A Common Word and Ghazali's Love of God

Said, Yazid (2018) A Common Word and Ghazali's Love of God. In: The Future of Interfaith Dialogue: Muslim-Christian Encounters through A Common Word. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 289-307.

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This is the final chapter in my co-edited volume published by Cambridge University Press. It examines the relationship between loving and knowing God in the writings of the medieval Muslim Sufi theologian Abu Hamid al- Ghazālī (d. 1111). It also examines similarities and differences with the Christian mystical tradition in light of Ghazālī’s work. The chapter focuses on Ghazālī’s book of Love which is the thirty sixth book of his magnum opus, Iḥyāʼ ʿUlūm al-Dīn, the Revival of the Religious Sciences.

Talking about loving and knowing God could be a matter of stale and pious cliché. But, for Ghazālī, the question was a matter of life and death. He is reacting against those who argue, as he explains, that ‘Love has no meaning apart from persistent obedience to God the Exalted and that genuine love is inconceivable except between the same genus and species’. This argument mirrors a similar debate in Christian circles about the meaning of loving God. Ghazālī goes through the discussion with acute psychological acumen, whilst thinking rationally through on the most fundamental theological questions for him. As such, we find an implicit connection to his Sufi epistemology of dhawq, taste, as the true source of knowing God, which is also reminiscent of philosophical ideas present in the writings of Origen, Clement of Alexandria, and Augustine of Hippo. Like the Church Fathers, Ghazālī developed some of his thought in the same Greek philosophical framework. But, is Ghazālī simply passively copying such ideas? This explores these different aspects and questions, and the implications for comparative religious studies and interfaith dialogue for the future.

Item Type: Book Section
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > Theology, Philosophy and Religion
Depositing User: Yazid Said
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2018 13:21
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2018 13:21
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/2591

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