By Al Qalam Correspondent
One of Islam’s greatest scholars, Imam Al-Ghazali, will be the focus of a unique conference and workshop set to take place in October in various cities in SA.
The aim of the conference is to bring the works of Al-Ghazali to the centre stage, making them easily accessible to the Muslim public.
International scholars include, Sr Gray Henry (USA) and Prof. Mustafa Abu Sway (Palestine), Sh Hamzah Maqbul and Sh Sharif Banna and local speakers who will navigate his works, reflect on his teachings and share their insights.
The conference has an important role to play in reviving the messages that Imam Ghazali gave to the Ummah and their relevance today.
Imam Al-Ghazali was regarded as “Hujjatul Islam” the proof of Islam of the 11th Islamic century and is considered one of the greatest scholars of Islam. He was a courageous academic and did not fear speaking out. Today there exists much confusion (and frustration?) around the different approaches to “Islam” within the body of the Ummah. The youth in particular, are left puzzled as to what exactly constitutes Shari’ah and what its role is in their lives.
Imam Al-Ghazali has tremendous relevance to Muslims today because of his ethos of the human heart being the center of the universe.
He was the rector of the Nizamya University in Baghdad and walked away from this position into the desert, because he felt that the ritualism had come to dominate Islam. He felt that everything centers from the heart and that the true alchemy in human nature is turning the heart from bad to good.”
A spokesperson said: “Imam Al-Ghazali lived at a time where there was much political and sectarian strife plaguing the Muslim community. Likewise, in the current period we find various competing political and intellectual approaches pervading Muslim societies. We hope that engaging the works and ideas of Imam Al-Ghazali and their relevance to contemporary challenges will inspire our community to renew their approach to the Islamic tradition.
“Given the fact that Imam Al-Ghazali’s works are not easily accessible to ordinary Muslims, the conference aims to disseminate the distinguished scholar’s teachings in the simplest of forms. Imam Ghazali challenged his students and readers with hypotheses that were quite shocking, but that would make one think and improves oneself as a human being.
“An alchemist – in its popular understanding – is a person who has the gift of turning base metals into gold. Imam Al-Ghazali was a scholar with the ability to transform the baseness of the human personality into the golden divine through works such as the “Ihya ‘Ulum ad-Din.
“Already an acknowledged master of the Shariah, he re-entered society as an accomplished and practised Sufi – a true gnostic. Imam Al-Ghazali was also fully proficient in Greek and Roman philosophy, and he debunked its central tenets, proving that Revelation was always going to be superior to human reason. Human thinking could never evolve, he argued, in an existential vacuum without awareness of the Divine.
“A man for all seasons, a scholar for all times, we hope that we will be able to contribute to this worthy idea of promoting the life, times and ideas of Imam al-Ghazali.
One of the key components of the project – that is included in the tour will be the launch of the Al-Ghazali for Children project championed by publishers Fons Vitae (USA).
The Ghazali Project, an adaptation of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya for children in story form, published as a series of books with an interactive website. It aims to support Muslim parents, teachers, and children in realizing how to live by and embody the noble Prophetic character through self observation and self-correction. The series aims to provide authentic, quality guidance through Ghazali’s systematic approach for developing virtuous character.
He provides the entire family with a clear and simple map for living correctly – according to one’s fitrah, one’s innate, pure, true nature.
Sr Gray Henry who is the lead coordinator of the project will be accompanied by Prof Mustafa Abusway who will be conducting a nationwide tour including Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, running workshops for parents and teachers on how to implement the programme at schools or at home.
The Durban programme takes place on Sunday 21 October at Orient Islamic School between 9am-12pm (Parents and Teachers Workshop). The second session on the same day (Conference &Expo) runs from 1pm-6pm.
On Tuesday, 23 October, another Parents and Teachers Workshop will be held at the Hartley Primary School from 9.30-12.30pm.
For registration and other details visit www.hikmah.co.za or call 031 207 3871.