Al-Ghazali : On Poverty & Abstinence, New,
'Kitab al-Faqr w'al-Zuhd,' Released June 2019
*[A5+] Paperback - 224 pages,
by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali [d.505h],
Translated by Dr Anthony Shaker,
Book XXXIV of the (Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din),
The Revival of the Religious Sciences,
Published by The Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge.
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Al-Ghazali on Poverty and Abstinence is the thirty-fourth chapter of the Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya Ulum al-Din). It falls in the section dealing with the virtues. Imam al-Ghazali, may Allah be pleased with him, here considers two themes dear to Islamic devotional literature: poverty and abstinence. Most authoritative collections of prophetic traditions connect them so closely that merely to love ‘poverty’—the most obvious characteristic of the poor—may be held up as a sign of abstinence.
This attitude is traceable to the words of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, exhorting the faithful to love the poor and describing this love as a key to heaven. The poor, he taught, shall enter paradise before the rich ‘by five hundred years’. But behind his love of the poor lay his legendary humility.
The life of poverty on which Al-Ghazali expatiates in this treatise refers, in short, to what every devoted follower of the Prophet, ?, is meant to adopt, not simply an accidental state of destitution that might befall anyone.
What is true piety? What spiritual infirmities impede the path of poverty? These are the questions that preoccupy him in the Book on Poverty and Abstinence. Here, Al-Ghazali regards the conscious act of abstinence as a supererogatory duty, so long as the devotee does not exchange the spirit of piety for mere form.
Imam al-Ghazali composed his treatise for two main reasons: to teach the ordinary believer about inner purification, but partly also to dispel a fear expressed by some sceptics that Sufism might trade outward religious observances for moral licentiousness. The result is a rich tapestry of practices, thoughts, concepts and anecdotes drawn from some of the most fascinating figures in the tradition of practical ethics in Islam, a tradition that harks back to the enduring examples of pre-Islamic Prophets like Jesus, Moses and Joseph.
Dr Anthony Shaker holds a PhD in Islamic Studies from McGill University and is the author of Thinking in the Language of Reality: Sadr al-Din Qunawi and the Philosophy of Reason. He writes on the philosophical traditions of Islam, contemporary developments around the world, and is a professional consultant and researcher.
Table of Contents :
---Imam al-Ghazali's Introduction to the Revival of the Religious Sciences,
---Notes to Introduction.
The Book of Poverty and Abstinence
Part [I]. On Poverty;
---Chapter . An Exposition of the Reality of Poverty,
------The Different States of one who is Poor and his Names.
---Chapter . A General Exposition of the Excellence of Poverty.
---Chapter . An Exposition of the Particular Excellence of the Poor who are Contented,
------Who are Satisfied
------And Who are Sincere.
---Chapter . An Exposition of Poverty's Excellence over Wealth,
---Chapter . An Exposition of the Norms of Propriety of the Poor Person in his Poverty.
---Chapter . An Exposition of the Norms of Propriety of the Poor Person when Accepting an Unsolicited Offering.
---Chapter . An Exposition of the Forbiddance of Unnecessary Begging and of the Norms of Propriety of the Poor Person Who Must Beg.
---Chapter . An Exposition of the Amount of Wealth that Renders Begging Illicit.
---Chapter . An Exposition of the States of those who Beg.
Part [II]. On Abstinence :
---Chapter . An Exposition of the Reality of Abstinence.
---Chapter . An Exposition of the Excellence of Abstinence.
---Chapter . An Exposition of the Degrees of Abstinence,
------Its Categories in Relation to Itself,
------To what is Desirable and,
------What is Undesirable.
---Chapter . An Exposition of the Details of Abstinence with Respect to the Necessities of Life.
---Chapter . The Signs of Abstinence.
------Persons Cited in Text,
---Index of Qur'anic Quotations,
*Dimensions : 23.4 x 15.6 cm.