Pub. date: 2012 | Online Pub. Date: May 31, 2012 | DOI: 10.4135/9781452218458 | Print ISBN: 9781412981767 | Online ISBN: 9781452218458 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
al-Ghazali: Prehistory to 1250: Middle East
Al-Ghazali (Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Tusi, d. 1111) was a Muslim theologian, jurist, and Sufi who embodies in his work the sum of all intellectual and political uncertainties of his time. The social background of al-Ghazali was particularly fragile (an orphan and descendant of an ascetic family). As a matter of fact, uncertainty marked both his spiritual journey and his material condition. More importantly, al-Ghazali was a witness to the decline of the Abbasid caliphate, governed by the Sunni Seljuk dynasty facing subversive internal and external challenges. The education of al-Ghazali was not exceptional, and focused, mainly, on Ash'arite theology, Shafi'ite law, and Sunni Sufism. Such a curriculum prepared him to be a Sunni juristtheologian and teacher. Initially, al-Ghazali sought to accommodate himself to traditional Islamic culture: his legal and theological works of the phase of adaptation reflect very little originality. As a result of a deep spiritual crisis, al-Ghazali began ...