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Al-Ghazali’s "Moderation in Belief"

Centuries after his death, al-Ghazali remains one of the most influential figures of the Islamic intellectual tradition. Although he is best known for his Incoherence of the Philosophers, Moderation in Belief is his most profound work of philosophical theology. In it, he offers what scholars consider to be the best defense of the Ash’arite school of Islamic theology that gained acceptance within orthodox Sunni theology in the twelfth century, though he also diverges from Ash’arism with his more rationalist approach to the Quran. Together with The Incoherence of the Philosophers, Moderation in Belief informs many subsequent theological debates, and its influence extends beyond the Islamic tradition, informing broader questions within Western philosophical and theological thought.
The first complete English-language edition of Moderation in Belief, this new annotated translation by Aladdin M. Yaqub draws on the most esteemed critical editions of the Arabic texts and offers detailed commentary that analyzes and reconstructs the arguments found in the work’s four treatises. Explanations of the historical and intellectual background of the texts also enable readers with a limited knowledge of classical Arabic to fully explore al-Ghazali and this foundational text for the first time.
With the recent resurgence of interest in Islamic philosophy and the conflict between philosophy and religion, this new translation will be a welcome addition to the scholarship.  


“Aladdin M. Yaqub’s annotated translation of al-Ghazali’s Moderation in Belief will ultimately be seen as a major turning point—for the better—in the history of Islamic philosophy. He engages the text directly, his eyes riveted on the arguments, which he unravels and reconstructs elegantly.”

Tzvi Langermann, Bar-Ilan University

“Al-Ghazali is the most important philosophical theologian of classical Islam, and Moderation in Belief is among his most important works. It sets out al-Ghazali’s Ash?arite theology with unusual clarity and provides important background for such well-known works as his autobiographical Deliverance from Error and his attack on Avicenna in The Incoherence of the Philosophers. This first English-language translation, with notes that bring out the argumentation and background of the work, is thus very much to be welcomed.”

Peter Adamson, King’s College London

“Given the significance of al-Ghazali as one of the leading Muslim thinkers in the Sunni world, it’s remarkable that this important text has not yet been available in English-language translation in one place. Aladdin M. Yaqub provides such a translation, splendidly reconciling the Arabic texts and augmenting them with accurate notes that offer a helpful guide. This is sure to become the standard English edition.”

Oliver Leaman, University of Kentucky

“Given his enormous influence on Islamic thought, this new translation of al-Ghazali's Moderation in Belief is indispensable for one who seeks to understand his theology. . . . As the first complete English translation of the work, Yaqub’s book represents a significant contribution for the non-Arabic speaker, [but] Arabic speaking audiences will also benefit from Yaqub’s scholarly documentation of the text.”

American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

Table of Contents

Note on the Translation
Translator’s Introduction

Religious Preface
First Introduction
On showing that to wade into this science is important for the religion
Second Introduction
On showing that to wade into this science, although it is important, is unimportant for some people but what is important for them is to avoid it
Third Introduction
On showing that the occupation with this science is a collective obligation
Fourth Introduction
On explaining the methods of proof that we employ in this book

Theoretical Reflection on the Essence of God
First Proposition: The existence of God
Second Proposition: God is eternal anteriorly
Third Proposition: God is eternal posteriorly
Fourth Proposition: God is not an extended substance
Fift h Proposition: God is not a body
Sixth Proposition: God is not a mode
Seventh Proposition: God is not located in a direction
Eighth Proposition: No anthropomorphic description is true of God
Ninth Proposition: God is seeable
First Aspect: First Rational Approach
First Aspect: Second Rational Approach
Second Aspect: The Evidence of the Revelation
Tenth Proposition: God is one

On the Divine Attributes

First Part
First Attribute: Power
First Question
Second Question
Third Question
Second Attribute: Knowledge
Third Attribute: Life
Fourth Attribute: Will
Fifth and Sixth Attributes: Hearing and Sight
Seventh Attribute: Speech
First Objection
Second Objection
Third Objection
Fourth Objection
Fift h Objection

Second Part
On the general characteristics of the divine attributes, concerning that which they share and that in which they differ
First Characteristic: The attributes are additional to the essence
Second Characteristic: The attributes subsist in the essence
Third Characteristic: The attributes are eternal
Fourth Characteristic: The names that are derived from these divine attributes are true of God eternally

On the Acts of God

First Proposition: It is possible for God not to create; and if He creates, it is not obligatory for Him to do so; and if He creates people, He might not assign obligations to them; and if He does assign obligations, it is not obligatory for Him to do so
Second Proposition: It is up to God to assign to His servants obligations, whether within their ability or beyond their ability
Third Proposition: God is able to bring suff ering upon an animal that is innocent of any crime and He is not required to reward it
Fourth Proposition: It is not obligatory for God to care for the well-being of His servants, but He may do whatever He wills and decree whatever He

Fifth Proposition: If God assigns obligations to His servants and they obey Him, then it is not obligatory for Him to reward them; rather if He wants to, He may reward them, punish them, or even annihilate them and never resurrect them; He does not care whether He forgives all the infidels and punishes all the believers; and this is not impossible in itself, nor does it contradict any of the divine attributes
Sixth Proposition: If the revelation had not come, it would not be incumbent upon mankind to know God and to thank Him for His blessings
Seventh Proposition: Sending prophets is contingent; it is neither impossible nor obligatory

First Chapter
On establishing the prophethood of our prophet, Mu?ammad

The First Way of Proving the Prophethood of Mu?ammad by Means of Miracles: the Miracle of the Qur’an
The Second Way of Proving the Prophethood of Mu?ammad by Means of Miracles: Other Miracles

Second Chapter
On showing that it is obligatory to believe in matters reported in the revelation and deemed possible by reason

First Section
The Torment of the Grave
The Balance
The Path
Second Section
An Intellectual Issue
A Semantical Issue
A Legal Issue

Third Chapter
On the Imamate
First Issue: On showing that appointing an imam is obligatory
Second Issue: On showing who among mankind may be appointed an imam
Third Issue: On explaining the belief of the followers of the Sunna regarding the Prophet’s companions and the rightly-guided caliphs

Fourth Chapter
On explaining which among the sects must be charged with infidelity

Interpretive Essay
Index of Qur?anic Verses
Index of ?adiths
Subject Index

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