On the Perfect State: (Mabadi ara ahl al-madina al-fadila)



Al-Farabi (d. 950 AD), known in medieval Latin texts as Alfarabius or Avennasar, was one of the most outstanding and renowned Muslim philosophers. He became known as the “second teacher,” the first being Aristotle. On the Perfect State reflects al-Farabi’s view that philosophy had come to an end everywhere else and that it had found a new home and a new life within the world of Islam. Philosophy, in his view, gives the right views about the freedom of moral choice and of the good life altogether. The perfect human being, the philosopher, ought also to be the sovereign ruler. Philosophy alone shows the right path to the urgent reform of the caliphate. Al-Farabi envisages a perfect city state as well as a perfect community and a perfect world state. His importance for subsequent Islamic philosophers is considerable. His impact on the writings of 10th century AD authors such as the Ikhwan al-Safa, al-Masudi, Miskawayh and Abu ‘l-Hasan Muhammad al-Amiri is undeniable. Ibn Sina seems to have known his works intimately and Ibn Rushd follows him in the essentials of his thought. Maimonides, the greatest Jewish philosopher who lived in Muslim Spain and wrote in Arabic, appreciated al-Farabi highly. Al-Farabi’s political ideas had a belated and lasting success from the 13th century onwards. A few of his treatises became known to the Latin school men while more were translated into medieval Hebrew.


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