The Ikhwân al-Safâ’ or “Brethren of Purity”, as their name is commonly translated, are the authors of one of the most complete Medieval. The Ikhwan al-Safa’ (Brethren of Purity) were the anonymous adepts of a tenth- century esoteric fraternity of lettered urbanites that was principally based in Basra . The philosophy of the group of Arab philosophers of the fourth or fifth century ah ( tenth or eleventh century ad) known as the Ikhwan al-Safa’ (Brethren of Purity).

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The identification of the authors, or possibly one author, the place and time of writing and propagation of their works, the nature of the secret brotherhood, the outer manifestation of which comprises the Rasa’il — these and many secondary questions have remained without answer. It is an anecdote of a “prince who strays from his palace during his wedding feast and, drunk, spends the night in a cemetery, confusing a corpse with his bride.

Arithmetic and Geometry ed. Their proof is that any line on the surface of the earth or on the face of a river is an arch, and any portion of the sea is a part of the shell of a spherical body.

The majority of epistles also invoke God with the traditional Islamic basmala’In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate’. Just like philosophy, as a way towards salvation, is an imitation of God and implies that the disciple is provided not only of an acute mind, but also of a pure heart through which God will be recognized as the sole and the supreme teacher in knowledge and deeds, as the Holy Book demonstrates, cf. Each book develops different topics:. Bombay —89, 4 vols.

Ikhwan al-Safa – Oxford Islamic Studies Online

It is a stone which has in it branches like those of a tree. The Ikhwan did not compile the epistles from a pure love of knowledge and for no other reason. The world, then, emanates from God through the hypostases of Intellect and Soul. The version of Plotinus’ Enneads possessed by Muslims was modified with changes and paraphrases; it was wrongly attributed to Aristotle and called Theologia of Aristotlesince Plotinus Flutinus remained mostly unknown to the Muslims by name.

Furthermore, when those four elements undergo intense heat and strong pressure inside the earth, they change into mercury and sulphur. The real problem seems, then, to be the dignity of the person appointed as the caliph, which alone is the condition of a legitimate prophetical succession.

In the same spirit, they declared also that the sun and the stars are neither hot nor cold. We do not know, however, what additions they made; but we are sure that they did give us a general account of the scientific life of the Muslims in the Middle Ages, with its bright and dark sides. But the Creator may not be described as either accident or substance, for He is their Creator and efficient cause. Skip to main content.

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No anthropomorphic attribute or action should be ascribed to Him. The basic question, of course, is whether the authors unify the doctrines of more numerous groups, as suggested by the different contexts and even their inconsistencies. Kitab Ihwan as-safa III. The latter looked forward to a state of real knowledge achieved when the soul was separated from the body; but in the soteriology and epistemology of the Ikhwan, one could gain some knowledge of the divine in this world to help one reach Paradise.

If any body, they argue, is in its specially assigned place in the spheres, it does not exert weight. Not all Pythagorean doctrines were followed, however. Usually the tasks of the ruler are neatly distinguished from those of the prophet, because governance is a mundane business and prophecy is related to the life to come III,5—6.

In spite of the commixtion of Aristotelian and Neoplatonic ideas — e. This is the date-palm. Third, the acquisition of knowledge as a virtue that fosters moral character created in turn a society with a common set of civic values and behavior. By contrast with the simple triad of Plotinus, which comprised the three hypostases of The One or The Good, Intellect and Soul, with the lower eternally emanating from the higher entity, the Ikhwan elaborated this into an emanationist hierarchy of nine ‘members’, hypostases or levels of being, as follows: Epistle 31, III,szfa are opposed.

As for other relatives of his servants, and dependants, he should be bounteous in their maintenance and meek in their treatment. The punishment was the fall of the sinful souls to our earth, to be tied to individual bodies in order to atone, by undergoing hardships, pain, and sorrow, for the sin aw had committed in their heavenly abode. This is because imamate is of two kinds: This, however, assumed a foundation of knowledge, pedagogy, and the capacity to synthesize and assimilate existing resources through the application of intellectual and moral discipline.

Chapter 15: Ikhwan al-Safa

Muhammed Shurwan ‘s Arabic edition of the “Debate of Animals” published in Calcutta[21] a complete translation of the Encyclopedia into English does not exist as ofalthough Friedrich Dieterici Professor of Arabic in Berlin translated the first 40 of the epistles into German; [39] presumably, the remainder have since been translated.

In the 9TH century, Greek-to-Arabic translations proliferated, first by the intermediary of Syriac ass directly.


Isma’ilism developed a complex and rich theosophy which owed a great deal to Neoplatonism. Babylonian astronomy Egyptian astronomy Hellenistic astronomy Indian safw. Together, they leave themselves and the ensnaring net to a nearby ratwho ikhawn gracious enough to gnaw the birds free of the net; impressed by the rat’s altruistic deed, a crow becomes the rat’s friend. We can decompose the number unit by unit till we reach the first.

All subsequent emanations tend to be more and more material and defective. Maisonneuve et Larose, The structure of this mysterious organization and saca identities of its members have never been clear. To use their own image, they perceived their Brotherhood, to which they invited others, as a “Ship of Salvation” that would float free from the sea of matter; the Ikhwan, with their doctrines of mutual cooperation, asceticism, and righteous living, would reach the gates of Paradise in its care.

There are debates on using this description and other materials of Rasa’il that could help with determination of the identity, affiliation with Ismaili, Sufism, Various cultural elements come together in the Epistles: The Neoplatonic dimensions of the thought of the Ikhwan have profound implications for their view of God. All human souls are immortal: These sada demonstrate beyond doubt that these authors considered themselves true Muslim Pythagoreans.

Indeed, they present their epistles to iikhwan world as a body of just such knowledge. They enable the soul to act through every organ and produce the sensation, action, or craft particular to that organ without need for deliberation or choice.

In this Brotherhood, self is forgotten; all act by the help of each, all rely upon each for succour and advice, and if a Brother sees it will be good for another that he should sacrifice his life for him, he willingly gives it.

So, the table can be considered as evidence of the fact that the whole encyclopedia has been produced during a very long period of time.

For them, purification can be reached by following prophetic revelation with the help of reason. This is because the Brethren revere the Platonic hero rather more than they revere purely Platonic philosophy.

The Epistles vary in length and their style is plain. The laws of religions, on the contrary, are social orders, to abide by which is saffa for the maintenance of security and welfare of the community.