Ghazali's Proposition for a State of Experience Beyond Ordinary Perception and Logical Reason
Then I said, "My reliance on sense-data has also become untenable. Perhaps, therefore, I can rely only on those rational data which belong to the category of primary truth, such as our asserting that 'Ten is more than three' and 'One and the same thing cannot be simultaneously affirmed and denied and 'One and the same thing cannot be incipient and eternal, existent and nonexistent, necessary and impossible.'
Then sense data spoke up: "What assurance have you that your reliance on rational data is not like your reliance on sense data? Indeed you used to have confidence in me. Then the reason-judge came along and gave me the lie. But were it not for the reason-judge, you would still accept me as true. So there may be, beyond the perception of reason, another judge. And if the latter revealed itself, it would give the lie to judgments of reason, just as the reason-judge revealed itself and gave the lie to the judgments of sense. The mere fact of that nonappearance of that further perception does not prove the impossibility of its existence."
For a brief space, my soul hesitated about the answer to that objection, and sense-data reinforced their difficulty by an appeal to dreaming, saying: "Don't you see that when you are asleep you believe certain things and imagine certain circumstances and believe they are fixed and lasting and entertain no doubts about that being their status? Then you wake up and know that all your imaginings and beliefs were groundless and unsubstantial. So while everything you believe through sensation or intellection in your waking state may be true in relation to that state, what assurance have you that you may not suddenly experience a state which would have the same relation to your waking state as the latter has to your dreaming, and your waking state would be dreaming in relation to that new and further state. If you found yourself in such a state, you would be sure that all your rational beliefs were unsubstantial fancies."
Knowledge as Experience: al-Ghazali on phenomenology
Then it became clear to me that their (the Sufis) most distinctive characteristic is something that can be attained, not by study, but rather by fruitional experience and the state of ecstacy and the exchange of qualities. How great a difference there is between your knowing the definitions and causes and conditions of health and satiety and your being healthy and sated! And how great a difference there is between knowing the definition of drunkenness and actually being drunk! Indeed a drunken man while he is drunk, does not know the concept and definition of drunkenness and has no knowledge of it.
Beyond the stage of intellect there is another stage. In this another eye is opened, by which man sees the hidden, and what will take place in the future, and other things, from which the intellect is far removed as the power of discernment is from the perception of intelligibles and the power of sensation is from things perceived by discernment. And just as one able only to discern if presented with the things perceptible to the intellect, would reject them and consider them outlandish, so some men endowed with intellect have rejected the things perceptible to the prophetic power and considered them wildly improbable. That is the very essence of ignorance! For such a man has no supporting reason except that it is a stage he himself has not attained and for him it does not exist, so he supposes that it does not exist in itself.