He tells us, in the introduction of
,of this book’s general approach:
Let it be known that [our] objective is to alert those who think well of the
and believe that their ways are free from contradiction byshowing the [various] aspects of their incoherence. For this reason, I donot enter into [argument] objecting to them, except as one who demandsanddenies,not asonewho claims[and]a
rms.I willrendermurkywhatthey believe in [by showing] conclusively that they must hold to variousconsequences [of their theories . . .]. I, however, will not rise to thedefence of any one doctrine.
This negativism relates to the fact that al-Ghaza¯lı¯ considers the
work; for it serves one of the two essentialfunctions he assigns to this discipline.
This, primarily nega-tivist function concerns the defence of the common orthodoxcreed, by the refutation of conﬂicting views.The second function he assigns to
concerns dispellingdoubts that may plague the average believer’s mind, by provid-ing persuasive proofs (
) for the orthodox creed. As such,the
will arrive to more or less the same point atwhich the average uncritical imitator (
) stands,namely mere belief (
) in the truth of the formal expres-sions of the doctrines that constitute this creed.
According toal-Ghaza¯lı¯, real and direct positive knowledge of what thesedoctrinal formulations refer to can be sought through ahigher theology, the ‘science of spiritual illumination’ (
), combined with spiritual discipline.Given these two objectives that he speciﬁes for
,al-Ghaza¯lı¯ holds that this discipline should be reverted to onlywhen opponents or doubts appear; otherwise, it should beavoided. Learning and practicing
becomes a collective
Al-Ghaza¯lı¯’s views on
have been examined in: Richard M. Frank,
Al-Ghaza¯lı¯ and the Ash‘arite School
(Durham and London, 1994); KojiroNakamura, ‘‘Was Ghaza¯lı¯ an Ash‘arite?’’,
Memoirs of the Research Department of the Tokyo Bunko
o, 51 (1993): 1–24; Michael E. Marmura, ‘‘Ghazali and Ash‘arismrevisited’’,
Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
, 12 (2002): 91–110. The subject,however, is still in need of further study. For the purposes of this section, by nomeans intended as a comprehensive account of al-Ghaza¯lı¯’s position, a freshexamination of his works was found necessary.
, ed. S. Dunya (Cairo, 1980);
,trans. M. Marmura (Provo, Utah, 2000), p. 82 (Marmura’s translation, withadjustments, pp. 7–8).
(Beirut, 1983), p. 21.
ya¯’ ‘ulu¯m al-dı¯n
, 4 vols. (Damascus, n.d.), vol. 4, p. 212;
Al-Arba‘ı¯n fı¯ us
(Cairo, 1925), p. 24.FROM AL-GHAZA