İmam-ı Gazali

Fıkıh Bilgini, Kelam Bilgini

Diğer İsimler
İmam Gazali

Scholar of kalam and fiqh (B. 1058, Tus – D. 1111, Tus). His full name was Hüccetü'l-İslâm Ebû Hâmid Muhammed b. Ahmed el-Gazzâlî et-Tûsî, he was also known with alias such as Hüccetülislâm, Zeynüddin. He was called as Abuhamet and Algazel by the the Medieval Western scholastics. He started his education by taking fiqh lessons in Tus. Then he went to Nishapur and started the Nizâmiye Madrasah (T.N. School of Regular Army) after studying for some time in Cürcân and became a student of İmâmü'l-Haremeyn el-Cüveynî who was the best known scholar of Islamic theology. He studied Şâfiî Fiqh, the discussion techniques that emerged in between the law schools (contradiction), debate, the resources of the akaid and the fiqh and logic as well as wisdom and philosophy here.  He was invited to the palace of the Seljuk vizier Nizâmülmülk after the death of Cüveynî (1085). The vizier, who was very impressed by the knowledge of Gazâlî, assigned him to the Nizâmiye Madrasah in Baghdad in 1091. Gazâlî taught to nearly three hundred students here and continued his assortment activities and conducted examination on philosophy.

Through these examinations which lasted nearly two years, he had opportunity to have a deeper understanding of the philosophy of Meşşâî-İşrâkî that he also criticized and thought to censure unlike other theologists. Then he started his examinations on Bâtınî belief. The results that Gazâlî had achieved with his works about Islamic theology, philosophy, Bâtınî belief and sufism had literally led to a crisis in his mind and spirit. Towards the end of the teaching period in Nizâmiye for four years, his state of mind emerged more clearly by being influenced by the sufism he understood from the ground. Upon this, he decided to cut all of his ties with Baghdad by separating from the authority, property, sons and friends. He distributed all parts of his property that was more than the needs of his family to the people in need. Even though he made preparations to go to Damascus (Syria-Palestine) region, he announced that he would go to Mecca since he didn’t want the caliph and his friends, whom he thought would not show consent for his leaving, to learn his true intentions. He left Baghdad by leaving his position of the madrasah to his brother Ahmed el-Gazâlî (1095). He went to Damascus from Baghdad and stayed there for nearly two years. In the meantime, he became engaged in fasting and non-indulgence by going to Emeviyye Mosque in order to train his soul, beautify his morality and purify his heart; he went to Jerusalem and lived in seclusion for a while there. Then, he went to Hijaz and did his duty of pilgrimage (1097). Then he returned to Nishapur and resumed his teaching service in the Nizamiye Madrasah (1106). In his work el-Münkız, he used the expression “Then, I was teaching the science that gives position, now I am calling to the science that makes one leave the position” for this second period of his teaching. After carrying out his duty in the Nizamiye Madrasah for three years, he left Nishapur and returned to Tus. He had a madrasah built next to his house here and he lived the last years of his life by giving lessons, participating in conversations and writing. He was buried near the tomb of the famous poet Firdevsî after his death. The structure located there is referred to as Hârûniyye within the public and a grave that is located in its yard is shown as the tomb of Gazâlî.

Almost all the resources and researches related to Gazâlî agrees that he was a scholar and thinker found rare in the history of Islamic science and philosophy who was an authority in religious and rational sciences such as fiqh, Islamic theology, mysticism, philosophy, education, politics, and morality. Along with being engaged in some of the philosophical issues when he was a student of Cüveynî, his actual philosophical investigations began during his first teaching in Baghdad he went in 1091. He saw the ways of breeding the Muslim society in faith, worshiping, individual and social morality and generally in all facades of the material and spiritual life in the historical heritage of their own knowledge, mentality and culture. He led in using the proofing methods of the logic to be used in Sunni theology by putting forward the need to use the examination method he adopted and the main disciplines of classical philosophy such as logic, mathematics and various experimental fields religiously.

Gazâlî didn’t assume any information as precise if he didn’t understand its reliability precisely. Precise information must have been free of all kinds of the possibility of doubt and error. According to him, philosophy and metaphysics were not strong enough to explain the first cause and the absolute one too. The main principles of religion, which were superb comparing to philosophy, could be understood by “revelation” and “ecstasy”. In this case, the main task of philosophy was to help religion and follow it. A philosophy that ran counter to the Islamic religion was worthless. Man could reach the truth with the cleanliness of hearth. Philosophers, theologians, and believers of Batınî were not on the right track due to practicing upon mind as a basic principle even though they adopted different attitudes. Believers of Bâtınî did not put the easy way of rejecting out like the others did but put forward their basic superstitious views with their sources.  He gave examples of extreme gloss which changed the principles of the religion and put Islam in another form. Then he proved that there was no evidence or authority they had for such a deviation and orientation. He even came under criticism that the believers of Bâtınî methodized their views better than they did and served their ideas in a way. However it is certain that works of Gazâlî greatly contributed in the demolition of the Bâtınîs. Gazâlî, who stated that the Bâtınî was apparently a Râfizî sect but in reality it was a belief system that tended to profanity, said that they had clearly accepted two deities and they had changed the Islamic understanding about the after-life. He stated that especially their interpretations about after-life had gone beyond the limits of gloss and denied the owner of the sharia and the Koran.

The one that created the most reaction among the criticism that Gazâlî directed towards the philosophers was their criticism towards the doctrine of determinism and their opinions in this connection. According to Aristotelian thinking, since a relation in between the cause and the result was compulsory, no results could be mentioned without a natural cause. Accordingly, the cause of an event in nature was the nature itself. The Islamic philosophers continued this deterministic view on condition that to connect it to his science rather than the free will of Allah. While acknowledging the relation of cause and result, Gazâlî refused that this relation was a necessity from the essence of nature. Such an obligation could not be proved in terms of scientific sense. Experience and observations were limited by detecting the consecutive two events called reason and cause. He stated that these proofs didn’t indicate certainty by describing them with concepts such as domination (arbitrary sentencing), imagination, telbîs (cheating), inconsistencies, habâl (confusion), fallacious in each of the issues where he criticized the opinions of the philosophers. He insisted that it was not possible to prove any of the assumptions by using the methods of the philosophers while acknowledging that philosophers had opinions that must have beeen adopted or opinions that have no inconvenience of adoption according to Islam for issues such as the existence, the unity of Allah that it was not a form and that the soul was a spiritual matter.

Gazâlî emphasized the role of the human body in moral life. Accordingly, the human was sent to this world for a test and the subject of this test was definitely the spirit. But if the soul existed in isolation from the body, there would be no evil spirit arouse from it. Yet, the test, or in other words the moral life existed where the clash of good and evil existed. Thus, in general the moral life was a result of the existence of spirit and body of man. The spirit came from Allah and would return to Him again in accordance with the view that was adopted in Islamic philosophy and sufism and which was in fact based on Plato's philosophy and also compatible with the teachings of the Koran. Allah created the so-called qualities of power and freedom of choice in man. Man chose and did his own deeds with this power and freedom.

Gazâlî was a sufi-philosopher who gave legitimacy to the movement by eliminating the uncertainties of sufism and the life around it and therefore was effective in the development and spread of sufism. He divided the Knowledge of Allah which he accepted as the greatest and most honorable sciences into the Allah's essence, adjectives, and verbs, and stated that Koran included them to the extent of the capacity of the human perception. He mentioned that the method of the Koran was the best way to be benefited as well as giving place to the classical hudûs evidence for the proof of the existence of Allah and using logical arguments; he gave priority to the purpose and order argument stating that there was no statement that could go beyond the statement of Allah. 


el-Munkizu min ed-dalâl (Narrates his own life story), el -Vas/f, el-Basit, el-Müstefa (about fiqh), el-Veciz (about fiqh system) Makasid ül felâsife, Tahâfüt ül-felâsife (about philosophy), Mi'yar ül-ilm, Mihekk ün nazar (about logic), Mizân ül-amel (about morality), el -İktisâd fi'l itikâd, Faysal ül-tefrika beyne'l -islam ve'z-zendeka, Ilcâm ül-avâmm an ilm il-kelam (about kalam), el-Mustazhiri (the work that he criticized the Bâtınîs), er-Redd ül-cemil alâ sarih il-İncil (the work that he criticized the Christians), İhya ül-ulûm id-din Bidayet ül-hidâye, Kitâb ül-erbain, Kimyâ yi sa'âdet, el-Maksad ül-esnâ, Mişkâtül envâr er-risâlet ül-ledüniyye, Minhâc ül -âbidin (about sufism).

REFERENCE: : Hilmi Ziya Ülken / İslâm Felsefe ve İtikadının Garba Tesiri (1962), Büyük Larousse (c.7, s. 4430-4431, 1986), Ana Britannica (c. 9, s. 319-320, 1987), GH Alfabetik Genel Kültür Ansiklopedisi (c. 8, s. 1449, 1993), Mustafa Çağrıcı / Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslam Ansiklopedisi (c.13, s. 489-534, 1996), Büyük Türk Klasikleri (c. 3, s. 260, 2004), İhsan Işık / Ünlü Fikir ve Kültür Adamları (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 3, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013) - Resimli ve Metin Örnekli Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (12. Cilt, 2017).


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