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Tuesday, 12 August 2014 07:49

Iranian Notables, Sources of Global Honor (12)

Iranian Notables, Sources of Global Honor (12)

We started the second chapter of the series Iranian Notables, Sources of Global Honor with the biography of the Iranian philosopher of third and fourth Centuries AH, Abu Nasr Mohammad Farabi. We said that he was born in the city of Farab, which was situated in present day Kazakhstan or Afghanistan. We said that Farabi passed away in Damascus and was laid to rest in this city.

We also emphasized that all Iranian researchers and historians point out the Iranian nationality of Farabi and have rejected the unfounded claims over the Turkish origin of him based on documented evidences, including the commentaries that he has penned in Farsi language on his books. It was also noted that Farabi mastered a number of sciences and has authored several books on the sciences of his era. He revived philosophy and was the founder of Islamic philosophy. Although the philosophy of Farabi was Islamic in nature, he has been under the influence of Greek philosophers, including Aristotle.

In the view of Farabi, philosopher leads the community, and as God Almighty administers the universe, the philosopher organizes the affairs of the community. Farabi paid more attention to political philosophy. He maintained a number of social and political concerns which in turn led him to form a philosophical bond between social and political affairs, and to author a number of books in this realm. In his view, politics is divided into two ethical and civil sections. The ethical politics is based on monotheism; belief in the Resurrection Day and divine revelations. Also social necessities, cooperation and participation of people, from different walks of life, shape the basis of civil politics. It is interesting to note that Farabi believed civil prosperity is indebted to its compatibility with ethical politics.

The Iranian philosopher, Dr. Ibrahimi Dinani, underscores that “Farabi has several social concerns. His thoughts cover a wide range from physics to metaphysics. Hence, he has been known as a philosopher of culture.”

Farabi had cultural concerns which can be observed in his works. Up to this day, no other philosopher has spoken about social affairs in the Islamic world as much as Farabi in the past 14 lunar centuries.

It is said that Farabi compiled more than a hundred books in different scientific courses; some of which have remained to this day. Philosophy, logic, and metaphysics constitute three pivotal realms of the works and thoughts of Farabi.

He is the first Muslim philosopher who completely understood the works of Aristotle and Plato, and elaborated on the works of these two Greek philosophers within his books and treatises. The re-familiarization of the world with the works of these philosophers is due to the efforts made by Farabi to this end. He perceived Greek philosophy and didn’t limit himself to learning the remarks made by Greek philosophers.

Farabi learned philosophy from Greeks. But, this philosophy in Farabi’s thoughts maintained a number of features which were not alienated to Islamic teachings. He learned the views of Aristotle and Plato in logic, natural sciences, ethics, and metaphysics and later appropriately compiled them within the framework of Islamic philosophy. Farabi believed that there is only one true philosophy and major philosophers cannot disagree with each other because they maintain one single destination and seek a single truth.

In his works, Farabi has tried to narrow the gap between philosophy and people’s religious beliefs. Also, in order to promote philosophy, he has tried to make it close to religious language and terms.

The Iranian philosopher, Dr. Daveri, points out that: “Farabi had reached the status of Ijtehad in philosophy. He grouped sciences and included Islamic sciences within this classification. He also granted a logical status to all sciences. He is the founder of Islamic philosophy. In his view, the truth of philosophy is embedded within recognition of God Almighty, and in this regard is no different from religion, which is founded on monotheism and faith in God.”

Farabi focused on the science of logic and authored important works in this domain. He made every effort to manifest the importance of logic for those, who denied this significance, and to show scientists the benefits of logic.

Farabi divided intellectual questions into the obvious and theoretical. In his view, people don’t make mistakes in regard to obvious intellectual questions. But, other intellectual questions should be perceived with the assistance of comparison and contemplation. It is in these affairs, which the need for logic is sensed. Farabi compares the science of logic with grammar and notes that Logic maintains the same relations with the intellectual questions that grammar maintains with words.

Another realm which Farabi focused upon is metaphysics. In the view of Farabi, creatures are covering the path toward perfection. Nothing reaches God Almighty in perfection and for this reason God is unique.

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