The prominent Iranian Sunni philosopher, theologian and mystic, Mohammad Ghazzali Tousi
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 17th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 450 AH, the prominent Iranian Sunni philosopher, theologian and mystic, Mohammad Ghazzali Tousi, was born in Tabaran in the vicinity of the city of Tous, near holy Mashhad in Khorasan Province, northeastern Iran. At the age of 28 years he became renowned as a Shafei jurisprudent, whose fame led the Seljuqid vizier, Khwaja Nizam ol-Molk Tousi, to invite him to join the royal court in Isfahan and later, take charge of Baghdad’s famous Nezamiyah Academy.
After several years in Iraq, he left for Syria, lived in Bayt ol-Moqaddas for some years, and after performing the Hajj pilgrimage, returned to his native Iran where he spent the rest of his life in near seclusion – as a Sufi – until his death in his hometown Tous. He was known as “Hojjat al-Islam” (Authority on Islam). He was proficient in theology and philosophy, and resorted to polemics against the “Batinis” at a time when secret Ismaili cells were winning adherents in Iran.
He stirred controversy through his work “Tahafat al-Falasafa” (Incoherence of the Philosophers), which is a criticism of the Iranian Islamic genius, Abu Ali Ibn Sina’s rational evaluation of Aristotle’s views and the contribution to Islamic philosophy by Abu Nasr Farabi. In response, the Spanish Muslim philosopher, Ibn Rushd (Averroes) wrote “Tahafut at-Tahafut” (Incoherence of the Incoherence), which is a refutation of Ghazali’s views, while in the subsequent century, the brilliant Iranian polymath, Khwaja Naseer od-Din Tousi wrote a highly acclaimed defence of Ibn Sina and Islamic philosophy.
Ghazali wrote mainly in Arabic, in addition to a few books in his native Persian including “Kimiya-e Sa’adat” (Alchemy of Happiness), which is actually a summary of his voluminous Arabic work “Ehya Oloum od-Din” (Revival of Religious Sciences).