The Ikhwan al-Safa (Brethren of Purity), the anonymous adepts of a tenth-century esoteric fraternity based in Basra and Baghdad, hold an eminent position in the history of science and philosophy in Islam due to the wide reception and assimilation of their monumental encyclopaedia, the Rasa'il Ikhwan al-Safa ( Epistles of the Brethren of Purity ). This compendium contains fifty-two epistles offering synoptic accounts of the classical sciences and philosophies of the age; divided into four classificatory parts, it treats themes in (...) mathematics, logic, natural philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, and theology, in addition to didactic fables. The Rasa'il constitutes a paradigmatic legacy in the canonization of philosophy and the sciences in mediaeval Islamic civilization, as well as having shown a permeating influence in Western culture. The present volume is the second of this definitive series, consisting of the very first critical edition of the Rasa'il in its original Arabic, complete with the first fully annotated English translation. Prepared by Professor Carmela Baffioni, Epistles 10-14 comprise the foundations of logic, which remained a fundamental component in pedagogy until the twentieth century. The Ikhwan treat the Isagoge and the larger part of the Organon , both of which were circulating through the Islamic world at that time, as they set about detailing the ten categories of existents, the five predicables, and other such commonplaces of Aristotelian logic, including his seminal method of syllogistic inference. With the claim that logic is the noblest of man's arts, and man the noblest of creatures, the Ikhwan cast Aristotelian tropes in a spiritual light. (shrink)
This is the first critical edition of Epistles 15-21 of the Brethren of Purity, which explore the natural sciences and correspond to Aristotle's great works on philosophy of nature. Along with Epistle 22, "On Animals," Epistles 15-21 correspond to the corpus of Aristotle's great works on the philosophy of nature: Physica , De caelo , De generatione et corruption , and Meteorologica I-III . Meteorologica IV may correspond to Epistle 19 "On Minerals" (though no such Aristotelian work has reached us), (...) and Epistle 21 is a reminder of the works on plants written by Theophrastus, Aristotle's pupil, and onwards. Epistle 20, "On the Quiddity of Nature," is an exposition of Aristotelian doctrines, as well as of those of Neoplatonic origin; it opens the angelologic tradition, whose main representatives in Islamic philosophy were Ibn Sina (d. 1037) and Suhrawardi (d. 1191). Besides providing the necessary references to the works by Aristotle and other Greek authors, this book deals with various doctrines of Ismaili origin echoed in the treatises, foremost of which is the hierarchical representation of the three natural kingdoms, which corresponds to the hierarchy of human beings. The basis of human salvation is here seen in the relation between divine Artisan and human artisan, both of whom accomplish their works by actualizing their knowledge. As is known, although moral behaviour is one necessary condition, salvation cannot be reached without a thorough knowledge of the sciences described in the encyclopaedia. (shrink)
Epistles 10-14 of the Brethren of Purity focus on the foundations of logic, offering a tenth-century interpretation of the classic Aristotelian texts by scholars in Islamic civilization. This is the first critical edition, presenting the original Arabic text with a fully annotated English translation.
This is the first critical edition of Epistles 15-21 of the Brethren of Purity, which explore the natural sciences and correspond to Aristotle's great works on philosophy of nature. Carla Baffioni illuminates the Epistles' relation to Greek philosophy, with particular focus on various doctrines of Ismaili origin that are echoed in the treatises.
This volume presents Epistles 39-41 of the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity, which deal with the types of movement; causes and effects; and definitions and descriptions of things. the Ikhwan considers both the philosophical and spiritual value of these topics.
This volume presents three of the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity, a monumental work of medieval Islamic learning. Epistle 49 explores the hierarchy of existence; Epistle 50 describes the proper attitudes towards body and soul; Epistle 51 considers the arrangement of the world on numerical principles.
The article describes the fourteen passages of the encyclopaedia containing the word dawla. The Ikhwān introduce a cyclical conception of the alternation of ruling dynasties. After the dynasty of the evil reached its apex, the dynasty of the good begins when learned agree “on a unique school and a sole religion”. The Ikhwān introduce this as a wondrous event, close to become reality. This conception is linked to their vision in expectance of the legitimate rulers after the debasement of the (...) Family of the Prophet following Muḥammad’s death. The connection of these passages with the rituals described in Ep. 50 On the Various Kinds of Management (where political vision, astrology and magic are combined) might confirm the Ikhwān’s Ismā ‘īlī commitment. (shrink)
The article compares some wellknown features of Western humanism with those of the so-called Muslim humanism (X-XII centuries). The Muslim “golden age” in its various aspects (philosophy, science, literature, politics, etc.) is built on a consistent, though multifarious, religious basis. Even cultural and historical reasons demonstrate, then, that ethics is not sufficient for establishing a common ground for dialogue with Islam, and that Islam has to be approached mainly in its religious meaning. A re-thinking of the Sacred Book on a (...) new basis, proposed by many of contemporary Muslim intellighenzia, who also often emphasize the importance of ancient humanism, should be taken into account also by their Western counterpart. West should not, on the contrary, make the mistake of reading Islam according to its own historical and/or ideological attitudes. KEY WORDS – Muslim humanism. West humanism. Intercultural dialog. Religion. (shrink)
This article deals with Averroes’s interpretation of Metaph. Ε 1, where Aristotle discusses the nature and object of metaphysics, as well as its place in the hierarchy of sciences. Among Averroes’s predecessors, al-Kindī seems to see a coincidence between metaphysics and theology, since God can be described as the “first cause of everything”. However, al-Fārābī and Avicenna discovered that “first philosophy” could be conceived as an ontology distinct from theology; moreover, they considered theology to be only a part of metaphysics, (...) not even the most important one. In the Great Commentary on Metaphysics - where the Arabic translation of the work by the Jacobite monk Usṭāth is quoted, Averroes often just paraphrases the original passages. One may infer that theology in the strict sense is merely mentioned by way of example. In the Epitome of Metaphysics, the objects of metaphysics are “general” ones; metaphysics studies the “absolute being” and cannot be identified with theology as “pertaining to God”. (shrink)
O presente artigo compara algumas características bem conhecidas do humanismo ocidental com aquelas do assim chamado “humanismo muçulmano” dos séculos X-XII. A “idade de ouro” muçulmana, em suas várias facetas, construiu-se sobre uma consistente, apesar de multifacetada, base religiosa. Razões históricas e culturais demonstram sempre que a ética não é suficiente a fim de estabelecer uma base comum para o diálogo com o Islã, e que é preciso aproximar- se dele principalmente pelo viés do pensamento religioso. O re-pensar do Livro (...) Sagrado sobre um novo fundamento, proposto por diversos membros da intelligentzia muçulmana, e que realça, assim, o antigo humanismo, deve, pois, ser levado em consideração pela contraparte ocidental. Já o Ocidente, pelo contrário, não pode cometer o erro de ler o texto do Islã de acordo com suas próprias atitudes históricas e/ou ideológicas. PALAVRAS-CHAVE – Humanismo islâmico. Humanismo ocidental. Diálogo de culturas. Religião. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to identify the position the ru'yat Allāh holds within the curriculum of sciences described by the Iḫwān al-Ṣafa'. Their concept of knowledge is first clarified. The Ihwan use the terminology of rational knowledge to describe items of faith too. But faith is only an introduction to a greater knowledge. Now: is the supreme knowledge to be considered as speculative and theoretical, or are the ḫawciṣṣ, the only ones entitled to the vision of God, eventually (...) obliged to rely on a kind of divine “revelation” or “inspiration”? If the “vision of God” appears beyond any possible connotation of knowledge in “rational” terms, it is unclear, however, whether the Ihwan use the concepts of “revelation” and “inspiration” as a way of explaining in a theological terminology the utmost degree of human knowledge. Moreover, the qualities and moral dispositions attributed to the “Friends of God” remind us of Sufi doctrines. Consequently, the question of the relation between Sufism and imāmite theories could be re-opened: the Iḫwānian definition of the “science of the transcendent” shows that the gnoseological itinerary is not concluded even with the “vision of God.” Cet article vise à identifier la position tenue par la vision de Dieu dans le cadre du curriculum des sciences décrit par les Iḫwān al-Ṣafā'. En premier lieu, leur conception de la connaissance est clarifiée. Les Ihwan utilisent la terminologie de la connaissance rationnelle pour présenter aussi les articles de foi. La question est désormais celle-ci: la connaissance suprême doit-elle être considérée comme spéculative et théorique, ou bien les ḫawīṣṣ, les seuls à avoir droit à la vision de Dieu, sont-ils finalement obligés de se reposer sur une sorte de “révélation” ou “inspiration” divine? Si la vision de Dieu paraît être au delà de toute connotation cognitive en des termes “rationnels,” on ne sait pourtant pas clairement si les Iḫwān utilisent les concepts de “révélation” et “d'inspiration” comme une manière d'expliquer, en termes théologiques, le degré suprême de la connaissance humaine. En outre, les qualités et les dispositions morales attributées aux “Amis de Dieu” nous rappellent les doctrines soufies. Par conséquent, on pourrait rouvrir la question de la relation entre le soufisme et les théories imamites: la définition des Iḫwān de la “science du transcendant” montre que l'itinéraire gnoséologique reste inachevé même avec la “vision de Dieu.”. (shrink)