Al-Ghazali and the Foundations of an Islamic Humanism
While the famed Muslim jurist–theologian Abu Hamid al-Ghazali is widely acclaimed for his reconciliation of Islamic mysticism (tasawwuf) with the Law, he also exemplified the centrality of a Humanist tradition in Islam. His work Kitab adab al-sama wa l-wajd [Protocols for Spiritual-Audition and Ecstasy] presents a view of humanity existing at diverse spiritual levels and portrays the wonder of divine love, the humanity of the Prophet, and the legitimacy of human joys and pleasures - in particular poetry, music and dance. Ghazali established the basis for a God-centred Humanism that values secular activities for their potential to advance spiritual life, while according full respect to the Law. His pioneering thought distils important principles that are of great relevance for Muslim thinkers and planners today, including the importance of freeing Muslims from legal constraints as far as possible within the sanctity and authority of the Law, and the need to continually refresh the Islamic legacy and advance spiritual life through finding value in worldly activity. His investigation of ‘spiritual audition’ opens the door onto a world of spirituality and dialectic arising from a loving awareness of mundane human experience.