This is the 'spiritual autobiography' of the great Imam al-Ghazali, and describes what caused him to leave fame and fortune to undertake the spiritual path. In it, besides providing a personal history and describing the key events which led to this and flowed from it. Imam al-Ghazali takes time to repudiate the methods and logic of the philosophers and the esotericists (batiniyya) and the principles of sophistry.
Lastly he provides a section on the Reality of Prophethood and the urgent need all people have for it.
Al-Ghazali is generally acclaimed as the most influential thinker of the Classical period of Islam, in this autobiography, the Imam describes his education and his intellectual crisis, which left him so paralyzed by doubt that he gave up his academic pursuits and worldly interests as Professor at the Nizamiyah University of Baghdad (which was recognized as one of the most reputed institutions of learning in the golden era) and became a wandering ascetic. This was a process (period) of mystical transformation. Later, he resumed his teaching duties, but again left these. An era of solitary life, devoted to contemplation and writing then ensued, which led to the authorship of a number of everlasting books (Many of which have been translated in English).
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.
It 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.
Muhtar Holland was born in 1935, in the ancient city of Durham in the North East of England. This statement may be considered anachronistic, however, since he did not bear the name Muhtar until 1969, when he was moved-by powerful experiences in the latihan kejiwaan of Subud-to embrace the religion of Islam. His freelance activities have mostly been devoted to writing and translating in various parts of the world, including Scotland and California. He made his Pilgrimage [Hajj] to Mecca in 1980.