Al-Ghazali on Poverty and Abstinence is the thirty-fourth chapter of the Revival of the Religious Sciences.
It falls in the section dealing with the virtues. Ghazali traces poverty and abstinence back to the Prophet Muhammad who exhorted the faithful to love the poor and described this love as a key to heaven.
But behind the Prophet's love of the poor lay his legendary humility, and the life of poverty on which Ghazali expatiates in this treatise refers to what every devoted follower of the Prophet is meant to adopt, not simply an accidental state of destitution that might befall anyone.
What is true piety? What spiritual infirmities impede the path of poverty?
These are the questions that preoccupy Ghazali in the Book on Poverty and Abstinence.
His aim in this chapter is to teach the ordinary believer about inner purification through inner poverty and abstinence.
The result is a rich tapestry of practises, thoughts, concepts and anecdotes drawn from some of the most fascinating figures in the tradition of practical ethics in Islam, a tradition that harks back to the enduring examples of pre-Islamic prophets like Jesus, Moses and Joseph.