Travelling Light Series

Travelling Light series aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of Imam al-Ghazali’s magnum opus the Ihya Ulum al-Din through a systematic study of the forty books. Each scholar comments upon various books within the Ihya in an important site of Islamic History, bringing together sacred knowledge and history. The aim of the series is to promote sacred education worldwide regardless of location and/or background.

Book 1:

On Knowledge

How do we know the world, ourselves, and our Creator? Who is a true scholar? What is direct ‘tasting’ of reality? Imam al-Ghazali answers these and other questions, presenting a comprehensive vision of the human being and the nobility of knowledge, study, and teaching. Sheikh Hamza Yusuf guides the listener through the first book of the Ihya in the historic Tekke of Karabas-i Veli in Bursa, Turkey.

Book 02:

The Foundations of the Articles of Faith

Shaykh Walead Mosaad elucidates upon Islamic theology as a holistic intellectual and spiritual endeavour, rooted in the Divine self-disclosure in revelation and in nature. The categories of Divine Names are explained, including Existence, Will and Knowledge, together with the concept of prophethood, and an account of the correct belief about the life after death. The lectures took place at the historic Mevlevi Tekke at Yenikapi in the Merkezefendi district of Istanbul, Turkey.

Book 03:

The Secrets of Purity

Sh. Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch goes through through the Sharia rules of correct ablution and the wisdom behind purification, the symbolism of water, and the human need for hygiene and a form of spirituality which connects body and spirit. The lecture took place at the Dar al-Islam, Albiquiu, New Mexico. Dar al-Islam is America’s best-known Muslim retreat and outreach centre.

Book 04:

The Secrets of Prayer

The prayer is ‘the pillar of the religion’. It is Islam’s most essential practice, required of all believers. It is an expression of thanks and praise to our Creator, but also reveals a profound wisdom in linking us to the rest of creation and our fellow human beings. Sh. Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch discusses the Imam’s insights at Dar al-Islam in Abiquiu, New Mexico.

Book 05:

The Secrets of Zakat

All property belongs to Allah. To validate our brief custodianship of it during our lives, we bring out a fixed percentage of it each year to deserving categories of needy people. This illuminates our souls, improves our lives of worship and helps to build a more just and caring society. Sh. Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch continues his analysis of Ghazali’s thoughts on one of the central pillars of Islam.

Book 06:

The Secrets of Fasting

The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said that God said: Every good deed is ten times its likeness, up to seven hundred times, except for fasting, for verily it is for Me, and I will reward it.” The mystery evoked from this statement is enough to show the power of fasting and its special connection with God. Sh. Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch delves into al-Ghazali’s book on fasting and reveals the special position of fasting in the life of a Muslim.

Book 07:

The Secrets of the Hajj

Hajj is very much the final frontier for the Muslim; the only pillar of Islam that requires a single execution. Yet the journey to the House of Allah symbolizes man’s true end: a return to the Divine Creator. Dr. Ramon Harvey explores Imam Ghazali’s “The Secrets of the Hajj” explaining the pilgrimage’s essential elements, its properties, its merits, and its mysteries. The lecture is delivered from the Trebbus Mevlevihane in Germany.

Book 08:

The Courtesies of Reading the Quran

Over the ages, Muslims have produced an aesthetic in the conveyance of the Quran, from melodic recitation to elegant illumination. The Quran was meant for the soul, and its power flows both in its meaning and its transmission. Dr. Ramon Harvey discusses the manners in reciting the Quran according to Imam Ghazali at the Trebbus Mevlevihane, Germany.

Book 09:

On Invocations and Supplications

In Alaeddin Mosque in Konya, Sidi Hamzah Wald Maqbul explores a crucial aspect of worship, invoking Allah and making Dua for His assistance in all our affairs. Our constant need for Allah is often forgotten in today’s world, but even as we forget, and strive believing in our own powers to affect change, Allah remains waiting for our calls.

Book 10:

On Litanies and Dividing the Living Night

According to Imam Afroz Ali, Book 10 of the Ihya is a perfect guide in how to manage one’s time. In his words, it is a time management tool kit. Imam Ghazali stresses the need for the believer to be conscious of how he uses his time and not to waste one precious moment. Imam Afroz goes through Book 10 of the Ihya with students in Alaeddin Mosque, Konya.

Book 11:

On the Manners Relating to Eating

Coming soon, Insha’Allah

Book 12:

On the Etiquette of Marriage

Coming soon, Insha’Allah

Book 13:

On the Courtesies of Earning a Living

Part of obedience to God is earning a living to provide for oneself and for one’s dependents. This book deals with issues of business ethics, contracts, usury (riba), and how to remember God while engaged in one’s duties at work. At the al-Zawiyah in Cape Town, Shaykh Seraj Hendricks explores Imam Ghazali’s insights on this quite important issue in contemporary society.

Book 14:

On the Halal and Haram

Allah has placed us in a world of moral and spiritual choices. Some things are clearly lawful, and others are self-evidently destructive. But care needs to be taken with many of the more ambiguous issues which confront us in our daily lives. At the al-Zawiyah in Cape Town, Shaykh Seraj Hendricks guides the student in distinguishing between the Halal and Haram.

Book 15:

On Friendship, Brotherhood and Companionship

There are spiritual advantages in keeping the right company. Alone we may fall prey to depression, loneliness, or temptation. Human beings benefit from company. Shaykh Seraj Hendricks discusses the importance of fellowship for the spiritual wayfarer in the thinking of Imam Ghazali.

Book 16:

On the Courtesies of Seclusion

Sometimes life obliges us to be alone; at other times, it is spiritually necessary to be so. The Prophets and Saints would retire periodically from the world to be alone with God. Shaykh Seraj Hendricks explains the Islamically-valid form of such practices according to Imam Ghazali.

Book 17:

On the Etiquettes of Travel

Shaykh Gibril Haddad expounds the Sunna rules and guidance for those who find themselves ‘on the road’. What is a valid reason to leave home? What are the relevant prayers, invocations and customs that turn this often exhausting and irksome necessity into a ‘journey to God’? What are the ‘ten courtesies’ of an Islamically-correct journey? How well do we know the Sharia concessions on shortening prayer, finding the qibla, and maintaining full obedience to Divine law when we are far from our usual comfort zone?

Book 18:

The Courtesies of Audition and Ecstasy

Shaykh Gibril Haddad, the leading hadith specialist and Shafi’i fiqh scholar of Brunei, gives an authentic and highly-watchable presentation of issues relating to music and singing in the Sacred Law of Islam. He begins by surveying Imam al-Ghazali’s treatment of the classical scholarly positions on audition (sama’), explaining the correctness of the mainstream view. Chapter Two deals with the inner effects of listening to music and the right Sharia courtesies to be observed, given the ability of powerful emotion to lead us rightly, but also to lead us astray. The talk reveals Islam’s balance and wisdom in allowing this important form of da’wa and spiritual reinforcement, while maintaining a right distance from anything which might distract worshippers from God and weaken their spiritual happiness.

Book 19:

On Enjoining the Good and Forbidding the Evil

Shaykh Walead Mosaad walks us through this important and often-misunderstood axiom of prophetic religion, by surveying this book, often regarded as one of the most influential treatments of its kind in the Islamic heritage. Chapter One explains that acting and speaking publicly in defence of truth and justice are obligations. Chapter Two discusses its ‘four pillars’: the qualifications of those who carry it out, the principle of public action, those to whom it is directed, and the form which it takes. Chapter Three deals with some of the commonly-encountered forms of public disobedience to God, which we are to correct through methods that increase people’s love of religion, rather than repelling their hearts. Chapter Four deals with the right treatment of rulers and dealing with their misconduct.

Book 20:

The Courtesies of Life and the Virtues of Prophethood

Shaykh Walead Mosaad here expounds one of the Revival’s most pivotal Books. The life of happiness and balanced spiritual growth which the Imam commends is here shown to be nothing else than the emulation of the excellence of the Messenger. In his compassion, wisdom, and justice, and in his Godly sacralisation of every human act through the Sunna, the Holy Founder, may blessings and peace be upon him, gifts us a perfect paradigm of inward tranquillity and a life of justice in creation. The talk leaves us with a brilliant sense of the saintly yet entirely human perfection of a man in full balance with Beauty and Rigour, Justice and Mercy.

Book 21:

On the Wonders of the Heart

The essence of human beings, the ‘heart’, is veiled with improper desires and vices, so that its true function, which is to mirror the light of Heaven, is damaged. Shaykh Hamza explains the nature of our inward dimension, and the methods to be followed in restoring peace of mind and true wisdom to the heart.

Book 22:

On Disciplining the Soul

Shaykh Walead Mosaad elucidates upon Islamic theology as a holistic intellectual and spiritual endeavour, rooted in the Divine self-disclosure in revelation and in nature. The categories of Divine Names are explained, including Existence, Will and Knowledge, together with the concept of prophethood, and an account of the correct belief about the life after death. The lectures took place at the historic Mevlevi Tekke at Yenikapi in the Merkezefendi district of Istanbul, Turkey.

Book 23:

On Breaking the Two Desires

Humans love God by their nature, but they are also weak when confronted by two powerful passions: gluttony and sexual desire. The Imam shows how to control these, and how to deal with one’s natural appetites in a wholesome and balanced way. Sidi Muhammad Mendes explains the pitfalls, challenges and benefits of controlling one’s desires from the Grand Mosque in Dakar, Senegal.

Book 24:

On Vices of the Tongue

The tongue is small, but can lead to immense calamities. Here spiritual guidance is offered on how to confront our habits of lying, slander, self-praise, mockery, obscenity, backbiting and bearing false witness. Sidi Muhammad Mendes explains the importance of safeguarding our words at the Grand Mosque in Dakar, Senegal.

Book 25:

On Anger, Hatred and Envy

In this lecture, Sidi Muhammad Mendes discusses rightful and egotistical anger, and the forms of ugly dislike and envy of others and their good fortune, stressing the value of mildness and the forgiveness of others. The lecture took place at the Grand Mosque in Dakar, Senegal.

Book 26:

On Worldliness

The world is Allah’s creation, and as such is a sign of His goodness. But human beings all too easily love it for its own sake, and gorge themselves on pleasures which are of no benefit to their spiritual and moral lives. The result is a heart filled with stress and jealousy, rather than serene gratitude. At the Grand Mosque in Dakar, Senegal, Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes describes the struggle and the satisfaction of being part of the world while one’s heart is content with what is beyond it.

Book 27:

Avarice and Love of Money

This deals with the believer’s responsibility to be generous with his worldly possessions. This is to be accomplished by remembering that worldly wealth will not survive our death, and that we must invest it by supporting our fellow human beings, helping the poor, and contributing to the general welfare and uplift of society. Class given by Dr Samir Mahmoud (Cambridge Muslim College) in the Bahauddin Naqshband Complex, Bukhara, Uzbekistan. For more lectures in the series visit:


Book 28:

Status and Ostentation

The good Muslim is to be humble, and should avoid displays or tokens of high esteem. This applies particularly to religious leaders and Sufis, who should demonstrate the virtue of modesty. The author explains the harm done by status, and outlines a method by which believers may recognise and eliminate the love of fame and repute in their hearts. This is to be done by remembering the unique power and eternity of God, and by recalling our needy dependence on Him. Class given by Dr Samir Mahmoud (Cambridge Muslim College) in the Bahauddin Naqshband Complex, Bukhara, Uzbekistan


Book 29:

Pride and Conceit

Pride is often seen as the worst of the seven deadly sins. It cannot coexist with the love of God in the human heart. God’s servants should be humble and gentle with one another, and not consider themselves superior to anyone. This can be achieved by service to the poor, and by acts of self reduction aimed at reminding us that God alone possesses perfection. Class given by Shaykh Sulayman Van Ael (Cambridge Muslim College) in the Bahauddin Naqshband Complex, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.


Book 30:

Condemning Self-Delusion

A typical human failing is maintaining a false image of ourselves, by which we conceal our own insecurities. This is a common affliction among merchants, scholars, and students particularly. The Imam’s spiritual method seeks to give readers a more honest understanding of themselves, so that they can engage with their own inner lives, and with their fellow human beings, honestly and realistically. This lifts one of the key veils which prevent us from growing closer to God. Class given by Shaikh Sulayman Van Ael (Cambridge Muslim College) in the Bahauddin Naqshband Complex, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.


Book 31:

On Repentance

What is wrong action? How can we understand our damaged inner state, and repair it? Imam Ghazali explains that repentance consists of knowledge of the act, an emotion of sorrow, and a decisive inner and outward action that will erase the wrong action and help the spiritual wayfarer never to return to it. Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad discusses the Imam’s thoughts from The Sinanova Tekke, Sarajevo.


Book 32:

On Patience and Gratitude

We are made human by our ability to restrain our egos and cravings. We also experience states of overwhelming gratitude to our Creator. Here the Imam explains how to cultivate these two gifts, and to keep them in a positive relationship which promotes spiritual growth. At the Sinanova Tekke, Sarajevo, Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad explores the nuances and power of being patient and having gratitude.

Book 33:

On Fear and Hope

Almighty God is to be feared; for His justice is absolute. But we also hope for His mercy, for He is the most merciful of all . We fear our weakness, and hope for God s forgiveness; the Imam explains how the balanced soul is one in which both these gifts are alive and active. Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad explores at the Sinanova Tekke, Sarajevo.

Book 34:

On Poverty and Abstinence

Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad discusses the Prophetic ideal of poverty and abstinence as a means of leading a life that is both connected to the universe and disconnected from the world. The class took place at the Sinanova Tekke, Sarajevo. All proceeds will go to the Cambridge Mosque Project.

Book 35:

On Divine Unity and Reliance on God

Human beings find it hard not to be stressed by the unpredictable events of their lives. The wise person, however, who believes in God’s unity and power, seeks to place his trust in the Divine wisdom, a process which the Imam discusses in detail. Sheikh Yahya Rhodus explores this topical issue at Alqueria De Rosales, Granada.

Book 36:

On Love, Longing, Intimacy and Contentment

God loves His creation, and human beings most especially; and we are called to love Him in return. This religious virtue turns life into a delight, as we recognise the signs of God’s love in creation and in other people, and learn to be satisfied with God’s decree at all times. Sheikh Yahya Rhodus elucidates on this relationship between God and his servant at Alqueria De Rosales, Granada.

Book 37:

On Intention, Truthfulness and Sincerity

No matter how outwardly correct we may seem, without inward purity and sincerity our spiritual practice and our moral life are meaningless. Here we learn the importance of sincerity and right intention, and how to rectify our inward consciousness to ensure that everything we do is uplifted by a clear and good purpose. Sheikh Yahya Rhodus explains at Alqueria De Rosales, Granada.

Book 38:

On Vigil and Self Examination

A healthy inner life depends on giving God His due, which means constant awareness of His actions and His watchfulness. We need to hold ourselves to account for our actions and our intentions, knowing that He sees the states of our heart. Sheikh Yahya Rhodus delves into the nuances of this issue at Alqueria De Rosales, Granada.

Book 39:

On Mediation

This lecture takes us into the deep waters of the human mind. What are thought and contemplation? Why are they so meritorious in the eyes of Islam? What are the benefits of disciplined and attentive mindfulness? Moreover, how exactly do we enact the Revelation’s instruction to ‘meditate on the creation of heaven and earth’? How do we correctly consider nature and its symmetries and wonders? This lecture offers a range of spiritual disciplines and techniques to enable us to get the most out of this important inner practice.

Book 40:

On Death

Remembering death, the only inevitable thing, is something we usually shy away from. However evasiveness will not serve us well. To enjoy and live life fully we must come to terms with the fact that it will come to an end. This is helped when we know what is in wait beyond death. This book gives an account of the ‘life in the grave’, of the resurrection, of the extraordinary events of the Judgement, and of Heaven and Hell. The imam helps us to think more clearly about the nature of the soul, which survives in a subtle way despite the loss of life in the body. A life-changing set of insights round off this climax to the Imam’s great work.