Spiritual knowledge (ma`rifa) in the Sufi tradition: the doctrine of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī

Alkhtib, Omar (2022). Spiritual knowledge (ma`rifa) in the Sufi tradition: the doctrine of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

[img] Alkhtib2022PhD.pdf
Text - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 16 July 2027.
Available under License All rights reserved.

Download (2MB) | Request a copy


This thesis studies one of the significant concepts in Islamic tradition in general and Sufi doctrine in particular, which is the concept of spiritual knowledge (ma`rifa), the knowledge obtained through a direct relationship with God. The task of this study is to address the thought of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī with regard to the origins, development, and intellectual and traditional foundations of this concept. Al-Ghazālī was chosen because in addition to his significant influence within Islamic literature in general, he provided a profound approach to the concept of spiritual knowledge in particular. His theory contributed fundamentally to the development of the concept of knowledge in traditional Sufi literature and within the broader philosophical evolution in the Islamic world.

This study shows that al-Ghazālī combined the dualities of soul-body and intellect-heart in his theorising on the concept of spiritual knowledge and the relationship between the human being and God. This thesis suggests that one of al-Ghazālī’s significant contributions was to elevate the concept of spiritual knowledge to a higher dimension by establishing its intellectual and traditional foundations and affirming its influence on behaviour. In the rational establishment of this concept, al-Ghazālī proved that it did not contradict rationality, but rather that the illusory contradiction stemmed from a failure to understand the limited capability of the intellect in dealing with spiritual concepts. The research also assumes that al-Ghazālī’s methods of acquiring spiritual knowledge prove that the ethical-behavioural aspect plays a key role in obtaining this kind of knowledge.

Hence, this study found that al-Ghazālī’s theory of spiritual knowledge is intellectually and behaviourally elaborate, and that al-Ghazālī provided a balanced approach to the Sufi theory of knowledge through making the esoteric subjective methods generally rational and clearly ethical.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Qatar University
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology > BV1460 Religious Education
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12565


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year