ABSTRACT

In the previous chapter we saw how John Finnis defines a theory of Natural Law as ‘practical reasonableness’ — not in the Kantian sense of universalisable immutable ethical rules, but in that of contingently constituted practical knowledge, which articulates the individual’s capacity for knowledge and action. According to this analysis, one cannot give justice to legal and political ideas without a particular acceptance and understanding of ‘knowledge’ and ‘rationality’, which opens up to non-negotiable sources of learning. Finnis’ theory shares the theoretical basis of Ghazālī’s answer to his untidy context, 1 as it points to the moral foundation of the shift that Ghazālī’s text is concerned with. This shift has to do with the knowledge of God’s all-pervasive Revealed Law and Wisdom, affecting the knowledge and action, not only of personal formation, but of the body politic as well. Therefore, he emphasises the centrality of rational judgement that is not divorced from the axial texts of the Koran and the Sunna of the Prophet, which in turn inform the epistemic canopies for the formation of individuals and the body politic. Thus, as we already noted in the first chapter, Ghazālī, in kitāb al-'ilm, relates to the all-pervasiveness of God’s revelation as a challenge not only for political rulers, but also to the temptations and falsehoods, as he saw it, in the religious discourse of other groups of his own day, shaped by the interests of power and prestige (the 'ulamā', fuqahā', and the mutakallimūn).