So, al-Ghazzali was a teacher at a madrasah, an expert in Islamic law, who suffered a nervous breakdown in 1095. His breakdown was caused by the fact that he felt he was losing his faith. He became paralyzed and couldn't speak.
"his doctor's diagnosed a deep-seated emotional conflict, and later Ghazzali explained that he was concerned that though he knew a great deal about God, he did not know God himself."
Ghazzali went to Jerusalem, practiced Sufi exercises and returned to Iraq ten years later to write Iyah alum al-Din (The Revivial of the Religious Sciences). It became the most quoted Muslim text after the Qur'an and the ahadith.
"It was based on the important insight that only ritual and prayer could give human beings a direct knowledge of God; the arguments of theology (kalam) and Falsafah, however, could give us no certainty about the divine."
What do you think? Is it only through ritual and prayer that we can know God? Does theological argument get us nowhere, spiritually?
"All the Shariah rules about eating, sleeping, washing, hygiene and prayer were given a devotional and ethical interpretation, so that they were no longer simply external directives, but enabled Muslims to cultivate that perpetual consciousness of the divine that is advocated by the Qur'an. The Shariah had thus become more than a means of social conformity and a slavish exterior imitation of the Prophet and his sunnah: it became a way of achieving interior islam. Al-Ghazzali was not writing for the religious experts, but for devout individuals. There were, he believed, three sorts of people: those who accept the truths of religion without questioning them; those who try to find justification for their beliefs in the rational discipline of kalam; and the Sufis, who have a direct experience of religious truth."
Are there different sorts of believers? I think we know the answer to that is yes. How do you feel about Ghazzali's categories?
Why do you think that ritual gives people a sense of the divine? Does it?
Unrelated, I kind of want to do video posts, but I don't have anything to talk about that's worth the effort it takes to record and then upload. Is it easier with a webcam?