Al-Ghazali's Unspeakable Doctrine of the Soul: Unveiling the Esoteric Psychology and Eschatology of the Ihya' (Book Review) Al-Ghazali's Unspeakable Doctrine of the Soul: Unveiling the Esoteric Psychology and Eschatology of the Ihya' (Book Review)

Al-Ghazali's Unspeakable Doctrine of the Soul: Unveiling the Esoteric Psychology and Eschatology of the Ihya' (Book Review‪)‬

The Journal of the American Oriental Society 2004, Jan-March, 124, 1

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Publisher Description

Al-Ghazali's Unspeakable Doctrine of the Soul: Unveiling the Esoteric Psychology and Eschatology of the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. By TIMOTHY J. GIANOTTI. Brill's Studies in Intellectual History, vol. 104. Leiden: BRILL, 2001. Pp. 205. $76. Analyzing al-Ghazali's religious doctrine is a task with many obstacles. One of the most daunting is the fact that al-Ghazali wrote different things for different readers. By now it is well established that al-Ghazali consciously divided his works into several different levels of instruction, distinguished by the amount of insight that he reveals therein. He assumed that people fall into different classes according to their understanding of doctrinal matters and he tailored his works accordingly. In a well-known passage at the very end of his book Mizan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]--later famously quoted by Ibn Tufayl--al-Ghazali seems to subscribe to a broad characterization of three levels of teachings (madhahib). The first are those teachings that one clings to while in scholarly competition and controversy, the second those teachings that one whispers during teaching sessions and instructions, and the third those theological views that one has become convinced of within one's own soul. (Mizan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], ed. Sulayman Dunya [Cairo: Dar [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 1964], 406.] Since scholars have become aware of this obstacle they have developed strategies to tackle it. Most successful has been the decision to search for those texts in which al-Ghazali presents his teachings on the highest level. Given the possibility that none of his books contains the third level of teachings, these books would still be the most elaborate available and hopefully present a non-contradictory and comprehensive system of thought. The results of such an inquiry could then in a further step be compared to the teachings in his more basic books and the assumed figurative language therein deciphered. An attempt to accomplish the first step of this approach is, for instance, Richard M. Frank's Creation and the Cosmic System (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1992) in which Frank analyzes the cosmological views in the Maqsad al-asna, the Mishkat al-anwar, the Tahafut al-falasifa, and other works. Frank, however, puts little emphasis on al-Ghazali's textbook of kalam, al-Iqtisad fi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and, in deciphering its language, comes to the conclusion that it is almost deceptive on the issue of God's creation as the best of all possible worlds (pp. 63-77), a view held by al-Ghazali but rejected by most mutakallimun. In a number of articles, Michael E. Marmura complements Frank's approach and focuses on the Iqtisad, thus implicitly assuming that this is the key work that leads to a better understanding of lower levels of al-Ghazali's writings. The fact that the two come to different conclusions illustrates the limitations of the method of focusing on a selected group of al-Ghazali's works.

GENRE
Non-Fiction
RELEASED
2004
1 January
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
10
Pages
PUBLISHER
American Oriental Society
SIZE
206.1
KB

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