Article: Life of Al Farabi
Life of Al Farabi
Life of Al Farabi
Al-Farabi, also known as Abu Nasr al-Farabi, was a renowned Muslim philosopher, musician and scientist who lived during the 9th and 10th centuries. Born in the city of Farab in present-day Kazakhstan in 872 CE, al-Farabi spent most of his life in various cities of the Muslim world, including Baghdad, where he died in 950 CE. In this blog, we will explore the life and contributions of al-Farabi from his birthdate to his death.
Early Life and Education (872-895 CE)
Al-Farabi was born into a Turkish family in the city of Farab, which was then part of the Abbasid Caliphate. Little is known about his early life but it is believed that he received his primary education in Farab before moving to Bukhara, a major centre of Islamic scholarship, to study under prominent scholars of his time.
Career and Contributions (895-950 CE)
After completing his education in Bukhara, al-Farabi travelled to various cities of the Muslim world, including Baghdad, where he settled and spent most of his life. He became a prominent figure in the intellectual circles of his time and his works in philosophy, music, and science were highly regarded by his contemporaries.
Al-Farabi is considered one of the most important philosophers in the Islamic tradition, his works in this field had a profound influence on later Muslim philosophers as well as on European philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas. His philosophical system was based on the ideas of Aristotle, but he also incorporated elements of Neoplatonism and other philosophical schools.
One of al-Farabi's most important works is the "Kitab al-Musiqa al-Kabir" (The Great Book of Music), which is the earliest surviving work on music theory in the Islamic tradition. In this work, al-Farabi presented a comprehensive theory of music that incorporated elements of Greek music theory, as well as insights from his observations of music in the Muslim world.
Al-Farabi was also a prolific writer in the field of science and his works in this field covered a wide range of subjects, including astronomy, mathematics, and physics. One of his most important works in this field is the "Kitab al-Huruf" (The Book of Letters), which is a treatise on the Arabic alphabet and its uses in mathematics and science.
Death (950 CE)
Al-Farabi died in 950 CE in Baghdad, where he had spent most of his life. He was buried in the city, his legacy as one of the greatest Muslim philosophers and scientists of all time continues to be celebrated to this day. Al-Farabi's contributions to the fields of philosophy, music, and science were profound and enduring. His ideas continue to influence scholars and thinkers around the world. From his birth in Farab to his death in Baghdad, al-Farabi's life was a testament to the power of human intellect and the pursuit of knowledge.
The Controversial Beard:
Al-Farabi was known to have a long beard, which was a symbol of wisdom and knowledge in the Islamic tradition. However, during his time in Baghdad, he faced controversy over his beard from a group of scholars who opposed his ideas. They claimed that his long beard was a sign of his arrogance and stubbornness and that he should shave it off as a sign of humility.
Al-Farabi, however, refused to do so, stating that his beard was a personal choice and had nothing to do with his ideas or beliefs. He argued that true wisdom and knowledge were not defined by external appearance but by one's inner character and achievements.
The Musical Performance for the Caliph:
Al-Farabi was not only a philosopher and scientist but also a talented musician. He was known to have composed and performed his music, which was highly regarded by his contemporaries.
One interesting story from his life involves a musical performance he gave to the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad. During the performance, Al-Farabi played a musical instrument called the oud, which was popular in the Arab world at the time.
The Caliph was so impressed by Al-Farabi's performance that he granted him a generous sum of money as a reward. Al-Farabi, however, refused to accept the money, stating that his music was not for sale and that he played for the sake of art and beauty, not for personal gain.
Al-Farabi's artistic talent and his commitment to his craft were of upmost importance to him, as well as his humility and integrity in refusing to accept a reward for his performance.