Saturday, September 30, 2006

ramadan reading: the virtues of dhikr and al-ghazali

So I finished The Virtues of Ramadan by Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalvi a few days ago. Now I want to go on to reread his book The Virtues of Dhikr. I remember that when I first read that book it was really reassuring because, at the time, I was feeling doubtful about the orthodoxy of "Sufism" but the book discussed a number of hadith on the value of dhikr (including group dhikr). I know some people (especially non-Muslims in the West) see "Sufism" as this cool liberal New Age version of Islam but in reality it is just Islamic spirituality which is organically grounded in the Quran and Sunnah. If you break down "Sufism" to its basic elements it consists of the practices which would be followed by any pious thoughtful Muslim. (Not that I'm claiming to be one).

Also on my Ramadan reading list is the book On Disciplining the Soul and Breaking the Two Desires by Al-Ghazali. Basically it consists of certain sections from Ihya ulum al-din (The Revival of the Religious Sciences) on asceticism and struggling against the ego, translated and annotated by T.J. Winter. I've also read this one before but I could definitely use a refresher. A few years ago I went through a period of being really excited about Al-Ghazali, but more recently I've kind of mellowed out and haven't "touched base" in a while.

Anything I could say right now about how great Al-Ghazali is would probably sound really lame so I'll just leave you with a couple of links:

A biography of Imam al-Ghazzali by Dr. G.F. Haddad

As a continuation of my muslim art of war idea, here is an excerpt from al-Ghazali on Jihad al-Nafs (with links to other scholar's comments on the same topic).

And here is a huge Al-Ghazali Website with a ton of his writings.


1 comment:

dezhen said...

Definitely required reading bro... that and his other book on "Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife" are amazing reads... very topical for Ramadan as well! I look forward to other books from the Ihya being translated and published.

Ramadan Karim!