This a very high quality translation of a key section of one of the most important books in Islam. Imam Ghazali goes through the various techniques that can be used to reform the personality and bring the ego under control.
I picked this book up just after i was divorced. It helped me to realign a hurt soul, and also to work towards a higher purpose than just to focus on the disruption in my life. It really helped me to gain control. Its not easy to read, but if you read it with your heart rather than your mind, you start entering a higher spiritual dimension. A fantastic book from Al-Ghazali, and a great translation from Mr Winter.
Although this book is good and TJ Winters has done an excellent transalation, it is very heavy for a seeker as it goes straight for the heart, it also has solutions to many problems of a spiritual nature however we must remember that everything in this book cannot be excercised without the guidance of one who has been through the effort.
An excellent, thought provoking and thoroughly worth while read. All the more relevant In a world consumed by greed, hedonism and persuit of the material. Al Ghazzali presents a simpler, blisfull and more purposeful existence.
The book is divided into 2 parts:
The disciplining of the soul; which expounds on the signs and nature of good character, how it is to be achieved etc.
The breaking of the 2 desires; Which discusses 2 of the more animalistic traits present in man, namely - the desire for food and the desire of unlawful relations. Both of which are acompanied by methods by which these vices can be subdued.
TJ Winter's intoruction is excellent; his translation is lucid and the footnotes add an oft-needed contextual and explanatory backdrop to Ghazzali's words.
Al-Ghazali's work encourages reflection upon our individual lives and challenges us to overcome our base desires, greeds and glorification of the self that have sadly become commonplace characteristics in the modern world.
Assalamu Alaykum. This book is perfect for someone who is intellectually blessed. Along with the two chapters of Imam Ghazali Radi Allahu Anhu, the author Dr. Abd'al Hakim Murad has put forward an lengthy but logical introduction, and has used terms/words that reflects His Academic achievements, hence, a person who has Higher education knowledge will understand this and read it with ease. Im half way through this book and am loving this so much.
Al Ghazali is regarded as a more cerebral and exoterically inclined Sufi, as a pose to the more esoteric practitioners such as Shibli, Ruzbihan and Bayazid. As such he is regarded as the 'renewer' of the 5th Muslim Century and to quote the author 'the most influential thinker of medieval Islam'. He provides a moral framework in this book for clean living that today finds form in many contemporary Sufi Masters writings. The essential thrust of this work is to lay open the anatomy of human weakness, the observations of which are as relevant today as they were in the 11 century when this treatise was written. Fundamentally mans weaknesses boil down to gluttony and sexual desire, out of the lack of disciplining these two urges, spring forth all the manifestations of depravity and moral degeneration. The greatest mortal vice is gluttony of the stomach- the primer for sexual voraciousness and the provider of fuel for lusting after fame and wealth. Hence in Islamic thought, the great importance attached to fasting, as a means for consciously weakening these base urges, all of which find their well spring in gustatory greed. Al Ghazali does not forbid eating, but advocates moderation, the practice of sharing, and putting the needs of one companions ahead of oneself- this etiquette of feeding being a schooling in higher minded values way beyond the simple practice of eating. This is a well written and highly readable book, interesting from a historical view and a spiritual view for people of any religious or spiritual tradition. It is stuffed with observations on spiritual shades of character that are simply not found in this detail in any other traditions writings that i can think of. It provides real food for thought- no pun intended- on how one sets about moderating ones vices, giving clear insights into the spiritual significance of certain character failings, providing ample practical solutions and spiritual reasons for addressing and rectifying these vices. For a thousand year old book this is timeless wisdom.