"This text has long been recognized as not only an Islamic "classic," but also as one of the great "spiritual autobiographies" of the world's greatest religious thinkers. It is also the narrative of how one dedicated "seeker" after true knowledge and salvation, having probed various systems of thought and differing paths of learning and enlightenment, discovered the peace of the inner life and discipline of mystical spirituality--in Ghazali's case, the spirituality of the Sufis."
-William A. Graham
Professor of the History of Religion and Islamic Studies
"This is by far the most scholarly, thoughtful and sympathetic translation of al-Ghazali's classic autobiography."
-William C. Chittick
Professor of Comparative Religious Studies
SUNY, Stony Brook
Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali is generally acclaimed as the most influential thinker of medieval Islam.
The present volume contains a translation of Ghazali's autobiography, The Deliverance from Error, one of the most remarkable personal documents to have come down to us from Islamic civilization. The Imam describes his education and his intellectual crisis which left him so paralyzed by doubt that he was forced to resign the most distinguished academic appointment of his day.
His faith returned after years of wandering and seeking during which he achieved direct knowledge of God in the form of the illuminative experience of the Sufis.
Professor of Islamic Studies, Faculty of Divinity
Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali (450/1058-505/1111 is widely known by the honorific, 'the Sultan of the Saints (awliya) of Allah'. In the history of the Saints of Islam, Shaikh Abd al-Qadir stands out as being unique, in the broad scope of perfection that includes his lineage, his complete development, piety, knowledge of the religion and adherence to the Sacred Law (Sharia), his intimate and direct knowledge of the Divine, and his establishment by the Lord of All the Worlds at the level of Reality (Haqiqa). Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir lived almost a thousand years ago, but his words transcend the time and place in which they were recorded to span the centuries without difficulty.
Revered to this day as the supreme spiritual helper (al-Ghawth al-A'zam) the Shaikh addresses his audience at a level that bypasses the heart and mind. His discourses are justly ranked among the most beautiful oratory the world has ever known.
He is justly described as a "towering figure" in the history of Islam. He was born in the Iranian town of Tus, studied Islamic law and theology at the Seljuq college in Nishapur, and became a distinguished professor at the famous Nizamiyya University in Baghdad.
Despite his glittering success, he was inwardly dissatisfied, so he abandoned his career for the life of hardship, abstinence and devotion to worship. During ten years of wandering, he experienced a spiritual transformation, in which the Truth came to him at last, as something received rather than acquired.
Blessed with an inner certainty, he then applied his outstanding faculties and vast learning to the task of revitalizing the whole Islamic tradition. Through his direct personal contacts, and through his many writings, he showed how every element in that tradition could and should be turned to its true purpose.