Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazzali () is one of the most important Ghazzali’s “The Alchemy of Happiness”, written toward the end of his life. Kimiya-yi Sa’ādat was a book written by Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Ghazālī, a Persian theologian, philosopher, and prolific Sunni Muslim. by Imam Al-Ghazzali Ghazzali, called him “the most original mind among Arabian philosophers.” The first four chapters of The Alchemy of Happiness are a.
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In advance of the Transactions of the Albany Institute, vol. The imma treatise, which I introduce to your notice, is a translation from one of the numerous works of the Arabian Philosopher, Abou Hamid Mohammed ben Mohammed al Ghazzali, who flourished in the eleventh century. He was born about the year A. Although educated by Mohammedan parents, he avows that during a considerable period of his life he was a prey to doubts about the truth, and that at times he was an absolute sceptic.
While yet comparatively young, his learning and genius recommended him to the renowned sovereign Nizam ul Mulk, who gave him a professorship in the college which he had founded at Bagdad. ghazalli
His speculative mind still harassing him with doubts, in his enthusiasm to arrive at a solid foundation for knowledge, he resigned his position, visited Mecca and Jerusalem, and finally returned to Khorasan, where he led a life of both monastic study and devotion, and consecrated his pen to writing the results of his meditations. Still his writings were less known than either of the two others. His principal work, The Destruction of the Philosophers, called forth in reply one of the two most important works of Averroes entitled The Destruction of ghzzali Destruction.
Averroes, in his commentary upon Aristotle, extracts from Ghazzali copiously for the purpose of refuting bis views. A short treatise of his had been published at Cologne, inand Pocock had given in Latin his interpretation of the two fundamental articles of the Mohammedan creed.
Von Hammer printed inat Vienna, a translation of a moral essay, Eyuha el Weled, as a new year’s token for youth. It has been reserved to our own times to obtain a more intimate acquaintance with Ghazzali, and this chiefly by means of a translation by M.
Pallia, into French, of his Confessions, wherein he announces very clearly his philosophical views; and from an essay on his writings by M. Lewes, who in his first edition of the Biographical History of Philosophy, found no place for Ghazzali, is induced in his last edition, from the evidenee which that treatise contains that he was one of the controlling minds of his age, to devote an entire section to an exhibition of his opinions in the same series with Abclard and Bruno, and to make him the typical figure to represent Arabian philosophy.
For a full account of Ghazzali’s Edition: We would observe, very briefly however, that like most of the learned Mohammedans of his age, he was a student of Aristotle. While they regarded all the Greek philosophers as infidels, they availed themselves of their logic and their principles of philosophy to maintain, as far possible, the dogmas of the Koran.
Ghazzali’s mind possessed however Platonizing tendencies, and he affiliated himself to the Soofies or Mystics in his later years. He was in antagonism with men who to him appeared, like Avicenna, to exalt reason above the Koran, yet he himself went to the extreme limits of reasoning in his endeavors to find an intelligible basis for the doctrines of the Koran, and a philosophical basis for a holy rule of life. His character, and moral and intellectual rank are vividly depicted in the following extract from the writings of Tholuck, a prominent leader of the modern Evangelical school of Germany.
All that is good, noble and sublime, which his great soul had compassed, he bestowed upon Mohammedanism; and he adorned the doctrines of the Koran with so much piety and learning, that, in the form given them by him, they seem in my opinion worthy the assent of Christians.
Whatsoever was most excellent in the philosophy of Aristotle or in the Soofi mysticism, he discreetly adapted to the Mohammedan theology. From every school, he sought the Edition: He was the first of Mohammedan divines. Sale, in the preliminary discourse to his translation of the Koran, shows that he had discovered the peculiar traits of Ghazzali’s mind; for wherever he gives an explanation of the Mussulman creed, peculiarly consonant to universal reason and opposed to superstition, it will be found that he quotes from him.
This treatise on the Alchemy of Happiness, or Kimiai Saadet, seems well adapted to extend our knowledge of the writings of Ghazzali and of the opinions current then and now in the Oriental world. Although it throws no light on any questions of geography, philology or political history, objects most frequently in view in translations from the Oriental languages, yet a book which exhibits with such plainness the opinions of so large a portion of the human race as the Mohammedans, on questions of philosophy, practical morality and religion, will always be as interesting to the general reader and to a numerous class of students, as the facts that may be elicited to complete a series of kings in a dynasty or to establish the site of an ancient city can be to the historian or the geographer.
I translate it from an edition published in Turkish in A. It has been printed also in Persian at Calcutta. In form, the book contains a treatise on practical piety, but as is the case with a large proportion of Mohammedan works, the author, whatever may be his subject, finds a place for observations reaching far wide of his apparent aim, so our author is led to make many observations which develop his notions in anatomy, physiology, natural philosophy and natural religion.
The partisans of all sorts of opinions will be interested in finding that a Mohammedan author writing so long since in the centre of Asia, had occasion to approve or condemn so many truths, speculations or fancies which are now current among us with the reputation of novelty. Many of the same paradoxes and problems that startle or fascinate in the nineteenth century are here discussed.
He came in contact, among his contemporaries, with persons who made the same general objections to natural and revealed religion, as understood by Mohammedans, as are in our days made to Christianity, or who perverted and abused the religion which they professed for their own ends, in the same manner as Christianity is abused among us. And he engaged with earnestness now truthfully, and now erroneously, in refuting these men.
THE ALCHEMY OF HAPPINESS
His usual stand-point in discussion is equally removed from the most extravagant mysticism, and literal and formal orthodoxy. He attempts a dignified blending of reason Edition: He reminds his readers, in these discourses, that they are not Mussulmans if they are satisfied with merely a nominal faith, and treats with scorn those who are spiritualists only in language and dress.
It is too narrow a view to adopt, in regard to a man of the sublime character of Ghazzali, that he obtained his ideas from any one school of thinkers, or that being in fellowship with the Soofies, that he was merely a Soofi. He was living in the centre of Aryan peoples and religions.
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He may have had his doctrine of the future life shaped by Zoroaster, and have been influenced by the missionaries of the Buddhists. The practical religion taught in these homilies will give a favorable opinion of the state of mind lmam the more intelligent Mussulmans.
They contain not the Mohammedanism of the creed or the catechism, but of the alchemu and the pulpit. While perusing these pages, and noticing how much of the language of Ghazzali corresponds in its representations of God, of a holy life and of eternity, with the solemn instructions to which we have listened from our infancy, we may think of the magicians who imitated the miracles of Moses with their enchantments.
Yet assuredly a vivid and respectful interest must be awakened in our minds for the races and nations, whose ideas of their relations as immortal beings arc so serious and earnest. Ghazalu translation I have endeavored to make a hsppiness transcript of the meaning of the Turkish; having especially sought to find appropriate equivalents for native idioms.
I have designated the chapter and verse of nearly every passage quoted from the Koran. The omissions in the happpiness, which are made apparent by signs, are limited to digressions of the author, to repetitions and to some of the illustrations; so that there is no interruption of the continuity of thought in the themes discussed.
The Turkish edition itself was but a portion of the original work. Two or three notes are added, either explanatory of the text or illustrative of the author, from Oriental sources. O seeker after the divine mysteries! O seeker of the mysteries! And how should’st thou be able to comprehend God, who in his nature cannot be comprehended, Edition: You know also that if you ghzzali hungry, your stomach craves food, and that if you are cold, you desire clothing; but other animals also understand these things.
However, that knowledge of the soul which leads to the knowledge of God, is not of this kind. The knowledge which achemy need to possess is, to know what you are; how you are created; whence you are; for what you are here; whither you are going; in what your happiness consists, and what you must do to secure it; in what your misery consists, and gnazali you must do to avoid it.
And further, your internal happinwss are distributed into animal, ferocious, demoniacal and angelic qualities. You need to know, therefore, what qualities predominate in your character, and in the predominance of which your happibess happiness consists. If your qualities are chiefly animal, the essence of which is to eat and drink, you will day and night seek after these things.
If your qualities are of the ferocious kind, the essence of which is to tear and rend, to injure and destroy, you will act accordingly.
If you are endowed chiefly with the qualities of devils, which consist in evil machinations, deceit and delusion, then you should know and be aware of it, that you may turn towards the path of perfection.
And if you possess angelic qualities, whose nature it is to worship God in sincerity and continually to await the vision of His beauty, then like them you should unceasingly, resting neither day or night, be zealous and strive that you may become worthy of the vision of the Lord. For know, O student of the mysteries! Woe to him who has no portion in this knowledge!
There is great danger in his path. The way of faith is veiled from his eyes.
If you wish, O seeker of the way! But when we speak of heart, we do not mean the piece of flesh which is in the left side of the breast of a man, for that is found in a dead body and in animals: That heart, which is emphatically called spirit, does not belong to this world, and although it has come to this alchrmy, it has only come to leave it.
It is the sovereign of the body, which is its vehicle, and all the external and internal organs of alchdmy body are its subjects. Its especial attribute is to know God and to Edition: The invitation to salvation is addressed to the spirit. The commandment is also addressed to it, for it is capable fo happiness or misery. The knowledge of what it is in reality, is the key to the knowledge of God.
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Beloved, strive to obtain this knowledge, for there is no more precious jewel. In its origin it comes from God, and again returns to him.
It has come hither but for a time for intercourse and action. Be sure, O seeker after knowledge! Know then, that the existence of the spirit is evident and is not involved in doubt. Still, it is not body, which is found in corpses and in animals generally. If a person with his eyes wide open should look upon the world and upon his own body, and then shut his eyes, everything would be veiled from his view, so that he could not see even his own body. But the existence of his spirit would not be at the same time shut out from his view.
Again, at death, the body turns to earth, but the spirit undergoes no corruption. Still it is not permitted to us to know what the spirit is in its real nature and in its essence, as God says in his Holy Word: Answer, the spirit is a creation by decree of the Lord.
All existence hppiness of two kinds, one is ghaazli the world of decrees, and the other is of the world of creation. The creation spoken of in the verse is in the sense of foreordination and not of actual formation. Hence those who say that the spirit is created, and is hy from all eternity are in error, for nothing is eternal except the being and attributes of God.
Those also, who say that the spirit is but an accident, are in error, for the spirit exists by itself in the body, and an accident is that which subsists with something else. And those who say that the spirit is matter are in error, for matter is that which can be divided, and spirit is not susceptible of division.
There is spirit, beloved, which is called animal spirit, which is susceptible of division. It is found in animals. But that spirit, which has the property of knowing God, and which is called the heart, is not found in beasts, nor is it matter or an accident.
The heart, on the contrary, has been created with angelic qualities. It is a substance of which it is difficult to apprehend the essence. The law does not permit it to be explained, but there is no occasion for the student being acquainted with it at the outset of his journey.
That which is necessary to the student is pious ardor and zeal, and this must be called into exercise in perfection. It is God who graciously teaches the student what spirit is, as we find in the Holy Book: It is, however, lawful to explain to him the instruments by which it operates. Know, O seeker after the divine mysteries!