Materials in the works of Al-Fārābī and Ibn-Sīnā on which the metaphysical section of Al-Ghazālī's Maqāṣid is based
Rahman, Muhammad Mizanur
Islamic Philosophy seems essentially to be a response to the challenge that reached the Muslim world from Greek thought. Various conflicts arose in early Islam from time to time with respect to certain principles in different sects and everyone adapted whatever new form seemed to be conducive to his thought. The conflict between the Muctazilite tradition influenced by rationalism and Ashcarite tradition dominated by 'faith' was virtually set at naught by the chief of the Ashcarites, Abū-Ḥāmid Muḥammad al-Ghazālī (1058-1111 A.D.), who found the culmination of tradition in mystical awareness. From the time of al-Ashcarī down to that of al-Ghazālī the Arabs assimilated the fundamentals of Hellenism, and Greek culture caused a vigorous philosophical renaissance represented by Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī (died A.D. 950) and Abū-cAlī al-Husayn ibn-cAbd-Allāh ibn-Sīnā (A.D. 980-1037). Under the influence of their philosophical thought theology was shaken once more when confronted by the ideas of the Muctazila. Facts and phenomena had no ultimate significance beyond what they presented in experience. Men who were concerned with the refinements of philosophical speculations and the intricacies of metaphysical abstractions were greatly needed to work to the support of the dogmas of Islam and to nullify the conclusions of a philosophy inconsistent with it. When this colossal task appeared to be imperative, the Muslim world found their leader in al-Ghazālī who was capable of withstanding Hellenism and attacking its representatives. In addition to his being a philosopher who wished to counteract the unorthodox tendencies of his hellenising predecessors, al-Ghazālī was an eminent mystic, sufi and original thinker. In the Muslim world he was the great bridge between traditionalism and mysticism, activism and intuitionism. From the days of his youth he possessed an intense thirst for knowledge which persuaded him to study every form of philosophy and religion and to question all whom he met with regard to the nature and significance of their belief. He discussed problems of understanding, value of knowledge, learning, instruction, efficiency and duty. The ruthless iconoclasm practised by al-Ghazālī in destroying the revered images of Greek Philosophy which then held sway over the mind of many Muslims and his efforts to bring about a reconciliation between mysticism and orthodoxy crowned him with the title of Ḥujjat al-Islam.