Al-Musleh, Mohamed Abubakr A. (2008)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Notwithstanding the enduring and rich “legacy of islah (Islamic reform)”, the study of it is relatively scarce and remarkably limited to modern times. The present study attempts to shed some light on this legacy by evaluating the contribution of an outstanding pre-modern Muslim scholar, al-Ghazali. Surprisingly, some studies create an absolutely positive picture of him, while others portray him in an extremely negative light. Thus, this study raises the question of whether it is justifiable to classify him as a muslih (Islamic reformer). In the light of the analysis of the concept “islah” and the complexity of Al-Ghazali’s time, the study demonstrates his life-experience and verifies that he devoted himself to general islah at a late period of his life, after succeeding in his self-islah. Further the study assess his islahi teachings in general, namely those formulated in the Ihya’ and evaluates the claimed effects of his attempts at islah. The study also highlights a number of strengths and weaknesses of al-Ghazali’s efforts and critically discusses some of the criticism directed at him. By weighing up the points for and against al-Ghazali, this study concludes by asserting that classifying him as a muslih appears to be fairly justified.
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