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Biographical Data :

Name :Al Farabi
Period :870 - 950
Biographical detail : An Arab philosopher and scientist.

Al-Farabi acquired great proficiency in various branches of learning and was an expert in different languages. He travelled to many distant lands and studied in Damascus and Egypt, but repeatedly return to Baghdad, until he visited Saif al-Daula’s court in Halab (Aleppo). He became one of the constant companions of the King, and it was here at Halab that his fame spread far and wide.

Al-Farabi contributed considerably to philosophy, science, logic, sociology, medicine, mathematics and music. As an Arab philosopher, he was the most rationalistic of all the Faylasufs, and was also a practising Sufi. He worked as the court musician in the Hamdanid court in Aleppo. He was an Encyclopaedist.

Al-Farabi was best known for introducing Aristotle to the Muslim world – a synthesiser of Aristotelism and Platonism and with theology. He wrote rich commentaries on Aristotle’s physics, meteorology, logic, etc. Where Al-Farabi differed from both the Greek rationalists and from Christian philosophers, however, was in the importance he gave to politics. He seems to have believed that the triumph of Islam had at last made it possible to build the rational society that Plato and Aristotle had only been able to dream about. He believed that Islam was a more reasonable religion than its predecessors. It had no illogical doctrines, such as the Trinity, and stressed the importance of law.

Al-Farabi was a great expert in the art of 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 his audience laugh or weep at will. His book on music ‘Kitab al-Musiqa’ became the most important on the theory of music in Arabic. His complete works Alpharabi Opera Omnia were published in Paris in 1638.

Al-Farabi made the study of logic easier by dividing it into two categories – Takhayyul (idea) and Thubut (proof). Some of his famous works include – ‘Kitab al-Ihsa al ‘Ulum’ that discusses classification and fundamental principles of science and ‘Ara Ahl al-Madina al-Fadila’ (The Model City) is on sociology and political science. His ‘Fusus al-Hikam’ remained a textbook of philosophy for several centuries at various centres of learning and still taught at some of the institutions in the East. Many of al-Farabi’s works have been lost. His works were translated into English and other European languages.

Al-Farabi’s works also aimed at synthesis of philosophy and Sufism that influenced Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd, the two other great philosophers of the Muslim world.

Al-Farabi who died as a bachelor suffered great hardships in his career and at one time he was a caretaker of a garden.

Al-Farabi, known as al-Phrarabius in Europe, and whose full name was Abu Nasr Muhammad Ibn al-Farakh al-Farabi was born in a village Wasij near Farab in Turkistan and was of Iranian descent. The son of a general he went to Baghdad for higher studies and mastered several languages and other branches of knowledge and technology.
 (Compiler : M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin)


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