Frank Griffel presents a serious revision of traditional views on al-Ghazali, showing that his most important achievement was the creation of a new rationalist theology in which he transformed the Aristotelian views of thinkers such as Avicenna to accord with intellectual currents that were well-established within Muslim theological discourse. Using the most authoritative sources, including reports from al-Ghazali's students, his contemporaries, and his own letters, Griffel reconstructs every stage in a turbulent career.
The al-Ghazali that emerges offers many surprises, particularly on his motives for leaving Baghdad and the nature of his "seclusion" afterwards. Griffel demonstrates that al-Ghazali intended to create a new cosmology that moved away from concerns held earlier by Muslim theologians and Arab philosophers. This new theology aimed to provide a framework for the pursuit of the natural sciences and a basis for Islamic science and philosophy to flourish beyond the 12th century. Al-Ghazali's Philosophical Theology is the most thorough examination to date of this important thinker.
"This work of historical theology is essential reading for those wanting to understand with new depth and clarity the life and teachings of al-Ghazali." --American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences
"This work is a detailed examination of Al-Ghazali's position with respect to Greek science and philosophy as it was presented to the Muslim world in the works of Avicenna. In making this examination the author has been able to correct certain misconceptions about Al-Ghazali which have long been held by some Western scholars." --Nicholas Heer, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, University of Washington, Seattle
"A highly useful introduction to the life and thought of one of the most important theologians, not only of the Islamic world, but of the world as a whole. Al-Ghazali is an outstanding thinker by any stretch of the imagination, and as the author points out, we still do not know enough about his life. This is an excellent work of scholarship on an important and fascinating philosopher." --Oliver Leaman, Professor of Philosophy, University of Kentucky
"Frank Griffel's new book is a lucid synthesis of the latest scholarship on al-Ghazali's life and legacy, his interpretive method and his ideas about the world's creation and about divine, human and natural causality. Griffel succeeds in presenting a coherent and nuanced picture of the cosmology of this complex thinker, who was both a scholar of jurisprudence and a mystic, both a critic of philosophy and a philosophical theologian." --Robert Wisnovsky, Associate Professor, Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University
"One of the most extensive and insightful studies of al-Ghazali ever undertaken... Griffel's book is a veritable tour de force that will remain a benchmark in Ghazalian studies for a long time to come." --Theological Review
"Fascinating. . . Griffel's book is provocative, comprehensive, and valuable."--Review of Middle East Studies
The World Prize for the Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran (named one of the best new works in the field of Iranian/Islamic studies)