” We’re the middle children of the history man, no purpose or place, we have no Great war, no Great depression, our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives”
Chuck Palhaniuk, Fight Club
For those in the modern world captured by the religious ideas of Islam, the starting point is spiritual, not the material or the political. It is the spirit that gives meaning and direction to our actions, yet the spirit is ephemeral. It cannot be defined or located and still it characterises us. Imam Ghazali understood intuitively the relationship between the spirit and our actions, and he saw that the two in harmony would lead us to God. To this transcendent end, the spirit aspires. The world will either support or hinder this journey.
Ghazali’s magnum opus, the Ihya Ulum Ud Deen, is an ambitious project, attempting to guide ones spirit and actions towards the divine goal, warning about the challenges, and prescribing the ways of navigating. His words are important today as they were when they were first written in the 11/12th century. Islamic scholars, trained in the science of sufism, or rather spiritual improvement, have studied this text for centuries.
Today, a new generation of scholars are teaching Ghazali’s Ihya. Travelling Light is a novel pedagogical project, where Islamic scholars teach the various books of the Ihya in various locations around the world. This wanderlust reflects the universal applicability of Ghazali’s words, both in time and in space. For more information on the project, visit www.nursari.com.
This blog uses the lectures as a platform for reflections on the specific books of the Ihya, and the application of his ideas in the modern world. Far from being a quixotic enterprise, the Ihya views all the world’s problems as rooted in spiritual ailments, and targeting the spirit is the first point of finding solutions. However, much more than material improvement, the sicker the spirit, the more distant he/she is to the Divine.
Each post will be a brief reflection on one of the lectures. To view the lectures directly please visit www.nursari.com/classes. Each post will hopefully look into some of the pressing issues of our time through the lens of the Ihya. It is an ambitious aim, but the Ihya is a timeless book whose wisdom is still relevant and penetrative today.