The Islamic Texts Society has recently published a translation of Book XXIX of al-Ghazālĩ’s Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din), The Condemnation of Pride and Self-Admiration, by Dr. Mohammed Rustom (Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at Carleton University).
The Condemnation of Pride and Self-Admiration is the twenty-ninth chapter of The Revival of the Religious Sciences, a monumental work of classical Islam written by the theologian-mystic Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali. Perhaps the most important chapter in the whole of Revival, The Condemnation of Pride and Self-Admiration delves into the fundamental spiritual ailments and major impediments of the soul, namely pride and self-admiration. In Part One, Ghazali focuses on pride, firstly by showing how the Qur’an condemns it, then by demonstrating what pride is and what its symptoms are, how pride manifests outwardly, as well as the seven causes of pride, the root cause being self-admiration. In seeking ways to cure the soul of pride, Ghazali presents the virtue of humility as the spiritual virtue par excellence; he offers examples of true humility, of false humility, and the manner by which the seven causes of pride can be uprooted.
In Part Two, Ghazali hones in on the root cause of pride: self-admiration. As with pride, Ghazali defines self-admiration, shows the various ways it manifests inwardly, how it causes negligence, delusion and complacency, and how each of these can be remedied. The Condemnation of Pride and Self-Admiration is therefore a genuine contribution to the field of virtue ethics. It will also be of interest to scholars and students of Qur’anic studies, given the thoroughly Qur’anic nature of Ghazali’s assessment of and proposed remedies for pride and self-admiration.
Mohammed Rustom is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at Carleton University and Library of Arabic Literature Senior Fellow at NYU Abu Dhabi. He is the author of the award-winning book The Triumph of Mercy: Philosophy and Scripture in Mulla Sadra (2012) and co-editor of The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary (2015).
Praise for The Condemnation of Pride and Self-Admiration:
“Al-Ghazali’s moral psychology forms the most lasting part of his legacy: his piercing yet thoroughly humane observations on our many foibles, in particular, have lost none of their currency. Anybody willing to examine how the vice of pride can sour the human heart and warp not only our relations with one another, but our very perception of reality, will stand to benefit from Mohammed Rustom’s excellent English translation.”
-Taneli Kukkonen, NYU Abu Dhabi
“Mohammed Rustom’s annotated translation of one of the most important parts of al-Ghazali’s hugely influential Revival admirably combines lucidity with scholarly accuracy, and is a pleasure to read. I recommend it without hesitation to anyone interested in al-Ghazali, Sufism, or virtue ethics in Islam.”
– Ayman Shihadeh, SOAS University of London
“In his vivid and lively English translation of the twenty-ninth book of the Revival, Mohammed Rustom has gone to great pains to accurately convey the highly nuanced nature of the original Arabic, thereby bringing al-Ghazali’s thought to life for the contemporary reader.”
– Steven Styer, University of Oxford
Text and image accessed and reproduced with the kind permission of Mohammed Rustom.
© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2019. All rights reserved.