Al-Ghazali and the Ismailis: A Debate on Reason and by Farouk Mitha

By Farouk Mitha

Al-Ghazali is arguably some of the most influential thinkers within the heritage of Islam, and his writings have acquired higher scholarly realization within the West than these of the other Muslim pupil. This research explores a huge size of his inspiration that has no longer but been totally tested, specifically, his polemical engagement with the Ismailis of the Fatimid and early Alamut periods.Published in organization with The Institute of Ismaili reports.

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Extra resources for Al-Ghazali and the Ismailis: A Debate on Reason and Authority in Medieval Islam

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It was formulated within the framework and conventions of the siyåsa shar ™iyya tradition. By the time of al-Ghazålí, this tradition had become structured around a working relationship between the caliph, the Turkic sultans and the ™ulamå¢. The caliph was conceived as the symbolic apex from which both the sultan and the ™ulamå¢ derived their identity as fulfilling functions delegated to them from the caliph. 32 This, then, served as the scaffolding on which al-Ghazålí sought to formulate a modus vivendi for the political tensions of his day.

On the one hand, al-Ghazålí was only too aware that he was a beneficiary of Saljuq tutelage, while on the other he derived his legitimacy from the caliph’s symbolic guardianship over the sharí™a. Let us now turn to the circumstances around which al-Ghazålí was forced to negotiate a modus vivendi between the de facto power of the Saljuq sultan and the de jure authority of the Abbasid caliph. Ecology of the Kitåb al-Mustaúhirí 13 Al-Ghazålí and the Abbasid Caliphate By the time al-Ghazålí arrived in Baghdad, the pattern of assumptions and expectations supporting the body politic had already been subject to a fair amount of theorizing.

Like all such constructs, its meaning is conditioned by the presuppositions – the motivations and biases – of the polemical exchange in which it is used. In this particular case, the biases are those of al-Ghazålí as the self-styled polemicist on behalf of the Sunni caliph. In order to analyse and understand al-Ghazålí’s motivations, we need to step outside the polemical exchange as recorded in the K. al-Mustaúhirí, and study the so-called Bå†iniyya apart from al-Ghazålí’s perception of them. This will help us identify more readily al-Ghazålí’s biases in the text and also, more importantly, his polemical aims and strategies vis-à-vis the Bå†iniyya.

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