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Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination (Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks) 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0807856123
ISBN-10: 0807856126
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Editorial Reviews


An exciting and ambitious work. It is also deeply textual and traditional. . . . Has much to offer and is an exemplar of the work of a committed and engaged Muslim intellectual.--Journal of the American Oriental Society

Moosa demonstrates the contemporary relevance of one of the greatest thinkers in Islam. . . . Spellbinding.--New Statesman

The novel, and indeed groundbreaking, character of this work . . . assures that the readers not only discover Ghazali as an interlocutor, but overhear centuries of exchange as well.--Modern Theology

Illuminating. . . . One of the most original and provocative stud[ies] of al-Ghazali yet to have been produced by a Muslim.--The Muslim News

Makes us encounter fresh ways of thinking of and listening to Ghazali's texts.--JRAS

Moosa's study breathes of an intellectual spirit that is rare in modern Muslim thinking. Creativity, imagination, philosophical sophistication, intellectual perspicacity and ideational fecundity are all found aplenty here.--Muslim World Book Review

[Moosa's] nuanced understanding of Ghazali's world allows us to enter the dihiliz ('a passage way') into the intellectual/spiritual edifice that Ghazali built. . . . Interesting, informative, and a great read.--Theological Studies


This is a brilliant, original, and often quite profound study of one of the most important of medieval Islamic thinkers. Ebrahim Moosa has sought to enter the world-view of an especially elusive and ambiguous thinker, whom even his contemporaries found overly slippery, and he has done so with audacity, empathy, and great perspicacity.--Eric Ormsby, McGill University

|Moosa brilliantly argues that Ghazali did not reconcile contradictions between different systems of thought by forging middle grounds or by producing a great synthesis of multiple systems of knowledge. Rather, he imagined new forms of knowledge through which contradictory views can be simultaneously maintained. Ghazali thus exemplifies the ability to position oneself in intellectual exile while remaining a committed insider. Moosa's study of Ghazali offers creative solutions to the contemporary crisis of Muslim thought.--Ahmad Dallal, Georgetown University

|Moosa's book shows better than any work I am aware of how Ghazali transformed Islamic thought at a critical moment when the European Crusaders and other forces were dismantling the Pax Islamica in which the older schools had flourished.--Richard C. Martin, Emory University


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (June 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807856126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807856123
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,550,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ebrahim E.I. Moosa is Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame with appointments in the Keough School of Global Affairs, the Kroc Institute for International Peace and the Department of History. He is co-director of the Contending Modernities program, a global research and education program that fosters intellectual exchange between Catholic, Islamic and secular perspectives on science, politics and society. His interests span both classical and modern Islamic thought with a special focus on Islamic law, history, ethics and theology. His latest book, What is a Madrasa? was published in April 2015. World Religions Demystified, co-authored with Matt Cleary was published in 2014. Dr Moosa is the author of Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination, winner of the American Academy of Religion's Best First Book in the History of Religions (2006) and editor of the last manuscript of the late Professor Fazlur Rahman, Revival and Reform in Islam: A Study of Islamic Fundamentalism. With Jeffrey Kenney he co-edited Islam and the Modern World and with Shamil Jeppie and Richard Roberts he co-edited Muslim Family Law in Sub-Saharan Africa.

He was named Carnegie Scholar in 2005 to pursue research on the madrasas, Islamic seminaries of South Asia. Born in South Africa, Dr. Moosa earned his MA (1989) and PhD (1995) from the University of Cape Town. Prior to that he took the `alimiyya degree in Islamic and Arabic studies from Darul Ulum Nadwatul `Ulama, one of India's foremost Islamic seminaries in the city of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. He also has a BA degree from Kanpur University, and a postgraduate diploma in journalism from the City University in London. Previously he taught at Duke University from 2001-2014, visiting professor at Stanford University 1998-2001 and the University of Cape Town in South Africa 1989-1998.

As a journalist he wrote for Arabia: The Islamic World Review, MEED (Middle East Economic Digest) and Afkar/Inquiry magazines in Britain, and later became political writer for the Cape Times in South Africa. He contributes regularly to the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Atlanta-Journal Constitution, The Boston Review and several international publications and is frequently invited to comment on global Islamic affairs. In many of his writings Moosa explores some of the major challenges that confront a tradition-in-the making like Islam, in a rapidly changing world. Moosa examines the way religious traditions encounter modernity and in the process generating new conceptions of history, culture and ethics. Dr. Moosa serves on several distinguished international advisory boards and is associated with some of the foremost thinkers, activists and role-players in the Muslim world and beyond. He advised the first independent South African government after apartheid on Islamic affairs and serves on committees of the Organization of Islamic Conference in addition to others. He also has extensive experience in human rights activities. He has received grants from the Ford Foundation to research contemporary Muslim ethics and issues of philanthropy in the Muslim world. For further details and access to research materials please visit Dr Moosa's website.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ASD on December 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
This was one of the most challenging books I've read. He uses an uncannily obscure lexicon and dense language, yet his idea of examining al-Ghazali on a figurative and metaphysical "threshold" is a very unique experience. If you can endure difficult academic language, you will find the book rewarding in the end.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By 7up on August 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination is an eloquent tour de force that argues for the contemporary engagement and revitalization of the Islamic tradition through the reconciliatory hermeneutical strategy of al-Ghazali. Professor Moosa's extensive training in traditional Islamic scholarship as well as his fluency in the Western intellectual tradition allows him to address many challenges currently confronting the intellectual and spiritual interpretation of Islam with an original and powerful voice. As such, Ghazali is a quest for an emancipatory knowledge that is equally weighted by both esoteric and exoteric epistemologies. Highlighting al-Ghazali's liminal discursivity, Professor Moosa skillfully argues for a Muslim subjectivity that allows for multiple perspectives in order to embrace new paradigms that are simultaneously loyal to tradition and temporally appropriate. Far from apologetic, Ghazali is a dynamic and creative attempt to critically engage traditional Islam in the contemporary language of the Western academy. Although Moosa often offers provocations aimed at the entrenched forms of the tradition, he never loses sight of either its ethical imperative or its revelatory authenticity. In this sense Ghazali is far more than a rhetorical analysis; it is a continuation of the intellectual tradition of al-Ghazali and an interpretation of his rhetorical strategy of Islamic revitalization in the Technical Age.
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By Sayed Zaman on November 11, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great! Super fast delivery!
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