Quran studies

Muḥammad al-Ghazālī (1917-1996)

Muḥammad al-Ghazālī was a prominent Egyptian religious scholar who played an important public role in his country and elsewhere. He wielded great influence in the field of politics and religion, besides being a significant interpreter of the Islamic societies of his time. Al-Ghazālī’s influence can be traced through the different roles he held during his life: he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a Friday Imam at al-Azhar Mosque; he was invited to teach and to give lectures in Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, among others, but, most importantly for this research, al-Ghazālī was a preacher (dāʿiya), and this clearly emerges from his commentary, which seems to be addressed to a non-academic readership (as an example of popularizing commentaries). Al-Ghazālī published the first edition of Tafsīr al-mawḍūʿī in 1992: it included only the commentary to the first ten sūras of the Qurʾān. The complete edition was published in 1995, at the end of his life, but his interest in Qurʾanic studies is also evident before this in his critique of the learning process of the Qurʾān. The tafsīr follows the structure of the thematic commentary, and the author proceeds in his analysis sūra by sūra: in every chapter, he identifies the most important themes that appear in the Qurʾān. The essential topics of al-Ghazālī's intellectual activity, which can also be found in his Tafsīr al-mawḍūʿī, are: personal and cultural purification, fighting deceitful religiosity, the struggle for freedom, social justice, Muslim unity, women’s role in society, scientific progress, Islamic awakening, and the most interesting for this research, the struggle against political despotism and imperialism.

Contributor: Francesca Badini.