Al-Farabi's Doctrine of Education (Continued)
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5. The teacher and the learner
Al-Farabi lays down the conditions of both morality and learning for the teacher. He must be of good character, free from cravings and seek only the truth . For educating and teaching the people, none shall be employed but ‘people of virtue, trained in the logical arts' . The art of teaching should be undertaken voluntarily, without obligation, except in cases of absolute necessity. The other scientific and educational prerequisites which the teacher should meet are: mastery of the fundamentals of his art (his specialization) and its rules; the ability to demonstrate everything that it is possible to demonstrate, whenever asked to do so; the ability to make others comprehend what he himself knows; the ability to guard against any distortions which might enter his art .
Figure 5: Socrates and his students in a 13th century Syrian manuscript of al-Mubashshir Ibn Fatik's work Mukhtar al-hikam twa-mahasin al-kalim, currently kept at Topkapi Palace Library in Istanbul. (This image is in the public domain).
Concerning the student, particularly if he wants to study philosophy, and in contrast to al-Ghazali (d. 1111/505) who wanted him in the first place to have ‘studied the Qur'an, language, and the sciences of the Holy Law' , al-Farabi does not make learning the Qur'an and the sciences of the Holy Law a precondition, for he places the learning of religion (fiqh) and theology (kalam) at the end of the curriculum.
In addition, the student should possess three further qualities: he should be able to grasp concepts and understand their meaning; accept the existence of what he has grasped or understood; be able to describe what he has grasped and accepted. Al-Farabi calls these three points ‘the modes of teaching' and considers that a person who brings together all these modes is indeed a teacher . Likewise, Galen also considers that if the learner wishes to surpass all others in knowledge, he must have the highest intelligence and should begin with logic, have a passionate desire to know the truth, and should study by night and day so as to understand the viewpoint of the Ancients. He is not to be content with that: he should pursue his studies for a long time so as to select those opinions that agree with the meaning and reject those that contradict it, especially in medicine . In the same way, al-Farabi considers that the student must always be most eager to learn and study, and quotes the example of the little drops of water which, over time, can wear away the stone. The student should not let anything distract him from learning, since he who pays attention to too many things at once ends up with confused and disorganized ideas. Learning requires a great deal of time .
If the student wishes to learn by himself from a book, al-Farabi advises that he begin by identifying the book's objective, its purpose and its structure, then its relationship to the sciences and its relative position on that branch of science .
6. The curriculum
In every age, to reach its objectives, education has to follow a program listing the matters which will enable the individual to learn about the cultural heritage of his nation, on the one hand, and also to learn the knowledge which will lead him to maturity in his feelings, in his judgement and actions, and in developing a critical approach. Al-Farabi is considered to be the first Muslim philosopher to classify the sciences and learning, not just for the sake of enumerating them, but also with an educational objective. For al-Farabi, the sequence of learning must begin with the language and its structure, i.e. its grammar, so that the student can express himself as do the people who speak that language; without this ability, he will not be able to understand others nor they him, and he will not develop properly. Mastery of the common language, the foundation for all other kinds of knowledge, is therefore indispensable.
Figure 6: Page of Al-Farabi's manuscript for eight string 'ud (lute), discovered by the Iraqi gifted musician Naseer Shamma, who endeavoured, as a consequence of this discovery, to create an 'ud or lute eight instead of six strings. This new design expanded the musical range of the 'ud and gave it a distinct tonality (Source).
Al-Farabi was keenly aware of the value of language since he spoke several languages himself that allowed him to compare cultures and tongues . After languages comes logic, the instrument of the sciences and their methodology, and leads to sound reflection; it is also closely connected with language. Furthermore, the Arabic word for ‘logic' (mantiq) includes both verbal expression and intellectual procedures, and this is why, in his opinion, language comes before rules about forming the mind, and prepares the way for it .
Then come mathematics, which the Muslim philosophers call ‘the teachings' (ta'alim). Al-Farabi considers that arithmetic comes first, since it is an important stage in the hierarchy of the theoretical sciences: ‘Whosoever desires to learn the theoretical art begins with numbers, then ascends to magnitudes (measures), then to the other things to which numbers and magnitudes essentially belong, like perspectives (optics)' . The study of optics, astronomy and the natural sciences in general requires mathematics, and arithmetic is one of the basic tools.
Al-Farabi divides mathematics into seven parts: ‘numbers (arithmetic), geometry, the science of perspectives, scientific astronomy (contrasted with astrology), music, dynamics and the science of machines' . Mathematics includes algebra. Al-Farabi's explanation for beginning instruction with mathematics is that numbers and magnitudes do not allow for any confusion, and perfect order reigns. They are an example of precision and clarity, and train the student's intellect in that path. The student must proceed in stages to different levels of mathematics, from the immaterial and the immeasurable, then to what needs some matter, and so on. Geometry comes after arithmetic, for it depends on demonstrations ‘giving us certain knowledge and banishing all uncertainty' . Geometry has two methods: that of analysis and that of structure. Then there is perspectives, astronomy, music, dynamics and last of all mechanics , then the natural sciences whose subject is matter (animal, vegetable, mineral, etc.)
.Following the exact sciences comes theology or metaphysics, then the human sciences (political science in particular), then jurisprudence (fiqh), law (qanun) and academic theology (kalam). In short, al-Farabi's curriculum is confined to a group of sciences, graded as follows: science of language, logic, the ‘teachings' (mathematics), natural science, theology, civics (political science), jurisprudence and academic theology. The link between the natural sciences and theology is, in his opinion, the human soul, which he considers to be among the natural sciences, even though it has a metaphysical aspect. One can then move on to the study of the ‘First Principle' of all existing beings; then return to human science, beginning with those governing society among other things, and the law which governs trade, and ending with the science which defends the beliefs on which society is founded. It should be noted that al-Farabi did not place medicine among the sciences, to which he devoted an entire treatise and mentions in many other of his works, calling it sometimes a science, sometimes an art. Nor did he mention in Kitab al-ihsa' (The Book of Lists) any physical exercise, but he does mention it in Talkhis nawamis Aflatun (Abridgement of the Laws), noting that it is beneficial to the body as well as the mind: ‘When the body is sound, so is the mind' .
It can be said that al-Farabi designed a mathematical curriculum in education resembling that of Plato. As a reminder of the famous words written over the door of the Academy (‘Let none enter who is not a geometer'), Al-Farabi stated that ‘the demonstrations used in geometry are the soundest of all demonstrations' .
Al-Farabi mentions another theory, the one taken by the followers of Theophrastus, according to which education begins with reforming the morals, ‘for he who cannot reform his own morals cannot learn any science correctly' , as well as a third theory, that of Boethius of Sidon, which begins with natural science, because its subject matter is closer to us and better known, and can be grasped by the senses; even though his pupil al-Saydawi disagreed with him and chose to begin with logic, since it is a standard whereby we can always distinguish between truth and falsehood. On these various theories, al-Farabi comments that it is possible to combine some of them. In fact, he thought that, before beginning the study of philosophy, the student must reform his own ethical values, so as to desire nothing but virtue; he must then strengthen the rational mind by training in scientific demonstration, which is geometry giving access to logic .
By comparison, in his Republic, Plato considered the starting point to be physical exercise, then arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music and philosophy (dialectics). However, in Laws he considered the starting point was ethics, because it inculcates love of good and hatred of evil. He did not pay any special importance to observation and experiment, for his was a world of ideas, not objects, while al-Farabi is quite concerned with practical aspects of each one of the mathematical sciences.
7. Philosophy, the queen of disciplines
But it was philosophy that al-Farabi places as the highest form of learning for mankind, for it is the knowledge of distant causes by which all beings are governed . It enables us to learn about the best of things in the best possible way , and it is the way to happiness. Through it, the soul of the learner is raised to the level of the rational human being in whom two elements meet: one, natural and biological, and the other intellectual or spiritual—until we reach the First Principle of existence .
Figure 7: Front cover of the German translation, with the Latin text of Ihsa' al-'ulum by Al-Farabi: Über die Wissenschaften. De scientiis. Nach der lateinischen Übersetzung Gerhards von Cremona - Mit einer Einleitung und kommentierenden Anmerkungen herausgegeben und übersetzt von Franz Schupp. (Felix Meiner Verlag Hamburg, 2005).
The ultimate objective of studying philosophy is twofold: theoretical and practical. The theoretical part is knowledge of the Creator, the Most High, the active cause of all things and the governor of this world by His wisdom and justice. The practical and ethical part for the human being consists of imitating the Creator, as far as he is able, by carrying out admirable actions.
The route which must be taken by anyone wishing to learn philosophy is that of action; so true is it that a person only reaches the goal of his deeds through complete knowledge, the purpose of which is action. To arrive at the high point of learning, it is vital to be aware of the natural sciences, then the mathematical sciences; but to achieve excellence in one's deeds, one must first reform one's self, before reforming those who share one's house and finally one's fellow citizens .
As for learning about the scientific subjects that must precede the study of philosophy, al-Farabi sometimes indicates the mathematical method, at other times the ethical method, and at others the natural, without particularly favoring any one. He seems to consider them complementary, but believes that, in the final analysis in the teaching of philosophy, one should first attempt to modify the morals of the soul to direct them towards excellence , then the rational soul, so that the student can understand the path of truth. This can be only be achieved in one way: mastery of the science of demonstration which is acquired through that of geometrical (mathematical) demonstration and the path of logical demonstration. Al-Farabi chose to begin with the former, but saw nothing wrong by starting with the natural sciences since they are more related than mathematics to the senses, which are the beginning of knowledge.
The student of philosophy must also know its history; he starts with Plato, then Aristotle , so as to know the latter's aims in his various books, his technical terms, and the various philosophical schools, and al-Farabi points out the intellectual, moral and religious qualities which the student of philosophy must possess .
In his own personal philosophy, al-Farabi applied two different methods: (a) the descending method which begins from the Cause (the One) and ends with the effect (the world of the senses), which is what he applied in his book ‘On the Views of the People of the Ideal City'; and (b) the ascending method, which begins with the effect and proceeds to the Cause, which he applied in his book ‘Politics'. Unlike Plato who believed that only the Greeks were capable of understanding, al-Farabi has a wider vision not considering philosophy to be a special attribute of any one nation to the exception of all others. He believed that philosophy already existed among the Chaldeans in Mesopotamia, and was then passed to the Egyptians, from them to the Greeks, the Syrians and finally to the Arabs .
8. Ways and means of elucidation in teaching
Al-Farabi was concerned with the means of clarifying, understanding and making people aware of meanings. He recommended the use of visual observation for whatever could actually be seen, ‘placing the object before the eye' . In his opinion, the first step in teaching something is to use the correct name which signifies it. Then define it, and explain the various parts of this definition, and likewise explain its particular and general characteristics, so that the former part of the latter. One may use illustrations of the object, and describe its special features and its unusual features. It is also possible to make it understood by resorting to something that resembles it, or which can be compared with it; and to use the method of subdivision, induction, analogy and metaphor. Al-Farabi considers that all of these methods will facilitate both comprehension and retention . This understanding of something is also supported by knowledge of the characteristics of an object, so that it may be imagined all the easier, inasmuch as by imagining its characteristics, one imagines the thing itself and thus can more easily call it to mind.
Figure 8: The Shaikh al-Islam Discoursing to an Audience: Page from an illustrated copy of the manuscript of the Divan dating from 1590-95 of Mahmud 'Abd al-Baki, a Turkish judge and poet (Ottoman Iraq, ink, colors, and gold on paper; H. 26 cm, W. 15.2 cm). In this page, the Shaikh al-Islam (chief theologian) of that time, Abu al-Sa'ud (1490-1574), is engaged in discussions with other theologians, and accompanies a qasida, or laudatory poem, about him. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Source).
He also mentions what is called the rule of ‘substitution': if some object has a popular name, this term is used instead of a more complicated one, and the object itself is defined by its constituent elements, an operation which al-Farabi calls ‘division and analysis'. When it is difficult to grasp a concept because of its abstraction, a start is made with the term used to describe it, and if it still cannot be imagined, an illustration is used representing its characteristics. Al-Farabi recalls that Aristotle used to employ substitutes for expressions to make them more intelligible—a method that gives encouragement to the learner .
As with other techniques, al-Farabi recommends during learning and demonstration the use of ‘geometric shapes drawn upon a board so as to stimulate the imagination, and so that the demonstration itself will not confuse the intellect, and the imagination may be busy with something similar to the thing which it is intended to demonstrate, and will therefore not obstruct the process' . This makes the mind completely occupied with the demonstrations, with the imagination stimulated by the drawing on the board.
Figure 9: Front cover of the English translation of Al-Farabi's On the Perfect State: Mabadi ara' ahl al-madina al-fadhila: A revised text with introduction, translation, and commentary by Richard Walzer. (
Clarendon Press/Oxford University Press, 1985, 4th edition).
Learning about astronomy, among other things, involves the use of instruments, since many of the essentials can only be learned by observations provided by such instruments. Similarly, listening to instruments is vital in the study of music; for him, musical skill is acquired ‘by long application to listening' . Al-Farabi was particularly interested in instruments which make the theoretical side of music easier to understand . For this purpose he himself fashioned an instrument and modified some others, like the Baghdad drum (tanbur) and the rabab, so as to improve them. He considered that music is the most typical of the sciences whose principles are mostly obtained through the senses, like astronomy, optics and medicine: ‘for the art of medicine takes many of its principles from natural science, and is learned principally from sensory experience acquired through anatomy' .
Use of sensory perception in the theoretical art of music is a matter to which al-Farabi returned many times in his Kitab al-musiqa al-kabir [Great Book on Music], and he called for the making of instruments for this purpose: ‘the fundamentals of the science of music are learned through perception and practice. And we have also given [...] guidance for making an instrument [...] which, if tuned in the way I have indicated to produce the notes in a scale, will enable you to hear the same notes. Hence, the rules given verbally will conform to what is heard' .
In this way al-Farabi not only dealt with the theory of music, but also analyzed in detail the way of converting theory into practice: ‘[In our two books] we have dealt at length with the principles of this science and shown how to make them tally with what is perceived, and in them we have given guidance for making an instrument in which can be applied all the sensory aspects that these principles require' . These instructions for making a training instrument are an important feature in al-Farabi's educational philosophy, who declared that his books aimed to harmonize theory with practice: ‘Most of what we have summarized in this book we have made directly perceptible through well-known instruments, with the result that what was explained by words and analogy was in agreement with what is heard' .
On an entirely different subject, al-Farabi turned his attention to the purpose of educational games and the function of play in human activity: ‘Different types of play have serious purposes, and play is not then an aim in itself' . The value of play must be considered in relation to its aim: ‘The intention behind various types of play can only be truly ascertained when they have been evaluated' . In his view, play overcomes fatigue and ‘restores the strength required for action' . As with all distractions, and like salt in food, it should be used in moderation for the aim of play is recreation which, in its turn, ‘is designed to restore a person's strength to undertake more serious activity' . He recommends games that stimulate a child's creativity: ‘Like the child who uses doors and houses in his play acquires talents and abilities useful to him if he desires to take crafts seriously' . In the same way, Plato had noted that the ancient Egyptians used an excellent method to teach children arithmetic: they were required to divide a number of apples into different groups, or flowers into bouquets of different sizes, or to distinguish containers of different metals, after they had been deliberately mixed up .
Is there a place for punishment in al-Farabi's educational theory? ‘The teacher' must not be too severe, nor excessively lenient. If he is too severe, his pupils will hate him; but if he is too lenient, the pupils will not take him seriously and will be inclined to laziness and will pay no attention to his lessons' . This moderate position leads him to regulate the degree of punishment in accordance with the children's attitude: ‘If they are inclined to be mischievous because of some short-term pleasure, then they can be won over by offering them some pleasure when they refrain from it or if they behave in the opposite way. This is how children should be disciplined. If this is not sufficient, then one should add some inconvenience which follows immediately on the misbehavior, and makes it as unpleasant as possible' . It is also possible to substitute the bad behavior with a good one giving similar pleasure, as long as the misbehavior itself is followed by a suitable punishment to make the child abandon it. Al-Farabi does not explain what kind of punishment he has in mind, confining himself to the general idea and leaving it to the educator to decide on the form of correction, depending on the pupil. But he did point out that physical punishment is more effective than psychological punishment, such as fear.
Al-Farabi was well aware of the concept of evaluating the outcomes of teaching. He emphasized that the aim of an examination is to find out a learner's level in the field being studied. When the time comes, in other words when a learner is thought to have completed that discipline, he is tested in it ‘so as to determine his level in the discipline he is supposed to have mastered' . He considers that the questions asked could have either an educational or an experimental character. In the first case, it is directed at the pupil who is supposed to know something so as to demonstrate that knowledge. But a person can also test himself to ascertain if he has made a quantitative or methodological mistake. For this purpose, instruments are made available to help us check the compass, the ruler, the scales, the abacus, astronomic summary tables, etc.,  which al-Farabi classifies among ‘the rules which are few in number yet applicable to many things'. If we learn and remember these rules, we also learn the many matters incorporated in them .
Figure 10: Front cover of Alfarabi and the Foundation of Islamic Political Philosophy by Muhsin Mahdi (University of Chicago Press, 2001, Hardcover).
In the same way that knowledge is tested, so is intelligence: the ability to discriminate; the capacity for deductive and critical reasoning; understanding the relationship between isolated pieces of information and grasping the links between them. One of the most important ways of recognizing intelligence is through mathematical ability .
10. The influence of Al-Farabi
Another entire study would be required to analyze the influence that al-Farabi had over contemporary philosophers and those who came after him: Yahya b. ‘Adi (d. 974/374), who was his direct disciple; the Brethren of Purity (Ikhwan al-Safa); Ibn Miskawayh (d. 1130/421); al-Mas'udi (d. 956/346); Abu'l-Hasan Al-'Amiri (d. 991/381); Ibn Rushd (Averroës) (d. 1198/595); Maimonides (d. 1204/601); and Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406/808). Some of his books were translated into Latin and Hebrew. In Latin he was known as Alfarabius and Avennasar.
Figure 11: Front cover of the edition of the first volume of the philosophical works of Al-Farabi: Al-a'mal al-falsafiya al-kamila li-'l-Farabi, al-juz' al-awwal, edited by Ja'far Al-Yasin (Beirut, Dar al-Manahil, 1992).
Elements of al-Farabi's philosophy still remain valid today, such as his emphasis on the importance of mathematics and the sciences, and the experimental method, the integration of knowledge, the importance of values and aesthetic taste. One could even add that Arabic culture has declined in relation to his educational philosophy, which was designed to form an integrated personality, in body, intellect, ethics, aesthetics and technology, an aim which no contemporary education system would neglect.
11.1. Works by Al-Farabi
Note: These works are classified in Arabic alphabetical order [Editor].
- Ajwibat masa'il su‘ila anha [Replies to Questions]. Ed. F. Dieterici. Leyden, 1890.
- Ihsa al-'ulum [A List of the Sciences]. Ed. ‘Uthman Amin. Cairo, Librairie anglo-égyptienne, 1939.
- Al-Alfaz al-musta'mala fil-mantiq [Terms Used in Logic]. Ed. Muhsin Mahdi. Beirut, Dar al-Machriq, 1968.
- Al-Burhan [The Demonstration]. Manuscr. Maktabat Michkat, Tehran University, No. 240/10.
- Tahsil al-sa'ada [Reaching Happiness]. Ed. Ja'afar al Yasin. Beirut, Dar al-Andalus, 1983.
- Al-Ta'liqat [Commentaries]. Hyderabad, India, 1346 H.
- ‘Talkhis nawamis Aflatun' [Summary of Plato's Laws]. Ed. ‘Abd al-Rahman Badawi. In: Kitab Aflutan fi lislam, Beirut, Dar al-Andalus, 1982.
- Al-Tanbih ila sabil al-sa'ada [Guidance on the Path to Happiness]. Ed. Ja'afar al Yasin. Beirut, Dar almanahil, 1987.
- Al-Thamra al-murdiyya [The Pleasant Fruit]. Ed. F. Dieterici. Leyden, 1890.
- Al-Jadal [Dialectics]. Manuscr. Maktabat Michkat, Tehran University, No. 240/10.
- Al-Jam' bayna ra'yay l-hakimayn [Harmony in the Doctrines of the Two Philosophers]. Ed. Albert Nasri Nadir. Beirut, Imprimerie catholique, 1968.
- Al-Huruf [The Letters]. Ed. Muhsin Mahdi. Beirut, Dar al-Machriq, 1970.
- Al-Da'awa al-qalbiya [Sincere Requests]. Hyderabad, India, The Ottoman Encyclopaedia, 1346 H.
- Zaynun al-kabir [Zenon the Great]. Hyderabad, India, 1346 H.
- ‘Al-As'ila al-lami'a' [Brilliant Questions]. In: Kitab al-milla. Ed. Muhsin Mahdi. Beirut, Dar al-Machriq, 1968.
- Al-Siyasa al-madaniya [The Policies of the City]. Ed. Fawzi al-Najjar. Beirut, Imprimerie catholique, 1964.
- ‘Fusil mabadi' ara' ahl al-madina al-fadila' [Bases of the Inhabitants' Views in the Ideal City]. In: Kitab almilla. Ed. Muhsin Mahdi. Beirut, Imprimerie catholique, 1968.
- Fusil tachtamil ‘alajami'i ma yudhtarr ila ma'arifatih man arada al-churu' bi-sina't al-mantiq [What You Should Know Before Tackling Logic]. Manuscript Maktabat Michkät, Tehran University, No. 240/10.
- Fusil muntaza'a [Some Proverbs]. Ed. Fawzi al-Najjar. Beirut, Dar al-Machriq, 1971.
- Falsafat Aristutalis [Aristotle's Philosophy]. Ed. Muhsin Mahdi. Beirut, Dar majallar al-chi'r, 1971.
- Falsafat Aflatun [Plato's Philosophy]. Ed. ‘Abd al-Rahman Badawi. In: Kitab Aflatun fi l-Islam. Beirut, Dar al-Andalus, 1982.
- Ma yanbaghi an yuqaddam qabla ta'allum al-falsafa [On What One Should Know Before Learning Philosophy]. Ed. F. Dieterici. Leyden, 1890.
- Mabadi' ara' ahl al-madina al-fadila [A Treatise on the Inhabitants' Views in the Ideal City]. Ed. Albert Nasri Nadir. Beirut, 1959.
- Maqala [Introduction to his work on logic: Al-Mantiq]. Manuscript Maktabat Michkat, Tehran University, No. 240/10.
- Kitab al-milla [On Religion]. Ed. Muhsin Mahdi. Beirut, Imprimerie catholique, 1968.
- Al-Misuqa al-kabir [The Great Book of Music]. Ed. Ghattas ‘Abd al-Malik Khachaba and Mahmud Ahmed al-Hafni. Cairo, Dar al-Kitab al-'Arabi, 1967.
- Al-Farabi. Idées des habitants de la cité vertueuse. Translated by R.P. Jaussen, Y. Karam et J. Chlala. Cairo, Publications de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale, 1949.
- Liber Alpharabii de Scientiis, translatus a Magistro Gerardo Cremonesi. Madrid, University of Madrid, 1932. Published with a Spanish translation by González Palencia.
- ‘Kitab al-tanbih ila sabil al-sa'ada'. Latin translation by H. Salman. In: Recherches de théologie ancienne et médiévale, vol. XII, 1940.
11.2. Works about Al-Farabi
- Al-Biruni, Muhammad b. Ahmad. Ma lil-Hind min maqula maqbula fil-'aql aw mardhula [Description of India]. Leipzig, Deutsche Morgenlandische Gesellschaft, 1925.
- Al-Jabiri, Muhammad ‘Abid. Takwin al-'aql al-'arabi [Formation of the Arab Intellect]. Beirut, Markaz dirasat al-wahda al-'arabiya, 1989.
- Al-Shahrazuri. Nuzhat al-arwah wa-raudat al-afrah [The Promenade of the Mind and the Garden of Joy]. [Manuscript in the Library of Cairo University.]
- Averroës. Charh urjuzat Ibn Sana [An Interpretation of Avicenna's Mysteries]. Manuscript: private collection.
- Al Yasin, Ja'afar. Mu'allafat Al-Farabi [The Works of Al-Farabi]. Baghdad, Ministry of Information, 1975. [Collective Work]
- Al Yasin, Ja'afar. Faylasufan ra'idan: Al-Kindi wa-l-Farabi [Two Early Philosophers: al-Kindi and Al-Farabi]. Beirut, Dar al-Andalus, 1983.
- Al Yasin, Ja'afar. Al-Farabi fi hududih wa-rusumih [Al-Farabi Through His Definitions and His Projects]. Beirut, ‘Alam al-kutub, 1985.
- Corbin, H. Histoire de la philosophie islamique, tome I: Des origines jusqu'à la mort d'Averroès (1198) [History of Islamic Philosophy, Vol. I: From the Beginnings to the Death of Averroës]. Paris, Gallimard, 1964.
- De Boer, T.J. Ta'rikh al-falsafa fi l-Islam [History of Islamic Philosophy]. Translated by Mohammed ‘Abd al-Hadi Abu Rida. Beirut, Dar al-nahda al-'arabiya, 1981.
- Falkenheim, F.L. ‘Al-Farabi, His Life, Works and Thought, on the Occasion of the Millenary Anniversary of his Death.' In: Middle East Affairs, vol. 2, 1951, p. 54-59.
- Farmer, H.G. Al-Farabi's Arabic-Latin Writings on Music. Glasgow, The Civic Press, 1934. (Collection of Oriental Writers on Music, 2).
- Farmer, H.G.. ‘The Influence of Al-Farabi's Ihsa' al-'ulum [De scientiis], on the Writers on Music in Western Europe.' Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (London), 1943, part. iii, p. 561-92.
- Rescher, N. Al-Farabi: an Annoted Bibliography. Pittsburgh, PA, University of Pittsburgh, 1962, 1977.
- Rescher, N. Studies in the History of Arabic Logic. Pittsburgh, PA, University of Pittsburgh, 1964.
- Salmon, D. ‘The Medieval Latin Translations of Al-Farabi's Works.' In: New Scholasticism, 1939, p. 245-61.
 Al-Farabi, Ma yanbaghi an yuqaddam qabla ta'allum al-falsafa, edited by F. Dieterici, Leyden, 1890, p. 10.
 Al-Farabi, Tahsil, op. cit., p. 81.
 Al-Farabi, Al-Jadal, manusc. Maktabat Michkat, Tehran University, No. 240-1, p. 192.
 Al-Shahrazuri, Nuzhat al-arwah wa-raudat al-afrah, undated manuscript, Cairo University Library, p. 180. De Boer, Ta'rikh al-falsafa fi 'l-islam, op. cit., p. 202, note 1.
 Al-Farabi, Al-Alfaz, op. cit., p. 83, 87; Al-Burhan, op. cit., p. 178.
 Averroës, ‘Talkhis al-quwa al-tabi'iyya', in: Rasa'il Ibn Ruchd al-tibbiyya, edited by Georges C. Anawati and Sa'id Ziyid, Cairo, al-Hay'a al-misriyya al-'amma lil-kitab, 1987, p. 275.
 Al-Farabi, Ma yanbaghi an yuqaddam qabla ta'allum al-falsafa, op. cit., p. 52.
 Al-Farabi, Al-Alfaz, op. cit., pp. 94-95.
 He spoke Turkish, Persian and obviously Greek, as well as Arabic which he considered as his mother tongue.
 Ja'afar al-Yasin, Faylasufan ra'idan, Beirut, Dar al-Andalus, 1980, p. 80.
 Al-Farabi, Fusul, op. cit., p. 96.
 Al-Farabi, Ihsa' al-'ulum, edited by Uthman Amin, Cairo, Librairie anglo-egyptienne, 1968, p. 53, 93.
 Ibid., p. 96.
 Ibid., p. 97.
 Al-Farabi, Talkhis nawamis Aflatun, op. cit., p. 76.
 Al-Farabi, Ma yanbaghi, op. cit., p. 52.
 Ibid., p. 52.
 Ibid., p. 53.
 Al-Farabi, Tanbih, op. cit., p. 82.
 Al-Farabi, Fusil, op. cit., p. 52.
 Al-Farabi devoted a special treatise to philosophy: Ma yanbaghi, op. cit.
 Ibid., p. 49.
 Ibid., p. 53.
 Tahsil, op. cit., p. 97.
 He mentions a total of sixteen characteristics (Tahsil, op. cit., p. 94-95).
 Al-Farabi, Falsafat Aristutalis, op. cit., p. 82.
 Al-Farabi, Al-Alfaz, op. cit., p. 91.
 Ibid., p. 87.
 Ibid., p. 91.
 Ibid., p. 94.
 Al-Farabi, Kitab al-misuqa al-kabir, op. cit., p. 100.
 Ibid., p. 672.
 Ibid., p. 807.
 Ibid., p. 482.
 Ibid., p. 483.
 Ibid., p. 1185.
 Laws, VII, p. 818-22. Plato was already an adult when he learned mathematics, which led him to say that he was ashamed not only for himself but for the Greeks in general because of their backwardness in geometry compared to the Egyptians.
 Al-Farabi, Ma yanbaghi, op. cit., p. 52.
 Al-Farabi, Al-Tanbih, op. cit., p. 72.
 Al-Farabi, Al-Burhan, op. cit., p. 181.
 Ihsa' al-'ulum, op. cit., p. 58.
 Al-Tanbih, op. cit., p. 4, 6, 53-54.
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by: Professor Ammar al-Talbi, Sat 14 February, 2009