An Evaluative Study of the Attempts of the Imam Abu H?amid
al-Ghazali at Islamic Reform
Notwithstanding the enduring and rich “legacy of is?lah? (Islamic reform),” the study of
it is relatively scarce and remarkably limited to the modern times. The present study attempts to shed some light on this legacy by evaluating the contribution of an
outstanding pre-modern Muslim scholar, al-Ghazali. Surprisingly, some studies create
an absolutely positive picture of him, while others portray him in an extremely negative light. Thus, this study raises the question of whether it is justifiable to classify him as a mus?lih? (Islamic reformer).
In light of the analysis of the concept “is?lah?” and the complexity of al-Ghazali’s time, the study demonstrates his lifeexperience and erifies that he devoted himself to general is?lah?at a late period of his life, after succeeding in his self-is?lah?. Further, the study assesses his is?lah?i teachings in general, namely those formulated in the Ih?ya’, and evaluates the claimed effects of his attempts at is?lah?. The study also highlights a number of strengths and weaknesses of al-Ghazali’s efforts and critically discusses some of the criticism directed at him.
By weighing up the points for and against al-Ghazali, this study concludes by
asserting that classifying him as a muslih? appears to be fairly justified.