In addition to the Kīmīā-ye saʿādat, his most important book in Persian, Ḡazālī wrote a number of shorter works in Persian, which for the most part either reiterate or elaborate on the contents of the Kīmīā. Written after his return to his birthplace of Ṭūs in 498/1105, these works contain homilies and counsel addressed to the sultan and his ministers, as well as to his own disciples; they stress the necessity of adhering to the provisions of the šarīʿa and condemn those who fail to do so. Apart from the Kīmīā, the most celebrated of Ḡazālī’s works in Persian is Naṣīhat al-molūk, written most probably for Sultan Sanjar b. Malekšāh (or possibly for Sanjar’s brother, Sultan Moḥammad). In the edition published by Jalāl-al-Dīn Homāʾī, this work consists of two parts, of which only the first (pp. 1-79) can reliably be attributed to Ḡazālī. In many parts the language and the contents are strikingly similar to, and in some passages a verbatim copy of, the Kīmīā (e.g., cf. pp. 3-5 and 27-46 with Kīmīā I, pp. 124-30 and 534-42). In the opening section of the Naṣīḥat al-molūk, Ḡazālī, drawing on a koranic verse (14:24), advises the sultan to pursue eternal felicity (saʿādat-e jāvīdān), which he likens to a tree growing from the seed of faith (toḵm-e īmān) planted in the chest and the heart (ed. Homāʾī, p. 2). The tree should be cultivated and nourished by devoting each Friday to worship. This tree has ten roots and ten branches (pp. 2-5). The roots correspond to essential articles of faith: the knowledge of God, His transcendence, His omnipotence, His omniscience, His will, His attributes of vision and hearing, His attribute of speech, His attribute of acting, judgment and the hereafter, and belief in His prophets. The branches of the tree consist of man’s external actions, worship, the observance of justice, and the avoidance of injustice. These themes are illustrated with numerous sayings of the Prophet and anecdotes concerning the great figures of religious tradition (pp. 13 ff.). The second and longer part of Naṣīḥat al-molūk (pp. 81 ff.), differs considerably in content and style from the well-known writings of Ḡazālī. It is replete with stories about the pre-Islamic kings of Persia, especially Anōšīravān and his justice, as well as maxims attributed to Aristotle, Socrates, Alexander, and Bozorgmehr (q.v.). It refers to the concept of the divine glory of kings (farr-e īzadī), and quotes many Persian verses, a practice Ḡazālī generally avoided. In the second edition, Homāʾī expresses some ambivalence on the attribution of this part of the book to Ḡazālī (Intro., pp. lxxi-lxxx), and both ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Zarrīnkūb (pp. 256-60) and Patricia Crone have presented arguments to prove that Ḡazālī could not be its author. Some Western scholars such as Henri Laoust, A. K. S. Lambton, and F. R. C. Bagley have nonetheless treated it as an authentic work of Ḡazālī in their discussions of the work (see bibliography below). Naṣīḥat al-molūk has been translated into Arabic more than once; an early translation entitled al-Tebr al-masbūk fī naṣīḥat al-molūk has been published several times.

Pand-nāma,another book of advice attributed to Ḡazālī and probably addressed also to Sultan Sanjar, has received little scholarly attention. In its contents it greatly resembles the first part of Naṣīḥat al-molūk as well as some other works of Ḡazālī, such as the Kīmīā and Zād-e āḵerat. The introduction to the book relates that Ḡazālī wrote the Pand-nāma in response to a certain king who had asked him for advice. A great deal of the book is devoted to the necessity of remembering death and the transience of worldly life and seeking true felicity in the hereafter. Its themes are illustrated with stories concerning the prophets and other religious figures. The Pand-nāma exists in numerous manuscripts, all of relatively recent transcription. The lack of any early extant manuscripts of the work has led a number of scholars to doubt its ascription to Ḡazālī, although its contents are clearly drawn from his writings. The attribution to Ḡazālī of a third book of counsel addressed to kings, Toḥfat al-molūk, is utterly unfounded, although its section on religious beliefs has been drawn from the first part of Naṣīḥat al-molūk. The celebrated story of Shaikh Ṣanʿān, developed at length by ʿAṭṭār (q.v.) in Manṭeq al-ṭayr, appears to have been taken by him from this Toḥfat al-molūk, which has led a number of Persian and Western scholars to attribute mistakenly the origin of the story to Ḡazālī (Pūrjawādī, 2000, pp. 4-12). Ay farzand (O son!) is the book of counsel that Ḡazālī wrote for one of his close disciples. It is frequently punctuated by the address Ay farzand (O son!), and this exclamation has come to serve as its common title, although the titles Ḵolāṣat al-taṣānīf and Farzand-nāma are also encountered. From Ḡazālī’s mention in this work of Ehyāʾ ʿolūm al-dīn and the Kīmīā-ye saʿādat it can be deduced that he wrote it toward the end of his life. He begins by citing some counsels of the Prophet before answering questions asked of him by his disciple on such matters as the duties of the spiritual wayfarer, the nature of Sufism, servanthood (ʿobūdīyat), trust in God (tawakkol), and sincerity of devotion. Queries on aspects of direct mystical experience (ḏawq) he declines to answer, on the grounds that such topics cannot be expounded verbally. The entirety of this work has a Sufi coloration, in an eloquent and attractive style. As usual, Ḡazālī cites many koranic verses and traditions of the Prophet, which he leaves untranslated. He also quotes a number of verses in Arabic and Persian, and one of the Persian verses appears to be his own composition: gar mey do hazār raṭl bar peymāʾī/tā mey naḵorī nabāšad-at šeydāʾī (Even if you measure out two thousand cups of wine/As long as you do not drink the wine, you will not feel intoxicated). Ay farzand has been translated into Arabic more than once, one of which, under the title Ayyoh al-walad, has served as the basis for versions in German by Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall and in French by Toufic Sabbagh. Zād-e āḵerat is a kind of manual of religious observance for those among his followers (ʿawāmm) who lacked the intellectual wherewithal to benefit from the Kīmīā (Zād-e āḵerat, p. 3). This, too, appears to be one of the last works he wrote. The greater part of it consists of the Persian translation of one of his Arabic works, Bedāyat al-hedāya; it deals with aspects of everyday life such as waking up, putting on one’s clothes, going to the mosque, praying, fasting etc., as well as various forms of supplicatory prayer (doʿā, q.v.) and the avoidance of sin. Zād-e āḵerat contains in addition the same material on credal matters that is to be found in the first section of Naṣīḥat al-molūk as well as the Kīmīā. The treatise concludes with a section on “the correct norms of conduct toward the Creator and creature,” which is also present in Bedāyat al-hedāya. W. Montgomery Watt omitted this section from his English translation of Bedāyat al-hedāya, which he included in his book on Ḡazālī (pp. 86-152), under the misapprehension that it had been wrongly attributed to Ḡazālī. Watt apparently was unaware of Zād-e āḵerat, which must be taken as confirming Ḡazālī’s authorship of the entire Bedāyat al-hedāya. Fażāʾel al-anām men rasāʾel Ḥojjat al-Eslām is the collection of letters that Ḡazālī wrote to sultans, ministers, military commanders, jurists, and some of his friends after his return to Khorasan. The collection, apparently assembled by one of his grandchildren after his death, contains thirty-four letters of varying length divided into five chapters. The longest letter might also count as a treatise in its own right, being a response to objections raised against some of his statements in Meškāt al-anwār and al-Monqeḏ men al-żalāl. One such objection was that by describing God as true light, Ḡazālī had fallen prey to the dualistic Mazdean belief in light and darkness as forming antithetical realms (ed. Moʾayyad Ṯābetī,p. 9). Some letters include discussion of credal and mystical issues. In the letters to the sultan and military commanders he stresses the necessity of justice and solicitude for the populace, while in letters to ministers, including Faḵr-al-Molk (q.v.), the eldest son of Ḵᵛāja Neẓām-al-Molk, he deals with theological questions. The references made in these letters to events that occurred toward the end of Ḡazālī’s life, between the years 499-505/1105-11, endow them with particular interest. His letters to Sultan Sanjar were apparently written between 499/1105, when he left Ṭūs for Nīšāpūr at the request of Faḵr-al-Molk to teach at the Neẓāmīya madrasa in that city, and his return to Ṭūs approximately one year later after the murder of Faḵr-al-Molk. In 504/1110, when Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. Moḥammad Kīā Harrās, the principal of the Neẓāmīya in Baghdad, died, Neẓām-al-Dīn Aḥmad (Żīāʾ-al-Molk), the other son of Neẓām-al-Molk, who at that time was minister to Sultan Moḥammad b. Malekšāh, asked Ḡazālī to go to Baghdad and replace him, but in a letter included in this collection he declined (ed. Moʾayyad Ṯābetī, pp. 39-46). Other letters of Ḡazālī comprise the fatwās he gave on various theoretical and practical problems pertaining to the Sufis of his age; these are to be distinguished from his relatively brief fatwās in Arabic that are on purely legal questions. Nine fatwās in Persian and one in Arabic on Sufi topics have been discovered so far in two manuscripts. One such fatwā relates to the permissibility of samāʿ, the musical sessions of the Sufis. Ḡazālī expresses the same view as in Eḥyāʾ ʿolūm al-dīn and Kīmīā-ye saʿādat: Samāʿ is in itself neither licit nor illicit, its status being dependent on the inner state of the person participating in it (Pūrjawādī, 1990a, pp. 8-17; for text and commentary). The fatwā was apparently written for someone ignorant of Arabic, for Ḡazālī translates into Persian the traditions of the Prophet that he cites. Another fatwā deals with seven queries about the primordial covenant that was concluded by the descendants of the Children of Adam before their spirits entered this world, as described in the Koran (7:172). The most important of the queries was whether those descendants had a real and sensory existence when they responded affirmatively to God’s question: “Am I not your Lord?”; and if so, whether it was in a world other than the present one. Abu’l-Qāsem Jonayd, Ḥosayn b. Manṣūr Ḥallāj, and Ḡazālī’s own younger brother, Aḥmad Ḡazālī, were all convinced that the covenant had indeed been sealed in a separate and distinctive realm, but Ḡazālī’s fatwā was to the effect that the descendants of Adam did not have some pre-eternal existence in a world other than this present one, and he interpreted the question and answer contained in the koranic verse in a metaphorical sense. A third fatwā was delivered in response to a question concerning the relationship between the love of God, which is the eternal and uncreated Love, and that of man, who is created. Ḡazālī explains that the relationship of the two is like that of the sun and its infinitely numerous rays (Pūrjawādī, 1990b; for the text of the three fatwās, with a commentary). Also worthy of mention among Ḡazālī’s fatwās is one concerning the conditions for making use of the endowments of a Sufi hospice (Pūrjawādī, 1991; for text and commentary). This appears to be the earliest known fatwā on the subject, and as such must be taken as an indication of the growing importance of the ḵānaqāh as a religious and social institution toward the close of the 11th century. According to Ḡazālī’s fatwā, only a Sufi is entitled to benefit from the endowments of the ḵānaqāh, a Sufi being defined as one who has the morals and comportment of the Sufi and has not committed a sin that would occasion his expulsion from their ranks. In the same fatwā he touches on the problem of mendicancy, which he regards as forbidden except in case of dire need. He also has an Arabic fatwā on the same subject, which has been included in the Eḥyāʾ, at the end of the relevant section on the lawful and unlawful (Ketābal-ḥalāl wa’l-ḥarām). Last among the Persian works of Ḡazālī comes his treatise in condemnation of the antinomians, Ḥamāqat-e ahl-e ebāḥat (also known as Radd-e ebāḥīya). Illustrated abundantly with koranic verses, traditions of the Prophet, allegorical stories, and the dicta of eminent men of religion, this treatise contains material also found in other works of Ḡazālī, such as the nine squares written on two pieces of pottery that are given to pregnant women, which is mentioned both in al-Monqed men al-żalāl and in one of the Persian fatwās. Ḡazālī’s tone in this treatise is harsh and angry; he condemns the antinomians as apostates whose marriages are invalid and whose blood may legitimately be shed. It was probably written after Ḡazālī’s return to Ṭūs from Baghdad and Syria but before his composition of Kīmīā-ye saʿādat. This treatise, like the fatwās, shows that Ḡazālī chose Persian as his medium whenever he wished to write on the problems of the society in which he lived. The other works discussed in this article also tend to demonstrate that Persian was for him more than the language of daily or familial use. He thought in Persian and used it to examine some of the most profound questions of mysticism and theology. He must, indeed, be accounted one of the earliest and most important writers of religious works in Persian.



Persian Texts by Ḡazālī: Ay farzand, publ. as an appendix to Makātīb-e fārsī, ed. ʿA. Eqbāl, pp. 79-94; ed. S. B. Aḥmad as Ḵolāṣat al-taṣānīf, Hyderabad (Deccan) n.d.; ed. S. Nafīsī as “Naṣīḥat-nāma,” Āmūzeš o parvareš 22, 1326 Š./1947, 1, pp. 10-15, 2, pp. 7-13, 3, pp. 18-24; tr. as Ayyoh al-walad, ed. and tr. J. von Hammer-Purgstall as Oh Kind, Vienna, 1838; ed. G. H. Scherer, Beirut, 1936; ed. A. Maṭlūb, Baghdad, 1986; tr. T. Sabbagh as Lettre au disciple,Beirut, 1969.

Ḥamāqat-e ahl-e ebāḥat, ed. O. Pretzl as Die Streitschrift des Ġazālī gegen die Ibāhīja, Sitzungsberichte der bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-hist. Abteilung, 1933, repr. with Pers. tr. of Pretzl’s intro. by Č. Pahlavān, Zamīna-ye īrān-šenāsī, Tehran, 1364 Š./ 1985.

Kīmīā-ye saʿādat, ed. Ḥ. Ḵadīv Jam, 2 vols., Tehran, 1361 Š./1982.

Makātīb-e fārsī-e Ḡazālī ba nām-e Fażāʾel al-anām men rasāʾel Ḥojjat-al-Eslām, ed. ʿA. Eqbāl, Tehran, 1333 Š./1954; ed. ʿA. Moʾayyad Ṯābetī, Tehran, 1333 Š./1954; tr. Abdul Qayyum as Letters of Al-Ghazzali, Lahore, 1976.

Naṣīḥat al-molūk, ed. J. Homāʾī, Tehran, 1351 Š./1972; Arabic tr., as al-Tebr al-masbūk fī Naṣīḥat al-molūk, Beirut, 1988; tr. F. R. C. Bagley as Ghazāli’s Book of Counsel for Kings, Oxford, 1964.

Idem, Pand-nāma, Tehran, 1311 Š./1932. Idem, Zād-e āḵerat, ed. Morād Awrang, Tehran, 1352 Š./1973.

Pseudo-Ḡazālī, “Toḥfat al-molūk-e Emām Abū Ḥāmed Moḥammad Ḡazālī,” ed. M.-T. Dānešpažūh, MDAM 1, 1344 Š./1965, pp. 246-300.

See also under Arberry and Pūrjawādī below. Studies: A. J. Arberry, The Chester Beatty Library: A Handlist of the Arabic Manuscripts III, Dublin, 1958, pp. 78-81 (contains four short works by Ḡazālī; for a commentary and edition, see Pūrjawādī, 1990a, 1990b, 1991).

P. Crone, “Did al-Ghazālī Write a Mirror for Princes? On the Authorship of Naṣīḥat al-mulūk,” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 10, 1987, pp. 167-91.

ʿA. Daštī, “Ḡazālī wa Nasīḥat al-molūk,” in idem, ʿOqalāʾ bar ḵelāf-e ʿaql, Tehran, 1352 Š./1973, pp. 57-92.

Ch.-H. de Fouchécour, Moralia: les notions morales dans la littérature persane du 3e/9e au 7e/13e siècle, Paris, 1986, pp. 389-412.

A. K. S. Lambton, “The Theory of Kingship in the Nasīḥat ul-Mulūk of Ghazālī,” Islamic Quarterly 1, 1954, pp. 47-55.

Idem, State and Government in Medieval Islam, Oxford, 1981, pp. 117-26.

H. Laoust, La politique de Ḡazālī, Paris, 1970. Monzawī, Nosḵahā, pp. 726, 1184, 1297-98, 1705-6.

W. Montgomery Watt, The Faith and Practice of Al-Ghazālī, London, 1953.

N. Pūrjawādī, “Moʿarrefī-e čahār aṯar-kūtāh-e fārsī az Abū Ḥāmed Ḡazālī” Maʿāref 7/1, 1369 Š./1990a, pp. 3-19.

Idem, “ʿAhd-e alast,” Maʿāref 7/2, 1369 Š./1990b, pp. 3-48.

Idem, “Do maktūb-e fārsī az emām Mohạmmad Ḡazālī,” Maʿāref 8/1, 1370 Š./1991, pp. 3-36.

Idem, “‘Toḥfat al-molūk’ wa dāstān-e Šayḵ Ṣanʿān,” Maʿāref 17/1, 1379 Š./2000, pp. 3-20.

Idem, Pažūhešhā-ī dar bāra-ye Moḥammad Ḡazālī wa Faḵr Rāzī, forthcoming (contains the Persian fatwās of Ḡazālī, his Ar. fatwā on the conditions of benefiting from the endowments of a ḵānaqāh, Ḥamāqat-e ahl-e ebāḥat, Pand-nāma, and Toḥfat al-molūk).

M. Wickens, “The ‘Persian Letters’ Attributed to Al-Ghazālī,” Islamic Quarterly 3, 1956, pp. 109-16.

ʿA.-H. Zarrīnkūb, Farār az madrasa, Tehran, 1353 Š./1974, pp. 254-61.

(Nasrollah Pourjavady)

Originally Published: December 15, 2000

Last Updated: February 3, 2012

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