One of Islam’s greatest scholars, Imam al-Ghazali, will be the focus of a unique conference and workshop set to take place in Oct 2018 in various cities in SA.
The aim of the conference is to bring the works of Al Ghazali to the centre stage, making them easily accessible to the Muslim public.
International scholars include, Sr Gray Henry (USA) and Prof. Mustafa Abu Sway (Palestine), Sh Hamzah Maqbul and Sh Sharif Banna and local speakers who will navigate his works, reflect on his teachings and share their insights.
The conference has an important role to play in reviving the messages that Imam Ghazali gave to the Ummah and their relevance today.
Imam al-Ghazali was regarded as “Hujjatul Islam” the proof of Islam of the 11th Islamic century and is considered one of the greatest scholars of Islam. He was a courageous academic and did not fear speaking out. Today there exists much confusion (and frustration?) around the different approaches to “Islam” within the body of the Ummah. The youth in particular, are left puzzled as to what exactly constitutes sharia and what its role is in their lives.
Imam al Ghazali has tremendous relevance to us today because of his ethos of the human heart being the center of the universe.
He was the rector of the Nizamya University in Baghdad and walked away from this position into the desert, because he felt that the ritualism had come to dominate Islam. He felt that everything centers from the heart and that the true alchemy in human nature is turning the heart from bad to good.”
Imam Al Ghazali lived at a time where there was much political and sectarian strife plaguing the Muslim community. Likewise, in the current period we find various competing political and intellectual approaches pervading Muslim societies. We hope that engaging the works and ideas of Imam al Ghazali and their relevance to contemporary challenges will inspire our community to renew their approach to the Islamic tradition.
Given the fact that Imam Ghazali’s works are not easily accessible to ordinary Muslims, the conference aims to disseminate the distinguished scholar’s teachings in the simplest of forms. Imam Ghazali challenged his students and readers with hypotheses that were quite shocking, but that would make one think and improves oneself as a human being.
An alchemist – in its popular understanding – is a person who has the gift of turning base metals into gold. Imam al-Ghazali was a scholar with the ability to transform the baseness of the human personality into the golden divine through works such as the “Ihya ‘Ulum ad-Din”. Already an acknowledged master of the Shariah, he re-entered society as an accomplished and practised Sufi – a true gnostic. Imam al-Ghazali was also fully proficient in Greek and Roman philosophy, and he debunked its central tenets, proving that Revelation was always going to be superior to human reason. Human thinking could never evolve, he argued, in an existential vacuum without awareness of the Divine.
A man for all seasons, a scholar for all times, we hope that we will be able to contribute to this worthy idea of promoting the life, times and ideas of Imam al-Ghazali.
Aisha Gray-Henry (USA)
Aisha Gray-Henry is the founder and director of the charitable foundation and publishing company Fons Vitae. Fons Vitae is currently engaged in the monumental task of bringing out Ghazali’s Ihya in readable english for parents and teachers as well as adapting it for children with workbooks, school curricula and an instructional DVD. The Book of Knowledge and Book of Creed educational sets are available and in use internationally with Purity and Prayer nearing completion. Included is a children’s interactive website www.GhazaliChildren.org , a pilot school project and prison program. Translations into Urdu, Arabic, and Malay are underway. The Fons Vitae Ghazali Project has been launched with great acclaim in Morocco, Canada, Indonesia, England and the USA so far.
Professor Abu Sway (Palestine)
Professor Abu Sway was appointed as the first holder of the Integral Chair for the Study of Imam Ghazali’s Work at Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and at Al-Quds University in 2012. He has been Professor of Philosophy and Islamic Studies at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, Palestine since 1996. He taught at the International Islamic University in Malaysia (1993-96) and was a visiting Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at the Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic University, as well as a visiting professor of Islamic Studies at Bard College, NY.
Sheikh Hamzah Maqbul (USA)
Sheikh Hamzah was born in Whittier, California. He pursued a program of traditional Islamic studies. His educational tour took him to several countries, including Syria and Egypt, where he studied the Arabic language; Morocco, Mauritania, and UAE, where he studied the ethical and legal school (madhhab) of Imam Malik, grammar, transmissional criticism (usul al-hadith), and the Qur’anic recitation (qira’ah) of Imam Nafi`, according to its two renditions (i.e. those of Imam Warsh and Imam Qalun); and finally, Pakistan, where he had the opportunity to study Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), tranmissional criticism (usul al-hadith), Prophetic traditions (hadith), narrator criticism (‘ilm al-rijal) and ethics and law (fiqh) according to the Hanafi madhhab.
Sheikh Sharif al-Banna (UK)
Sheikh Sharif MH al-Banna is the founding director of the Islamic Institute for Development & Research (IIDR) and an Advisory Board Member of the Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (Faculty of Islamic Studies, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar Foundation). In addition to pursuing his postgraduate research at Al-Azhar University in Islamic Jurisprudence, he is a successful entrepreneur and CEO of a global publishing and media company. Sheikh Sharif MH al-Banna has authored and translated over ten works on Islamic history, law, thought and spirituality. His preliminarily studies of the classical Islamic sciences were with his father Shaykh Muhammad Abdul Qadir, a renowned scholar specialising in Quranic exegesis (tafsir) and later with other scholars. He holds a BA (Hons) in Arabic & Law (SOAS, University of London) and also studied at the Institute Européen des Sciences Humanities (France) and the University of Alexandria (Egypt). He is the principal instructor of the Journey Through Islamic Knowledge Series organised and delivered by IIDR.