Some History on Ihya ulum id deen -by Imam Al-Ghazali
A generation after al-Ghazzali’s death, the Ihya’ was burnt in Andalus upon the recommendation of the qadi Ibn Hamdayn who was named Commander of the Believers in Qurtuba in 539 then fled to Malaga where he died in 548. Shortly thereafter, the Moroccans rehabilitated the book as stated by Shaykh al-Islam Taqi al-Din al-Subki – in a long poem that begins with the words "Abu Hamid! You are truly the one that deserves praise." Ibn al-Subki narrated with his chain from Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili that Ibn Hirzahm, one of the Moroccan shaykhs who had intended the burning of the book, saw the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- in his dream commending the book before al-Ghazzali and ordering that Ibn Hirzahm be lashed for slander. After five lashes he was pardoned and woke up in pain, bearing the traces of the lashing. After this he took to praising the book from cover to cover.
Another rallying-cry of the critics of the Ihya’ is that it contains no exhortation towards jihad and that its author remained in seclusion between the years 488-499, at a time when the Crusaders ravaged the Antioch and al-Qudus, killing Muslims by the tens of thousands. Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi replied to these insinuations with the following words:
Shaykh al-Islam Taqi al-Din al-Subki said about the detractors of the Ihya’:
I consider them similar to a group of pious and devoted men who saw a great knight issue from the ranks of the Muslims and enter the fray of their enemies, striking and battling until he subdued them and unnerved them, breaking their ranks and routing them. Then he emer-ged covered with their blood, went to wash himself, and entered the place of prayer with the Muslims. But that group thought that he still had some of their blood on his person, and they criticized him for it.
Among the most famous commentaries of the Ihya’:
- The hadith master Murtada al-Zabidi’s ten-volume Ithaf al-Sada al-Muttaqin Sharh Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din ("The Lavish Gift of the Godwary Masters: Commentary on al-Ghazzali’s ‘Giving Life to the Religious Sciences’") which contains the most comprehensive documentation of the hadith narrations cited by al-Ghazzali.
- ‘Abd al-Qadir ibn ‘Abd Allah al-‘Aydarus Ba ‘Alawi’s Ta‘rif al-Ahya bi Fada’il al-Ihya ("The Appraisal of the Living of the Immense Merits of the Ihya").
- Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari’s Sharh ‘Ayn al-‘Ilm wa Zayn al-Hilm ("The Spring of Knowledge and the Adornment of Understanding") on the abridged version. Al-Qari begins it by stating:
"I wrote this commentary on the abridgment of Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din by the Proof of Islam and the Confirmation of Creatures hoping to receive some of the outpouring of blessings from the words of the most pure knowers of Allah, and to benefit from the gifts that exude from the pages of the Shaykhs and the Saints, so that I may be mentioned in their number and raised in their throng, even if I fell short in their fol-lowing and their service, for I rely on my love for them and content myself with my longing for them."
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