, 
for there our mind is diverted. If we can pray 
towards a dead wall on which there is nothing to 
see it will be helpful. But the inward withdrawal 
of the heart is still more important. 

What he says about the true kibla is also worth 
quoting. " It is the turning away of your out- 
ward gaze from everything save the direction of 
the holy house of God. Do you not then think 
that the turning aside of your heart from all other 
things to the consideration of God Most High is 
required of you ? It certainly is. Nothing else is 
required of you in prayer than this, so that I would 
say the face of your heart must turn with the face 
of your body; and even as no one is able to face 
the house of God save by turning away from every 
other direction, so the heart does not truly turn 
towards God save by being separated from every- 
thing else than himself." 

"When you stand up to pray," he says, "re- 
member the day when you must stand before God's 
throne and be judged. Be clear of hypocrisy in 
prayer. Do not follow those who profess to wor- 
ship the face of God and at the same time seek the 
praise of men. . . . Flee from the devil, for 
he is as a devouring lion. How can any one who 
is pursued by a lion or an enemy who would devour 



242 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

him or kill him say, ' I take refuge with God from 
them in this castle or in this fort/ and still linger 
without entering the fort? Surely this will not 
profit him. The only way to secure protection is 
to change his place. In like manner whoever fol- 
lows his lusts, which are the lurking place of Satan 
and the abomination of the Merciful, the mere say- 
ing, ' I take refuge in God ' will not profit. Who- 
soever takes his passions for a God he is under the 
reign of the devil and not in the safe keeping of 
his Lord." 

He gives a long spiritual interpretation of the 
fatihah which is beautiful. "At the conclusion of 
your formal prayer," he says, " offer your humble 
petitions and thanksgivings and expect an answer 
and join in your petition your parents and the rest 
of true believers. And when you give the final 
salaams remember the two angels who sit on your 
shoulders." 

In the giving of alms he says seven things are 
required: promptness, secrecy, example (and in 
this connection he quotes a Tradition ascribed to 
the Prophet about the left hand not knowing what 
the right hand doeth) absence of boasting or 
pride, the gift must not be spoken of as great, our 
best is demanded, for God is supremely good and 
He will only take the best, and we must give our 
alms to the right persons. Of these he mentions 
six classes: the pious, the learned, the righteous, 
the deserving poor, those in need because of sick- 




A Mihrab or prayer-niche made of cedar wood and dat- 
ing from the Eleventh Century. (Cairo Museum.) 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 243 

ness or family distress, and relatives. With him, 
charity ends at home. 

It is clear, however, from Al-Ghazali's teaching 
that only Moslems are intended in his classification 
of those who may receive the Zakat. There is no 
universal brotherhood in Islam. Jews and Chris- 
tians are outside the pale, save as they have " the 
rights of neighbours." 

Christians might well regard Al-Ghazali's mys- 
tical method of reading the Koran in their perusal 
of the Scriptures. He tells us we must regard 
eight things: the greatness of the revelation; the 
majesty of the Speaker; the need of a prepared 
heart; meditation; understanding the content of 
the passage, not twisting its meaning; we are to 
make the application to ourselves; and finally we 
must read it so that its effect may show in our 
lives. By the word Koran, he says, " we mean not 
the reading but the following of the teaching, for 
the movement of the tongue in pronouncing the 
words is of little value. The true reading is when 
the tongue and the mind and the heart are associ- 
ated. The part of the tongue is to pronounce the 
words clearly in chanting. The part of the mind 
is to interpret the meaning. The part of the heart 
is to translate it into life. So that the tongue 
chants and the mind interprets and the heart is a 
preacher and a warner." 

The greatest chapter of his opus magnum is un- 
doubtedly that on Repentance. It may well be 



244 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

compared with the fifty-first Psalm or the seventh 
chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. That 
Al-Ghazali himself had a deep sense of sin, no one 
can doubt. He was not a Pharisee but an earnest 
seeker after God. He teaches clearly that all the 
prophets, including Mohammed, were sinners, al- 
though he nowhere mentions any sinfulness in 
Jesus Christ. 

One of the most important passages is that in 
which he speaks of the benefit of asking pardon. 
It reads as follows: " Said Mohammed the Prophet 
(upon him be peace) : ' Verily, I ask forgiveness 
of God and repent towards Him every day seventy 
times/ ' He said this, so says Al-Ghazali, al- 
though God had already testified, " We have for- 
given thee, thy former and thy latter sins." " Said 
the Prophet of God, ' Truly a faintness comes over 
my heart until I ask God forgiveness every day 
one hundred times.' And said the Prophet (on 
him be peace), * Whosoever says when he goes to 
sleep, " I ask forgiveness of the Great God, than 
whom there is no other, the living, and I repent of 
my sins three times," God will forgive him his 
sins even though they were as the foam of the seas 
or its sands piled up, or as the numbers of the 
leaves on the trees or the days of the world/ And 
said the Prophet of God (upon him be peace), 
' Whosoever says that word I will forgive his sins 
though he deserts the army/ " Al-Ghazali relates 
a story of one Hudhifa, who said, " I was accus- 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 245 

tomed to speak sharply to my wife, and I said, ' O, 
Apostle of God, I am afraid lest my tongue should 
cause me to enter the fire/ and then the Prophet of 
God (upon whom be peace) said, ' Where art thou 
in asking for forgiveness compared with me, for 
I ask forgiveness of God every day one hundred 
times/ And 'Ayesha said (may God give her His 
favour), concerning the Prophet, ' He said to me, 
" If you have committed a sin ask forgiveness of 
God and repent to Him, for true repentance for a sin 
is turning away from it and asking forgiveness/' 
And the Apostle of God (upon whom be peace) 
was accustomed to say when he asked for forgive- 
ness : ' O God, forgive my sin and my ignorance 
and my excess in what I have done, and what Thou 
knowest better than I do. O God, forgive me my 
trifling and my earnestness, my mistakes and my 
wrong intentions and all that I have done. O God, 
forgive me that which I have committed in the past 
and that which I will commit in the future, and 
what I have hidden and what I have revealed and 
what Thou knowest better than I do, Thou who art 
the first and the last and Thou art the Almighty/ " * 
How different all this is from the present day 
superficial teaching about the sinlessness of Mo- 
hammed which is current in popular Islam. 

Since Al-Ghazali tells this about Mohammed and 
his need for forgiveness, he naturally deals with 
repentance in no superficial fashion but as one who 

1 " Ihya" chapter on Repentance. 



246 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

has tasted the bitterness of remorse and has dis- 
covered his own inability to meet the demands o 
the Moral Law. His book on repentance has the 
following sections: (1) The reality of repentance. 
(2) The necessity for repentance. (3) True re- 
pentance expected by God. (4) Of what a man 
should repent, namely, the character of sin. 
(5) How small sins become great. (6) Perfect re- 
pentance, its conditions and its duration. (7) The 
degree of repentance. (8) How to become truly 
penitent. 

One can only give a summary of his teaching. 
He rises far above the Koran. In fact in some 
cases his proof texts, when we consider the context, 
are a terrible indictment of the Prophet. 1 

He says the necessity of repentance always and 
for all men is evident because no one of the human 
race is free from sin. " For even though in some 
cases he is free from outward sin of his bodily 
members, he is not free from sin of the heart; 
though free from passion he is not free from the 
whisperings of Satan and forgetfulness of God, or 
of coming short of the knowledge of God and His 

1 One of the texts he uses is (Surah 2, verse 222), " Verily, 
God loves those who repent and loves those who are puri- 
fied." The context is in relation to the infamous statement 
"Your wives are your tillage, etc.," which many Moslem 
commentators interpret as a license for immorality. No 
wonder that Al-Ghazali was led in this connection to begin to 
speak on the text "all have sinned" although he does not 
quote St. Paul's first chapter to the Romans. 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 247 

attributes and His works." All this is a failure of 
attainment and has its reasons ; but if a man should 
forsake the causes of this forgetfulness and employ 
himself with the opposite virtues it would be a re- 
turn to the right way; and the significance of re- 
pentance is the return. You cannot imagine that 
any one of us is free from this defect, for we only 
differ in degrees, but the root undoubtedly exists 
in us. Of course he ignores original sin, being a 
Moslem, but he makes a great deal of the effect that 
unrepented sin causes; but it enters deeper and 
deeper into the heart until the image of God on the 
mirror of the human soul is effaced. 

Another illustration he uses is that of the heart 
as a goodly garment which has been dragged 
through filth and needs to be washed again with 
soap and water. " Using the heart in the exercise 
of our passions makes it filthy. We must there- 
fore wash it in the water of tears and by the 
rubbing of repentance. It is for you to rub it 
clean and then God will accept it." How near and 
yet how far from the teaching of David and Isaiah 
and St. Paul! Did Al-Ghazali ever hear some 
pious Jew quote Isaiah's statement that " all our 
righteousnesses are as filthy rags " ?/ 

True repentance has a twofold result according 
to this Moslem theologian. Although he does not 
touch the deeper problem of how God can be just 
and justify the sinner, he teaches that the result 
of the forgiveness of our sins is that " we stand 



248 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

before God as though we had none/* and that " we 
attain a higher degree of righteousness." The 
cross of Christ is the missing link in Al-Ghazali's 
creed. He comes very close to Christianity and 
yet always misses the heart of its teaching. He is 
groping towards the light but does not grasp the 
hand of a friend or find a Redeemer. It is all a 
righteousness by works and an attainment of the 
knowledge of God by meditation without justifica- 
tion through an atonement. 

Yet Al-Ghazali's teaching on " the Practice of 
the Presence of God " is very much like that of 
Brother Lawrence in his celebrated Essay. In his 
" Beginner's Guide to Religion and Morals " (Al 
Badayet) he writes: "Know, therefore, that your 
companion who never deserts you at home or 
abroad, when you are asleep or when you are 
awake, whether you are dead or alive, is your Lord 
and Master, your Creator and Preserver, and when- 
soever you remember Him He is sitting beside you. 
For God Himself hath said, * I am the close com- 
panion of those who remember me/ And when- 
ever your heart is contrite with sorrow because of 
your neglect of religion He is your companion who 
keeps close to you, for God hath said, ' I am with 
those who are broken-hearted on my account/ 
And if you only knew Him as you ought to know 
Him you would take Him as a companion and 
forsake all men for His sake. But as you are 
unable to do this at all times, I warn you that you 



AL-GHAZATI AS A MYSTIC 249 

set aside a certain time by night and by day for 
communion with your Creator that you may de- 
light yourself in Him and that He may deliver you 
from evil." At times, especially when he speaks 
of the veils that hide reality and God, we are re- 
minded of the lines of Whitehead on " the Second 
Day of Creation " : 

" I gaze aloof at the tissued roof 

Where time and space are the warp and woof, 
Which the King of Kings, like a curtain flings, 
O'er the dreadfulness of eternal things. 

But if I could see, as in truth they be, 

The glories that encircle me, 

I should lightly hold this tissued fold 

With its marvellous curtain of blue and gold ; 

For soon the whole, like a parched scroll, 

Shall before my amazed eyes unroll, 
And without a screen at one burst be seen 
The Presence in which I have always been." 

But Al-Ghazali did not know God's nearness 
through the Incarnation of Christ. The hoped-for 
Vision of God was always full of fear and dread 
of judgment. The fear of God was the beginning 
and end of wisdom. What he understood by the 
fear of God is clear from the following passage 
taken from the " Revival of Religious Sciences ": 
" By the fear of God I do not mean a fear like 
that of women when their eyes swim and their 
1 " Al-Badajet," Cairo Edition, p. 41. 



250 A MOSLEM SEEKER APTEE GOD 

hearts beat at hearing some eloquent religious dis- 
course, which they quickly forget and turn again 
to frivolity. That is no real fear at all. He who 
fears a thing flees from it, and he who hopes for a 
thing strives for it, and the only fear that will save 
thee is that fear that forbids sinning against God 
and instils obedience to Him. Beware of the 
shallow fear of women and fools, who, when they 
hear of the terrors of the Lord, say lightly, ' We 
take refuge in God/ and at the same time continue 
in the very sins which will destroy them. Satan 
laughs at such pious ejaculations. They are like a 
man who should meet a lion in a desert, while there 
is a fortress at no great distance away, and when 
he sees the ravenous beast, should stand exclaim- 
ing, ' I take refuge in God/ God will not protect 
thee from the terrors of His judgment unless thou 
really take refuge in Him/' 

Included with his fear of God there was always 
a fear of death which can best be described as 
mediaeval or early Moslem. Towards the close of 
his life he composed a short work on eschatology 
called " The Precious Pearl." It is no less lurid 
in its terrible pictures of death and the judgment 
than some of his older works. In it he says: 
" When you watch a dead man and see that the 
saliva has run from his mouth, that his lips are 
contracted, his face black, the whites of his eyes 
showing, know that he is damned, and that the 
fact of his damnation in the other world has just 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 251 

been revealed to him. But if you see the dead with 
a smile on his lips, a serene countenance, his eyes 
half-closed, know that he has just received the 
good news of the happiness which awaits him in 
the other world. . . . 

"On the day of Judgment, when all men are gath- 
ered before the throne of God, their accounts are 
all cast up, and their good and evil deeds weighed. 
During all this time each man believes he is the 
only one with whom God is dealing. Though 
peradventure at the same moment God is taking 
account of countless multitudes whose number is 
known to Him only. Men do not see each other 
or hear each other speak." 

In summing up the character of the Mystic 
Claud Field says: "As St. Augustine found de- 
liverance from doubt and error in his inward ex- 
perience of God, and Descartes in self -conscious- 
ness, so Ghazali, unsatisfied with speculation and 
troubled by scepticism, surrenders himself to the 
will of God. Leaving others to demonstrate the 
existence of God from the external world, he finds 
God revealed in the depths of his own conscious- 
ness and the mystery of his own free will. . . . 
He is a unique and lonely figure in Islam, and has 
to this day been only partially understood. In the 
Middle Ages his fame was eclipsed by that of 
Averroes, whose commentary on Aristotle is al- 
luded to by Dante, and was studied by Thomas 
Aquinas and the schoolman. Averroes' system 



262 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

was rounded and complete, but Ghazali was one 
of those 'whose reach exceeds their grasp'; he 
was always striking after something he had not at- 
tained, and stands in many respects nearer to mod- 
ern mind than Averroes. Renan, though far from 
sympathizing with his religious earnestness, calls 
him * the most original mind among Arabian 
philosophers/ ' 

The disciple of Al-Ghazali is perhaps of all Mos- 
lems the nearest to the Gospel, and we may hope 
that when his works are carefully studied and com- 
pared with the teaching of Christianity many may 
find in him a schoolmaster to lead them to Christ. 
Educated Moslems of to-day may well heed the 
warning with which Al-Ghazali closes his " Con- 
fessions ": " The knowledge of which we speak is 
not derived from sources accessible to human dili- 
gence, and that is why progress in mere worldly 
knowledge renders the sinner more hardened in his 
revolt against God. True knowledge, on the con- 
trary, inspires in him who is initiated in it more 
fear and more reverence, and raises a barrier of 
defense between him and sin. He m^y slip and 
stumble, it is true, as is inevitable with one encom- 
passed by human infirmity, but these slips and 
stumbles will not weaken his faith. The true Mos- 
lem succumbs occasionally to temptation but he 
repents and will not persevere obstinately in the 
path of error. I pray God the Omnipotent to place 
us in the ranks of His chosen, among the number 



AL-GHAZALI AS A MYSTIC 253 

of those whom He directs in the path of safety, in 
whom He inspires fervour lest they forget Him; 
whom He cleanses from all defilement, that nothing 
may remain in them except Himself ; yea of those 
whom He indwells completely, that they may adore 
none beside Him." 

Being a Moslem, Al-Ghazali was either too 
proud to search for the true historical facts of the 
Christian religion, or perhaps it would be more 
charitable to say that he had no adequate oppor- 
tunity, in spite of his quotations and misquotations 
from the " Gospels." Otherwise he could have found 
there what would have met his heart-hunger and 
satisfied his soul the manifestation of God not in 
some intangible principle, but in a living person, in 
Jesus Christ, who " is the image of the invisible 
God, the first born of every creature. For by Him 
were all things created that are in heaven, and that 
are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be 
thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers ; 
in Him are all things, and by Him all things con- 
sist." (Colossians 1: 15-17.) Those who dwell 
in Christ and in whom He dwells are a part of 
His spiritual body. They are the branches of the 
living Vine. They are one in life and purpose, al- 
though they remain conscious evermore of their 
own individual existence ; they are fitted progress- 
ively for a deeper communion with God. To such 
a conception the Sufi never attained. Al-Ghazali 
admits that no man has seen God at any time, but 



264 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

he failed to realize that " the Only Begotten, Who 
is in the bosom of the Father, hath declared Him." 
The artificial glory of Mohammed in his case, as 
for centuries afterwards, hid the light of the knowl- 
edge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 
Yet not altogether, as the next chapter will make 
clear. 



IX 

Jesus Christ in Al-Ghazali 



Jesus, the very thought of Thee 
With sweetness fills my breast ; 

But sweeter far Thy face to see, 
And in Thy presence rest. 

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame, 

Nor can the memory find, 
A sweeter sound than Thy blest name, 

O Saviour of mankind ! 

O hope of every contrite heart ! 

O joy of all the meek! 
To those who fall, how kind Thou art ! 

How good to those who seek ! 

But what to those who find ? Ah I this 
Nor tongue nor pen can show : 

The love of Jesus what it is 
None but His loved ones know. 

-Bernard of Clairvaux almost a contempo- 
rary (1091-1152). 



IX 

JESUS CHRIST IN AL-GHAZALI 

JESUS CHRIST is the Touch-Stone of char- 
acter, the Master of all spiritual leaders and 
the one supreme and infallible Judge who can 
pronounce an unerring verdict concerning the 
truth of any religious system or teaching. What 
place has Jesus in the teaching of the greatest of 
all Moslem theologians, what place had He in the 
heart of this great mystic, this seeker after God, 
who, whatever else he may have been, was utterly 
sincere in his search ? Al-Ghazali, as a student of 
the Koran, must have noticed that in this book 
Christ occupies a high place ; no fewer than three 
of the chapters of the Koran, namely, that of 
Amram's Family (Surah III), that of The Table 
(Surah V), and that of Mary (Surah XIX), de- 
rive their names from references to Jesus Christ 
and His work. The very fact that Jesus Christ 
has a place in the literature of Islam, and is 
acknowledged by all Moslems as one of their 
greater prophets in itself therefore challenges com- 
parison between Him and Mohammed. Did Al- 

257 



258 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

Ghazali ever meet this challenge and in how far 
did he compare Mohammed with Christ ? It is our 
purpose in this chapter to answer the question by 
collating all the important references in the Ihya 
and his other works and then to draw some con- 
clusions both as to his sources and his opinions. 
The reader may judge for himself how far Al- 
Ghazali is a schoolmaster to lead Moslems to 
Christ. 

We search in vain among all his works for a 
sketch of the life of Christ or of His teaching, 
Al-Ghazali doubtless had read and was probably 
well acquainted with the only popular work known 
which gives a connected account of the life of 
Jesus Christ according to Moslem sources, namely, 
Kitab qustis al Anbiya by Ibn Ibrahim Ath- 
Tha'labi, a doctor of theology of the Shafi School, 
who died in A. H. 427 (A. D. 1036). The fabulous 
character of this mass of traditions has been shown 
in a translation of the section which deals with 
Jesus Christ. 1 Al-Ghazali does not give altogether 
the same stories as are given by Ath-Tha'labi but 
gives a great number of other incidents and re- 
ported sayings, many of which resemble those 
found in the Gospels and others which are wholly 
apocryphal. 

The question again arises where did Al-Ghazali 
gain this knowledge of the Gospel ? Did he have 
access to a Persian or Arabic translation; or was 

'Zwemer, "The Moslem Christ." 



JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 259 

all this material which we have collated, the result 
of hearsay, gathered from the lips of Christian 
monks and Jewish rabbis ? It is perfectly clear that 
he was acquainted with Old Testament tradition 
even more than with that of the New Testament. 
There are scores of passages in which he refers to 
the teachings of Moses, the Psalms of David, and 
the lives of the Old Testament Prophets. We have 
already referred to translations of the Bible into 
Arabic before the time of Al-Ghazali in our first 
chapter. There is a tradition that " the People of 
the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and in- 
terpret it in Arabic to the followers of Islam." 
Another tradition says that " Ka'ab the Rabbi 
brought a book to Omar the Caliph and said, * Here 
is the Torah, read it.' ' We learn from the Jew- 
ish Encyclopaedia that " The fihrist of al-Nadim 
mentions an Ahmed ibn Abd Allah ibn Salam who 
translated the Bible into Arabic, at the time of 
Haroun ar-Rashid, and that Fahr ud-Din ar-Razi 
mentions a translation of Habbakuk by the son of 
Rabban At-Tabari. Many of the Arabic His- 
torians as At-Tabari, Mas'udi, Hamza, and Biruni 
cite passages and recount the early history of the 
Jews in a most circumstantial manner. Ibn Ku- 
taibah, the historian (d. 889), says that he read 
the Bible ; and he even made a collection of Biblical 
passages in a work which has been preserved by 
Ibn Jauzi of the twelfth century." The first im- 
Goldziher, in " Z. D. M. G," XXXII, 344. 



260 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

portant Arabic translation is that of Sa'adia Gaon 
(892-942). The influence of this translation was 
in its way as great as that of Gaon's philosophical 
work. 

A version of the Psalms was made by Hafiz al- 
Quti in the tenth century and from internal evi- 
dence we know that the author had been Christian. 
Another translation of the Old Testament in Arabic 
was made by the Jews in Cairo in the middle of 
the eleventh century. The translation of Sa'adia 
had become a standard work in Egypt, Palestine 
and Syria, by the end of the tenth century, and it 
was revised about A. D. 1070. 1 As regards Persian 
translations of the Bible we learn from the Jewish 
Encyclopaedia that according to Maimonides, the 
Pentateuch was translated into Persian many hun- 
dred years previous to Mohammed. But this 
statement cannot be further substantiated. In re- 
gard to Arabic versions of the Gospels we have 
already given Dr. Kilgour's statement. 

Is it not probable that one or other of these 
versions of the Gospel was known to Al-Ghazali? 
Does he not himself state: "I have read in the 
Gospel " ? Not only does he reproduce the stories 
and sayings of Christ from the Gospels but in some 
cases, as the reader will see, the very words of the 
text. It is true that there is much apocryphal 
matter also of which the canonical Gospels know 
nothing. We are in ignorance and we must re- 
J " Jewish Encyclopaedia," Art Bible Versions. 



JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 261 

main in ignorance whence Al-Ghazali derived this 
material; or did he invent it even as the men of 
his day invented stories about Mohammed? 

In the Ihya we find the following incidents, real 
and apocryphal, regarding the life of Christ on 
earth as a prophet and saint. 1 We begin with Al- 
Ghazali's witness to His sinlessness: " It is said 
that the devil (may God curse him) appeared to 
Jesus and said, ' Say there is no God but God/ 
He replied: ' The word is true but I will not repeat 
it after you/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 23.) Again: " It is 
related that when Jesus was born, the devils came 
to Satan and said: 'All the idols have fallen on 
their faces/ He said: ' This has happened on your 
account/ Then he flew until he reached the 
regions of the earth; there he found Jesus had 
been born and the angels were protecting him. 
So he returned to the devils and said to them: 
' Truly a Prophet was . born yesterday. No 
woman has ever given birth before to a child when 
I was not present except in this case/ And that 
is why men now despair of worshipping idols/' 
(Vol. Ill, p. 26.) 

" It is related that Jesus one day was pillowing 
his head on a stone; and the devil passed by and 

*After completing this research I found a fuller account of 
all references to Jesus Christ in Moslem Literature, espe- 
cially the Ihya as given by Michael Asin et Palacios in 
Logia ct Agrapha Domini Jesus apud Moslemicos, etc., in 
Patrologia Orientalis, Tome XIII fascicule 3. Paris 1917. 



262 A MOSLEM SEEKEE APTEE GOD 

said: ' O Jesus, now you have shown your love for 
the world ! ' Then Jesus picked up the stone, 
threw it at him and said: ' Take it and the world.' " 
(Vol. Ill, p. 26.) We find this reference to the 
days of His youth in Nazareth : " Some one said 
to Jesus: 'Who gave you your education?' He 
replied: ' No one. But I beheld the ignorance of 
the foolish despicable and so I departed from it/ ' 
" Jesus the Prophet was of those who were espe- 
cially favoured. Among the proofs of it is this 
that he called down peace upon himself, for he 
said : ' Peace be on me the day I was born and the 
day I shall die and the day I shall be raised up 
alive/ And this was because of his peace of mind 
and his loving kindness towards men. But as for 
John the son of Zachariah (on him be peace), he 
took the place of awe and fear towards God and did 
not utter these words until after they were re- 
peated to him by his Creator, who said : ' Peace be 
upon him the day he was born and the day he died 
and the day he was raised again/ ' This is an in- 
teresting critical comment on the two passages re- 
ferred to, which occur in the same chapter of the 
Koran, and I have never seen them used elsewhere 
as an argument for the superiority of Christ to 
John. (Vol. IV, p. 245.) 

Al-Ghazali gives Jesus the usual titles given Him 
in the Koran, namely, Son of Mary, Spirit of God, 
Word of God, Prophet and Apostle. But these 
latter titles mean little because he endorses the 



JESUS CHEIST IS AL GHAZALI 263 

strange Moslem theory that there have been no 
less than 134,000 prophets since the world began. 
In his book "Al-Iqtasad " he devotes a long argu- 
ment to prove to the Jews that Jesus was indeed 
a prophet, basing it upon his teaching and miracles 
(pp. 83-86). In his Jaivahir ul-Koran he even 
classes Mary the Virgin with the prophets and 
gives the list of these worthies in the following 
curious order: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, 
Aaron, Zachariah, John, Jesus, Mary, David, Solo- 
mon, Joshua, Lot, Idris, Khudra, Shu'aib, Elijah, 
and Mohammed! 

Regarding the fasting of our Lord, Al-Ghazali 
says: " It is related that Jesus (on him be peace) 
remained for sixty days without eating, engaged in 
prayer; then he began to think of bread and behold 
a loaf of bread appeared between his hands ; then 
he sat weeping because he had forgotten his 
prayers. And behold an old man came to him 
and Jesus said: ' God bless you, O servant of God. 
Call upon God Most High, for I too was in a sad 
condition and I thought of bread until my prayer 
departed/ Then the old man prayed: ' O God, if 
thou knowest any occasion when the thought of 
bread entered my head when I was praying do not 
forgive me ! ' Then he said to Jesus : ' When 
anything is brought to me to eat I eat it without 
even thinking what it is/" (Vol. Ill, p. 61.) 
The following story seems to be based on the in- 
junction of the Gospel " to pluck out the eye " that 



264 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

offends: " It is related of Jesus (on him be peace) 
that he once went out to pray for rain and when 
the people gathered together Jesus said to them, 
' Whosoever of you hath committed a sin let him 
turn back/ so they all turned away and there was 
no one left in the cave with him save one. And 
Jesus said unto him, 'Have you any sin?' He 
replied: 'By God, I do not know of any except 
that one day when I was praying a woman passed 
by me and I looked upon her with this eye and 
when she had passed I put my finger in my eye and 
plucked it out and followed her to ask her pardon/ 
Then Jesus said to him, ' Call upon God that I may 
believe in your sincerity/ Then the man prayed 
and the heavens were covered with clouds and the 
rain poured down." (Vol. II, p. 217.) 

The following stories are related of the miracle- 
working Christ: "Said the disciples to Jesus: 
' What do you think of the ^war-piece (money) ? ' 
They said: ' We think it is good/ He said: ' But 
as for me I value it and ashes the same/ " (Vol. 
Ill, p. 161.) "It was said to the Prophet that 
Jesus (upon him be peace) used to walk upon the 
water. He replied: 'Had he still more striven 
after holiness, he would have walked on the air/ " 
(Vol. IV, p. 71.) "It is related that a certain 
robber waylaid travellers among the children of 
Israel for forty years. Jesus passed by that way 
and behind him walked a saint of the worshippers 
of the people of Israel, one of his disciples. Said 



JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 265 

the robber to himself : ' This is the Prophet of 
God who passes by and with him one of his dis- 
ciples. If I should come down I would be the 
third/ " He then goes on to say that the robber 
tried to show his humility by following not Christ 
but his disciple. Jesus rebukes them both because 
of their sins. (Vol. IV, p. 110.) " It is related 
that Jesus (on him be peace) passed by a blind 
man who was a leper and lame of both feet because 
of paralysis and his flesh was consumed by leprosy, 
and he was saying: ' Praise be to God who has 
kept me in good health and saved me from many 
things which have befallen others of his creatures/ 
Then Jesus said to him : ' O thou friend, from what 
kind of affliction do I see that you are free ? ' and 
he replied: 'O Spirit of God, I am better than 
those in whose heart God has not put anything of 
his knowledge and his grace.' And Jesus said: 
' You have spoken truly. Stretch forth your hand/ 
and he stretched forth his hand and became of per- 
fect health both as to his body and his appearance, 
for God had taken away all his sickness. So he 
accompanied Jesus and worshipped with him." 
(Vol. IV, p. 250.) 

Al-Ghazali often pictures the power of Jesus to 
heal the sick, for Christ as the Merciful One ap- 
peals to Moslems always and everywhere. We 
have for example in the Masnavi-i-Ma'anavi this 
beautiful picture which can be found in prose, 
section by section in Al-Ghazali too. 



266 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

" The house of 'Isa was the banquet of men of heart, 
Ho ! afflicted one, quit not this door ! 
From all sides the people ever thronged, 
Many blind and lame, and halt and afflicted, 
To the door of the house of 'Isa at dawn, 
That with his breath he might heal their ailments. 
As soon as he had finished his orisons, 
That holy one would come forth at the third hour. 
He viewed these impotent folk, troop by troop, 
Sitting at his door in hope and expectation ; 
He spoke to them, saying, ' O stricken ones ! 
The desires of all of you have been granted by 

God: 

Arise, walk without pain or affliction. 
Acknowledge the mercy and beneficence of God ! ' 
Then all, as camels whose feet are shackled, 
When you loose their feet in the road, 
Straightway rush in joy and delight to the halting- 
place 
So did they run upon their feet at his command." 

Many of the miracles, however, are puerile, as 
in this story: "A certain man accompanied Jesus 
the Son of Mary (upon him be peace) and said: 
' I would like to be with you as your companion.' 
So they departed and arrived at the bank of a Driver 
and sat down and took their meal. Now they had 
three loaves, so they ate two and one remained. 
Then Jesus arose and went to the river to drink 
and returning did not find the remaining loaf. 
He said to the man: ' Who took the loaf? ' He 
replied: 'I know not.' So he departed with his 



JESUS CHEIST IF AL-GHAZALI 267 

companion and saw a gazelle with her two young, 
and Jesus called one of them and it came to him 
and he killed it and prepared it and they ate to- 
gether. Then he said to the young gazelle: ' Get 
up by God's will/ and it arose and departed. And 
he turned to the man and said: ' I ask you in the 
name of Him who worked this miracle before your 
eyes, who took the loaf ? ' He answered : ' I know 
not/ So they departed to a cave and Jesus (upon 
whom be peace) began to collect the pebbles on the 
sand and said: 'Become bread by God's permis- 
sion ! ' and they became bread ; then he divided 
them into three parts and said : 'A third is for me, 
a third is for you and a third is for the man who 
took the loaf/ and the man said: ' I am he who 
took the loaf.' Jesus replied: 'Take all of it and 
depart from me.' " (Vol. Ill, p. 188. ) This story 
is related by Al-Ghazali in his chapter on greed 
and covetousness to show that he who loves this 
world cannot be a companion of the saints ! 

That Jesus was gentle in word and conduct seems 
to be the lesson taught in the following two stories : 
" It is related of Jesus that once a pig passed by 
him and he said to it: ' Go in peace.' They said 
to him: ' O Spirit of God, why do you say this to 
a pig.' He replied: 'I dislike to accustom my 
tongue to use any evil words.' ' (Vol. Ill, p. 87.) 
" !t is related that Jesus with his disciples once 
passed the carcase of a dog. Said the disciples: 
' How noisome is the smell of this dog.' Said 



268 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTER GOD 

Jesus (on him be peace) : ' How beautiful is the 
shine of his white teeth/ as if he wanted to rebuke 
them for abusing the dog and to warn them not to 
mention anything of what God has created save at 
its best/' (Vol. Ill, p. 150.) This incident is 
given by Jallal ud Din in poetic form: 

" One evening Jesus lingered in the market-place, 
Teaching the people parables of truth and grace, 
When in the square remote a crowd was seen to 

rise 
And stop with loathing gestures and abhorring 

cries, 

The Master and His meek disciples went to see 
What cause for this commotion and disgust could 

be, 

And found a poor dead dog beside the gutter laid: 
Revolting sight! at which each face its hate be- 
trayed. 
One held his nose, one shut his eyes, one turned 

away, 

And all among themselves began aloud to say, 
' Detested creature ! he pollutes the earth and air ! ' 
' His eyes are bleared ! ' 'His ears are foul ! ' ' His 

ribs are bare ! ' 
' In his torn hide there is not a decent shoe-string 

left!' 

' No doubt the execrable cur was hung for theft ! ' 
Then Jesus spake and dropped on him this saving 
breath : 

'Even pearls are dark before the whiteness of his 
teeth!'" 



JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 269 

We add the following quotations which set forth 
the poverty, humility and homelessness of the 
Christ taken from Al-Ghazali's " Precious Pearl ": 
" Consider Jesus Christ, for it is related of him that 
he owned nothing save one garment of wool which 
he wore for twenty years and that he took nothing 
with him on all his wanderings save a cruse and a 
rosary and a comb. One day he saw a man drink- 
ing from a stream with his hands, so he cast away 
the cruse and did not use it again. He saw an- 
other man combing his beard with his fingers so he 
threw away his comb and did not use it again. 
And Jesus was accustomed to say, * My steed is my 
legs, and my houses are the caves of the earth, 
and my food are its vegetables, and my drink is 
from its rivers, and my dwelling-place among the 
sons of Adam ! ' In another connection he 
writes: " It was said to Jesus: ' If you would take 
possession of a house and live there it would be 
better for you/ and he said: 'Where are the 
houses of those who lived before us?'" (Ihya, 
Vol. Ill, p. 140.) 

A story is related (Vol. IV, p. 326) to show 
that Christ knew what was in the hearts of men 
and could change their purposes by prayer to God. 
In this case He makes an old man cease from his 
work of cleaning the ground, go to sleep and after- 
wards return to his work. 

Another story is as follows: "It is related that 
Jesus (upon him be peace) in his wanderings 



270 A MOSLEM SBEKEE AFTEE GOD 

passed by a man asleep, wrapped up in his garment. 
So he wakened him and said: ' O thou that sleep- 
est! arise aoid make mention of God/ He re- 
plied: ' What do you want from me? I have for- 
saken the world to its own/ Jesus replied: 
' Sleep on then my beloved/ " (Vol. IV, p. 140.) 
" It is related concerning Jesus that he sat in the 
shade of a wall of a certain man, who saw him and 
made him get up, but he replied: ' You have not 
made me arise but verily God made me arise. 
He does not wish me to delight in the shade by 
day/" (Vol. IV, p. 163.) The least of life's 
pleasures is not for the ascetic saint. 

" Said John to Jesus (on them be peace) : ' Do 
not be angry/ Jesus replied: 'I am not able to 
cease from anger altogether for I am human/ 
Then said John: ' Do not desire property/ Jesus 
replied: 'That is possible/" (Vol. Ill, p. 
114.) 

He quotes the following prayer of Jesus (Vol. I, 
p. 222): "Jesus was accustomed to say to God, 
' O God, I have arisen from my sleep, and am not 
able to ward off that which I hate and am not able 
to possess the benefit of that which I desire and the 
matter rests in hands other than mine. And I have 
pledged myself to my work and there is no man so 
poor as I am. O God, let not mine enemies rejoice 
over me and let not my friends deal ill with me, 
and let not my afflictions come to me in the matter 
of my religion. And do not allow the world to 



JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 271 

occupy my care and do not allow the unmerciful to 
overcome me, O Thou Eternal ! ' 

" It is related concerning Jesus (on him be 
peace) that God spoke to him saying: 'Though 
you serve me with the worship of the people of 
heaven and earth and do not have love towards God 
in your heart but hatred toward Him it will not 
enrich you at all/" (Vol. II, p. 210.) "God 
Most High said to Jesus (on him be peace), 
< Verily when I look upon the secret thoughts of 
my servant and do not find in them love either for 
this world or the world to come I fill him with my 
own love and I put him in my safe-keeping/ ' 
(Vol. IV, p. 258.) In the "Alchemy of Happi- 
ness" we already found allusion to this subject: 
"Jesus (upon him be peace) saw the world in the 
form of an ugly old hag. He asked her how many 
husbands she had possessed; she replied that they 
were countless. He asked whether they had died 
or been divorced ; she said that she had slain them 
all. ' I marvel/ he said, * at the fools who see what 
you have done to others, and still desire you/ ' 
" Jesus (on him be peace) said, ' The lover of the 
world is like a man drinking sea-water; the more 
he drinks, the more thirsty he gets, till at last he 
perishes with thirst unquenched/ ' 

Al-Ghazali, however, never seems to have drawn 
the conclusion from the life of Christ which a care- 
ful study of the Gospel would have made possible. 
Namely, that a true renunciation of the world is 



272 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

only possible in the service of others and not by 
withdrawing from men. Mohammedan mysticism 
has always resulted in two evils, as Major Durie 
Osborn points out: " It has dug a deep gulf be- 
tween those who can know God and those who 
must wander in darkness, feeding upon the husks 
of rites and ceremonies. It has affirmed with em- 
phasis, that only by a complete renunciation of the 
world is it possible to attain the true end of man's 
existence. Thus all the best and truest natures 
the men who might have put a soul in the decaying 
Church of Islam have been cut off from their 
proper task to wander about in deserts and solitary 
places, or expend their lives in idle and profitless 
passivity disguised under the title of ' spiritual con- 
templation/ (zikr) But this has only been part 
of the evil. The logical result of Pantheism is the 
destruction of the moral law. If God be all in all, 
and man's apparent individuality a delusion of the 
perceptive faculty, there exists no will which can 
act, no conscience which can reprove and applaud. 
' .. '.; .. Thousands of reckless and profligate 
spirits have entered the orders of the dervishes 
to enjoy the license thereby obtained. Their af- 
fectation of piety is simply a cloak for the practice 
of sensuality ; their emancipation from the ritual of 
Islam involves a liberation also from its moral re- 
straints. And thus a movement, animated at its 
outset by a high and lofty purpose, has degenerated 
into a fruitful source of ill. The stream which 



JESUS CHRIST IN AL-GHAZALI 273 

ought to have expanded into a fertilising river, has 
become a vast swamp, exhaling vapours charged 
with disease and death." 

Regarding the teaching of Jesus we find the fol- 
lowing passages in the Ihya. I have indicated the 
parallel passages in the New Testament where pos- 
sible. Some of them are taken from the Gospel 
according to Matthew, especially from the Sermon 
on the Mount. These are given first and then the 
apocryphal sayings, for it is difficult to follow any 
logical order. 

" Said Jesus: ' If a man come to you when he is 
fasting let him anoint his head and wipe his lips 
that men may not say he is fasting; and if he gives 
alms with his right hand let not his left hand know ; 
and if he prays let him put a curtain over his door, 
for verily God divines his trouble even as He does 
our daily food/" (Vol. Ill, p. 203.)' 

" Said Jesus (upon him be peace), ' Whosoever 
shall do and teach shall be called great in the King- 
dom of Heaven/ " (Vol. I, p. 6 ; cf . Matt. 5. 19.) 

" Said Jesus, ' Do not hang pearls on the necks 
of swine ; for wisdom is better than pearls/ " (Vol. 
I, p. 43 ; cf . Matt. 7:6.) " Said Jesus, ' How long 
will ye describe the right road to those who are 
going astray and ye yourselves remain with those 
who are perplexed/" (Vol. I, p. 44; cf. Matt. 
23: 13.) 

'The story is repeated in Vol. Ill, p. 206; cf. Matt. 
6:i6-ia 



274 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTER GOD 

" Said Jesus, ' The teachers of evil are like a big 
stone which has fallen on the mouth of a well so 
that the water cannot reach the sown fields." 
(Vol. I, p. 45; cf. Matt. 23:13.) 

" Said Jesus, ' How can that man belong to the 
people of wisdom who from the beginning of his 
life until the end looks only after the things of the 
world? ' " (Vol. I, p. 46; cf. Matt. 6: 33.) 

Again he makes God address Jesus as follows: 
' O Son of Mary, preach to yourself for if you 
preach to yourself you will be able to preach to 
man and if not fear him/ " (Vol. I, p. 47.) 

"Said Jesus (on him be peace), * Blessed are 
those who humble themselves in this world, for 
they shall be the possessors of thrones on the day 
of judgment. Blessed are those who make peace 
between men in this world, for they shall inherit 
Paradise on the day of resurrection. Blessed are 
they who are poor in this world, for they shall be- 
hold God Most High on the day of resurrection/ " 
(Vol. Ill, p. 237; cf. Matt. 5: 3-9.) 

" Some one said to Jesus: ' Let me go with you 
on your wanderings/ He replied: 'Dispose ofall 
that you have and follow me/ " (Vol. IV, p. 170 ; 
cf. Luke 9: 57 and Matt. 19: 21.) Here two pas- 
sages are mixed. 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), ' It has been told 
of ancient times: a tooth for a tooth and a nose for 
a nose; but I say unto you, do not return evil for 
evil, but whosoever strikes you on the right cheek, 



JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 275 

turn to him the left also ; and whosoever desireth 
you to go with him a mile go with him twain ; and 
whosoever taketh away your cloak give him your 
inner garment also.' ' (Vol. IV, p. 52; cf. Matt 
5: 30-41.) These verses seem to be fairly accu- 
rate quotations, though not without some con- 
fusion, from some translation of the Sermon on 
the Mount. 

" Said the disciples to Jesus (on him be peace), 
' Behold this mosque how beautiful it is/ He re- 
plied : ' O my nation ! O my nation ! In truth I say 
unto you, God will not suffer a stone to remain 
upon a stone in it but he will destroy it because of 
the sins of its people. Truly God does not care for 
gold and silver nor does he care for these stones at 
which ye marvel; but the things which God loves 
most are pure hearts, with them God can build up 
the earth, and if they are not good they are 
wasted/" ("Ihya," Vol. Ill, p. 288; cf. Matt. 
24:3.) 

" Said Jesus : ' Do not take the world for your 
master, for she will make you her slave. Lay up 
your treasures with him who will not lose them. 
For he who lays up treasure in the earth fears that 
which will destroy them ; but he who has treasures 
with God does not fear for anything that may in- 
jure them' (Matt. 6:9-21). And Jesus said 
also: 'O company of the Apostles, behold I have 
poured out the world upon the ground, therefore 
do not take hold of it again after me, for the evil of 



276 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

this world is that men disobey God in it. And the 
evil of the world also is that the other world can- 
not be obtained without abandoning the present. 
Therefore pass through the world but do not build 
in it. Know that the root of all sin is the love of 
the world and perchance the desire of an hour will 
cause those who follow it to lose the other world 
altogether/ He also said: * I have cast the world 
before you and ye have sat upon its back, do not 
therefore suffer kings or women to dispute its pos- 
session with you. As for kings, do not dispute 
with them for its possession, for they will not give 
it back to you. And as for women, guard your- 
selves against them by prayer and fasting/ " (Vol. 
Ill, p. 139.) "Said Jesus: 'The love of this 
world and of the world to come cannot abide in the 
same heart even as water and fire cannot abide in 
one vessel/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 140.) 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), ' O ye teachers 
of wickedness! Ye fast and pray and give alms 
and do not what ye command others and ye teach 
that which ye do not understand. How evil is that 
which ye do. Ye repent only with words butyour 
deeds are without value. In vain do ye purify 
your skins while your hearts are covered with evil. 
I say unto you, be not as the sieve from which the 
good^ flour passes out and all that remains in it are 
the sittings. Thus ye make the truth to pass out 
of your mouths, but deceit remains in your hearts, 
O servants of the world ! How can any one under- 



JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 277 

stand the other world while his desires cling to 
this ? Of a truth I say unto you that your hearts 
shall weep because of your deeds. Ye have put the 
world upon your tongues and trampled upon good 
deeds. Of a truth I say unto you, ye have cor- 
rupted your future life, for ye are more in love 
with the good things of this world than of the good 
things of the world to come. Which of the chil- 
dren suffers greater loss than ye do, if only ye knew 
it! Woe be to you! How long will ye describe 
the right way to those who are in darkness and ye 
yourselves remain in the place of doubt? It is as 
if ye invite the children of the world to forsake its 
pleasure in order to leave it for yourselves a little 
while. Woe be to you ! What benefit is it to the 
darkened house if the candle be put on its roof 
while the rooms of the house remain in darkness ? 
In the same way ye will not be enriched if the light 
of knowledge is on your lips, while your hearts re- 
main in darkness. O ye servants of the world! 
what of your righteousness or your freedom? 
Perchance the world will pluck you up by the roots 
and cast you upon your faces and drag you in the 
dust. It will expose your sins upon your fore- 
heads, then it will drive you before it until you are 
delivered up to the angel of judgment, every one of 
you naked. Then shall you be punished by your 
evil deeds.'" (Vol. Ill, p. 183; cf. Matt. 23: 
1-S7.) 

" Do not be anxious about the food of to-mor- 



278 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

row, for perhaps to-morrow will be your time of 
death/ 1 (Vol. IV, p. 330; cf. Matt. 6: 34.) 

" Behold the bird, it does not sow nor reap nor 
lay up store and God Most High provides for it" 
(Vol. IV, p. 190; cf. Matt. 6: 26.) 

"Said Jesus (on him be peace), 'He is not 
wise who does not rejoice when he enters upon 
trials and sicknesses of the body and loss of his 
possessions ; for in it he may find atonement for his 
sins/ ' (Vol. IV, p. 205; cf. Matt. 5: 10.) 

" It is related of Jesus that he said: ' If you see 
a young man passionately fond of prayer to God 
you will know that he has escaped all tempta- 
tions." (Vol. IV, p. 221; cf. Matt. 26:41.) 
The reference might be to Christ's words in the 
Garden of Gethsemane. 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), ' Serve God by 
hating the people who transgress, and draw near 
to God by departing from them. Seek the good- 
will of God by hating them/ They said to him: 
' O spirit of God, with whom then shall we keep 
company? ' He answered them: ' Keep company 
with those who make you remember God and tyose 
whose words improve your conduct and those 
whose example makes you earnest for the world to 
come." (Vol.. II, p. no.) 

"It is related of Jesus (on him be peace) that 
he said to the children of Israel: ' Where does 
that which ye sow grow? They replied: In the 
good ground/ and he said: Verily I say unto you, 



JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 279 

wisdom does not grow except in the heart which is 
good soil/" (Vol. IV, p. 256; cf. Matt. 13: 
1-9.) 

"Said Jesus (on him be peace), * Truly the 
harvest does not grow on the mountain but in the 
plain. Thus wisdom works in the heart of those 
that are humble and not in the heart of the proud.'" 
(Vol. Ill, p. 240; cf. Matt. 13: 23.) 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), ' Fine garments 
make proud looks/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 247.) 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), * What ails you 
that ye come in the garments of monks and your 
hearts are the hearts of ravening wolves? Wear 
the garments of monks if you wish but humble your 
hearts with godly fear/" (Vol. Ill, p. 247; cf. 
Matt. 7: 15.) 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), ' O company of 
disciples, call upon God Most High that he may 
make light for you this terror, namely, death. For 
I fear death in such a fashion that I stand afraid 
of the same/ ' Is it possible that Al-Ghazali here 
refers to the agony in Gethsemane? The chapter 
in which this passage occurs is entitled " The ter- 
rors of death/' (Vol. IV, p. 324; cf. Matt. 
26: 38.) 

We now give other " sayings " of Jesus, as Al- 
Ghazali himself does, in somewhat confused order. 
Although not quotations or even misquotations 
from the Gospels, they are of interest as completing 
the list and also because they show what Al-Ghazali 



280 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

and other Moslems thought was the teaching of 
Jesus the Prophet. 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), ' How many a 
sound body and beautiful face and eloquent tongue 
will to-morrow cry out in the fires of hell!' 
(Vol. IV, p. 383.) 

" Said Jesus, ' Which of you can build a house 
upon the waves of the sea? Such is the world; 
therefore do not take it as an abiding place/ ' 
(Vol. Ill, p. 141.) 

" They said to Jesus, ' Teach us the secret of the 
love of God/ He replied: * Hate the world and 
God will love you/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 141; cf. James 
4:4.) 

" Said Jesus, * O my disciples, be satisfied with 
the least of the world as long as your religion is at 
peace even as the people of the world are satisfied 
with the least of religion and their possessions are 
at peace/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 142.) 

" Said Jesus, ' O thou who seekest the world for 
the sake of pure gold, the forsaking of the world is 
greater treasure/ " (Vol. III/p. 142.) 

" They asked Jesus (on him be peace) which is 
the best of good works. He replied: 'To accept 
whatever God does with pleasure and to love 
him/' (Vol. IV, p. 258.) 

"Said Jesus the Son of Mary (on him be 
peace), ' Woe to the lover of this world how soon 
he shall die and leave it and all that is in it. The 
world deceives him and he trusts it and has confi- 



JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 281 

dence in ii, etc/" (Vol. Ill, p. 141; cf. Luke 
12:21.) 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), * Mortify then 
your bodies that your soul may see your Lord/ " 
(Vol. Ill, p. 56; cf. Rom. 8: 13.) 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), 'The likeness 
of him who teaches good works and does not do 
them is that of a woman who commits adultery in 
secret and then the result of her crime becomes evi- 
dent to all around her from her condition/ ' (Vol. 
I, p. 48.) 

"Said Jesus (on him be peace), 'Whosoever 
turns away a beggar from his house the angels will 
not visit that dwelling for seven days/ ' (Vol. II, 
p. 162.) This saying is often quoted by Moslems 
to-day. They all believe Jesus was the friend of 
the poor and needy. 

"Said Jesus (upon him be peace), 'Blessed is 
he to whom God has taught his book ; he will not 
die a proud oppressor/ " (Vol. Ill, p. 235.) 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), ' Blessed is the 
eye which sleeps and does not regard transgression 
but is wide-awake for that which is not sinful/ ' 
(Vol. IV, p. 260.) 

" The disciples said to Jesus (on him be peace), 
' What is the best of good works? ' He replied: 
s That which is done to God and in which you seek 
the praise of no one else/ " (Vol. IV, p. 273.) 

" Said the disciples of Jesus the Son of Mary: 
' O Spirit of God ! Is there any one on earth like 



282 A MOSLEM SEEKBE AFTEE GOD 

thee?' He replied: 'Yes. For whosoever is 
girded with the remembrance of God and is silent 
because of this and who looks only for the favour 
of God, he is like me/ " (Vol. IV, p. 305.) 

" Said Jesus, ' Beware of the evil look, for when 
it is in the heart it produces lust and evil desire/ ' 
(Vol. IV, p. 74; cf. Matt. 5: 28.) 

"Said Jesus (on him be peace), 'Whosoever 
multiplies lies his beauty departs from him: and 
whosoever increases care his body becomes ill; and 
whosoever has a bad character punishes himself/ " 
(Vol. Ill, p. 85.) 

" Said Jesus: ' The greatest sin with God is that 
his servant should say, ' God Knows/ concerning 
something which he knows is untrue, or that he tell 
lies concerning what he has seen in his dreams/ " 
(Vol. Ill, p. 98.) 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace) to his disciples: 
'How would you act if you saw one of your 
brothers sleeping and the wind had taken off his 
garment?' They said: 'We would cover him/ 
Said Jesus: 'No, but you would expose him/ 
They said: 'God forbid! Who would do such a 
thing!' He replied: 'When one of you h^ars a, 
word against his brother he exaggerates it and 
spreads the report to others ! ' " (Vol. II, p. 142. ) 

" It is related that Jesus '(upon him be peace) 
said, ' O company of disciples, ye are free of trans- 
gression, but we the company of apostles are free 
of infidelity/ ' (Vol. IV, p. 124.) 



JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 283 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), ' With difficulty 
will the rich man enter paradise.' ' (Vol. IV, p. 
140; cf. Christ's saying, Matt. 19: 23.) 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), ' Truly I do not 
love a fixed dwelling place and I dislike the pleasure 
of the world.' " (Vol. IV, p. 140.) 

" Said Jesus (on him be peace), ' Do not look 
upon the property of the people of this world for 
its glory is as nothing in the light of your faith.' ' 
(Vol. IV, p. 144.) 

" It was said to Jesus: * If you will allow us we 
will build a house and worship God in it.' He re- 
plied : ' Go and build a house upon the sea/ They 
said: ' How can we build upon such a foundation? ' 
He replied : ' How can your worship exist together 
with your love of the world?'" (Vol. IV, 
p. 158.) 

" It is related that Jesus said: ' Four things do 
not come to us except with difficulty. Silence, 
which is the first principle of worship, humility, the 
abundant remembrance of God and poverty in all 
things.'" (Vol. IV, p. 159.) 

"Said Jesus (on him be peace), 'Verily I say 
unto you, whosoever seeketh heaven let him eat 
barley-bread and sleep on the dunghill with the 
dogs. This is enough for me/ ' (Vol. IV, p. 
164.) 

" Jesus was accustomed to say, * O children of 
Israel, let the water of the brook suffice you and 
the vegetable of the field and the barley loaf ; and 



284 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEB GOD 

beware of the white loaf for it will keep you from 
worship/" (Vol. IV, p. 164.) 

"Said Jesus (on him be peace), 'My food is 
hunger; all my thoughts are fear of God; my dress 
is wool; my warming-place in winter is the rays of 
the sun; my candle is the moon; my steed is my 
legs; my food is fruit that springs from the 
ground; I go to bed and have nothing and arise 
without anything; and yet there is no one richer 
than I am/" (Vol. IV, p. 146.) 

" Said Jesus (upon him be peace), ' The world 
is a bridge ; therefore cross over it and do not build 
on it.'" (Vol. Ill, p. 149.) 

"Said Jesus (on him be peace), 'Whosoever 
seeks the world is like him who drinks water from 
the salt sea. The more he drinks the more he 
thirsts. 5 " (Vol. Ill, p. 149.) This occurs for the 
second time, but Al-Ghazali loves to repeat his own 
sayings as well, often in the same book. 

" It is related in the gospels that whosoever shall 
ask for forgiveness of him who praises him, has 
driven away the devil." (Vol. Ill, p. 127.) 

The following quotations or references tj> the 
Gospel occur in some of his shorter works. In the 
"Alchemy of Happiness," there is this reference to 
the Gospel: "Whosoever sows reaps, whosoever 
sets out arrives, and whosoever seeks finds." (Cf. 
Matt. 7:7.) We have already quoted the words 
from his epistle, " O Child ": " Verily I have seen 
in the Gospels, etc." In the same epistle he refers 



JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 285 

to the parable of Dives and Lazarus: " When the 
people of hell will say to the people of the garden, 
' Give us a little water from that which God has 
granted you to cool our tongues/ ' He quotes 
Jesus as saying: "I was not unable to raise the 
dead, but I was unable to cure the folly of fools," 
and quotes the Golden Rule in several places with- 
out acknowledging its source as being the Gospel 
of Jesus. 

All this and what he says in his "Alchemy of 
Happiness " about the love of God leaves no doubt 
in my mind that he had read the New Testament. It 
is a sort of Moslem Version of St. John's Epistles 
and St. John's Gospel. The great Mystic gives 
seven signs of love to God. The first is not to be 
afraid of death. The second is to prefer the love 
of God to any worldly object. The third sign of 
a man's love to God is that the remembrance of 
God is always fresh in his heart. He never ceases 
to meditate upon God. Every man thinks and 
calls to mind an object in proportion to his love to 
it. The fourth is love and respect for the Koran. 
The fifth, secret prayer. The sixth, to find the 
worship of God delightful. And the seventh sign 
of love to God is, " That a man loves the sincere 
friends and obedient servants of God, and regards 
them all as his friends. He regards all the enemies 
of God as his enemies and abhors them. And 
God thus speaks in his eternal word : ' His com- 
panions are terrible towards the infidels, and tender 



286 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEE GOD 

towards each other/ A Sheikh was once asked, 
' Who are the friends of the exalted and blessed 
God ? ' He replied : ' The friends of God are those 
who are more compassionate to the friends of God 
themselves, than a father or a mother to their chik 
dren.' " * (Compare Psalm 103.) 

There seems a great difference between Al-Gha- 
zali as dogmatic theologian, always compelled to 
agree with the Koran, and Al-Ghazali as the Mys- 
tic, when he begins to speculate and lift the veil. 
We are constantly reminded of the words of An- 
selm in his great work on the existence of God: 
"I do not attempt, O Lord, to penetrate Thy 
depths, for I by no means think my intellect equal 
to them; but I long to understand in some degree 
Thy truth, which my heart believes and loves, for I 
do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I 
believe that I may understand." 

Whenever Al-Ghazali speaks of God's nearness 
to us and of the soul's desire for human fellowship 
with the creator, he comes very close to the Chris- 
tian idea of the Incarnation, and yet always stops 
short of it. In his " Alchemy of Happiness/* for 
example, he mentions as the fourth cause of love to 
God the affinity that exists between man and his 
Maker, referring to the saying of the Prophet: 

'These last quotations are from the translation by Homes 
which was from the Turkish. There seem to be several 
editions of the "Alchemy of Happiness" and the text 
varies as well as the number of chapters. 



JESUS CHEIST Iff AL-GHAZALI 287 

"Verily God created man in his own likeness." 
Immediately afterwards, however, he goes on to 
say: "This is a somewhat dangerous topic to 
dwell upon, as it is beyond the understanding of 
common people, and even intelligent men have 
stumbled in treating of it, and come to believe in 
incarnation and union with God. Still the affinity 
which does exist between man and God disposes of 
the objection of those theologians mentioned above, 
who maintain that man cannot love a Being who is 
not of his own species. However great a distance 
between them, man can love God because of the 
affinity indicated in the saying, ' God created man 
in His own likeness/ ' 

Al-Ghazali would doubtless have accepted the 
statement in the Gospel, " No man hath seen God 
at any time," but he omits " the only Begotten Son 
who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath de- 
clared Him." In speaking of the vision of God he 
says, "All Moslems profess to believe that the 
Vision of God is the summit of human felicity be- 
cause it is so stated in the Law ; but with many this 
is a mere lip-profession which arouses no emotion 
in their hearts. This is quite natural, for how can 
a man long for a thing of which he has no knowl- 
edge ? We will endeavour to show briefly why the 
vision of God is the greatest happiness to which a 
man can attain. 

" In the first place, every one of man's faculties 
has its appropriate function which it delights to 



288 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

fulfill. This holds good of them all, from the low- 
est bodily appetite to the highest form of intellec- 
tual apprehension. But even a comparatively low 
form of mental exertion affords greater pleasure 
than the satisfaction of bodily appetites. Thus if 
a man happens to be absorbed in a game of chess, 
he will not come to his meal though repeatedly 
summoned. And the greater the subject-matter of 
our knowledge, the greater is our delight in it ; for 
instance, we would take more pleasure in knowing 
the secrets of a king than the secrets of a vizier. 
Seeing then that God is the highest possible object 
of knowledge, the knowledge of Him must afford 
more delight than any other. He who knows God, 
even in this world, dwells, as it were, in a paradise, 
'the breadth of which is as the breadth of the 
heavens and the earth/ a paradise the fruits of 
which no envy can prevent him plucking, and the 
extent of which is not narrowed by the multitude 
of those who occupy it." (See 1 John 4: 7-21.) 

" But the delight of knowledge still falls short 
of the delight of vision, just as our pleasure in 
thinking of those we love is much less th^n the 
pleasure afforded by the actual sight of them. Our 
imprisonment in bodies of clay and water and en- 
tanglement in the things of sense constitute a veil 
which hides the vision of God from us, although it 
"does not prevent our attaining to some knowledge 
of Him. For this reason God said to Moses on 
Mount Sinai, ' Thou shalt not see Me/ " 



JESUS CHBIST IN AL-GHAZALI 289 

In this book also we are reminded of the state- 
ment that only " the pure in heart " can see God, 
and it seems scarcely possible that what Al-Ghazali 
here teaches is not based on a knowledge of the 
Gospel. He says: "He -in whose heart the love 
of God has prevailed over all else will derive more 
joy from this vision than he in whose heart it has 
not so prevailed; just as in the case of two men 
with equally powerful eyesight gazing on a beauti- 
ful face, he who already loves the possessor of that 
face will rejoice in beholding it more than he who 
does not. For perfect happiness, mere knowledge 
is not enough unaccompanied by love, and the love 
of God cannot take possession of a man's heart till 
it is purified from the love of the world, which 
purification can only be effected by abstinence and 
austerity." How close is this teaching to the words 
of Christ, " Blessed are the pure in heart, for they 
shall see God"! It is the vision of God which 
Al-Ghazali sought through all his religious experi- 
ences as the highest good in this world and in the 
next. Yet with all his efforts to explain the nature 
of the soul and of God, he still finds himself before 
a blank wall. He covets the vision of God but 
cannot shake himself free from the Moslem concep- 
tion that God is unknowable and that nothing in 
creation resembles the Creator. As Muhammed 
Iqbal says: "To this day it is difficult to define 
with accuracy Al-Ghazali's view of the nature of 
God. In him, like Borger and Solger in Germany, 



290 A MOSLEM SEEKER AFTEB GOD 

Sufi pantheism and the Ash'arite dogma of person- 
ality appear to harmonize together, a reconciliation 
which makes it difficult to say whether he was a 
Pantheist, or a Personal Pantheist of the type of 
Lotze. The soul, according to Al-Ghazali, per- 
ceives things. But perception as an attribute can 
exist only in a substance or essence which is abso- 
lutely free from all the attributes of body. In his 
Al-Madnun, he explains why the prophet declined 
to reveal the nature of the soul. There are, he 
says, two kinds of men: ordinary men and thinkers. 
The former who look upon materiality as a condi- 
tion of existence, cannot conceive an immaterial 
substance. The latter are led, by their logic, to a 
conception of the soul which sweeps away all dif- 
ference between God and the individual soul. Al- 
Ghazali, therefore, realized the Pantheist drift of 
his own inquiry and preferred silence as to the 
ultimate nature of the soul." 

We have seen what Al-Ghazali teaches regarding 
the life and character of Jesus and also of God's 
relation to us through the love of those who seek 
Him with all their hearts. Are these onty/Mos- 
lems, or is there a wider love of God? Are all 
souls in His keeping? 

What were Al-Ghazali's ideas regarding the 
salvation of those not in the fold of Islam? We 
have two striking passages in this connection which 
seem to contradict each other. They were prob- 

"The Development of Metaphysics in Persia," p. 75. 



JESUS CHRIST IN AL-GHAZALI 291 

ably written at different periods of his life. The 
first passage which is remarkable indeed for his day 
and his place in Islam occurs on page 22 of his 
book Faisul Al-Tafriqa Bain al Islam w'al Zandiqa 
and reads as follows: "I here state that most 
Christians of the Greeks and of the Turks in our 
day will be included in the mercy of God. Namely, 
those who are on the confines of the empire and to 
whom the call to embrace Islam has not come. For 
they consist of three classes: One class has never 
heard the name of Mohammed (upon whom be 
prayers and peace) and they are excusable. An- 
other class have heard of his name and title and 
the miracles which were wrought by him ; they who 
live as neighbours among Moslems; these are the 
true infidels and sceptics. And the other class are 
between these two ; they have heard of the name of 
Mohammed (upon him be prayers and peace), but 
have not heard of his title and character. On the 
contrary they have heard from their youth up that 
he is a liar and deceiver called Mohammed, who 
pretended to have the gift of prophecy: in the same 
way as our children have heard of a false prophet 
in Khorasan called Al-Mukaffa who pretended to 
be a prophet. And these last, in my opinion, be- 
long to the first class as to their hope for the fu- 
ture." This account is the more remarkable be- 
cause in this very chapter he says that God told 
Adam, according to Tradition, " that out of a 
thousand of his descendants nine-hundred-and- 



292 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

ninety-nine go to hell and one only will be 

saved." 

On the last page of the Ihya, however, Al-Gha- 
zali expresses the opinion that on the day of judg- 
ment not a single Mohammedan, whatever be his 
character, will enter the fire! He then quotes a 
tradition which says that for every Moslem de- 
signed to go to hell God will at the last day substi- 
tute a Jew or a Christian, evidently approving this 
substitution-doctrine as satisfactory to God's mercy 
towards all who confess Mohammed and to His 
decree that hell shall be filled with its quota of un- 
believers. (See Surah 50: 29.) The last page of 
the Ihya, alas, again 'shows the Moslem spirit of in- 
tolerance which prevails even to-day. Men do not 
remember the more liberal judgment in his other 
treatise. Al-Ghazali's attitude towards Christian- 
ity and his quotations from the Gospel narrative 
did much to leaven Persian thought and gave Jesus 
of Nazareth a large place in later mysticism espe- 
cially in the foremost mystical poet the immortal 
author of the Masnavi, Jallal-ud-Din Ar Rumi. He 
draws the great Lesson from the life of Christ 
which Al-Ghazali only hints at in his quotations; 
namely that Jesus is the Life-giver: 

" Thyself reckon dead, and then thou shalt fly 
Free, free, from the prison of earth to the sky ! 
Spring may come, but on granite will grow no 

green thing : 
It was barren in winter, 'tis barren in spring; 



JESUS CHEIST IN AL-GHAZALI 293 

And granite man's heart is, till grace intervene. 
And, crushing it, clothe the long barren with green, 
When the fresh breath of Jesus shall touch the 

heart's core, 
It will live, it will breathe, it will blossom once 

more." 



The City of Mashad, close to the ruins of Tus, 
where Al-Ghazali was born and where he died, has 
been truly described as the Mecca of the Persian 
world. Its streets are crowded with a hundred 
thousand pilgrims every year. The American 
Presbyterian Church has an important work there, 
and the Bible Societies report thousands of copies 
of the Bible sold there. " We have inundated the 
City of Mashad with the Word of God," wrote the 
late Mr. Esselstyn ; " in the bazaars I have repeat- 
edly been warned some one will kill me if we do not 
stop selling the Scriptures and preaching. But 
' Lo, I am with you always ' keeps ringing in my 
ears and we continue. The Scriptures that have 
been sold in and around Mashad are sown seed and 
in due time we shall reap if we faint not." 

To-day the black-browed Afghan, the Uzbek 
Tartar, the dervish, travel-stained and footsore, 
nay the poorest lad of Khorasan can buy the whole 
story of what Jesus did and taught. No Moslem 
is now dependent on Al-Ghazali's few quotations 
from the Gospel. A new day has dawned for 



294 A MOSLEM SEEKEE AFTEE GOD 

Persia and the Near East. Everywhere the New 
Testament is better known than any of the ninety- 
nine works of Al-Ghazali, and we may also say, 
without exaggeration, that the New Testament 
finds a larger circle of readers. The mystics in 
Islam are near the Kingdom of God and for them 
Al-Ghazali may be used as a schoolmaster to lead 
men to Christ. Did not the author of the Gulshan- 
i-Raz (the Garden of Mysteries) write: "Dost 
thou know what Christianity is? I shall tell it 
thee. It digs up thine own Ego, and carries thee 
to God. Thy soul is a monastery wherein dwells 
oneness, thou art Jerusalem, where the Eternal is 
enthroned ; the Holy Spirit works this miracle, for 
know that God's being rests in the Holy Spirit as in 
His Own Spirit." And such seekers after God 
to-day will find those who will lead them to 
CHRIST. For, as Dr. J. Rendel Harris expressed it: 
"All of us who love Christ are beginning to realize 
that we live in the same street and are on the same 
telephone, some of us that we are lodged next door 
to one another and can knock on the partitions, a 
few that we are all under the same roof arid all 
within arm's length and heart reach." 



Appendix 

A. BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Abu Nasir Abd ul Wahab Taqi id Din as Subqi. 
Tabaqat-ash-Shafa'iya al Kubra. Vol. IV, pp. 

IOI-IO2. 

Barbier de Meynard, M. C. Traduction nouvelle du 
traite de Ghazzali intitule le Preservatif de 
Terreur et notices sur les extases (des Soufis). 
(Journal Asiatique, Paris, 1877.) 

Brockelmann, Carl Geschichte der Arabischen Lit- 
teratur, Weimar, 1898, 2 vols. 

Chenery, Thomas The Assemblies of Al-Hariri, 
London, 1878, Trans. 

Clark, Edson L. The Arabs and the Turks, Boston, 

1875. ,<*" **- 

"DeBoer, T. J. The History of Philosophy in Islam, 

London, 1903. 
Dozy, (Trans, by Francis Griffin Stokes) Spanish 

Islam, London, 1913. 
De Vaun, Cara Gazali (Les Grand Philos. Felix 

Alcan), Paris, 1912. 
Encyclopaedia Britannica. 
Field, Claud The Alchemy of Happiness, by Gha- 

zali (from Hindustani). 

The Confessions of Al-Ghazali, London, 1909, 

Trans. 

Mystics and Saints of Islam, London, 1910. 

Persian Literature, London (undated). 
Fortescue, Adrian The Lesser Eastern ChurcHes, 

London, 1913. 
Gairdner, W. H. T. Al-Ghazali's Mishkat-ul-Anwar 



296 APPENDIX 

and the Ghazali Problem, Der Islam, Bd. V, 
Heft 2/3. 

Gardner, W. R. W. Al-Ghazali. In Islam Series, 
Christian Literature Society for India, 1919. 

Gautier, Lucien Ad-Dourra al-fakhira: La perle 
precieuse de Ghazali. Traite d'eschatologie 
musulmane, public . . . avec une traduction 
francaise. Geneve, 1878. 

Gosche, von R. Uber Ghazzali, Leben und Werke, 
Berlin, 1859. 

Huart, Clement A History of Arabic Literature, 
London, 1903. 

Hurgronje, Dr. C. Snouck Mekka; Haag, 1886. 

Ibn Khallikan. 

Jackson, A. V. Williams " From Constantinople to 
the Home of Omar Khayyam": New York, 
Macmillan Company, 1911. 

Jayakar, Lt Col. A. S. G. Ad-Damiri's Hayat Al- 
Hayawan (under Al-Hammam), Vol. I, London, 
1906, Trans. 

Jewish Encyclopaedia, The. 

Journal of The American Oriental Society, Vol. XX, 
pp. 71-132. New Haven, Conn., 1898. 

Lane-Poole, Stanley Mediaeval India under Mo- 
hammedan Rule, in the Story of the National 
'7 ^< u Series, London, 1903. 

' 'Mohammed Iqbal The Development of Metaphysics 
in Persia, London, 1908. 

Miguel Asin et Palacios Al Gazel : Domatica moral, 
Ascetica. (Zargoza. Spain, 1901.) 
Logia et Agrapha Domini Jesu apud Mos- 
lemicos Scriptores, etc. (Latin and Arabic) 
Firmin-Didot and Co., Paris, 1917. 

Le Strange, G.- Baghdad during the Abbasid Caliph- 
ate, Oxford, 1900. 

Macdonald, D. B.~ Aspects of Islam, New York, 
1911. 

Emotional religion in Islam as affected by 
music and singing. Being a translation of a, 



APPENDIX 297 

book of the Ihya 'Ulum ad-Din of Al-Ghazzali 
with analysis, annotation and appendices. 
(Royal Asiatic Society. Journal. 1901.) 
V^ Encyclopaedia of Islam, Leyden art., " Gha- 
zali." 

The Life of Al-Ghazali with special reference 
to his religious experiences and opinions (Journal 
American Oriental Society). 
Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Consti- 
tutional Theory. 1903. 

The Religious Attitude and Life in Islam, Chi- 
cago, 1909. 

vMurtadha Introduction to the Celebrated Commen- 
tary of the Ihya entitled Ithaf ul Sa'ada. Cairo 
Edition. 

Nicholson, Reynold A. Kashf Al-Mahjub, the old- 
est Persian Treatise on Sufism by Al-Hujwiri, 
London, 1911. 

Literary History of the Arabs, New York, 
1907. 

Noldeke, Theodore Sketches from Eastern History, 
London, 1892. 

Osborn, Robert Durie Islam Under the Khalifs of 
Baghdad, London, 1878. 

Saladin, H. Manuel d'art Musulman, Paris, 1907, 
Vol. I. 

Tyrwitt, W. S. S. Cairo, Jerusalem and Damascus, 
London, 1907. 

B. TRANSLATIONS OF AL-GHAZALI'S 
WORKS 

Hebrew. 
Makasid al Falasifah De'ot ha-Pilusufim Isaac 

Albalag, I3th C. 

Kawwanot ha - Pilusufim Judah Nathan, 

I4th C. 
Tahafut al-Falasifah Happalat ha-Pilusufim Zera- 

hiah ha-Levy, 1411. 



298 APPENDIX 

Ma'amar bi-Teshubot She'elot Nish'al Mehem (An- 
swers to Philanthropical Questions) H. Malter, 
Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1897; also called Kaw- 
wanot ha-Kawwanot 

Mozene ha-'Iyyunin Jacob ben Makir 
(d. 1308). 

Mizan al-'Amal Mozen Zedek Abraham Ibn Haz- 
dai ben Samuel ha-Levy of Barcelona, ed. J. 
Goldenthal, Leipsic, 1839. 

Mishkat al-Anwar fi Riyad al-Azhar bi-Taufik al- 
Anhar Maskit ha-Orot be-Pardes ha-Nizzanim 
Isaac ben Joseph Alfasi. 

Latin. 

Maqasid Falasifa Logica et Philosophia Dom. 
Gundisalvi, Venetiae, 1506. 

German. 
Kitab aiyuha'l walad O Kind! Die beriihmte 

ethische Abhandlung Ghazali's arab. u. deutsch, 

v. Hammer-Purgstall, Wien 1838. 
Kitab Tahafut al Falasifa Die Widerspriiche der 

Philosophic nach Al-Ghazzali und ihr Ausgleich 

durch Ibn Rushd, Strassburg, 1894. 
Antworten auf Fragen, die an ihn gerichtet wurden, 

hebr u. arab. Text mit deutschen iibers. Erklar- 

ung und Glossen v. H. Malter, Frankfurt, 1896. 
Ihya 'ulum id Din German translation in course of 

preparation by H. Bauer. 

French. 
Ad durra al fakhira fi kasf 'ulum al akhira La Perle 

p o e o ieuse de Ghazali > ed. par L. Gautier, Geneve, 
1878. 

Al munqidh min ad dhalal ed. Schmolders, Essai 
sur les ecoles philosophiques chez les Arabes. 
Pans, 1842. 



APPENDIX 299 

Translated by Barbier de Meynard, 1877, in 
Journal Asiatique, vol. ix. 

English. 
f VTCimija as saa'da The Alchemy of Happiness 

H. A. Homes, Albany, N. Y., 1873. 
vThe Alchemy of Happiness Claud Field, London, 

1908. 

^The Confessions of Al-Ghazali Claud Field, Lon- 
don, 1909. 

Turkish. 

There are two manuscript translations of Al-Ghazali's 
Nasa'ih-ul-Muluk in Turkish. Also an Arabic 
version of the Persian original. (See Browne's 
Handlist of Cambridge University Library Ara- 
bic MSS. Nos. 1185 and 220.) 

The Alchemy of Happiness is also widely known in a 
Turkish version from which the earliest English 
version by Homes was made. 



C LIST OF AL-GHAZALI'S WORKS 

In Arabic alphabetical order according to As-Subqi, 
Al-Murtadha (Vol. I, pp. 41-83), and other sources. 

1. Ihya 'Ulum id Din (Revival of the Sciences of 

Religion). 

2. Al Imla' 'Ala Mushkal al Ihya (supplement to 

above). 

3. Al'Arba'in ( on the Koran) . 

4. Asma Allah al Husna (on the names of God). 

5. Al-Iqtasad fi 'Itiqad (Speculative Theology). 

6. II jam al 'A warn 'an 'ilm al Kalam (Warning 

against scholasticism) . 

7. Asrar Mu'amalat id Din (Mysticism). 

8. Asrar al anwar al ilahiya (on the Koran). 



300 APPENDIX 

9. Akhlaq al abrar wa najat mm al ashrar - 
(Ethics). 

10. Asrar itba'a as sunna (Tradition). 

11. Asrar al huruf wa'l kalimat (Koran Myste- 

ries). 

12. Ayyuha'l walad (O child! written in Persian 

originally Ethics and Manners). 

13. Badayat al Hadaya (Beginner's book in re- 

ligion). 

14. Al Basit fi furu'a al Madhhab (Jurisprudence). 

15. Bayan al Qaulain (Creed). 

16. Bayan Fadha'a al Abahiya 

17. Bada'a as Saniya. 

18. Tanbih al Ghafalin. 

19. Talbis Iblis. 

20. At Takbir fi 'ilm al ta'abir (Interpretation). 

21. Tahafut al filasafa (Against Philosophy). 

22. Ta'liqa fi furua' al Madhab (Written at Jurjan 

against the Ismailite heresy). 

23. Tahsin al Maqsud 

24. Tahsin al Adilla (Sources of Islam). 

25. Tafsir al Quran al 'Azim (Brief Koran Com- 

mentary). 

26. Al Tafriqa bain al iman wa'l zindiqa 

27. Jawahir al Quran (Beauties of the Koran). 

28. Hujjat al Haqq 

29. Haqiqat al Ruh (Mysticism). 

30. Haqiqat al Qaulain (on the Creed). 

31. Al Durra al Fakhira (The Precious Pearl), 

32. Khalasat ar Rasa'il (Jurisprudence). 

33. Khulasat al-tasanif fi 1-tasawwuf. 
34- Risalat al Oudsiya. 

35. Risalat al Aqtab. 

36. Al Risalat al Laduniya. 

37- Risalat at Tair (Parable on the Birds). 

38. Sirr al Ma'sun (on the magical use of the 

Koran text). 

39- Sirr al-'alamain wa-kashf ma fi '1-darain. 
40. Sharh Da'irat 'AH ibn Talib, 



APPENDIX 301 

41. Shifa' al Ghalil (On Logic). 

42. 'Aqidat al Misbah. 

43. 'Aja'ib Sana'a Allah. 

44. 'Anqud al Mukhtasar. 

45. Ghayat al Ghur fi Misa'il al daur (On Di- 

vorce). 

46. Ghaur al Daur (also on Divorce) written in 

Bagdad 484 A. H. 

47. Al Fatawa (One hundred and ninety questions 

answered). 

48. Fatihat al 'Ulum (Encyclopaedia of Sciences). 

49. Al Qanun al Kulli. 

50. Qanun ar Rasul. 

51. Al Qurbat ila Allah (On Nearness to God). 

52. Al Qistas al Mustaqim (Sources of Islam). 

53. Al Qaul al jamil fi radd 'ala man ghaiyar al Injil 

(On the corrupting of the Gospel text). 

54. Kimiya as Saa'da (The Alchemy of Happi- 

ness ; written in Persian and afterwards trans- 
lated). 

55. Kashf 'Ulum al Akhira (Eschatology). 

56. Al Kashf wa'l tabyin fi ghurur al Khalk ajma'in 

(Mysticism). 

57. Kanz al 'Idat. 

58. Kitab al 'arba'in. 

59. Al Lubab al Muntaqal fi '1 Jadal (On Contro- 

versy). 

60. Al Mustasfa fi 'Usul al Fiqh (Jurisprudence). 

His most important and largest work on this 
subject; several commentaries were written 
on it later. 

61. Al Manqul fi'l 'Usul. 

62. Al Maksud fi Khilafiyat bain al Hanifiya wa'sh 

ShafTya (on these two schools of jurispru- 
dence). 

63. Al Madadi wa'l Ghayat fi asrar al Huruf al 

Maknumat. 

64. Al Majalis al Ghazaliya (Collection of his 

Bagdad sermons). 



302 APPENDIX 

65. Maqasid al filasaf a (Philosophy). 

66. Al Munqidh min adh-Dhalal (His Confes- 

sions, Autobiographical). 

67. Mi'yar al Urn fi'l Mantiq (Logic) . 

68. Mi'yar al Nazir (Logic). 

69. Mahal al Nazir 

70. Mishkat al anwar fi lata'if al akhyar (Ethics). 

71. Al Mustazhir fi radd 'ala 1 Batiniya (Contro- 

versial). 

72. Al-Madmm bihi ala ghairi ahlihi Book to be 

kept from those unfitted for it. (Esoteric.) 

73. Al-Madnun al-saghir Book to be kept from 

those unfitted for it. (Esoteric.) 

74. Mishkat al-anwar (Mysticism). 

75. Mizan al 'Amal (A compendium of Ethics). 

76. Mawahib al Batiniya (similar to No. 71, but 

abbreviated) . 

77. Al Minhaj al A'ali 

78. Miraj as Salikin 

79. Mukashafat al quluti 

80. Mufasal al Khilaf fi 'Usul al Qiyas 

81. Minhaj al 'Abidin ila Janat Rab al 'Alamin 

(His last work: a popular epistle on the Mys- 
tic way). 

82. Nasikhat al Muluk (Written in Persian and 

called in the Arabic translation Al Tibr al 
Masbuk; a book of counsel for kings and 
princes). 

83. Al Wajiz (Jurisprudence). Several conamen- 

taries were written on this work and it is 
much used. 

84. Al Wasit (a celebrated book in Jurispru- 

dence). Several commentaries. 

85. Yaqut at Ta'wil fi Tafsir at Tanzil (Commen- 

tary on the Koran in 40 vols.). 

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