University of Vermont: History Review vol. 6, December 1994

Al-Ghazali's Crisis of 1095

By Timothy Sullivan

  The Community of the Faithful regards Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ta'us Ahmad al-Tusi al-Shafi'i al-Nishapuri al-Ghazali (1058-1111) as the Proof of Islam, the Ornament of the Religion, and the Guide to the True Faith. So me Muslims call him the most perfect of the faithful after Muhammad, promised in hadith (traditions of the Prophet's life) as a reviver of the religion.[1] Upon examining al-Ghazali's life, western historians, more moderate in their views, generally credi t him with the resolution of neo-Platonic philosophy with Islamic theology and the blending of the resulting intellectualism with the sufi beliefs and practices of twelfth-century Islam. Recently, this view too has been challenged. Annemarie Schimmel pres ents al-Ghazali as only representative of a trend towards the acceptance of individual, inner worship by the intellectual community. In this revision al-Ghazali is credited with the crystallization of these ideas but is not a central figure in their devel opment.[2] Recently, even this view has been contested. In Mystical Islam, Julian Baldick presents him as a political tool dedicated to the orthodoxy of the Seljuq sultanate; an ethicist who gained fame due to his patrons' involvement with the development of madrasas (Islamic colleges) and sufi lodges. A more important representative of sufism, according to Baldick, was al-Ghazali's little-known brother Ahmad.[3]

Among these scholars there is a common belief that al-Ghazali is important in some way and that his position merits discussion, if only to be refuted. Whether this importance lies in his sole heroic efforts towards the acceptance of sufi ecstasies by the intellectual elite or in the image generated by his patrons remains a matter of debate. The mainstream opinion, rightfully, supports the moderate view that while the trend was moving towards the philosophical and theological acceptance of sufi mode s of individualistic worship, it was al-Ghazali who actually tied the two together and made each tradition acceptable to the other in the context of the wider community.

Despite these various opinions, scholars have examined only in a limited manner one of the most important and intriguing signs of the development of al-Ghazali's character and beliefs: namely, his speech impediment, a stutter with which he was affl icted in 1095 while teaching at Nizamiyya madrasa in Baghdad. In Deliverance from Error, his pseudo-autobiography, al-Ghazali presents his stutter as a sign of his religious confusion and grief in his heart.[4] However, the stutter can be used to examine deeper conflicts in al-Ghazali's life that extend back to his earliest childhood experiences and mark his intellectual development.

There are two recognized causes for hysterical stutters in modern psychology. The first general cause is a physical trauma such as a stroke, brain tumor, or hemorrhage. Often, this type of stutter is characterized by sudden onset and either a const ant level of disability or decline accompanied by other symptoms such as partial paralysis. The other cause of hysterical stuttering is defined by the neurotic theory of stuttering. This theory states that hysterical stuttering is caused by great emotiona l and mental trauma and/or cumulative stress.[5] This type of stutter also begins suddenly. However, it is characterized by a gradual increase in the physical ailment if the psychological problem is not confronted or resolved. Some psychoanalysts believe the subject has a need to stutter in order to express mental disorder or emotional conflict that cannot be expressed otherwise.[6] Others state that the stutter is due to anxiety caused by coping with the world in which he lives and in his "chaotic attemp ts to adjust to other people."[7] It may also be caused by conflict between a powerful desire to speak and an equally powerful desire to be mute. If the subject has a message he feels must be expressed but cannot be in his present environment, he also mig ht stutter. Common to all of these concepts is the element of emotional conflict. This conflict, it can be inferred, is the result of social experience or the individual's perception of that experience. Their are two possible resolutions of this type of s tutter; the emotional problem or conflict results in either recovery of vocal capacity or muteness.[8]

Al-Ghazali's hysterical stutter of 1095 fulfills the conditions of the above description of a neurotic stutter. His stutter came upon him suddenly in July while he taught at Nizamiyya madrasa. Four months later the stutter resolved into muteness. A l-Ghazali surreptitiously left Baghdad in November of the same year. In the next two years he made hajj and studied sufism in Damascus, living as an ascetic. Prior to his return to Baghdad in June, 1097 al-Ghazali's stutter underwent a second resolution a nd he regained his ability to speak. His recovery was painfully obvious to his former colleagues in Baghdad where he preached against materialist excess and reminded them of the Last Day and Final Judgment of God.[9]

What caused al-Ghazali's stutter, precipitating his sudden change of lifestyle and the focus of his impressive intellect? What caused his second resolution resulting in the recovery of his voice? Using his hysterical stutter of 1095 and the theory of the neurotic stutter, light can be shed on the pressure al-Ghazali felt from the conflicts between the simple worship he had originally known as a boy and the lifestyle he led as an intellectual; the tension between philosophy and theology which he bri dged on a more-than-intellectual basis; and, most importantly, the division between the Islamic ideal of the state and the reality in which he lived and worked.

Al-Ghazali was born in Tus in northeastern Persia and it was here that he experienced his first major crisis. Both of his parents died when he was a young boy. He was left with only his younger his brother, Ahmad. Both brothers were left with a poo r sufi mystic, a friend of their father. The sufi supported the brothers for three or five years before he sent them to Nishapur, close to home, for formal studies at the madrasa when their small inheritance ran out.[10] With the sufi, the brothers' relig ious education was probably fairly basic, based on the man's beliefs. If the mystic was willing to take the brothers in and act as their guardian it is reasonable to conclude he had not completely divorced himself from the world as some sufis of the perio d did. However, the fact that he is referred to as a sufi indicates he must have possessed some of the basic ideas common to most sufis of the period. As a sufi, the man would have been anxious to pass on these ideas to the young brothers in order to assu re their salvation. So in addition to the normal religious instruction all young male Muslims received based on the Qur'an, al-Ghazali and Ahmad received some ideas essential to sufism. These probably included the idea of worldly poverty, which it is prob able this sufi affirmed since he was unable to support the two boys after their inheritance ran out.[11] Their guardian also presumably would have stressed the idea of a possible personal connection with God, an idea of central importance to sufism.[12] T his connection could be reached through prayer but could also be reached in meditation on "beautiful things," i.e. poetry, music, art. This was the wisdom of the heart.[13] From the mystic they also would have learned about the sufi hierarchy of knowledge . At the bottom of this hierarchy stood formal or theoretical knowledge found in books. Above this stood the direct knowledge of the mystic which was gained "with the eyes closed."[14] Despite the sufi's probable views on the hierarchy of knowledge, he di d send both boys to Nishapur for formal studies out of respect for their father's wishes.[15]

The impact of their brief stay with the sufi is illustrated by the path that Ahmad chose later in life. He became an adherent of the so-called "drunken" or ecstatic school of sufism. Ahmad wrote Aphorisms on Love which addressed a topic that was po pular in the Persian tradition of Islam.[16] In it he discusses his desire to leave reason behind, since it cannot reach the Spirit (i.e. God) and so cannot reach love which is contained within the Spirit. Ahmad identifies the greatest kind of love as per forming acts that are opposed to societal norms and so bring apparent blame or shame to the disciple through service to the Spirit. In this way Ahmad identified himself with the qalandar, a wandering sufi just appearing at the time, and with the idea of t he brigand or rogue, all of whom divorce themselves form society as well as reason.[17] Ahmad sees the lover (the sufi) as joining the spirit just for a moment before he is destroyed, just as a moth becomes one with the flame for a brief moment before it is consumed by the fire.[18] Nothing matters outside of the pursuit of that moment. This is quite the opposite of the path that his older brother would take when he later embraced sufism.[19]

This essential difference with Ahmad is exhibited in the first cause of intellectual tension in al-Ghazali's life. Through his intellectual studies, al-Ghazali discovered the differences between Islamic theology and philosophy, two fields Ahmad dis dained. Al-Ghazali first encountered formal theology at the madrasa in Nishapur. There he was taught by the pre-eminent theologian of the age, al-Jawayni.[20] Because of this study he came to a period of skepticism in his life. He did not know how to iden tify true knowledge. When he was a child, he had relied on the word of his teachers and parents for knowledge. Then he came to rely on his own sense perception and did not accept others' words as the truth. However knowledge gained through the senses was not necessarily true knowledge for did not dreams appear to be real to the senses but were not? Then he realized that "[knowledge] did not come about through proof or argument, but by a light which God cast into my breast; that light is key to most knowle dge."[21] In this al-Ghazali questioned the rational basis for his faith. He realized that Islam rested on many assumptions which could not necessarily be rationally justified.[22] One of the faithful could not subject theology to rigorous philosophical/l ogical scrutiny with favorable results. Rather faith presupposes and depends upon acceptance of God's revelation.

Reliance on God and faith resolved al-Ghazali's first crisis. This reliance led him to study neo-Platonic philosophy. In the eleventh century Islamic theologians knew that philosophy, which was based on the rational Hellenistic tradition of Socrate s and especially Plato, disregarded certain articles of faith. However, the methodology and language of the philosophers was so specialized and complex, most theologians could not refute its articles with the certainty necessary. Al-Ghazali familiarized h imself with the ideas and methodology of the philosophers while teaching three-hundred students, ideas which other theologians had ignored due to their complexity. By "solitary reading during the hours thus snatched God brought me in less than two years t o a complete understanding of the sciences of the philosophers."[23] The philosophers whom he studied, most notably al-Farabi and Avicenna, based their studies on a belief in the inherent power of the rational mind which al-Ghazali had previously subjugat ed to articles of revealed faith. Their conclusions clearly contradicted the Qur'anic concept of the Final Judgment, the end of the world, and the immortality of the soul.[24] Al-Ghazali resolved this conflict with a compromise. He felt that some philosop hical methods, particularly logic and mathematics, could be applied to help man understand God's revelation.[25] However, their irreligious ideas had to be purged for "the basis of faith is faith in God and in the Last Day. . ."[26] Once again, al-Ghazali relied on revealed truth to define belief over the rational mind, as he had in his crisis of knowledge. By accepting as valid these articles of faith in the face of stiff, rational opposition, al-Ghazali firmly placed himself with Sunni Muslims.

Prior to al-Ghazali's involvement the two groups, theologians and philosophers, had been basically unaware of the contents of the other's discipline, or at least unconcerned with that content. Philosophers were certainly aware of the basics of theo logy, but chose to ignore it when necessary. Theologians dismissed all philosophy as belonging to kafir, infidels, while not examining its admittedly difficult content. Through his examination of the two disciplines, al-Ghazali gave theology a philosophic al background. He introduced the practice of logic to the study of shari'a (holy revealed law) and presented and explained the philosophers' deviations from the True Path to the public. Ultimately this forced the philosophers contemporary with al-Ghazali to respond to his accusations and, in some cases, rectify, or at least defend, their errors.[27]

As a result of his resolution of theology and philosophy al-Ghazali gained fame as an intellectual. Because of this, he invited to the camp of Nizam al-Mulk, the vizier of the Seljuq sultanate, located near Baghdad. al-Ghazali remained there from a l-Juwayni's death in 1085 until his appointment to Nizamiyya madrasa in Baghdad in 1091. Despite his position al-Ghazali found new causes for anxiety. The tension that he felt at the court and later at the Nizamiyya was the result of the differences betwe en the Islamic ideal of government, expressed in the Qur'an and hadith, and the political reality in which he lived. The tension was further augmented by al-Ghazali's actual involvement in the political quilt that was Islam in the eleventh century.

The Islamic ideal of government and politics first found expression in the life of Muhammad, studied and learned by all Muslims as an integral part of the religion and so well-known to al-Ghazali. Muhammad was both a secular and religious leader. A fter he had been invited to Yathrib/Medina in 622, Muhammad became a secular ruler, running the city, leading raids (razzia) against caravans from Mecca, and, eventually, taking Mecca in 630. At the same time, he was the Prophet of Islam, God's voice on E arth, leading the congregation of the faithful in prayer and guiding them in their everyday devotion to God.[28] This example was followed by Muhammad's field commanders. They not only led razzia but led their men in prayer when away from the main body of the congregation. They were chosen for both their ability to lead and their devotion to Islam.[29] This ideal was also adopted by Muhammad's successors, the Umayyad caliphs.[30]

Shortly after Muhammad's death in 632, Islam split into two distinct factions, the Shi'is and the Sunnis. The split came about partially due to inter-tribal rivalries. However, one of the arguments of the Shi'i minority was that the caliph was not a particularly devout man and so unqualified to lead. By the mid-eighth century, this indictment of infidelity was assuredly true of the caliph. In 762 al-Mansur, the Abbasid caliph, moved the capital of Islam from Damascus to Baghdad. By this time the ca liphate had been influenced by Persian traditions and the caliph was much more a secular ruler than a religious one.[31] Although the caliph did still claim ultimate religious authority, in reality that authority rested in the hands of the ulama (those le arned in shari'a). It was expected that the caliph would supply these men, especially those chosen from their ranks to be qadis (judges), with money so that they could continue their study of law. The two offices were dependent upon one another for their existence as well as their legitimacy; while the caliph supported the ulama's studies, the ulama used their authority to reinforce the legitimacy of the caliph's rule.[32]

As early as the eighth century, just a few generations after Muhammad's death, the ideal of an Islam united under one sacred and secular ruler had been shattered. The ideal was further disrupted by the usurpation of the caliph's temporal power by h is vizier and then, in 936, by the war-lord Ibn Ra'iq who forced the caliph to proclaim him sultan. The position of sultan was taken by the Seljuq Turks when they entered Baghdad in 1055.[33] Al-Ghazali expressed his own recognition of this problem in Rev ival of the Religious Sciences,, a book often regarded as his greatest work, written after he left Baghdad and began practicing sufism. In it he states, "Government these days is a consequence solely of military power. To whatever person the holder of mil itary power professes allegiance, that person is the caliph."[34]

This failure of the ideal affected the nature of religion for the common people. In Islam few acts are neutral.[35] Everything that a Muslim does has an effect on his standing in the Faith. One of the goals paramount in shari'a, and therefore to Mu slims, is the unity of Islam under one leader. It is also explicit in shari'a that a good Muslim must try to implement God's will on earth. So, ideally, Muslims should strive for unity of faith under the caliph. Complacency conflicted with God's will. How ever, because of the division of power between secular leaders and the religiously learned, Muslims came to accept that the ideals of Islam would not be met. The ideal was something that might be realized in the future but was neither applicable nor expec ted in the present. Those who were in power would rule by brute force whether they followed shari'a or not. Devout Muslims recognized that they could apply shari'a to their private lives and, in matters of religion, could ignore governments that abandoned the law in public practice.[36]

This Medieval synthesis of Islam can clearly be seen in the tradition of "Mirrors for Princes," popular in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. These Mirrors were works that outlined how to be a good ruler. They normally applied themselves to very c oncrete problems rather than to the theory of government.[37] Often they were written in response to the abuses of a ruler. For instance, they discuss how to tax properly and fairly, how to hold court, and how to employ messengers.[38] These were the ever yday problems that a ruler faced. Often, in their responses to these problems the authors did not draw upon Islamic traditions. Rather they drew upon pre-Islamic Arabic, Persian, or Turkish traditions.[39] For instance, shari'a prohibits the consumption o f wine or alcohol. However in the Siyasatnamah, a Mirror written by Nizam al-Mulk, al-Ghazali's patron, there is a chapter titled "On being careful about giving verbal orders in drunkenness and sobriety."[40] Ideally, Nizam al-Mulk should not have felt th e need to even address such a problem. However, in the same Mirror there is a chapter that exhorts the ruler to support the ulama and to "listen to the Qur'an and traditions of The Prophet (may Allah pray for him and give him peace); and he should hear st ories about just kings and traditions of the prophets (upon them be peace)."[41] Nizam al-Mulk still felt it necessary to pay attention to the forms of shari'a even if they were not practical for a drunken vizier.

This then was the world of political ideals and reality in which al-Ghazali lived and taught. The man who had appointed him to teach and study at Nizamiyya himself wrote and lived in opposition to shari'a. In good conscience, al-Ghazali could not c ontinue to serve such a man. However, his dilemma was resolved, partially at least, in 1092 when followers of Egypt's Fatimid dynasty, Ismail'is who believed the Fatimid sultan to be the imam, assassinated Nizam al-Mulk. Al-Ghazali continued his teaching at Nizamiyya and his involvement in politics when the sultan died in 1094. Unfortunately he supported the candidate Tutush over Barkiyaruq who won the contest for the throne and took power in February, 1095.

Since his patron, now the man whom he had opposed, was only one of many possible rulers, al-Ghazali was also asked to defend the Sunni sultanate and, in the process, attack its enemies. This he did in 1095 with the Mustaz'hiri, named after and dedi cated to the caliph, al-Mustaz'hir. In it he attacks all of the sultan's rivals, particularly the Fatimid Ismail'is, those who had assassinated Nizam al-Mulk. He certainly believed that the Ismail'is were heretics and represented a false face of the relig ion. They did not adhere to the Sunni standard of orthodoxy in which al-Ghazali believed.[42] However, neither did the sultan whom he served. In all reality, no one adhered to the standard established by Muhammad. Ultimately this was unacceptable to al-Gh azali as a seeker of the Islamic ideal. His defense of the Seljuq sultanate's "truth" in the Mustaz'hiri drove the point home.

So al-Ghazali had two very political, very physical reasons besides his stutter to leave Baghdad in 1095: his perception of imminent death at the hands of Ismail'i assassins or supporters of Sultan Barkiyaruq. Yet he was still attracted to Baghdad by his prestigious position at Nizamiyya.

All of these tensions contributed to al-Ghazali's speech impediment in July, 1095. In his search for the truth of Islam, the one he knew would lead him to God, al-Ghazali had tried many different paths. First he had studied formal theology and phil osophy and had found them both lacking. Theology had become too mired in the shari'a and fiqh (decisions of previous jurists). It was not open to new interpretations and relied too heavily on old judgments. It had become strangled by tradition. Neo-Platon ic philosophy denied some of the inherent beliefs of Islam, but was valuable as a basic framework of logical thought for an irrational faith. While this was acceptable to most Muslims, for al-Ghazali it lacked a certain inner dimension that he craved. Spi ritually these paths led nowhere.[43] Al-Ghazali had also studied the Ismail'i concept of faith which he refuted in 1095. While this faith did have a certain appeal since the Ismail'is focused on the inner spiritual needs of a man, the batin, al-Ghazali u ltimately rejected the Ismail'i doctrine of reliance on the allegedly divine authority of an imam who could change the revelation of God. Allah had given the final revelation to Muhammad; it had always existed and could never change.[44] In the end he der isively referred to the Ismail'is as batinaya, those too caught up in their inner-self.

In this rejection of Shi'i/Ismail'i doctrine, al-Ghazali firmly placed himself in the camp of the Sunnis. However, as we have seen, he was not satisfied with the options that the Sunnis offered in theology and philosophy. The answer to his spiritua l dilemma was clear, as he states in Deliverance from Error. The only facet of the religion he had not tried was Sufism.[45] Certainly he was familiar with sufism on an intellectual basis both from his experiences as a boy and through his studies, but thi s was not enough. "What remained for me was not to be attained by oral instruction and study but only by immediate experience and by walking in the mystic way."[46] He had not "had real experiences" since he was a "man of words."

At the same time, al-Ghazali was still drawn to the secular world of Sunni orthodoxy. He had matured in a society that valued worldly success, intelligence and power. His position at Nizamiyya embodied all of this. He was a well-respected and well- paid intellectual in the service of the sultan and caliph. He himself recognized this dilemma and states in the Deliverance from Error, "I was continuously tossed about between the attractions of worldly desires and the impulses towards eternal life."[47] He fully recognized that his present secular way of life could lead him to damnation.

Spiritually, the choice was clear. However, the choice to abandon his career in Baghdad did not come easily. Al-Ghazali "examined [his] motive in [his] work of teaching, and realized that it was not a pure desire for the things of God, but that the impulse moving [him] was the desire for an influential position and public recognition." He saw that he had only one option left in order to save himself from hell. However, one day he would make a resolution to leave and by evening "the attack of a whol e host of desires had reduced it to impotence."[48]

The appeal of the secular life and al-Ghazali's struggle can also be clearly seen in the first resolution of his stutter. Psycho-linguists identify two possible resolutions of an hysterical stutter. The subject either becomes mute or regains the ab ility to speak normally. Prior to his departure in November, 1095 al-Ghazali had become a mute; he was simply unable to speak. This is indicative of his own decision to remain attached to the life he knew so well; a decision he knew to be ethically wrong. Due to his inability to speak he was unable to communicate his religious ideas, ones quite at odds with those of the men in power, or to support ideas abhorrent to him. This was the ideal situation for al-Ghazali. He retained the wealth and power of his position and still did not have to express anything contrary to his own opinions. He was apparently content to compromise between principles and desire.

However, he could still write to support Sunni orthodoxy as he did in August, 1095 with the Mustaz'hiri. Certainly his spiritual unease had been heightened by Barkiyaruq's ascension to the sultanate in February, 1095 which threatened al-Ghazali's p osition at Nizamiyya. However, in Seljuq politics, people change sides rapidly and frequently. While Barkiyaruq may have remembered al-Ghazali's opinions of three years earlier, it is doubtful.[49] Certainly concern over Barkiyaruq and Ismail'is contribut ed to his problems. Ultimately, however, it was the failure of his immoral and irreligious compromise that drove him to leave Baghdad and search for the answers to his spiritual crisis. He had become unacceptable to himself. Al-Ghazali's decision to leave Baghdad and its corrupt environs in November, 1095 resulted in the second and final resolution of his speech problem: the immediate cessation of the stutter.

Al-Ghazali left his position, family, and fortune to wander throughout southwest Asia. He made hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) thereby fulfilling one of the major prescriptions of the religion and perhaps partially alleviating his guilty conscience. He also visited a sufi teacher in Damascus and wandered to Jerusalem. In this time he lived as an ascetic in possession of only the clothes on his back, a radical departure from his earlier lifestyle. In part, this was a return to the religion of his youth. He had finally embraced what he had only known as words. He then returned to Baghdad in June, 1097. However, his intention upon his return was not to begin teaching again at Nizamiyya. Rather he returned to collect his children and presumably his wives. T here he preached against the worldliness and iniquity he saw, activities in which he had participated only two short years before. Sometime around 1099 he left Baghdad and returned to Nishapur, where he had first studied formally. While there he establish ed a religious institute and lived as an ascetic.[50]

Then in July, 1106 a peculiar thing happened: he returned to teaching at the Nishapuri madrasa. One might expect that after his rejection of Baghdad and Nizamiyya al-Ghazali would have remained an ascetic outside of formal education forever. As a s ufi, he could have followed his brother Ahmad's path of "drunken" contact with God in the contemplation of beauty and the ecstasy of religiously inspired dances. This was not the case. Al-Ghazali still valued the essential precepts of orthodox Sunnism. He did not reject these at Baghdad. Rather he rejected the worldliness that had soiled Islam and left to search for spiritual meaning. In Deliverance from Error he states:

Previously [prior to his crisis] I had been disseminating the knowledge by which worldly success is attained; by word and deed I had called men to it; and that had been my aim and intention. But now I am calling men to the knowledge whereby wo rldly success is given up and its low position in the scale of real worth is recognized.[51]

His belief in Sunni orthodox teachings and the value of education to those ends can also be seen in the plans he made for his children in 1095. He placed them in a guardian's care and made economic provisions for their education. Al-Ghazali saw edu cation in the Sunni tradition as the basis of inner spirituality. His need for an inner dimension of faith was filled by the "sober" sufi belief in possible contact with God and by the emphasis on the importance of intention preceding action.[52] The acti on, i.e. Sunni rituals and sufi dances, were still important and could not be abandoned; they were the conduit for inner intention. Al-Ghazali found his spiritual peace by accepting the inner dimension of Islam that he had known since childhood and marryi ng it to the orthodox practices in which he believed and held close to his heart.

The neurotic theory of stuttering holds that hysterical stuttering, like al-Ghazali's, is caused by great emotional and mental trauma and/or cumulative stress. The stress in al-Ghazali's life came from several different sources but ultimately reste d on his own perception of his life and his actions within the context of Islam. He knew what he had to do to fulfill the spiritual necessities of his life. However, he was still drawn to a life he believed led to hell. He also was aware of the conflict b etween the religion that he studied as a boy, based on the Qur'an and on his guardian's sufi beliefs, and the world in which he lived as a successful and respected intellectual. In July 1095 all of this tension came to a head propelled by the fact that al -Ghazali had already studied all other viable religious options available to him. Theology, philosophy, Ismail'i Shi'ism had all led nowhere; the only path left was sufism, one he did not truly wish to take.

His stutter was not only an outward sign of his indecision but was also a partial solution to his dilemma. Its first resolution into muteness also allowed al-Ghazali to remain at Nizamiyya without betraying his true religious views. He had an equal ly strong desire to express his own convictions, which certainly would have endangered his position, and to remain silent so that he could maintain his lifestyle. The first resolution represents his rejection of his religious values. The stutter and the m uteness were also his way of coping with others' expectations of him. The caliph, the sultan, and his colleagues expected him to teach and defend their irreligious lives under the guise of learned orthodoxy. The stutter allowed him to retain their respect without actively endorsing their values.

Even muteness, however, did not allow him to live comfortably in his compromise. In writing the Mustaz'hiri he betrayed his religious views once again. The only way to resolve his conflict to his own spiritual satisfaction, he realized, was to aban don his life in Baghdad and follow his conviction that sufism would lead him to God. Certainly he lost some respect, especially of those who did not believe in the efficacy of sufism. Most importantly, however, he believed that he had assured himself a pl ace in the Garden. Al-Ghazali's crisis of 1095 was the result of his search for and discovery of an Islamic spiritual ideal that radically conflicted with the world in which he lived.

1) Margaret Smith, Al-Ghazali, the Mystic (London: Luzac and Company, 1944), 1. Al-Ghazali mentions this himself in his account of his spiritual struggle, Deliverance from Error which is translated in Montgomery Watt's The Faith and Practice of al- Ghazali (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1953), 74.

2) Schimmel discusses the the "Period of Consolidation" which culminates with al-Ghazali's achievements. Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1975), 77-97.

3) Julian Baldick presents al-Ghazali as a creation of both thirteenth-century and modern historiography. He argues that al-Ghazali was only important due to his political connections. Baldick implies that twentieth-century historians, notably the British Islamicists, accepted earlier rhetoric as truth thereby perpetuating a falsehood without ever truly examining al-Ghazali's efforts and impact. Julian Baldick, Mystical Islam (New York: New York University Press, 1989), 65-67.

4) Al-Ghazali discusses his condition and his view of its causes in Deliverance from Error.

5) Dominick A. Barbara discusses the neurotic theory in The Psychodynamics of Stuttering (Springfield: Charles C. Thomas, 1982), 4. Henry Freund also discusses this theory in Psychotherapy and the Problems of Stuttering (Springfield: Charles C. Tho mas, 1966), 139-140. See also: Peter Glauber, Stuttering: A Psychoanalytic Approach (New York: Human Sciences Press, 1982), 4, 38, and passim.

6) Freund, 139.

7) Barbara, 4.

8) It must be emphasized that 'resolution' is only the cessation of the stutter resulting in either the return of vocal ability or silence. In this case it has neither positive nor negative connotations. Glauber, 3.

9) This chronology is based upon W. Montgomery Watt's Muslim Intellectual (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 1963), 133-151.

10) Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), discusses the development of the madrasa, or Islamic college. They were first formed in the tenth and eleventh centuries for the study of law. Most were en dowed with permanent income in the form of fixed rents, or taxation of specific villages. Soon after their establishment, monetary gifts became common in wills, as the endower could appoint a relative as administrator. Nizam al-Mulk, al-Ghazali's patron, enlarged state involvement in order to counter the establishment of similar Ismail'i schools. Lapidus, 165-166.

11) While al-Ghazali's guardian may have been a poor man who had embraced the sufi ideology rather than a sufi who had adopted poverty, the result is the same.

12) R.S. Bhatnagar, Dimensions of Classical Sufi Thought (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1984), 19-20.

13) Schimmel, 4.

14) Sufis believe that those who have reached the highest level of direct knowledge know and understand complex issues that take years of "normal" study. Baldick, 53-54; see also Bhatnagar, 21-22.

15) Watt discusses al-Ghazali's early life in Muslim Intellectual, 19-24.

16) Schimmel, 295.

17) This is quite different than al-Ghazali's experience with bandits who stole his notebook, full of aquired knowledge, on a trip from Gur to Nishapur. He vowed to memorize all knowledge so that it could never happen again. Watt, Muslim Intellectu al, 21.

18) This is common imagery in ecstatic sufi conceptions of love as a way of reaching the Spirit. Baldick, 65-66; Bhatnagar, 19-20.

19) While al-Ghazali did accept and profess the idea that love and beauty were paths to reach God, his approach to the subject was much more restrained than Ahmad's. Al-Ghazali's approach is sometimes refered to as the 'sober' school. Al-Ghazali,Th e Alchemy of Happiness, trans. Elton Daniel (Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1991).

20) Watt, Muslim Intellectual, 21.

21) Al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 24.

22) Watt, Muslim Intellectual, 52.

23) Al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 30.

24) Al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 30-32.

25) Al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 34.

26) Al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 31.

27) In particular Averro‘s (1126-1198), a north African philosopher, responded to al-Ghazali's criticisms of Avicenna and Aristotlean philosophy. However, Averro‘s's interpretation of Aristotle was also more firmly grounded in Islam than his predec essors, at least in part because of al-Ghazali's criticism. For a theoretical discussion of al-Ghazali's attack on Avicenna and Averro‘s's response see Herbert A. Davidson, Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averro‘s, on Intellect (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 127-144; 250-252; see also Watt, Muslim Intellectual, 65-71.

28) For a concise biography of Muhammad see W. Montgomery Watt, "Muhammad," Cambridge History of Islam, ed. P.M Holt, A.K.S. Lambton, and Bernard Lewis, 2 vols., (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 1:30-57.

29) In Islam there is no division between saeculum et regnum, the sacred and the secular, as there is in the West. Islam has no tradition of rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's (Matthew 22:21).

30) Laura Veccia Vaglieri, "The Patriarchal and Umayyad Calphate," Cambridge History of Islam, 57-104.

31) D. Sourdel, "The 'Abbasid Caliphate," Cambridge History of Islam, 109-112.

32) Daniel Pipes discusses this phenomenon in In the Path of God (New York: Basic Books, 1983), 46-47; see also Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of Islam (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 43-48, for a discussion of the history of t he caliphate.

33) B. Spuler, "The Disintegration of the Caliphate in the East," Cambridge History of Islam, 143-175.

34) Elton Daniel, introduction to al-Ghazali's Alchemy of Happiness, xxi.

35) Pipes, 39.

36) Pipes, 49.

37) Julie Scott Meisami, Bahr al-Fava'id or The Sea of Precious Virtues (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1991), vii.

38) Nizam al-Mulk, Siyasatnamah or The Book of Government or Rules for Kings , trans. Hubert Drake (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1960), 23-42, 14-22, 91.

39) Meisami, vii.

40) Nizam al-Mulk, 91-92.

41) Nizam al-Mulk, 62.

42) For a discussion of the Ismail'is, their ideas, and al-Ghazali's treatment of them see Watt,Muslim Intellectual, 78-84 as well as al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 43-54.

43) Watt, Muslim Intellectual, 57; al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 26-31.

44) Al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 46.

45) Al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 26.

46) Al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 55.

47) Al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 57.

48) Al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 56.

49) Watt, Muslim Intellectual, 68.

50) See Watt, Muslim Intellectual, 143-151, for details regarding al-Ghazali's life after his departure from Baghdad.

51) Al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error, 76.

52) Nasrollah Fatemi, Faramarz Fatemi, and Fariborz Fatemi, Sufism: Message of Brotherhood, Harmony, and Hope (New York: A.S. Barnes and Company, 1976). Al-Ghazali also wrote a book on the importance of proper ritual as a conduit for intention after h is crisis entitled Beginning of Guidance. Watt, The Faith and Practice of al-Ghazali, 86-152.
UVM History Review vol. 6, December 1994