Al-Ghazali on Intention, Sincerity and Truthfulness is a translation of the thirty-seventh chapter of The Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din). Like Al-Ghazali on Patience and Thankfulness, this chapter falls in the last of the four sections of the Ihya’, the section dealing the virtues or what is conducive to salvation. Here Ghazali deals with the very important subject of intention, which is of crucial importance in Islam. Ghazali asks: ‘How can someone ignorant of the meaning of intention verify his own intention; or how can someone ignorant of the meaning of sincerity verify his own sincerity; or how can someone sincerely claim truthfulness if he has not verified its meaning?’ Al-Ghazali on Intention, Sincerity and Truthfulness includes an introduction that places the topic in the context of Islamic ethics.
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.