In the Mysteries of Charity and Its Important Elements (Kitāb asrār al‑zakāt wa-muhimātiha; book 5), and the Mysteries of Fasting and Its Important Elements (Kitāb asrār al-ṣiyyām wa-muhimātiha; book 6), of the forty books of the Revival of the Religious Sciences (Iḥyāʾ ʿulūm al-dīn), Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī explains the inner and outer meanings of charity and fasting, two pillars of worship for Muslims. These are two of the five books that deal with the inner dimensions of Islamic worship; books 3, 4, and 7 address purification, prayer, and pilgrimage, respectively.
In book 5 al-Ghazālī begins with a discussion of the various kinds of zakāt and the conditions under which they become obligatory. He explains the manners related to zakāt and its inward and outward conditions. He then discusses the recipients of zakāt, who qualifies for it and in what circumstances, and the manners related to receiving it. Finally, al-Ghazālī explains charity and its virtues.
In book 6 al-Ghazālī begins with the outward obligations and sunna elements of fasting, and what is required if the fast is broken. He explains the mysteries of fasting and its inner conditions. Finally, he discusses the voluntary fasts and their order in superogatory worship.
This readable yet comprehensive work covers an array of issues from the essential outward aspects of paying charity, to the inward aspects of the state of the heart during the fast and how to humble oneself completely. As a practical, yet profound book, it is an indispensable guide for Muslims who seek a deeper comprehension of these two fundamental practices for Muslims, and for all those interested in understanding the meaning and role of charity and fasting in Islam.
Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 1111) was a leading scholar, jurist, and theologian of the golden age of Islam, and he remains its truest advocate in modern times. As a teacher of both inward and outward faith, he recorded these practical teachings in his forty-book compendium of Islamic knowledge.
“This work is nothing less than a revolution in developing humane, ethical, and committed Muslim youth. Imam al-Ghazali is the “Proof of Islam”, and these teachings, presented in a beautiful life-affirming way, will prove to be a major shift in the way Islam is taught to young people, who are in desperate need of guidance in today’s confusing times. As a community, we owe much to Fons Vitae for bringing them to fruition. Let the transformation begin!” -Shaykh Hamza Yusuf