The Defence of the Ihyaa ad Deen from Hujjatul Islam Mujaddid Abu Hamid al Ghasali rah

Veröffentlicht: 4. Februar 2013 in The Defence of the Ihyaa Uloom ad Deen engl.

Foreword :
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Imam Abdul Karim al-Shahrastani (d.548h) similarly said in Kitab al-Milal wa al-Nihal (p. 105-106): Until the time came upon [the likes of] Abdullah bin Sa’id al-Kullabi [d. 240h], Abu al-Abbas al-Qalanisi [contemporary of al-As’hari], and al-Harith bin Asad al-Muhasibi [d. 243H]. They were from the generality of the Salaf, except that they practised Ilm al-kalam (scholastic theology), and they aided the beliefs of the Salaf with philosophical proofs, and fundamental [cognitive] evidences. Some of them authored [works] and others taught. [Until] there occurred a debate between Abu al-Hasan al-As’hari and his [Mu’tazili] teachers on an issue amongst the issues pertaining to “as-salah wal-aslah” [an issue pertaining to whether Allah is obligated or not to do what is best for His servants], so they disputed. And al-Ash’ari united with this faction [the Kullabiyyah], so he supported their saying through the methodologies of speculative theological [discourse], and then that became a madhhab for Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah [meaning the Ash’aris], and then the label of “Sifatiyyah (Affimers of the Attributes)” transferred to the Ash’ariyyah.

The notice on Ghazali in the Reliance states:In Damascus he lived in seclusion for some ten years, engaged in spiritual struggle and the remembrance of Allah, at the end of which he emerged to produce his masterpiece Ihya‘ `Ulum al-Din [Giving Life to the Religious Sciences], a classic among the books of the Muslims about internalizing godfearingness (taqwa) in one’s dealings with Allah, illuminating the soul through obedience to Him, and the levels of believers‘ attainment therein. The work shows how deeply Ghazali personally realized what he wrote about, and his masterly treatment of hundreds of questions dealing with the inner life that no-one had previously discussed or solved is a performance of sustained excellence that shows its author’s well- disciplined intellect and profound appreciation of human psychology. He also wrote nearly two hundred other works, on the theory of government, Sacred Law, refutations of philosophers, tenets of faith, Sufism, Koranic exegesis, scholastic theology, and bases of Islamic jurisprudence. Reliance of the Traveller p. 1048.

Allamah ad Dhahabi rah said :No fair-minded person would deny the rare level of intelligence, ingenuity and cleverness that Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali attained. Al-Dhahabi said of him: “Al-Ghazzaali, the imaam and shaykh, the prominent scholar, Hujjat al-Islam, the wonder of his time, Zayn al-Deem Abu Haamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Toosi al-Shaafa’i al-Ghazzaali, the author of many books and one possessed of utter intelligence. He studied fiqh in his own town, then he moved to Nisapur in the company of a group of students. He stayed with the Imaam al-Haramayn and gained a deep knowledge of fiqh within a short period. He became well-versed in ‘ilm al-kalaam and debate, until he became the best of debaters…” (Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’, part 9, p. 323)

Wise Sayings of Hujjatul Islam al Ghasali rah :Lailahaillallah+Muhammadarrasulullah

Al-Ghazali on Disciplining the Soul and Breaking the two Desires, Books XXII and XXIII of the Revival of the Religious Sciences.Page 69.A man once summed up the signs of good character by saying:“It is to be abundantly modest, to avoid harming others, to be righteous, truthful in speech, and of little discourse; it is to do many things and slip up infrequently, to avoid excess, to be loyal, friendly, dignified, patient, grateful, satisfied, forbearing, charitable, chaste and pitying; and not to curse or to insult people, or to backbite or to slander them, and to avoid hastiness, hatred, meanness, and jealousy; to be cheerful and kind, to love [good] and hate [evil] for the sake of God, to be well-pleased with Him andto be angry for His sake. Such is the man of good character.”

If the first inward thought is not warded off, it will generate a desire,then the desire will generate a wish, and the wish will generate an intention,and the intention will generate the action, andthe action will result in ruin and divine wrath.So evil must be cut off at its root, which is when it is simply a thought that crosses the mind,from which all the other things follow on.- Imam abu Hamid al-Ghazzali
Imam al-Ghazālī“The harm inflicted on religion by those who defend it in a way not proper to it is greater than the harm caused by those who attack it inthe way proper to it. As it has been said: A rational foe is better than an ignorant friend.”― the Incoherence of the Philosophers

Each of your breaths is a priceless jewel, since each of them is irreplaceable and, once gone, can never be retrieved. Do not be like the deceived fools who are joyous because each day their wealth increases while their lifeshortens. What good is an increase in wealth when life grows ever shorter? Therefore be joyous only for an increase in knowledge or in good works, for they are your two companions who will accompany you in your grave when your family, wealth, children and friends stay behind. [Imam Ghazali ]
Imam Al-Ghazali‎”He who knows not his heart, to watch over it and be mindful of it, and to observe what shines on it and in it of the treasures of the world of spirits, he is one of those whom God, the Exalted, has said, ‘those who forget God; and He made them to forget their own souls. Such are the rebellious transgressors.’ ”– Marvels of the Heart

For instance, if a man ceases to take any concern in worldly matters, conceives a distaste for common pleaures, and appears sunk in depression, the doctor will say, “This isa case of melancholy, and requires such and such prescription. The physicist will say, “This is a dryness of the brain caused by hot weather and cannot be relieved till the air becomes moist.” The astrologer will attribute it to some particular conjunction or opposition of plantes. “Thus far their wisdom reaches,” says the Koran. It does not occur to them that what has really happened is this: that the Almighty has a concern for the welfare of thatman, and has therefore commanded His servants, the planets or the elements, to produce such a condition in him that he may turn away from the world to his Maker.The knowledge of this fact is a lustrous pearl from the ocean of inspirational knowledge, to whichall other forms of knowldge are as islands in the sea. ”— The Alchemy of Happiness, Imam Al-Ghazali

More importantly, the majority of hadith masters hold it permissible to use weak hadiths in other than the derivation of legal rulings, such as in the encouragement to good and discouragement from evil (al-targhib wa al-tarhib), as countless hadith masters have indicated as well as other scholars, such as al-Safadi himself. See al-Hakim, al-madkhal li `ilm al-hadith“ (beginning), al- Bayhaqi Dala’il al-nubuwwa (introduction), Nawawi, al-Tibyan fi `ulum al-qur’an p. 17. The latter says: „The scholars are in agreement on the legitimacy of using weak hadiths in the realm of virtous works.“ Al- Sakhawi stated the view of the scholarly consensus on this question in the Epilogue of of his al-Qawl al-badi` fi al-salat `ala al-habib al- shafi` (The admirable doctrine concerning the invocation of blessings upon the beloved intercessor) (Beirut: dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya, 1407/ 1987) p. 245-246.

Ibn Hajar al-Haytami’s fatwa concerning critics of those who respect tasawwuf and believe in awliya‘: „Bad thoughts about them (Sufis) is the death of the heart.“ Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, Fatawa hadithiyya (Cairo: al-Halabi, 1970) p. 331.

Muqadimmah :

Among other mashaayikh who have written on Imam al-Ghazali are:
• Imam Hafiz ibn ‚Asakir
• Imam Abu’l Faraj ibn al-Jawzi
• Shaykh ‚Afifuddin ‚Abdallah bin As’ad al-Yafi’i al-Yamani
• Imam Taj al-Deen al-Subki
• Al-Sayyid Muhammad al-Murtada al-Husaini al-Zabidi

My master, the majestic Shaykh al-Habib Ahmad Mash-hur bin Taha al-Haddad Naf’anAllahu bih mentions the Ihya‘ among „Valuable Books – Milestones For Seekers“ in his Miftahul Jannah (The Key To Paradise, p.99).Sayyidunal Imam ‚AbdAllah bin ‚Alawi al-Haddad Naf’anAllahu bih (henceforth referred to as al-Habib Mawlana al-Haddad) explains in Ad-Da’wat u’t Taammah (The All-Out Call) that the ‚ulama are agreed that Imam al-Ghazali was the mujaddid (renewer) of the fifth century. He calls him Hujjat ul Islam (The Proof of Islam) as do one and all.

Indeed, Sayyidunal Imam al-Habib Mawlana al-Haddad has composed a whole qasida in praise of Ihya‘ ‚Ulum al-Deen in which he also extols his ancestor Shaykh Abubakr al-‚Aydaroos, who as already noted, took to the Ihya‘ with such devotion. This qasida is in his Diwan (Collected Eulogies) titled Ad-Durru’l Manzun Li Dhawi’l ‚Uqul Wa’l Fuhum (Poetic Pearls For Discerning and Understanding Minds, p.315). Here it is in transliteration and translation.

Bi Ihya‘-i ‚Ulum-id-Deen-i tuhyi qulubanaa
Wa yukshafu ‚annaa ghammunaa wa kurubunaa
Kitaabun hawa’l ‚ilmulladhee huwa naafi’un
Muallifuhu ustaadhunaa wa tabibunaa
Kitaabun hawaa ‚ilmal kitabi wa sunnatin
Wa maa qaalahu awwahunaa wa muneebunaa
Mawaareethu aslaafin lanaa wa a’immatin
Madhaw wa ‚alaa aathaarihim mustajeebunaa
Idhaa nushirat a’laamuhu wa ‚uloomuhu
Wa absaruhaa ‚allaamunaa wa museebunaa
Tahaqqaqa anna’l ‚ilma feehi bi asrihi
Wa lam yustarib fee mithli haadhaa areebunaa
Wa qad atnab ash-Shaykh u’l Imami biwasfihi
Abu’l makramati’l ‚Aydaroos-i habibunaa
Wa kam ghairihi min ‚aarifin wa muhaqqiqin
Wa habrin ‚aleemin wa’l Ilaahu Haseebunaa
Wa tammat wa Sallillahu fee kulli sa’atin
‚Ala’l Mustafa’l Haadee Shafee’i dhunubinaa:

With „The Revival of the Religious Sciences“ you rejuvenate our hearts
And remove our grief and sorrow
It is a book containing useful knowledge
Written by our teacher and physician
A book with the knowledge of the Qur’an and the Sunnah
And what he said makes us lamentful and penitent
It is the heritage of our ancestors and Imams
Who passed away and whose footprints we follow
When he unfurls his flags and publishes his knowledge
The best who behold it are our learned and rightly guided
It has been proved that all knowledge is in it
And our people of wisdom have no doubt in it
And its qualities were praised beyond measure by the Shaykh the Imam
The father of miracles our beloved al-‚Aydaroos himself
How many such others are there, possessors of direct knowledge
Certifiers of truth, most knowledgeable scholars, and God is sufficient for us
And I conclude by invoking blessings of Allah in each and every moment
On (Muhammad) Mustafa the guide, the intercessor for our sins.
There are various levels of learning in this qasida that call for more study. For example, Mawlana al-Haddad’s use of the words „awwah“ and „muneeb“ in the third verse remind us of the following verse of the Holy Qur’an Kareem.
Inna Ibrahima la haleemun awwaahun muneeb
No doubt, Ibrahim is forbearing, lamentful, penitent (11:75).

The Ihya‘ is Encyclopedic
The Ihya‘ is truly encyclopedic. It is not just one book but consists of forty books in four volumes as follows:


Volume I: On Worship (‚Ibaadaat)
• Book 1: Knowledge
• Book 2: Foundations of the Articles of Faith
• Book 3: The Secrets of Purity
• Book 4: The Secrets of Ritual Prayer
• Book 5: The Secrets of Zakah
• Book 6: The Secrets of Fasting
• Book 7: The Secrets of the Pilgrimage
• Book 8: The Proprieties of Qur’anic Recitation
• Book 9: Invocations and Supplications
• Book 10: The Arrangements of Regular Invocations and Division of the Night Vigil

Volume II: On The Proprieties of Daily Life (‚Aadaat)
• Book 1: The Proprieties of Eating
• Book 2: The Proprieties of Marriage
• Book 3: The Proprietes of Acquisition and Earning a Livelihood
• Book 4: The Lawful and Unlawful
• Book 5: The Proprieties of Friendship, Brotherhood and Companionship
• Book 6: The Proprieties of Seclusion
• Book 7: The Proprieties of Travelling
• Book 8: The Proprieties of Audition and Ecstacy
• Book 9: Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil
• Book 10: The Proprieties of Living as Exemplified in the Virtues of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Volume III: The Ways To Perdition (Muhlikaat)
• Book 1: Expounding the Wonders of the Heart
• Book 2: Disciplining the Soul, Refining the Character and Curing the Sicknesses of the Heart
• Book 3: Breaking the Two Desires
• Book 4: Harms of the Tongue
• Book 5: Condemnation of Anger, Rancour and Envy
• Book 6: Condemnation of the World
• Book 7: Condemnation of Miserliness and of the Love of the World
• Book 8: Condemnation of Status and Ostentation
• Book 9: Condemnation of Pride and Conceit
• Book 10: Condemnation of Self-Delusion

Volume IV: On The Ways To Salvation (Munjiyaat)
• Book 1: Repentance
• Book 2: Patience and Thanksgiving
• Book 3: Fear and Hope
• Book 4: Poverty and Abstinence
• Book 5: The Unity of God and Reliance Upon Him
• Book 6: Love, Longing, Intimacy and Contentment
• Book 7: Intention, Truthfulness and Sincerity
• Book 8: Holding Vigil and Self Examination
• Book 9: Meditation
• Book 10: The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife

the Ihya‘ is Comprehensive
Imam al-Ghazali earned for himself the title Hujjatul Islam (The Proof of Islam). As we read the Ihya‘, it begins to dawn on us why he is held in such high esteem. He appears to be a master of all branches of learning and it seems he has codified all knowledge of Islam existing upto his time in the Ihya‘.
1. His teaching is rooted in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. These have been the original sources of the ‚ulama (the learned) who came before him as well as those who followed him. He backs up his themes throughout the Ihya‘ with verses from the Qur’an and gives tafsir (explanation) of the verses.

2. He is a master of the Hadith Shareef of our beloved Prophet Muhammad Mustafa Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam. The Ihya‘ is full of ahaadith from the Sihah Sitta as well as many other well-known compilations of hadith.

3. As a master of history (seerah), he documents in great detail, in the chapters titled Athar (Narratives), the life history of our Holy Prophet Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam; of many anbiya (prophets), ‚alayhimussalam, of the Ahl ul Bayt (the blessed Household of our beloved Prophet Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam), of the sahaba (his companions), of the taabi’een (the Followers, who followed the sahaba), the awliya (saints) and saleheen (the pious). Thus each Islamic injunction is supported by Qur’an, hadith and real-life examples of ‚amal (action) on these from seerah (history). More than a hundred sahaba are mentioned in the Ihya‘ as well as a hundred or more awliya (saints). In this way, Imam al-Ghazali has preserved for posterity the history of achievements in piety. This further nurtured and sustained the love of scholarship among Muslims.

4. He is an ‚aabid (worshipper) of Allah Ta’ala par excellence who exhorts you to engage in worship and do zikr (remember Allah). He is referred to as siraaj u’l mutahajjideen (the lamp for those who perform tahajjud). Besides the fardh, sunnah and nawafil salah, he talks about the supererogatory prayers for each day of the week, and gives the azkaar and awraad (regular voluntary invocations) for each day of the week and the dua (supplications) of the beloved Prophet Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam, the anbiya, ‚alayhimussalam, the Ahl ul Bayt, the sahaba, and the awliya, may Allah be pleased with them. He devotes two whole books to invocations and supplications, that is, Vol I, Book 9 and Book 10.

5. He is the literary giant who uses analogy, rhetoric, rhyming prose, simile and metaphor and intersperses his discourse with gems of qasaaid (eulogies) from spiritual masters to emphasise, illustrate or illuminate his point. The Ihya‘ contains verses composed by Sayyidina ‚Ali, Sayyidatina ‚Aisha and Hadrat Abu Darda‘ Rady Allahu ‚Anhum; as well as by Imams and sufi saints such as Hadrat Hasan al-Basri, Malik bin Dinar, Sufyan al-Thawri, Ibrahim ibn Ad’ham, ‚Abdallah ibn al-Mubarak, Imam al-Shafi’i, Dhul Nun al-Misri, Al-Sari al-Saqati, Abu Sa’id al-Kharraz and Junaid al-Baghdadi, among others, may Allah Ta’ala shower them with His Mercy. And he cites Hadith Shareef on Hadrat Hassaan bin Thabit Rady Allahu ‚Anhu which establish him as the poet of the Prophet, Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam.

6. He expounds on Aqidatul Islam (The Islamic Creed), in Vol I, Book 2, as explained by Imam Abu’l Hasan al-Ash’ari before him. Those who love the Asma-ul-Husna will take this book Qawaaid u’l ‚Aqaaid
(Foundations of the Articles of Faith) to heart. He explains the Arkan al-Islam (the pillars of Islam), the Arkan al-Iman (the pillars of Faith), and ihsan (spiritual excellence). The uniqueness here is that he explains both the zahiri (manifest) as well as the sirri (hidden spiritual) aspects of each of the teachings of Islam. His teaching is rooted in the Ahl us Sunnah tradition. He explains that the rightful successors to our beloved Prophet Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam in chronological order are Sayyidina Abubakr, Sayyidina ‚Umar, Sayyidina ‚Uthman and Sayyidina ‚Ali, Rady Allahu ‚Anhum ajma’een.

7. The Ihya‘ is rooted in shari’ah (sacred Muslim law). Himself a Shafi’i, Imam al-Ghazali shows great respect for the Imams of all the four Ahl us Sunnah madhaa-hib who codified Muslim law, that is, Imam ul A’zam Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi’i, Imam Malik, and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. He gives life histories of each of these Imams in Vol. I, Book 1. He goes to great lengths to explain that what appeals to him about these Imams is not so much that they were fuqaha (jurists) but that they were sufis as well, who practiced tasawwuf.

8. He is ad-Daa’ee al-Kaamil (Accomplished Preacher), propagating Islam as taught and lived by the Holy Prophet, Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam. As an ‚alim, he towered above all and was in a position to refute the teachings of sectists of his time, like the Mu’tazila, the Baatiniyyah and the philosophers.

9. He is a sufi saint who talks of wajd (spiritual ecstacy), kashf (unveiling of spiritual secrets) and ilham (inspirations), which are various spiritual states. He is the spiritual master who has tasted of ma’rifa (direct illuminative knowledge) and haqiqa (spiritual realities).

10. He is Hujjat ul Islam who wants to lead us to paradise under the banner of our beloved Prophet Muhammad Mustafa Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam by making us live totally according to his life-style, taking him as our model of character and conduct, as Allah Sub’hanahu wa Ta’ala says in the Holy Qur’an:Wa Innaka La’ala Khuluqin ‚AzeemAnd undoubledly, you have the most exalted character. (68:4)The rest of this article expounds on some of these major themes.

It Is Full Of Qur’an

As mentioned earlier, according to Shaykh ‚Abdallah al-‚Aydaroos, the Ihya‘ is a sharh (explanation) of the Qur’an and Hadith. First, let us appreciate it as a sharh of the Qur’an.

It is an exhilarating experience to recite the verses of the Qur’an Kareem quoted in the Ihya‘ at one sitting and to crown it all with the Fateha! Al-Fateha!

Once you have done that, you are naturally curious to find out how much of the Qur’an is in the Ihya‘. So you reference the footnotes provided by al-Hafiz al-Iraqi and a quick count reveals 2370 quoted verses, quoted in full or in part. Some of the verses have been repeated for emphasis. Assuming rather liberally that one-third are repetitions, we can draw a rough and ready conclusion that a quarter of the 6236 verses of the Qur’an have been directly quoted by Imam al-Ghazali, Rahmatullahi ‚alaih in support of the theme of each book of the Ihya‘.

The very first verse in the Ihya‘ must have pleased Allah Sub’hanahu wa Ta’ala so much that He, in His unbounded generosity gave the bahral muhit (encircling ocean) of the Ihya‘ to Imam al-Ghazali to plunge into. Approach it gently as your eyes might well up with tears.
Shahidallahu Annahu Laa Ilaaha Illaa Huwa
Wa’l malaaikatu wa ‚ulul ‚ilmi qaaiman bi’l qist
Laa Ilaaha Illaa Huwa’l ‚Aziz u’l Hakeem

Allah bears witness that none is to be worshipped but He,
and (so do) the angels and those possessed of knowledge, Maintaining His creation with justice;
none is to be worshipped but He, the Mighty, the Wise (3:18)

Imam al-Ghazali loves this verse so much that he repeats it in many places in the Ihya‘. Forty such oft-repeated verses can be identified equal to the forty books of the Ihya‘. These are:
(2:165), (2:264), (3:18), (3:134), (4:41), (6:125), (7:55), (7:199), (7:200), (8:17),
((9:24), (13:11), (16:18), (16:90), (17:85), (18:49), (21:23), (26:89), (29:69), (32:16),
(35:41), (39:9), (39:22), (42:11), (48:29), (55:46), (57:12), (57:20), (58:11), (66:6),
(66:8), (68:4), (91:9), (91:10), (97:1), (99:7), (99:8), (103:1-3)

Let us benefit from the translation of a few of these verses with the intention of acting upon them.
Those who spend (benevolently) in ease as well as in hardship and those who restrain (their anger) and pardon men; and Allah loves the doers of good (to others). (3:134)

Take to forgiveness and enjoin good and turn aside from the ignorant (7:199)

And if you would count Allah’s favours, you will not be abe to count them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (16:18)

Surely, Allah enjoins justice and the doing of good (to others) and the giving to the kith and kin, and He forbids indecency and evil and rebellion; He admonishes you that you may be mindful. (16:90)
And the Book (of Deeds) shall be placed (before you), then you will see the guilty, fearing from what is in it, and they will say: Ah! woe to us! what a book is this! It does not omit anything, small or great but takes account of them (all); and they shall find all that they did before them; and your Lord is not unjust with anyone. (18:49)

And (as for) those that strive for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways; and Allah is most surely with the doers of good. (29:69)

Is he who is obedient during hours of the night, prostrating himself and standing, takes heed of the Hereafter and hopes for the mercy of his Lord (like the one who does not). Say: Are those who know and those who do not know equal? Only those who are endued with understanding receive admonition. (39:9)
Will he whose heart Allah has opened to Islam so that he is upon a light from his Lord (be like him who is not in this condition)? Woe to those whose hearts are hardened against the remembrance of Allah, those are in clear error. (39:22)

And for him who fears to stand before his Lord are two Paradises. (55:46)
And undoubledly, you (O beloved Prophet) have the most exalted character. (68:4)

It Is Full Of Hadith

Once you have established how much of the Qur’an is in the Ihya‘, the next thing you want to know is the number of ahaadith in the Ihya‘. For that, your user-friendly source is again the Takhreej (Identification) of Shaykh Hafiz al-Iraqi. A quick count in the footnotes reveals a total of 4534 ahaadith, quoted in full or in part, more than the number of ahaadith in Sahih Muslim, and more than the number of ahaadith in Al-Muwatta (The Well-Trodden Path) of Imam Malik, and Riyaad-us-Saleheen (The Gardens of the Righteous) of Imam an-Nawawi put together!

One of the aims of the Ihya‘ is to turn people to ‚amal saleh (good deeds). So let us take this opportunity to learn ten ahaadith shareef from the Ihya‘, Vol. I, one hadith from each of its ten books with the intention of acting upon them.

The beloved Prophet Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam said:
1. The ‚ulama (learned) are the heirs of the Prophets (narrated by Hadrat Abu Darda, Rady Allahu ‚Anhu, and reported by Imam Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, and Ibn Hibban; Ihya‘, Vol. I, p. 16).
2. Faith has over seventy branches, the most excellent of which is the declaration that no one is worthy of worship but Allah, and the humblest of which is the removal of what is injurious from the road. And modesty is a branch of faith (narrated by Hadrat Abu Hurairah, Rady Allahu ‚Anhu, and reported in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim; Ihya‘, Vol. I, p. 144).

3. The key to prayer is ritual purity (tuhur) (narrated by Sayyidina ‚Ali, Rady Allahu ‚Anhu, and reported by Imam Tirmidhi; Ihya‘, Vol I, p. 150).

4. The merit of congregational prayer is greater than that of individual prayer by twenty-seven degrees (narrated by Hadrat ‚Abdullah ibn ‚Umar, Rady Allahu ‚Anhu, and reported in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim; Ihya‘, Vol I, p. 176).

5. Whoever does not thank people, is not thankful to Allah (narrated by Hadrat Ibn Sa’eed, Rady Allahu Anhu, and reported by Imam Tirmidhi; and also narrated by Hadrat Abu Hurairah, Rady Allahu ‚Anhu, and reported by Imam Abu Dawud and Ibn Hibban; Ihya‘, Vol I, p. 263).

6. The most important optional fasts after the (obligatory) fasts in the month of Ramadan are those in the month of Muharram (narrated by Hadrat Abu Hurairah, Rady Allahu ‚Anhu, and reported in Sahih Muslim; Ihya‘, vol. I, p. 281).

7. One hundred and seventy mercies descend upon the Ka’ba every day: sixty for those doing tawaf (circumambulation), forty for those performing prayers and twenty for those who just look at it (narrated by Hadrat ‚Abdullah ibn ‚Abbas, Rady Allahu ‚Anhu, and reported in Shu’b ul Iman (Branch of Faith) of Imam al-Bayhaqi; Ihya‘, Vol I, p. 287).

8. Those who take to the Qur’an are the people of Allah and very special to Him (narrated by Hadrat Anas, Rady Allahu ‚Anhu, and reported by Imam an-Nasaai, Ibn Majah, and al-Haakim, Ihya‘, Vol. I, p. 322)
9. Allah, the Blessed and the Exalted, says: „When my servant remembers Me himself (alone), I remember him Myself. When he remembers Me in congregation, I remember him in a better congregation. And if he draws near to Me a hand’s span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed“. (Hadith Qudsi) (narrated by Hadrat Abu Hurairah, Rady Allahu ‚Anhu, and reported in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim; Ihya‘, Vol I, p. 351).

10. The best prayer after those that have been prescribed is the qiyaam ul-layl (tahajjud in the night vigil) (narrated by Hadrat Abu Hurairah, Rady Allahu ‚Anhu, and reported in Sahih Muslim; Ihya‘, Vol I, p. 419).
Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal Wakeel
Allah is Sufficient for us and (He is) the most excellent Trustee (3:173)

The Narratives
Each book of the Ihya‘ abounds with these and they are referred to as Athar (later traditions). They relate to narrations by or concerning the Prophets ‚alayhimussalam, the Ahl ul Bayt (the blessed Household of our noble Prophet Muhammad Mustafa Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam), the sahaba (his companions), the taabi’een (Followers), the tab’i taabi’een (those who followed the Followers), the mashaayikh (spiritual masters), and the awliya Allah (friends of Allah, sufi saints), those that are well-known as well as those that remain anonymous and hidden. Let us seize this opportunity to go through some of these narratives to gain their flavour as well as blessings. (Translations by Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad, Shaykh Muhtar Holland and Mawlana Fazlul Karim have been used).

1. The entire text of the sermon of Sayyidina AbuBakr Rady Allahu ‚Anhu (when the beloved Prophet Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam passed away), has been given by al-Qa’qa‘ ibn ‚Amr, who said, „““ When the people had finished weeping, Sayyidina AbuBakr stood up before them to preach a sermon, the greater part of which was an invocation of blessings upon the Prophet Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam. He praised and glorified Allah for every state (which he might bring about) and then said:
„I bear witness that no one is worthy of worship except Allah, Alone, Who fulfilled His promise, gave victory to His bondsman, and overcame the factions Alone. To Him alone is the praise. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His bondsman and Emissary, and the seal of His Prophets. And I bear witness that the Book is now as it was when revealed and that the Faith is now as it was when laid down, and that the Tradition now is just as it transpired, and that the discourse is just as he uttered it, and that Allah is the manifest Truth.

O Allah! Bless Muhammad, Your bondsman and Emissary, Your Prophet, Your beloved one, trusted one, preferred and chosen, with the most excellent blessings ever granted by You to any one of Your creatures.
O Allah! Bestow Your blessings and protection from harm and Your Mercy and Your Grace upon the Master of the Messengers, the Seal of the Prophets, the Leader of the Godfearing, Muhammad, the Commander and Leader of Good, the Emissary of Mercy.

O Allah! Bring close to You his degree, make mighty his proof, ennoble his rank, and raise him up to a Praiseworthy Station which shall be the envy of the first and the last (of mankind). Grant us the benefit of his Praiseworthy Station on the Day of Arising and supply his place for us in this world and in the the next, and lead him to the Rank and the Means (of intercession) in Heaven.
O Allah! Bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, and grant grace to Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as you did grant blessings and grace to Ibraham; truly, You are Praiseworthy, Majestic“““. (Ihya‘, Vol IV, p. 504)

2. One day, Sayyidina ‚Umar Rady Allahu ‚Anhu exclaimed while delivering a sermon (khutbah): „O you (soldiers) going on the mountain“. When he came to know by kashf or „unveiling“ of secret knowledge that the enemies were about to surround the Muslim soldiers (who were far away in another land), he cautioned them because he had direct knowledge. Soon his voice reached them. (Ihya‘, Vol III, p. 27)
3. Hadrat ‚AbdAllah ibn Salam Rady Allahu ‚Anhu once asked those who had been present at the death agonies suffered by Sayyidina ‚Uthman Rady Allahu ‚Anhu after he had been wounded.“What did Sayyidina ‚Uthman Rady Allahu ‚Anhu say while he was in his death throes?“ „Three times we heard him say“, they replied, „O Allah! Unify the nation of Muhammad Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam“. (Ihya‘, Vol IV, p. 507)
4. Sayyidina ‚Ali Rady Allahu ‚Anhu said, „If I wish, I can load seventy camels with the Tafsir (exegesis) of Surah al-Fateha alone“. (Ihya‘, Vol. I, p. 341)

5. Imam al-Hasan Rady Allahu ‚Anhu said: „An unruly riding-beast is in no greater need of a strong bridle than is your soul“. (Ihya‘, Vol. III, p. 71)

6. When Imam al-Hasan ibn ‚Ali Rady Allahu ‚Anhu became increasingly ill, Imam al-Husayn Rady Allahu ‚Anhu entered and said, „O my brother, why do you sorrow? You are going to join Allah’s Emissary Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam, and Sayyidina ‚Ali ibn Abi Talib Rady Allahu ‚Anhu who are your fathers; and Sayyidatina Khadija bint Khuwaylid and Sayyidatina Fatima bint Muhammad Rady Allahu ‚Anhuma, who are your mothers, and Hadrat Hamza and Hadrat Ja’far, Rady Allahu ‚Anhuma who are your paternal uncles“. And he replied, „O my brother! I am going to something the likes of which I have never been to before“. (Ihya‘, Vol IV, p. 509)

7. Sayyidatina Safiyya Rady Allahu ‚Anha told of an old woman who once complained to Sayyidatina ‚Aisha Rady Allahu ‚Anha of the hardness of her heart. „Remember death frequently“, she told her, „and your heart will be softened“. This she did and her heart was indeed made soft. She went to thank Sayyidatina ‚Aisha Rady Allahu ‚Anha. (Ihya‘, Vol IV, p. 479)

8. It is also reported that Hadrat Bilal Rady Allahu ‚Anhu and Hadrat Suhaib Rady Allahu ‚Anhu approached some Arab families to talk to them (and asked them for women in marriage). They asked them, „Who are you two?“ Hadrat Bilal Rady Allahu ‚Anhu replied, „I am Bilal and this is my brother Suhaib. We were astray and Allah guided us aright. We were slaves, then Allah freed us. We were poor, them Allah enriched us. If you give us wives, praise be to Allah! If you reject us, glory be to Allah!“
They said, „Of course you two shall marry, and all praise is for Allah!“ Then Hadrat Suhaib Rady Allahu ‚Anhu said (to Hadrat Bilal Rady Allahu ‚Anhu): „You might have mentioned our exploits and that we were among the first with Allah’s Messenger Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam“. Hadrat Bilal Rady Allahu ‚Anhu replied: “ Quiet! I spoke the truth and truthfulness has got you married“. (Ihya‘, Vol II, p. 44)

9. Hadrat ‚Abdullah ibn ‚Abbas Rady Allahu ‚Anhu was asked, „What is nobility (karam)?“, and he replied, „That which Allah has mentioned in His mighty Book: Assuredly, the most noble of you in Allah’s sight are the most pious“. (49:13) (Ihya‘, Vol III, p. 57)

10. Hadrat Salman al-Farsi Rady Allahu ‚Anhu was asked: „Why do you not put on good clothes?“ He replied, „Being a servant, how can I put on good clothes? When I shall be free, Allah will give me such clothes as will never perish“. ( Ihya‘, Vol IV, p. 249)

11. It is said of Imam Zaynul ‚Abideen ‚Ali ibn al-Husayn Rady Allahu ‚Anhu that he used to turn pale when he made his ablution. When his family asked him what came over him during his ablution, he would say, „Do you realise before Whom I wish to stand in prayer?“ (Ihya‘, Vol I, p. 179)

12. Said Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, may Allah shower him with His Mercy, „Whenever I am confronted with a desire, I look to my soul. If it displays desire, I give it something of it, which is better than to deprive it, whereas if it hides its desire, and displays indifference to it, I punish it by abstaining, and do not give it anything at all“. Such is the way to punish the soul for this hidden desire“. (Ihya‘, Vol III, p. 107)

13. It is said that whenever Hadrat al-Khidr ‚Alayhissalam and Hadrat Elias ‚Alayhissalam meet in each season, they never separate without reciting the following:
MaashaaAllahu laa Quwwata illaa Billah
MaashaaAllahu kullu ni’matin minAllah
MaashaaAllahu al-khayru kulluhu Biyadillah
MaashaaAllahu laa yasrifus-sua Illallah

In the Name of Allah
It is what Allah has willed. There is no power except with Allah
It is what Allah has willed. Every grace is from Allah
It is what Allah has willed. All good is with Allah
It is what Allah has willed. No one dispels evil but Allah
He who recites this three times every morning is safe from conflagration, drowning and burglary, if Allah wills. (Ihya‘, Vol I, p. 374-375)
14. Hadrat Abu Sulayman al-Darani, may Allah shower him with His Mercy, is reported to have said, „““Hadrat Uways al-Qarani, may Allah be pleased with him, went on Pilgrimage and entered Madina. He stood at the gate of the Mosque and when he was told, „This is the tomb of the Prophet, Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam“, he fell down in a faint“““. (Ihya‘, Vol. I, p. 320)
15. ‚Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak, may Allah shower him with his Mercy, said about Imam ul A’zam, Imam Abu Hanifa, may Allah shower him with his Mercy, that he was given the treasures of the world but he fled away from them. Muhammad bin Shuja‘ narrated to some of his friends that Khalifa Abu Ja’far al-Mansur ordered 10,000 dirhams to be given to the Imam but he declined the offer“. (Ihya‘, Vol. I, p. 39)
16. Humaydi said: Imam Shafi’i, may Allah shower him with His Mercy, once went to Yemen with some of the leaders and returned to Makkah with 10,000 dirhams. A tent was pitched up for him on the outskirts of Makkah and people began to come to him. He did not move from his place until he had distributed all the dirhams he had. (Ihya‘, Vol I, p. 36)
17. Imam Shafi’i, may Allah shower him with His Mercy, once said, „““I saw some Khorasani horses at the door of Imam Malik, may Allah shower him with His Mercy, and I had never seen any other horses better than them. I said to Imam Malik, „How beautiful they look“. He said, „They are a present from me to you, O Abu Hamid“. I said, „Keep one of them for yourself for riding“. He said, „I shall be ashamed before Allah to tread with the hoof of any animal on the soil where lies the Prophet sent by Allah“““. Witness then his benevolence and his veneration for the soil of Madina. (Ihya‘, Vol. I, p. 39)
18. Bishr ibn al-Harith (al-Hafi), may Allah shower him with His Mercy, said: „Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah shower him with His Mercy, is my superior on three counts: he pursues the lawful for others as well as for himself, whereas I seek it for myself alone; he has an expansive approach to marriage whereas my style is cramped; and he has become the Imam of the people“. (Ihya‘, Vol II, p. 26)
19. Rabi’a al-‚Adawiya al-Basri, may Allah shower her with His Mercy, said, „Our prayer for forgiveness (istighfaar) needs many prayers for forgiveness“. (Ihya‘, Vol I, p. 371)
20. On the night that he passed away, al-Hasan al-Basri, may Allah make us benefit from him, was seen in a dream. The gates of heaven had been opened and a voice was calling out, „Al-Hasan al-Basri has come to Allah, and He is well-pleased with him!“ (Ihya‘, Vol IV, p. 542).
Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal Wakeel
Allah is Sufficient for us and (He is) the most excellent Trustee (3:173)

He Encourages Zikr

Imam al-Ghazali explains that the heart has two doors: one opens to this world and the other to the ‚aalamal malakut, that is, the heavenly world of the angels, the ‚Arsh (Allah’s Throne) and Lawh Mahfuz (The Preserved Tablet). The recitation of zikr in abundance erases sins and opens the second door to the ‚aalamal malakut. To achieve this, Imam al-Ghazali exhorts us to do zikr (remember Allah) continuously. Zikr has to be done with such abundance that first it abides on our tongues and then in our hearts. The final stage is reached when the zikr becomes engraved in the heart with its meanings.

Two whole books of the Ihya‘ are devoted to this purpose. These are full of azkaar (supplications) and awraad (regular voluntary invocations). One such suffices as a ni’mal hadiyyah (splendid gift) from him. (Ihya‘, Vol I, Book 10, p. 397). Imam al-Ghazali narrates that Khidhr ‚alayhissalam received these as a gift from Rasulullah Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam himself, then taught them to Ibrahim al-Taimi in front of the Ka’ba, and recommended their recitation seven times each before sunrise and sunset. Hence, they are called Musabba’atul ‚Ashr (Ten invocations recited seven times each). No wonder Mawlana al-Haddad Rady Allahu ‚Anhu made it the concluding part of his great Wird al-Kabir. They are:

1. Surah al-Fateha
2. Surah an-Naas
3. Surah al-Falaq
4. Surah Ikhlaas
5. Surah al-Kaafirun
6. Ayatul Kursi
7.Sub’hanAllah Wa’l Hamdu Lillah Wala Ilaha Illallahu Wallahu Akbar Wala Hawla Wala Quwwata Illa Billahi’l ‚Aliyyil ‚Azeem

Glory be to Allah, and all Praise is for Allah, and no one is worthy of worship but Allah, and Allah is Great, and there is no might or power except with (the help of) Allah, the Most High, the Incomparably Great.

8. Allahumma Salli ‚alaa Muhammad-in-Nabiyy-il Ummiyyi
Wa ‚alaa Aalihi wa Sahbihi wa Sallim
O Allah! Bestow blessings and peace on Sayyidina Muhammad,
the Prophet not taught by any human (but directly by You, O Allah)
and bestow peace and blessings as well on his family and companions.

9. Astaghfirullaha lee wali waaalidayya wa li’l mu’mineena wa’l mu’minaat
Wa’l muslimeena wa’l muslimaat
Al-ahyaa-i minhum wa’l amwaat
Innaka Sami’un Qareebun Mujibudda’waat
O Allah! Forgive me and my parents, and all believing men and believing women,
and all Muslim men and Muslim women,
from among those that are alive and those that have passed away.
Truly, You are the Hearer, the Near One, the Acceptor of supplications.

10. Allahummaf’al bee wa bihim
‚Aajilan wa aajilan fiddunya wa’l Aakhirah
Maa Anta Lahu Ahlun
Walaa taf’al binaa Yaa Mawlana
Maa nahnu lahu ahlun
Innaka Ghafur-ur-Rahim
Jawwadun Kareem Raufun Rahim

O Allah! give me and them
Now and in the future, here and in the Hereafter
What you have
And don’t give us Our Lord
What we (sinners) deserve
Truly, you are Forgiving, Merciful,
Generous, Bountiful, Most Kind, Merciful.

He also gives selected invocations of the Holy Prophet Sayyidina Muhammad Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam, of Sayyidina Nabi Adam, Sayyidina Nabi Ibrahim, and Sayyidina Nabi ‚Isa ‚Alayhimussalam, and of Sayyidina Abubakr, Sayyidina ‚Ali, Sayyidatina Fatima, and mother of faithful believers, Sayyidatina ‚Aisha, among others, Rady Allahu ‚Anhum.

A Literary Masterpiece
The Ihya‘ is a sublime piece of writing. The opening paragraph of each of its forty books begins as a gorge from the mountain top with water gushing from underground springs. It has hamd (praise of Allah), salaat alar-Rasul (invocation of blessings on our beloved Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), one or more verses of Qur’an Kareem, one or more allusions to hadith, all in rhyming prose.
The pace is exhilarating and as you try to catch your breath, Imam al-Ghazali lands you safely in a vast river that is fast and smooth-flowing with Qur’an and Hadith. The river flows into the bahral muhit (encircling ocean) that has more Qur’an, more ahaadith, aqeeda (creed), naseeha (religious advice), tanbeeh (exhortation), zikrullah (remembrance of Allah), munaajaat (hymns), madeeh (eulogy), history of achievements in piety, spiced with simile, metaphor, ….. you name it, its all there.

Another remarkable feature of the Ihya‘ is that it is ordered, systematic and sequential. The first paragraph of each book introduces the topic. Each subject is supported first with verses from the Qur’an, followed by Hadith Shareef and Athar (later traditions). Each book is divided into various baab (chapters) and each baab is sub-divided into bayan (expositions). Alternative points of view are put forward, debated where necessary with solid reasoning in neat, ordered sequences to draw broad generalisations which are repeated for positive reinforcement, retention and effective learning. For example, hunger has ten benefits.
1. It purifies the faculties of spiritual perception
2. It softens the heart and renders it more receptive to divine grace
3. It is a form of humbling the ego
4. It reminds the novice of the sufferings of the poor and the punishments of hell
5. It weakens the passions and enables one to control the sex drive more easily
6. It causes the seeker to need less sleep
7. It reduces the time wasted in preparing and eating food
8. It is good for health
9. It saves money
10. It enables one to comply with Allah’s command to help the poor.
Each book begins and ends with salaat on our beloved Prophet Sayyidina wa Mawlana Muhammad Mustafa Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam.

Simile and Metaphor
There is simile and metaphor. Consider the summary of expositions from Appendix III: „The Wonders of the Heart“, in Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad’s translation of Imam Al-Ghazali’s On Disciplining The Soul, Ihya‘, Vol III, Book 2. (The rest of the article exclusively uses his translations).

„The heart is a mirror which may be polished by struggling against the appetites and working to acquire good character traits, and holding to actions, such as the remembrance of God, ‚until the true nature of that matter which is sought in religion is revealed in it‘. Bad influences by contrast are like smoke which clouds over the heart’s mirror until it is entirely veiled from God, which is the ‚heart’s rust‘ mentioned in the Qur’an“. (p. 237). (Ihya‘, Vol III, p. 13)

„The heart is like a pool filled either from rivers or from underground springs. The first represents knowledge derived by means of deduction from the evidence of the world while the second is the inner spiritual knowledge“. (p. 239). (Ihya‘, Vol III, p. 22)

„One side of a portico was once decorated by Byzantine craftsmen, while the other was decorated by craftsmen from China. Between the two sides, a veil was suspended. The Byzantines painted and carved their side, while the Chinese merely polished their side so that it became a mirror. When the veil was removed, the mirror reflected the work of the Byzantines with added brilliance. The Byzantines then, resemble the scholars, while the Chinese are like the sufis“. (p. 239). (Ihya‘, Vol III, p. 24)
We have more such beauties in Vol IV, Book 10, The Remembrance of Death.“Know that after the believer dies there is revealed to him of the mightiness and great majesty of God something in comparison to which this world is no more than a narrow gaol. He is like a prisoner in a gloomy chamber from which a door has been opened onto a spacious garden stretching as far as his eyes can see containing diverse trees, flowers, birds and fruit, and cannot therefore wish to return to the gloomy gaol. The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) provided such a simile when he said regarding a man who had died, ‚He has now voyaged from this world and left it to its inhabitants. If he is of the blessed then he will no more wish to return to it than would any of you wish to return to his mother’s belly‘. Thus he informs us that the relation between the expanse of the next world and that of this is as the difference between the breadth of this world and the darkness of the womb“. (p.130). (Ihya‘, Vol IV, p. 528)

Rhyming Prose
The opening paragraph of each book is in rhyming prose. Let us benefit from the transliteration and translation of the first paragraph of the book titled Kitab Kasr Shahwatayn (On Breaking The Two Desires, p. 105-106; Ihya‘, Vol III, p. 87)

Alhamdu Lillah i’l munfaridi bi’l Jalaali fee Kibriyaaihi wa Ta’aleeh
Al-mustahiqqi li’t Tahmeedi wa’t Taqdeesi wa’t Tasbeehi wa’t Tanzeeh
Al-Qaaimi bi’l ‚Adli feema yubrimuhu wa yaqdeeh
Al-mutatawwilu bi’l fadli feema yun’imu bihi wa yusdeeh
Al-mutakaffilu bi hifzi ‚abdihi fee jamee’i mawaaridihi wa mujaareeh
Al-mun’imu ‚alayhi bimaa yazeedu ‚alaa muhimmaati maqaasidihi
bal bimaa yafee bi amaaneeh
Fahuwalladhee yurshiduhu wa yahdeeh
Wa huwalladhee yumeetuhu wa yuhyeeh
Wa idha maridha fahuwa yashfeeh
Wa idha dha’ifa fahuwa yaqweeh
Wa huwalladhee yuwaffiquhu litta’ati wa yartadheeh
Wa huwalladhee yut’imuhu wa yasqeeh
Wa yahfazuhu minal halaaki wa yahmeeh
Wa yahrusuhu bitta’ami wa’sh-sharabi ‚amma yuhlikuhu wa yurdeeh
Wa yumakkinuhu minal qana’ati bi qaleelil quti wa yuqarribuhu
hattaa tadheeqa bihi majaarish-shaytaan-i’lladhee yunaaweeh
Wa yaksiru bihi shahwat-an-nafs-i’llatee tu’aadeeh
Fa yadfa’u sharrahaa thumma yu’badu Rabbahu wa yattaqeeh
Haadhaa ba’da an yusi’a ‚alaihi maa yaltadhdhu bihi wa yashtaheeh
Wa yukthiru ‚alaihi maa yaheeju bawaa’ithahu wa yuakkidu dawaa’eeh
Kullu dhalika yamtahinuhu bihi wa yabtaleeh
Fa yandhuru kayfa yu’thiruhu ‚alaa maa yahwaahu wa yantaheeh
Wa kayfa yahfazu awamirahu wa yantahee ‚an nawaaheeh
Wa yuwaazibu ‚alaa ta’atihi wa yanzajiru ‚an ma’aseeh
Wassalatu ‚alaa Muhammad-in ‚abdih-i’n Nabeeh
Wa Rasulihi’l wajeeh
Salaatan tuzlifuhu wa tuhzeeh
Wa tarfa’u manzilatuhu wa tu’leeh
Wa ‚alal abraari min ‚itratihi wa aqrabeeh
Wa’l akhyaari min sahaabatihi wa tabi’eeh

Praised be Allah, in His glory and height the sole possessor of majesty,
Who is worthy to be praised, hallowed, extolled, and exalted above all comparison;
Who is ever just in his judgements and decrees;
Gracious without cause in His blessings and gifts;
Who has taken it upon Himself to protect His bondsman
in his every provenance and course;
and who does grant him more than is his need, and even that which fulfils his hopes.
For He is the one who guides and leads him,
slays and quickens him,
heals him when he ails,
strengthens him when he weakens,
guides him to His obedience until He is well-pleased with him,
feeds and waters him,
protects him from perishing and preserves him,
and by means of food and drink safeguards him from his death and destruction.
With little nourishment strengthens He him, and makes him content
so that the courses of Satan’s assails are straightened,
and he subjugates thereby the desires of his soul which makes war on him.
Wherefore, having warded off its evil, does he worship his Lord,
and hold Him in fear and piety.

Then has He bestowed upon him such things as give him delectation and delight,
and has abundantly aroused inducements in him and reinforced his temptations
in order that He might prove and try him,
and behold how he might prefer Him over his desires and ambitions,
and in what manner he shall respect His ordinances and prohibitions,
persevere in His obedience, and restrain himself from sinning against Him.
And may blessings be invoked upon our master Muhammad
His noble bondsman and excellent Emissary,
whereby his rank and degree may be exalted
and his closeness to his Lord increased,
and upon the righteous of his Family and House,
and the best of his Companions and Followers.

We note that the book opens with rhyming prose where 29 words rhyme. These are: Ta’aleeh, Tanzeeh, yaqdeeh, yusdeeh, majaareeh, amaaneeh, yahdeeh, yuhyeeh, yashfeeh, yaqweeh, yartadheeh, yasqeeh, yahmeeh, yurdeeh, yunaaweeh, tu’aadeeh, yattaqeeh, yashtaheeh, dawaa’eeh, yabtaleeh, yantaheeh, nawaaheeh, ma’aseeh, Nabeeh, wajeeh, tuhzeeh, tu’leeh, aqrabeeh, tabi’eeh.
Allahu Akbar!

Scholarship on the Ihya‘
Scholarly works on the Ihya‘ can be classified into two broad categories. In the first category are more ancient, classical works and these are in Arabic. In the second category are more recent works in Arabic as well as in other languages.
Some of the classical works on the Ihya‘ have already been mentioned. These are:
1. The shuruh (plural of sharh, appreciative explanation) by the mashaayikh, such as
(a) Ta’reef i’l Ihya‘ bi Fadaail i’l Ihya‘ (Introducing „The Revival“ With The Grace of „The Revival“) of al-Habib ‚AbdulQadir al-‚Aydaroos.
(b) A ten volume commentary on the Ihya‘ by al-Sayyid Muhammad al-Murtada al-Husaini al-Zabidi (1145-1205 A.H/1732-1791 C.E) titled It’haf al-Sadat al-Muttaqin bi-Sharh Asrar Ihya‘ ‚Ulum al-Din (Gifts of the Godfearing Nobles in the Appreciation of the Secrets of „The Revival of The Religious Sciences“).
2. The Takhreej (Identification) which identifies verses of the Qur’an contained in the Ihya‘ by verse number(s) and the surah(s) they belong to, as well as hadith sources of Prophetic traditions quoted in the Ihya‘, such as the Takhreej of Hafiz al-Iraqi.
3. The qasaaid (eulogies) on the Ihya‘ such as those by Sayyidunal Imam Al-Habib Mawlana al-Haddad, Shaykh ‚Ali bin Abibakr and Shaykh al-Imam al-Muhaddith Abu’l ‚Abbas al-Aqlishi.
4. The qasaaid that convey the essence of the teachings of the Ihya‘, as for example, the qasida by Mawlana al-Haddad to be found in his Diwan (Collected Eulogies).
The more recent works are:
5. The translations of the Ihya‘ in all the major languages, such as Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Bengali, English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, and Russian. In many instances, we have multiple translations in the same language. Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad (T.J. Winter) has identified 65 works of translation of various books of the Ihya‘ in European languages alone in his translation of Vol III, Book 2 titled On Disciplining The Soul and Vol III, Book 3 titled, On Breaking The Two Desires.
The first attempted translation in English of the complete Ihya‘ was by Mawlana Fazl ul Karim (who also translated it into Bangali). When we compare it with the original Arabic, we realise that it is a highly abridged translation, at most one-third of it. This gives us an idea of how monumental Ihya‘ is!
Especially worthy of note are translations of various books of the Ihya‘ by two scholars whose hearts Allah Ta’ala has opened to Islam, namely Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad, a mureed (disciple) of Sayyidi wa Imami al-Habib Ahmad Mash-hur bin Taha al-Haddad; and Shaykh Muhtar Holland, a mureed of Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo of Wisma Subud, Jakarta. Their standard of scholarship is unmatched and unparallelled. It appears as if they are upon a light from their Lord and we are reminded of the Qur’anic verse:
Afaman sharahAllahu sadrahu lil Islam
fahuwa ‚alaa nurin min Rabbihi
Will he whose heart Allah has opened to Islam
so that he is upon a light from his Lord
(be like him who is not in this condition)? (39:22)
6. The Ph.D’s produced on the Ihya‘. Ph.D scholars normally work on a particular theme. For example, the Ph.D thesis of Professor Muhammad Abul Quasem was that the ethics in Imam al-Ghazali’s writings are a composite ethics in Islam. Ph.D’s using this approach are obtained in Universities across the world such as the Egyptian University in Cairo, the University of Chicago in US, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the University of Edinburg in Scotland, to mention a few.

The translation of any one of the forty books of the Ihya‘ together with an analysis of its contents also merits a Ph.D in universities. For example, Professor K. Nakamura obtained his Ph.D at Harvard University in 1970 for his translation of Vol I, Book 9 titled Kitab al-Adhkar wa’l Da’awat (The Book of Invocations and Supplications). In the same way, Ph.D’s have been obtained at Mainz University in Germany and at the Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut, US, among other institutions.
7. Hundreds of articles on the Ihya‘ in various languages to be used as lecture notes for purposes of teaching and propagation of Islam.

Khatam Shareef of the Ihya‘
A Muslim lives in the hope of attaining paradise with the vision of Allah (liqaa Allah). He knows that his worship and obedience of Allah can never compensate for the boons and favours Allah has bestowed upon him but hopes that whatever his shortcomings, Allah in His infinite Mercy will forgive him. At the same time, he fears punishment in the Hereafter for his tresspassings. He thus lives between khawf (fear) and rajaa (hope). Imam al-Ghazali devotes one whole book (Vol IV, Book 3) to this topic. He returns to it in Vol IV, Book 10, The Rememberance of Death. He recounts 105 different names for the Day of Judgement from the holy Qur’an Kareem and the blessed Hadith Shareef, the first ten of which are:
Yaumu’l qiyaamah: The Day of Arising,
Yaumu’l hasrah: The Day of Lament,
Yaum u’n nadaamah: The Day of Sorrow,
Yaumu’l muhaasabah: The Day of Reckoning,
Yaumu’l masaa’alah: The Day of Inquisition,
Yaumu’l musaabiqah: The Day of Racing,
Yaumu’l munaaqashah: The Day of Dispute,
Yaumu’l munaafasah: The Day of Competing,
Yaum u’z zalzalah: The Day of the Earthquake,
Yaumu’l damdamah: The Day of Overwhelming.

Even so, he ends on a note of hope in Allah’s unbounded Mercy. The last chapter is appropriately titled „Nakhtimul Kitab Bi-baab-in Fee Si’ati Rahmatillahi Ta’ala ‚Alaa Sabeel it-Tafaa’ul Bi-dhaalik“ („And We Do Khatam Shareef of the kitab With A Chapter On The Wide Expanse of Allah’s Mercy, by Way of Hope“). This then is the Khatam Shareef of the Ihya‘. Just as we do Khatam Shareef of the Qur’an with dua (supplication), Imam al-Ghazali Naf’anAllahu bih does Khatam Shareef of the Ihya‘. In it, he quotes many verses of the Qur’an Kareem and ahaadith, a few narratives, does istighfaar (begs forgiveness of Allah), and ends with dua (supplication). Let us benefit from the translation of one each of these to conclude this appreciation of what the Ihya‘ is all about.

Say: O my bondsmen, who were prodigal with their own selves! Despair not of the mercy of Allah. Truly, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is the All-Forgiving, the All-Merciful (39:53).
The beloved Prophet Sallallahu ‚alaihi wa Sallam said, „Truly, Allah (Exalted is He) has a hundred mercies, one of which He has sent below to jinn and to mankind, and to the birds and the animals and the vermin, through which is all their mutual dealing with kindness and with mercy. And ninety-nine mercies has He withheld, and by them shall He show mercy to His bondsmen on the Day of Arising“. (Narrated by Hadrat Abu Hurairah, Rady Allahu ‚Anhu; and reported in Sahih Muslim; Ihya‘, Vol IV, p. 578).
It is related that Allah (Great and Glorious is He!) once said to Nabi Musa (upon whom be peace), „O Musa! Qarun begged for your aid (when the earth was swallowing him up for his sins) but you afforded him none. But by My Glory and Majesty, had he begged for My aid, I would have aided him, and would have granted him My forgiveness“. (Ihya‘, Vol IV, p. 579)

Imam al-Ghazali’s astaghfaar must surely touch the hearts of all readers.
„We ask forgiveness of Allah (Exalted is He!) for every stumbling on our part and for every slip of the pen in this and all our other books.

We ask His forgiveness for those of our words which have not been matched by our deeds.
We ask His forgiveness for the claims and professions of knowledge and insight into his religion which we have made despite our insufficiencies therein.
We ask His forgiveness for every science we have acquired and every action which we have undertaken for His noble sake, but which was then commingled with something else.
We ask His forgiveness for every covenant we made within ourselves but which we then fell short of fulfilling.

We ask His forgiveness for every blessing which He bestowed upon us but which we employed in disobedience to Him.
We seek His forgiveness for having declared or implied the shortcomings or the inadequacy of anyone.
And we ask His forgiveness for every passing notion which induced us to dissemble or be mannered for the sake of playing up to others, in any book which we have written, or any discourse which we have delivered, or any science which we have profited or profited from.
And after having asked His pardon for all these things, for ourselves and for whomsoever reads this book of ours, or copies it, or listens to it, we ask that He should honour us with His forgiveness and mercy, and overlook the entirety of our sins, both evident and concealed.
For all-encompassing is His generosity, all-abundant is His mercy, and His grace overflows upon all that He has made. And we who are of His making, find no path to Him but that which lies through His grace and munificence“. (The Remembrance of Death, p. 252-253; Ihya‘, vol IV, p. 578).
This is his final dua.

„It is our hope that He will not deal with us as we deserve, but will rather grant us that which is appropriate to Him, in His generosity, abundant indulgence, and mercy“. (Ihya‘, Vol IV, p. 582)Aameen Yaa Rabbal ‚Alameen.Acknowledgements: I am grateful to Shaykh Ahmad Dualle, Shaykh Mahdy ‚Ali and Shaykh ‚Umar ‚Isa for many helpful comments.
Classics of Muslim Spirituality by Imam al-Ghazali Rahmatullahi ‚alayh
Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Ghazali; Ihya‘ ‚Ulum al-Deen, Dar ul Kutub al-‚Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1417/1996.
• Kimiya‘ al-Sa’ada, Tehran, 1960
• Al-Maqsad al-Asna fi Sharh Ma’ani Asma Allah al-Husna, Ed. Fadlou Shehadi, Beirut, 1971
• Mishkat al-Anwar, Ed. Abu’l ‚Ala ‚Afifi, Cairo, 1964.

Sharh (Appreciation) of the Ihya‘
• Al-Habib ‚AbdulQadir bin Shaykh Abubakr bin Shaykh ‚Abdallah al-‚Aydaroos; Ta’reef i’l Ihya‘ bi Fadhaail i’l Ihya‘, Dar ul Kutub al-‚Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1417/1996.
• Shaykh Hafiz al-Iraqi, Takhreej Maa Fi’l Ihya‘ Minal Akhbaar, Dar ul Kutub al-‚Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1417/1996.
• Al-Sayyid Muhammad al-Murtada al-Husaini al-Zabidi, Ithaf al-sadat al-muttaqin bi-sharh asraar Ihya‘ ‚Ulum al-deen, Cairo, 1311 A.H.
Translations of The Ihya‘
• Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad (T.J. Winter); al-Ghazali On Disciplining The Soul (Kitab Riyadat al-Nafs), and On Breaking The Two Desires (Kitab Kasr al-Shahwatayn), tr. of Books XXII and XXIII of The Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya‘ ‚Ulum al-Deen), The Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, 1995.
• The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife (Kitab dhikr al-mawt wa-ma ba’dahu), tr. of Book XL of the Ihya‘ of Imam al-Ghazali, The Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, 1995.
• Al-Hajj Mawlana Fazlul Karim; Ihya‘ ‚Ulum al-Deen of Imam al-Ghazali, translation, Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi, 1982.
• Shaykh Muhtar Holland; The Proper Conduct of Marriage in Islam, tr. of Book XII of the Ihya‘ of Imam al-Ghazali, Al-Baz Publishing, Hollywood, Florida, 1998.
• Professor Kojiro Nakamura; Invocations and Supplications (Kitab al-adhkar wa’l da’awat), tr. of Book IX of the Ihya‘, The Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, 1990.
• Professor Farid Jabre; Al-Munqidh Min al-Dalaal of Imam al-Ghazali, Arabic text and French translation, Beirut, 1959.
• Janab Shabbir ‚Ali Patel Razvi; Minhaj ul ‚Abideen of Imam al-Ghazali, Gujarati translation, Bazme Ruknuddin Naqshabandi Mujaddidi, Ahmadabad, 1418/1997.
Other Classics of Muslim Spirituality
• Sayyidunal Imam al-Habib ‚AbdAllah bin ‚Alawi al-Haddad; Ad-Da’wat u’t Taammah, Dar ul-Hawi, Beirut, 1413/1993.
• Ad-Durrul Manzum Li Dhawi’l ‚Uqul Wa’l Fuhum, 1405 A.H.
• Sayyidunal Imam al-Habib Ahmad Mash-hur bin Taha al-Haddad; Miftah ul Jannah, Dar ul Hawi, Beirut, 1416/1995. Tr. by Shaykh Mohamed Mlamali Adam in consultation with Sayyid ‚Omar ‚Abdallah, as The Key To Paradise, U.K, 1408/1988. Reprinted by Iqra Publications, Memon Jamat Nairobi, Nairobi, 1409/1989. Also translated by Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi, as Key To The Garden, The Quilliam Press, London, 1990. Reprinted by Al-Hawi Publications, Beirut, 1997.
• Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi; The Way of Bani Alawi, tr. of Al-‚Ilm un-Nabraas fi’t Tanbeeh ‚alaa Minhaj i’l Akyaas, of al-Habib ‚Abdallah bin ‚Alawi bin Hasan al-‚Attas, Cairo, 1399/1979.
• Shaykh Uways bin Muhammad al-Barawi al-Qadiri; „Tawassul“ in Al-Jawhar un-Nafees Fee Khawass Shaykh Uways, Maktabah Isha’at al-Islam, Delhi, n.d, p. 94-100.
Other Scholarly Works
• Professor Muhammad A. Quasem; The Ethics of al-Ghazali: A Composite Ethics in Islam, Malaysia, 1975.


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