Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Gyongyi Hegedus



Islamic mysticism has been the main focus of many Muslim philosophers and theologians. Great philosophers such as Avicenna and al-Ghazālī have dedicated part of their works to Islamic mysticism. They strove to clarify the meaning, goals and framework of Islamic mysticism. Avicenna presents Islamic mysticism as an intellectual journey that begins with the human and advances toward the Truth. The Truth for Avicenna is absolute being (wujūd muțlaq), which is equivalent with his philosophical definition of the Truth. This philosophical-mystical journey is a kind of psychological-mental journey. By psychological-mental I mean that the journey takes part and flows between different levels of the human psyche, for example from the potential intellect to the active intellect.

Al-Ghazālī argues that Islamic mysticism is a Qur’anic journey that starts from the human and advances toward the Truth. In other words, the Qur’anic journey is a journey closely associated with the Qur’an. The Truth for al-Ghazālī is the Light of Lights. Al-Ghazālī ’s journey toward the Truth requires the combination of physical and mental structures. For example, the seeker of the Truth should obey Islamic law by praying and fasting; however, the seeker must also focus on and remember the attributes of the Truth with his heart.

This comparison of Avicenna and al-Ghazālī illuminates that both Avicenna and al-Ghazālī have observed Islamic mysticism from the philosophical perspective. Also, both understand the Qur’an in a philosophical and mystical context.

This thesis offers a new perspective of Islamic mysticism by comparing Avicenna and al-Ghazālī ’s work and their integration of key elements of Islamic mysticism.

Keywords: Avicenna, Al-Ghazālī, The Truth, The division of world, The division of people, Verse Nūr.