n Journal for Islamic Studies - The dialogical construction of the Muslim Self : a reading of the life and work of Shaykh Muḥammad Al-Ghazālī

Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0257-7062



This paper examines the life and work of Shaykh Muḥammad al-Ghazālī (1917-1996), an Egyptian reformist scholar, locating his intellectual output within the framework of the broader socio-political context in which he came into being and emphasising both the psychological and social aspects that have impacted upon the formation of his identity. The theoretical framework of this study relies upon Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of dialogical discourse and approaches identity formation as a process of 'ideological becoming.' The paper examines al-Ghazālī's formative period, outlining his upbringing and thereafter traces his intellectual mentorship in the formal educational environment that subsequently moulded him into a prolific scholar and energetic social activist. Al-Ghazālī's intellectual bent is then interrogated and light is cast upon his salafi reform agenda. The paper concludes by assessing al-Ghazālī's impact upon Muslim society, emphasising his influence upon an entire generation of Islamist scholars and activists and argues that he has played an essential role in shaping the modern social imaginary; a concept that has been elaborated upon by the philosopher Charles Taylor and upon which this study draws.

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