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Title: The Qurʾanic hermeneutics of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī, with special reference to his understanding of taʾwīl
Author: Whittingham, Martin
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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The aim of this thesis is to fill an important gap in the study of Ghazālī by examining his theory and practice of Qur’an interpretation. Attention is given to Ghazālī’s understandings of ta’wīl, a term which can be translated as ‘interpretation’, but which, as the thesis demonstrates, Ghazālī employs in a variety of ways. After an introductory chapter, the thesis is divided into two parts. Part One explores Ghazālī’s different theories of interpretation, while Part Two concentrates on his interpretive practice. Part One consists of three chapters. Chapter Two concentrates on four presentations of Ghazālī’s Sufi-influenced ideas, drawn from two books within Ihyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn, and also Jawāhir al-Qur’ān and Mishkāt al-Anwār. Chapters Three and Four move on to other theories. Chapter Three explores Faysal al-Tafriqa bayn al-Islām wa’l-Zandaqa, while Chapter Four offers an analysis of the section on ta’wīl from al-Mustasfā min ‘Ilm al-Usūl. Like the first part of the thesis, Part Two also comprises three chapters. These discuss, in probable chronological order, the only three works by Ghazālī which make Qur’an interpretation their central concern. Jawāhir al-Qur’ān introduces a range of Ghazālī’s theological concerns into interpretations of Qur’anic passages. By contrast, Al-Qistās al-Mustaqīm and Mishkāt al-Anwār are both concerned with a single issue, the attainment of certain knowledge. While Qistās enlists the Qur’an in support of syllogistic logic, Mishkāt draws on it to underpin a theory of the soul based closely on that of Ibn Sīnā. All three texts exhibit Ghazālī’s complex shifts between Sufi and non-Sufi stances. The thesis establishes the sometimes surprising sources shaping Ghazālī’s Qur’an interpretation. It also draws attention to divergences between his theory and practice of interpretation, and highlights how Sufi and non-Sufi ideas are woven together in a complex pattern which makes generalising about Ghazālī’s approach to the Qur’an hazardous.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available