Al-Ghazali and the Ashárite School

Al-Ghazali and the Ashárite School

Duke Monographs in Medieval and Renaissance Studies

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Book Pages: 168 Illustrations: Published: August 1994

Middle East Studies, Pre-Modern Studies > Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Religious Studies

Widely regarded among students of medieval thought as the most important of the medieval Islamic thinkers, al-Ghazali (1058–1111) remains an extremely complex figure whose texts continue to present serious challenges for scholars. In this book, Richard M. Frank confronts the traditional view of al-Ghazali as a loyal supporter of Ash arite doctrine and reexamines his relationship to the school theologians.
This reexamination, Frank argues, is essential to an understanding of al-Ghazali’s work, a diverse series of texts made difficult by the various postures and guises assumed by their author. Statements by al-Ghazali regarding the kalam (the speculative theology of the schools) and its status as a religious science provide the focus for a detailed analysis that contrasts the traditional school theology with his own. From this, the question of al-Ghazali’s relationship to the Ash arite school becomes a key to the basic characteristics of his method and language and therefore to the overall sense that governs much of his work. Finally, as reflected in the chronological sequence of al-Ghazali’s writings, Frank’s analysis demonstrates al-Ghazali’s commitment to basic elements of Avicennian philosophy and his progressive alienation from the Ash arite establishment.
Al-Ghazali and the Ash arite School offers an important and provocative reassessment of a major medieval Islamic thinker. It will be of interest not only to specialists in the field, but also to a broad range of historians of the period and to those interested in all aspects of Islam.


“A re-examination of the nature of the relationship between al-Ghazalī and the Ash‘arite school . . . [that] is well written and clearly argued.” — Jawid A. Mojaddedi , Journal of Semitic Studies

"No one is so on target getting through to the real al-Ghazali . . . an excellent work." — Herbert Davidson, University of California, Los Angeles

"There is no comparable English study of al-Ghazali’s place in Islamic theology. The book illustrates that al-Ghazali could be an especially attractive figure for comparative studies of how Latin and Arabic medieval authors approach the problem of the relations between philosophy and theology, faith and reason." — Deborah Black, Pontifical Institute/Center for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto


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Richard M. Frank is Ordinary Professor of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at the Catholic University of America.

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Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1427-1
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