Monday, December 6, 2010

Al-Farabi (257—339H/ 870—950 AD)

Muslim Filoshoper"Al-Farabi was a celebrated philosopher and mathemacians as well a skilled musician."
He is Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Tarkhan Ibn Uzalagh, Abu Nasr Al-Farabi. He was known as the "Second Teacher" (al-mou'allim al-Tsani) for having studies and explained the books of Aristotle (First Teacher). He was born in Farab in Turkistan where his father of Turkish origin was serving as an army commander. Dr. Ali Abdulwahed Wafi said: "Very little is known of al-Farobi's childhood or subsequent periods of his life. All what is know is that he studied in his hometown a number of subjects, including, science, mathematics, letters, philosophy, language, such as Turkish, Persian, Greek, and Arabic, As he grew older, he moved to Iraq to further his higher studies. He studied philosophy, logic, and medicine with Christian physician Yohana Ibn Haylane. He also studied Arabic linguistics and music. From Iraq he moved to Egypt and Sham, where he joined the court of the Sayf ad-Dawlah in Halab. He held an outstanding position among scientists, men of letters and philosophers.
After a rich life, he died still bachelor at age of 80 years in Damascus in 339H/950 AD.
Scientific Contributions
Al-Farabi was life the greatest philosopher of Islam. His contemporaries used to call him the "Second Teacher" for the big interest he gave to Aristotle's works and to their explanation, annotation and comments. The specificity of his philosophy lies in the fact that he tried to synthesize Platonism and Aristotelism on one side and compromise between theology and philosophy. He also introduced the doctrine of emanation in Islamic philosophy and paved the ground to philosophical sufism.
Despite his fame in philosophy and logic, al-Farabi made considerable contributions to other scientific fields, such as medicine and physics. He brought evidence of the existence of vacuum. His major scientific contributions lies in his book Kitab Ihya' al-Ulum in which he discussed the fundamental principles and classifications of sciences; he classified sciences in groups and branches and the subject and interests of every branch.
Besides his contributions in philosophy, al-Farabi excelled in music. His treatise on music constituted the first basis of the concept of logarithm as indicated in the book entitled "Heritage of Islam". Cara de Faw said: "As for al-Farobi, the scond teacher after Aristotle and one of the eminent figures of modern Platonism, endowed with a mind that could assimilate the ancient philosophy, he wrote a valuable treatise in music, a field in which he excelled. This treatise contain the first core of the logarithm, which demonstrates the relationship between mathematics and music. Siegfreid Hunkah confirms this very idea when she said : "The interest shown by al-Farobi to music and to the principles of tune and rhythm brought him so close to the logarithm science, which is contained in his book entitled 'Anasir fan al-Musiqo (Elements of Musical Art).
Major Works
Al-Farabi wrote several interpretations and books in science, the major of which are the following:
- Interpretation of Ptolemy's Algamest;
- Interpretation of the first and fifth treatises of Euclid's book on Geometry;
- Introduction to Virtual Geometry;
- Kalam fi Harakah al-Falak, a book on the motions of celestial bodies;
- Kitab Ihya al-Ulum: in his book, al-Farabi divided science to eight groups, listed the branches of every group, and the subject of every branch, its pusposes and interests. This book was translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona;
- Sina'at Ilm al-Musiqa, in which al-Farabi explained the principles of tune and rhythm.
Al-Farabi was also prolific in philosophy and logic, the most famous of his writing in these fields are:
- Ara' Ahl al-Madina al-Fadila (Views of The Inhabitants of the Ideas City)
- Al-Jam' bayn al-Hakimayn Aflatun al-Ilahi wa Aristotalis: a book where al-Farabi synthesize between Platonism and Aristotalism.
”Most of al-Farabi's writing, were either lost or are still kept in chests and libraries. Only a small part of al-Farabi' work in known compared to the profusion of his writing in the various science and art fields.

Article source: Al-Daawa Al-Islamia, No. 1248, Wednesday, 25 Dhu hijja/ 1 Al-Kanon 2010