Imam ghazali was born in the tahiran district of kharasan. His father used to cell cotton. That was the reason his family was callred ghazali because in Arabic language a person who spins cotton is called ghazali.
His father was not an educated and learned man and he always regretted it. Before his death his father left both of his children under the supervision of an old man so they could get education for him.
Imam ghazali got his early education in the city of tahiran and learned fiqah from Ahmad bin Muhammad wafqai. After that he came under the literary patronage of Imam Abu Nasar Ismaili. Like other students he also prepared notes of what he learned there. But when he was coming back an unfortunate incident happened. The caravan with which he was coming back was looted and he lost whatever he had.
Imam was not grieved in the loss of materialistic property rather he was in shock because of his precious notes.
When ghazali went to the chief of the bobbers and asked for his notes, the chief gave a very pinching remark with had a huge impact on Ghazali. The chief of robbers said, “Such knowledge is useless which is dependent on these papers.”
Ghazali on his return memorized everything in these notes as an impact of that remark by the robber’s chief. For further studies he went to the greatest scholar of that time, Alama Abu Ishaq Shirazi in Nishapur and remained under his patronage till his death. After his death when Ghazali left Nishapur he had become the world’s greatest scholar of that time. He was only 28 years old at that time.
From Nishapur he reached to the courts of Nizam-ul-Mulk who received him with honor and arranged various educational sessions for his interest. Imam was always prominent in those dialogues. One of his pupils compiled his lectures and published a book which was named “Majalis-e-Ghazali.”
He was not contented to be a Muslim just because he was born as a Muslim. Baghdad was the only city in the world at that time where there was a presence of every religion of the world. He went there and researched on all the religions and different sects of Islam. After Baghdad he went to Damascus and continued his quest of knowledge.
From Damascus he went to Mecca through Alexandria and Egypt. When he reached the “makam-e-Khalil,” he promised himself that from onwards he would not submit himself to any king’s court neither would he take part in open processions to show his knowledge.
Imam ghazali helped us to understand the teachings of islam and even today many things which e have come to know are described by him. Although some lateral scholars also disagreed with him on some points. Some critics say that Imam had a strong impact of “tasawuf” on his personality. That is why some of his teachings are not correct as well.