B. Uzlug El-Farabi
Muhammad ibn Tarhan ibn Uzlug el-Farabi, also
known as Alpharabius or Avensar in medieval Latin texts, born 878 in
Turkistan, died 950, one of the most brilliant and famed of Muslim
philosophers; also know as the second teacher, (Aristotle being the first).
He was of Turkish origin. Farabi’s father was in the Turkish bodyguard of
the caliph, and his life was spent in Baghdad and Aleppo.
Farabi, al: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1980
edition, Vol.4, p.51.
Farabi was born in Vasic, a district of Oghuz Karacuk (Farab) city in
Turkistan. He received his early education in Bukhara, Turkistan and
continued the rest of his education in Baghdad. He led a simple Sufi life in
Damascus when he died. He left many works in logic, metaphysics, morality
Farabi introduced philosophy to Islam, the
newly acquired religion of Turks. He found Islam as a religion was of itself
not sufficient for the needs of a philosopher. He saw human reason as
superior to revelation. Religion provided truth in a symbolic form to
non-philosophers, who were not able to apprehend it in more pure forms. The
major part of Farabi’s writings was directed to the problem of the correct
ordering of the state. He argued that just as God rules the universe, so
should the philosopher, as the most perfect kind of man, rule the state; he
thus relates the political upheavals of his time to the divorce of the
philosopher from the government.
Philosophy in Farabi’s cultural environment
faced many obstacles which did not occur in the time of Aristotle and Plato.
As a Turkish philosopher, it is necessary to see Farabi’s originality and
contributions within this context, as he tried to reconcile philosophy with
Islam as a radical monotheistic religion. Farabi successfully utilized the
mystic element as one of characteristics of Turkish-Islamic thought while he
was resolving this problem. He made rational mysticism a characteristic in
the Turkish religious perception and tried to reconcile religion and
philosophy as two separate ways leading the truth.
One of Farabi’s views that has an important
place in Turkish-Islamic thought is his perception of morality and politics.
According to him, happiness is a purpose that everybody desires to have and
it is “absolute good” due to its nature. Every action which leads human
beings to this purpose and will make them happy is “good” and the action
that prevents him from becoming so is “bad” and human beings have the
potential to distinguish what is good and what is bad. Since wisdom can
comprehend what is good and what is bad, human beings should have a balanced
freedom in the field of morality.
Farabi has an irreplaceable place in
Turkish-Islamic thought and Sufism, as opposed to Arabic-Islamic thinking,
with an influence reaching over eleven hundred centuries.
Reference: “Philosophy among the Early
Muslim States”, Prof.Dr. Hanifi Ozcan, The Turks, Vol.2, Yeni Turkiye
Yayinlari, Istanbul, 2002.