Epistemology of Love according to Augustine and Ahmad Ghazali

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD Student in Religions and Mysticism, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Department of Religions and Mysticism, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

3 Professor of Islamic Mysticism, Department of Religions and Mysticism, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran


The word "love" in literature in a general sense and in mystical literature in a special sense is one of the most frequent words in different religious traditions and contains various interpretations and analyses. In the epistemology of love, love is considered secondary knowledge. More attention has been paid to this type of investigation in the modern world. But a deep look at the works of the early scholars proves that despite the fact that they were centuries away from Kant's critique of reason and the emergence of epistemology, in their words and writings they addressed love as secondary knowledge and explored its dimensions. In the meantime, mystics such as Augustine in the Christian tradition and Ahmad Ghazali in the Islamic tradition had a significant impact on the epistemology of love, and in this field, they put forward their views not as lovers but as researchers of love. The findings of this research, which was carried out with a descriptive-analytical method based on library sources, show that despite the commonalities between Ahmad Ghazali's and Augustine's views on the epistemology of love, there are also some differences between them. Augustine analyzed the word "love" in detail, while Ghazali confined himself to general expressions. However, their views on the issue of the unity of love, lover, and beloved are so similar to each other that one can speak of the identity of their views. Both religious thinkers believed that "love" means will and desire and it is a covenant to return to God, however, Augustine considered the origin of this will and desire to be the man's will and Ghazali considered their origin to be the divine grace. At the same time, they had different and sometimes similar views on the types of love and their harm. Ghazali considered love to be single, whether divine or human, but Augustine only believed in the love of God. They completely disagreed on the damages or epistemic barriers of love; but they expressed common signs of love, such as faith, the lover's (man's) submission to the beloved (God), and the happiness of the lover.


Main Subjects

The Holy Quran
The Bible. 2000. n.p: Ilam.
Augustin, Saint. 1908. Confessions, ed. T. Gibband W. Montgomery, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Augustin, Saint. 1949. The City of God, Trans: Demetrius, B.; Zema, S. J.; Gerald, B.; Walsh, S. J., Washington D. C.: The Catholic University of America Press.
Augustine Saint. 2000. Eterafat (Confessions), Translated by Sayeh Meythami, Tehran: Sohrewardi. [in Farsi]
Augustine Saint. 2012. Shahr Khoda (City of God), Translated by Hoseyn Tofighi, Qom: University of Religions and Denominations. [in Farsi]
Augustine, Saint. 1963. The Trinity (De Trinitate), in: The Fathers of the Church, v. 45, translated by Stephen Mchenna. C. SS. R., The Catholic University of Ammerica Press, Washington 17, D. C.
Augustine, Saint. 1971. On Christian Doctrine (De Doctrina Christiana), translated by J. F. Shaw, in: Great Books the Western, by Robert Maynard Hutchins, William Benton, Publisher, Nineteenth Printing.
Augustine, Saint. 1984. Divine Providence and the Problem of Evil (De Ordine), translated by Robert p. Russell, O. S. A., New York: Cima Publishing Co., Inc.
Burnaby, John (translator). 1955. The Library of Christian Classics, v. 8: Augustin: Later Works, selected and translated with introductions by John Burnaby, London: SCM Press LTD.
Chittick, William. 2009. Daramadi bar Tasawwof wa Erfan Islami (Sufism: A Short Introduction), Translated by Jalil Parwin, Tehran: Wisdom. [in Farsi]
Chittick, William. 2015. Eshgh Elahi: Seyr be Suy Khoda dar Motun Islami (Divine Love: Islamic Literature and the Path to God), Translated by Seyyed Amir Hoseyn Asghari, Tehran: Scientific & Cultural. [in Farsi]
Corbin, Henry. 1998. Tarikh Falsafeh Islam (History of Islamic Philosophy), Translated by Jawad Tabatabayi, Tehran: Desert. [in Farsi]
Cushman, Robert. 1955. "Faith and Reason", in: A Companion to the Study of St. Augustine, ed. by Roy W. Battenhhouse, New York: Oxford University Press.
Fitzegarld, Allan D. (ed.). 1999. Augustine through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, O.S.A., Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdman's Publishing Company.
Foruzanfar, Badi al-Zaman. 1997. Ahadith wa Ghesas Mathnawi (Masnawi Hadiths and Stories), Translated & Rearranged by Tehran: Amirkabir. [in Farsi]
Ghanbari, Bakhsh Ali. 2013. "Marefat Kashfi dar Nahj al-Balaghah (Intuitive Knowledge in Nahj al-Balaghah)", in: Mystical and Mythological Literature, no. 33, pp. 207-235. [in Farsi]
Ghazali, Ahmad. 1980. Sawaneh (Accidents), Prepared by Nasrollah Purjawadi, Tehran: Iranian Culture Foundation. [in Farsi]
Hajwiri, Ali ibn Othman. 2007. Kashf al-Mahjub, Edited by Ahmad Abedi, Tehran: Sorush. [in Arabic]
Ibn Jawzi, Abu al-Faraj Abd al-Rahman. 1982. Talbis Eblis (Deception of Satan), Beirut: House of Pen. [in Arabic]
Marcus, Robert Austin. 1998. Augustinus, Tehran: Kuchak.
Masudi Ali ibn Hosayn. 1985. Moruj al-Zahab wa Maaden al-Jawhar (Meadows of Gold & Mines of Jewelry), Beirut: Andalus House for Printing and Publishing. [in Arabic]
Matthews, Gareth B. 2001. "Knowledge and Illumination", in: Cambridge Companion to Augustine, ed. By Eleonore Stump and Norman Cretzman, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McGrath, Alister. 2013. Elahiyat Masihi (Christian Theology), Translated by Mohammad Reza Bayat, et al. Qom: University of Religions and Denominations. [in Farsi]
Mojahed, Ahmad. 1998. Shoruh Sawaneh: Se Sharh bar Sawaneh Ahmad Ghazzali, Tehran: Sorush. [in Farsi]
Mojahed, Ahmad. 2015. Moghaddameh Majmueh Athar Farsi Ahmad Ghazali (Introduction to the Collection of Persian Works of Ahmad Ghazali), Tehran: University of Tehran. [in Farsi]
Molawi Balkhi, Jalal al-Din Mohammad. 1992. Maktubat (Writings), Edited by Tofigh H. Sobhani, Tehran: University Publication Center. [in Farsi]
Purjawadi, Nasrollah. 1979. Sultan Tarighat (Sultan of the Way), Tehran: Conscience. [in Farsi]
Purjawadi, Nasrollah. 1987. "Nahj al-Khas (Elite Approach)", in: Islamic Studies, no. 5-6, pp. 94-131. [in Farsi]
Purjawadi, Nasrollah. 1989. "Resaleh-yi Darbareh Eshgh (A Treatise on Love)", in: Islamic Teachins, no. 18, pp. 105-111. [in Farsi]
Rist, M. John. 2001. Augustine Deformed: Love, Sin and Freedom in the Western Moral, Cambridge University Press; Reprint Edition.
Smart, Ninian. 2004. Tajrobeh Dini Bashar (The Religious Experience of Mankind), Translated by Mohammad Mohammad Rezayi & Abolfazl Mahmudi, Tehran: Samt, vol. 2. [in Farsi]
Smith, Margaret. 2011. Motaleati dar Erfan Awaliyeh Khawar Nazdik wa Khawarmiyaneh (Studies in Early Mysticism in the Near and Middle East), Translated by Mansur Pirani & Maryam Mohammadi Nasr Abadi, Tehran: Center. [in Farsi]
Stump, Elenore; Kretzmann, Norman. 2001. The Cambridge Companion to Augustin, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.