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

By Farouk Mitha

Al-Ghazali is arguably the most influential thinkers within the heritage of Islam, and his writings have bought higher scholarly cognizance within the West than these of the other Muslim pupil. This research explores an enormous measurement of his suggestion that has now not but been totally tested, particularly, his polemical engagement with the Ismailis of the Fatimid and early Alamut periods.Published in organization with The Institute of Ismaili experiences.

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It was this contest that spurred al-Ghazålí into polemic. For al-Ghazålí, the entire Shi™i Ismaili enterprise of the Fatimids represented the ‘wholly other’, with whom no compromise was possible. The Shi™i Imam’s claim to infallible authority challenged the very premises of the Sunni legal tradition, and hence also the raison d’être of the Sunni ™ulamå¢. 22 Al-Ghazålí and the Ismailis Among the various challenges posed by the Fatimids, be it in terms of their naval supremacy or economic wealth, the most threatening, for al-Ghazålí, lay in the doctrines and activities of the Fatimid da™wa.

11 By this time, all the territories formerly ruled by the Buwayhids had passed into the hands of the Saljuqs, and by the end of ®ughril Beg’s reign Saljuq rule had extended into Syria. As much as the Saljuqs represented a continuation of power in the mould established by the Buwayhids, they were, nonetheless, progenitors of radical change. The most significant of these changes lay in the rejuvenation of a government bureaucracy, resembling that of the Abbasid court in its heyday before the Buwayhids, at the apex of which stood the office of the wazír.

The continuing vacuum in the power structure weighed heavily on the position of the caliph, and al-Ghazålí, as a member of the ™ulamå¢ attached to the Niúåmiyya, could not but be affected by the situation. The civil war carried different levels of significance depending on whether viewed from the perspective of the Saljuq family, or Caliph al-Mustaúhir, or al-Ghazålí. Each of these perspectives is embedded within a repertoire of expectations and apprehensions, reflecting the needs and desires motivating all these different actors on the scene.

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