Abū Bakr ibn Muḥammad ibn al Ḥusayn al-Karajī (or al-Karkhī) (c. 953 in Karaj or Karkh – c. 1029) was a 10th-century Persian or Arabic Muslim mathematician and engineer. His three major works are Al-Badi’ fi’l-hisab (Wonderful on calculation), Al-Fakhri fi’l-jabr wa’l-muqabala (Glorious on algebra), and Al-Kafi fi’l-hisab (Sufficient on calculation). Because al-Karaji’s original works in Arabic are lost, it is not certain what his exact name was. It could either have been al-Karkhī, indicating that he was born in Karkh, a suburb of Baghdad, or al-Karajī indicating his family came from the city of Karaj. He certainly lived and worked for most of his life in Baghdad, however, which was the scientific and trade capital of the Islamic world.
Al-Karaji wrote on mathematics and engineering. Some consider him to be merely reworking the ideas of others (he was influenced by Diophantus) but most regard him as more original, in particular for the beginnings of freeing algebra from geometry.
He systematically studied the algebra of exponents, and was the first to realise that the sequence x, x^2, x^3,… could be extended indefinitely; and the reciprocals 1/x, 1/x^2, 1/x^3,… . However, since for example the product of a square and a cube would be expressed, in words rather than in numbers, as a square-cube, the numerical property of adding exponents was not clear.
His work on algebra and polynomials gave the rules for arithmetic operations for adding, subtracting and multiplying polynomials; though he was restricted to dividing polynomials by monomials.
In a now lost work known only from subsequent quotation by al-Samaw’al Al-Karaji introduced the idea of argument by mathematical induction. As Katz says
Another important idea introduced by al-Karaji and continued by al-Samaw’al and others was that of an inductive argument for dealing with certain arithmetic sequences. Thus al-Karaji used such an argument to prove the result on the sums of integral cubes already known to Aryabhata […] Al-Karaji did not, however, state a general result for arbitrary n. He stated his theorem for the particular integer 10 […] His proof, nevertheless, was clearly designed to be extendable to any other integer. […] Al-Karaji’s argument includes in essence the two basic components of a modern argument by induction, namely the truth of the statement for n = 1 (1 = 13) and the deriving of the truth for n = k from that of n = k – 1. Of course, this second component is not explicit since, in some sense, al-Karaji’s argument is in reverse; this is, he starts from n = 10 and goes down to 1 rather than proceeding upward. Nevertheless, his argument in al-Fakhri is the earliest extant proof of the sum formula for integral cubes.
Hunayn ibn Ishaq known in Latin as Johannitius) (809–873) was a famous and influential Assyrian Nestorian Christian scholar, physician, and scientist, known for his work in translating Greek scientific and medical works into Arabic and Syriac during the heyday of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥaq was the most productive translator of Greek medical and scientific treatises in his day. He studied Greek and became known among the Arabs as the “Sheikh of the translators.” He mastered four languages: Arabic, Syriac, Greek and Persian. His translations did not require corrections. Hunayn’s method was widely followed by later translators. He was originally from southern Iraq but he spent his working life in Baghdad, the center of the great ninth-century Greek-into-Arabic/Syriac translation movement. His fame went far beyond his own community
In the Abbasid era, a new interest in extending the study of Greek science had arisen. At that time, there was a vast amount of untranslated ancient Greek literature pertaining to philosophy, mathematics, natural science, and medicine. This valuable information was only accessible to a very small minority of Middle Eastern scholars who knew the Greek language; the need for an organized translation movement was urgent. In time, Hunayn ibn Ishaq became arguably the chief translator of the era, and laid the foundations of Islamic medicine. In his lifetime, ibn Ishaq translated 116 works, including Plato’s Timaeus, Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and the Old Testament, into Syriac and Arabic. Ibn Ishaq also produced 36 of his own books, 21 of which covered the field of medicine. His son Ishaq, and his nephew Hubaysh, worked together with him at times to help translate. Hunayn ibn Ishaq is known for his translations, his method of translation, and his contributions to medicine.
Hunayn ibn Ishaq was an Assyrian Christian born in 809, during the Abbasid period, in al-Hira, Iraq. As a child, he learned the Syriac and Arabic languages. Although al-Hira was known for commerce and banking, and his father was a pharmacist, Hunayn went to Baghdad in order to study medicine. In Baghdad, Hunayn had the privilege to study under renowned physician Yuhanna ibn Masawayh; however, Hunayn’s countless questions irritated Yuhanna, causing him to scold Hunayn and forcing him to leave. Hunayn promised himself to return to Baghdad when he became a physician. He went abroad to master the Latin language. On his return to Baghdad, Hunayn displayed his newly acquired skills by reciting the works of Homer and Galen. In awe, ibn Masawayh reconciled with Hunayn, and the two started to work cooperatively.
Hunayn was extremely motivated in his work to master Greek studies, which enabled him to translate Greek texts into Syriac and Arabic. The Abbasid Caliph al-Mamun noticed Hunayn’s talents and placed him in charge of the House of Wisdom, “Bayt al Hikmah.” The House of Wisdom was an institution where Greek works were translated and made available to scholars. (Silvain Gougenheim argued, though, that there is no evidence of Hunayn being in charge of “Bayt al Hikham”) The caliph also gave Hunayn the opportunity to travel to Byzantium in search of additional manuscripts, such as those of Aristotle and other prominent authors.
In Hunayn ibn Ishaq’s lifetime, he devoted himself to working on a multitude of writings; both translations and original works.
As a writer of original work
Hunayn wrote on a variety of subjects that included philosophy, religion and medicine. In “How to Grasp Religion,” Hunayn explains the truths of religion that include miracles not possibly made by humans and humans’ incapacity to explain facts about some phenomena, and false notions of religion that include depression and an inclination for glory. He worked on Arabic grammar and lexicography.
Hunayn ibn Ishaq enriched the field of ophthalmology. His developments in the study of the human eye can be traced through his innovative book, “Ten Treatises on Ophthalmology.” This textbook is the first known systematic treatment of this field and was most likely used in medical schools at the time. Throughout the book, Hunayn explains the eye and its anatomy in minute detail; its diseases, their symptoms, their treatments. He discusses the nature of cysts and tumors, and the swelling they cause. He discusses how to treat various corneal ulcers through surgery, and the therapy involved in repairing cataracts. “Ten Treatises on Ophthalmology” demonstrates the skills Hunayn ibn Ishaq had not just as a translator and a physician, but also as a surgeon.
As a physician
Hunayn ibn Ishaq’s reputation as a scholar and translator, and his close relationship with Caliph al-Mutawakkil, led the caliph to name Hunayn as his personal physician, ending the exclusive use of physicians from the Bukhtishu family. Despite their relationship, the caliph became distrustful; at the time, there were fears of death from poisoning, and physicians were well aware of its synthesis procedure. The caliph tested Hunayn’s ethics as a physician by asking him to formulate a poison, to be used against a foe, in exchange for a large sum. Hunayn ibn Ishaq repeatedly rejected the Caliph’s generous offers, saying he would need time to develop a poison. Disappointed, the caliph imprisoned his physician for a year. When asked why he would rather be killed than make the drug, Hunayn explained the physician’s oath required him to help, and not harm, his patients.
As a translator
Some of Hunayn’s most notable translations were his translation of “De materia Medica,” which was technically a pharmaceutical handbook, and his most popular selection, “Questions on Medicine.” “Questions on Medicine” was extremely beneficial to medical students because it was a good guide for beginners to become familiar with the fundamental aspects of medicine in order to understand the more difficult materials. Information was presented in the form of question and answer. The questions were taken from Galen’s “Art of Physic,” and the answers were based on “Summaria Alexandrinorum.” For instance, Hunayn answers what the four elements and four humors are and also explains that medicine is divided into therapy and practice. He goes on later to define health, disease, neutrality, and also natural and contranatural, which associates with the six necessary causes to live healthy.
Hunayn translated writings on agriculture, stones, and religion. He translated some of Plato’s and Aristotle’s works, and the commentaries of ancient Greeks. Additionally, Hunayn translated many medicinal texts and summaries, mainly those of Galen. He translated a countless number of Galen’s works including “On Sects” and “On Anatomy of the Veins and Arteries.”Many published works of R. Duval in Chemistry represent translations of Hunayn’s work. Also in Chemistry a book titled [‘An Al-Asma’] meaning “About the Names”, did not reach researchers but was used in “Dictionary of Ibn Bahlool” of the 10th century.
In his efforts to translate as much Greek material as possible, Hunayn ibn Ishaq was accompanied by his son Ishaq ibn Hunayn and his nephew Hubaysh. It was quite normal at times for Hunayn to translate Greek material into Syriac, and have his nephew finish by translating the text from Syriac to Arabic. Ishaq corrected his partners’ errors while translating writings in Greek and Syriac into Arabic.
Unlike other translators in the Abbasid period, Hunayn opposed translating texts word for word. Instead, he would attempt to attain the meaning of the subject and the sentences, and then in a new manuscript, rewrite the piece of knowledge in Syriac or Arabic. He also corrected texts by collecting different set of books revolving around a subject and by finalizing the meaning of the subject. The method helped gather, in just 100 years, nearly all the knowledge from Greek medicine..
The Banū Mūsā brothers (“Sons of Moses”), namely Abū Jaʿfar, Muḥammad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir (before 803 – February 873), Abū al‐Qāsim, Aḥmad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir (d. 9th century) and Al-Ḥasan ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir (d. 9th century), were three 9th-century Islamic scholars of Baghdad who are known for their Book of Ingenious Devices on automata (automatic machines) and mechanical devices. Another important work of theirs is the Book on the Measurement of Plane and Spherical Figures, a foundational work on geometry that was frequently quoted by both Islamic and European mathematicians.The Banu Musa worked in astronomical observatories established in Baghdad by the Abbasid Caliph al-Ma’mun as well as doing research in the House of Wisdom. They also participated in a 9th-century expedition to make geodesic measurements to determine the length of a degree
The Banu Musa were the three sons of Mūsā ibn Shākir, who earlier in life had been a highwayman and astronomer in Khorasan of unknown pedigree. After befriending al-Ma’mun, who was then a governor of Khorasan and staying in Marw, Musa was employed as an astrologer and astronomer. After his death, his young sons were looked after by the court of al-Maʾmūn. Al-Maʾmūn recognized the abilities of the three brothers and enrolled them in the famous House of Wisdom, a library and a translation center in Baghdad.Studying in the House of Wisdom under Yahya ibn Abi Mansur, they participated in the efforts to translate ancient Greek works into Arabic by sending for Greek texts from the Byzantines, paying large sums for their translation, and learning Greek themselves. On such trips, Muhammad met and recruited the famous mathematician and translator Thābit ibn Qurra. At some point Hunayn ibn Ishaq was also part of their team.After the death of al-Ma’mun, the Banu Musa continued to work under the Caliphs al-Mu’tasim, al-Wathiq, and al-Mutawakkil. However, during the reign of al-Wathiq and al-Mutawakkil internal rivalries arose between the scholars in the House of Wisdom. At some point the Banu Musa became enemies to al-Kindi and contributed to his persecution by al-Mutawakkil. They were later employed by al-Mutawakkil to construct a canal for the new city of al-Jafariyya.
The Banu Musa wrote almost 20 books the majority of which are now lost.
Most notable among their achievements is their work in the field of automation, which they utilized in toys and other entertaining creations. They have shown important advances over those of their Greek predecessors.
The Book of Ingenious Devices describes 100 inventions; the ones which have been reconstructed work as designed. While designed primarily for amusement purposes, they employ innovative engineering technologies such as one-way and two-way valves able to open and close by themselves, mechanical memories, devices to respond to feedback, and delays. Most of these devices were operated by water pressure.
Qarasṭūn, a treatise on weight balance.
Book on the Mathematical Proof by Geometry That There Is Not a Ninth Sphere Outside the Sphere of the Fixed Stars, by Ahmad.
On the Visibility of the Crescent, by Muhammad.
Book on the Beginning of the World, by Muhammad.
Book on the Motion of Celestial Spheres (Kitāb Ḥarakāt al‐aflāk), by Muhammad.
Book of Astronomy (Kitāb al‐Hayʾa), by Muhammad.
A book of zij, by Ahmad
Abu’l-Barakāt Hibat Allah ibn Malkā al-Baghdādī c. 1080 – 1164 or 1165 CE) was an Islamic philosopher and physician of Jewish-Arab descent from Baghdad, Iraq. Abu’l-Barakāt, an older contemporary of Maimonides, was originally known by his Hebrew birth name Nathanel before his conversion from Judaism to Islam towards the end of his life.His writings include the anti-Aristotelian philosophical work Kitāb al-Muʿtabar (“The Book of What Has Been Established by Personal Reflection”); a philosophical commentary on the Kohelet; and the treatise “On the Reason Why the Stars Are Visible at Night and Hidden in Daytime”. Abu’l-Barakāt was an Aristotelian philosopher who in many respects followed Ibn Sina, but also developed his own ideas. He proposed an explanation of the acceleration of falling bodies by the accumulation of successive increments of power with successive increments of velocity. His thought influenced the Illuminationist school of classical Islamic philosophy, the medieval Jewish philosopher Ibn Kammuna, and the medieval Christian philosophers Jean Buridan and Albert of Saxony
Abu’l-Barakāt, famed as Awḥad al-Zamān (Unique One of his Time), was born in Balad, a town on the Tigris above Mosul in modern-day Iraq. As a renowned physician, he served at the courts of the caliphs of Baghdad and the Seljuk sultans.He converted to Islam in old age. Abu’l Barakat does not refer to his conversion in his writings, and the historical sources give contradictory episodes of his conversion. According to the various reports, he converted either out of “wounded pride”, fear of the personal consequences of the death of Sultan Mahmud‘s wife while under his care as a physician or fear of execution when he was taken prisoner in a battle between the armies of the caliph and that of the sultan. Ayala Eliyahu argues that the conversion was “probably motivated by convenience reasons”.Isaac, the son of the Abraham Ibn Ezra and the son-in-law of Judah Halevi, was one of his pupils, to whom Abu’l-Barakāt, Jewish at the time, dictated a long philosophical commentary on Ecclesiastes, written in Arabic using Hebrew aleph bet. Isaac wrote a poem in his honour as introduction to this work.
Al-Baghdaadi described an early scientific method emphasizing repeated experimentation, influenced by Ibn Sina, as follows:
“Because of the frequency of the experience, these judgements may be regarded as certain, even without our knowing the reason [for the phenomenon]. For there is certain knowledge that the effect in question is not due to chance. It must accordingly be supposed that it is due to nature or to some modality thereof. Thus the cause qua cause, though not its species or mode of operation, is known. For experimental science is also constituted by a knowledge of the cause and by an induction based on all the data of sensation; whereby a general science is reached. … But in the cases in which an experiment has not been completed, because of its not having been repeated in such a way that the persons, the time and the circumstances varied in everything that did not cause the determining cause, whereas this cause [remained invariable], the experiment does not prove certain knowledge, but only probably opinion.”
According to Alistair Cameron Crombie, al-Baghdaadi was a follower of the scientific and philosophical teachings of Ibn Sina.
Al-Baghdaadi’s theory of motion distinguished between velocity and acceleration and showed that force is proportional to acceleration rather than velocity. The 14th-century philosophers Jean Buridan and Albert of Saxony later refer to Abu’l-Barakat in explaining that the acceleration of a falling body is a result of its increasing impetus. Abu’l-Barakat also modified Ibn Sina‘s theory of projectile motion, and stated that the mover imparts a violent inclination (mayl qasri) on the moved and that this diminishes as the moving object distances itself from the mover.Al-Baghdaadi also suggested that motion is relative, writing that “there is motion only if the relative positions of the bodies in question change.” He also stated that “each type of body has a characteristic velocity that reaches its maximum when its motion encounters no resistance.”
Space and Time
Al-Baghdaadi criticized Aristotle’s concept of time as “the measure of motion” and instead redefines the concept with his own definition of time as “the measure of being”, thus distinguishing between space and time, and reclassifying time as a metaphysical concept rather than a physical one. The scholar Y. Tzvi Langermann writes:
Dissatisfied with the regnant approach, which treated time as an accident of the cosmos, al-Baghdadi drew the conclusion that time is an entity whose conception (ma’qul al-zaman) is a priori and almost as general as that of being, encompassing the sensible and the non-sensible, that which moves and that which is at rest. Our idea of time results not from abstraction, stripping accidents from perceived objects, but from a mental representation based on an innate idea. Al-Baghdadi stops short of offering a precise definition of time, stating only that ‘were it to be said that time is the measure of being (miqdar al-wujud), that would be better than saying [as Aristotle does] that it is the measure of motion’. His reclassification of time as a subject for metaphysics rather than for physics represents a major conceptual shift, not a mere formalistic correction. It also breaks the traditional linkage between time and space. Concerning space, al-Baghdadi held unconventional views as well, but he did not remove its investigation from the domain of physics.
In his view, there is just one time which is similar for all beings, including God. Abu’l-Barakāt also regarded space as three-dimensional and infinite.
He upheld the unity of the soul, denying that there is a distinction between it and the intellect. For him, the soul’s awareness of itself is the definitive proof that the soul is independent of the body and will not perish with it. On his contributions to Islamic psychology, Langermann writes:
Al-Baghdadi’s most significant departure in psychology concerns human self-awareness. Ibn Sina had raised the issue of our consciousness of our own psychic activities, but he had not fully pursued the implications for Aristotelian psychology of his approach. Al-Baghdadi took the matter much further, dispensing with the traditional psychological faculties and pressing his investigations in the direction of what we would call the unconscious.
He wrote a critique of Aristotelian philosophy and Aristotelian physics entitled Kitab al-Mu’tabar (the title may be translated as “The Book of What Has Been Established by Personal Reflection”). According to Abu’l-Barakāt, Kitāb al-Muʿtabar consists in the main of critical remarks jotted down by him over the years while reading philosophical text, and published at the insistence of his friends, in the form of a philosophical work. The work “presented a serious philosophical alternative to, and criticism of, Ibn Sina“. He also developed concepts which resemble several modern theories in physics.Abu’l-Barakāt also wrote a short treatise on the intellect, Kitāb Ṣaḥiḥ adillat al-naql fī māhiyyat al-ʻaql (صحيح أدلة النقل في ماهية العقل), which has been edited by Ahmad El-Tayeb.All that we possess in the way of medical writing by Abu’l-Barakāt are a few prescriptions for remedies. These remain in manuscript and are as yet unstudied.
Abu’l-Barakāt’s thought had a deep influence on Islamic philosophy but none on Jewish thought. His works were not translated into Hebrew, and he is seldom cited in Jewish philosophy, probably because of his conversion to Islam.
The famous theologian and philosopher Fakhr al-Din al-Razi was one of Abu’l-Barakāt’s eminent disciples. The influence of Al-Baghdadi’s views appears especially in Al-Razi’s chief work Al-Mabāḥith al-Mashriqiyyah (Oriental Discourses). Abu’l-Barakāt influenced certain conceptions of Suhrawardi..
‘Ali ibn al-‘Abbas al-Majusi (died 982-994), also known as Masoudi, or Latinized as Haly Abbas, was a Persian physician and psychologist most famous for the Kitab al-Maliki or Complete Book of the Medical Art, his textbook on medicine and psychology.
He was born in Ahvaz, southwestern Persia, and studied under Shaikh Abu Maher Musa ibn Sayyār. He was considered one of the three greatest physicians of the Eastern Caliphate of his time, and became physician to Emir ‘Adud al-Daula Fana Khusraw of the Buwayhid dynasty, who ruled from 949 CE to 983 CE. The Emir was a great patron of medicine, and founded a hospital at Shiraz in Persia, and in 981 the Al-Adudi Hospital in Baghdad, where al-Majusi worked. His ancestors were Zoroastrian, but he himself was a Muslim. His reverence for Allah is evident in the worship and styles of expression throughout his work.
The Complete Art of Medicine
Al-Majusi is best known for his Kitāb Kāmil aṣ-Ṣināʿa aṭ-Ṭibbiyya (كتاب كامل الصناعة الطبية “Complete Book of the Medical Art“), later called The Complete Art of Medicine, which he completed circa 980. He dedicated the work to the Emir, and it became known as the Kitāb al-Malakiyy (كتاب الملكي, “Royal Book“, or in Latin Liber Regalis or Regalis Dispositio). The book is a more systematic and concise encyclopedia than Razi‘s Hawi, and more practical than Avicenna‘s The Canon of Medicine, by which it was superseded.
The Maliki is divided into 20 discourses, of which the first ten deal with theory and the second ten with the practice of medicine. Some examples of topics covered are dietetics and materia medica, a rudimentary conception of the capillary system, interesting clinical observations, and proof of the motions of the womb during parturition (for example, the child does not come out, but is pushed out).
In Europe a partial Latin translation was adapted as the Liber pantegni by Constantinus Africanus (c. 1087), which became a founding text of the Schola Medica Salernitana in Salerno. A complete and much better translation was made in 1127 by Stephen of Antioch, and this was printed in Venice in 1492 and 1523. Haly’s book of medicine is cited in Chaucer‘s Canterbury Tales.
Medical ethics and research methodology
The work emphisized the need for a healthy relationship between doctors and patients, and the importance of medical ethics. It also provided details on a scientific methodology that is similar to modern biomedical research.
Neuroscience and psychology
Neuroscience and psychology were discussed in The Complete Art of Medicine. He described the neuroanatomy, neurobiology and neurophysiology of the brain and first discussed various mental disorders, including sleeping sickness, memory loss, hypochondriasis, coma, hot and cold meningitis, vertigo epilepsy, love sickness, and hemiplegia. He placed more emphasis on preserving health through diet and natural healing than he did on medication or drugs, which he considered a last resort.
Psychophysiology and psychosomatic medicine
Ali ibn Abbas al-Majusi was a pioneer in psychophysiology and psychosomatic medicine. He described how the physiological and psychological aspects of a patient can have an effect on one another in his Complete Book of the Medical Art. He found a correlation between patients who were physically and mentally healthy and those who were physically and mentally unhealthy, and concluded that “joy and contentment can bring a better living status to many who would otherwise be sick and miserable due to unnecessary sadness, fear, worry and anxiety.”
Al-Farabi Abū Naṣr Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Fārābī; for other recorded variants of his name see below) known in the West as Alpharabius (c. 872 in Fārāb – between 14 December, 950 and 12 January, 951 in Damascus), was a renowned scientist and philosopher of the Islamic Golden Age. He was also a cosmologist, logician, and musician. Through his commentaries and treatises, Al-Farabi became well known among medieval Muslim intellectuals as “The Second Teacher”, that is, the successor to Aristotle, “The First Teacher”.
The existing variations in the basic accounts of al-Farabi’s origins and pedigree indicate that they were not recorded during his lifetime or soon thereafter by anyone with concrete information, but were based on hearsay or guesses (as is the case with other contemporaries of al-Farabi). The sources for his life are scant which makes the reconstruction of his biography beyond a mere outline nearly impossible. The earliest and more reliable sources, i.e., those composed before the 6th/12th century, that are extant today are so few as to indicate that no one among Fārābī’s successors and their followers, or even unrelated scholars, undertook to write his full biography, a neglect that has to be taken into consideration in assessing his immediate impact. The sources prior to the 6th/12th century consist of: (1) an autobiographical passage by Farabi, preserved by Ibn Abī Uṣaibiʿa. In this passage, Farabi traces the transmission of the instruction of logic and philosophy from antiquity to his days. (2) Reports by Al-Masudi, Ibn al-Nadim and Ibn Hawqal as well as by Said Al-Andalusi (d. 1070), who devoted a biography to him.
When major Arabic biographers decided to write comprehensive entries on Farabi in the 6th-7th/12th-13th centuries, there was very little specific information on hand; this allowed for their acceptance of invented stories about his life which range from benign extrapolation on the basis of some known details to tendentious reconstructions and legends. Most modern biographies of the philosopher present various combinations of elements drawn at will from this concocted material. The sources from the 6th/12th century and later consist essentially of three biographical entries, all other extant reports on Farabi being either dependent on them or even later fabrications: 1) the Syrian tradition represented by Ibn Abī Uṣaibiʿa. 2) The Wafayāt al-aʿyān wa-anbāʾ abnāʾ az-zamān (“Deaths of Eminent Men and History of the Sons of the Epoch”; trans. by Baron de Slane, Ibn Khallikan’s Biographical Dictionary, 1842–74) compiled by Ibn Khallikān. 3) the scanty and legendary Eastern tradition, represented by Ẓahīr-al-Dīn Bayhaqī.From incidental accounts it is known that he spent significant time in Baghdad with Christian scholars including the cleric Yuhanna ibn Haylan, Yahya ibn Adi, and Abu Ishaq Ibrahim al-Baghdadi. He later spent time in Damascus, Syria and Egypt before returning to Damascus where he died in 950-1.[page needed]
His name was Abū Naṣr Muḥammad b. Muḥammad Farabi, as all sources, and especially the earliest and most reliable, Al-Masudi, agree. In some manuscripts of Fārābī’s works, which must reflect the reading of their ultimate archetypes from his time, his full name appears as Abū Naṣr Muḥammad b. Muḥammad al-Ṭarḵānī, i.e., the element Ṭarḵān appears in a nisba (family surname or attributive title). Moreover, if the name of Farabi’s grandfather was not known among his contemporaries and immediately succeeding generations, it is all the more surprising to see in the later sources the appearance of yet another name from his pedigree, Awzalaḡ. This appears as the name of the grandfather in Ibn Abī Uṣaibiʿa and of the great-grandfather in Ibn Khallikān. Ibn Abī Uṣaibiʿa is the first source to list this name which, as Ibn Khallikān explicitly specifies later, is so to be pronounced as Awzalaḡ. In modern Turkish scholarship and some other sources, the pronunciation is given as Uzluḡ rather than Awzalaḡ, without any explanation.
His birthplace is given in the classical sources as either Fāryāb in Greater Khorasan (modern day Afghanistan) or Fārāb on the Jaxartes (Syr Darya) in modern Kazakhstan. The older Persian Pārāb (in Ḥudūd al-ʿĀlam) or Fāryāb (also Pāryāb), is a common Persian toponym meaning “lands irrigated by diversion of river water”. By the 13th century, Fārāb on the Jaxartes was known as Otrār.
There is a difference of opinion on the ethnic background of Farabi. According to Dimitri Gutas, “[…] ultimately pointless as the quest for Farabi’s ethnic origins might be, the fact remains that we do not have sufficient evidence to decide the matter […]” The Cambridge companion to Arabic philosophy also states that “[…] these biographical facts are paltry in the extreme but we must resist the urge to embellish them with fanciful stories, as the medieval biographers did, or engage in idle speculation about al-Farabi’s ethnicity or religious affiliation on the basis of contrived interpretations of his works, as many modern scholars have done.” According to the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Thought “[…] because the origins of al-Farabi were not recorded during his lifetime or soon after his death in 950 C.E. by anyone with concrete information, accounts of his pedigree and place of birth have been based on hearsay […]”.