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Muslim scholar
Name: Fakhr al-Din al-Razi
Title: Imam al-Mushakkakin
Birth: 1149-1150 CE
Death: 1209-1210 CE
Main interests: Islamic Philosophy, Kalam, Logic and Tafsir
Works: Tafsir al-Kabir (al-Razi), The Major Book on Logic, Sharh Nisf al-Wajiz lil Ghazzali, Sharh al-Isharat li Ibn Sina, etc.
Influences: Imam Shafi'i, Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari, Ibn Sina, Ghazali

Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Umar ibn al-Husayn al-Taymi al-Bakri al-Tabaristani Fakhr al-Din al-Razi[1] (Arabic/Persian: أبو عبدالله محمد بن عمر بن الحسین فخرالدین الرازي) or Fakhruddin Razi was a well-known Persian[2][3] Sunni Islamic theologian and Islamic philosopher, who wrote on a wide variety of subjects, including astronomy, astrology, Islamic cosmology, physics, Islamic metaphysics, medicine, Islamic literature, Ash'ari kalam theology, Islamic ethics, Muslim history, Sharia law, Fiqh jurisprudence, and Tafsir exegesis. He was born in 1149 (543 AH) in Ray of Persia (today located in Iran) and died in 1209 (606AH) in Herat (today located in Afghanistan).



Razi was born in Ray now a district of modern Tehran. He studied Kalam, Fiqh and other Islamic sciences from his father, Diya'uddin known as Khatib al-Rayy. He then studied from Majduddin al-Jili and Kamal Samnani. He was from the Shafi`i school of Islamic law and Asharite school of theology. He was also known as Ibn al-Khatib and Khatib al-Rayy. According to some sources his family traced its lineage to the first Muslim Caliph, Abu Bakr. He is mostly called as Imam Razi in Iran and Afghanistan.

According to William M. Slane, "the relative adjectives al-Taymi al-Bakri indicate here that Fakhr al-Din al-Razi was a descendent of the Khalif abu Bakr, one of whose ancestors was Taym the son of murrah the son of Ka'b..."[4]

Razi traveled to Khwarazm, Khorasan and Transoxiana. He attracted a large number of students in each city that he went. He recorded the account of the places he visited, the scholars he met, and summaries of their discussions in his book Munazarat Fakhr al-Din al Razi fi Bilad Ma Wara' al-Nahr. As a result of his discussions in various cities, he found many opponents such as the Mutazilites, Hanbalites (who opposed philosophy and Kalam), Batinites and Qarmatians of whose teachings Razi criticized. He settled in his late years of life in Herat, where a mosque was built for him, and died in 1209.

A well-known anecdote is told of his rhetorical prowess: Razi was training his students sitting in front of a pond filled with water. Razi, via arguments and philosophical reasoning, proved to his students that the pond was empty. His students then threw him in the pond, and asked him if the pond was empty, why was he drowning in it?

In his "Wasaya" (Testament), which he wrote before his death, he writes:

I have explored the ways of kalam and the methods of philosophy, and I did not see in them a benefit that compares with the benefit I found in the Qur'an. For the latter hurries us to acknowledge that greatness and majesty belong only to Allah, precluding us from involvement into the explication of objections and contentions. This is for no other reason than because human minds find themselves deadened in those deep, vexing exercises and obscure ways of Kalam and Philosophy.




Razi's major work was Tafsir-e Kabir (The Great Commentary), his Exegesis (Tafsir) on the Qur'an, also named as Mafatih al-Ghayb (The Keys to the Unknown). His most imporant work on usul-al-fiqh was the Al-Mahsul.


His most important philosophical works were Sharh al-Isharat (a commentary on Ibn Sina's Kitab al-isharat wa-'l-tanbihat) and Mabahith al-mashriqya (Eastern Discussions).

The person who did the most to defend Ibn Sina's philosophy against the criticisms of Razi was Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, whose commentary on the Kitab al-isharat was in large measure a refutation of Razi's opinions.

Multiversal cosmology

In dealing with his conception of physics and the physical world in his Matalib, he discusses Islamic cosmology and Islamic astronomy. He "explores the notion of the existence of a multiverse in the context of his commentary" on the Qur'anic verse, "All praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds." He raises the question of whether the term "worlds" in this verse refers to "multiple worlds within this single universe or cosmos, or to many other universes or a multiverse beyond this known universe." In volume 4 of the Matalib, Al-Razi states:[5]

It is established by evidence that there exists beyond the world a void without a terminal limit (khala' la nihayata laha), and it is established as well by evidence that God Most High has power over all contingent beings (al-mumkinat). Therefore He the Most High has the power (qadir) to create a thousand thousand worlds (alfa alfi 'awalim) beyond this world such that each one of those worlds be bigger and more massive than this world as well as having the like of what this world has of the throne (al-arsh), the chair (al-kursiyy), the heavens (al-samawat) and the earth (al-ard), and the sun (al-shams) and the moon (al-qamar). The arguments of the philosophers (dala'il al-falasifah) for establishing that the world is one are weak, flimsy arguments founded upon feeble premises.

Al-Razi rejected the Aristotelian and Avicennian notion of a single universe that revolves around the world known to them. He describes the main Aristotelian arguments against the existence of multiple universes, pointing out their weaknesses and refuting them. This rejection arose from his affirmation of atomism, as advocated by the Ash'ari school of Islamic theology, which entails the existence of vacant space in which the atoms move, combine and separate. He discussed more on the issue of the void in greater detail in volume 5 of the Matalib.[5] He argued that God has the power to fill the vacuum with an infinite number of universes.[6]


The world is a garden, whose gardener is the state;
The state is the sultan whose guardian is the Law;
The Law is a policy, which is protected by the kingdom;
The kingdom is a city, brought into being by the army;
The army is made secure by wealth;
Wealth is gathered from the subjects;
The subjects are made servants by justice;
Justice is the axis of the prosperity of the world.

Jami' al-'ulum

Ibn al-Subki quotes the following lines :

The daring of minds ends in shackles,
Most of mankind's undertakings are folly.
Our souls are indifferent to what our bodies do,
And the sum of our lives is affliction and harm.
We did not benefit from our lifelong search
Except in collecting what these said, and those.
Atop many a mountain men have triumphed
And gone, while the mountains remained.
How many men and states have we seen
Goaded to disappear one and all.


His major works are:

  • Tafsir al-Kabir (al-Razi)
  • Mabahith al-mashriqiyya fi 'ilm al-ilahiyyat wa-'l-tabi'iyyat (Eastern Studies in Metaphysics and Physics)
  • Muhassal afkar al-mutaqaddimin wa-'l-muta'akhkhirin (The Harvest of the Thought of the Ancients and Moderns)
  • Kitab al-nafs wa l-ruh wa sharh quwa-huma (Book on the Soul and the Spirit and their Faculties)
  • al-Mahsul fi 'Ilm al-Usul
  • Sharh al-Isharat (Commentary on the Isharat of Ibn Sina)
  • al-Mutakallimin fi 'Ilm al-Kalam
  • Nihayat al 'Uqul fi Dirayat al-Usul
  • Risala al-Huduth
  • Kitab al-Mantiq al-Kabir (The Major Book on Logic)
  • Al-Bayan wa al-Burhan fi al-Radd `ala Ahl al-Zaygh wa al-Tughyan
  • Sharh Asma' Allah al-Husna
  • Sharh Nisf al-Wajiz li l-Ghazzali
  • Sharh Kulliyyat al-Qanun fi al-Tibb (A Commentary on major Rules in Medicines of Ibn Sina)

See also


  1. ^ Ibn Khallikan. Wafayat Al-a'yan Wa Anba' Abna' Al-zaman. Translated by William MacGuckin Slane. (1961) Pakistan Historical Society. pp. 224.
  2. ^ Richard Maxwell Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760,University of California Press,1996, - Page 29
  3. ^ Shaikh M. Ghazanfar, Medieval Islamic Economic Thought: Filling the Great Gap in European Economics,Routledge, 2003 [1]
  4. ^ Ibn Khallikan. Wafayat Al-a'yan Wa Anba' Abna' Al-zaman. Translated by William MacGuckin Slane. (1961) Pakistan Historical Society. p. 224 (annotation by the translator).
  5. ^ a b Adi Setia (2004), "Fakhr Al-Din Al-Razi on Physics and the Nature of the Physical World: A Preliminary Survey", Islam & Science 2,, retrieved 2010-03-02 
  6. ^ John Cooper (1998), "al-Razi, Fakhr al-Din (1149-1209)", Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Routledge),, retrieved 2010-03-07 

For his life and writings, see:

  • G.C. Anawati, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition, ed. by H.A.R. Gibbs, B. Lewis, Ch. Pellat, C. Bosworth et al., 11 vols. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960-2002) vol. 2, pp. 751-5.

For his astrological-magical writings, see:

  • Manfred Ullmann, Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften im Islam, Handbuch der Orientalistik, Abteilung I, Ergänzungsband VI, Abschnitt 2 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1972), pp. 388-390.

For his treatise on physiognomy, see:

  • Yusef Mourad, La physiognomie arabe et le Kitab al-firasa de Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (Paris, 1939).

External links


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