Intermediate Islamic Spirituality: Ghazali’s Kitab al-Arba’in Explained

Ghazali’s Kitab al-Arba’in Explained: Continue in your study of the foundations and practices of Islamic spirituality in more detail with Sheikh Ashraf’s explanation of Imam al-Ghazali’s Forty Chapters on the Foundations of Religion.

Ghazali's Kitab al-Arba'in


  • Imam Ghazali’s Forty Foundations of the Religion capture the very essence of Islam
  • Cover obligatory knowledge relating to belief, outward works and works of the heart
  • Sheikh Ashraf shall explain each foundation in light of the Quran and sunna, and provide practical commentary on how to operationalize them in our lives
  • Learn the essence of all obligatory knowledge: purification of the heart from vices and acquiring virtues
  • This knowledge is the heart of Islam: “…only he who comes before God with a sound heart [will be saved].” (al-Shu’ara’ 26: 88-9)

About the Course

This course covers Imam Ghazali’s Kitab al-Arba’in, (The Forty Chapters on the Foundations of Religion), in its entirety. The book covers the most essential knowledge regarding belief, outward works, and works of the heart on which the entire religion of Islam is based.

The focus of the course is on taking away the principles behind each foundation, so students can understand the essence of the Forty Foundations, apply it to themselves in everyday life, and change. This shall be done through practical commentary around each of the good deeds; vices of the heart that must be striven against; and virtues of the heart that must be acquired, which comprise the Forty Foundations.

The course shall be based entirely around the Live Sessions, where Sheikh Ashraf shall explain each of the chapters of the book and supplement each foundation with substantiating references and examples from the Quran and the sunna of the Prophet, Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him.

Course Syllabus


  • Biography of Imam Ghazali

Section 1: Knowledge

  • Allah and His Attributes
  • The Last Day
  • Prophecy

Section 2: Outward Deeds

  • Ritual Prayer
  • Zakat and Charity
  • Fasting and Pilgrimage
  • Reciting the Quran and Remembrance of Allah
  • Rights of Believers and Seeking the Permissible
  • Commanding the Right and Forbidding the Wrong
  • Following the Sunna

Section 3: Purifying the Heart from Vices

  • Stinginess and Love of Wealth
  • Love of Prestige and the Worldly Life
  • Arrogance and Pride
  • Showing Off

Section 4: Acquiring Virtues

  • Repentance and Fear
  • Renunciation and Fortitude
  • Gratitude
  • Sincerity and Truthfulness
  • Reliance on Allah
  • Love and Contentment with Divine Decree
  • Remembrance of Death

Course Format

The course will consist of weekly live sessions in which Sheikh Ashraf shall provide commentary on the material using slides, weekly office hours where students can have one-on-one consultation, and a Final Examination.

Weekly Time Commitment

The course requires an estimated one hour per week outside the live session to review the material and take notes.

Suggested readings

The Arabic text for this course and an accompanying English translation shall be provided to students as part of the course material.

Recommended Background

No background is required: all are welcome!


Do you know what the most important part of your person is?

Your inner-self: The heart.

What is the heart?

The most important part of your person is your inner self. This inner self is what the Qur’an calls the qalb or the ‘heart’.

The ‘heart’, in Quranic vocabulary, is not the piece of flesh in your body, but the center of all your feelings, emotions, motives, drives, aspirations, remembrance and attention.

It is the heart, which softens (al-Zumar 39: 23), or hardens and becomes stony (al-Baqarah 2: 74). It is the heart, which goes blind, and refuses to recognize the truth (al-Hajj 22: 46). It is the heart whose function it is to reason and understand (al-A’raf 7: 179;al-Hajj 22: 46; Qaf 50: 37).

Why is this course obligatory knowledge for every Muslim?

It is the heart, which is the center of every good and bad thing:

Hearts are the abode of iman (al-Ma’idah 5: 41) and hypocrisy (al-Tawbah 9: 77); contentment and peace (al-Ra’d 13: 28); mercy (al-Hadid 57: 27), brotherly love (al-Anfal 8: 63), taqwa (al-Hujurat 49: 3; al-Hajj 22: 32); and the strength to face afflictions (al-Taghabun 64: 11);

At the same time, in hearts lie the roots of all outward diseases (al-Ma’idah 5: 52) and they are the seat of all inner ills (al-Baqarah 2: 10).

God will not take you to task for a slip, but He will take you to task for what your hearts have earned (al-Baqarah 2: 225).

The Day when neither wealth nor children shall profit, [and when] only he who comes before God with a sound heart [will be saved] (al-Shu’ara’ 26: 88-9).1

This is what the entire subject matter of this course revolves around – purification of the heart. This is the central reality around which all the other Islamic sciences revolve. Allah, Mighty and Majestic has made this the central undertaking within the entire religion – it is the very essence of obligatory knowledge itself.

This is the heart of Islam.

 Who is this course designed for?

This course is designed for every Muslim who would like to learn how to draw closer to Allah and begin to practice their religion at a deeper level.

No background is required – all students are highly encouraged to take this course. This knowledge is imperative.

1Source: Excerpts of the preceding material has been taken and edited from Way to the Quran by Khurram Murad

About the Instructor

Ashraf Muneeb


Course Code



Level: 2

Starting From

9 August, 2014


10 weeks

Tuition Fee

225 USD   Instant Financial Aid