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Both knowledge and action are necessary for salvation. Yet some groups of Muslim intellectuals, e.g. the West-influenced Muslim philosophers, and also many Muslim scholars remain content with knowledge and neglect action, believing that mere knowledge is enough for salvation and that action is not needed. Certain groups of erring sufis also neglect action and resort to ecstatic utterances, vain sayings, etc by which they want to show their proximity to God. They all are strongly condemned by al-Ghazali (d.1111 A.D.), the greatest Muslin intellectual and sufi of all times, in his epistle Ayyuha l- Walad. He insists that mere knowledge is not enough; rather action must be conjoined with it. Various aspects of this theme he briefly discusses in the first half of the epistle. In the second half of the epistle are briefly discussed several basic issues of sufism, such as the characteristics of sufism, the things required at the start of sufistic practices, the need for spiritual guide and his marks, the etiquettes of sufi disciple, what is to be avoided and what is to be accomplished by him and so on. The ideas al-Ghazali sets forth in the epistle are based on both the Shari'a and tariqa, and hence this book should be useful to the followers of both disciplines. The book is an accurate, readable translation of al-Ghazali's Ayyuha l- Walad, with a useful introduction, copious informative footnotes, and a scholarly discussion of several aspects of the Arabic text, including its contents.
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