GHAZALI [Muhammad ibn Muhammad Abu Hamid al-Ghazali] (1058-1111), Arabian philosopher and theologian, was born at Tus, and belonged to a family of Ghazala (near Tus) distinguished for its knowledge of canon law. Educated at first in Tus, then in Jorjan, and again in Tus, he went to college at Nishapur, where he studied under Juwaini (known as the Imam ul-Haramain) until 1085, when he visited the celebrated vizier Nizam ul-Mulk, who appointed him to a professorship in his college at Bagdad in 1091. Here he was engaged in writing against the Isma'ilites (Assassins). After four years of this work he suddenly gave up his chair, left home and family and gave himself to an ascetic life. This was due to a growing scepticism, which caused him much mental unrest and which gradually gave way to mysticism. Having secured his chair for his brother he went to Damascus, Jerusalem, Hebron, Mecca, Medina and Alexandria, studying, meditating and writing in these cities. In 1106 he was tempted to go to the West, where the Moravid (Almoravid) reformation was being led by Yusuf ibn Tashfin, with whom he had been in correspondence earlier. Yusuf, however, died in this year, and Ghazali abandoned his idea. At the wish of the sultan Malik Shah he again undertook professorial work, this time in the college of Nizam ul-Mulk at Nishapur, but returned soon after to Tus, where he died in December 1111.
Sixty-nine works are ascribed to Ghazali (cf. C. Brockelmann's Gesch. d. arabischen Litteratur, i. 421-426, Weimar, 1898). The most important of those which have been published are: a treatise on eschatology called Ad-durra ul-fakhira ("The precious pearl"), ed. L. Gautier (Geneva, 1878); the great work, Ihya ul-'Ulum ("Revival of the sciences") (Bulaq, 1872; Cairo, 1889); see a commentary by al-Murtada called the Ithaf, published in 13 vols. at Fez, 1885-1887, and in 10 vols. at Cairo, 1893; the Bidayat ul-Hidaya (Bulaq, 1870, and often at Cairo); a compendium of ethics, Mizan ul-'Amal, translated into Hebrew, ed. J. Goldenthal (Paris, 1839); a more popular treatise on ethics, the Kimiya us-Sa'ada, published at Lucknow, Bombay and Constantinople, ed. H. A. Homes as The Alchemy of Happiness (Albany, N.Y., 1873); the ethical work O Child, ed. by Hammer-Purgstall in Arabic and German (Vienna, 1838); the Destruction of Philosophers (Tahafut ul-Falasifa) (Cairo, 1885, and Bombay, 1887). Of this work a French translation was begun by Carra de Vaux in Muséon, vol. xviii. (1899); the Maqaṣid ul-Falasifa, of which the first part on logic was translated into Latin by Dom. Gundisalvi (Venice, 1506), ed. with notes by G. Beer (Leiden, 1888); the Kitab ul-Munqid, giving an account of the changes in his philosophical ideas, ed. by F. A. Schmölders in his Essai sur les écoles philosophiques chez les Arabes (Paris, 1842), also printed at Constantinople, 1876, and translated into French by Barbier de Meynard in the Journal asiatique (1877, i. 1-93); answers to questions asked of him ed. in Arabic and Hebrew, with German translation and notes by H. Malter (Frankfort, 1896); Eng. trans., Confessions of al-Ghazzali, by Claud Field (1909).
For Ghazali's life see McG. de Slane's translation of Ibn Khallikan, ii. 621 ff.; R. Gösche's Uber Ghazzali's Leben und Werke (Berlin, 1859); D. B. Macdonald's "Life of al-Ghazzali," in Journal of American Oriental Society, vol. xx. (1899), and Carra de Vaux's Gazali (Paris, 1902); see Arabian Philosophy.
(G. W. T.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)