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Persian scholar
Name: Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Miskawayh Razi
Title: Ibn Miskawayh
Birth: 932CE
Death: 1030CE
Ethnicity: Persian
Region: Iran
Main interests: History, ethics and philosophy
Works: Tadhib al-akhlaq (Ethical Instruction), Al-Fawz al-Asghar, Tarajib al-umam (Experiences of Nations)

Abu 'Ali Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ya'qub Ibn Miskawayh, (Persian: ابن مسكوويه) also known as Ibn Miskawayh (932-1030) was a prominent Persian philosopher, scientist, poet and historian from Ray, Iran. He was politically active during the Buwayhid era.

As a neo-platonist, his influence on Islamic philosophy is primarily on in the area of ethics. He was the author of the first major Islamic work on philosophical ethics, entitled Tadhib al-akhlaq (Ethical Instruction), focusing on practical ethics, conduct, and refinement of character. He separated personal ethics from the public realm, and contrasted the liberating nature of reason with the deception and temptation of nature.

Contents

Life

Miskawayh may have been a Persian convert to Islam (despite his alleged patronymics); he was fluent enough in Middle Persian to have translated some pre-Islamic texts in that language into Arabic. He worked as a secretary and library for Adud al-Dawla, whom he greatly admired.

Miskawayh's Tajarib al-umam

Miskawayh has been considered to be the peak of Islamic historiography by some Western Orientalists, such as D. S. Margliouth. In his Tajarib al-umam (Experiences of Nations), he was the one of the first major Muslim historians to write a chronicle of contemporary events as an eyewitness. As a Buwayhid bureaucrat, he worked under the vizier al-Muhallabi and had access to the internal happenings of the court. The chronicle is a universal history from the beginning of Islam, but it cuts off during the reign of Adud al-Dawla.

Evolution

Ibn Miskawayh was one of the first to clearly set forth the idea of evolution. Muhammad Hamidullah describes the evolutionary ideas found in Ibn Miskawayh's al-Fawz al-Asghar as follows:

[These books] state that God first created matter and invested it with energy for development. Matter, therefore, adopted the form of vapour which assumed the shape of water in due time. The next stage of development was mineral life. Different kinds of stones developed in course of time. Their highest form being mirjan (coral). It is a stone which has in it branches like those of a tree. After mineral life evolves vegetation. The evolution of vegetation culminates with a tree which bears the qualities of an animal. This is the date-palm. It has male and female genders. It does not wither if all its branches are chopped but it dies when the head is cut off. The date-palm is therefore considered the highest among the trees and resembles the lowest among animals. Then is born the lowest of animals. It evolves into an ape. This is not the statement of Darwin. This is what Ibn Maskawayh states and this is precisely what is written in the Epistles of Ikhwan al-Safa. The Muslim thinkers state that ape then evolved into a lower kind of a barbarian man. He then became a superior human being. Man becomes a saint, a prophet. He evolves into a higher stage and becomes an angel. The one higher to angels is indeed none but God. Everything begins from Him and everything returns to Him.[1]

Arabic manuscripts of the al-Fawz al-Asghar were available in European universities by the 19th century.

See also

References

  1. ^ Muhammad Hamidullah and Afzal Iqbal (1993), The Emergence of Islam: Lectures on the Development of Islamic World-view, Intellectual Tradition and Polity, p. 143-144. Islamic Research Institute, Islamabad.

External links

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Persian scholar
Name: Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Miskawayh Razi

Title: Ibn Miskawayh
Birth: 932CE
Death: 1030CE
Ethnicity: Persian
Region: Iran
Main interests: History, ethics and philosophy
Works: Tadhib al-akhlaq (Ethical Instruction), Al-Fawz al-Asghar, Tarajib al-umam (Experiences of Nations)

Abu 'Ali Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ya'qub Ibn Miskawayh, (Persian: ابن مسكوويه) also known as Ibn Miskawayh (932-1030) was a prominent Persian philosopher, scientist, poet and historian from Ray, Iran. He was active politically during the Buwayhid era.

His effect on Islamic philosophy is mainly concerned with ethical issues. He was the author of the first major Islamic work on philosophical ethics, entitled Tadhib al-akhlaq (Ethical Instruction), focusing on practical ethics, conduct, and refinement of character. He separated personal ethics from the public realm, and contrasted the liberating nature of reason with the deception and temptation of nature.

Contents

Life

Miskawayh was possibly a Persian convert to Islam (despite his alleged patronymics); he was fluent enough in Middle Persian to have translated some pre-Islamic texts in that language into Arabic. He worked as a secretary and library for Adud al-Dawla, whom he greatly admired.

Miskawayh's Tarajib al-umam

Miskawayh has been considered to be the peak of Islamic historiography by some Western Orientalists, such as D. S. Margliouth. In his Tarajib al-umam (Experiences of Nations), he was the one of the first major Muslim historians to write a chronicle of contemporary events as an eyewitness. As a Buwayhid bureaucrat, he worked under the vizier al-Muhallabi and had access to the internal happenings of the court. The chronicle is a universal history from the beginning of Islam, but it cuts off during the reign of Adud al-Dawla.

Evolution

Ibn Miskawayh was one of the first to clearly describe the idea of evolution. Muhammad Hamidullah describes the evolutionary ideas found in Ibn Miskawayh's al-Fawz al-Asghar as follows:

"[These books] state that God first created matter and invested it with energy for development. Matter, therefore, adopted the form of vapour which assumed the shape of water in due time. The next stage of development was mineral life. Different kinds of stones developed in course of time. Their highest form being mirjan (coral). It is a stone which has in it branches like those of a tree. After mineral life evolves vegetation. The evolution of vegetation culminates with a tree which bears the qualities of an animal. This is the date-palm. It has male and female genders. It does not wither if all its branches are chopped but it dies when the head is cut off. The date-palm is therefore considered the highest among the trees and resembles the lowest among animals. Then is born the lowest of animals. It evolves into an ape. This is not the statement of Darwin. This is what Ibn Maskawayh states and this is precisely what is written in the Epistles of Ikhwan al-Safa. The Muslim thinkers state that ape then evolved into a lower kind of a barbarian man. He then became a superior human being. Man becomes a saint, a prophet. He evolves into a higher stage and becomes an angel. The one higher to angels is indeed none but God. Everything begins from Him and everything returns to Him."[1]

Arabic manuscripts of the al-Fawz al-Asghar were available in European universities by the 19th century. This work is believed to have been studied by Charles Darwin, who was a student of Arabic, and it is thought to have had an influence on his inception of Darwinism.[1]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Muhammad Hamidullah and Afzal Iqbal (1993), The Emergence of Islam: Lectures on the Development of Islamic World-view, Intellectual Tradition and Polity, p. 143-144. Islamic Research Institute, Islamabad.

External links


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