The textual-theological and critical-philosophical approach to morality and politics : A comparative study of Ghazali and Kant

Controversy between philosophy and theology (Kalam) in the early period of Islamic thought.

Understandably, philosophical enquiry is unpopular amongst theologians from numerous religions and amongst religionists in general. This applies for intellectuals as well as common people. It can be understood that rejection of philosophical disciplines and logic has been a feature of Islamic culture and tradition for a significant period of time. Not only in the early period, but this rejection continues up to a recent time. According to research conducted by Muhammad Abid al-Jabiry, in the formative period of Islamic culture, Kalam (Islamic Theology) literature opposed and attacked philosophy for almost 400 years. I quote the result of al-Jabiry’s research as follows:

If we may comment upon the contribution to Islamic thought by Fakr al-Din Muhammad ibn Umar al-Razi (544-606), -a thinker from the al-Asy’ari school-it can be confidently stated that al-Razi noted the point of transformation between theology (ilmu kalam) and philosophy. Since its inception-within the Mu’tazilah, or in the first generation of ahl sunnah or within the Asy’ariah where figures like al-Ghazzali and Shahrastani (479-549 H) were influential-theology (ilmu kalam)proved a great challenge for philosophy and philosophers. Books written to contest philosophy – both the Platonic and Muslim philosophers – were in abundance. It can be said that for the first four centuries, in accordance with the era of the standardization of – the – Islamic sciences (150-550 H), there was no single text, or composition written by the theological-experts-both from the Mu’tazilah and the Asy’ariah – which did not reject or attack the philosophers. Even if we still lack a large number of these works for reference, it is of absolutely no doubt that al-Ghazali’s work, Tahafut al-Falasifah and Shahrastani’s Musara’atul Falasifah were “compulsory reading” for theological writers. Was it not the essential aim of theology (Kalam) to “oppose people with differing opinions from us?[1]

Why is it controversial ? A part of the whole story which is much more complicated, it is due to the difference of the fundamental structure of theological rationality and the philosophical rationality in seeing and constructing the reality and then in arguing, analyzing and solving the problems in the real life. Philosophical enquiry places greater emphasis upon the dimension that are most batiniyyah (spiritual, esoteric), transcendental, abstract and open-ended, whilst theological enquiry and Kalam (Islamic theology) especially often places more stress on dimensions which are lahiriyyah (textual, institutional, exoteric), concrete and final. A philosophical enquiry into religion represents a more critical, mature and spiritual approach, whilst a theological approach places greater emphasis upon activity (syi’ar) which is expressive, communal, outward. Philosophical enquiry places greater emphasis upon comprehension (aql) whilst theological enquiry places more emphasis upon transmission (transfer, inheritance, or what is usually called naql).[2] A philosophical approach has the character of prophetic philosophy,[3] whilst the theological approach is more like a priestly religion (an approach enjoined by monks, popes, ulama, priests, rabbi and so on). A philosophical approach places more emphasis upon “being religious”, whilst a theological approach places more emphasis upon “having a religion”. In reality, the differences between such thought are easily observable.

In the classical Muslim philosophical traditions, Abu Bishr Matta (870-940), a logician and philosopher, was considered the teacher of the logician and philosopher al-Farabi (870-950). Abu Bishr Matta was once engaged in a polemic with a Muslim religious specialist (Mutakallim/theologian), Abu Sa’id al-Sirafi (893-979).[4] They shared different opinions regarding the functions and benefits of logic and philosophy in general for the Islamic world, which was undergoing an efflorescence at the time.

In the contemporary era, to be more focus in comparing and analyzing the usage of theology and philosophy as the basis of political discourse in its relation with morality, I would like to take Ghazali’s thought (1058-1111) as the representative for Muslim tradition and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) as the representative for Christian tradition in the Western milieu. Ghazali’s book is still widely read in the Muslim culture, while Kant’s concept still widely discussed in the contemporary era.[5] It is important to have a dialogue between these two thinkers, as Ghazali has a significant role in building a type of religious thought in Muslim community which I call it “textual rationality”, while Kant is different from his predecessors due to his ability to build a type of thought which is “critical rationality” in essence.

The spirit of enlightenment embedded in the idea of moral law and causality in Kant’s rational ethics and its implication in the religious and political discourse

Apparently, there is a close relationship and interwovenness between  the idea of law, causality, universality, principle, autonomy and heteromony, hypothetical and categorical imperative and universality in Kant’s rational ethics. These key concepts, if it is properly understood, are the building bricks of enlightenment tradition in the western society. In Kantian sense, a law, in the strict sense of ‘law’, must hold for all cases and admit no exceptions. A law of nature, for example, must hold of all events in time without exception. A law of freedom –that is, the law in accordance with which a rational agent would act if reason had full control over his inclinations. This law of  freedom or moral law cannot have exception without ceasing to be a law. There cannot be one moral law for me and another for you. The law must be the same for all.[6]

In Kant’s technical language, universality is the form of law. Whatever a law may be about, it must have the form of universality; for unless it is not a law at all. Laws of freedom and laws of nature in spite of fundamental differences, share in the common form of universality.

In the discussion of freedom Kant’s work is that of a pioneer. The Greeks never really came to grasp the subject and did little to carry it beyond limited questions of legal responsibility. In medieval philosophy there was real advance, but the problem was considered in theological terms: how was human freedom to reconciled divine omnipotence and omniscience? Kant separated the problem of freedom from its legal and theological setting and asked simply how freedom can be compatible with the causal law with prevails through nature, and apparently also through human nature.

Assuming that freedom, if it characterises a thing must characterize a will, Kant begins with a new definitions of ‘will’. He say that “will’ is ‘the power of a relation being to act in accordance with its conception of laws, i.e. in accordance with principles.[7] We are told that ‘the will is a kind causality belonging to living beings so far as they are rational.[8] Will is regarded as the power of a rational being to produce effects in the phenomenal world, and primarily in the physical world. The power to act would commonly be regarded as a power to produce such effects.[9]

Our will, however, may also produce changes in our own mental world of inner sense –as when we decide, for example, to think about a particular topic. If the will is a power to act– or to set oneself to act in accordance with one’s conception of laws, willing must be conscious, and indeed in some degree a self-conscious activity. To think of rational beings as endowed with a will is to think of them as possessing ‘consciousness of their causality in regard to action.[10]

The word ‘causality’ is commonly used by Kant in two senses. It may mean ‘ a power to produce effects’; and it may mean ‘causal action’. When he says that the will is a kind of causality, he means that it is a power to produce effects. When he speaks of an efficient cause as being ‘determined’ to causality by something else[11], he means that it is determined to causal action –that it is itself caused to act causally. Willing may be described as causal action, but ‘the will’ is merely the power to act causally- that is, to produce effects.

If we conceive the will to be free, we must mean in the first place that the will is a power to produce effects without being determined –or caused- to do so by anything other than it self. Freedom is a quality belonging to a special kind of causality. It is opposed to ‘natural necessity’ or ‘the necessity of nature’, a quality characterizing all casual action in nature.[12]

How are we to distinguish the laws of nature from what we may now call the laws of freedom? In nature the causal action  of an efficient is it self caused by something else: it is not spontaneous. This means, according to Kant, that the law governing causal action in nature is not self imposed but is imposed by something else. This is what he calls “heteronomy”. Hence if we are to distinguish the laws of freedom from the laws of nature, we can do only by supposing that the laws of freedom are selfimposed. The spontaneous causal action of a free will must take place in accordance with self-imposed law. But this is just what we mean by “autonomy”; and a free will must be conceived as acting under the principle of autonomy- that is, as capable of acting of maxims which can at the same time be willed as universal law.[13]

“Practical propositions”, which are morality in itself, the knowledge of which plays a part in determining the “will” to make a specific choice among possible actions. They are called by Kant ‘principles[14] if they are general, i.e. if  they express general determinations of the will; and they are called ‘rules’ if they are subsumable under them or derived from them in their application to specific circumstances.[15] A principle is called a “maxim[16], if  the motive which is involved in obedience to it is a motive only for the person who actuality embraces this maxim as expressing his own policy in life. A principle is an “Universal law” however, if the motive which it formulates and to which it gives expression is recognized as proper to the will of every rational being.[17]

Every ‘principle’ to some extent constrains the person who acknowledges it. Even if my ‘principle’ is a mere maxim that holds only for myself, such as the maxim of not allowing any wrong done by me to go unavenged. It constrains me. At least sometimes to bring my momentary impulse (e.g. fear) into line with this general purpose or determination of the will. Even such a ‘principle’, therefore, can give rise to rule which determine what I, with this motive, ought to do and would do if I (a) had this policy and (b) were completely rational in the choice actions with respect to this policy. Such rules are called imperatives[18] for a being who, like man, does not always willingly and spontaneously do what is prescribed by reason as necessary for the carrying-out of the purpose. It is only by reasoning that we know what we ought to do in order to carry out the policy expressed in the maxim, but no one is so rational that he does what he ought to do without more or less frequent conflict with his inclinations.

If a principle is really a maxim, so that the motive for action in accordance with it, is some subjective condition, the corresponding imperative. Which tells us that a reasonable man would do in order to satisfy this desire if he had, is a hypothetical imperative[19] it commands or rather counsels, a man only if he has the desire question . The dynamic factor in obedience to such an imperative is desire or impulse.

A law, on the other hand, such as ‘lying is wrong’ is not addressed just to a man who wishes for honor or some other specific goal. The imperative which expresses this law to a man who does not obey it by nature is categorical imperative.[20] It does not tell us to avoid lying if we would obtain a good reputation; it tells us not to lie, period. It seems to be addressed to rational beings generally not just to those men having specific desires that can be satisfied through obedience to it.

A law must have objective necessity, recognized by reason, but the presence or absence of a specific desire can be known only empirically. Furthermore, a law gives rise to imperatives which are definite and specific, yet universal in application, but the diversity of desire is so great that even if they are all subsumed under the general desire for happiness, they do not issue forth in anything more than general counsels, proverbs, and good advice which is sensitives to the variety of men and circumstances.[21]

Up to this point, I have tried to draw attention to the difference between “hypothetical” and “categorical” imperative, since this is most crucial point in Kant’s theory of ethical rationality particularly in its relevance with his theory of morality and politics. Every principle or rule which presupposes, for its application some specific desire falls under the general principle of self-love or the desire for one’s own happiness; for a state of happiness is one in which there is continuous satisfaction of all desires. Those philosophers who make the desire for the happiness the proper motive for morality cannot derive from it any universal precepts for each man’s conception of happiness differs from that of others, and any one man’s conception varies from time to time according to the state of his specific desire. No rule derived from the desire for happiness is more than a hypothetical imperative, and it therefore lacks the a priori necessity characteristic of law. If so, what makes the ‘categorical imperative’ universal, a priori and rational? For Kant, besides the ‘material’ of maxim, however, there is also its form[22] which is an ‘ought’; just as the form of every theoretical proposition is ‘is’. As ‘form’, it is independent of any specific desire which constitutes the content of specific desire. If we abstract from an imperative all contents by virtue of which it is addressed to a person motivated by a specific subjective desire, we are left with only the ‘form’, the skeletal ‘ought’. What is derivable from this, unlike what is derivable from any specific content, is addressed to all rational beings who act, and the rules derived from it are fitted to be universal in application. That is, the ‘form’ of a maxim and not is content determines whether it is a law or a mere maxim.

The moral law as Kant puts is this: A purely rational being acts only on maxims which he would will to be maxims for all rational beings, i.e., only on maxims that could be willed to be principles universally binding on all such beings. This is expressed in the categorical imperative as: “So act that the maxim of your will could always hold at the same time as the principle for giving universal law”.[23]

Those are the key elements of Kantian rational ethics. Significantly, this basic concept has a great impact on Kant’s thought on religions and politics as well. He is very consistent in applying his genuine concept in these two different areas. First of all, I would like to discuss the crucial point in Kant’s thought dealing with morality and religion, then, right after this I will discuss its relationship with morality and politics. Importantly, in discussing religion, he clearly differentiates between the domain of “ecclesiastical faith” and the area of “pure religious faith”. As it is found in morality, there is also what is called “pure” and “empirical” element of religion[24].

In the plurality of world-religions or ‘ecclesiastical faith’ (Kirchenglauben)[25], Kant sees the single aim of establishing a pure religious faith (reine Religionglaube). These attempts are, to be sure, imperfect and conditioned by historical circumstances, but they are nonetheless recognizable approximations of the idea of ‘people of God’

Pure religious faith is concerned only with what constitutes the essence of reverence for God, namely obedience, ensuing from the moral disposition, to all duties as his commands; a church, on the other hand, as the union of many men with such dispositions into a moral commonwealth, requires a public covenant, a certain ecclesiastical form dependent upon the conditions of experience.[26]

Pure religious faith is therefore not the alternative the opposite of ecclesiastical faith. Rather it is the true and rational essence of  ecclesiastical faith. Ecclesiastical faith is the ‘vehicle’, of pure rational faith. It is the ‘shell’ which contains the rational kernel of pure religious faith[27]. Thus religion, like human knowledge and practice, has both a pure and an empirical part.

Ecclesiastical faith, however, is at its best imperfect vehicle of pure religious faith. Ecclesiastical faiths are numerous, divided into competing sects. Futher, they base their claim not on reason, but an empirical revelation, as transmitted through a historically, conditioned tradition. For both these reasons, no ecclesiastical faith can lay claim to true universality. “An historical faith”, says Kant, “grounded solely on facts, can extend its influence no futher than tidings of it can reach, subject to circumstances of time and place and dependent on the capacity of men to judge the credibility of such tiding.[28]

Ecclesiastical faiths are moreover often not content with the service of God through obedience to His will, but hope to placate God, or to win divine favor by means other than morally good conduct. Ecclesiastical faith is thus subject to the danger of  ‘religious illusion’ (Wahn), the belief that man can become well-pleasing to God by means other than a morally good disposition[29].

Kant does not condemn practice of this kind as such, but condems the belief that they constitute a genuine duty to God, or a essential part of religion. This belief transforms faith (Glaube) into supersition (Aberglaube).[30]

We cannot rest content, therefore, with ecclesiastical faiths as the vehicle for pure religious faith, but must attempt to further the ideal of moral community of men through the use of our reason.[31] Ecclesiastical faiths is thus not only the vehicle for pure religious faith, but it is also the historical prerequisite for a moral community of men founded on pure religious faith. Men must set free pure religious faith from its shell.[32]

How is this to be done? It cannot be done through abolition of ecclesiastical faith by ‘external revolution’, says Kant, but must, like all human progress, be carried out through a gradual reform according to fixed principles.[33] The principle of progress toward a moral community is enlightenment. The service of God must become “first and foremost a free and hence a moral service.[34] Through enlightenment man is released from his self-incurred tutelage, freed by his own use of reason from his subjection to arbitrary statues and the particular historical tradition through which ecclesiastical faith has presented itself to him.

Kant does not, however, intend to say that ecclesiastical faith, its practices and its historical tradition shall be abolished by progress. He rather says that it is to come to an understanding of itself as a vehicle for pure religious faith so better to serve the pure faith which is its essence. Kant thus looks forward to an epoch when ecclesiastical faith will be no longer any more than a mere vehicle for pure religious faith, and he expresses the hope that:

In the end religion will gradually be freed from all empirical determining grounds and from all statues which rest on history and which through the agency of ecclesiastical faith provisionally unite men for the requirement of the good; and thus at least the pure religion of reason will rule over all, “so that God may be all in all.[35]

If we could understand Kant’s thought on revelatory or religious ethics, we would find at least four main features which he wants to underline. The first is the idea of moral law as the one valid path to faith in God, without saying that morality should be grounded on ‘revelation’. The second is the social dimension of religious ethics, namely that the goodness is not merely centered and possessed by an individual but also has to be flourished and embedded in the social life. The third is that the individual human being should be ’active’ in pursuing those virtues and happiness, not only to say that he has to wait for God’s bounty and grace. And the fourth that the adherence of the historical religious –any historical religions– has to think and to put emphasis on the essence and the pure element of religious teaching which is universal. This element of universality in revelatory ethics can only be seen from the vantage of intellectual perspective, namely by our human reason itself. This pure element of historical or revealed religion is much more important, for Kant, in order to gain the ultimate purpose of morality propagated by any religion.

Now, after having a long journey to understand the kernel of Kant’s rational ethics and its application in religion, how does Kant apply this rational ethics in the domain of morality and politics? He is consistent in applying his ethical theory in the area of politics. The classification of “heteronomy” and “autonomy” is clearly rehearsed in his work on perpetual peace. In this book we can easily find the key concepts under the category of “heteronomy” such as particular, might, prudence, material principle, political moralist, problema technicum, political prudence, empirical principle of political wisdom, subjective reality, conditional necessity. While those concepts such as universal, right, duty, formal principle, moral politician, problem a morale, political wisdom, pure concept of the duty of right, pure principle of right, objective reality and unconditional necessity are under the category of “autonomy”.[36]

For Kant, the end of building state is to obtain “perpetual peace”. It is a duty. It is categorical imperative. It must be derived from the ‘formal’ principle of the maxim of external actions. In that way, he differentiates between political moralist and moral politician. The former is merely problem of technique (problema technicum), while the later is an ethical problem (problema morale). The problem of technique faced by the political moralist needs political prudence namely being clever in the management of practical affairs, and much knowledge of nature is required so that its mechanism may be employed toward the desired end; but all this is uncertain in its result for perpetual peace, with whatever sphere of public law we are concerned.

While the second problem encountered by the moral politician needs political wisdom. This wisdom presses itself upon us. It is autonomous and unconditional. It is clear to everyone. It leads directly to the end, but remembering the individual choice; it does not hasten to do so by force; rather, it continously approaches it under the conditions offered by favourable circumstance.[37]

It is Kant’s belief that political maxims must not be desired from the welfare or happiness which a single state expects from obedience to them, and thus not from the end which one of them proposes for itself. They must not be deduced from volition as the supreme yet empirical principle of of political wisdom, but rather from the pure concept of the duty of right, from the ought whose principle is given a priori by pure reason, regardless of what the physical consequences may be.[38]

Objectively or theoretically, there is no conflict between morals and politics. However, subjectively, in the selfish propensity of men, this conflict will always remain. The ruler and people, or nation and nation, do each other no injustice when by violence they make war on each other, although they do commit injustice in general. In that case, they refuse to respect the concept of right, which alone could establish perpetual peace.[39]

It is Kant’s rigorous belief that true politics can never take a step without rendering homage to morality. Though politics by itself as a difficult art, its union with morality is no art at all, for this union cuts the knot which politics could not untie when they were in conflict. The rights of men must be held sacred, however much sacrifice it may cost the ruling power. One cannot compromise here and seek the middle course of a pragmatic conditional law between the morally right and the expendient. All politics must bend its knee before the right. A perpetual peace, for Kant, is precondition for having a state. It is unconditional for who are in power. It is ground of moral politics. The basis for all politician in ruling the people, whatever the empirical situation of this people are. By this foundation, the ruler can not be trapped by either side of conflictual contestant, inside and outside the group. Day to day political affairs are heteronomous. These can not be extracted to be the law of moral politic. It is only a perpetual peace, which is a priory, unconditional, autonomous that ties all partners which can be universalized.

The spirit of religious textual rationality embedded in the idea of divine assistance and the dominant role of sheikh tutelege in Ghazali’s religious ethics.

The key concept closely related to Muslim’s conception of ethical norms is God revelation, God’s revelation in the form of commandement, Hidayah (divine guidance), rusdh (divine providence), tasdid (divine assistance), ta’yid (divine support), the virtues of divine assistance (al-fadail al-tauqifiyyah), unaided reason, favours from God (fadl min allah), orcasionalism, individual salvation, no universal ethical norms, the dominant role of sheikh (moral tutelege).

Islamic theology or ‘ilm al-Kalam in the Muslim culture is a type of rationality. It is a product and construction of human conception. I would like to specify this peculiar product of human thought as textual rationality, due to fact that the kernel of this type of rationality is deduced from religious text, namely revelation. From time to time, a serious research on this peculiar type of religious thought is abundant. According to al-Jabiry “The science of Islamic theology (ilm al-Kalam), in its historical implementation is not merely focused on the discussion of Islamic creed (aqidah), but it is also in the same time is the implementation and the praxis of politics in religion”.[40] From this starting point, it is a common belief of Muslim from the early period to the contemporary era that there is no separation between “religion” and “politics”. Muslim fundamentalist refuses the idea of separation between “religion” and “state”. This notion is not confined in a country  which Muslim are the majority of population. Almost all adherents of other religions claim the same ideology, although with different levels of  interpretation and demand.[41]

In order to grasp in more detail, how is this scriptural-theological understanding of religion is originally constructed, let us see Ghazali’s conception on morality and religion.  It is the characteristic of his ethical conception, whilst refusing the idea of law being applied in nature and human behaviour, he replaces the idea of law in Kantian sense with the personalized moral guide or “sheikh” in his comprehensive religious ethical concepts. That means that Ghazali prefers more emphasis on the socio-political aspect of religion rather than intellectual and rational aspect of it. This personalized moral tutalage eventually embodied in the form of paternalistic type of political leadership.

Four principal virtues–namely, practical wisdom, courage, temperance and justice- occupy a central position in Ghazali’s treatment of philosophic virtues in its connection with the psychological basis. But he also shows that the good can only be perfected when accompanied by the goods of the body health, strength, beauty, and long life; and the bodily goods, in turn, cannot be useful without the external goods- wealth, fame and noble birth Ghazali calls all these goods “bounties” (ni’am),”form of happiness” (sa’adat), and “virtues” (fada’il).[42] These domains, from Kantian perspective, belong to heteromony domain of morality. It cannot be uplifted or extracted as a ground for moral law.

Ghazali’s agreement with Aristotle goes beyond the mere enumeration of  external and bodily goods which comprise the instruments for obtaining happiness. By calling these types of happiness bounties, Ghazali suggest that happiness is a gift which God bestows a favor.[43] Aristotle also maintains that happiness is somehow a divine gift, even when it is achieved as a result of human action. Ultimately, happiness does not depend completely on the human will for its realization. There remains some element of happiness which cannot be acquired but must be bestowed as a God-given blessing. Aristotle says:

Now if anything that men have is a gift of the gods, it is reasonable to suppose that happiness is divinely given-indeed, of all men’s possessions it is most likely to be so, inasmuch as it is the best of them all. This subject however may perhaps more properly belong to another branch of study.[44]


Aristotle may be suggesting here a ‘theology’ or ‘metaphysics’ of happiness, even though he does not reopen this question in the metaphysics or elsewhere. Ghazali, in contrast, treats this question explicitly when he discusses a fourth category of goods which he calls “the virtues of divine assistance” (al-fadâ’ill al-tawfiqiyya).

While regarding bodily and external good as useful and important instruments for the attainment of virtue of the soul, Ghazali considers the virtues of divine assistance necessary and essential to the virtues of the souls. Indeed, no virtue at all can be acquired without divine assistance.[45] According to Ghazali, assistance (tawfiq) is a divine favor, which he defines as the concord of man’s will and action with God’s decree and determination.[46]

In the Qur’an the term fadl is several times attributed to God alone; for instance, ‘that is the free gift of God; He giveth it to whom He Willeth”.[47] Qur’anic verses combine fadl and ni’ma, such as “… joyful in blessing (ni’ma) and bounty (fadl) from God”,[48] and in all cases the virtues of divine assistance are spoken of as gifts or favors from God (fadl min allâh).

Thus, by applying the term virtue to divine assistance Ghazali attributes it to God. In so doing he emphasizes that no other virtues can be achieved without divine assistance. He even maintains that without divine assistance man’s own effort in seeking virtue is in vain and may even lead to what is wrong and evil.[49] This statement suggests that the religious virtues are fundamentally different from the philosophic virtues: philosophic virtues can be understood completely in terms of human choice, whereas the basis of the religious virtues of divine assistance must be sought in the bounties of God. Within this new framework, divine support of morality becomes crucial for the realization of ultimate happiness. In the final section of Book I of Quarter III of the Ihya’, which is the key work in the discussion of vices and virtues, Ghazali says that some people are created for paradise and others for hellfire, and that each person will be divinely directed toward that for which he is created.[50] By this statement Ghazali tightly locks the doors for the possibility of human reason to think about his own end, giving thereby less suggestion towards reasoning in the way to reach this important human destination.

In order to understand this position, it is necessary to discuss the virtues and divine assistance in greater detail. Since they are related to God and are discussed in a theological context, the virtues of a divine assistance are in fact religious and theological virtues. Ghazali maintains that there are four of these virtues, namely God’s guidance (Hidayat Allâh)[51]. His direction (rushd)[52], His divine leading (tasdid)[53], and His support  (ta’yid).[54] Ghazali intentionally makes these virtues correspond in number to external and bodily goods, as well as to the four principal virtues of the soul.

The virtues of divine assistance are not  to be found within the strict limits of philosophic tradition. Rather, Ghazali is inspired here by the Islamic theological tradition, and his special contribution consists in his effort to define, classify, and relate these virtues to those of the soul. In dealing with these virtues, he emphasizes primarily that man cannot attain virtue without God’s assistance. For him, God is the ultimate source of good and evil because He is the cause of everything.

The basic issue here is the assertion that without God’s aid man cannot attain happiness and thus there is no assurance that the philosophic virtues will lead to happiness which is their end. Surely, they cannot be the philosophic virtue because Ghazali does not believe that unaided reason is able to know the exact nature of such things, further more, anything which comes about as a result of an assumed free will of man is only an illusion. Thus the only way for man to know the real things which call forth God’s assistance is through God’s revelation in the form of commandments. Therefore only by fulfilling these commandment can men assure for themselves the possibility of acquiring virtue and consequently of attaining happiness. Since these commandments are originated from the revelatory and religious text, not from reason or intuition, it is the basic root of religious textualism and scripturalism in the Muslim religiosity.

In Ghazali’s conception, virtue becomes primarily religious-legal virtue. Ghazali even goes so far as to equate virtue here with the act to obedience to God (ta’a), and therefore investigation of the Islamic virtues is fundamentally a description of the proper way carrying out the divine commandments. In Ghazali’s view, divine commandments and the judgments derived from them are divided into two parts: those which are concerned primarily with belief and action directed towards God, and those which consist of the action which man directs towards his fellow man. The former class he calls acts of worship (ibadat), such as prayer (salah), purity (thahara), alm-tax (zaka), fasting (sawm) and pilgrimage (hajj)[55], while the latter he calls custom (adat) such as food, marriage, business transaction, permissible and forbidden things, companionship, and travel.[56]

What is the implication and consequence of having such type of religious-textual rationality? The absence of the idea of causality in Ghazali’s mind has a great impact in his conception of the idea of universality in ethical norms. Ghazali totally refuses such an idea. Ghazali’s refutations of rational universal rules occur in various places in his works. Following G.F. Hourani, I shall attempt a systematic exposition of his arguments according in their forms, bringing together under each one what he says in different places. According to Ghazali, the claim of rational universal rules fails several test that it should meet if it is to be accepted.

1. All proposed rational rules fail in universality. “Killing is evil” is not universal, for the Mu’tazila, themselves, a school of rational Islamic theology which Ghazali refuses and opposes, immediately qualify the judgment with exceptions: killing is not evil when it is punishment for crime.[57] ”Lying is evil” is not universal, because it is permitted       and even required to lie to save a prophet’s life[58]. “Spreading peace is good” is not universal; it is untrue in circumstances of dire necessity[59]. These and similar propositions are only generally true: they are thus not fit to be major premises in demonstrative practical syllogism, but are only suitable for conjectural use in legal arguments.[60]

2. The supposed universal ethical truths fail to pass the subjective test of indubitable certainty which is required for all intuited first principles of the intellect. Here Ghazali argues that “if you were to come into existence fully rational but without experience and images, you would be able to doubt such premises as ‘killing a man is evil’, or at least to hesitate about them, but you could not doubt the principle that negation and affirmation cannot be true of the same state of thing or two is greater than one”.[61] This example is not perhaps very appropriate, since it might well be urged that a person described here would not be able make any judgment at all about such a moral rule, since he would be totally abstracted from any community which provides the appropriate context for ethical life. Such a person would not be in a good position to comment on the moral rule’s universality and necessity, since he might not even be able to grasp what a moral rule meant. But the general tenor of the argument is valid, namely, that there is an important distinction between necessary truths of logic and mathematics and the sort of ‘truths’ which constitute ethics.

3. Any proposition that is intuited immediately or necessarily (bi-d-darura) must command unanimous agreement. But the suggested rational truths of ethics fail to do so, for important Islamic schools disagree with them. The Mu’taliza retort that the disagreement is on the theory of ethical knowledge, such as the question here is issue, but not on first order normative propositions, which  are what they consider rational. But this untrue, says Ghazali, there are also disagreements in normative knowledge, for example on the wrongness of inflicting pain on animals: this is claimed by the Mu’tazila as known by reason, but God in scripture has revealed approval for it, in animal sacrifices.[62]

4. If wâjib is understood in the correct Ghazalian sense of ‘necessary to produce benefits, it is impossible for reason to demonstrate this kind of wujûb for any of the Mu’tazilite rules. Ghazali expounds his refutation lucidly in Mustasfa, proceeding by a definition and series of dilemmas.

Gratitude to a benefactor is not necessary by reason contrary to the Mu’tazila. The proof of this is that ‘necessary’ (al-wajib) has no meaning but what God the Exalted has made necessary (awjabahu) and commanded with threat of punishment for omission; so if there is no revelation what the meaning of ‘necessary’[63]

Ghazali’s refutation is unconvincing to a detached observer, for it assumes his own definition of wâjib, as stated and his own theodicy in which reward for human merits cannot be inferred from the divine nature. But on their own definition of wâjib in the sense of ‘obligatory’ the Mu’tazila would not have to prove that reason sees the benefit of acts to agents, but only their obligatoriness, a concept that Ghazali does not seem to grasp at any stage and we must admit after the struggles of the modern ethical philosophy that it is a puzzling concept. But even if the Mu’tazila were required to prove a rational knowledge of the otherworldly benefits of fulfilling obligations, they could do so on their own theodicy by inferring reward for human merits from the justice of God in His acts, a justice that sprang from His nature and was to be understood in the same sense as human justice. In the same vein Ghazali argues in Mi’yar as follows:

These are exemplified by our judging it good to spread peace, feed others, bestow largesse on kinsfolk, adhere to truthfulness in speech, observe justice in legal suits and judgements; and by our judging it bad that one should harm humans, kill animals, disseminate slander-that husbands should acquiesce in the licentiousness of their wives, that benevolence should be repaid with ingratitude and oppression[64]

Then he goes to refute the rational universality of ethical norms with similar ones as we already cited. He thus denies those rational judgments by rather unsatisfactory arguments through selecting a putative universal rule and then pointing to cases where it can be applied.

In addition to what has been explained above, what is important to be noted here is that in contrast with Avicenna who emphasizes the usefulness of the acts of worship in sustaining God’s rememberance and the resurrection in the hereafter and also essential for the continuance of social life.[65] Ghazali finds in the act of worship very little political and social virtues, and his apparent aim in dealing with them is to emphasize their importance for the individual salvation[66] and the part play in helping him master his passions, schooling him in virtue, and above all, enabling him to seek divine assistance in order that he may attain happiness.

The movement of Ghazali’s thought from ‘philosophy’ to ‘theology’, or from ‘philosophic ethics’ to ‘religious ethic’, actually, starts from his critique of rational metaphysics in Tahafut. In Ghazali’s conception of religious ethics, the problem of causality comes to the fore. Ghazali refuses the idea of casuality in religious ethics, since the law of causality inevitably presupposes the use ot ‘reason’ in religious field. Whereas, from the early beginning, Ghazali has sharply separated between ‘ulûm shar’iyya and ‘ulûm aqliyya. Instead of depending on ‘reason’, Ghazali choses ‘psychology’ which is much more  attached to the ‘emotion’ rather than ‘reason’.

The clear realization of Ghazali’s conception in refusing the idea of causal law in morality is exemplified in his choice of the ‘divine guidance’ to lend human beings to get the right path for their ethical conduct. He picks up the verses which denote the virtues of divine assistance are a gift or favour from God, not from the human endeavour.  The most clear implication of this choice is the absence of the idea of law in Ghazali’s framework of thought in general.

Based on that conception, there is only one available traffic to obtain the ethical and religious virtues, namely from God’s initiative. Ghazali does not have a conception which underlies the possibility of human initiative as an active subject to obtain those ultimate virtues. As a result, he denies the notion that the divine commandments in the Qur’an had any purpose (they were rather to be obeyed merely because they were divine commandments).

This line of thought will be much more clear in the following discussion concerning Ghazali’s theory of mystical ethics. For Ghazali, even ‘religious ethics’ is not  sufficient to guide human beings to acquire and to attain virtues. It is only ‘mystical ethics’ that will fulfill this demand. Now, we will see a step further where Ghazali removes the actual function of human reason to grasp and to strive in obtaining those ultimate virtues and to conduct life based on the guiding principle of revelation and reason, not to say merely by revelation without reason.

Nevertheless, it is apparent that Ghazali cannot totally escape from the intervention of human agency in discussing morality and ethical norms. Supposed he were successfully throws and subordinates the role of “reason” as the ground for morality, but finally he encounters serious pitfall when he replaces the role of “reason” with the role of moral tutelage embodied in the idea of sheikh in his ultimate concept of mystical ethics. This means that Ghazali unintentionally puts the primacy of the socio-political aspect of religion rather than its critical-philosophical aspect of the religion.

Putting God’s gift or grace the human ultimate purpose may not be a problem in itself, for Kant also emphasizes the role of’divine grace’ to solve the problem of human despair to attain the highest moral and ethical virtues. What is crucial here is Ghazali’s conception of the role of ‘spiritual teacher’ or ‘moral guide’ (shaykh) in the main body of his system of thought. The role of spiritual teacher is so prominent in Muslim community so that Sufism or mysticism becomes virtually a cult of personalities.[67] Ghazali himself declares.

The disciple murid must of necessity have recourse to director (shaykh) to guide him a right. For the way of faith is obscure, but the Devil’s ways are many and patent, and he who has no shaykh to guide him will be led by the devil into his ways. Wherefore the disciple must cling to his leader, confiding himself to him entirely, opposing him in no matter whatsoever, and binding himself to follow him absolutely. Let him know that the advantage he gains from the error of his syaykh, if he should err, is greater than advantage he gains from his own righness, if he should be right.[68]

The implication of having such a doctrine is obvious. In any system of thought in which the spiritual dictatorship of spiritual teacher is so salient, it is hardly possible to place the role of reason in its appropriate place and in its maximum function. There seems to be no place for the human reason to develop itself naturally and autonomously. In other words, Ghazali does not agree with the ‘active part’ played by our human initiative and endeavor or attain those ethical virtues. For Ghazali, these is no such a basic law like principle, on the basis of which one would act morally to obtain virtues. The only principle in mind is spiritual teacher’s guidance, no matter what his quality is. The idea of ‘spiritual teacher’ becomes the trade mark of sufism and mysticism and relegates the origin of Ghazali’s statement that says: “Thou shalt be in the hands of thy Shaykh like a dead body in the hands of its clearser” is a well-known aphorism summing up this teaching.[69]

The phenomenon of the attribution of miracles to the saints or spiritual teacher constitutes a very interesting chapter in the history of Sufism. It must remain true that by far the largest number of ‘miracles’ were conscious products designed or enhance the prestige or certain saint or shaykh or the order connected with his name. But there is also the important fact that the large the principle of the absolute authority of the spritual teacher was practiced, the greater was the degree of passivity, suggestibility and susceptibility of the common run of disciples.[70]

What is important here is to see the relationship between accepting the idea of spiritual teacher along with an artificial miracle attributed to him with the idea of refuting the principle of causality. It is well-known that Ghazali, while he is suggesting that the disciples should absolutely follow his spiritual teacher he also refuse the idea of causality. The idea of causality in its very essence is rational, since the notion of cause and effect can only be grasped by the autonomy of our human intellectual or rational capacity. It is clear that there is a close connection between Ghazali’s refutation of the idea of causality in nature[71] and in human morality[72]. The former is intended to safeguard the nation of miracle, while the latter is to strengten God’s omnipotence to bestow his ‘divine gift’. In the long run, this original conception has important contribution to mold a way of thought which puts emphasis upon a spiritual and deprives the autonomy of human reason to think independently.

Toward global society : is religion the obstacle?

The discussion on Ghazali and Kant is not intended to rewind the historical clock but also represents the current debate on the notion and the applicability of human right, the idea of progress, the notion of social equity overshadowed by the issue of religious exclusivism in today’s postcolonial era. How can we sincerely appreciate and reconcile the idea of cosmopolitanism-globalism and the indigenousism-localism in the same time? Where can we proportionally put the notion and the demand of perpetual peace in the mids of those various religious resurgence movements in all part of the world?

It is clear, indeed, that perpetual peace is not an idea that located in the cultural, religious and ethnical vacuum. Whilst the strife for cultural, religious, and ethnical right and identity without being accompanied by some sort of inner ability to compromise in all level of life will make it rigid, inflexible, impatience, aggressive, apologetics and easily slippered into hardliners, radicalism and extreemism.

Human civilization and its predicament today encounters a serious and critical dilemma.  The difficult situation lively experienced by Bush and Saddam can reflect how deep this dilemma is confronted by human civilization. How can we reconcile the non-negotiable universal, the basic principle of humanity and the need to nurture and sustain the social, cultural, political and religious rights of each community in this global village. A western and Muslim culture encourters this dilemma.

On behalf of rationality and modernity, we cannot abolish the cultural and religious right of people elsewhere. On the contrary, in the name of the ardent defender and the custodian of the right of “particular” culture, religion, ethnicity cannot overclaim its own valuable principle, regardless the right’s of other “particular” culture, religious and ethnic group. By saying this, it does not mean that there is no such difficulty and problematic issue embedded within one’s own particular society, either in the West or in the East; either in Christian or in Muslim. A clash within civilization is always there and sometimes more serious than the class of civilization.

A global civil society is not something given, ready made concept, readily to be implemented. It is always characterized by on going process of debate, negotiation, and formation. Its space is not certain yet. It is not in the space of “in” and also not in the space of “out”. It is always in the space of “between” which is full of risk, temptations and rapid fluidity. Every “part” has its own share and responsibility to build the “whole”. The “whole” itself cannot be set up without the part. Every part namely nations, states, societies and communities has its own responsibility to seriously disseminate the idea of perpetual peace in their own style in the era of global civil society. And it is not easy task. It is challenging over time. Only by this continous and endless efforts, the dream of having global civil society will come true.

Building a perpetual peace in the global civil society is not easy task, since within its internal part there are many varieties of interests, ideologies, ideal types that are not easily compromised. This new rationality in the post colonial era, which is able to appreciate the need of the part and strengthen the need of the whole is full of predicament and risk. Only by long qualified education, this dream comes true. This qualified civic education unnecessarily relegates or eradicates the existing religious affiliation. Some Muslim thinkers in contemporary era such as Muhammad Abid al-Jabiry, Hasan Hanafi, M. Arkoun, Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid, Abdullah Ahmed al-Naim and many others are ready to revisit and reformulate the concept of Islamic religiosity in order to be put in a fit proporsion with the global need for building and sustaining the global civil society by way of reformulating and reconceptualizing the approaches and methodology in Islamic studies.

From our close examination, we see that the system of thought which belongs to Ghazali as the representation of Muslim culture and the system of thought which belongs to Kant as the representation of Western tradition in the era of enlightenment are quite different within their respective traditions. I sincerely do not claim that what I have been trying to depict can represent the ‘exact’ system of thought of those respective traditions . In some cases, there are overlapping features between both system of thought, namely, Islamic and Western.

Nevertheless, when we trace back to the original sources, namely Ghazali’s work and Kant’s work, we can easily find the aroma of tension there. It is important to note here that both systems of thought are still alive from the very first day of their emergence until this very day. The purpose of rewinding this historical clock is not to dismiss one system of thought and appreciate the other. But rather I would like to regard both system of thought as the valuable legacy of human history which has been unfolding itself within certain traditions. It is impossible that one can relagate any tradition in the course of time. The existence of each system of thought is valid and legitimate although each system of thought has its own limits, weaknesses and strengths.

My aim in this comparation has been a simple one. Due to the above consideration, what we need actually is a kind of mutual and inter dialogue between the custodians of both system of thought. In other words, what we need is a kind of cultural dialogue in order to get the benefit from each other and to share ideas among the participant of dialogue, to solve this difficulty as well as other human problems in general.

In our pluralistic society, it is only through ‘dialogue’, namely, intra and intercultural dialogue that will guide us to go beyond the ‘impasse’ of universalism or particularism in their literal meaning. With a dialogue we can acquaint and be well informed with the problem which is faced by our neighbouring cultures. A prejudice is only the result of exclusiveness. And exclusiveness is not an appropriate way to solve the human problem. Only by that kind of ‘dialogue’, the psychological demand of having some kind of cultural superiority can be reduced to a minimum degree.

Take for an example, Kant’s system of thought whose main feature is ‘rational’, it is possible to say that since this system aims at the dominance of reason over nature it would lead to the grave problem of ecology which threatens the whole life of human being. But, Ghazali’s system of thought also faces the great problem of exclusiveness of thought. Both of them may be considered harmful to the whole community of human beings.

There is another and yet more important reason for the need of dialogue. Both Ghazali and Kant are merely the product of ‘individual’ thinkers who rely on their individual thought. The problem of pluralistic society cannot be solved, to be sure, by merely ‘individual thoughts’[73]. By relying on ‘revelation’ alone or by depending on ‘reason’ alone, our global human problem cannot be solved satisfactorily.

What we need today is a kind of ‘team-work’ between those diverse custodians of particular ethical norms. The individual thinkers are not adequate anymore, no matter how high the validity of their ideas is. The idea of community in the term of the ‘team work’ has to be put forward in order to open the dialogue between these two or more defenders of system of thought. From the dialogue something new will appear, not only to say and to formulate the problem in two limited particular dichotomical approach. But the nature of this dialogue can be clarified in another discipline, by studying, in the above discussed manner, different systems of thought within their respective cultures. If my discussion above appears to be a dichotomical approach that only a matter of strategy to decipher the problem into its detail items to get the clearness of the basic problem. By acquainting the body of both systems of thought, it will give more opportunity to open many possibilities to have a mutual dialogue to construct and to build a global civil society in the contemporary era.

UIN Sunan Kalijaga

14 December 2004





* A paper presented at the Symposium on Kant, Goethe-Institut in Cooperation with Sekolah Tinggi Filsafat (STF) Driyarkara, Jakarta, 16-17 December 2004.

[1] Muhammad Abid al-Jabiry, Bunyah al-Aql al-Araby: Dirasah Tahliliyyah Naqdiyyah li Nuzdumi al-Ma’rifah fii al-Tsaqafah al-Arabiyah (Beirut: markaz dirasat al-wihdah al-arabiyah, third edition, 1990) pp. 497-8 Translation and italics are mine.

[2] F.E. Peters, Aristotlle and Arabs, (New York: New York University Press, 1968), p.71

[3] Karen Armstrong, A History of God: The 4000 Year Quest of Judaism, Chistiantity and Islam (new York: Alfred A. Knof. Inc., 1993), p. 173.

[4] For futher information, D. Margoliouth (trans.) “The discussion between Abu Bishr Matta and Abu Sa’id al-Sirafi on the merits of logic and grammar”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society NS, XXXII, 1950, which was referred to by Oliver Leaman in, An Introduction to Medieval Islamic Philosophy (Cambridge: University Press, 1985), pp.8-10.

[5] The more detail information, see M. Amin Abdullah, The Idea of Universality of Ethical Norms in Ghazali & Kant, Ankara, Turkiye Diyanet Vakfi, 1992.

[6] Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, trans. H.J. Paton, New York: Harper Torchbooks, Harper & Row Publishers, 1964. p. 60-70. Henceforth I shall refer to Groundwork.

[7] Ibid, p. 79-80.

[8] Ibid, p. 114.

[9] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, trans. Lewis White Black, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986, p.115. Henceforth I shall refer to Second Critique.

[10] Groundwork, p. 116-7.

[11] Ibid, p. 114.

[12] Loc cit. The word ‘action is here used widely and not restricted to distinctively human action.

[13] Groundwork, p. 114; Second Critique, p. 92.

[14] Groundwork, p. 60, 80.

[15] Ibid, p. 57.

[16] Ibid, p. 94, also Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Norman Kamp Smith, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1965, p. 547. Hancefort I shall refer to First Critique.

[17] Groundwork, p. 69-70.

[18] Ibid, p. 81, 99.

[19] Ibid, p. 82, 108.

[20] Ibid, p. 70, 82.

[21] Lewis White Beck, A Commentary on Kant Critique of Practical Reason, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1966, p. 72.

[22] Kant’s term ‘form’ here is similar to the notion of ‘form’ of valid inference stand to inference that are valid. It will be helpful to recall what Kants says in his Prolegomena To Any Future Metaphysics, p.29. The form of an inference is not itself an inference, but forms of valid inference are what are shared by actual inferences which are valid. A form of valid inference is merely a feature common to a number of inferences. It is also a condition of their being valid. The form of an inference does not depend on whether the judgments in it are true or false.  Not does it depend on the concepts connected in the judgements in it. Whether the form of an inference is valid does  not depend on who draws the inference. Hence what forms of inference are valid can be determined a priori. Consult also D.P. Dryer, Kant’s Solution for Verification in Methaphysics, George & Unwin LTD, London. 1966, p.187 and Julius Kovesi, Moral Notion, Routledge & Kegan Paul LTD. London, 1971, p.8.

[23] Groundwork, p. 88.

[24] In this sense Kant does not discuss merely the religion of Christianity. He does discuss Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and other religions in his book Religion Inerhalb der Grenzen der Blossen Vernuft (Religon within the limits of reason alone), trans Theodore M. Greene and Hout H. Hudson, New York: Harper Torchbooks, Harper and Row Publisher, 1960, p. 74, 102, 127n, 131n, 172n and 182n. Hencefort, I shall refer to Religion. Kant is concerned to show that many historical religions exhibit a morally based conception of God.

[25] We can extend this notion into other community of religious people, such as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and so forth.

[26] Religion, p. 96. A bold and italic are mine.

[27] Ibid, p. 98, 113n, 126n.

[28] Ibid, p.94

[29] Ibid, p.156.

[30] Ibid, p. 162-3

[31] Although not exactly similar, but Kant’s statement is near to Muslim philosopher, Farabi’s (d.950) statement which underlines that philosophy is both logically and temporally prior to religion. See Farabi, Book of Letters (Kitab al-Huruf), ed. Muhsin Mahdi, Dar el-Mashreq Publisher, Beirut, 1969, p. 131.

[32] Religion, p. 97, 126n

[33] Ibid, p. 113.

[34] Ibid, p. 167.

[35] Ibid, p. 112.

[36] Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace, Lewis White Beck (Ed), Indianapolis, Bobbs Merrill Educational Publishing, 1957, 35-46.

[37] Ibid. p. 43

[38] Ibid. p. 45

[39] Ibid. p. 46

[40] M. Abid Al-Jabiry, Takwin …347.

[41] Bhikhu Parekh, Rethinking Multiculturalism Cultural Diversity and Political Theory, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 200, p.328, 334.

[42] Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali, Mizan al-Amal, Mesir, Matba’ah Kurdistan al-Ilmiyyah, 1328. p. 109-10. Hencefort I shall refer to Mizan Also the author’s name will be abbreviated Ghazali. In this sense Ghazali want to Islamize the four Aristotelian principle virtues by transplanting Quranic textual vocabulary in those virtues.

[43] Ibid, p. 109.

[44] Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, trans. Martin Ostwald, New York: The Bobbs-Meril Company, INC, 1962. 1099b 11-14.

[45] Mizan, p. 110

[46] Ibid, p.114-115

[47] A.J. Arbery, The Koran Interpreted, New York: Macmillan publishing Company, 1955, V. 59; also verses such as “the bounty is in God’s hands”, Qur’an III; 73; III, 57 and LVIII, 29.

[48] Qur’an, III, 171 and also see III, 174

[49] Mizan, p. 115

[50] Ihya’, III. P. 41-2

[51] Ghazali, Al-Maqsad al-Asna fi Sharh Ma’ani Asma’ Allah al Husna (The Noblest of Aims in the Explanations of God’s Fairest Names), trans. Richard Joseph McCarthy S.J., in Freedom and Fulfillment, Op. cit. p. 354. Henceforth I shall quote as Maqsad

[52] Mizan, p. 116. Direction is used in the active of moving the subject toward the goal.

[53] Loc. cit

[54] Loc. cit

[55] Ghazali explains this act of  workship in the whole Ihya’, Volume I. For the English reader consult M. Umaruddin, The Etchical Philosophy of al-Ghazzali, Lahore: SH. Muhammad Ashraf, 1962, pp. 260-265, also Muhammad Ahmed Sherif, Ghazali’s Theory of virtue, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1975. pp. 86-92 and Muhammad Aboul Quasem, The Ethics of al-Ghazzali: A Composite Ethic in Islam, New York: Caravan Books, Inc., 1978. Op. cit., pp. 199-206.

[56] Ghazali explicates custom (‘adat) in Ihya’, Vol. II. Cf. M. Umaruddin, Op. cit. pp. 229-259; Mohamed Ahmed Sherif, Op. cit. pp. 92-101 and Muhammad Abul Quasem, Op. cit, pp. 208-226. Ghazali did not talk politics as we talk today in his book.

[57] Ghazali, al-Mustasfa min ‘ilm al-ushul, Cairo: al-Matbaah al-amirah, 1322, p.57. Henceforth I shall refer to Mustasfa, I. p. 56-7.

[58] Ibid, p. 57; also Ghazali Mi’yar al-ilm, Misr: Matbaah Kurdistan al-Ilmiya, 1329, p. 112, 114. hencefort I shall refer to Mi’yar.

[59] Mi’yar, p. 113.

[60] Ibid, p. 122, 114.

[61] Ibid, 114.

[62] Ibid, 112 and Ghazali, al-Mustasfa min ‘ilm al-ushul, Cairo: al-Matbaah al-amirah, 1322, p. 57.

[63] Ghazali, al-Iqtisad fi al-I’tiqad, A. Cubukcu and H. Atay (Ed.) Ankara: Nur Matbaasi, 1962.  pp. 189-90 and Mustasfa, p. 39.

[64] Mi’yar, p.118.

[65] Ibn Sina, Shifa Metaphysics, II; Op. cit., p. 445.

[66] The individual salvation is much more stressed by Ghazali is also found in Sherif’s examination, See, Op. cit, pp. 51, 53, 55,86, 90, 102 and 108.

[67] Fazlur Rahman, Islam, University of Chicago Press, Second edition, Chicago, 1979, p. 137.

[68] Quoted from H.A.R. Gibb, Muhammadanism, Oxford, 1961, p. 150-1. The italic is added.

[69] Fazlur Rahman, Islam, Op. cit, p.246.

[70] Ibid, p. 159.

[71] Most writers agree that Ghazali rejected causality, although they differ in their empahasis, e.g. Fakhry, Islamic Occasionalism, Op. cit, p. 60, claims that while Ghazali rejected ontological, causal necessity, he accepted the logical one. H.A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Kalam, Cambridge, Maassachusets, 1976, p. 549, maintains that Ghazali did not accept causality, despite some modes of expression he used. A.J. Wensink at it is quoted by Ilai Alon, Op. cit, p. 397, says that Ghazali’s theory regarded God as the only agent in the world and thus Ghazali attacts causality, although he does not refrain from using the term itself.

[72] George Hourani, Reason and Tradition…, p. 153.

[73] Raziel Abelson & Kai Nelson, “History of ethics”, The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, Vol. 3 & 4, p. 95.

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