This revised edition of Kojiro Nakamura’s acclaimed translation into English of Book IX of The Revival of the Religious Sciences, forms the second in the Islamic Texts Society’s al-Ghazali series. Although prayerfulness and the remembrance of God suffuse all the formal practices of Islam, there are times when the Muslim simply ‘sits alone with his lord’ to repeat formulas drawn from the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet, seeking remission of his sins and the purification of his heart.
An old disciple of al-Ghazali had studied the Islamic sciences, including the many works of his master, for most of his life. Faced with the proximity of death, he turns again to his master this time asking for a summary of all his teachings. Letter to a Disciple is Abu Hamid al-Ghazali's response.
The spiritual life in Islam begins with riyadat al-nafs, the inner warfare against the ego. Distracted and polluted by worldliness, the lower self has a tendency to drag the human creature down into arrogance and vice. Only by a powerful effort of will can the sincere worshipper achieve the purity of soul which enables him to attain God's proximity.
In this work, here presented in a complete English edition for the first time, the problem of knowing God is confronted in an original and stimulating way. Taking up the Prophet’s teaching that ‘Ninety-nine Beautiful Names’ are truly predicated of God, the author explores the meaning and resonance of each of these divine names, and reveals the functions they perform both in the cosmos and in the soul of the spiritual adept.
Al-Ghazali lived at a time such as the one we live in today, when the inward and outward practices of Islam had become divided and a collective spiritual crisis of the heart prevailed. He realized that in spite of all his knowledge he was of no use battling this crisis because his own heart was filled with pride. How could he aid his brothers in the transformation of their hearts, when his own heart was diseased?