By Masarrat Husain Zuberi
SOCRATES,  Plato and Aristotle - the Trinity of the teachers of the West - laid the philosophic foundations of its culture and later contributed to Islamic scholasticism.
Socrates was clearly a man of deep piety with the temperament of a mystic and it is a historical irony that he was indicted, convicted and executed on charge of impiety, the form of irony that he had him-elf perfected in his dialogues.
Plato, to my mind, advanced Socrates basic ethical approach and, with his sharpened acute intellect gave it a form and new dimensions. He securely laid the foundation of Socratic moral and political doctrine that one should concern himself with the development of a moral and rational personality and that this development was the key to man's felicity which in Islamic terminology can be termed "Taqwa and Tazkia."
Plato held that each man has the capacity to make some contribution to a moral, Rational and just Society. In the "Republic" his main concern is ethical and his great contribution to the ethical thought was his recognition that goodness consisted in the natural and proper functioning of our human nature and the social behaviour gave the normal background to moral life.
Plato's four virtues - wisdom, courage, temperance and justice-described in "the Republic" were later called the "Cardinal Virtues" The word "Cardinal" is derived from the Latin word "Cardo," meaning hinge of the door, and the Cardinal Virtues are the virtues by which moral life is supported as a door stands on its hinges. To him - as to the Greeks generally temperance was the supreme virtue of human social behavior as each desire or aspiration was to be satisfied to its proper moderate degree and the whole moral life would then have the harmony and proportion of a work of art. The Greeks called the good man as one "who is beautiful and good." A harmonious balance is achieved by reason in accordance with the supreme virtue of `wisdom.'
The English poet Lord Byron (1788-1824) joined the Greek insurgents in 1823. Espousal of the Greek cause led him to adopt their national costume in which he is shown ten the portrait - by T. Phillips
The costume is really Turkish showing the Muslim Cultural influence in Eastern Europe till the first quarter of 19th Century.
The Greeks had a proverbs "Nothing too much" and it took a central place in Aristotle's conception of virtue. To him the moral end is "eudemonia" happiness, the final result of the moral life-an advance on Plato who did not mention the direction in which virtue should be exercised. Aristotelian guide is the reason in our "habit of choice," defined by him as the deliberate desire of things in our power after consideration of them to by the intellect. He also argues, like a true Greek, in favour of the mean or the middle course, e.g. "Courage" is the position between rashness and cowardice as "liberality" is between extravagance and miserliness. Aristotle, who kept the man more in mind than Plato did, gave him the conduct of a prudent man, by his acquired knowledge through personal experience. He preferred it to the knowledge acquired through the contemplation of the philosopher. The practical ability of an experienced man can show ordinary man just how far each tendency - desire or wish - be allowed reasonable play in the virtuous conduct in life, though he continued to subscribe to the Socratic view that virtue is knowledge.
This virtuous conduct was a product of ethical morality for the Greeks, untouched by religion. The religion of spiritual individuality as of Abraham  and the Biblical Prophets had not touched them. Even Aristotle, the creed holder of the "Unmoved Mover" had to yield to their pantheistic abandon and account for no less than fifty-two such "unmoved moving" spirits. Their religious concept was of freedom, beauty, and rationalistic realisation of human worth. Their gods were not external. They signified perfectness of realisation of life, individual and corporate. In their religion "there  was nothing incomprehensible, nothing which could not be understood, there was nothing pertaining to a god which was not known to man, which he did not find or recognise in himself."
The moral has to have some standard of recognition and acceptance - a law built into the spirit, generating "that sense of right and wrong, that order and discipline of desire, without which a society disintegrates into individuals, and falls forfeit to some coherent  State."
Moral progress in history can be said not to depend so much in the improvement of the moral code as in the widening of the area wherein that code is accepted, though through wider acceptance a certain standardized improvement does take place. Take for example sexual morality how has it changed over centuries. Among the North Americans the young men and women mated  freely. Among the Papuans of New Guinea pre-marital promiscuity was the rule, commonly practised and commonly accepted. Similar sexual liberties were prevalent amongst the Igorols of the Philippines, the natives of upper Burma, the Kaffirs and Bushmen of Africa, the tithes of the Niger and Uganda, Tahiti and Polynesia.
Chastity is a late phenomenon. The primitive  tribes held virginity with contempt - it was held to be a barrier to marriage. Some scholars hold that virginity came to be prized when the agricultural landlord began to consider women also as a part of his property. I hold the view that the shift in the moral code came with the religious ideologies. Both the Pharaoh and Hammu-Rabi law made adultery punishable and the sanctity of the marriage bond received religious sanction later. The gradual wide acceptance of or indifference to, the post war wave of permissiveness is a throw back to the primitive heritage and show, not the lowering of the standard, but negatives the necessity of any standard even of the natural law, due to the weakening of the religious moral link.
The view of the moral law as a law of nature was adopted by the Christian thinkers hesitatingly and reluctantly in spite of what St. Thomas Aquinas  (1225-1274) taught "natural law is ordained by God, and that it is concerned with the social life of man as a creature of time and space living in the actual world where all his social relations are to be ordered according to the law of God." The divine law gave not the rigidity but eternity. God's eternal law is the command of His divine origin. Aristotle without acknowledging the divinity did subscribe to the natural law a sublime reality. Religion includes not only a wider range of duties than morality is also has a greater emotional content. Mathew Arnold defined religion as "morality  touched by emotion." This in higher religion is emotion permeated with love as in Christianity, adoration and awe of God as in Islam, submission even in mundane affairs to the Will of God. Social work by a moralist is assertion of his personality but for a really religious man the same work done is in obedience, with a feeling of loyalty, to God, as a humble instrument of God's beneficent powers. That's why a Muslim following the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) is proud to call himself His `Slave,' and in that stake he finally disowns and discards any form of slavery to any human being.
Though Kant denied that morality in any form needed religion for its support, he did in a guarded way, confessed that moral law aroused in him a feeling of awe, which, in fact, is the characteristic of religious emotion which he failed to identify. This emotion is not to be equated with the feeling of self-abasement as asserted by some modern philosopher-thinkers,  but of exaltation as with the Muslim mystics.
The West has confused religion with Theology and erred in the philosophical study of God and His actions in terms of human experience. The religious man grasps His reality in intuition and illumination. To the Western metaphysicians mystic experience is an "obscure contemplation" in the language of St. John  of the Cross and its supreme expression in the words of Pseudo-Dioniysius is "ray of divine  darkness," where is in the Muslim mystic  cries out in ecstasy: "Glory to Me, How great is My Majesty." Hadn't God said in the Q'uran that He is the Light of the Heavens and of the Earth?
He is Light Upon Light, infinite indefinable. And the Prophet's mission was to bring humanity out of darkness into His external Light. Allah guides to His Light whom He pleases. The illumination is not a reward, it is said and is a gift from God to man - the mystic - and depends not so much on good works as on Divine grace.
But more of it later - "the flight of the alone to the Alone" - let us leave it at that.
To my mind Socrates and Aristotle had a glimpse of the Immortal Reality and survived their death. Since Aristotle's death in 322 B.C. there have been, without interruption until the present, schools and scholars who have studied, expounded, adopted and adapted his doctrines, his logic, his vision and his ideas.
He came to the attention of Muslim Scholars through the Nestorians in Syria and Persia (Iran) through the Syriac translations. But the flowering amongst Muslim scholars dates from Al-Kindi (801-873 AD) in the 9th Century AD. Then came Al-Farabi (870-950 A.D.) - followed by the great Avicenna (Ibn Sina: 980-1037 A.D.), one of the brightest intellects of the world. By that time study of Aristotle had become the seal of scholarship and Nestorians had begun earning their living as wondering teachers of his philosophy. Such a one by the name of Al-Natali arrived in the far off Bukhara and was engaged as Ibn Sina's tutor by his father. But his real interest was aroused when he began studying Al-Farabi and returned the compliment by surpassing him. Al-Ghazali (1058-1111 A.D.) rightly brackets the two as the leading interpreters of Aristotle, and the third to be added later was Averroes (Ibn Rushd: 1126-1195 A.D.) born after AI-Ghazali and took him on and created the controversy which has not seen the end even today as interest in Al-Ghazali has survived the ages. Ethics, though a part of Qur'anic teaching, was, as a separate subject, first taken up by the Muslim Scholars when Aristotle had become the craze and did, to some extent, provide the pollination for so many who flourished in their genius ridden century. Ibn-e-Miskawaih (died 1030 A.D.) was the first whose treatise "Tahidibul Akhlaq" became a first best seller, and Ghazali was often accused by his contemporary critics to have followed it so closely in his "Ihya-ul-Ulum" as to have almost plagiarized  it. The other books worth noticing - as they also came under Ghazali's review -and are still extant - are "Qut-al-autub" by Abu Talib Makki, "the al-Risala-al-Qushayria" and "Makarim-al-Sharia" by Raghib-al-Isphani. But they were the generalists books, not attempting formulation of a systematic philosophical approach as we subsequently find in Ghazali. As an erudite scholar he must read them all and sifted what was worth sifting for his own use; and we find unacknowledged (as was his wont) gleanings from them in "Ihaya-ul-Ulum" and "Mizanul-Amal." The similarity of treatment is due to the fact that Ghazali was as good a Musli. As they and more profound. The main springs of conviction were common and the same.
Ghazali was, however, of a different mould. He had the courage to doubt and express his doubt openly. As he himself says in his almost autobiographical work - "Al-Munqidh-min-al-Dalal" - Deliverance from Error which is a mirror to his intellectual development finally leading to his mystic submergence, "from my early youth; since I attained the age of puberty before I was twenty, until the present time when I am over fifty. I have ever recklessly launched out into the midst of ocean depths. I have poked into every dark recess. I have made an assault on every problem. I have plunged into every abyss. I have scrutinised the creed of every sect... What I am looking for is knowledge of what things really are and so I must undoubtedly try to find what knowledge is." So very early he broke away from Taqlid - simple acceptance of religious truths on authority. The chaotic multiplicity of creeds and sects, beliefs and current philosophy disturbed him profoundly. "They are," as he put it, "like a deep ocean strewn with ship-wrecks, each sect believing itself in possession of the truth and salvation." He, therefore, decided to plunge in that "deep ocean" and surfaced later clutching the wand of mysticism! Though he becomes convinced that it is a form of human apprehension higher than, and transcending rational apprehension, he never gave up the intellectual, rational approach completely. 
He walked the mystic way as he "apprehended clearly that the mystics were  men who had real experiences, not men of words and that he had already progressed as far as possible by way of intellectual apprehension".... From the sciences he had laboured at and the paths that he had traversed in his investigation of the revelation and rational sciences he had come to "a sure faith in God most high, in revelation gifted to the Prophets and in the Last Day." The rational sciences had nothing more to offer, he having satisfied his intellectual quest, mastering what was there to master, he still remained disturbed on not finding the Truth, not only the creedal Truth. He finally, after great natural hesitation and self questioning, frankly outlined, took the plunge, "fleeing from all time consuming entanglements."
After ten years searching, agonizing and rewarding, he got glimpses of beatitude. He convinced himself - not an easy thing - that the Sufis were truly godly, their life most unsullied, beautiful and pure, "illumined with the Light that proceeds from the Central radiance of Inspiration." He advanced "from witnessing forms, and similitude’s to stages where the power of the language fails and no rendering in words is possible."
These transcendental experiences convinced him of the actuality of receiving knowledge that was beyond the human reasoning intellect.
The two essential features of the "mystic consciousness" which the study of the life of the great mystics of Islam and later of Christianity (during the medieval period) reveals, are the acute consciousness of God and the belief in the capacity of the human soul to realise the living presence of God within it. Purification of the soul is the first pre-requisite and that's why Ghazali had to free himself from "all entanglements" and take the first step towards what the later Christian mystics called "purgation."
The vision of the Lord is promised in the sermon of the Mount to the pure in heart alone, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The soul is recognised as the dwelling place of God and its purification is the first stage of mystical life.
"It is the paradox of mysticism that the beyond is within." , "Thou wart more inward to me than my most inward part," says the mystic, echoing the Qur'anic Verse, wherein God says "I am nearer than your jugular vein." The mystic has to acquire the virtues of humility, unquestioned obedience, absolute surrender to the will of God and thereafter, proud to be His slave. The complete surrender of self thus is extinction of "selfhood" and final acquiescence in the will and the purpose of God. Thus he is alone with the Alone - oblivious of even of himself. How well does the mystic poet, Jalaluddin Rumi, express his final release from the duality of self? "My place is the placeless, my trace is the traceless. It is neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the beloved. I have put duality away and I have seen that the two worlds are one. One I seek, one I know, one I see, and one I  call."
On the death bed of Ghazali was found the last poem he had written. In it are the lines:
"A bird I am, this body was my cage, but I have flown, leaving it as a token." 
Ghazali had to pass through a terrific self-agonising double conflict, intellectual and temperamental to give up the world he was used to and enjoying. His confession in "deliverance from error" is a self-portrait of unparalleled honesty.
A new breed of Western  Scholars has come into being - Arabic Scholars believing in Sufism so received the ray of Light that changed their whole being and changing their religion they became Muslim and their books on the subject are recommended.
Ghazali's main contribution, resulting from his own journey to the unconscious from the conscious, was that as an orthodox luminary, recognized and respected all over the Islamic world, made Sufism not only respectable but attainable; and brought the outlawed mystic within the orthodox cult. "The orthodox theologians still went their own way, and so did the mystics, but theologians become more ready to accept the mystics as respectable, while the mystics were more careful to remain within the bounds of orthodoxy." 
His deliberate attempt to dive into the Ocean and return on the Crest of the wave became so encouraging to the others, who like him, spoke of God, like a man that really believed in God. The familiar wording to the West-oriented mind: "seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you," became, because of Ghazali's pursuit, an actionable pathway..The seeker received instructions in the way of seeking and guidance in the art of knocking. In "Mishkat-ul-anwar" (the Niche of Light) he "expounds the doctrine of oneness of being with an altogether uncompromising directness!  Ghazali, more than any one else, may rightly be said to have prepared the way for the general recognition and acceptance of Sufism. It was, as I have said earlier,  his younger contemporary, Shaikh Abdul Qadir Gilani, who was to make the recognition fully operative as a part of the creed and way of life for a Muslim (in graded degrees). He institutionalised the system which spread to the Muslim world from Morocco to India in his own life time (d.1166 A.D.). He must have studied Ghazali as he was in his own lifetime Hujjat-ul-Islam and his place has remained undimmed since then. I can only speculate; with some amount of probability but it would be a worthwhile pursuit to trace Ghazali's influence on Shaikh Abdul Qadir Gilani.
Like Ghazali, "Shaikh Abdul Qadir Gilani had been something of an esoteric authority and we are told that when he finally entered a Sufi' order, some of his fellow initiates were inclined to resent the presence of a Hanbali jurist in their midst. They little knew that for the next eight century and more - that is down to the present day - this novice was destined to be known as the Sultan of Saints; (and Light to the Seekers and Beloved of God - Mahbubi Subhani).
His Qadria Tariqrah was the outstanding one, others like Chishtia, Suhrawardia, Shadhilia developed in other places with equally deep roots. They saved Islam from submergence in the turbulent times after the sack of Baghdad (1258) and the later colonial imperialist impact by binding the Muslims together in awareness of God Almighty and love of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) whom Ghazali made the central figure. But history and influence of various Tariqrah, an interesting subject, is beyond the present scope. Suffice it to say that Ghazali formulated and formalised the creed for general acceptance and Shaikh Abdul Qadir Gilani made it all pervading - a way of life.
The Muslim world was in real turmoil, different forces were pulling it apart and the pieces were turning into a patchy pattern. The glory that was Islam was fading into a multitude of facets and belief.
In this flux world was Ghazali and his greatness rests on his supreme achievement in giving the final lasting blow to all heresies and from all the encounters Islamic theology emerged victorious and strident. He gave the content and the Tariqrah provided the receptacle each one receiving according to his effort, his capacity, and the size of his cup of Love.
Ghazali's great achievement was to give a rational direction to both ritual and dogma and that too in simple lucid language graspable by men of ordinary intelligence, inspiring the devout, recalling them to the loving contemplation of God. He gave, to revelation and the last recipient of that revelation central, pivotal position for guidance to the uninitiated ones.
The main theme of the last monothetic religion is universal brotherhood of those whose source of revelation is the same, and as I have said, elsewhere,  the Qur'an makes affirmatively and repeatedly, no distinction between the Abrahamic line of Prophets and its appeal on one point programme is let us all worship the one God that Abraham, the progenitor of all the three revealed religions, acknowledged.
The principal fraternity and brotherhood that God respects is spiritual, linking brethren in the profession of, the same true religion that God loved to proclaim through his selected messengers. The true message of Islam is a natural, a spiritual, civil fraternity joined together in a common bond and a common pursuit. The separation of State and Church in Christianity came through political reasons as its acceptance was politically motived.  In the last revealed religion God saw to a creating an Ummah when He called mankind to a new spiritually motivated brotherhood free, of tensions of colour, race and even religion and tied in civil bonds in submission to His unfailing will, through the exercise of our own free will. The link through revealed religions is common but the directive is not even to defame the gods, the false gods in your view, but respect the sincerity of those who love to follow them. It was this beaten gold character that was primarily responsible for their conversion and acceptance of the new order in highly stratified, suppressed dominations of the Sassanian and Byzantisian Empires. Not a sword was unsheathed, not a gun fired in the Far East wherein the largest Muslim State of Indonesia and highly prosperous Malaysia lie.
The Ghazalian way helped in unifying the majority of Muslim  Ummah. Though within less than a century of the Holy Prophet's death, the lands which become part of the Islamic world from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean from Transoxiana to Andalusia belonged to a new spiritual universe, Ghazali's medieval times were rent with religious schism and political dissensions. He tackled them with the tool of their own and lessened their intensity, giving them the final blow from which they never did recover  He left such a profound mark Upon the intellectual life of Islam that no account or discussions of any aspect of Islamic thought or achievement is complete without a reference to his own personal approach.
So much so that his influence on Persian literature - both prose and poetry can not be ignored and deserves reiteration. He not only enriched it with ethical content which culminated in Saadi and H'afiz of Shiraz, his metaphysical approach, in graspable easily understandable racy style made possible the prose of Fariduddin-Attar and the mystical poetry of Sanai and Maulana Rumi and others. The mystical element which made Persian so endearing and enduring was his contribution.
He earned respect and jealousy of his contemporaries, both orthodox and liberal the latter because. he trounced the philosophers robbing them of their predominance, though in turn borrowed a lot of their reasoning and philosophical content and the former as he exposed them, outstripping them of their outer garments of sanctity and made them naked. Leaving aside the triumphant rejoinder-"The incoherence  of the incoherent" - a classic in its own right - of Ibn Rushd, the famous Averroes of the Medieval Europe, his detractors abounded; so much so that Qaziabu Abdullah Mohammed-bin-Kamdin  of Cordova and Qazi Ayaz of Mariah regarded him as heretic and ordered his works to be burnt and destroyed. This was done but when he was alive and a similar charge was brought against him, the Seljuk ruler, Sanjar, (d.l130 A.D.) dismissed it with the contempt  it deserved.
But the Marrakush Sultan Ali-ibn-Yusuf-ibn-Tashfin (1084-1142) was more orthodox and more solicitous of his soul that he ordered the destruction of his philosophical and theological writings including "Ihya-ul-Ulum," which gave great umbrage to the orthodox for various reasons which were again revived in subsequent centuries by learned luminaries like Al-Mazair (d.114) a traditionist authority, whose commentory on "Sahih Muslim" is still acknowledged, criticised him on his philosophical approach to religion inbibed, according to him, through study of Ibn Sina. Al-Mazari had never met Imam Ghazali but was closely associated with those who had sat at his feet and honoured his great learning. But Abul Walid Tartushn (d.1126) had met him and respected him for his great learning but did not think much of his "Ihya-ul-Ulum" as he alleged that he had quoted some traditions incorrectly and many weak ones incoherently. Allama lbn Jenzi (d.1200 wrote a detailed book  on what he considered to be inaccuracies in Ihya-ul-Ulum. Ibn Taimiyyah  (d.1328), Ibn Qayyim (d.1350 A.D.) also denounced him as "One misguided." Liberals criticised him for his conservatism, moving away from philosophical speculation, and the conservatives accused him of importing philosophical arguments in theology.
I need not quote Ibn Taimyyah who sharply accused him of inconsistency and who quoted Ibn Rushd (Averroes) as saying of him "One day you are a Yemenite when you meet a man from Yemen, but when you see some one from Maadd you assert you are from Adnan." Some modern critics have taken it up and called him inconsistent  and double-minded. This is due to the fact, as admitted by Dr. F. Rahman, that Ghazali is a most difficult author, though I won't go so far as he asserts "an outright  impossible one, to understand in any coherent manner." He is difficult because of not only his argumentative style of writing but also because multiplicity of the subjects dealt with and the line of argument taken addressed to persons of different level of intelligence and on different occasions; The one line of distinction is esoteric and exoteric substance of his different treaties e.g. between "Ma'ariyul Quds," professedly esoteric wherein both in the preface and at the end, Ghazali affirms to be guarded against those who are not fit for it and the "Miraj-al-S'alikin" which is exoteric obviously meant for the public. His own spiritual development also naturally coloured his later treatises e.g. his "Mishkatul Anwar" has to be different from "Kimia-i-Saadat. " About his sharpest critic Ibne Rushd, Simon Van  Den Bergh comes to the conclusion (that even there) "the resemblances between Ghazali and Averroes seem sometimes greater than their differences." Even Dr. M. Igbal succumbed to lbn Rushd's view and asserted that "to this day it is difficult  to define, with accuracy his (Ghazali's) view of the nature of God. In him, like Borger and Solger in Germany, Sufi Panthusim and the Asharite dogma of personality appear to harmonise together, a reconciliatio  which makes it difficult to say whether he was a Pantheist, or a personal pantheist of the type of Lotze." This view, I am constrained to say, was expressed when Dr. Iqbal was of an impressionable age of a student studying in Germany. Ghazali knowingly and in assertion of his well reasoned and ingrained faith, eschewed all kinds of pantheistic extravagances of the earlier intoxicated Sufis with whom he was familiar and in "the Munqidh" he expressly mentions that he had studied the "Qut al-Qulub" of Abu Talib al-Makki (d.996 A.D.), the works of Harith al Muhasibi (d.857) and was familiar with the sayings of Junaid Baghdadi (d.910 A.D.), Shibli (d.945 A.D.) and Abu Yazid Bustami (d.875)., His own younger brother, Ahmad Ghazali, was in his life time better known as a Sufi - a Sufi poet and chronicler of S'ufis. And the brothers were so close, both studied together at Nishapur under same  tutors, worked together at Nizamiya - College. He respected earlier Sufis but did not follow them. He was far too individualistic in training, outlook and approach for that: And to the Hallaj's passionful cry “I am the creative Truth" or to Bustami's "Glory is to Me, How great is My Majesty"- or his "within this robe is naught but Allah," he has regarded as indiscreet on. It is true he does not condemn them but his precept is that "the words of passionate lovers in the ecstasy should be concealed and not spoken of," and for himself he says:
"What I experience  shall not try to say, call me happy, but ask me no more."
It has been correctly stated that "Al-Ghazali's view of God as being both immanent and transcendent, his firm belief in God being a personal God who allows His creatures to enter into communion with Him, his emphasis on God's being a creator who created the universe at a specific time through an act of volition, one and all, can hardly fit into any scheme of pantheism."
Then later Iqbal drank deeply at the mystic fountain. His `Raab Jibril" follows "the A'wa'z-i-Par-i-Jibrail" of Shihabuddin Suhrawardi "Maqtool," and Iqbal re-echoed Shabistri "Gulshan-i-Ra'z," giving it, however a fresh colouring in his "Gulshan-i-Ra'z-i-Jadid."
Then he wrote "Piyami-Mashriq," both as a tribute and as a rejoinder to Goethe and later recalled with admiration, mixed with regret, the western philosophers Spinoza, Nietzche, Kant, Hegel, Bergson and Schopenhaur. He noticed every change and shortfall in their vision and castigated  them for the cooling of the earthly heaven within.
It was not for nothing that he called his first collection of Urdu verse "Bangi Dara," which Anne Marie. Schimmel, rightly calls significant "since it points to Iqbal's view of himself.  He is like the bell which leads Muslims to the centre of their faith and life, the Kabaah in Mecca, after they have gone astray in the scented gardens of Iran or in the glittering cities of the West."
Iqbal was in the twentieth century, heir to the deadening Sufism fossilised in the various Tariqrah's. Like Ghazali, he revolted and succumbed to the purity of the vision.
The intellectualised rationalism did not satisfy Ghazali or Iqbal. Ghazali read all that was there to read, extracted and then refined to his satisfaction what was then agitating the Muslims - the Mutazallites, the philosophers led by Ibn Sina, dominated by Aristotle,' the F'atimides, the Ismailis with their immanent Imams, the orthodox Hanabalis and the logician Kalamists. He then went out to what was left - the Sufis and the Sufism.
Like Ghazali, Iqbal studied all that was there to study in modern western philosophy as alluring as Aristotelian one was in the earlier times. He also studied Sufism of Persia and remained dissatisfied with all forms of pantheistic absorption in a universal life or soul as the final aim and salvation of man. For him "the moral and religious ideal of man is not self-abnegation but self-affirmation and he attains to this ideal by becoming more and more individual and unique.
His own explanation of "Khudi" (Ego) is, that in man, the centre of life becomes an Ego or Person. "Personality is a state of tension - if the state of tension is not maintained, relaxation will ensue. It is the state of tension which tends to make us immortal." Quite a good many will rather plunge for equibilirium than tension but let us not digress further. Incidentally though it might be mentioned that the axiom of tension explains to a certain extent his enchantment with the Iblesian  revolt.
But to him Man is the realer Ruler of mankind as all the trials of a painful evolution have come to an end with him. In our strife towards perfection we raise ourselves in the scale of life. The pathway to vice-regency of God in man, repeatedly asserted in the Qur'an, is to aspire to the ideal. And both for Ghazali and Iqbal that ideal, in human earthly life, is treading in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), the acme of human achievement and of perfection in a human soul, a historical unparalled record of success.
"The superman"  of Nietzche surprised Iqbal with his dooms-day warnings for the west. He acknowledges the depth of his vision but accuses him of its incompleteness in that he stopped at "L'a Illahe" and could not take the next step of "Illalah." Nietzche's nihilism, his denunciation of Hellenistic and Jewish encrustations on Christianity appealed to him but he could not accept his negatism. He admonishes him on his painful cry "God is dead," but still calls him "a Momin at heart, with the brain of a Kafir), surprisingly re-echoing Hazrat Ali, who of the Arab poet Ummay-i-Bin-Salat of his time, said: "His language is pure, his mind distraught"
In spite of what he says of Ghazali disapprovingly, both reach the same source. Iqbal ends his lectures  quoting a Muslim Saint (whom he does not name but I think he had in mind Ahmad Ghazali, the younger brother but a greater Sufi in his own right) that "no understanding of the Holy Book is possible until it is actually revealed to the believer as was revealed to the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him)." And he uses the term `religion' in that sense. To how many can thus development of religious life are vouchsafed? Doesn't he get nearer to Ghazali's concept, who, in Sufi experience, grasped the certification of the Prophetic message in its essentials?
Ghazali's rationalism, though dented, still survived as the Qur'an meant it to be.
The main criticism, amounting to accusation, against Ghazali, so commonly expressed, is that through his emphasis on fundamentalism he submerged philosophical intellectualism and stilled the zest for inquiry and scientific reflection. The west while acknowledging him as unquestionably  the greatest theologian of Islam and one of its noblest and most original thinkers "hold him responsible for the decadence that really began about two centuries later when the cycle of the natural end of Empires took shape" The decadence and eventual fall of Empires and cultures is a highly complex political, sociological, economic phenomena and it is too much of an over-simplification to ascribe it mainly to a single man, however gifted and great he may be.
The wooden case of a scent bottle presented to delegates to an International conference in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1986: showing how the Muslim influence persists even in the 20th Century.
It is in the nature of an Empire to disintegrate for the energy that created it disappears from those who in later stages inherit it, the boldness and ambitious of satraps grow, the army generals develop political ambitions; the centrifugal forces come to the fore. Destiny deserts and Fates take over. That the Muslim religious citadel was not totally pulled down in spite of a Hulaku is due to Ghazali and Shaikh Abdul Qadir Gilani and others who literally trod the same path.
Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest theologians of Christianity and later Pascal were affected by the ideas of Ghazali:  "The scholastic shell constructed by Al-Ash'ari and Al-Ghazali has held Islam to  this day" but he goes on to say that "Cheristendom succeeded in breaking through its scholasticism, particularly at the time of the protestant Revolt. Since then the West and the East have parted company, the former progressing while the latter stood still."
What Ghazali really accomplished was to send Aristotle back to the Greek mythical antiquity and retained Ibne Sina, his greatest disciple and exponent, "the second Master," as a symbolic link in Islamic thought development. Both became only a monument to the past.
If there is something enduring, an immortal spirit in Muslim thought, it is to be found in its retreat from the rationalising and secular attitude of Hellenistic tradition in its retreat even from the trials and tumult of history - to become more fully conscious of its own vocation as a religious community. "If the Greek thought had fueled the phase of splendour and expansion there is a further  phase which to the outside critical historian may look like stagnation and squalid decay, but seen from the inside may reveal itself as a maturing of consciousness, the moment of spiritual insight and timeless `Hikmah' (wisdom) to replace timebound discursive philosophy. And indeed in Islam we see, from the time it recedes from the frontage of history, the growth of an imposing new metaphysics, Sufism which inspires the unitary vision of justice, harmony, (Love) and controlled order extending to the whole cosmos reflecting back on man's life."
But he too cannot help expressing the very common gibe against Ghazali that he "went to building up the whirlwind of intolerance and blind fanaticism which tore down not only science but the very School system and the glorious Ijtehad, the interpretation of the Qur'an."
I repeat here to re emphasize, what I have said earlier  that "to the diligent reader it is obvious that Ghazali had a sneaking respect for the philosopher's learning and their scientific rational approach and exposition of the fundamentals of nature and man's response, of the unmoved Mover - God - His attributes and His creation and he set out to surpass them in their own branch of learning." He was then heading the Nizamiya College at Baghdad and the temptation to outdo them was irresistable. It was also an important part of his quest for the ultimate Truth. To clarify his own ideals he first wrote 'Magaasidi-Philosopha" (Aims of the philosophers). It is an irony (and how it would have infuriated him had he come to know of it) that this book became a classic for the West and that Ghazali, for his clear thinking and, clearer exposition, `Was hailed as a great Aristotelian).
The accusation of being irrational, fanatic and chief protagonist of orthodox approach to both nature and theology is based on his "Tahafut-al-Falasafah" (The Incoherence of the philosophers) and his subsequent flight into Sufism denying a rational approach to religion and its mystery. What an incorrect accusation.
Let us dissect both. In the very first preface he tries to limit his studies to a few particular statements of only two Muslims Philosophers - Al-Farabi-Abu-Nasr and Ibn Sina. And he clearly states that "Therefore, let it be known that we propose to concentrate on the refutation of the philosophical thought as it emerges from the writings of these two persons." He then goes on to affirm that the scientific truths like lunar and solar eclipse, established by astronomical and mathematical evidence, have to be accepted. He goes further and says that it can be correctly forecast when a lunar or solar eclipse will take place, whether it would be total or partial and how long it will last and "he who thinks that it his religious duty to disbelieve such things is really unjust to his religion and weakens its cause."
So in the very beginning he asks the faithful to accept and respect mathematical truths. He also pointedly accepts the logic and logical deductions. "But logic is not their (philosophers) monopoly" and to him it is the same thing "as in the art of scholastic reasoning we call it the book of theoretical inquiry. The philosophers have changed its name to logic to make it new, formidable. We often call it the book of disputation or the data of the Intellects." So accepting the both, how can he be called anti-science, anti-intellect, anti-logic?
His simple aim in his own words is "Let it be known that it is our purpose to disillusion those who think too highly of the philosophers  and consider them to be infallible." It can safely be asserted that he is out to demolish the infallibility of the only two Philosophers - Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina. Not such a big crime to deserve the obliquey now universally showered.
After making his stand so clear and affirmative he gives a list of twenty  'problems' in whose discussion he proposed to expose "the contradiction involved in the philosophers' theories."
After all the lengthy dialectical questioning and reasoning he brands the two  philosophers with infidelity (in terms of the accepted orthodox views) on only three counts out of the twenty he so labourously discusses and dilates on.
Those three are:
(1) The problem of the eternity of the world, where they maintained that all the substances are eternal. 
(2) Their assertion that divine knowledge does not encompass individual  objects.
(2) Their denial of resurrection of bodies.  According to him these views (on 2½ points) teachings are "hypocritical misrepresentation designed to appeal to the masses. And this is blatant blasphemy to which no Muslim sect would subscribe."
As regards the remaining seventeen points he exonerates them as at one point some of them they were advocated by the Mutazillites or one or the other Muslim sect and can at best be called aberrations.
This is the sum total of a very philosophical dialectical, logically argued thesis. There is no fanaticism, no obsturantism, no illogical deductions. How can he be accused of what is accused. Was he, in fact, so far removed, in his approach to philosophy and religion, from Avicenna, the idol of the West that if Ideal Muslims should have followed him (Avicenna) they would have continued reaping a bigger and better harvest down the centuries. The duel between the two in "Tahfatal - Falasifah" to my mind ended as a squib, with a whimper. The angle of approach differed but not the approach.
It must be clearly stated and clearly understood that Islamic civilisation, like other traditional civilisations, is based on one basic point: the revelation brought by the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is "the pure," the simple religion of Abraham,  the restoration of a primordial and fundamental unity. The creed of Islam - "there is no divinity other than God and Mohammad is His Prophet" summarizes in its simplicity the basic attitude and spirit of Islam. The word `Islam' means both "submission" and "peace" - or "being at one with the Divine Will." It is to be grasped that the essence of Islam is that God is one and that the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) was the vehicle of revelation. All the Muslim philosophers, scientists and mathematicians operated within this matrix and never in defiance. None of the famous  philosophers could or did repudiate the basic unity of God or of His Cosmos. The terminology differed as the onslaught of Greek thought had to be met on its own ground. They were not orthodox, because they did absorb new ideas but always tried to fashion them and bring them in line with the basic truth.
It cannot be denied that pollination and flowering of philosophy of these Masters would not have been possible without the Greek and particularly Aristotelian impact but their attitude towards Islam remained reverent and their sharpened intelligence gave those new tools and new terminology to explain revelatory process, the bed-rock of Islamic belief. Their attitude was: "It is fitting to acknowledge the utmost gratitude to those who have contributed even a little to the Truth, not to speak of those who have done much... We should not be ashamed to acknowledge the truth and assimilate it from whatever sources it comes to us, even if it is brought to us by former generations and foreign peoples. For whom who seeks the truth, there is nothing of higher value than the truth itself, it never cheapens him or abases him who searches for it, but ennobles and honours him."
These are the words of Al-Kindi found in the Preface of the earliest metaphysical work in Arabic, dedicated by him to the reigning Caliph Al-Mustasim-Billah. Al-Kindi's main contribution was his attempt to bring philosophy in accord with religion. And he hastened to transform Aristotle's "Unmoved Mover" into the Creator and the Truth becomes the "True one  (Al-Wahid Al-Haq) is the First, the Creator and sustainers of all that He has created." For him God is real: "God is the True one. He is transcendent and can be qualified by only negative  attribute. He has no genus, no differentia, no species, no accident. He is the immutable... He is, therefore, absolute Oneness, nothing but Oneness (Wahdah)." In spite of the new garb, no Muslim will differ from what is underneath.
Al-Farabi, followed Kindi and took his reconciliation attempt not one but two steps further. He gives Platonic philosophy a phraseology and form, without changing the content, to make it more consonant with Islamic teachings, which he, in turn, interpreted more rationally. It has been  stated that "Farabi expounded philosophy in a religious way and philosophized religion pushing them in two converging directions so that they could come to an understanding and co-exist," and it was through Al-Farabi that Avicenna got his initiation into Aristotelian fecundities and surpassed the second Master and made the First Master a world figure renowned down the ages. There can be no greater tribute to Avicenna than that even the great Ghazali could not pin infidelity on him in spite of the scruting spread over a fully reasoned whole book - his adherence to main principles of his religion remained untarnished. His commitment to revelatory process of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) was unalloyed,  though expressed in terminology which was then current in intellectual circles of his times and the light of conscience remained bright till he penned his last will and testament.
Ghazali's account of prophecy in the `Mairaj-al-Quds' can be said to fall into two distinct parts - in the first he gives arguments to establish the fact, relevance and prime necessity of prophecy and in the second part expounds the process at three levels: of imagination, of intellect and as miraculous. The first part is marked by an attempt to express dogmatic theology in the current philosophical approach in the second part "he borrows entirely and almost literally from Avicenna's account." And following Ibn Taymiya, who accused him of oscillation between philosophy and Islam, F. Ralunan takes the view "that it is obvious that here Ghazali takes orthodox Islam as his guiding impulse and is using philosophy to formulate  that Islam. His main contribution was not to push back philosophy (and with at Avicenna) into oblivion which he did not intend and if did, did not, succeed in. His main contribution in the service of Islam was to literally rout the Mutazallite School. And "it was probably to the good of Islam that Muatazallite rationalism, having done its work but not knowing where to stop, was defeated. Had it been successful, it is doubted whether the popular movements'out of which the regeneration of Islam was to come, could possibly have been tolerated, much less accommodated, within the frame-work of orthodoxy. Sooner or later the unity of Islamic culture would have suffered violent disruption" 
Ghazali ever remained a philosopher - though a deeply religious one, wedded to logical interpretation and ever ready to accept established sciences. There might have been lapses, designed or undesigned, and Ibn Rushd's (Avennoes) charge of the "Incoherence of the Incoherent" at best remained an unsubstantiated one.
The Greek philosophy had had its natural course and end. The Muslim philosophers picked out from it what could be assimilated and synthesized within Islamic concepts and movements, fresh and more vitalising, began to generate vigour and satisfied the quest of larger number of men than the Greek devotees. The Greek encounter was a passing phase, though it did, leave its mark on the presentation of the accepted truths.
Though the Neoplationist ideas and vacabulary occupy a prominent place in the works of the Muslim philosophers (including to a certain extent Ghazali also) they ever remained sub-ordinated to the old Qur'anic structure of ideas and beliefs. Ghazali's triumph was that he bereft their philosophy of the external floss, making it acceptable and more accessible to the masses because of his exposition in an easy, simple language. Its rationality appealed to those who were getting under an influence which was turning anti-religious and the religious began to appreciate that the approach was not contradicting the fundamentals. What he did not like in Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina at the outset was that they did violence to the principles of religion because of their insistence on metaphysical approach as the sole criterian and he corrected that slant. It may sound paradoxical that one of the reasons for his general popularity was that he made philosophical thinking available in easily understood language to general run of theologians and middle of the road intellectuals and of the ordinary run for whom the books of Al Farabi and Ibn Sina were technically too abstruse and difficult to understand.
The intellectual acclaim that he received for his efforts led to a genuine revival of religion and he demonstrated how the theological formulations should be linked with the deepest life of a true Muslim.
He did not invent Sufism, nor was he amongst the pioneers. It is as old as history. In the historical context of "Islam.”  I have called Abraham the first  Sufi, who gave up all - hearth, home, kith and kin, country to seek and follow the guidance. Ghazali, following him, gave up his eminent position, his prestigious status, his intellectual pursuits, his family, children, the Royal Court and deliberately turned his face against all worldly temptations and embarked on the new quest of inner peace and salvation and in the process made It attainable by all those who seek and knock at the door. But here too his rationalism did not desert him and he advised those who were inclined to follow the path that they should first "follow the path of scientific study and to acquire by laborious learning as much of the demonstrative sciences as human power can compass... And after that there is no harm in his electing to withdraw from the world and to devote himself entirely to God in an expectant mood." He gives a very explicit warning that "if the soul has not been exercised in the sciences that deal with fact and demonstration, it will acquire mental phantoms that it will suppose to be the truths descending Upon him." According to him "many a Sufi has continued for years in one such fancy before escaping from it, whereas if he had had a sound scientific education he would have been delivered out of it at once.” 
Let us also face the historical facts. The Hellenist treasures did not become available to the Muslims till the golden age of Harun Rashid (786-809 A.D.) and his gifted son Al-Mamun (813-833 A.D.), which takes us to the end of the second century of Islam. And the first two centuries were not so sterile. Well before the end of the first century Hijra the newly founded twin cities of Kufa and Basrah developed into centres of the most animated intellectual activity in the Muslim world to which Spain had been added before Harun-Rashid came to the throne and Cordova, which was soon to rival the splendours of Baghdad had been captured in May, 756 A.D. by the last survivor of the Umayyads, Abdur Rahman, who even outclassed the great Charlemagne (742-814) when he marched against him (778 A.D.) at the instigation of his ally the Abbasids. 
The real stimuli for intellectual activity were the revolutionary Islam and its concept which began with the very first revealed 'ayah': "Read in the name of thy Lord who createth man from a clot. Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous, who teacheth by the pen. Teacheth man that which he knew  not."
This is the first message meant for a new word different from the past forgotten or the tottering ones. The message was ushering the new scientific world based on study and research and fresh knowledge.
There are numerous injunctions in the Holy Qur'an enjoining study of nature, study the realities of the universe around us, study of the laws governing nature, study history of different nations and of different countries. But one is not to forget that - "He is the creator of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is between them." If you don't ever forget this basic Eternal Truth and call for His Divine help he will do what' "Make  subservient to you in the Sun and the Moon, Make subservient to you the night and the day."
Thus from the beginning Islam asked all to acquire knowledge but it ordained that knowledge should stimulate and fortify the morals consciousness of man, giving him the humility to learn more.
There is no limit to the pursuit of knowledge when Mohammad, the uninitiated, initially protests at the time of the first revelation "I can not read: I don't know how to read." becomes the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and knowledge of earthly and heavenly secrets are being revealed to him, he is still ordered to pray "Rabb-i-Zidni-Ilma" "My Lord increase me in knowledge."
It was not the transferred Greek pantheistic philosophy but the parity of Islam bedded in the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah that transformed every aspect of Muslim society and its every activity centred in and revolved around the revealed precepts. The initial urge for every activity came from religion. The congregational prayers required a mosque and mosque gave birth to architecture, which could not flourish without mathematics, the Qur'anic injunctions led to the study and writing of history and gave birth to jurisprudence and philosophy; the enjoined study of nature and its laws led to astronomy and astrology, to higher mathematics and Algebra, to Alchemy and Chemical Sciences, Music was adapted to religions Rajz in Jehad; the stressed duty to care for the lonely, the forsaken, the sick and the needy led to medicine and establishment of hospitals; the whole social revolution was to be financed through the institutionalised Zak'at. The Qur'anic language - the Arabic - compulsory for early familiarisation with the religion and all that implies led to grammar lexicography and compilation of dictionary and enabled quick spread of knowledge throughout the Islamic domain.
The concept of knowledge was its totality - religious, secular, scientific. When the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) asked the Muslims to go to the other end of the world - China - to acquire knowledge - he was referring to secular knowledge of varied  hue. Knowledge was for all; to acquire it became a passion with the Muslim world.
The sum total of knowledge that a cultured person, in the heyday of Islamic glory, was supposed to, and did acquire, included history, geography, logic, mathematics, physics, ethics, philosophy, jurisprudence, poetry and music besides the Qur'an and Hadith.
The knowledge became available to Europe centuries later through translations of Al-Farabi (Al-Pharabius), Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Ghazali (Al-Gazel), Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Al-Razi (Rahzes), Ali-Ibn-Abbas (Haly Abbas), Ibn-Jazlah (Bengesha), Ali-Ibn-Isa (Jesu Haly) Al-Biruni, Al-Kindi and host of others.
The European Renaissance came because of them and not through mere rediscovery of Plato and Aristotle preserved by them. They gave in fact the true scientific spirit which cradled the new European life.
It is hardly accepted by not a very friendly critic and chronicler  that during the better part of the Middle Ages Muslim scientific and material superiority over Europe was undeniable, it is only "the sixteenth century that witnesses the end of 'Arabism' in European-studies, although stray survivals linger as late as the first part of the nineteenth century."
So Ghazali can not, in fact, or in truth, be said to have been the agent that congealed the Muslim thought and action. For the 'intellectual stupor,' which even Iqbal forcefully laments, Ghazali can not be blamed. He had no share in it in spite of his flight to the sheltering Sufism.
In any case I do not subscribe to this congealing theory at all. Sufism was not invented by him. It was there long before him and survived him for centuries. He only succeeded in establishing a harmony between the exoteric and estoric elements of Islam and he clarified once for the entire role which philosophy, as the attempt of human reason to explain all things in a system, was to have in Islam, "particularly  Sunni Islam."
I regard Abraham as the first Sufi in the world of Sufism of the Classical mould.
In the ascetic Sufi line the first one in Islam was undoubtedly Khawaja Al-Hasan Basri (643-728), born in Medina near the end of the Caliphate of Hazrat Umar, who is said to have given him his blessings and as a young child was fondled and cuddled by Hazrat Ali, who is said to have foretold great things of him and who, in his own lifetime met nearly one hundred and fifty of the companions of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). It is through him that some link it to Hazrat All and good many go even further and see the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) in that cast: Junaid Baghdadi (D 910) is reported to have said: "All the mystic paths are barred except to him who followed in the footsteps of the Messenger and all our love is anointed with his sayings." Then came Rabia Basri, proving that even in this line a woman can attain the same heights if she strives as hard as a man treading the path. The intensity of her love for God was such that neither love nor hate of any other thing remained "in my heart." In fact she was the first amongst the Sufis to be introduced  into European literature as early as the thirteenth century by Joinville, the Chancellor of Louis IX. Rabia's figure was used in the seventeenth century in a French treatise on pure love as a model of Divine Love. There was Ibrahim bin Adham (d.79O) who has become in Islamic tradition one of the proverbial examples of true poverty, abstinence and trust in God. Shaqiq-al-Balkhi (d.8O9) was the first to discuss the mystical states and was deeply concerned with what he calls "the light of the pure love of God." In such forfeit love the mystic ceased to exist and acquired "death of self before death.” 
To be brief, mention only be made of the most renowned ones of the fraternity. They were Bayezid Bustami (d.874), Hallaj, Husain bin Mansur (executed 922) Junaid Baghdadi (d.910) and Shibli (d.945) who was present at Hallaj's execution and threw a rose at him, which hurt him most, though he was smiling at the stone throwing of others.
The content of these Sufis was love of God and God alone. Their source of inspiration was the Qur'anic verse (v.59, Surah 5) "He loves them and they love Him," which Rabia Basri elaborated into: "Love  has come from eternity and passes into eternity and none has been found in seventy thousand worlds who drinks one drop of it until at last he is absorbed in God and from that comes the saying: "He Loves them and they Love Him."
Imam Jafar as-Sadiq, the sixth Imam of Shias (d.765) was also one of the greatest teachers of early Sufism. The definition of divine Love, given by him and considered classic, is "a divine fire that devours man  completely."
The epitome of this Love came with Bayezid Bustami and erupted in the cry of Hallaj Mansur "I am the Truth" And coming down of these ardent souls begins with Abu Bakr-ask-Shibli, a friend of Hallaj who survived him by twenty three years, though another friend of his, Ibn Ata, paid for his friendship with his life. Junaid called Shibli "the crown of Sufis" and he exercised great influence in deepening the new currents coming to the shore-the longing of the shore to embrace the whole ocean. Whether Hallaj's execution was politically motivated as Maulana-i-Rumi penned: "when a wicked judge holds the pen. A Mansur will die on the gallows," and now so thoroughly investigated by Louis Massignon  or was martyred for telling the Truth, I would avoid going into. But the aftermath of the trial and the execution frightened both the Government and the Sufis. Ibn Ata, summoned as a witness, not only defended Mansur but openly insulted the Vazier. He was promptly executed. After the cruel execution of Hallaj which took three days, riots ensured. Sufis feared further retaliation and persecution. The orthodox Ulema began to condemn the Sufis of flouting the accepted beliefs and the ordained ritual.
"The case of Hallaj had confronted the Sufis with the danger of persecution but they also felt that "the path had to be made more accessible to people who could never reach the abysses of mystical experience Hallaj had reached." The general run were to be weaned away from attempting following even Junaid and Shibli: Men like Ibn Khafif (d.982) and Abu-Nasr-as-Sarraj (d.988) began expounding the path, relating it to Qur'anic injunctions and histories of those who were the beacon lights. But the one who excelled others and because of writing in Persian, commanded a bigger audience, was Syed All bin-Usman Hujweri (d.1071) now called Data Gunj Bux, the famous saint of Lahore. His "Kashf-al-Mahjub" (unveiling of the Hidden), became, and still is, a popular classic on the subject, its history, its luminaries and systematization of the pursuit.
And with him we come to the age of Al-Ghazali who says that he studied the books available on the subject  and subsequently reached the inevitable conclusion that one has to tread the path and see personally where it leads to. It was typical of him that he approached the mystical path first from the intellectual side. "Knowledge was easier for me than activity," he records  and "I began by reading their books... and obtained a thorough intellectual understanding of their principles. Then I realised that what is distinctive of them was can be attained only by personal experience, ecstasy and a change of character:' Out of his experience came the "Ihya-ul-Ulum" for the general public needing guidance how to lead a pious life and to things leading to salvation, "discussing different stations and states of the wayfarer, like poverty and renunciation, patience and gratitude, love and longing."
For the initiated ones well on the path he wrote "Mishkat-al-Anwar,"  depicting his own "mystic leap, his own personal Mairaj."
He had now arrived at the doorstep and walked in. He opened the `Gates of Heaven' and paved the way for all the wayfarers.
For the common man his prescription was, as in fact ordained by the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), that "the true saint  goes in and out amongst the people and eats and sleeps with them and buys and sells in the market and takes part in social intercourse, and never forgets God for a single moment." His other precept which seeped in the heart of every Muslim  was "The sign of the lover of God is to follow the Prophet, in his morals, and his deeds and his orders and his customs." 
The main current of moderate orthodox Sufism had been systematized by Ghazali, yet his own works contain views that were to develop in full in that stream of Islamic theosophy which he did so much to fight against. His "Mishkat-al-Anwar" became the starting point for the initiated ones. "The clearest  expression of the Light, Illumination mysticism set forth explicitly in this work of Ghazali found its way in the mystical theories of the Masters of Illumination" e.g. Shihabuddin  Suhrawardi Maqtul, (1153-1191) who paid for his life at the age of thirty three, influenced the Great Master, Ibn Arabi (1165-1240) whose influence on the development of Sufism is universally recognised.  and even Ahmad Sirhindi - usually considered as an antagonist has this to say: "The S'ufis who preceded him (Ibn Arabi) only hinted about these matters and did not elaborate. Most of those who came after him chose to follow in his footsteps and used his terms. We late comers have also benefitted from the blessings of that great man and learned a great deal from his mystical insights May God give him for this the best award."  Ghazali  had had his share in Ibnul-Arabi's doctrine of Logos. But to my mind his influence on Dante's Divine Comedy, has to be emphasised as borrowings from him by Dante has been convincingly high-lighted recently. 
Another luminary, professedly his disciple, worth mentioning was Abu-Ala-Ma'ali Abdullah, known as Ain-al-Qud'at-al-Hamadani (1,098-1131) who was executed in Baghdad at the age of thirty-eight inspite  of his protest that he was in his writings merely following what Ghazali had already asserted and explained. Four centuries later in India Sarmad (executed in Delhi 1661) forfeited his life in echoeing him.
Sufism in shallow depths and deepest deep continued with Ghazali at the centre who reconciled it, in spite of its many early unorthodox practices, with Islam "and grafted mysticism Upon its intellectualism." .
The Sufis flourished and mystic poetry came into its own. Sanai and Omar Khayyam were his contemporaries and Maulana Rumi put the seal on it two centuries later.
Al-Ghazali made Muslims good Muslims and made good Muslims better Muslims and the best of them gave expression to themes which continued to improve the minds in the then extant world.
If by the charge of congealing Muslim mind and stagnating enquiry is meant that he finally blocked the Reformation and subsequent Renaissance which came to end in the form that it did in Europe, then it was the greatest achievement that he saved Islam from the fate which Christianity faced and is facing and the Renaissance delinked humanity from the primordial Tradition and brought the modern society to the brink of a final disaster.
It is now dawning on the younger generation of European intellectuals, not overawed by the arid Kantian philosophy, pleading for the Forgotten Truth in the life of their society. Their thinking can be the beginning of a new change that if civilization is to survive and rest on a secure foundation it can only be within the Traditional church which means in conscious relation to a spiritual order of being. Man and State both shall have to give up the Renaissance conception of the sovereign autonomy of self, developed under the false lure of the liberal and naturalist philosophy of Rousseau and other heretics of the French Revolution.
Even T.S. Eliot urged the necessity of a Christian Society organised within the fold of a revised united Catholic Church which did not exclude the continuance of national Churches and said, "However  bigoted the announcement may sound, the Christians can be satisfied with nothing else than a Christian Organisation of Society which is not the same thing as a society consisting exclusively of devout Christians" and went on to explain: "It must be kept in mind that even in a Christian society as well organised as we can conceive possible in this world, the limit would be that our temporal and spiritual life should be harmonized; the temporal and spiritual world would never be identified. There would always remain a dual allegiance to the State and the Church, to one's country men and to one's fellow Christians everywhere, the latter would always have the primacy." With T.S. Eliot even the duality persists. It is only in Islam that this duality has no place and is annihilated. The West has to relearn this basic unity. "Man has  a profound need to re-believe that the Truth is rooted in the unchanging depths of the universe. The today's world is splintering and we, the modern, the worldly wise, have to have once again, a uniting force and that can be the other-worldly force: That in simple truth is enshrined in every religion and realizable in Islam.
The conflict both within and out is the same. That which is lacking is a profound knowledge of the nature of things. "Islam is the human condition both in man's soul and society. On the earthly plane it puts each thing in its own place." 
In Christianity the duality of allegiance to the Church and the State has become cardinal further deepened by the Renaissance and, the split of Reformation. Jesus has remained the incarnate God but not a divine Ruler. The duality of his will as human and divine is part of the Christian121 dogma cannot be repudiated. Let us leave it at that.
The modern  sciences and the achievements in physical sciences and the marvels of technology again pose a threat to the Islamic world as faced by the giants of the Abbaside and subsequent periods. They laboured; they studied, and made it their own and gave it back to the succeeding generations in an improved form. Our present generation has to do the same and not just sit, stare and marvel. Al-Ghazali mastered all that was there to be mastered and put it to his generation what was to be accepted and what was to be rejected. And it was mathematical and physical sciences that he accepted as essential studies, from philosophy he repudiated only what, in its interpretation, seemed to contradict revelation but accepted its keen analytical approach, he adopted rationalism as his own, even in interpretation of orthodox Sunni dogma. His "Ihya-al-Ulum" is permeated without and can still be adopted as a moral practical guide.
His thinking was in line with the majority of his community at the intellectual, moral level and received acceptance. As he settled the religious issues, he released creative energies which made the two succeeding centuries so fruitful. They surpassed the West in art, architecture, literature, science, medicine, astronomy, music in fact in all that an advanced progressive civilization sure of its foundations, can give to the world.
There was no stagnation only a crowning glory of achievements. Though like others, Will Durant also avers that "the victorious  mysticism of Al-Ghazali put a closure on speculative thought," he goes on to say: "It is a pity that we know "imperfectly of Arabic offlorescence." 
"Thousands of Arabic manuscripts in science literature and philosophy be hidden in the libraries of the Moslem world: in Constantinople alone there are thirty  mosque libraries whose wealth has been merely scratched; in Cairo, Damascus, Mosul, Baghdad, Delhi, Iran are great collections not even catalogued; an immense library in the Escorial near Madrid has hardly completed the listing of its Islamic manuscripts in Science; literature, jurisprudence and philosophy. What we know of Muslim thought is a fragment of what survives, what survives is a fragment of what was produced, what appears (in the West) is a morsel of a fraction of a fragment." And thousands upon thousands were burnt and destroyed in Baghdad, Ghazni, and Granada.
And then we convict Ghazali and the congealed Muslim thought. It is alleged generally, as already'quoted, that the so called stagnation began from about  the sixteenth century due to mysticism... So at least for nearly four to five centuries (Ghazali died in 1111 A.D.) the impact of Ghazali's thought and precept was other than stagnation.
"If Ghazali, more than anyone else, may be said to have prepared the way for the general recognition of Sufism, it was his younger contemporary, Shaikh  Abdul Qadir Gilani (as stated above) who was to make the recognition fully operative - It would perhaps be true to say that no one else exercised in person such a spiritual influence of such far reaching dimensions as did Sh: Abdul Qadir Gilani."
The founding of the Qadiriya Tariqah led to - immediate and widespread conversion and his ordur spread to most parts of the Islamic world within one generation. Shaikh Abdul Qadir Gilani (1077-1166 A.D.) had himself been initiated early in the Old Junaidi Tariqah. Like Ghazali he had been "an exoteric authority" and "some of his fellow  initiates were inclined to resent the presence of a Hanbali Jurists in their midst." Amongst the other's to appear were the Suhrawardi Tariqah whose founder was Shihabutldin-as-Suhrawardi (1144-1234 ) and the venerable Sh'adhiii Tariqah founded by one of the greatest  luminaries of Western Islam, Shaikh Abul Hasan-ash-Sh'adhili (1196-1258). Another contemporary renowned Sufi order flourished in the Indo-Pak Sub-Continent was the Chishtia Tariqah led by Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (1142-1236) of Ajmer whose three famous Khalifas - Khawaja Bakhtiar Ka'ki, Baba Fariduddin Shakarganj, Khawaja Nizamuddin  Aulia of Delhi (popularly known Mehbubi-llahi: Beloved of God) - still rule the hearts of Muslims of Northern India-Pakistan. Sufism becomes a mass movement and the moral principles laid down by Ghazali and others did much to shape the outlook of the Muslim society in the Sub-Continent. There is no need to doubt Barni, (d. about 1360 A.D. and Nizamuddin Auliya (d.1325 A.D.) when he says that it became almost a fashion to purchase copies of the classical books mentioned.
Amongst the Suharwardi saints mention may also be made of Bahauddin Zakarya of Multan (1172-1262) and Lal Shah Baz Qallander of Sehwan (Sind) who were spreading the Light of Islam In the  area of S. Punjab and Sind.
To the later contemporary age of the leaders of the four Tariqahs mentioned also belongs the greatest mystic poet of Islam - Maulana (Turkish Mevalana) Jalauddin Rumi (1207-1273) buried in Kouya (Turkey) but alive to this day throughout the Muslim World. And there was the towering mystic of the age, described as "the greatest  speculative genius of Islamic Sufism," Shaikh Muhiuddin-Ibn-Arabi (1165-1240).
Compared to all these Ghazali was a beginner almost a novice in the Sufi path. His contribution was that he not only saved himself, but others too from spiritual blindness - those to whom God refers in the Qur'an as "they have eyes, they do not see, they have ears but they do not hear."
As Ain-al-Qudat-Hamadani, the martyr, states "Ghazali made, the eye of spiritual vision to open - and I do not mean intellectual vision," but even his younger brother Ahmad Ghazali (as I have said earlier) was a more advanced, more favoured, more rapt mystic and Ainal-Qudat met him when he came to Hamadan and "in less than twenty days attendance on him my spiritual transformation was completed." Al-Ghazali merely shepherded the sheep to the fold and the rest did the rest.
But then came the big bang of Baghdad doom when Halaku entered Baghdad (1258 A.D.). The massacre and destruction which lasted forty days and accounted for, 1,800,000 in dead, plunder and arson not only destroyed the city but the treasures in the libraries stocked over six centuries. "There happened things I like not to mention, it is hard to hear spoken of even generally, how can think, then, of the details. Imagine what you will, but ask  me not of the matter."
Muslim civilisation was at that time the shining light in the world. But I don't agree with those who assert that it never recovered from that deathly blow. The blow was to Arab hegemony and to the Arabic centre that the Caliphate and Baghdad symbolised. But the torch was taken up by others and Muslim civilization continued to be the shining light to Europe as well.
The Islamic resilience was such that even Halaku's armies were destroyed within two years (in 1260) in his attempt to subjugate Syria when Baybars, the distinguished general of the Egyptian Mamluk Qutuz  defeated his forces and westward advance of the Mongols was definitely checked. Halaku died in 1265 and within thirty years Islam triumphed. His great grandson Ghazan became "Ghazan Mahmud" and ruled as a Muslim (1295-1304).
"Hard pressed between the mounted archers of wild Mongols in the East and the mailed knights of the European crusaders on the West, Islam in the early part of the thirteenth century seemed for ever lost. How different was the situation in the last part of the same century. The last crusader had by that time been driven into the Sea. The seventh Il-Khans,  many of whom had been flirting with Christianity, finally recognised Islam as the State religion. Just as  in the case of the Seljuks. Islam had conquered where the Muslim arms had failed. Less then half a century after Halaku merciless attempt at the destruction of Islamic culture, his great grand son Gha'zan, as a devout Muslim, was consecrating much time and energy to the reverification of the same culture." The short history of the Il-Khan's need for detain  us as it was not the Mongols who were destined to restore the glory of Islam and unfurl its banner triumphantly over new and vast territories. The banner was taken up by three different dynasties that brought new Renaissance to the Muslims and were more than a match to everything that contemporary Europe had to offer. They were the Ottoman Turks who’s Empire under Sulayman, the Magnificient (1520-1566) stretched from Baghdad on the ancient Tigris to Budapest on the Lambe and from Aswan near the first cataract of the Nile, almost to the strait of Gibralter. The second were the Safavids, beginning with Ismail (1499-1524), attained their Zenith with Shah Abbas, the Great (1587-1629) and made the Persian culture what it is. The third were the great Mughals who came to India with Babur, fifth in descent from Taimir. He was a King of Ferghana by heredity but became an adventurer by force of circumstances. With his success in the battle of Panipat (April 1526) he started the brilliant Mughal Empire which with brilliant successors like Humayun, Akbar, the Great, Jahangir, Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb, became a legend in contemporary Europe.
According to foreign  accounts India then surpassed the brilliance of the strongest European monarch Louis XIV of France and left Europe gaping at India's prosperity and riches. Even in Industrial production they had an edge in quality and quantity over Europe. Istanbul (Constantinople), Isfahan and Agra, Delhi had no rivals in Europe. Neither Muslims nor Islam  could by any imagination at any time during the three centuries - fourteenth to the seventeenth be termed sterile or stagnant.
"We gather again some faint conception of the riches of Indies in Moghul days when we find the greatest of the historians of architecture (Ferguson) describing the royal residences at Delhi as covering twice the area of the Vast Escorial near Madrid and forming at that time, and in its ensemble "the most magnificient  palace in the East, perhaps in the world." To be brief, let us take only on item of the then achievements of the Muslims - their achievement in architecture of the period. I select architecture because it involved application of so many applied sciences which form the base of modern technological advance on which the West prides itself and using it as a yard stick, accuses the Muslims of decay and of something inherent in their religion responsible for that decay. 
It is a fact of history that Muslims proved themselves master builders where ever they established themselves at Damascus, at Jerusalem, at Baghdad, at Granada, at Constantinople, at Isfahan, at Samarkand, at Cairo, at Bokhara, at Agra, at Delhi, at Lahore. It did borrow from the earlier locals but everywhere the Islamic crucible transformed it so much that it became distinctly and purely Islamic, in its concept, in its design, in its details.
Islamic buildings, though masterpieces of bold engineering design, are set in a setting (everywhere in the Islamic world) to proclaim the subduing of nature by man. Islamic architecture is mathematically abstract and its illustration is in geometric pattern. The design is also symbolic in its unity embodying the purity of the living soul and the undying unity of the creator. Islamic calligraphy, a part of the inter-linked, intertwined geometrical and dimensional pattern of illustration, is used as a principal means of expression, as the carrier of the word of God and the humble greatness of his greatest creation - man His slave and His Servant before whom and Him alone he prostrates and humbles himself: the King, the architect, the Engineer, the mason, the calligraphist, the disciplined, the devoted worker each engaged in a heavenly ordained creation of perfection.
The final reflection of the unity of effort, part of the eternal  unity. The underlinking of influences Smarkand, Ottoman, Iranian and Indo-Islamic during the 16th and the 17th centuries further enriched the Islamic art under the three Muslim dynasties - Turkish, Iranian and Mughal. Sinan the Turkish architect made the dome of Sulaimaniya Mosque in Constantinople sixteen feet higher than that of Santa Sofia to eclipse the West at its best within the region, the Iranians made Isfahan, currently "Nisf Jahan" (Isfahan half the world), and of the Taj Mahal, Agra, the acme of sublimity, taste, self-restraint, perfection of beauty, it is said that "if time were intelligent it would destroy every-thing else before the Taj, and would leave this evidence  of man's nobility as the last man's consolation." I can address this prayer to the only God - "La illaha Illallah" - the Sufi Zikar too.
But to me the climax of Shah Jehan's architecture is the small-miniature of a mosque, the Moti Masjid in Agra Fort the simple stark white marbled, breathing purity of devotion of his own. It is Shah Jehan, passing his days peacefully to the solitary, confined end; expecting nothing from his vanished past but the pearly whiteness of a simple  shroud.
So the Islamic Renaissance after the fall of Baghdad cannot be dislinked from Islamic history as is done by the Westerners and they treat each country piecemeal distorting their achievements. They invent the miseries and generate their own stories. And their miseries were due to misrepresentation, bias in selection  of material and where Muslim States are concerned surviving the sub-conscious crusade antipathy.
"For a variety of reasons the crusades, the first formal military encounter between the religions of the East and West, kept a permanent scar on the souls, or the collective unconscious of both sides. Because of the scar the wound is still sensitive today and the slightest pressure on it sets it throbbing  again."
"Because of the crusading experience, the idea of conquest and conversion lay side by side in the consciousness of the Christians of the western world." And because the Crusades had failed, "the resultant bitterness produced so much anti-Muslim propaganda in Europe over the centuries that Christians were brought up to expect to be in a relationship of force and violence with the Muslim world. "The crusades form the great central epoch of medieval history," is the verdict of another modern historian,  and he continues, "As a sustained effort of militant religious idealism on the part of many nations they were unprecedented. Long after the fighting in Palestine was over their memory remained vivid - in the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571, in the defence of the Christian Vienna against the Turks in 1683 and even in General Allenby's capture of Jerusalem in 1917 during his campaign to drive the Turks from Palestine."
Though Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, at first several times denied that the War (The First World War) against Turkey was a crusade against Islam, this feeling was not subconsciously alien to him. It came out in the open, when only a year later proposing a gratuity to General Allenby, he told an appreciative House of Commons - "The name of General Allenby will be ever renowned as that of the brilliant Commander who fought and won the last and most triumphant of the Crusades. It was his good fortune, by his skill, to bring to a glorious end, an enterprise which absorbed the Chivalry of Europe for centuries. We forget now that the military strength of Europe was concentrated for generations Upon this purpose in vain, and a British army, under the Command of General Allenby, achieved it and achieved it finally. 
And did not the French General, entering Damascus, on a white charger, knock at the entombed door of Saladin-"We have returned” 
The historical irony is that this "final crusade" was not won by the British or the Allied armies but by the Indian  army and the engineered revolt of the Arabs.
This  leads us to the Industrial Revolution in Europe and beginning of the 19th Century. Crusades against the Muslims. One century of piracy was the initial stage to get the mastery over the open seas. From white colonies they turned to economic markets, Missionary civilising missions linked to Imperialism in the  two continents of Asia and Africa. The Russians, the Dutch, the French, the Spanish and above all the British mounted Crusades against the Muslim States. Apart from the occupation of the Indian Subcontinent finally in 1857, supplanting a Muslim dynasty, the Dutch consolidated their hold on Indonesia, the Imperialist Juggernaut pushed on. (The list is long but worth giving in brief).
Oman  and Qatar went under British Protectorate (1820), Conquest, of Algeria by the French (1830-1857), Subjugation of the Caucesus and advance into central Asia by Russia (1834-1859), Russian conquest of Territories around Samarkand and Bukhara (1866-1872), Uzbek territory overrun by Russia (1873-1887), conquest of Tunisia by the French (1881-1883), Eriteria, Conquered by Italy (1883-1885); Conquest of Senegal, Upper Niger and Ivory Coast (1890-1899), Sudan subjugated by Britain (1899); Somalia resists British occupation (1900-1910) Chad conquered by France (1900); Muslim Sultanates of Nigeria became British Protectorate (1906), Libya conquered by Italy (1912-1913). Balkan Wars against Turkey (1912) War against and dismemberment of Turkey (1914-1922); Kuwait went under British protection (1914) and Iran (Persia) occupied by the Allies during the First World War (1914-1919) forcing Shah Reza to abdicate when he wanted to remain neutral.
The Muslims resisted and the Europeans never had a walk over. In India alone the British had to fight one hundred eleven wars spread over one hundred fifty years, the last one being in 1892. Resistance every-where else was prolonged and intensive with no quarters given on either side. Dissaction of reasons of Muslim military weakness or unpreparedness and later subjugation to alien rulers, leading to economic debilitation and cruel unabated impoverishment in the interests of mother country of the Imperialist rulers would take us beyond the scope of this book.
Similarly the counter movements by the Muslims and counter opposition to the imposition of the oppressive colonial rule would fall out of the scope of the book and its volume would exceed the Epilogue.
And Ghazali would resent it as irrational and unscientific. He did successfully stave off the Reformation in Islam like the one that split up Christianity and which contributed to slow moving currents of irreligion (irrationally called the movement of Reason and the Age of Reason and Renaissance).
Suffice it to say that the turn the European Renaissance did take was at the cost of its soul. It gave up the ghost and recrucified Christ and tried to live by bread alone.
The price that the European powers have paid in men and material (during the last two World Wars) is the direct result of their misguided Industrial Revolution. The present technological advance breathe taking by itself - carries within it myriad germs of self destruction and has brought the world to the brink of atomic holocaust
"When the heaven is theft asunder
When the planets are dispersed
When the Seas are poured forth
And the graves are overturned" 
And"When the Sun Is overthrown
And when the Stars fall
And when the hills are moved"
And when the mountains become like carded wool:……..
And the Earth hath cast out all that was
In her and is empty" And
'Those who love wealth with abounding  love"
"Those in the love of wealth are violent" 
"Rivalry  in worldly wealth distracteth you until you come to the grave," bereft of all the worldly possessions. He bestowed on you, the Reality, the Absolute Reality will be revealed and the West will regret that they did not have a Ghazali to show and keep them on the lighted path
The tragedy of the West is that they did not produce a Ghazali and when they did discover him it was from "a fraction of a fragment" -his "Maqasadi - Falsafa" and admired him for two centuries as Aristotelian Philosopher.
With the subsequent wave of appreciation of Sufism they again misread him taking his flight into it as closing the door to intellectualism whereas he had opened the gates of Heaven and all that means.
It is only latterly that a few  writers do not belittle the importance of a definite and unequivocal commitment to one particular  religion and the truth has dawned Upon them that it is a religious tradition that moulds a man. This is negation of the earlier approach of the secular seduced scholars who studied "all religions as universally primitive and outmoded attempts on the part of pre-scientific man to comprehend the universe and his place in it." 
Even Iqbal was aware that the present moment is one of great crisis in the history of modern culture.  "The modern world stands in need of biological renewal. And religion which in its higher manifestations is neither dogma, not priesthood, nor ritual, can," in his opinion "alone ethically prepare the modern than for the burden of the great responsibility, which the advancement of modern science necessarily involves and restore to him that attitude of faith which makes him cap-able of winning a personality here and retaining it there" To him "it is only by rising to a fresh vision of his origin and future his whence and whither, that man will eventually triumph over a society motivated by an inhuman competition, and a civilization which lost its spiritual unity by its inner conflict of religions and political values."
The modern western and the western oriented man have ceased to live "soulfully," that is from within. In the domain of thought he is living in open conflict with himself, and in the domain of economic and political life he is living in open conflict with others.
Iqbal describes patriotism and nationalism, in terms of Neitzches as "sickness and unreason" and as the "strongest force against culture."
It is so, because as one modern  writer widely acclaimed in the west says; "the new Reason is the new modern outlook. But we forget that science does not treat of the world, above  and below as one; it treats of a part of it only and so splinters and is splintered in compartmental based sciences" and the world is being divided intellectually into two - the scientists and Humanists. It is because the science has become the new religion.
Life's values, purposes and above all Life's meanings slip through science "Science, piecemeal thought, is positive but Scientism  is negative as denying what it does not touch." Science misses the wavelengths that the Prophets and Saints catch and so denies them. We have to admit that "Science peers down a restricted view finder," and it is saying the obvious that the view finders view is restricted view. We need the ever moving larger antenna of the greater number of subtler speculative minds and of the great religious  teachers."
"Ours is not a time for impotence. The events of the past fifty years suggest that the process to which the Western man committed himself some centuries ago is speeding up at an all but uncontrollable rate and that moment - the point of no return on the curve of progression-beyond which no real choice will be possible is fast approaching. The world we have made is closing upon us, the pressures are mounting, and techniques whereby man  can be reduced to a condition only fractionally different to that of automata are improved year by year. The `developed' world, as it is curiously called, with "the developing world close on its heels now seems to be possessed by an impersonal force quite outside the reach of our will, a force which means to prevail regardless of transformation it requires in man's nature and in his status. Development understood in this sense obeys its own laws. They  are not ours - or God's" and nor Ghazali's.
There was no stagnation in the Muslim World till the 19th Century. The Civilization which could still produce stalwarts like Fariduddin Attar, Al-Razi, Ibn Haitham, Ibnul Arabi, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, H afiz Shirazi, Shaikh Saadi, Ibn Khaldun and Conquerers like Saladin Ayubi, Taimur, Sultan F'ateh Mohammad the second, could never be called stagnant. Islam was definitely refreshed and strengthened by Al-Ghazali "it acquired a more popular character and a new power of attraction."  During two centuries after Al-Ghazali it won over large sections of the population in Western Asia and North Africa which had hitherto held somewhat aloof.... In the vast areas of Asia Minor, Central Asia, India, Indonesia which were in the process of annexation to the Islamic Dominions multitudes were brought over to Islam."
The colonial subjection by the alien races destroyed and distorted our original cultural norms. Subjection meant non-participation in every form of national activity - administration, education, economic policies and attempted super-imposition of another ideology. This also meant deliberate denial of benefits of technological revolution of the 19th century which led to national material poverty and enforced mass illiteracy.
This was attempted strangulation and not stagnation.
From its long inner history Islam acquired both the adaptability and toughness to meet all the challenges that the West offered. There were counter movements in every Muslim country. There  were the Mahdi movement in Sudan, the Amirghamiya of Nubia, the Senussis of North Africa, the Wahabis of Saudi Arabia. There were educationalist reformers like Mohammad Abduh of Egypt and his Syrian disciple Rashid Rida (1865-1935) Sir Syed Ahmed Khan of India and the Pan Islamist Jamaluddin Afghani - to mention only a few. The Muslims, everywhere, resisted successfully the undermining of their base - Islam. They rejected the Western type of Reformation which split Christianity into small factions. There are no less than two hundred fifty denominations in U.S.A. alone and the secularisation of the Renaissance from which Europe is still suffering and its consciousness has now dawned Upon them.
Even in the 18th - 19th Century the great debate was between Muslim and Christian  and not yet between Darwin and Christ. In the West Darwin won and disrupted its art and centuries-long base of its culture. The Muslims retained their identity and defended their base.
They struggled against their colonial oppressors and threw them back to places where they came from. Every Muslim country is now free and independent. The competition of the cultures is not over but the west once again should not mistake Muslim Renaissance and its attempt to reforge its disrupted unity and brotherhood as Militant Resurgence. Both are now "free to mingle in the osmosis of mutual influence."
"The East takes on our Industries and armaments and become, Western, the West wearies of wealth and War and seeks inner peace. Perhaps we shall help the East to mitigate poverty and superstition, and the East will help us to humility in philosophy and refinement in art. East is west and West is east and soon the twin shall meet."  the meeting will have to be on very friendly terms and the West shouldn't resent if the Muslims quickly learn their sciences as they have begun to do. The Pakistanis are in fact teaching modern sciences in European and American Universities and Prof. Abdul Salam, Director of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics at Trieste, Italy, has won the highest recognition in the world of Physics through the award of the Nobel Prize and has been honoured from Moscow to Argentine. The next prestigious honour for a Scientist is Fellowship of the Royal Society of Britain whose patron the reigning monarch is still described as "Her Sacred Majesty."  Of the fifty fellows listed there are only four non-Christians and they are all Muslims - three from Pakistan and one from India.  Dr. Durrani of Birmingham University may also be mentioned as one of the leading Scientific Researchers, who was one of the dozen Scientists of the world to whom the "Moon dust" was sent for analysis. And Muslims have begun to participate in space flights. Prince Sultan Ibn-Salman-lbn-Abdul Aziz, twenty-eight year old nephew of H.M. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, has become the first Muslim Space Traveller - astronaut in the Space Shuttle "Discovery" in June, 1985. The Muslims have begun to face the 20th Century realities and are not frightened. They are preparing themselves to be participant partners in the peaceful uses of advanced technology.
Let the Christian West show Christian compassion and not hallucinate with the fright of an Islamic atom-bomb.
Neutralising each other through the union of their seemingly opposed but actually complementing attributes let us return to the centre point - God of Abraham, God of Isaac and Jacobs, God of Ishmael and Mohammad. Call Him by any name. We Muslims have ninety-nine, you can add more.
Chuang Tzu called Him "the motionless centre of a circumference on the rim of which all contingencies, distinctions and individualities revolve. From it only infinity is to be seen which is neither this nor that, nor yes nor no. To see all in the yet undifferentiated unity, or from such a distance that all melts into one, this is true intelligence."
Chuang calls it the Pivot; the modern Rene-Guenon calls it the Mathematical point. T.S. Eliot calls "the still point" of the turning world – "Neither flesh nor fleshless neither from nor towards, at the still point, there the dance is But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity Where past and future are gathered, Neither movement from nor towards Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point There would be no dance, and there is only the dance." 
So let the old and new mingle. Chuang Tzu's the Pivot; T.S. Eliot's still point, Rene Guenon's Mathematical point are immaterial points. Aristotle named it the `Unmoved Mover' and Al-Ghazali saw in it "Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent." The vision is the same. The man-made descriptions differ.