By Farouk Mitha
Al-Ghazali is arguably probably the most influential thinkers within the background of Islam, and his writings have bought larger scholarly realization within the West than these of the other Muslim pupil. This research explores a major measurement of his notion that has now not but been absolutely tested, specifically, his polemical engagement with the Ismailis of the Fatimid and early Alamut periods.Published in organization with The Institute of Ismaili reviews.
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Additional info for Al-Ghazali and the Ismailis: A Debate on Reason and Authority in Medieval Islam
11 Second, the Bå†iniyya are represented as vacillating between the doctrines of the dualists (al-thånawiyya) and the philosophers. Apart from the Anatomy of the Kitåb al-Mustaúhirí 33 pejorative rhetoric of these labels, al-Ghazålí is using them as metaphors to convey the nature of the polemical task that awaits him: For rare in the world is the man who, in the matter of fundamental dogmas (qawå™id al-™aqå¢id), can independently undertake to establish proof (al-˙ujja) and demonstration (al-burhån) in such a fashion that he raises it from the lowlands of conjecture (alúann) and reckoning to the highlands of certainty (al-qå†i™).
In general, it involved the analysis of the opponent’s arguments or claims, so as to examine the logical validity of the propositions on which they are based, and is conventionally written in the form of a dialogue with a hypothetical interlocutor. The doctrine which so struck al-Ghazålí, engaging him in a debate that continued to occupy him for the remainder of his life, was the Ismaili doctrine of ta™lím (authoritative instruction or teaching). This doctrine, of which Óasan-i Íabbå˙ was the major author, did not constitute a radically new doctrine but a terse re-statement – in the form of a logical argument – of the basic Shi™i claim that mankind has always been in need of a divinely-guided teacher, and that after the Prophet Mu˙ammad it is only the Ismaili Imams who lay claim to such infallible authority.
28 Anatomy of the Kitåb al-Mustaúhirí 29 In decipherment the task at hand is to ascertain what the author has written, and how has he written – this falls within the purview of what is conventionally referred to as the style or form of the text. 1 As with all conventions, the validity or even usefulness of the style/content (form/substance) dichotomy is open to debate. This distinction is a mental abstraction, and thus something that one would be hard pressed to verify empirically. In part, the difficulty presents itself as to whether style or content are irreducible categories; if so, can something called style be extracted from the text with the result that what remains is something called content?
Al-Ghazali and the Ismailis: A Debate on Reason and Authority in Medieval Islam by Farouk Mitha