The al-Ghazali Enigma and why Shari'a is not Islamic Law
This book offers a long-overdue intellectual biography of the late Egyptian Shaykh Mohammed al-Ghazali (d.1996). But its main purpose is to shed light on Shari’a, a highly politicized concern of our times. Instead of the standard accounts of Islam emphasizing ‘extremists,’ ‘traditionalists,’ ‘moderates,’ or ‘modernists,’ the book introduces a multi-layered approach to understanding the contours of Shari’a rulemaking. It highlights the technical and historical trajectory of this rulemaking process, thereby challenging the prevailing academic narrative as well as popular Muslim narratives. In using this contemporary influential Muslim scholar as a reference, the book assesses what so many Sunni Muslims see in Shari’a, at least in this Egyptian context, and how such devotion could hinder or promote genuine reform.
Published: Apr 5, 2017
Muhammad al-Ghazali is certainly one of the most celebrated Muslim thinkers of the twentieth century yet Khalafallah’s monograph is the first English publication to deal with his life and thought in a comprehensive manner.
The strength of this book lies in Khalafallah’s in-depth analysis of al-Ghazali’s writings, which reveals the highly reflexive ways in which his ideas evolved throughout his life.
Khalafallah succeeds in presenting a highly nuanced yet holistic picture of al-Ghazali’s intellectual profile. She combines newspaper articles and interviews with his disciples and family members to situate al-Ghazali’s text in the socio-political contexts of the publication.
Journal of Islamic Studies