This book describes the importance of prayer and its requirements.
It describes what is essential for the disciple in terms of the external acts and its inner secrets of prayer, and revealing its refined hidden meanings in terms of humility, sincerity and intention.
Praise be to Allah, Who submerged His slaves with His favours, and filled their hearts with the lights and duties of religion, whose descent from the throne of majesty to the nearest heaven is, of the degrees of mercy, one of His kindnesses. He is distinguished from kings, for all His unique majesty and grandeur, in urging His creation to ask and supplicate, for He says: هل من داع فأستجيب له وهل من مستغفر فأغفر له “Is there any who supplicates? so that I will answer him!” and, “Is there any who asks forgiveness? So that I will forgive him!” He is distinguished from sultans by opening the door and lifting the veil, and permitting His slaves private communion, by the performances of Prayers however their circumstances may be, whether in congregations or alone.
Moreover, He does not confine Himself to permission, but rather shows kindness by inspiring desire and calling. And besides him are from amongst the weak kings who do not permit private audience, except after the offering of a gift or a bribe. So glorious is he! How great his state, and strong His authority and perfect His kindness and universal his beneficence! And prayers and peace be upon Muhammad , His chosen Prophet and His chosen intimate, and upon his family and his Companions, keys of guidance and lamps in darkness.
Al-Ghazali was born in 1058 in Tus, a city in Khorasan province of Persia (Iran). His father, a traditional sufi, died when he and his younger brother, Ahmad Ghazali, were still young. One of their father’s friends took care of them for the next few years. Later in 1070, Ghazali and his brother went to Gurgan to get enrolled in a madrassah. There, he studied fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) next to Ahmad ibn Muhammad Rādkānī and Abu’l Qāsim Jurjānī. After approximately 7 years of studying, he returned to Tus.
His first important trip to Nishapur occurred around 1080 when he was almost 23 years old. He became the student of the famous Muslim scholar Abu’l Ma’ālī Juwaynī, known as Imam al-Haramayn. After the death of Al-Juwayni in 1085, Al-Ghazālī was invited to go to the court of Nizamul Mulk Tusi, the powerful vizier of the Seljuq sultans. The vizier was so impressed by Al-Ghazali’s scholarship that in 1091 he appointed him as chief professor in the Nizamiyya of Baghdad. He used to lecture to more than 300 students, and his participations in Islamic debates and discussions made him popular all over the Islamic territories.
He passed through a spiritual crisis in 1095 and abandoned his career and left Baghdad on the pretext of going on pilgrimage to Mecca. Making arrangements for his family, he disposed of his wealth and adopted the life of a poor Sufi. After some time in Damascus and Jerusalem, with a visit to Medina and Mecca in 1096, he settled in Tus to spend the next several years in seclusion. He ended his seclusion for a short lecturing period at the Nizamiyyah of Nishapur in 1106. Later he returned to Tus where he remained until his death in December, 1111. He had one son named Abdu’l Rahman Allam.