AL-GHAZALI'S THE ASCENT TO THE DIVINE THROUGH THE PATH OF SELF–KNOWLEDGE (MA cIRIJ AL–QUDS Fl MADARIJ MA (RIFAT AL.–NAFS) (BEING A PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH TO THEOLOGY, TRANSLATED AND. ANNOTATED, WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND GLOSSARY–INDEX).
University Microfilms, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan
SHAMMAS, Yusuf Easa, 1908–
The Hartford Seminary Foundation, Ph.D.,1958 Religion
The writer; Yusuf Easa Shammas, was born of Arabic speaking Protestant parentage in Midyat, a Syriac-speaking town of about 10,000 inhabitants in the section of Mesopotamia that is in Turkey, on Monday, October 19, 1908 ( or October 14, 1907 - records were lost during the Christian massacre of 1915). The population of the town consisted mainly of Syrian Orthodox (Jacobites), Protestants and a few Catholic and Muslim families. The town is surrounded by Kurdish speak:- ing. and Arabic speaking Muslim villages scattered here and there. Religiously the Christians were fanatical towards Islam, and looked down upon Muslims as unclean people.
It was in such an environment and in a well-to-do, puritanically minded family that the writer was brought up. He attended a Protestant school until 1915, when the Ottoman Government massacred all the outstanding Protestant personalities in the town, over a hundred in number. Realizing that their turn was soon coming, the rest of the Christians, in July 16 of that same year, revolted against Islgm, Government and people, After a siege of a week by the government and people from all the surrounding Muslim villages the revolt was suppressed. Many of the Christian inhabitants fled to the
nearest Christian villages, where they successfully continued their resistance. Those unable to run away were massacred, or (in the case of children and women) carried away by Muslims.
The writer was one of those carried away. My parents and most of my relatives were killed. My father was murdered before the revolt took place. The' sight of my cousin being slaughtered like a sheep, my mother's naked body in the street, murdered in cold blood because she preferred death to denying Christ, and the sight and words of other young women, who, encouraged by women like my mother, had stood firm likewise in the faith, and accepted martyrdom, are among the things that had their great impression upon my young mind and specifically upon my attitude to Muslims. I lost all sense of security and gradually developed a bitter hatred for Muslims collectively. When I was told by the Muslims who were carrying me away that I should profess Islam, I yielded out of fear, but -was beset at the same time with a fear that, having denied Christ, I had deserved his displeasure. That was the kind of religion that penetrated my young mind at home, and of which I was made aware by the behavior of those who preferred martyrdom to living as Muslims.
Before I was deported to Mardin, God, twice saved me from death. I was first saved at the hand of a Turkish officer who, seeing a Kurdish soldier about to empty the barrel
of his rifle into my brains, while I was screaming for mercy, hurried towards me and folded his arms around me. Another time in a neighboring Muslim village where this Turkish officer, who had now adopted me, left me temporarily with friends, a Muslim shot at me because I refused to go with him. But I was able to turn the corner and run away. Those two experiences also left their impression on me - a sense of fear mingled with a certain confidence in God, in so far as such thoughts could have significance for my young mind.
'In the first period of my Muslim life in Mardin I led
a more or less comfortable life. My Turkish masters were kind to me. They sent me to a Muslim religious school, where I found some satisfaction, and a feeling of being at home, as I was used .to school life. The portions of the Qur'an which I was given for text books reminded me of the Gospel of St. Matthew, my last text book in my Christian school in Midyat. Intermittently, felt proud of being considered the son of a Turkish officer, belonging to the ruling class of the country. In a few months I completed the recital of the Qur'an and received a good slap on the back of my head as a sign that I had completed my basic learning required by Islam. In another school I completed the book on Muhammad's birth including chants used during the celebration of his birthday. I was now declared to be fourteen ranks above a born Muslim in religious virtues and value in the sight of God. In
spite of my young age, I was asked to go up to the minaret and give the call to worship. My first experience of this reminded me that I had done something against the desire of God as a Christian. For some time the idea worried me until I forgot about it. During religious festivals I was asked to recite portions from the Qur'an over the dead in the ceme - tery. It was considered a great virtue for a Muslim to have a convert recite the Qur3gn on his or her dead people. Sometimes that gave me a sense of superiority, the more so because I was one of the very few who could read.
After my graduation from school, however, I was gradually subjected to harsh servitude. Sometimes the work that I was demanded to do was above the ability of a child of my age. In fact older boys sometimes could not do it. I served a family of thirteen, including children and babies whom I had to tend when I was free and they annoyed their mothers. I. had never been used to that kind of life. I was very miserable. Even though I carried all the food home from the town I was often forgotten and left without food. Sometimes I slept without having had anything to eat for two days or more. My clothes in winter were very thin, and I walked on the snow barefoot. Moreover, I learned from the street boys the filthiest language imaginable. Physically and morally my life was in danger.
All these thiligs reminded me of my Christian life, and made my heart pant for home. I had never forgotten that I was not a Muslim but a Christian. So why should I stay there ? It is now my conviction that if life had not been made hard for me, I would perhaps have remained there and have been now a real Muslim. One early summer evening of 194, depressed.: and feeble from fatigue, I went behind a big chest in the cellar where I used to sleep, and very earnestly lifted up my heart in the prayer, " lord save me from this place in three days". It was the first prayer I had uttered out of my own initiative. Believe it or not, in three days I had set my back on Mardin and was on my way to Midyat with a small company of Muslims whose children I promised to carry on the way if they would take me with them. They were not going to Midyat itself, but I would manage, not thinking how, to make my way there. The distance betwwen Mardin and Midyat was usually covered by caravans in two days. Due to the ignorance of the way on the part of my companions it took me about ten days to arrive at my destination, after many hardships and fear, including danger of murder by a band of robbers to whom we were exposed and from whom we were saved by an Arab peasant who. endangered his life for ours.
In Midyat I lived with my single sister for one year. As her earnings and mine were very meager we lived with great thrift. Yet I was happy I shared in the earning of my living,
and had the opportunity again to go to church and sing some of those dear hymns I had forgotten while at Mardin. Thanks to my sister's care end effort, in .a short time I gave up all the'lad language I had learned and used in Mardin. There were some advantages of my life there ttho. Besides the TuilsiSht and Kurdish languages I learned and added to my Arabic and Syriac, the one great lesson I came afterwards to learn was that Muslims were human beings like us Christians, that we could live together, play together, eat and drink together. even from the same plate, and bowl without becoming defiled. In fact after my return to Midyat some of my most intimate playmates were Muslims.
In 1919 I went back to Mardin, this time of my own choice, yet not to my Muslim masters but to the AmericanNear East Relief orphanage. After the orphanage was closed, I continued my studies in the same school through the Junior High School. I did all kinds of jobs to earn my board and lodging. My tuition and other school expenses were taken care of by the American Mission there.
One afternoon, during the month of Ramadan - the month of fasting for Muslims-- I met a friend from my old Muslim school. He asked me to go with him to the mosque to help him light the candles on the minaret and call for worship."But I am a Christian now", I said. "But that has not changed your
appearance. You are the same Yiisuf, and you can do the job", was his answer. He was so earnest in his pleading that I went with him. My old Muslim teacher, a shaykh, welcomed me back and was happy to learn that I was going up the minaret, where I agreed to light the candles though I let my Muslim friend perform the adhin. That event made me, as a Christian, feel more at home with Muslims, and like them more. For even as a Christian I could be loved and be kept as a friend by a Muslim.
In 1925 the American School at Mardin was closed by the Turkish Government never to open again. As my old intekest.- 1 religious work increased I made my way to Aleppo, where for two years I studied at the American Boys' High School (now Aleppo College). The American Mission at Mardin financed my schooling.4I hadTglei4 good contacts with Muslim. boys of my age, especially in school. There was a great difference between the attitude of the Muslims of Aleppo and
that of the Muslims of4Mardin-Midyat region in Turkey towards 1-1,6 Christians. The Muslims of Aleppo were kind. During the first World War they had protected their Christians, including Armenians, when Jamal Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Syrialdesired to massacre them. In addition, during the French mandatory rule over Syria from 1920 their attitude was noble and humane towards the many thousands of Armenian refugees flocking in from Turkey. I still could not forget that it was once a Turk
and another time an Arab peasant Who had saved my life from death. It was clear that all Muslims were not alike. There were very good Muslims and there were good Christians. Why then should I keep a grudge against all Muslims? Two changes took place in me. (1) My attitude was changed from sectarian (or communal) to a patriotic one. The birth place of this new attitude was Aleppo. (2) My love to Muslims took more cpncrete shape, even though at times a cloud of suspicion darkened the horizon before me for a while. Even Muslims who had so brutiir, ay. wronged us, I was convinced, could be won over and made good useful patriots. The most fruitful means for that, I was also convinced, wad a sound Christian education' hich would enable them to discover the joy and peace of mind the Christian life offers. Offensive action would make them more bitter enemies. What they needed was honest sincere love, including mine personally. -With the help of the Rev. Moro Witherspoon, my Sunday School teacher, the class was able to hold special evangelistic meetings-for Muslims. We gave out tracts. Muslim newspapers - very few then in number - wrote against those activities of ours. Though we never gave in, we .did not achieve any satisfactory results, perhaps because our attitude exhibited.fanaticism and our method was destructive, not constructive.
The feeling that I should Prepare myself for the Christian Ministry including Muslim evangelism was strength..
ened by the constant reminder'that the reason why God had three times saved my life from death most probably was that I should dedicate myself to that service. So in 1928, when I completed my High School studies I attended the Near East School of Theology in Beirut (theacalled "School for Religious Workers"). All this time every now and then I thought of the Turkish family I had run away from, especially the officer who had saved my lifea So I decided to write .to him. I addressed him, "Dear father". A very kind and appreciative answer was received in which I was addressed, "My dear foster son". Although I did not continue correspondence with them they always enquired about me.
One of the interesting activities I had during my school period in Beirut was a trip I made to the Euphrates region in North Syria, where two Christian young men and Zmrsatt-conducted in each of tipKurdish-speaking Muslim villages a Daily Vacation Bible School tor the children, and social activities for the young people. Very good relationshipswere built up.
In 1933 I earned a B.A. degree from the American University of Beirut and a-Diploma in Theology from the Near East School of Theology. I was then invited to be in charge of 'a church and a school in Kamishli,North Syria for the Protestant refugees from Turkey. I had already done pioneering work
there five years before that in organizing that church. A number of our Muslim adolescent students-cooperated in Christian activities se of their own initiative, and with the consent of their parents. Two of them openly professed the Christian faith, a third one played the role of Nicodemus. But he was more than a sympathizer; he regularly studied the New Testament which he kept in his pocket, even after he left school. The rest of the Muslim students as well as the Jews took part in Christian activities during Christmas and Easter.
In 1938, I was a teacher in Aleppo College, Aleppo, Syria, where I was afterwards appointA head of the Department of Religion and Ethics and acting head of the Arabic Department. My•experience with Muslim youth had now become richer.. The classes in religion and in Arabic literature (the section dealing with Muhammad, the Qur'an and Muslim thought) were among the most interesting and useful courses I taught. They brought aboutAhealthy relationship between Christians and Muslims, and a sense of fellowship that embraced all. Many of the Muslim students acquired an appreciative sense of Jesus and his religion, which clearly affected their outlook especially with regard to the teachings of the Qur'an. fin fact a number of them had a reasonable understanding of, and accepted such Christian Doctrines as God's fatherhood of mankind and in a special sense of Jeaus.'A student from one of the outstanding Muslim families of the city declared once in the
presence of his Muslim classmates that Jesus was the only authentic Apostle of God and that Muhammad, in view of his approval and propagation of war, was the greatest enemy of God. Though the argument, very fierce, was put down in class, it continued among the Muslim eudents outside the campus.
In 1947 I attended the School of Religious Education of the Hartford Seminary Foundation, whore in 1949 I earned an M.A. degree in Religious Education.
In 1950, after one more year of service in Aleppo College, in spite of the direct wholesome contact I had with Muslim youththere, I was persuaded to accept an invitation to teach Islamics and Old Testament at the Near East School of Theology on the basis that here I would have - and now do have . the opportunity to prepare Christian leaders to carry, on a larger scale, the work I was doing.
It is the writer's conviction that the Church of Christ in Muslim lands has thus far failed its calling with respect to these Muslim brothers in humanity. It is time that she should awake to hear their earnest call, "Come over. ...E) and help us")
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C HAPTERI BIOGRAPHY OF AL-GHAZAL! (450-505/1059.1111 A.D.)
AbaHaid ibn ]Muhammad al-GhazglI, a Persian Muslim
philoqophor and theologian, was born in Tis, rhurisgn, or (1)
rather in a village in that district called Ghazglah. His
father was a spinner and seller of wool. Although materially poor, he was a generous man. Before his death he asked a sifI friend to take care of his two sons, Abu Himid and
Ahmad, and spend whatever fortune he left behind on their
education. The friend did all he could to carry out the father's wish, until the meager fortune was exhausted. Then he advised the two boys to attend a school (madrasah), where they could get free education and board.
The two boys enrolled in a madrasah at TLTs, where Abu` Hgndd studied Divine Law (or religion) (fich) under
Abu imid al-Ghazgli (Haygtuhu, wa 3Irisuhu Wa Sifituhu)(Cairo,1 3/1924),p. 4, Cf. Qumayr, y., Al.Ghazalt (Beirut, 1947)? Part I,p. 5; Rife!, A.F., Al-Ghazal! TdairoL 1355/1936), Vol; I, p.79f - Hereafter referred to as Rife!. dates separates the one of the HijrI Era (left) from the vv
one of the Christian Era (right).
Note : In the present work the vertical line between two
Risdhkinf. Itater'in Jurjgn he studied under Imam Abi Nasr al.
Ismi‘r11, on whose lectures he took full notes.
On his way back to Tile robbers took away all he had, including the bag containing his notes. On his request, the chief of robbers gave him back his bag of notes.(2) He spent three years in Tas studying those notes s until he mastered them. According to ; Gardner it was at this period of his life that he began the study of Sufism "under the guidance of Yasuf al-Nassgr.(3) His inquisitive mind drove him to seek freedom from the limitations and fetters of human authority (taolid) in matters of doctrine and faith, and to enlarge his range of knowledge in scholastic theology and attain authentic knowledge of realities. So he left for Naysgbar (or Nishapti) to attend the lectures of Able°1-Ma(glI al-Juwaynr, known as Imam al-Haramayn, then in charge of the Nizgmiyyah school there. Under this celebrated stiff scholar he studied the different systems of religious .thought (madhghib), learned dialectics and logic, and studied philosophy. But above all
Subki, A.T., ;abaoit al-Shilfiflayat al-Kubra (al-Husayniyyah Press, Cairop.1324 A.H..) Vol. 1V$ p. 103 - hereafter referreCto as Tabaoat
Gardner,'W.R.W.I.A1-Ghazgli (the Islam-Series-Christian Literature Society for India, Madras, Allahabad, Calcutta, RangonL Colombo, 1919) p.8-hereafter referred to as Gardner. CF. Rife!, p.145f.
(44 Redhouse, Jar, A Turkish and English Lexicon (Boyajian, Constantinople, 1890)p.2082, 2117- heraafter'referred to as Redhouse; Encyclopaedia Britannica (Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., Chicago, 1943) Vol. 10, p. 331f. Rifi41 apparently rioting Al-Zabidi, has mug instead of mughdic copious) - ibid, I, 98. Tabacgt, IV, p. 206.
7 !bid, IV, p. 107; of. Qumayr, Y OP 5) Tabaat, IV, 1)0.03; Cf Qumayr, O.