Ibn al-Khammar

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The Nestorian Ibn al-Khammar, whose complete name is Abu l-Khayr al-Hassan ibn Suwar Ibn Baba Ibn al-Khammar, was born in 331/942 or 943 in Baghdad and died around 421/1030. He was a pupil of Yahy Ibn ‘Adi and belonged to the philosophical circle of Abu Sulayman as-Sidjistani in Baghad. Later he was called to the court of Khwarizmshah Abu l-Abbas Ma’mum II (1000-1017) where he met al-Biruni and Ibn Sina. After the conquest of Khwarizm by Mahmud Ibn Subuktegin the new ruler took Ibn al-Khammar to his court at Ghazna. Ibn al-Khammar was much concerned with Aristotelian logic and in a critical note on Athanasius of Balad’s Syriac translation of Aristotle’s Sophistici Elenchi he gives us an idea of his method of translation: “The translator who wants to convey the meaning <of the author whom he translates> must understand the language from which he translates so that he can think in it like a native speaker of the language, and he must know how to use the language from which he translates and the language into which he translates.

Ibn al-Khammar studied logic, medicine and philosophy; he was also an expert on meteorology and wrote a treatise on atmospheric phenomena caused by water vapour, like the halo and rainbow.

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