Al-Farabi shines in world history as one of the brightest stars in the firmament. He commands unqualified respect across religions and political cultures worldwide.
His contributions illuminate our world to this day in Music and Mathematics, Geometry and Logic, Psychology, Politics and Philosophy.
Writing in the early 10th century, Al-Farabi found philosophy dead. He revived the Greek philosophers through extensive translation, commentaries and contributions. Considering Reason to be superior to Revelation, he solved many challenges of the day advancing Islam to a sounder polity.
A worthy summation of his career might be that given by Maimonides, perhaps the greatest of all Jewish philosophers. Writing two hundred years later, Maimonides said of Al-Farabi: “If Aristotle is the first master, the second one is undoubtedly Farabi”. As an indicator of the world-wide respect Maimonides as well as for Al-Farabi, the moniker stuck. Al-Farabi is widely known today as “The Second Master”.
His massive tome, The Book of Music, Kitâb al-musiqâ al-kabîr, is considered the single most important medieval manuscript in the Islamic world.
While classifying music under mathematics, he asserts that music must be performed and that the ear is the final judge. The hearing may usurp some fine mathematical principles. He wrote extensively on the therapeutic effects of music upon the soul.
Islamic architecture and craftsmanship has long been characterized by elaborate geometric patterns.
The artisans of that era had design tools consisting of little more than a straight edge and a compass. The craftsman’s task was to construct, with these simple tools, architectures and patterns and designs that surprise the mind and uplift the spirit.
Al-Farabi’s text book entitled, “A Book of Spiritual Crafts and Natural Secrets in the Details of Geometrical Figures” advanced the craft considerably. In it are numerous original geometrical constructs with designs and proofs.