Ghazali: The Revival of Islam (Makers of the Muslim World)

Al-Ghazali
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An example would be the man who shows how he has suffered affliction, and undertakes the admonition and reminding of people so that he be given money and so that women will desire to marry him. This kind of ostentation is prohibited, for it entails seeking a substance of this worldly life through obedience to Allah; but it is less grave than the previous degree.

The third degree is where a person does not intend to obtain a worldly gain or wealth, but rather displays his worship for fear that he may be thought of as defective and not of the elite and ascetics. Here one would include the person who [usually] walks in a hurried manner but when he is seen by others walks slowly and with gravamen, lest it be said that he does not belong to the community of serious believers.

One would likewise include he who joins others in the tarawih or tahajjud prayers for fear that he be accused of laziness and classified as one of the commoners. These too are among the pitfalls of ostentation, for the sincere believer does not care how his fellowmen look at him.

Furthermore, ostentation is one of the severest causes of peril; so great is its severity that it contains pitfalls that are more hidden than the creeping of ants. Ostentation which is of a slightly hidden nature is that which in itself does not drive a person to perform an act but which nonetheless eases that action for him by which he seeks the face of Allah.

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Here, one would include the person who is used to constantly praying in the depths of the night tahajjud , and who finds it difficult to do so, but who when he has a guest becomes invigorated and thereby finds the practice easier. Yet, this person still knows that had it not been for the expectation of reward from Allah he would not have prayed simply out of a desire to impress his guest.

A more hidden type of ostentation is that which neither affects the action nor makes it easy on the doer, yet is still harboured in the heart. For as long as it does not affect the motive for action, this type of ostentation cannot be noticed except by certain signs. The most apparent sign is when a person is pleased that other people take notice of his acts of worship.

For there are many bondsmen who are sincere in their actions, who do not wish to be ostentatious, and in fact hate it, but who, when others notice their actions, are pleased and contented.

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If these people feel pleasure when others take notice of their actions and if they do not react disapprovingly against these feelings, they will become a source of nourishment and supply for their hidden disposition towards ostentation. This hidden ostentation will continue to grow within them, driving them, albeit subtly, towards means through which their actions are allusively noticed, even though they do not themselves aim for any open declaration of ostentation.

It might also be that these people do not call others to notice their actions whether through allusion or by open declaration, but instead do so via outward manifestations of habit, for example by displaying thinness, paleness, lowering their voice, tear-stained faces and revealing signs of sleepiness to give the impression that they pray at length at night.

Even more hidden than this is the case where a person hides away and does not wish people to notice his action and indeed would be unhappy if they were to notice it. Despite all this, however, he likes others to greet him first, to respect him and be cheerful with him whenever he encounters them, and equally becomes vexed if he is neglected by others.

The sincere are always wary of hidden ostentation, making an effort to dupe people about their good acts and concealing them more than others insist upon hiding their vices, all in the hope that their righteous deeds may be sincere. Allah will reward them on the Day of Judgement for their sincerity that was open in front of people, because they knew that Allah will not accept on that Day any act except that which is sincerely accomplished for His sake.

As for that which is praiseworthy, it can be divided into four categories. However, when others learn of his act he will know also that it was Allah Who disclosed it to them and that it was He Who revealed his good.

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Shopping cart. Money is according to Al Ghazali one of the most important inventions of civilization, for it has to be utilized only to alleviate exchange of goods and economic transactions within society. Thus the noblest deed in the sight of Allah is the promotion of general public good in the society. In order to reach this ultimate truth of the Sufis, however, it is first necessary to renounce the world and to devote oneself to mystical practice. Take only that much of goods from the world as are absolutely necessary for your earthly sojourn. This means that the traditional form of Islamic faith was in a very critical condition at the time. Since the philosophers were experts at logic and argument, they appeared to make very clear arguments for their positions, despite the fact that those positions directly contradicted Islamic belief.

Third , a person might think that those to whom his good action is disclosed will want to emulate it. Consequently his reward will multiply, for he will be rewarded for what he disclosed at a later stage and also rewarded for concealing what he initially intended. Expecting this is deserving of delight. Fourth , those to whom the good act is disclosed may praise the doer for that act. He will be delighted at their pious deed, which is accomplished by praising him and showing love to such an obedient person, and also for the inclination of their own hearts towards obedience of Allah.

Here the sign of sincerity is that a person is just as delighted at people praising others as he is when they praise him. This type of delight is blameworthy. When a bondsman is resolved to perform an act of worship with sincerity but then senses the insinuation of ostentation, this insinuation can occur either before or after completing the act.

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If he feels a simple delight at the disclosure of the act after completing it but does not show this delight, then the act is not invalidated, for the act itself was initially carried out with sincerity and was free from ostentation. It is further hoped that what takes place after completing the act does not have an effect, especially if the bondsman does not make an effort to show or speak about his deed.

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Eric Ormsby is Chief Librarian at the Library of The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. He was formerly Professor and Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies,​. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Eric Ormsby is Chief Librarian at the Library of The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. He was formerly Professor and.

What the bondsman himself has done is simply to experience a delight and comfort in his own heart. True, if the person were to feel a desire to disclose his act, to show and speak about it after he initially carried it out with sincerity and without any ostentatious intent, then he ought to fear for himself. But if the insinuation of ostentation takes place before completing the prayer, for instance, even though the person is initially sincere, then the delight that might be felt as a result can be either one that does not affect the act, or the kind of ostentation that drives a person to act.

If it is the latter, and the person completes his act of worship with the same disposition, his reward will be nullified. That is, provided that its effect is not reflected on the action itself, that the undertaking of the action remains motivated by the din , and that the delight that this person feels is just supplemented. This because there is no recovery except through swallowing a bitter medicine, and this is one type of striving to which all people are forced.

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None can do without this strife, and although it is initially hard, it becomes easier. There are two stages in the treatment of ostentation: eradicating its roots and sources, and driving away that which occurs immediately. The first stage is the eradication of roots and sources. The basis of this vice is love of position and status. Namely, the joy of being praised, escape from the pain of condemnation, and desiring what other people possess. A man who fights driven by hamiyya i. These three things are what drive the ostentatious to play up to others, and the cure is that which was identified in the first section of this book.

It is obvious that a human being seeks and desires something only if he thinks that in that thing lies his good, and that it is beneficial and delightful. If he realises that this thing is immediately delightful, but subsequently harmful, it is easy for him to give up his desire for it. For so long as a bondsman meditates on this disgrace, compares what he will get from other people with what he is going to miss in the Afterlife and compares this with the thwarted reward of his actions, knowing that a single, sincere act might preponderate in the balance of his good deeds, and that if it is corrupted with ostentation it will be transferred to his offences, then he will realise that had there been in ostentation nothing except the thwarting of a single devotional act, that would be enough to make its harm plain.

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Furthermore, if his good deeds preponderate he will obtain high rank in the sight of Allah, exalted is He. Nor will their praise benefit him at the time of his extreme need and poverty on the Day of Judgement. So how can someone then leave what is with Allah for false fancy and ill-founded expectation? If a person inwardly admits the defect and damage of these causes, his desire will slacken, and he will be wholeheartedly devoted to Allah, for a person endowed with reason will not desire something whose harm is great and whose benefit is small.

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Moreover, at the beginning of this chapter we expounded upon the cures related to knowledge which uproot the very foundations of ostentation. This is because there is no cure for ostentation like concealment. The second stage involves driving away the insinuation of ostentation that comes to mind while performing devotional acts.

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On the contrary, Satan will expose him to the insinuations of ostentation, and his incitement to evil will not stop. Such insinuations of ostentation are threefold.

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They may either come to mind in one go, or present themselves in succession. This is followed by a strong desire for the soul to accept it, to be confident with it and to be resolved to achieve it. The greatest form of strength lies in suppressing the first insinuation and driving it away before it is followed by the second. If this occurs, the person concerned should drive such notions away by considering that regardless of whether other people know about his act or not, Allah nevertheless knows his state.

Knowledge of the defects of ostentation will arouse a dislike capable of opposing that desire. Desire calls him to accept ostentation, while dislike calls him to reject it, and the soul will inevitably obey that which is stronger and overwhelming. Hence, in order to drive away ostentation one needs [to be able to recognise] three things: namely, an awareness, a dislike and a rejection.

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Rejection is the result of dislike, and dislike is the result of awareness. This even though he dislikes such love and inclination. Is this person still to be counted among the ostentatious? All that a person is required to do is to meet his desire with a dislike, and if he does so, then he has accomplished the goal behind fulfilling what he is [legally] bound with. Therefore, the only interpretation of the meaning of this expression is that it refers to having devilish insinuations which one follows with a dislike.