The Ba@tÂen^ya, or Isma¿ilis, occupied GÚaza@l^'s mind throughout his writing career. He devoted more space to refuting them than to any other school of Islamic thought. Even in his autobiographical al-Monqedò men al-zµala@l, written late in his life, he singled them out for lengthy denunciation after having critically discussed kala@m theology and philosophy and before endorsing Sufism as the most fulfilling form of Islam. This preoccupation reflected his concern about the reinvigorated Isma¿ili missionary activity in contemporary Persia organized by the da@¿^s (q.v.) ¿Abd-al-Malek b. ¿AtÂtÂa@æ and Háasan-e Sáabba@há. Deeply committed to the Sunnite caliphate and anti-Shi¿ite, he saw in the Isma¿ili movement a grave political threat. Although he recognized certain affinities between his own and Isma¿ili religious thought, it is unlikely that he was ever attracted to Isma¿ilism. There is, on the other hand, no sound evidence that he ever felt personally threatened by the Isma¿ilis and that he, as suggested by Farid Jabre (pp. 84-94), gave up his prestigious teaching position in Baghdad and went into hiding afraid for his life because of the assassination of his patron, the vizier Nezáa@m-al-Molk, by a feda@÷^ (q.v.) in 485/1092.

The first and most comprehensive refutation of Isma¿ilism by GÚaza@l^ was his Keta@b fazµa@÷ehá al-Ba@táen^ya wa-fazµa@÷el al-Mostazáher^ya, often simply called al-Mostazáher^. It was, as the title indicates, commissioned by the ¿Abbasid caliph al-Mostazáher and was composed in Baghdad between al-Mostazáher's accession in Moháarram 487/February 1094 and the death of the Fatimid caliph al-Mostansáer in D¨u'l-H®ejja/December of that year. The refutation was largely based on the earlier tradition of anti-Isma¿ili polemics. In particular Gaza@l^ appears to have relied on the Keta@b kaæf al-asra@r wa-hatk al-asta@r of the Ash¿arite Abu@ Bakr Moháammad b. T®ayyeb Ba@qella@n^ (d. 403/1013), as noted by himself or a gloss in his Eháya@÷ ¿olu@m al-d^n (see Goldziher, p. 16). Thus he repeated the black legend of the polemicists about Isma¿ilism having been founded by a clique of atheist conspirators seeking to destroy the rule of Islam, quotes Ba@qella@n^'s characterization of Isma¿ilism as "a doctrine whose exterior was Shi¿ite rejectionism and whose interior was pure unbelief (madòhab záa@herohu al-rafzµ wa-ba@táenohu al-kofr al-maházµ)" (Goldziher, Ar. text, p. 7) and lists among the names under which the Isma¿ilis were said to be known those of Persian Mazdakite heresies such as the K¨orram^ya, Ba@bak^ya, and Moháammera with whom the polemicists tried to associate them. He describes nine fictitious degrees of initiation, also known from other polemicists, through which the Isma¿ili da@¿^s allegedly guided the neophytes from scrutiny (tafarros) to the stripping away of all religious belief (salkò), and characterizes Isma¿ilism as moving between doctrines of dualists and the philosophers while distorting both of them to serve their purposes. GÚaza@l^, however, does not mention the most notorious pamphlet ascribed by the polemicists, including Ba@qella@n^, for defamatory purposes to the Isma¿ilis, the Keta@b al-s^a@sa wa'l-bala@g@ al-akbar (see Stern, chap. 4) and admits that the Isma¿ilis in his time universally denied some of the accusations of the polemicists against them, such as their alleged disregard of the æar^¿a.

In mentioning their being called Ta¿l^m^ya, GÚaza@l^ notes that this name is the most appropriate for the Ba@tÂen^ya of his own age because of their call for reliance on ta¿l^m, inspired instruction by their infallible (ma¿sáu@m) imam, and their rejection of personal reasoning (ra÷y). This observation reflects his awareness of the thrust of the propaganda of the new da¿wa of Háasan-e Sáabba@há. He stresses the need to counter this doctrine and devotes a chapter to refuting it in particular. In another chapter he discusses the legal status of the Isma¿ilis. While he describes some of their basic Shi¿ite beliefs as merely error not constituting unbelief, he considers others as definite unbelief requiring their treatment as apostates subject to the death penalty. In his later Faysáal al-tafreqa (p. 198), he brands the Isma¿ili doctrine that God can only be described as giving existence, knowledge, and unity to others while Himself being above such qualification as manifest unbelief (kofr sáora@h). The final section of the Mostazáher^ is devoted to the exaltation of the caliph al-Mostazáher as the sole legitimate vice-gerent of God (kòal^fat Alla@h) on earth and to the functions of the imam according to the Sunnite doctrine (Goldziher, pp. 80-97).

Nowhere in his refutation does GÚaza@l^ quote or name any Isma¿ili authors. The reason was evidently, as he explains in his Monqedò (p. 28), his agreement with the opinion of Ahámad b. H®anbal that the arguments of heretics should not be quoted in refuting them lest some readers might get attracted by them. GÚaza@l^ defends himself that he refuted only arguments that were widely known among the public. His reliance on the anti-Isma¿ili polemical literature, however, made it easy for the Yemenite Isma¿ili da@¿^ motálaq ¿Al^ b. Moháammad b. Wal^d (d. 612/1215) in his detailed refutation of the Mostazáher^, entitled Da@meg@ al-ba@táel, to point out GÚaza@l^'s numerous distortions and misrepresentations of Isma¿ili teaching.

In his Monqedò, GÚaza@l^ names four other books besides the Mostazáher^, in which he refuted Isma¿ili doctrine. Of these only one is extant, namely the Keta@b al-qostáa@s al-mostaq^m. In this book he describes an imaginary debate between himself and an Isma¿ili about the question of ta¿l^m, in which his opponent eventually concedes defeat and asks GaÚza@l^ to become his teacher, which the latter refuses. GÚaza@l^ accepts the universal human need for an infallible teacher as stipulated by his opponent, but he insists that the sound balance for weighing religious truth is provided by the Koran and the teaching of the Prophet Moháammad without any need for an infallible imam after him. Also extant is GÚaza@l^'s Jawa@b al-masa@÷el al-arba¿ allat^ sa÷alaha@ al-Ba@táen^ya be-Hamada@n (see Badaw^, pp. 132-34). It contains brief answers to four questions concerning the compatibility of takl^f, the imposition of duties on man, by a God who was believed to be self-sufficient (g@an^). GÚaza@l^ further wrote a refutation in Persian of the "Four Chapters" (al-Fosáu@l al-arba¿a) in which H®asan-e S®abba@há had set forth his argument for mankind's need of an infallible teacher. The beginning of the refutation is quoted by Fakòr-al-D^n Ra@z^ in Mona@záara@t and criticized as an inadequate response to H®asan-e S®abba@há's argument (Kholeif, pp. 63-65, Ar. text pp. 40-42).

The question of ta¿l^m evidently concerned GÚaza@l^ in his later life more than any other aspect of Isma¿ili thought. In his Monqedò, too, he speaks of Isma¿ilism only as the madòhab al-ta¿l^m. He severely criticizes those opponents of the Isma¿ilis who endeavored to refute their assertion of the need for ta¿l^m and an infallible teacher, suggesting that they lost the argument and thus strengthened the cause of the heretics. The proper way was to argue that Moháammad was the infallible teacher of all Muslims and that his death after God had announced the perfection of their religion (Koran 5:3) could not be any more detrimental to them than the inaccessibility of the allegedly infallible imam to most Isma¿ilis.

Bibliography: ¿Al^ b. Moháammad b. Wal^d, Da@meg@ al-ba@táel wa-háatf al-mona@zµel, ed. M. GÚa@leb, 2 vols., Beirut, 1982. ¿A. Badaw^, Mo÷allafa@t al-GÚaza@l^, Cairo, 1961. H. Corbin, "The Isma@¿^l^ Response to the Polemic of Ghaza@l^," in Isma@¿^l^ Contributions to Islamic Culture, ed. S. H. Nasr, Tehran, 1977. Abu@ H®a@med Moháammad GÚaza@l^, Keta@b al-qostáa@s al-mostaq^m, ed. V. Salhat, Beirut, 1959. Idem, Faysáal al-tafreqa bayn al-Esla@m wa'l-zandaqa, ed. S. Donya@, Cairo, 1961. Idem, Keta@b fazµa@÷ehá al-Ba@táen^ya, ed. ¿A. Badaw^, Cairo, 1964. Idem, al-Monqedò men al-zµala@l, ed. F. Jabre, Beirut, 1959; tr. F. Jabre as Erreur et deliverance, Beirut, 1959. I. Goldziher, Streitschrift des G˜aza@l^ gegen die Ba@táinijja-Sekte, Leiden, 1916. E. Glassen, Der mittlere Weg: Studien zur Religionspolitik und Religiosität der spätern Abbasiden-Zeit, Wiesbaden, 1981. M. Hogga, Orthodoxie, subversion et re‚forme en Islam: G˜aza@l^ et les Selju@qides, Paris, 1993. F. Jabre, "La biographie et l'oeuvre de Ghaza@l^ reconsidere‚es a la lumieàre des Táabaqa@t de Sobk^," MIDEO 1, 1954, pp. 73-102. F. Kholeif, A Study of Fakhr al-D^n al-Ra@z^ and His Controversies in Transoxiana, Beirut, 1966. M.-J. Maháju@b, "GÚaza@l^ wa Esma@¿^l^a@n: Moru@r-^ bar Fazµa@÷ehá al-Ba@tÂen^ya," Iran-na@ma/Iran Nameh 4/4, 1365 ˆ./1986, pp. 616-78. S. M. Stern, Studies in Early Isma@¿^lism, Leiden, 1983.


viii. IMPACT ON ISLAMIC THOUGHT. See Supplement.