Scientific journal
European Journal of Natural History
ISSN 2073-4972

Al-Gazali’s religious – philosophical view

Rysbekova S.S., Kurmanalieva A.D.

The article considers the religious-philosophical view of Al-Ghazali. Philosophical interpretation of religious views is examined through the prism of comparative analysis of problems of faith and rational thinking, examines the correlation of philosophy and Kalam, the concept of the Creator and the created things in the religious-philosophical views of Al-Ghazali.

Living path through years, left heritage to younger generation peculiar to great thinkers, they are eternal treasure of history, among them I would mention the name of al-Gazali. It is known, that English philosopher Francis Bacon «left his name to future generation and other countries», as well the name of the clergyman al-Gazali is known not only among Arabian moslem culture, but it became the object of the world philosophical

The clergyman Mohamed al-Gazali was born in 1058 in the city Tus, Khorasan region, Iran in the ordinary family. His name («al-Gazali») comes from parents craft, they were spinners, the second he was born in Tus city, near Gazali village, but it might not be a true fact (G.M. Kerimov). He became orphan at early age and was brought up by his father´s friend. The stream of life led him to great thinkers, communicating with them he acquired their knowledge.

The first education he got in his own city by Abul - Kassim Ismail al- Dhurjani (1084), sheih Abu Bakran-Nasati al-Tusu (1094).

Further his research path is connected with one of the intellectual elite centers Nishapur city. In the mentioned center al-Gazali improves his knowledge taking courses from two teachers, they were clergyman in Mekke and Madina («clergyman al-Haramai»), clergyman from asharat al- Dhuvaini (1085) and sufi sheih al-farmadi (1011-1084). The last influenced on him greatly, that later he chose the religious path.

Al-Gazali was highly educated person and his days spent in the palace «Malik - shah Seldjuk» were the most memorable ones. Nizam al-Mulk tried to gather all theologists together in order to solve the religious problems, his aims were to maintain the sunnit islam, famous religious schools «an-Nizamia were opened pursuing this very purpose». The fact, that al-Gazali got chance to teach at this school is the result of his professionalism. During his work at this school, he got acquainted with several works on philosophy, religion, law.

According to Matem Mohamed al-Dhanabi, al-Gazali life path is not for just accumulation of simple events, but the factor of spiritual development [1]. Heritage of al-Gazali is very deep, to understand his world view, we should consider his historical phase. XI-XII centuries generated controversies of different directions of the islam world. In each direction al-Gazali paid attention to suggested facts. After a long research , analyzing different ideas of philosophers, he became a defender or advocate of islam from philosophers.

According to Suleimen Dunia religious - philosophical view of al- Gazali is divided into three stages

  1. before doubt stage
  2. doubt stage, it is divided into two parts: in the first stage doubt is slight, many researchers have experienced it, the second stage - it is experienced by philosophers, (Al-Gazali searching for truth became ill for two months and he had eleven years of unsettled life L.K.);
  3. calming down and being on the path of truth [2].

His books are classified into two groups: the first - devoted to kalam, the second, the books containing secret data for those who didn´t reach understanding. This classification may be one sided, especially considering difficulties during research. For example, as A. Hismatullin said that there are different arguments concerning al- Gazali´s written heritage:

  1. Authencity of materials, if they really belonged to him.
  2. Chronology problem.
  3. Private issues evolution view of al - Gazali on the base of textologic analysis.
  4. The role of al- Gazali in Sufism development. Here are the issues of his Sufism succession or its absence: questions like, who was his mentor, what direction he follows in Sufism, etc [3].

These problems occurred because he didn´t write his name and there were not signed, to define that he is the author can be determined by the previous reference (A. Hismatullin). Looking through his research works, we find the possibility to define medieval islam philosophy directions.

In medieval East antica the heritage was rapidly growing and it raised the problem of increasing the role of the «mind». Islamic theologists understood the necessity to communicate in philosophical language, the person who understood this necessity was al-Gazali. He introduced philosophy to islam religion.

Al-Gazali mastered the ancient Greek philosophy and understood unpleasant moments between religion and philosophy, among them the most dangerous was the idea that philosophy denied the existence of Allah. He criticesed Aristotel´s, Farabi´s and Ibn Sina´s philosophy.

The first philosophical works he published in «Makasid al-falasifa, criticism of philosophical views can be found in his work» Tahafut al-falasifa». In the mentioned works he interviews philosophers on 20 problems and considers three of them to be doubtful, the others weak. The first eternal world, the second, lack of education about Allah, about individual phenomena, the third, revival of body. He didn´t believe in these things and in principles of reason al-Gazali considered that everything is done by Allah´s will. For example, the burning of a cotton, he explains not because of fire, but it is done by Allah. It was strongly criticized by Ibn Rushd. In forming his world view al-Gazali considered that «doubt leads to truth. His skepticism affected western philosophers», mainly R. Dekart.

Researching philosophy he was affected by it, he admitted contradictory views of Aristotel, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and shared with Platon´s view. G.M. Kerimov in his book «al-Gazali and Sufism» analyzed the influence of his philosophy to skepticism and agnostizm. Ibn Sina and al-Farabi tried to solve the problems in «diplomatic» way. Nevertheless, orientalist I. Oberman considers that al-Gazali played essential role to reveal this contradiction, but it wasn´t successful [5].

Al-Gazali couldn´t find the respond during his life time to «tahafut» devoted to aristotelism, but after his death Ibn Rushd found the answer. «Tahafut» problems can be grouped into two large groups, «interview» concerning natural problems and super natural. The problem they raised related to Allah and this really actual topic of islam philosophy. Nowadays , according to Ustag M. Yesdi «facts used to prove God´s existence can be divided into three categories:

  1. categories, give reason for allah signs in this world
  2. proves existence of unneeded creator by world needs...
  3. real philosophical proofs, formed by real rational message» [6].

Problems continuing from medieval period mainly, preserved till now.

It is difficult to say his belonging to philosophical or theological direction, because his world view constantly changed, he opposed to philosophers, asharit and sufi, unlike other sufis he didn´t approve sheih.

al-Gazali had dual philosophical view, from the one hand he criticized philosophers, on the other hand he considered Aristotel´s logics to be real method to base theology, and later this became controversial problem. Theologists were against logics. Oliver Liman said». He gave the possibility to differentiate philosophy from logics, because theologist considered philosophy as a science which is in doubt about religious truth. Science experienced different variations, there was division as domestic and foreign science. For example, scientific classification mainly coincides with Aristotel´s classification, but al-Hvarismi classified sciences as «religious» and «foreign», Ibn Haldune divided as «traditional» and «philosophical». Of course, there would be hindrance if there was any connection between logics and kalam.

Logics considered to be «foreign» science, but it is difficult to imagine «religious» science, kalam without logics. To find the way out from this situation Gazali considered philosophy and logics as separate sciences.

al-Gazali received traditional moslem education at first proved theological regulations. Constant search of truth led him to skeptical view to certain things. Insulted by kalamit, zahirit, batinid philosophers he chose religious way. In most cases sufism understood as individual experience of a human to be close to Allah, and according to Gazali religious person must be brought up by religious values.

al-Farabi and Ibn Sina considered that only education develops human spiritually and actions aren´t necessary. So Gazali believes in true way consisting of education and action. Like philosophers, he says that soul is the main part of human, when dying it is separated from body.

According to his view, there are two ways leading to Allah: the first private way of a religious person, the second to carry out religious rituals and customs and to be close to God. His «doubtful» philosophy devoted to scientific problems. From this point, he could differentiate science from religion, he defined the truth through doubt, strongly opposed to philosophers´ who didn´t believe in Allah.

During al-Gazali time, sunnit dogmatics and religious mistery practice were contradictory, being religious from official ideology had difficulties, so Gazali bases that sufizm isn´t against official religion, here we are to blame the philosophical view which believes that mind is the main dominant. He states this from his own mystery experience and it helped not to doubt about religion. al- Gazali says to prove Allah´s existence by logical method has no any basis. He emphasizes to prove something reasonally which leads to frustration from religious values and truth dogmats, but mysterious practice helps to believe in correctness of your own way. The main value for Gazali not to contradict to islam fundamentals and to enrich Islamic philosophy.

To consider Gazali as «thinker sufi» controversial issue. (B. Berns). However he was in search of the truth, that is why it is clear that representatives of religious philosophy, kalam and religious mysticism tried to consider him like-minded person. Gazali´s religious world view his religious - philosophical view causes scientific interest , mostly western countries are specially interested in sufism.

According to Ibris shah, in England «sufizm loyalty syndrome» increases, Seid Hussein Nasr said the way out from spiritual crisis in the West can be found in islam, in its high philosophy-sufizm. Of course, above mentioned problems, mysterious practice of sufizm is revealed in Gazali´s experience and it is the theme of several researches.


  1. al-Dhanabi M.M. Abu.Hamid al-Gazali . Evolution of spirit // Abu Hamid al-Gazali: Directions to rulers. - M.: Ansar, 2007. - Р. 5.
  2. Abu Hamid al-Gazali. Crash of philosophers´ position. - M.: Ansar, 2007. - Р. 8, 20.
  3. Hismatullin A.A. Classical sufi composition «Kimia - y-Sa´adat. Happiness elixir» Abu Hamid al-Gazali. Tusi (1058-1111). - St. Petersburg. Oriental studies, 2001. - Р. 13.
  4. Kerimov G.M. al-Gazali and sufizm. - Baku: Elm, 1969. - Р. 87, 88.
  5. Oberman I. Der philosophishe und religiose sufjektivismus. - Charalis. Kerimov G.M. al- Gazali and sufizm. - Р. 85.
  6. Ustad Mohamed Taki Mesbak - u Yesdi Allah in Islamic philosophy. - Almaty, 2004. - Р. 14-15.
  7. Oliver limen. Introduction to classical Islamic philosophy. - M.: The whole world, 2007. - Р. 44.


The work was submitted to International Scientific Conference «Modern sociology and education», the United Kingdom (London), 20-27, October, 2012, came to the editorial office on 30.08.2012.