Renewing Religion: An Overview of Ghazali's Ihya

In this lesson, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives an overview of the chapters on the condemnation of the Dunya; pride; conceit and delusion; and on repentance. These chapters are part of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya and a series of sessions on renewing religion.


Shaykh Faraz begins by explaining that each person has a self that requires affirmation and that affirmation can manifest in the form of pride or delude oneself into thinking that you are doing well. It is common for people to be heavily concerned with the progression of their worldly matters and along with it with their selves, however, when it comes to matters of the deen they don’t feel the urgency and the need to change to improve. For that reason, the condemnation of the dunya in this chapter refers to everything that busies you from Allah.


One should strive in this dunya but consider what you really need of this life to get you to the hereafter. Thus one should always remember the lowliness and fleetingness of this life and the vastness of the Hereafter in comparison.


On pride and conceit, Imam Ghazali defines pride is to think oneself great and conceit is to be self-satisfied and impressed with oneself. Imam Ghazali explains that the basis of all damndest is pride because it is the original sin of Iblees (Satan) and that’s why we have to be very wary of it. As for arrogance, the signs of it are to look down on people and reject what is true. That is why the sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is grounded in humility, both in outward actions and inward consciousness.


Shaykh Faraz advises that the best way to guard oneself against pride is to attribute all good in your life to Allah and praise Him for it. That stems from an understanding that you are a servant of Allah and every blessing you have is from Allah.


The next vice Shaykh Faraz discusses is delusion and that refers to a satisfaction one has with themselves or their lives, it is a fake satisfaction that is fleeting and does not lead to contentment. One can fall into various types of worldly and religious delusions that are explained in the lesson. Shaykh Faraz recommends that one reads more on this topic in particular through Shaykh Nuh Keller’s Reliance of The Traveller book.


The last portion of the lesson is devoted to the chapter on repentance. Repentance has three integrals: [1] leaving the sin [2] feel remorse for having sinned [3] have resolved to never return to it The fuel of repentance is having a good opinion of Allah and rejoicing in your return to the one you love. Allah has made repentance obligatory because it is mandatory to enter paradise unless you refuse it, so make it a habit to continually repent.


Shaykh Faraz explains in the lesson the various levels of repentance that one can aspire to. In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as a blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.


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