Ethical Teachings of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī

Ethical Teachings of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī

Economics of Happiness

By Sami Al-Daghistani

Anthem Religion and Society Series

This book studies the interplay of economic philosophy and moral conduct as reflected in the writings of one of the most renowned scholars in Islamic history, Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 1111). Al-Ghazālī contributed to Islamic theology, philosophy, and Sufism but is also regarded as one of the forerunners of classical economic thought in Islamic tradition.

Hardback, 176 Pages

ISBN:9781785275302

February 2021

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links
  • Podcasts

About This Book

Al-Ghazālī made seminal contributions to the field of ethical economic thought. Though he dedicated many chapters in his encyclopaedic Iḥyā’ Ulūm al-Dīn (The Revival of Religious Sciences) to what he considered just and Sharī‘a-based economic conduct in (Muslim) society, this specific aspect of his corpus has been largely overlooked in Western scholarship. This book aims to analyse and revive al-Ghazālī’s little studied economic teachings by emphasizing his economic philosophy and its correlation between Sharī‘a’s moral law and the tradition of taṣawwuf, situating his thought within the context of modern economic theories. 

The scholarly ignorance of his economic contributions goes hand in hand with a claim made by several Western scholars (e.g., J. Schumpeter) that classical Islamic scholarship did not offer any significant development in the domain of economic thought in what was known in Europe as the Middle Ages—a claim that scholars like Ghazanfar and Islahi, attempted to refute. This book delves into an analysis of al-Ghazālī’s theoretical accounts and his economic philosophy as part of his overall ethics of happiness, looking closely at select passages from his work in order to position them at the intersection of two domains within the framework of classical Islamic economic thought, namely taṣawwuf or Sufi-mystical thought and Sharī‘a law. 

This work does not assume that al-Ghazālī anticipated modern trends of Western economics; however, by merging the necessity of kasb (acquisitions of wealth) and the importance of zuhd (renunciation of the worldly endeavours) as equal components in the context of the science of the hereafer (‘ilm ṭarīq al-ākhira), he presented the culmination of ethical economic thought in classical Islamic tradition, influencing later Muslim scholars. Hence, in this rather specific reading of al-Ghazālī’s economic philosophy, he conceived of an economic analysis that was founded upon ethical teachings, an endeavor that should be ultimately regarded as a technology of self-examination.

 

Reviews

“Al-Daghistani makes a remarkable contribution to the study of economic thought in classical Islam. A rewarding read.” —Wael B. Hallaq, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University

“The new perspective opened by Al-Daghistani's book on  Abu Hamid al-Ghazali's economics of happiness is a remarkable addition to the developing literature on the economic thought of one of the most influential thinkers in Islamic intellectual history”. — Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Professor, Columbia University

Author Information

Sami Al-Daghistani is a postdoctoral fellow at the Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society in Oslo and an associate faculty member at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research in New York. He is also a research scholar in the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.

Series

Anthem Religion and Society Series

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Abū Ḥamid al-Ghazālī – between Politics, Philosophy, and Sufism; 2. History of Islamic Economic Thought; 3. Al-Ghazālī’s Economic Teachings and the Science of the Hereafter ('ilm al-ākhira); 4. Classical Economics and its Worldviews; 5. Contemporary Debates – al-Ghazālī and Modern Economics; Conclusion: Conundrum of Ethics in Economics – a Feasible Possibility or Vain Attempt?; Appendix 1: Historical Development of Some of the Most Prominent Classical Islamic Scholars on Economic Thought; Appendix 2: Selected quotations of al-Ghazali’s Economic Teachings in the English Language; Bibliography; Index.

Links

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