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Al-Ghazali's Philosophical Theology$
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Frank Griffel

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195331622

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331622.001.0001

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Cosmology in Works Written after The Revival

Cosmology in Works Written after The Revival

(p.235) 9 Cosmology in Works Written after The Revival
Al-Ghazali's Philosophical Theology

Frank Griffel (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

While the earlier chapters have established al-Ghazali’s teachings on certain elements of his cosmology, all these alements are brought together here and analyzed from how they appear in al-Ghazali’s later works, i.e. those works written after the Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya’ ‘ulum al-din). Most important are al-Ghazali’s comparison of the created world with a water-clock. This comparison appears in two of his later works and offers a detailed understanding of how God creates a fully determined universe of secondary causes and effects. The so-called veil-section in his Niche of Lights (Mishkat al-anwar) has always posed the greatest difficulties for a comprehensive understanding of al-Ghazali’s cosmology. This chapter offers a coherent explanation of who the different groups in that section represent and what they believe in. Avicenna appears in the veil-section as someone who has an almost correct understand of God and His relation to the world, yet he did not grasp that the true God is one step beyond the creature that he assumes to be God. Those who truly arrive at an understanding of God, realize that the God of the philosophers is only a creature. He is the “one who is obeyed” (al-muta’) in al-Ghazali’s cosmology, the first intellect or God’s first creature. Finally the chapter analyzes al-Ghazali’s very last work, finished only days before his death and shows that even here at the end of his life, al-Ghazali maintains that the conflict between the proponents of occasionalism and that of secondary causality must remain undecided.

Keywords:   water-clock, God’s judgment, hukm, God’s decree, qada’, God’s predestination, qadar, Niche of Lights, Mishkat al-anwar, veil-section, al-muta’, al-wasiluna, Isma’ilite influence, al-Nasafi, al-Sijistani, al-Kirmani

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