Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Tusi al-Ghazali was born in Tus, Persia in 450H/1058AD. His early education began in Tus, but he later travelled to Nishapur to be trained by one of the greatest systematic theologians of the time, al-Juwayni, Imam al-Haramayn, among many other great scholars of the time. When he was only 33 years old, he was offered the leading teaching position at the most noted theological institute in Baghdad – perhaps in the Islamic world at the time – the Nizamiyya.
Imam al-Ghazali began writing in his early 20’s and lived to the age of nearly 55 years. He travelled for more than 10 years, and besides teaching and preaching, he wrote nearly 400 books on various subject matters of religious and scholastic nature.
Imam al-Ghazali’s writings have had great impact on individuals and societies, but have been particularly foundational in Islamic educational thought. Perhaps Imam al-Ghazali’s finest composition on the moral and practical foundations of education is found in his treatise, Ayyuhal-Walad (Dear Beloved Son), which was written in response to his student’s request for his formal opinions, answers to questions, advice and prayers for him to hold on to and act upon.
As such, whoever reads this book will feel that Imam al-Ghazali is directly speaking and advising him/her as to how to go about to acquire and act upon the knowledge they have learned, in the best possible way. For example, he asked his students to consider what subjects might be important if they only had one week to live. He wrote, “You certainly would not concern yourself with law, and legal disputation and theory. Rather you would pay attention to your heart and learn characteristics of your soul and relinquish your ties to the world and purify your soul of its reprehensible traits and turn your attention to the love of God.”
He also includes bases from the Holy Qur’an, the blessed hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), as well as histories of the past Prophets (peace and blessings be upon them all), Companions, scholars of Islam, and many others.
In essence, Imam al-Ghazali explains that while the search for knowledge is commendable, it is to be accompanied with humility and foster spiritual development as its ultimate end. He wrote, “Looking into a field of learning it should be something that improves your heart and cleanses your soul.” In conclusion, he added, “The sum of total learning is to know the meaning of obedience and service to God.”
Ustaz Amin will be teaching this book by Imam Ghazali. To register, go to http://belovedson.eventbrite.sg. Payment can also be made at Wardah Books.