Ghazali on the Principles of Islamic Spirituality

Response

These readings provide information that is very useful to the Muslim faith. One of such topics is the one on exaltation of hunger. I found this topic particularly useful. According to Ghazali, hunger can be a path to the afterlife. This is because hunger has several benefits. Among the listed benefits is the fact that it helps a follower achieve purity of heart. This part is very useful because I finally got to have an in-depth understanding of the connection between hunger and spirituality.

For example, Ghazali writes that through hunger one can be able to punish his ego. When an ego is punished, it in turn becomes humbled. A humbled ego has the ability to be obedient. In another part, Ghazali gives an example of how hunger can lead one to prayer. He says that when one is hungry it is possible for him to wake up and pray. Moreover, through hunger one can be able to show contentment with just a few worldly belongings.

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Another interesting part of these readings is the one that addresses the evils of speech. This part starts by quipping that what all the limbs do is connected to the heart and especially the tongue. It goes on to quote a reading that if one can be able to control his tongue; he is guaranteed to make it to heaven.

All these readings indicate the magnitude of the evils of speech. Given that everyone sins with his tongue occasionally, then this part of Ghazali’s readings may be of help to many. Some people have no control of their speech whatsoever. If you do not happen to be one of them, then you definitely know one.

According to these readings, there are twenty evils of the tongue. This is probably why it is so hard to escape evils of the tongue. Ghazali lists lying as the first of these evils something that is easy to agree with. Nevertheless, what I found most interesting is the scenarios in which lying is permitted. According to these readings, one can lie to mend a relationship, when in a war, and when talking with his wife. The last scenario is likely to elicit some controversy.

The part of the readings detailing the fourth evil was however unclear to me. According to this part, a little joking is permitted. This notion may sound possible in theory, but in practice, it might be impossible. This is because when a funny joke is offered, it is natural to want more. In addition, the fact that joking is only recommended for women and children, raises some questions.

The motives for seeking prestige as described in these readings fail to make much sense to me. First, perfectionism is related to prestige. Prestige and perfection are parallel notions that do not seem to be related. This is because someone seeking perfection would most likely shun prestige. This person would be able to know that prestige only leads to destruction.

When Ghazali wrote these readings, he must have been on a very high spiritual level. This is because some of the things he addresses seem out of reach for people whose spiritual level is at its infancy. Many people may find Ghazali’s claims preposterous especially if they are not ready to embrace the highest form of spirituality. This is why for anyone willing to try; I would recommend a systematic adherence to these claims.

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