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Imam Al-Ghazali's Ihya' 'Ulum Al-Deen

Khatam Shareef of the Ihya'

A Muslim lives in the hope of attaining paradise with the vision of Allah (liqaa Allah). He knows that his worship and obedience of Allah can never compensate for the boons and favours Allah has bestowed upon him but hopes that whatever his shortcomings, Allah in His infinite Mercy will forgive him. At the same time, he fears punishment in the Hereafter for his tresspassings. He thus lives between khawf (fear) and rajaa (hope). Imam al-Ghazali devotes one whole book (Vol IV, Book 3) to this topic. He returns to it in Vol IV, Book 10, The Rememberance of Death. He recounts 105 different names for the Day of Judgement from the holy Qur'an Kareem and the blessed Hadith Shareef, the first ten of which are:

Yaumu'l qiyaamah: The Day of Arising,
Yaumu'l hasrah: The Day of Lament,
Yaum u'n nadaamah: The Day of Sorrow,
Yaumu'l muhaasabah: The Day of Reckoning,
Yaumu'l masaa'alah: The Day of Inquisition,
Yaumu'l musaabiqah: The Day of Racing,
Yaumu'l munaaqashah: The Day of Dispute,
Yaumu'l munaafasah: The Day of Competing,
Yaum u'z zalzalah: The Day of the Earthquake,
Yaumu'l damdamah: The Day of Overwhelming.

Even so, he ends on a note of hope in Allah's unbounded Mercy. The last chapter is appropriately titled "Nakhtimul Kitab Bi-baab-in Fee Si'ati Rahmatillahi Ta'ala 'Alaa Sabeel it-Tafaa'ul Bi-dhaalik" ("And We Do Khatam Shareef of the kitab With A Chapter On The Wide Expanse of Allah's Mercy, by Way of Hope"). This then is the Khatam Shareef of the Ihya'. Just as we do Khatam Shareef of the Qur'an with dua (supplication), Imam al-Ghazali Naf'anAllahu bih does Khatam Shareef of the Ihya'. In it, he quotes many verses of the Qur'an Kareem and ahaadith, a few narratives, does istighfaar (begs forgiveness of Allah), and ends with dua (supplication). Let us benefit from the translation of one each of these to conclude this appreciation of what the Ihya' is all about.

Say: O my bondsmen, who were prodigal with their own selves! Despair not of the mercy of Allah. Truly, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is the All-Forgiving, the All-Merciful (39:53).

The beloved Prophet Sallallahu 'alaihi wa Sallam said, "Truly, Allah (Exalted is He) has a hundred mercies, one of which He has sent below to jinn and to mankind, and to the birds and the animals and the vermin, through which is all their mutual dealing with kindness and with mercy. And ninety-nine mercies has He withheld, and by them shall He show mercy to His bondsmen on the Day of Arising". (Narrated by Hadrat Abu Hurairah, Rady Allahu 'Anhu; and reported in Sahih Muslim; Ihya', Vol IV, p. 578).

It is related that Allah (Great and Glorious is He!) once said to Nabi Musa (upon whom be peace), "O Musa! Qarun begged for your aid (when the earth was swallowing him up for his sins) but you afforded him none. But by My Glory and Majesty, had he begged for My aid, I would have aided him, and would have granted him My forgiveness". (Ihya', Vol IV, p. 579)

Imam al-Ghazali's astaghfaar must surely touch the hearts of all readers.

"We ask forgiveness of Allah (Exalted is He!) for every stumbling on our part and for every slip of the pen in this and all our other books.

We ask His forgiveness for those of our words which have not been matched by our deeds.

We ask His forgiveness for the claims and professions of knowledge and insight into his religion which we have made despite our insufficiencies therein.

We ask His forgiveness for every science we have acquired and every action which we have undertaken for His noble sake, but which was then commingled with something else.

We ask His forgiveness for every covenant we made within ourselves but which we then fell short of fulfilling.

We ask His forgiveness for every blessing which He bestowed upon us but which we employed in disobedience to Him.

We seek His forgiveness for having declared or implied the shortcomings or the inadequacy of anyone.

And we ask His forgiveness for every passing notion which induced us to dissemble or be mannered for the sake of playing up to others, in any book which we have written, or any discourse which we have delivered, or any science which we have profited or profited from.

And after having asked His pardon for all these things, for ourselves and for whomsoever reads this book of ours, or copies it, or listens to it, we ask that He should honour us with His forgiveness and mercy, and overlook the entirety of our sins, both evident and concealed.

For all-encompassing is His generosity, all-abundant is His mercy, and His grace overflows upon all that He has made. And we who are of His making, find no path to Him but that which lies through His grace and munificence". (The Remembrance of Death, p. 252-253; Ihya', vol IV, p. 578).

This is his final dua.

"It is our hope that He will not deal with us as we deserve, but will rather grant us that which is appropriate to Him, in His generosity, abundant indulgence, and mercy". (Ihya', Vol IV, p. 582)

Aameen Yaa Rabbal 'Alameen.


Toronto, 1420/1999

Acknowledgements: I am grateful to Shaykh Ahmad Dualle, Shaykh Mahdy 'Ali and Shaykh 'Umar 'Isa for many helpful comments.

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