Abu Al-Nasr Al-Farabi
Mohammad Ibn al-Farakh al-Farabi was born in a small village Wasij, near Farab
in Turkistan in 259 A.H. (870 C.E.). His parents were originally of Persian
descent, but his ancestors had migrated to Turkistan. Known as al-Phrarabius in
Europe, Farabi was the son of a general. He completed his earlier education at
Farab and Bukhara but, later on, he went to Baghdad for higher studies, where
he studied and worked for a long time viz., from 901 C.E. to 942 C.E. During
this period he acquired mastery over several languages as well as various
branches of knowledge and technology. He lived through the reign of six Abbasid
Caliphs. As a philosopher and scientist, he acquired great proficiency in
various branches of learning and is reported to have been an expert in
travelled to many distant lands and studied for some time in Damascus and
Egypt, but repeatedly came back to Baghdad, until he visited Saif al-Daula"s
court in Halab (Allepo). He became one of the constant companions of the King,
and it was here at Halab that his fame spread far and wide. During his early
years he was a Qadi (Judge), but later on the took up teaching as his
profession. During the course of his career, he had suffered great hardships
and at one time was the caretaker of a garden. He died a bachelor in Damascus
in 339 A.H./950 C.E. at the age of 80 years.
contributed considerably to science, philosophy, logic, sociology, medicine,
mathematics and music. His major contributions seem to be in philosophy, logic
and sociology and, of course, stands out as an Encyclopedist. As a philosopher,
he may be classed as a Neoplatonist who tried to synthesize Platonism and
Aristotelism with theology and he wrote such rich commentaries on Aristotle"s
physics, meteorology, logic, etc., in addition to a large number of books on
several other subjects embodying his original contribution, that he came to be
known as the "Second Teacher" (al-Mou"allim al-Thani) Aristotle being
the First. One of the important contributions of Farabi was to make the study
of logic more easy by dividing it into two categories viz., Takhayyul
(idea) and Thubut (proof).
sociology he wrote several books out of which Ara Ahl al-Madina al-Fadila
became famous. His books on psychology and metaphysics were largely based on
his own work. He also wrote a book on music, captioned Kitab al-Musiqa.
He was a great expert in the art and science of music and invented several
musical instruments, besides contributing to the knowledge of musical notes. It
has been reported that he could play his instrument so well as to make people
laugh or weep at will. In physics he demonstrated the existence of void.
many of his books have been lost, 117 are known, out of which 43 are on logic,
11 on metaphysics, 7 on ethics, 7 on political science, 17 on music, medicine
and sociology, while 11 are commentaries. Some of his more famous books include
the book Fusus al-Hikam, which remained a text book of philosophy for
several centuries at various centres of learning and is still taught at some of
the institutions in the East. The book Kitab al-lhsa al "Ulum discusses
classification and fundamental principles of science in a unique and useful
manner. The book Ara Ahl al-Madina al- Fadila "The Model City" is a
significant early contribution to sociology snd political science.
exercised great influence on science and knowledge for several centuries.
Unfortunately, the book Theology of Aristotle, as was available to him
at that time was regarded by him as genuine, although later on it turned out to
be the work of some Neoplatonic writer. Despite this, he was regarded the
Second Teacher in philosophy for centuries and his work, aimed at synthesis of
philosophy and sufism, paved the way for Ibn Sina"s work.