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: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 97, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1977), pp. 201202 Published by: American Oriental Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/599017 Accessed: 22/02/2010 08:16
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What matters is that the reader's perceptions have been challenged. sharpened. Pp. and not as a philological quarry or an embellished social treatise. I believe-that "Al-Ghazzali's ethics include philosophic. The uniqueness of this great thinker still fascinates philosophers and scholars all over the world and there seems to be no limit to their efforts to penetrate Al-Ghazzali's thought more deeply in order to find better solutions to the endless problems and contradictions that his manifold books pose to his readers. The voluminous literature about Al-Ghazzali (1058-1111) is still growing steadily. Let us have more of this. 53) rather than "pimp. brilliant forgeries" (p. there are social overtones to Abu Nuwas's "adhaqani s-sadda su'u tadbiri" only if sadd is taken to mean "an outcast's life" (p.g. redirected. but what of the possibly extensive suppression of pagan material? And when a few pages later the author encounters a conflict of evidence on the prevalence of the atlal motif. Because the material tapped is limited. In comparing the broad features and the "driving spirit" of Arabic poetry before and after Islam.. There seems to pass no year without at least one new book about Al-Ghazzali appearing somewhere in the academic world. translations. By MOHAMED AHMEDSHERIF. M. it is both inconsistent and a great deal too facile to resolve it by blandly surmising that "there is just a chance that the mu'allaqat are . II) Sherif shows that although Al-Ghazzali's ethical theory was deeply influenced by philosophic sources. There are three parts and three approaches. 134-41). Al-Ghazzali. 205. A few of the inferences. Thus. and the whole tenor of the same poet's line: fa-raddahu sh-shaykhu 'an su'iibatihi wa-isra qawwadana wa-lam yazali and consequently the function ascribed to the devil hinge on whether it is correct to translate qawwad as "guide" (p. and ending with the tenth. examining the orders and disorders in two tales from the Arabian Nights. how conventions were handled. 19) to be a shade too neat and clever. The first part (Chapters I-III) is historical: it takes for its theme the transformations in poetic genres and poetic attitudes (towards time and society) in the period beginning with the sixth century A. on the other hand he may well wonder whether the commentary on Sanawbari's poem (pp. 41). PIERRE CACHIA COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY Ghazali's Theory of Virtue. 31). states that man may be born virtuous-not only acquire virtue through habituation alone. etc. including two appendices. There is hardly a page in it that does not contain some luminous observation. 83-6) is not subtler than the text. Albany: STATE UNIVERSITYOF NEW YORK PRESS. It is in no sense a stricture to add that the judgments are personal and suggestive rather than authoritative.Reviews of Books with the three aspects of medieval Arabic literature that appear most alien to modern Western taste: the limitation of themes. 6). 17). He tackles Al-Ghazzali from a new point of view and in a different way from his precursors and the result of his effort is a fine and valuable study of Al-Ghazzali's ethics-even for those who may not agree with Sherif on all details. but intriguing nevertheless. deepened. For here at last Arabic literature is being examined as literature. too are drawn from dubious translations. This-in order to account for the Muslim theories of Prophecy and Sainthood (p. Sherif's book is not only one more attempt of this kind but an extremely helpful one at that. and the use of reticent patterns of composition. For example. the effect of forgeries may well be discounted (p.D. The third part (VI-VII) deals with methods of composition in prose. 1975. Sherif proves-successfully. editions of his books." Precisely because Professor Hamori has new insights to give.. the historical section is-if not less lively or stimulating than the others-more open to question. e. or he may take the enumeration of correspondences between lady and camel in various parts 201 of an ode (p. First (ch. A. he ought to guard against being less rigorous in his scholarship than his more pedestrian predecessors. he modified and changed several philosophic concepts in order to adapt them to the Muslim tradition and to his own Sufi ideals. 164-80) derives not so much from the irony of a cosmic music as from the contemplation of the kaleidoscopic changes that may be effected by a slight rotation of the repetitive patterns of an arabesque. 21-22). The reader may enthusiastically agree with the interpretation of a poem by Mutanabbi (pp. In other cases. sharply focused and felicitously formulated. religious and mystical elements and that he purposely brings all of them together and blends them in such a way that they complement each other and form a whole which is not merely the sum of the parts but has its own characteristics as an ethical theory" (pp. or he may end up feeling that the fascination of the story of "the Porter and the Three Ladies" (pp.. This last sentence should also make it clear that the reservations expressed in this review are but the counterpart of the high hopes raised by this bright and original work. as with regard to all virtues subordinated . unlike Aristo. the sedimentation with conventions. The second part (IV-V) concentrates on some problems of poetic technique: how poems were made to hang together. bibliography and index. let alone articles.
III of the book ("The Religious Legal Virtues") is a much weaker one and deals in a most general way with what Sherif calls "the virtues of divine assistance. IV and VI. through being considered a symbolical rehearsal of man's last journey after his death. 109-110. pp. J. 3 Cf. 114-116. p. Jerusalem 1975.g. Inspite of Al-Ghazzali's declarations that he will refrain from dealing with the mystical "Science of Revelation" in this compendium-he included in it many far reaching esoteric portions (See my Studies in Al-Ghazzali. Al-Ghazzali makes Aristo's "mean" to "incline toward the defect and sometimes to be almost identified by it" (p. but he in fact puts an enormous effort into explaining the "deeper meanings" of the religious commandments and the central role they can play in "extirpating evil from the heart of man and implanting virtue in it. idea that the performance of those commandments which we do not understand is the best means for our moralreligious education. 70-72). 385. in which lies man's destiny and true bliss. p. Book 5. of course. f. which are so fundamentally different from the concepts of free human choice and unaided human reason held by the philosophers. . though Siifi flavoured. p. 5 Personally I do not share Sherif's view of the Ihya (see his book. because we have no other reason to perform them-except God's wish and command.202 Journal of the American Oriental Society 97. but he does not go enough into details and thus creates sometimes the wrong impression that Al-Ghazzali expresses his own ideas where he is in fact following the general Sufi path (cf. 50 are actually Siifi Malamati ideals and the basic elements of Al-Ghazzali's definition of repentance mentioned on p. 125 are already to be found with Al-Makki. of course. 10ff. 484-485 or Kitab Al-Arba'in.. he regards modesty.) as a book whose subject is "practical knowledge" only. Book 5. Sherif also rightly stresses Al-Ghazzili's general dependence on his Sufi precursors like Abu Talib AlMakki. but not for the spiritual elite. p. Cairo 1328 Hg. 30. Al-Ghazzili often states very clearly that only through proper understanding and through right observance of the religious commandments man can attain that stage of virtue and moral perfection which is a necessary condition for the supreme degree of knowledge and love of God. Ihya ibid. add some general remarks of criticism such as the fact that this study is based only upon a small number of Al-Ghazzali's books or the lack of some important bibliographical items. 44-45: "DjihSd" as an inner struggle. 128). 101: on music. Book 7. p. 103).3 Al-Ghazzili even expresses repeatedly the 1 Cf. Islam through absorbing as much as possible from the philosophical tradition. In this context the religious commandments take precedence over everything else and "virtue becomes primarily religious virtue" (p. 2 See my Studies in Al-Ghazzali. 157). in my view. Wensinck-La Pensee de Ghazzali (Paris 1940) or modern monographs like H. 27. stands in direct contrast to any philosophical attitude and puts Al-Ghazzali's theory of ethics in its proper subordinate place in the framework of his whole religious doctrine. basic studies like: J. The ideas quoted on p. who after relinquishing wealth have no more use for it (pp. Obermann-Der philosophische und religiose Subjektivismus Ghazalis (Wien 1921) and A. One may. p.6 But all these and other remarks should not detract from the great value of this book. Al-Qushairi and others).). 1966) would have been useful in corroborating some of Sherif's theses (see pp. chaps. Ch. 363ff. 483ff. But it is exactly here that I feel Sherif is missing the most basic points: he touches upon central themes of AlGhazzali's thought inadvertently as it were. and does not seem to be fully aware of the principal fact that AlGhazzali totally subdues the philosophic ethical tradition to his religious ideals. 1961).e.4 This. Therefore. esp. p. 67) or confirms liberality as a virtue only for the multitude. 58: on the merits of hunger. for example. This is why Al-Ghazzali not only rejected any heterodox and antinomian doctrine as Sherif rightly points out (p.. JERUSALEM 4 Ibid. p." based on the theological concepts of determinism and divine aid. Part I. Laoust-La Politique de Gazali (Paris 1970). obviously. 85).2 (1977) to temperance. VI "The Religious Commandments in the Philosophy of Al-Ghazzili" was first published in the Muslim World LI. Ihy& 'Uliim Al-Din. HAVA LAZARUS-YAFEH THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY. alms-giving may uproot miserliness from man's heart and the pilgrimage to Mecca... p. Perhaps my own study of Al-GhazzSli's use of philosophical terms (first published in Studia Islamica XX V. whereby we reach the highest degree of our piety and devotion."5 These are perhaps more known but Sherif adds here some very appropriate shifts of points of view (p."2 Thus. etc. and Book 7. 388-389. may help him to realize more clearly the deeper purpose of his life and death. is the core of what Al-Ghazz5li felt to be his own mission: to bring about a renascence of traditional. pp. f.. 65). 48: poverty as a virtue. Part I. as a virtue in direct contradiction to Aristo (p.e. Cairo 1356 Hg.1 Here. 6 E. which certainly will be of much help to every student of Al-Ghazzali. The last chapter (IV) of the book deals with the mystical virtues as Al-Ghazzali explains them in the last quarter of the "Ihya. (Ch.