Mohammed al-Ghazali

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Sheikh Mohammed al-Ghazali الشيخ محمد الغزالي
Born (1917-09-22)September 22, 1917
al-Buhayrah, Egypt
Died March 9, 1996(1996-03-09) (aged 78)
Nationality Egyptian
Religion Islam
Denomination Sunni
Creed Ashari[1]

Sheikh Mohammed al-Ghazali al-Saqqa (1917–1996) (Arabic: الشيخ محمد الغزالي السقا ‎‎), was an Islamic cleric and scholar whose writings "have influenced generations of Egyptians". The author of 94 books, Sheikh Ghazali attracted a broad following with works that sought to interpret Islam and its holy book, the Qur'an, in a modern light. He is widely credited with contributing to a revival of Islamic faith in Egypt in recent times.[2] Another source called him "one of the most revered sheikhs in the Muslim world."[3]

Early life[edit]

Al-Ghazali was born in 1917 in the small town of Nikla al-'Inab (نكلا العنب), southeast of the coastal port of Alexandria, in the Beheira Governorate. He graduated from Al Azhar University in 1941. He taught at the University of Umm al-Qura in Makkah, the University of Qatar, and at al-Amir 'Abd al-Qadir University for Islamic Sciences in Algeria.


Sheikh al-Ghazali held the post of Chairman of the Academic Council of the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Cairo. Sheikh al-Ghazali authored more than sixty books, many of which have been translated into various languages, and was also the recipient of many awards, including the First Order of the Republic (Egypt) (1988), the King Faisal Award (1989) and the Excellence Award from Pakistan.

Al-Ghazali was known in the West for testifying on behalf of the assassins of secularist author Farag Foda, telling the Egyptian court that "anyone who openly resisted the full imposition of Islamic law was an apostate who should be killed either by the government or by devout individuals. He also called on the Government to appoint a committee to measure the faith of the population and give wayward Egyptian Muslims time to repent. Those who did not should be killed," he said.[2][citation needed]

In the Muslim world, however, Al-Ghazali "was not closely identified with the militant cause". He "often appeared on state-run television and held a place in the pulpit of one of Cairo's largest mosques,"[2] and in 1989 wrote a book "severely" criticizing what he believed to be the "literalism, and anti-interpretive approach to Islamic texts" of Ahl al-Hadith". The book prompted "several major conferences ... in Egypt and Saudi Arabia" criticizing the book, long articles in response in the Saudi-owned London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, and assorted writings of others condemning al-Ghazali and questioning "his motives and competence."[4]

According to Ana B. Soage during the assassination trial of Faraj Fawda, al-Ghazali stated "when the state fails to punish apostates, somebody else has to do it."[5]

After Egyptian Islamic Jihad attempted to kill Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a visit to Ethiopia June 1995, "Sheik Ghazali was among the prominent Islamic clerics who traveled to the presidential palace to congratulate Mr. Mubarak on his safe return." [2]

Personal life and death[edit]

He was married to Lady Amina Kouta and had seven children including two boys, and five girls and was buried in Medina, Saudi Arabia.[2] He was a very popular Sheikh in Egypt and remained so even after his death.[6]


The following is a sample of his writings:

"I did not like the way she was dressed when she entered my office. However, the look in her eyes revealed sadness and bewilderment that called for compassion and patience. She sat down and started sharing her concerns hoping to find answers with me.

I listened to her long enough. I learned that she was an Arab girl who received her education in France where she was raised. It was also clear that she barely knew Islam. I started explaining basic facts, dispelling suspicions, answering questions and refuting orientalists’ lies about Islam. I also did not forget to allude to today’s civilization and how it considers women as cheap flesh. At the end of my talk, the girl asked for a future appointment and excused herself.

Soon after, a young man – on whom qualities of Outward Islamism were apparent – came storming into my office and said violently: “How come such wicked person was admitted here?”

“The job of a physician is to accept. He doesn’t typically see healthy people, does he?” I replied.

“Of course, you advised her to wear Hijab!” he added.

I said to him “The issue is much bigger than that. There is the foundation that has to be laid. There is the Belief in Allah and the Hereafter. There is the hearing and the obeying of what was revealed in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, in addition to the pillars of worship and manners; the pillars that Islam cannot exist without …”. He interrupted me saying, “All of this does not mean we don’t order her to wear Hijab”.

“I wouldn’t like it if she came in a nun’s clothes while her heart is void of Allah. I taught her the basis that will help her to choose, on her own free will, to wear more decent clothes,” I calmly replied.

He tried to interrupt me again so I said firmly “I can’t drag Islam by its tail as you do. I lay the foundation and then start building and I usually achieve what I want with wisdom”.

Two weeks later, the girl came back. She was wearing much more decent clothes with a scarf over her head. She resumed her questions and I resumed my teaching. Then I asked “Why don’t you go to the nearest mosque to your home?” I said that but immediately I felt remorse. I remembered that mosques are closed in the face of Muslim women. The girl answered that she hated the People of Religion and that she did not like to listen to them.

“Why?” I asked.

“They are hard-hearted, and they treat us with contempt and scorn”, came her swift reply.

I don’t know why I remembered Hind (Abu-Sufyan’s wife). She was the one who chewed Hamza’s liver and fought Islam vigorously until the 8th year of Hijrah. She did not really know the Prophet. However, when she knew him and saw his lenient manners, she told him “I never wished someone on the face of this earth to be abased more than you and your family. Now, I do not wish to see someone on the face of this earth more honored than you and your family.” The Prophet’s kindness and sympathy changed the hearts of the people around him.

Now, would the Du`ah today learn from their Prophet? Would they learn to draw together instead of driving away, and to bring good tidings rather than to say things that repels people away from them and from Islam?" [7]


Some of his books include:[8][citation needed]

  • Islam and the Modern Economy
  • Islam and Political Despotism
  • Fanaticism and Tolerance Between Christianity and Islam
  • Fiqh Al Seerah
  • Tafsir on the Qur'an
  • Laisa Minal Islam (Not From Islam)
  • Our Intellectual Heritage
  • Renew Your Life
  • Islam and Women's Issues
  • The Prophetic Sunna: Between the Jurists and the Hadith Scholars


  1. ^ Halverson, Jeffry R. (2010). Theology and Creed in Sunni Islam. Pelgrave Macmillan. p. 74. ISBN 9781137473578. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Mohammed al-Ghazali, 78, An Egyptian Cleric and Scholar DOUGLAS JEHL Published: March 14, 1996
  3. ^ Kepel, Gilles, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam , (2002), p.287
  4. ^ Khaled Abou El Fadl (2005), The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists, p.93. Harper San Francisco.
  5. ^ Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), `Faraj Fawda, or the cost of Freedom of Expression`
  6. ^ A.C. Brown, Jonathan (2014). Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy. Oneworld Publications. pp. 136–7. ISBN 978-1780744209. 
  7. ^ "AlGhazali meets a French Arab girl"
  8. ^ A.C. Brown, Jonathan (2014). Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy. Oneworld Publications. p. 136. ISBN 978-1780744209. His [Muhammad al-Ghazali] countless books on every aspect of Islam and reviving its proper understanding, with titles like Our Intellectual Heritage, Renew Your Life and Islam and Women's Issues, still sell briskly at Cairo's impromptu sidewalk bookstalls. Through the decades of his prolific writing and serving as an imam in Cairo's leading mosques, Ghazali picked many fights and earned even more admirers.  See also p.137-9.

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