The nightmare of Rationalists
It cannot be denied that Gazzali’s mission was almost apostolic like that of Kant in Germany of the eighteenth century. In Germany rationalism appeared as an ally of religion, but she soon realized that the dogmatic side of religion was incapable of demonstration. The only course open to her was to eliminate dogma from the sacred record. With the elimination of dogma came the utilitarian view of morality and thus rationalism, and thus rationalism completed the reign of disbelief.
Such was the theological thought in Germany when Kant appeared. His Critique Of Pure Reason revealed the limitations of pure reason and reduced the whole work of the rationalists to a heap of ruins. And justly has he been described as God’s Greatest Gift to his country.
Gazzali’s philosophical skepticism which, however, went a little too far, virtually did the same kind of work in the world of Islam in breaking the back of that proud but shallow rationalism which moved in the same direction as pre-Kantian rationalism in Germany.
There is, however, one important difference between Gazzali and Kant. Kant, consistently with his principles, could not affirm the possibility of knowledge of God. Gazzali finding no hope in analytic thought moved to mystic experience and there found an independent content for religion.
In this way he succeeded in securing for religion the right to exist independently of science and metaphysics.
But the revelation of the Infinite in mystic experience convinced him of the finitude and inconclusiveness of thought and drove him to draw a line of cleavage between thought and intuition. He failed to see that thought and intuition are organically related and that thought must necessarily stimulate finitude and inconclusiveness because of its alliance with serial time.
Summarized from Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam.
Immanuel Kant was the renowned German philosopher who is known for his masterpiece, Critique of pure reason. In this book, he outlines the shortcomings of reason and questions its absoluteness as a source of knowledge.
Imam Abu Hamid Al Gazzali, the great Muslim thinker, is known for his battle against the attack of Greek philosophy in the world of Islam. What distinguishes Gazzali from other previous thinkers is that his was an aggressive strategy, not defensive, while combating Greek thought.