ESSENTIAL IHYA’ ‘ULUM AL-DIN (THE REVIVAL OF THE RELIGIOUS SCIENCES): Volume I
Abū Hāmid al-Ghazālī
Translated by Fazlul Karim
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The Revival of the Religious Sciences by Imam al-Ghazālī can be described as a book that will never die. This is because it contains a vital cognitive force that time cannot obliterate. In it the Imam discusses Islamic rulings, beliefs and character, in the style of an admonisher who understands the psyche and its secrets as well as spiritual diseases. What distinguishes this book from others is its strong spiritual influence on the reader which makes him seek both soundness of heart and his Lord’s pleasure through acts of worship, rather than the mere performance of acts of worship so that they are legally valid.
The book is a comprehensive encyclopedia for all of a Muslim’s religious affairs, including beliefs, acts of worship, dealings and character, as well as for individual and societal welfare. Al-Ghazālī’s style is that of one who practices what he knows, one who is determined to rise from the dry, ordinary manner of teaching to one which encourages action.
Abū Hāmid al-Ghazālī is a towering figure in Islam. His enormous influence can be summarized, in the words of Annemarie Schimmel, as the one who “teaches… only to help man to live a life in accordance with the sacred law, not by clinging exclusively to its letter, but by an understanding of its deeper meaning … so that he is ready for the meeting with his Lord at any moment.” His greatest work Ihyā’ ‘Ūlūm al-Dīn (The Revival of the Religious Sciences), comprising forty books divided into four quarters of ten books each, has helped generations towards this end until today.
Volume one consists of ten Books covering Knowledge, The foundations of belief, The mysteries of cleanliness, Prayer, Zakah, Fasting, The secrets of pilgrimage, Recitation of the Qur’an, Invocations and supplications, and Regular devotions.
Volume two focuses on the norms of daily conduct and consists of eleven books covering ‘The Rules of Eating and Drinking’, ‘The Secrets of Marriage’, ‘Earning a livelihood’, ‘The Lawful and the Unlawful’, ‘Love and Brotherhood’, ‘Duties to Muslims, Neighbors, Relatives, Slaves and Servants’, ‘The Rules of Living in Seclusion’ and ‘The Rules and Regulations of Travelling’.
Volume three focuses on the destructive vices and consists of ten books covering ‘The soul and its attributes’, ‘Disciplining the self’, ‘Breaking the two desires’, ‘Harms of the tongue’, ‘Anger, hatred and envy’, ‘Attachment to the world’, ‘Love for wealth’ , ‘Love for power and ostentation’ , ‘Pride and self-pride’ and ‘Condemnation of pride’.
Volume four focuses on ‘Repentance’, ‘Patience and gratefulness’, ‘Fear and hope’, ‘Poverty and renunciation’, ‘Faith in divine unity and trust in Allah’, ‘Intention, sincerity and truth’, ‘Introspection and self-accounting’, ‘Meditation’, and ‘Death and subsequent events’.