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al- Ghazali

Ghazali, al- (ăl-găzäˈlē) [key], 1058–1111, Islamic theologian, philosopher, and mystic. He was born at Tus in Khorasan, of Persian origin. He is considered the greatest theologian in Islam. Al-Ghazali was appointed professor at Baghdad in 1091, but following a spiritual crisis in 1095 he abandoned his career to become a mystic (see Sufism). After ten years of wandering he settled down to teach in accordance with his new mystical insights, which he formulated very closely to orthodox Islam. Al-Ghazali was the author of several important works; his Destruction of the Philosophers, written just prior to his spiritual crisis, opposes the philosophical method of approaching metaphysics when it contradicts orthodox theology. That position had a great influence on the future of speculative thought in Islam. Al-Ghazali's chief work, The Revival of the Religious Sciences, outlines a complete and orthodox system of the mystical attainment of unity with God. Al-Ghazali is most important for his attempt to reconcile mysticism with orthodox Islam. He was well known in medieval Europe by his Latin name, Algazel.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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