Al Ghazali on Islamic Guidance by Al Ghazali, Translated by Muhammad Abul Quasem

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In the 11th Century AD, there was a significant deterioration in Muslim's belief and observance of the Shariah as a result of the evil influence of AlFarabi and IbnSina's Neoplatonic philosophy, of Shia Batinism, of false Sufis and evil religious scholars. It was at this time of laxity in beliefs and practices that Abu Hamid Muhammad Al Ghazali (D 505 Hijri) flourished as a renewer (Mujaddid) of the deen and as one of the greatest intellectuals of Islamic history.

Well-versed in almost all major intellectual disciplines of the time, Al-Ghazali refuted the prevailing false beliefs entirely and exposed the wrongness of existing practices. As substitutes to these, he presented a belief system following the Ashari Sunni tradition and a method of practices in the light of the Quran and the Sunnah, Fiqh, Sufism and his own thoughts and experiences. This system of practices may be called Al Ghazalis theory of Islamic guidance, an aspect of which is set forth in the Present work.

Guidance (hidayat) on the path to God and piety (taqwa) are emphasized in the Qur'an. Al-Ghazali (d. 1111 A.D.), the greatest Muslim intellectual and sufi of all times, teaches that these two Qur'anic ideals have a beginning and an end, an outward aspect and an inward and that no one can reach the end except after completing the beginning. What the beginning part is and how to acquire it, are described in al-Ghazali's book Bidayat al-Hidaya, translated into English with introduction, running commentary and notes by Prof. Dr. M.A. Quasem under the title Al-Ghazali on Islamic Guidance.

In this book, guidance is identified with piety. The beginning of guidance or piety is described as (1) Proper performance of the acts of worship related to the body, (2) Avoidance of sins, (3) Observance of etiquettes of companionship with people. These three requirements are discussed, How the time from dawn to night and how the time between sunrise and midday should be passed by one seeking to achieve the beginning part of guidance or piety are suggested in the book. What should be the correct motive of religious knowledge is also determined. The book is like a valuable manual of daily life for a practising Muslim.

Year: 2023


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