Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Beginning of the Beginning of Guidance of al Ghazali (d. 505 AH)

With eager desire you are setting out to acquire knowledge, my friend; of yourself you are making clear how genuine is your longing and how passionate your thirst for it. Be sure that, if in your quest for knowledge your aim is to gain something for yourself and to surpass your fellows, to attract men’s attention to yourself and to amass this-worldly vanities, then you are on the way to bring your religion to nothing and destroy yourself, to sell your eternal life for this present one; your bargain is dead loss, your trading without profit. Your teacher abets you in your disobedience and is partner is your loss. He is like the one who sells a sword to a highwayman, for in the words of the Prophet (God bless and preserve him), ‘whoever aids and abets a sin, even by half a word, is partner with the sinner in it.”  
On the other hand, if in seeking knowledge your intention and purpose between God most high and yourself is to receive guidance and not merely to acquire information, then rejoice. The angels will spread out their wings for you when you walk, an the denizens of the sea will ask pardon from God for you when you run...

-The Beginning of Guidance, from the Faith and Practice of al-Ghazali by W. Montgomery Watt, pg. 86-87

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