Al-Farabi is credited with preserving the works of Aristotle

Al-Farabi is credited with preserving the works of Aristotle
An Iranian stamp bearing an illustration of Al-Farabi’s imagined face

Abu Nasr al-Farabi was born around 870 CE in eastern Iran. After completing his early education in his hometown, he went to Baghdad, Iraq, to study logic with the Christian scholar Yuhanna ibn Haylan. Sometime before  942, Farabi travelled to Aleppo, Syria, eventually settling in Damascus, where he died in 950 and was buried.

In Medieval Latin texts, al-Farabi was referred to as Alfarabius or Avennasar. Being an outstanding philosopher, and influenced by the Arabic translations of Aristotle’s works, al-Farabi came to be known as ‘the second master,’ Aristotle being ‘the first master.’ Historians credit al-Farabi for preserving the works of Aristotle that otherwise might have been forgotten and subsequently lost during the Dark Ages. Al-Farabi exercised great influence on science and knowledge for several centuries; one of his more famous books, Fosos al-Hikam (The Bezels of Wisdom), remained a textbook of philosophy for several centuries at various centres of learning in Europe. Among the many works attributed to him, including such scientific examinations as The Classification of the Sciences and The Origin of Sciences, al-Farabi also wrote respected works on mathematics, political science, astronomy, and sociology.

Al-Farabi was also renowned for his music theory and compositions – there are melodies in Anatolian (Turkey) music and ragas in classical North Indian music attributed to him. Among his works on musical theory are Styles in Music and On the Classification of Rhythms in which he identified and provided detailed descriptions of musical instruments and discussed acoustics. His most famous work, the Grand Book of Music , known to the West as a book on Arab music, is a study of the theory of the Persian music of his day, discussing the general philosophical principles about music, its cosmic qualities, and its influence on the soul.

References:
An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia Volume 1: From Zoroaster to Umar Khayyam edited by S.H. Nasr and M. Aminrazavi, I.B. Taurus in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, 2008
Abu Nasr Farabi, Iran Chamber Society


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One thought

  1. May I suggest the following book:

    How Early Muslim Scholars Assimilated Aristotle and Made Iran the Intellectual Center of the Islamic World: A Study of Falsafah

    Author: Farshad Sadri
    Edwin Mellen Pr (June 30, 2010)
    ISBN-10: 0773437169
    ISBN-13: 978-0773437166

    This work demonstrates how falsafah (which linguistically refers to a group of commentaries by Muslim scholars) associated with their readings of “The Corpus Aristotelicum” in Iran has been always closely linked with religion. It demonstrates that the blending of the new natural theology with Iranian culture created an intellectual climate that made Iran the center of falsafah in the Medieval world. The author begins this book by exploring the analytical arguments and methodologies presented as the subject of the first-philosophy (metaphysics) in the works of Aristotle (in particular “The Nicomachean Ethics” and “Rhetoric”). Then, he tells the tale of the Muslims’ progression as they came to own and expand upon Aristotle’s arguments and methodologies as a measure of their own sense of spirituality. Last, Sadri surveys the implications of that sense of spirituality as it is amalgamated within the Iranian culture and today’s Islamic Republic of Iran. The author’s aim is to present a different perspective of falsafah (as it is received by Muslims and assimilated within Iranian culture), while maintaining a sense that captures the texture of everyday life-experiences in today’s Islamic Republic of Iran. This work is thus about (contemporary) Iranian falsafah and how it remains faithful to its tradition (as falsafah has actually been integrated and practiced by Iranian scholars for the last eleven centuries). It is a tradition that has taken on the task of understanding and projecting a sense of order upon the multiplicity of forms, ideas, examples, and images that have passed through Iran from East and West; it is a story that has gathered, sheltered, and introduced a style and order of Iranian Islamic (Shi’at) falsafah.

    Reviews

    “While Sadri’s monograph is written in an engaging, quasi-autobiographical style, still it is rich in philosophical exposition and insight coupled with a clearly developed explication of Islamic religious/philosophical thought in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In turn this is used to explain Iranian culture as it can be understood in contemporary analysis.” – Prof. Carl R. Hasler, Collin College

    “The interdisciplinary approach allows [the author] to introduce a chronicle of his people that encompasses the dynamic growth of the intellectual and religious thought in the Middle East. A thoughtful study for scholars of comparative religion, Sadri juxtaposes Medieval Islam with Medieval Christianity, showing the philosophical foundations that distinguish these two contemporary religions.” – Prof. Linda Deaver, Kaplan University

    “Taking as his point of departure the fate of Aristotle’s corpus in medieval Christianity and in medieval Islam, Sadri offers a masterful account of how the current status of Western and Iranian identity can be read through the palimpsest of a philosophical/religious recovery of Aristotle’s practical philosophy.” – Prof. Charles Bambach, University of Texas, Dallas

    Table of Contents

    Foreword
    Acknowledgments
    Introduction
    1. Commentaries on Aristotle
    2. Commentaries on Aristotle and Islam
    3. Commentaries on Islam
    4. Commentaries on Islam and Iran
    5. Commentaries on Iran
    Endnotes
    Bibliography
    Index

    Subject Areas: Cultural Studies, Islamic Studies, Philosophy

    Like

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