Al-Ghazali’s Compatibility with the Philosophers and the Influence of Sufism

Document Type : Research Paper


PhD candidate, University of Religions and Denominations, Qom, Iran



Sufism greatly influenced the ethical beliefs and values of al-Ghazali. Had it not been for that influence, his works would have lacked their special spiritual value. In this paper, I will examine the role that Sufi philosophy played in giving spiritual depth to the ethics of al-Ghazali and how he was ultimately drawn to Sufism. Al-Ghazali moved away from his focus on the law and realized the value of spirituality. I will also argue why Socrates and Plato’s beliefs are not at odds with Sufism and thus with al-Ghazali’s views. In his The Incoherence of the Philosophers, al-Ghazali attacks the philosophers including Ibn Sina and al-Farabi, but these two men laid the groundwork for Sufi philosophy. So, in reality, al-Ghazali should have sided with Ibn Sina and al-Farabi rather than opposing them. Neo-Platonism influenced Sufi philosophy, and since al-Ghazali was influenced by Sufi philosophy, he must not have been at odds with the Muslim Neo-Platonists.


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