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Al-Ghazālī Or Al-Ghazzālī? On A Lively Debate Among Ayyūbid And Mamlūk Historians In Damascus

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Chapter Summary

During the seventh/thirteenth and eighth/fourteenth centuries, a group of Muslim historians in Ayyūbid and Mamlūk Damascus debated the spelling of al-Ghazālī's name and - given that they did not share William M.Watt's method adopted from Latin textual criticism - came to a different conclusion. In their discussions they also offer a number of interesting insights into al-Ghazālī's family background. Al-Ghazālī or al-Ghazzālī was most probably a nisba that was used by members of this family from Ṭābarān in Ṭūs for at least three or four generations before our scholar. The most talented Arab historians of this period - Ibn Khallikān, al-Dhahabī, and al-Ṣafadī - understood that the matter could not be settled and remained uncommitted: Allāhu aʿlam. Adapting the spelling 'al-Ghazālī' should not be viewed as an indication that one accepts the explanation via a place called 'Ghazālī' any more than the one that associates it to the occupation of a wool-spinner.

Keywords: al-Ghazālī; Ayyubid historians; Damascus; Latin textual criticism; Mamluk historians; William M.Watt's method



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