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As Muslim I need you to write this paper. There will be three questions, each question needs to answer in one page. I will attach the book and instructions. Please, read the folder called Multicultural+Philosophy+Assigment+2+Spring+2019.doc carefully.Here are three questions: Explain clearly and briefly, in your own words, what Ghazali means by “certain knowledge”. Which of your own beliefs do you think match this definition of “certain knowledge”? (Hint: you might want to consider your beliefs about the physical objects around you, your beliefs about what you read in the newspapers, your beliefs about other people’s intentions, your beliefs about history, your beliefs about science, and so on.) Explain clearly and briefly, in your own words, what Ghazali means by “sensory beliefs” and what he means by “necessary beliefs”. Then explain clearly and briefly, in your own words, the reasoning that leads Ghazali to conclude that his sensory beliefs do not amount to certain knowledge. Explain clearly and briefly, in your own words, the reasoning that leads Ghazali to conclude that his necessary beliefs do not amount to certain knowledge.
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AL-GHAZ L
Deliverance from Error
AL-GHAZ L
Deliverance from Error
(al-Munqidh min al-Dal l)
Translated, with related works, by Richard J. MCCARTHY, S.J., as
Freedom and Fulfillment
Boston, Twayne, 1980
C.S. 202
AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT
1
AL-GHAZ L
Deliverance from Error
2
In the Name of God
Most Gracious and Merciful
I trust in the Living, Who dieth not!
1.
The most eminent and ascetic Master, the Ornament of Religion and the Proof
of Islam, Ab H mid Muhammad, son of Muhammad, son of Muhammad, al-Ghaz l ,
said:
Praise be to God, Whose praise should preface every writing and discourse!
And God’s blessing be upon Muhammad the Elect, divinely gifted with prophethood
and apostleship, and upon his kin and companions, who guided men away from error!
2.
Now then: You have asked me, my brother in religion, to communicate to you
the aim and secrets of the sciences and the dangerous and intricate depths of the
different doctrines and views. You want me to give you an account of my travail in
disengaging the truth from amid the welter of the sects, despite the polarity of their
means and methods. You also want to hear about my daring in mounting from the
lowland of servile conformism to the highland of independent investigation: and first
of all what profit I derived from the science of kal m; secondly what I found
loathsome among the methods of the devotees of ta‘l m, who restrict the attainment of
truth to uncritical acceptance of the Imam’s pronouncements; thirdly, the methods of
philosophizing which I scouted; and finally, what pleased me in the way pursued by
the practice of Sufism. You also wish to know the quintessential truth disclosed to me
in the tortuous course of my inquiry into the views expressed by various men: and
what led me to quit teaching in Baghdad, though I had many students there: and what
induced me to resume teaching in Nishapur much later.
3.
Convinced of the sincerity of your desire, I am losing no time in answering
your request. Invoking God’s help, and placing my trust in Him, and imploring His
favor, and having recourse to Him, I say:
4.
You should first of all know — God give you good guidance and gently lead
you to the truth! — that the diversity of men in religions and creeds, plus the
disagreement of the Community of Islam about doctrines, given the multiplicity of
sects and the divergency of methods, is a deep sea in which most men founder and
from which few only are saved. Each group alleges that it is the one saved, and “each
faction is happy about its own beliefs.” This is the state of affairs which the truthful
and most trustworthy Chief of God’s envoys — God bless him! — ominously
promised us when he said: “My Community will split into seventy-odd sects, of which
one will be saved.” And what he promised has indeed come to pass!
5.
In the bloom of my youth and the prime of my life, from the time I reached
puberty before I was twenty until now, when I am over fifty, I have constantly been
diving daringly into the depths of this profound sea and wading into its deep water
like a bold man, not like a cautious coward. I would penetrate far into every murky
mystery, pounce upon every problem, and dash into every mazy difficulty. I would
scrutinize the creed of every sect and seek to lay bare the secrets of each faction’s
teaching with the aim of discriminating between the proponent of truth and the
advocate of error, and between the faithful follower of tradition and the heterodox
innovator. I would never take leave of an interiorist without wanting to learn about
his interiorism, or of a literalist without wanting to know the substance of his
literalism, or of a philosopher without seeking to become acquainted with the essence
of his philosophy, or of a mutakallim without endeavoring to discover the aim of his
discussion and polemic, or of a Sufi without eagerly trying to obtain knowledge of the
secret of his serenity, or of a devout worshiper without looking into the source and
AL-GHAZ L
Deliverance from Error
3
substance of his piety, or of an irreligious nihilist without attempting to find out his
background and motivation in order to become aware of the reasons for his bold
profession of nihilism and irreligion.
6.
The thirst for grasping the real meaning of things was indeed my habit and
wont from my early years and in the prime of my life. It was an instinctive, natural
disposition placed in my makeup by God Most High, not something due to my own
choosing and contriving. As a result, the fetters of servile conformism fell away from
me, and inherited beliefs lost their hold on me, when I was still quite young. For I saw
that the children of Christians always grew up embracing Christianity, and the
children of Jews always grew up adhering to Judaism, and the children of Muslims
always grew up following the religion of Islam. I also heard the tradition related from
the Apostle of God — God’s blessing and peace be upon him! — in which he said:
“Every infant is born endowed with the fitra: then his parents make him Jew or
Christian or Magian.” Consequently I felt an inner urge to seek the true meaning of
the original fitra, and the true meaning of the beliefs arising through slavish aping of
parents and teachers. I wanted to sift out these uncritical beliefs, the beginnings of
which are suggestions imposed from without, since there are differences of opinion in
the discernment of those that are true from those that are false.
7.
So I began by saying to myself: “What I seek is knowledge of the true meaning
of things. Of necessity, therefore, I must inquire into just what the true meaning of
knowledge is.” Then it became clear to me that sure and certain knowledge is that in
which the thing known is made so manifest that no doubt clings to it, nor is it
accompanied by the possibility of error and deception, nor can the mind even suppose
such a possibility. Furthermore, safety from error must accompany the certainty to
such a degree that, if someone proposed to show it to be false — for example, a man
who would turn a stone into gold and a stick into a snake — his feat would not induce
any doubt or denial. For if I know that ten is more than three, and then someone were
to say: “No, on the contrary, three is more than ten, as is proved by my turning this
stick into a snake” — and if he were to do just that and I were to see him do it, I
would not doubt my knowledge because of his feat. The only effect it would have on
me would be to make me wonder how he could do such a thing. But there would be
no doubt at all about what I knew!
8.
I realized, then, that whatever I did not know in this way and was not certain of
with this kind of certainty was unreliable and unsure knowledge, and that every
knowledge unaccompanied by safety from error is not sure and certain knowledge.
The Avenues to Sophistry and Skepticism
9.
I then scrutinized all my cognitions and found myself devoid of any knowledge
answering the previous description except in the case of sense-data and the selfevident truths. So I said: “Now that despair has befallen me, the only hope I have of
acquiring an insight into obscure matters is to start from things that are perfectly clear,
namely sense-data and the self-evident truths. Hence I must first study these
thoroughly in order to reach a sure answer to these questions: Is my reliance on sensedata and my safety from error in the case of self-evident truths of the same kind as that
which I formerly had regarding the dicta of authority, and of the same kind as that
which most men have regarding speculative matters? Or is it a verifiable safety
containing no deception or danger?
10.
With great earnestness, therefore, I began to reflect on my sense-data to see if I
could make myself doubt them. This protracted effort to induce doubt finally brought
me to the point where my soul would not allow me to admit safety from error even in
the case of my sense-data. Rather it began to be open to doubt about them and to say:
AL-GHAZ L
Deliverance from Error
4
“Whence comes your reliance on sense-data? The strongest of the senses is the sense
of sight. Now this looks at a shadow and sees it standing still and motionless and
judges that motion must be denied. Then, due to experience and observation, an hour
later it knows that the shadow is moving, and that it did not move in a sudden spurt,
but so gradually and imperceptibly that it was never completely at rest. Sight also
looks at a star and sees it as something small, the size of a dinar: then geometrical
proofs demonstrate that it surpasses the earth in size. In the case of this and of similar
instances of sense-data the sense-judge makes its judgments, but the reason-judge
refutes it and repeatedly gives it the lie in an incontrovertible fashion.
11.
Then I said: “My reliance on sense-data has also become untenable. Perhaps,
therefore, I can rely only on those rational data which belong to the category of
primary truths, such as our asserting that ‘Ten is more than three,’ and ‘One and the
same thing cannot be simultaneously affirmed and denied,’ and ‘One and the same
thing cannot be incipient and eternal, existent and nonexistent, necessary and
impossible.”
12.
Then sense-data spoke up: “What assurance have you that your reliance on
rational data is not like your reliance on sense-data? Indeed, you used to have
confidence in me. Then the reason-judge came along and gave me the lie. But were it
not for the reason-judge, you would still accept me as true. So there may be, beyond
the perception of reason, another judge. And if the latter revealed itself, it would give
the lie to the judgments of reason, just as the reason-judge revealed itself and gave the
lie to the judgments of sense. The mere fact of the nonappearance of that further
perception does not prove the impossibility of its existence.”
13.
For a brief space my soul hesitated about the answer to that objection, and
sense-data reinforced their difficulty by an appeal to dreaming, saying: “Don’t you see
that when you are asleep you believe certain things and imagine certain circumstances
and believe they are fixed and lasting and entertain no doubts about that being their
status? Then you wake up and know that all your imaginings and beliefs were
groundless and unsubstantial. So while everything you believe through sensation or
intellection in your waking state may be true in relation to that state, what assurance
have you that you may not suddenly experience a state which would have the same
relation to your waking state as the latter has to your dreaming, and your waking state
would be dreaming in relation to that new and further state? If you found yourself in
such a state, you would be sure that all your rational beliefs were unsubstantial
fancies.
14.
It may be that this state beyond reason is that which the Sufis claim is theirs.
For they allege that, in the states they experience when they concentrate inwardly and
suspend sensation, they see phenomena which are not in accord with the normal data
of reason. Or it may be that this state is death. For the Apostle of God — God’s
blessing and peace be upon him! — said: ‘Men are asleep: then after they die they
awake.’ So perhaps this present life is a sleep compared to the afterlife.
Consequently, when a man dies, things will appear to him differently from the way he
now sees them, and thereupon he will be told: ‘But We have removed from you your
veil and today your sight is keen’ (50.21/22).”
15.
When these thoughts occurred to me they penetrated my soul, and so I tried to
deal with that objection. However, my effort was unsuccessful, since the objection
could be refuted only by proof. But the only way to put together a proof was to
combine primary cognitions. So if, as in my case, these were inadmissible, it was
impossible to construct the proof. This malady was mysterious and it lasted for nearly
two months. During that time I was a skeptic in fact, but not in utterance and
doctrine. At length God Most High cured me of that sickness. My soul regained its
AL-GHAZ L
Deliverance from Error
5
health and equilibrium and once again I accepted the self-evident data of reason and
relied on them with safety and certainty. But that was not achieved by constructing a
proof or putting together an argument. On the contrary, it was the effect of a light
which God Most High cast into my breast. And that light is the key to most
knowledge.
16.
Therefore, whoever thinks that the unveiling of truth depends on precisely
formulated proofs has indeed straitened the broad mercy of God. When the Apostle of
God — God’s blessing and peace be upon him! — was asked about “the dilation” in
the Most High’s utterance: “So he whom God wishes to guide aright, He dilates his
breast for submission to Himself (i.e., to embrace Islam)” (6.125), he said: “It is a
light which God casts into the heart.” Then someone said: “And what is the sign of
it?” He replied: “Withdrawal from the mansion of delusion and turning to the
mansion of immortality.” And it is this of which the Apostle — God’s blessing and
peace be upon him! — said: “God Most High created men in darkness, then sprinkled
on them some of His light.” From that light, then, the unveiling of truth must be
sought. Moreover, that light gushes forth from the divine liberality at certain times,
and one must be on the watch for it according to the saying of the Apostle — Peace be
upon him! — “Your Lord, in the days of your lifetime, sends forth gusts of grace: do
you then put yourselves in the way of them!”
17.
The aim of this account is to emphasize that one should be most diligent in
seeking the truth until he finally comes to seeking the unseekable. For primary truths
are unseekable, because they are present in the mind; and when what is present is
sought, it is lost and hides itself. But one who seeks the unseekable cannot
subsequently be accused of negligence in seeking what is seekable.
The Categories of Those Who Seek the Truth
18.
When God Most High, of His kindness and abundant generosity, had cured me
of this sickness, I was of the view that the categories of those seeking the truth were
limited to four groups:
l. The Mutakallim n, who allege that they are men of independent judgment and reasoning.
2. The B tinites, who claim to be the unique possessors of al-ta‘l m and the privileged
recipients of knowledge acquired from the Infallible Imam.
3. The Philosophers, who maintain that they are the men of logic and apodeictic demonstration.
4. The Sufis, who claim to be the familiars of the Divine Presence and the men of mystic vision
and illumination.
19.
I then said to myself: “The truth cannot transcend these four categories, for
these are the men who are following the paths of the quest for truth. Hence, if the
truth eludes them, there remains no hope of ever attaining it. For there can be no
desire to return to servile conformism once it has been abandoned, since a prerequisite
for being a servile conformist is that one does not know himself to be such. But when
a man recognizes that, the glass of his servile conformism is shattered — an
irreparable fragmentation and a mess which cannot be mended by patching and
piecing together: it can only be melted by fire and newly reshaped.
20.
I therefore lost no time in following these different ways and making a
thorough study of the views of these groups. I applied myself first to the science of
kal m, secondly to the way of philosophy, thirdly to the teachings of the B tinites, and
fourthly to the Way of the Sufis.
The Aim and Purport of the Science of Kal m
21.
I began, then, with the science of kal m, which I summarized in the form of
notes. I carefully studied the works of the most meticulous mutakallim n, and I wrote
AL-GHAZ L
Deliverance from Error
6
on the subject what I had a mind to write. Subsequently, however, I found it a science
adequate for its own aim, but inadequate for mine. For its aim is simply to conserve
the creed of the orthodox for the orthodox and to guard it from the confusion
introduced by the innovators.
22.
In the past God Most High and Praiseworthy communicated to His servants, by
the tongue of His Apostle, a creed which is the truth, inasmuch as it is, for their
religious and secular life, the sound basis as articulated in detail in the Qur’ n and the
Traditions. Then Satan, through the sinister suggestions of the innovators, injected
notions opposed to orthodoxy, with the result that the innovators became passionately
addicted to these errors and all but ruined the true creed for its adherents. So God
Most High raised up the group of the mutakallim n and motivated them to champion
orthodoxy by a systematic discussion designed to disclose the deceptions introduced
by the contriving innovators contrary to the traditional orthodoxy. This gave rise to
the science of kal m and its practitioners.
23.
A group of the mutakallim n did indeed perform the task assigned to them by
God. They ably protected orthodoxy and defended the creed which had been readily
accepted from the prophetic preaching and boldly counteracted the heretical
innovations. But in so doing they relied on premises which they took over from their
adversaries, being compelled to admit them either by uncritical acceptance, or because
of the Community’s consensus, or by simple acceptance deriving from the Qur’ n and
the Traditions. Most of their polemic was devoted to bringing out the inconsistencies
of their adversaries and criticizing them for the logically absurd consequences of what
they conceded. This, however, is of little use in the case of one who admits nothing at
all except the primary and self-evident truths. So kal m was not sufficient in my case,
nor was it a remedy for the malady of which I was complaining.
24.
To be sure, when the discipline of kal m acquired some status and had been
much engaged in for some length of time, the mutakallim n showed an earnest desire
for attempting to defend orthodoxy by the study of the true natures of things. They
plunged into the study of substances and accidents and their principles. But since that
was not the aim of their own science, their discussion of the subject was not
thoroughgoing; therefore it did not provide an effective means of dispelling entirely
the darkness due to the bewilderment about the differences dividing men. I do not
regard it as improbable that such may have been the result in the case of others. I do
not even doubt that it has actually been the experience of a limited group of men, but
in a way vitiated by servile conformism in some matters which are not among the
primary truths. In any event, my present purpose is to tell the story of my own case,
not to express disapproval of anyone who sought a cure in kal m. For healing
remedies differ as the sickness differs, and many a remedy helps one sick man and
harms another.
PHILOSOPHY
[On the gist of philosophy: what is blameworthy in it, and what blameless; what doctrine lays its
proponent open to the charge of unbelief, and what doctrine lays him open to the charge, not of
unbelief, but of innovation; and an exposé of what the philosophers have stolen from the sayings of the
men of truth and mingled with their own affirmations to promote the circulation of their own errors
together with those truths; and how souls come to feel an antipathy for those truths; and how to extract
the unadulterated truth from amid the counterfeit and spurious views found in the aggregate of the
philosophers’ teaching.]
25.
After finishing with the science of kal m, I then started on philosophy. I knew
for sure that one cannot recognize what is unsound in any of the sciences unless he has
such a grasp of the farthest reaches of that science that he is the equal of the most
learned of t …
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