The Mujaddid of his age: Al-Ghazali and his inner spiritual journey

Mohd Rosmizi, Salih Yucel

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Imam al-Ghazali has been regarded as the mujaddid (the reviver or the Islamic reformer) of the 5th century AH of Islam, and has been credited with various titles, of which the most famous is as Hujjat al-Islam (Proof of Islam). This article investigates the development of al-Ghazali’s thought and spiritual journey through different stages of his life. Employing library research and historical analysis, this article divides al-Ghazali’s life into three main periods, namely, before, during, and after seclusion. Initially he was mainly jurist and theologian, but radically transformed to become a personal Sufi during the seclusion period, leading to his subsequently becoming an active public Sufi. The result from the analysis of the first phase of al-Ghazali’s life shows that al-Ghazali experienced a radical spiritual and intellectual transformation, which led him to discover Sufism, but without neglecting theology, jurisprudence, and philosophy. There was significant evolution in al-Ghazali’s life towards a spiritual orientation as shown by the analysis of his second phase, in which he later sought to share with others after seclusion. If in the phase of seclusion al-Ghazali was personal—namely, focused on personal reformation, devotion, and inner spiritual self—the phase of al-Ghazali’s life after seclusion marked the beginning of an active spiritual public life. The result shows that this new al-Ghazali actively tried to reform every class of society (the public, elites, theologians, philosophers, mystics, and others) through teachings, writings, and by sharing his personal spiritual experience. It is evident that with all his efforts and achievements, al-Ghazali offered a great and abiding contribution in reviving the spiritual dimension of Islam, furnished and served it to the Muslim world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalUMRAN - International Journal of Islamic and Civilizational Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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