ABU AL-NASR AL-FARABI (Al-Pharabius) (870 - 950
Al-Farabi, known as Al-Phrarabius in the West, contributed
to philosophy, logic, sociology and science. He was
best known as the "Second Teacher" (al-Mou'allim
al-Thani), Aristotle being the First. Abu Nasr Mohammad
Ibn al-Farakh al-Farabi was born near Farab in Turkistan
in 870 C.E. His ancestors were originally of Persian
descent and his father was a General. After completing
his education at Farab and Bukhara, he moved to Baghdad
for higher studies. Here, he studied several languages,
science and technology, and philosophy. Also, he traveled
to Damascus and Egypt for further studies. Al-Farabi
died a bachelor in Damascus in 950 C.E.
Al-Frabi was a Qadi (Judge) in the early years of his
long career. He eventually decided to take up teaching
as his profession. Al-Farabi showed remarkable competence
in several languages. Due his exceptional talents in
several branches of science and philosophy, he received
the attention of King Saif al-Daula at Halab (Aleppo).
However, due to some unfortunate circumstances, he suffered
great hardships and was once demoted to the caretaker
of a garden.
Al-Frabi's major contribution is in logic, philosophy,
and sociology. In addition, he contributed immensely
to Mathematics, science, medicine, and music. He was
also an Encyclopedist. Al-Farabi's great contribution
in logic was that he made the study of logic systematic
by dividing the subject into two categories: Takhayyul
(idea) and Thubut (proof). He attempted to reconcile
Platonism and Aristotelism with theology and wrote commentaries
on physics, logic, and meteorology. Al-Farabi held the
belief that philosophy and Islam are in harmony. He
proved the existence of the void in his contribution
to Physics. His book Kitab al-Ihsa al-'Ulum presents
fundamental principles and classification of sciences
from a fresh perspective.
Al-Frabi wrote several books on sociology, the most
famous of which is the book entitled 'Ara Ahl al-Madina
al-Fadila' (The Model City). It is a significant contribution
to sociology and political science. He also wrote books
on metaphysics and psychology that included his original
work. Al-Farabi states that an isolated individual cannot
achieve all the perfections by himself and without the
aid of many other individuals. It is the innate disposition
of every man to join another human being or other men
in the labor he ought to perform....Therefore, to achieve
what he can of that perfection, every man needs to stay
in the neighborhood of others and associate with them.
At another place he writes, "Instruction in the
theoretical science should be given either to the imams
and princes, or else to those who should preserve the
theoretical sciences....They should be made to pursue
a course of study and form the habits of character from
their childhood until each of them reaches maturity."
He was an expert in music, contributed to musical notes
and invented several musical instruments. Al-Farabi
could play his instrument so well as to make people
laugh or weep. His book on music, entitled 'Kitab al-Musiqa,'
is well known.
Al-Farabi wrote a large number of books in several
fields that include his original contribution. One hundred
seventeen books are known to have survived. Of theses
forty-three books are on logic, seven each on political
science and ethics, eleven on metaphysics, and twenty-eight
books on medicine, sociology, music and commentaries.
Al-Farabi's book 'Fusus al-Hikam' was used as a text
book of philosophy for several centuries in Europe.
He had great influence on science and philosophy for