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Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi, known in the West as Alpharabius, was one of the earliest Islamic philosophers and a jurist who wrote in the fields of political philosophy, metaphysics, ethics, and logic. In addition, he was a scientist, cosmologist, mathematician, and music scholar.
See the fact file below for more information on the Abu Nasr Al-Farabi or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Abu Nasr Al-Farabi worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- He earned the nickname Mallim-e-Sani, which is translated as “the second master” or “the second teacher” wherein in Islamic philosophical traditions, he follows Aristotle who was known as “the First Teacher.”
- He is credited with maintaining the original Greek texts during the Middle Ages because of his commentaries and treatises and for being considerably influenced by various prominent philosophers, such as Avicenna and Maimonides.
- Through his works, he came to be notable in the West as well as the East.
- Al–Farabi was born in 870 C.E. and scholars largely agree that his ethnic background is unknown.
- Al-Farabi did his primary education at Farab and Bukhara.
- Later on, he went to Baghdad for higher studies where he stayed and worked for a long time.
- Throughout this period he acquired mastery of different languages and different branches of knowledge and technology.
- Farabi contributed broadly to science, philosophy, logic, sociology, medicine, mathematics, and music.
- His major contributions were in philosophy, logic, and sociology and for which he stands out as an encyclopedist.
- Farabi was the first Islamic philosopher to make a distinction between philosophy and theology. It is hard to find a philosopher both in the Muslim and Christian world from the Middle Ages onwards who has not been influenced by his views.
- Based on intellectual perception, claiming it is as superior to revelation and imagination, Farabi gave precedence to philosophy as a source of truth and guidance in the practical aspects of life, such as politics and sociology.
- Al-Farabi is best recognized for his Neoplatonist ideas, though he was also an Aristotelian; it is said that he read Aristotle’s “On the Soul” two hundred times and “Physics” forty times.
- In his works, he attempted to present the basic agreement between Aristotle and Plato on the creation of the universe, nature of the soul, and reward and punishment in the afterlife.
- Al-Farabi was considered in the Arabic world as the “Second Teacher,” with Aristotle being the “First Teacher,” because of his elaborate commentaries on Aristotle and his work in logic.
- He classified logic into two separate groups: “idea” (takhayyul) and “proof” (thubut).
- He was later overshadowed by Ibn Sina (Avicenna), but Al-Farabi was the founder of the key ideas that were absorbed into Islamic, Jewish, and Christian philosophy. His theory of essence-existence became the basis for the metaphysics of Avicenna, which were adapted to Christianity by Thomas Aquinas.
- Yahya ibn ‘Adi, al-Sijistani, al-‘Amiri, and al-Tawhidi were the four students and followers of al-Farabi’s and thought to be important Islamic thinkers.
- In the field of metaphysics, Al Farabi has been designated the ‘Father of Islamic Neoplatonism.’
- While he was saturated with Aristotelianism and certainly uses the vocabulary of Aristotle, it is this Neoplatonic dimension that dominates much of his body of work.
- This is obvious in his most famous work, al-Madina al-fadila (The Virtuous City) which, far from being a copy of Plato’s Republic, is inspired with the Neoplatonic concept of God.
- Certainly, al-Madina al-fadila has undeniable Platonic elements but its theology, as opposed to its politics, places it outside the mainstream of pure Platonism.
- Al-Farabi disregarded predestination. In his examination of Aristotle’s “De interpretatione”, he argued that divine omniscience did not imply determinism; even if logic tells us that one fact should follow another, this knowledge does not certainly transfer to the fact itself. He regarded the Qur’anic prophets as having the purpose of interpreting higher truths for the common people by law and imagery.
- Even though he was mainly an Aristotelian logician, he added a number of non-Aristotelian elements in his works. He explained the topics of future contingents, the number, and relation of the categories, the relation between logic and grammar, as well as non-Aristotelian forms of inference. Additionally, he was credited with categorizing logic into two separate groups, the first being “idea” and the second being “proof.”
- In addition, Al-Farabi introduced to the Aristotelian tradition the concept of poetic syllogism in a commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics.
- Al-Farabi wrote a book on music entitled “Kitab al-Musiqa” (The Book of Music). In this book, he presents philosophical principles about music, its cosmic qualities, and its influences.
- He additionally wrote a treatise on the “Meanings of the Intellect”, which dealt with music therapy and presented the therapeutic effects of music on the soul.
- Al-Farabi wrote a short treatise “On Vacuum.” In this treatise, he thought about the nature of the existence of the void.
- He likewise may have carried out the first experiments concerning the existence of a vacuum, in which he investigated handheld plungers in water.
- At the heart of al-Farabi’s political philosophy is the idea of happiness (sa’ada).
- The virtuous society (al-ijtima’ al-fadil) is described as that in which people collaborate to gain happiness.
- The virtuous city (al-madina al-fadila) is one where there is cooperation in attaining happiness.
- The virtuous world (al-ma’mura al-fadila) will only take place when all its constituent nations collaborate to achieve happiness.
- Farabi traveled to various distant lands throughout his life and gained many experiences and acknowledgements.
- Al-Farabi made important contributions to the fields of mathematics, philosophy, medicine, and music. Although many of his books have been lost, 117 are known to exist.
- He died a bachelor in Damascus in 339 A.H. /950 A.D. at the age of 80.
Abu Nasr Al-Farabi Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Abu Nasr Al-Farabi across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Abu Nasr Al-Farabi worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi, known in the West as Alpharabius, who was one of the earliest Islamic philosophers and a jurist who wrote in the fields of political philosophy, metaphysics, ethics, and logic. In addition, he was a scientist, cosmologist, mathematician, and music scholar.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Abu Nasr Al-Farabi Facts
- Biographical Info
- Choose Words
- Field of Contributions
- Major Works
- Virtuous City
- Poetic Syllogism
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