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The Influence of Ibn Sīnā on al-Ghazzālī in Qur'anic Hermeneutics


  • Mesut Okumuş

    1. Hitit University, Çorum, Turkey
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    • Mesut Okumuş holds a PhD in the Science of Qur'ānic Exegesis and is presently teaching at Theology Faculty of Hitit University, in Çorum, Turkey.


Al-Ghazzālī criticized Muslim philosophers in general and Ibn Sīnā in particular in a number of matters notwithstanding, he was deeply influenced by philosophy and Ibn Sīnā's views as to some issues. Of the contexts in which al-Ghazzālī is under the clear influence of Ibn Sīnā are the interpretations of some Qur'ānīc chapters and verses which are related to the demonstration of the existence of God and the explanation of some divine attributes and names. In many of his works, al-Ghazzālī reproduces Ibn Sīnā's interpretation of the verses in harmony with the ontological proof. One can observe Ibn Sīnā's influence on al-Ghazzālī in relation with the hierarchy of beings, too. However, the context in which Ibn Sīnā's influence is most obvious is the interpretation of the 35th verse of the Sūrah Nūr. Ibn Sīnā's interpretation of the terms occurring in this verse as symbols of the human faculties exercised a profound impact on the thought of al-Ghazzālī, which manifests itself in his interpretation of the verse in Mishkāt al-Anwār. Another of such contexts is the topic of human psychology and the interpretations of the verses related wherewith. Immensely influenced by the psychological views of Ibn Sīnā, al-Ghazzālī adopted Ibn Sīnā's notion of the simultaneous creation of soul and body, interpreting some Qur'ānic verses in harmony with this notion. This article is intended to illustrate that al-Ghazzālī, who is opposed to the blind imitation of any school of thought, did not make a wholesale denouncement of the views of philosophers; on the contrary, he made an extensive use of Ibn Sīnā's ideas in conformity with his general attitude of benefiting from all schools of thought.