Photo: Bedouin women grinding flour, 1898.
According to Ibn ‘Abbās, may God be pleased with him and his father, the Prophet David, God bless him and give him peace, used to say in his intimate Prayers: ‘My God, who inhabits Your House? And from whom do you accept the Prayer?’ Then God told him by inspiration: ‘David, he who inhabits My House, and he whose Prayer I accept, is none but he who is humble before My Majesty, spends his days in remembrance of Me and keeps his passions in check for My sake, giving food to the hungry and shelter to the stranger and treating the afflicted with compassion. His light shines in the sky like the sun. If he invokes Me, I am at his service. If he asks of Me, I grant his request. In the midst of ignorance, I give him discernment; in heedlessness, remembrance, in darkness, light. He stands out among ordinary people as Paradise towers over earthly gardens, its rivers inexhaustible and its fruits not subject to decay.
(Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali)
'The Book of Knowledge: Book 1 of The Revival of the Religious Sciences'
By Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (Author), Kenneth Honerkamp (Translator)
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The Book of Knowledge is the foundation of the forty books of the Revival of the Religious Sciences, Imam al-Ghazali’s magnum opus. In the Book of Knowledge, he defines knowledge, its relation to faith, theology, and jurisprudence. The book deals with the virtue of knowledge from both rational and traditional points of view. It elucidates the types of knowledge and the nature of people’s obligation to seek knowledge. Imam al-Ghazali defines jurisprudence and theology as branches of Islamic knowledge, then outlines those fields that people incorrectly consider to be Islamic disciplines, and distinguishes the praiseworthy from the blameworthy. He describes in detail the perils of disputation and the reasons people engage in debate and dialectics. He also considers the conduct incumbent on the teacher and student, and warns of the perils that can befall those pursuing knowledge. Finally, Imam al-Ghazali discusses the virtues and categories of the intellect and the prophetic traditions related to it.