Political Philosophy

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Al-Farabi

Introduction:
Abu Nasr Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Tarkhan al-Farabi was born at Wasij, a village near Farab, a district of Transoxania. He was one of the greatest philosophers that the Muslim world had ever produced. He mainly studied in Baghdad and after gaining considerable proficiency in the Arabic language, he became an ardent pupil of the Christian savant Abu Bishr Matta bin Younus, quite prominent as translator of a number of works by Aristotle and other Greek versatile writers.

Being a first Turkish philosopher, he left behind lasting and profound influence upon the life of succeeding Muslim Philosophers. Being a great expositor of Aristotle’s logic, he was aptly called al-mu’alim al thani (the second teacher). According to Ibn-e-Khaldoon, no Muslim thinker ever reached the same position as al-Farabi in Philosophical knowledge. Al-Farabi is the first Muslim philosopher to have left political writings, either in the form of commentaries or in treaties of his own based upon Plato.

Al-Farabi’s works was preserved from ravages of time contain five on politics as under: 1. A Summary of Plato’s Laws
2. Siyasatu’l-Madaniyah
3. Ara’u ahli’l-Madinatu’l-Fadilah
4. Jawami’u’s-Siyasat
5. Ijtima’atu’l-Madaniyah

Contribution of Al-Farabi to 
Islamic Political Thought

“In pure philosophy, Farabi became as famous as any philosopher of Islam, and it is said that a savant of caliber of Avicenna found himself entirely incapable of understanding the true bearing of Aristotle’s Metaphysics until one day he casually purchased one of Farabi’s works and by its help he was able to grasp their purport.” (Sherwani)

Al-Farabi was a renowned philosopher of his age and deeply reverenced in all ages. Al-Farabi’s insatiated enthusiasm led him to study Philosophy, Logic, Politics, Mathematics and Physics. He left his indelible impact upon the succeeding generations through his works, which are still read, learnt and discussed with great passion and literal zest. His sincerity, profound moral convictions and his genuine belief in liberty and in the dignity of human being united with his moderation and humanitarianism made him the ideal spokesman of his age, which was full of rivalries, corrosions and false vanities.

Sherwani was of the view, “A man with such learning had no place in the ninth-century Baghdad and as we have pointed out, we find him regularly attached to Saif-ud-Dowlah’s court. In 946 Saif took Damascus and Al-Farabi became permanent resident of that delightful place, spending his time in the gardens of the erstwhile Umayyad capital discussing philosophical questions with his friends and writing down his opinions and compositions sometimes in a regular form, sometimes in an irregular form, sometimes, on merely loose leaves.” Al-Farabi renunciated from the worldly matters and he never pursued the pleasures and luxuries like other middle class Abbasids. He led exemplary simple life with full contentment with what he got to eat and to wear.

It can be very well asserted that al-Farabi was in the truest sense “the parent of all subsequent Arabic Philosophers”. The great Christian scholars namely Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquines acknowledged their indebtedness to al-Farabi in the development of their own political theories. Al-Farabi laid down several rules for teachers honestly striving to train the young students in philosophy. No scholar should start the study of philosophy until he gets very well acquainted with natural sciences. Human nature rises only gradually from the sensuous to the abstract, from the imperfect to the perfect. Mathematics in particular is very important in training the mind of a young philosopher, it helps him pass from the sensuous to the intelligible and further it informs his mind with exact demonstrations. Similarly, the study of logic as an instrument to distinguish the true from the false should precede the study of philosophy proper.

Al-Farabi voluminously...
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