Ghazali, al- (ăl-găzäˈlē) [key], 1058–1111, Islamic theologian, philosopher, and mystic. He was born at Tus in Khorasan, of Persian origin. He is considered the greatest theologian in Islam. Al-Ghazali was appointed professor at Baghdad in 1091, but following a spiritual crisis in 1095 he abandoned his career to become a mystic (see Sufism). After ten years of wandering he settled down to teach in accordance with his new mystical insights, which he formulated very closely to orthodox Islam. Al-Ghazali was the author of several important works; his Destruction of the Philosophers, written just prior to his spiritual crisis, opposes the philosophical method of approaching metaphysics when it contradicts orthodox theology. That position had a great influence on the future of speculative thought in Islam. Al-Ghazali's chief work, The Revival of the Religious Sciences, outlines a complete and orthodox system of the mystical attainment of unity with God. Al-Ghazali is most important for his attempt to reconcile mysticism with orthodox Islam. He was well known in medieval Europe by his Latin name, Algazel.
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