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AL-GHAZALI'S - Philosophical Theology , by Frank Griffel

  • AL-GHAZALI'S - Philosophical Theology  , by Frank Griffel
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Hardback - 424 pages


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: The Muslim thinker al-Ghazali (d. 1111) was one of the most influential theologians and philosophers of Islam and has been considered an authority in both Western and Islamic philosophical traditions. Born in north-eastern Iran, he held the most prestigious academic post in Islamic theology in Baghdad, only to renounce the position and teach at small schools in the provinces for no money. His contributions to Islamic scholarship range from responding to the challenges of Aristotelian philosophy to creating a new type of Islamic mysticism and integrating both these traditions-falsafa and Sufism-into the Sunni mainstream.

 

This book offers a comprehensive study of al-Ghazali's life and his understanding of cosmology-how God creates things and events in the world, how human acts relate to God's power, and how the universe is structured. Frank Griffel offers a serious revision of traditional views on al-Ghazali, showing that his most important achievement was the creation of a new rationalist theology in which he transformed the Aristotelian views of thinkers such as Avicenna to accord with intellectual currents that were well-established within Muslim theological discourse. Using the most authoritative sources, including reports from al-Ghazali's students, his contemporaries, and his own letters, Griffel reconstructs every stage in a turbulent career. The al-Ghazali that emerges offers many surprises, particularly on his motives for leaving Baghdad and the nature of his "seclusion" afterwards. Griffel demonstrates that al-Ghazali intended to create a new cosmology that moved away from concerns held earlier by Muslim theologians and Arab philosophers. This new theology aimed to provide a framework for the pursuit of the natural sciences and a basis for Islamic science and philosophy to flourish beyond the 12th century.

Reviews: 

"This work is a detailed examination of Al-Ghazali's position with respect to Greek science and philosophy as it was presented to the Muslim world in the works of Avicenna. In making this examination the author has been able to correct certain misconceptions about Al-Ghazali which have long been held by some Western scholars."---Nicholas Heer, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, University of Washington, Seattle

"A highly useful introduction to the life and thought of one of the most important theologians, not only of the Islamic world, but of the world as a whole. Al-Ghazali is an outstanding thinker by any stretch of the imagination, and as the author points out, we still do not know enough about his life. This is an excellent work of scholarship on an important and fascinating philosopher." ---Oliver Leaman, Professor of Philosophy, University of Kentucky

"Frank Griffel's new book is a lucid synthesis of the latest scholarship on al-Ghazali's life and legacy, his interpretive method and his ideas about the world's creation and about divine, human and natural causality. Griffel succeeds in presenting a coherent and nuanced picture of the cosmology of this complex thinker, who was both a scholar of jurisprudence and a mystic, both a critic of philosophy and a philosophical theologian." ---Robert Wisnovsky, Associate Professor, Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University

"One of the most extensive and insightful studies of al-Ghazali ever undertaken... Frank Griffel's book is a veritable tour de force that will remain a benchmark in Ghazalian studies for a long time to come." ---Theological Review

 
About the Author: Frank Griffel is Professor of Islamic Studies at Yale University and has published widely in the fields of Islamic theology, Arab and Islamic philosophy, Islamic law, and Muslim intellectual history.


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