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Hibat Allah Abu'l-Barakat al-Baghdaadi

Hibat Allah Abu'l-Barakat al-Baghdaadi

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Abu'l-Barakāt Hibat Allah ibn Malkā al-Baghdādī was an Islamic philosopher
Islamic philosophy
Islamic philosophy is a branch of Islamic studies. It is the continuous search for Hekma in the light of Islamic view of life, universe, ethics, society, and so on...

 and physician of Jewish-Arab
Arab Jews
Arab Jews is a term referring to Jews living in the Arab World, or Jews descended from such persons.The term was occasionally used in the early 20th century, mainly by Arab nationalists, to describe the 1 million Jews living in the Arab world at the time...

 descent from Baghdad, Iraq. Abu'l-Barakāt, an older contemporary and father-in-law of Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

, was originally known by his Hebrew birth name Nathanel before his conversion from Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 towards the end of his life.

His writings include the anti-Aristotelian philosophical work Kitāb al-Muʿtabar ("The Book of What Has Been Established by Personal Reflection"); a philosophical commentary on the Kohelet; and the treatise "On the Reason Why the Stars Are Visible at Night and Hidden in Daytime". Abu'l-Barakāt was an Aristotelian
Aristotelianism
Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. The works of Aristotle were initially defended by the members of the Peripatetic school, and, later on, by the Neoplatonists, who produced many commentaries on Aristotle's writings...

 philosopher who in many respects followed Ibn Sina, but also developed his own ideas. He proposed an explanation of the acceleration of falling bodies by the accumulation of successive increments of power with successive increments of velocity.

His thought influenced the Illuminationist school of classical Islamic philosophy
Early Islamic philosophy
Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH...

, the medieval Jewish philosopher Ibn Kammuna
Ibn Kammuna
Sa'd ibn Mansur Ibn Kammuna was a 13th Century Jewish physician , philosopher and critic of Islam who lived under the rule of the Mongols in Baghdad....

, and the medieval Christian philosophers Jean Buridan
Jean Buridan
Jean Buridan was a French priest who sowed the seeds of the Copernican revolution in Europe. Although he was one of the most famous and influential philosophers of the late Middle Ages, he is today among the least well known...

 and Albert of Saxony
Albert of Saxony (philosopher)
Albert of Saxony was a German philosopher known for his contributions to logic and physics...

.

Life


Abu'l-Barakāt, famed as Awḥad al-Zamān (Unique One of his Time), was born in Balad, a town on the Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

 above Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 in modern-day Iraq. As a renowned physician, he served at the courts of the caliphs of Baghdad and the Seljuk sultans.

He converted to Islam in old age. Abu'l Barakat does not refer to his conversion in his writings, and the historical sources give contradictory episodes of his conversion. According to the various reports, he converted either out of "wounded pride", fear of the personal consequences of the death of Sultan Mahmud's wife while under his care as a physician or fear of execution when he was taken prisoner in a battle between the armies of the caliph and that of the sultan. Ayala Eliyahu argues that the conversion was "probably motivated by convenience reasons".

Isaac, the son of the Abraham Ibn Ezra
Abraham ibn Ezra
Rabbi Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra was born at Tudela, Navarre in 1089, and died c. 1167, apparently in Calahorra....

 and the son-in-law of Judah Halevi, was one of his pupils, to whom Abu'l-Barakāt, Jewish at the time, dictated a long philosophical commentary on Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes
The Book of Ecclesiastes, called , is a book of the Hebrew Bible. The English name derives from the Greek translation of the Hebrew title.The main speaker in the book, identified by the name or title Qoheleth , introduces himself as "son of David, king in Jerusalem." The work consists of personal...

, written in Arabic using Hebrew aleph bet. Isaac wrote a poem in his honour as introduction to this work.

Experimental method


Al-Baghdaadi described an early scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

 emphasizing repeated experiment
Experiment
An experiment is a methodical procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, falsifying, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments vary greatly in their goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results...

ation, influenced by Ibn Sina, as follows:

Motion


According to Alistair Cameron Crombie
Alistair Cameron Crombie
Alistair Cameron Crombie was an Australian historian of science who began his career as a zoologist. He was noted for his contributions to research on competition between species before turning to history....

, al-Baghdaadi was a follower of the scientific and philosophical teachings of Ibn Sina.

proposed an explanation of the acceleration of falling bodies by the accumulation of successive increments of power
Power (physics)
In physics, power is the rate at which energy is transferred, used, or transformed. For example, the rate at which a light bulb transforms electrical energy into heat and light is measured in watts—the more wattage, the more power, or equivalently the more electrical energy is used per unit...

 with successive increments of velocity.


According to Shlomo Pines
Shlomo Pines
Shlomo Pines was a scholar of Jewish and Islamic philosophy, best known for his English translation of Maimonides' Guide to the Perplexed.-Biography:...

, al-Baghdaadi's theory of motion
Motion (physics)
In physics, motion is a change in position of an object with respect to time. Change in action is the result of an unbalanced force. Motion is typically described in terms of velocity, acceleration, displacement and time . An object's velocity cannot change unless it is acted upon by a force, as...

 was thus

the oldest negation of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's fundamental dynamic law [namely, that a constant force produces a uniform motion], [and is thus an] anticipation in a vague fashion of the fundamental law of classical mechanics
Classical mechanics
In physics, classical mechanics is one of the two major sub-fields of mechanics, which is concerned with the set of physical laws describing the motion of bodies under the action of a system of forces...

 [namely, that a force applied continuously produces acceleration].


Al-Baghdaadi's theory of motion distinguished between velocity
Velocity
In physics, velocity is speed in a given direction. Speed describes only how fast an object is moving, whereas velocity gives both the speed and direction of the object's motion. To have a constant velocity, an object must have a constant speed and motion in a constant direction. Constant ...

 and acceleration
Acceleration
In physics, acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with time. In one dimension, acceleration is the rate at which something speeds up or slows down. However, since velocity is a vector, acceleration describes the rate of change of both the magnitude and the direction of velocity. ...

 and showed that force
Force
In physics, a force is any influence that causes an object to undergo a change in speed, a change in direction, or a change in shape. In other words, a force is that which can cause an object with mass to change its velocity , i.e., to accelerate, or which can cause a flexible object to deform...

 is proportional to acceleration rather than velocity. The 14th-century philosophers Jean Buridan
Jean Buridan
Jean Buridan was a French priest who sowed the seeds of the Copernican revolution in Europe. Although he was one of the most famous and influential philosophers of the late Middle Ages, he is today among the least well known...

 and Albert of Saxony
Albert of Saxony (philosopher)
Albert of Saxony was a German philosopher known for his contributions to logic and physics...

 later refer to Abu'l-Barakat in explaining that the acceleration of a falling body is a result of its increasing impetus
Theory of impetus
The theory of impetus was an auxiliary or secondary theory of Aristotelian dynamics, put forth initially to explain projectile motion against gravity...

. Abu'l-Barakat also modified Ibn Sina's theory of projectile motion
Projectile motion
The motion in which a body is thrown or projected is called Projectile motion.The path followed by a projectile is called its trajectory, which is directly influenced by gravity....

, and stated that the mover imparts a violent inclination (mayl qasri) on the moved and that this diminishes as the moving object distances itself from the mover.

Al-Baghdaadi also suggested that motion is relative, writing that "there is motion only if the relative positions of the bodies in question change." He also stated that "each type of body has a characteristic velocity that reaches its maximum when its motion encounters no resistance
Drag (physics)
In fluid dynamics, drag refers to forces which act on a solid object in the direction of the relative fluid flow velocity...

."

Space and Time


Al-Baghdaadi criticized Aristotle's concept of time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

 as "the measure of motion" and instead redefines the concept with his own definition of time as "the measure of being", thus distinguishing between space
Space
Space is the boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum...

 and time, and reclassifying time as a metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 concept rather than a physical one. The scholar Y. Tzvi Langermann writes:
In his view, there is just one time which is similar for all beings, including God. Abu'l-Barakāt also regarded space as three-dimensional and infinite.

Psychology


He upheld the unity of the soul, denying that there is a distinction between it and the intellect. For him, the soul's awareness of itself is the definitive proof that the soul is independent of the body and will not perish with it. On his contributions to Islamic psychology
Islamic psychology
Islamic psychology translates the term ʿIlm al-Nafs the science of the Nafs and refers to the medical and philosophical study of the psyche from an Islamic perspective...

, Langermann writes:

Works


He wrote a critique of Aristotelian philosophy
Aristotelianism
Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. The works of Aristotle were initially defended by the members of the Peripatetic school, and, later on, by the Neoplatonists, who produced many commentaries on Aristotle's writings...

 and Aristotelian physics
Aristotelian physics
Aristotelian Physics the natural sciences, are described in the works of the Greek philosopher Aristotle . In the Physics, Aristotle established general principles of change that govern all natural bodies; both living and inanimate, celestial and terrestrial—including all motion, change in respect...

 entitled Kitab al-Mu'tabar (the title may be translated as "The Book of What Has Been Established by Personal Reflection"). According to Abu'l-Barakāt, Kitāb al-Muʿtabar consists in the main of critical remarks jotted down by him over the years while reading philosophical text, and published at the insistence of his friends, in the form of a philosophical work. The work "presented a serious philosophical alternative to, and criticism of, Ibn Sina". He also developed concepts which resemble several modern theories in physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

.

Abu'l-Barakāt also wrote a short treatise on the intellect
Intellect
Intellect is a term used in studies of the human mind, and refers to the ability of the mind to come to correct conclusions about what is true or real, and about how to solve problems...

, Kitāb Ṣaḥiḥ adillat al-naql fī māhiyyat al-ʻaql (صحيح أدلة النقل في ماهية العقل), which has been edited by Ahmad El-Tayeb.

All that we possess in the way of medical writing by Abu'l-Barakāt are a few prescriptions for remedies. These remain in manuscript and are as yet unstudied.

Legacy


Abu'l-Barakāt's thought had a deep influence on Islamic philosophy but none on Jewish thought. His works were not translated into Hebrew and he is seldom cited in Jewish philosophy, probably because of his conversion to Islam.

The famous theologian and philosopher Fakhr al-Din al-Razi
Fakhr al-Din al-Razi
Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Umar ibn al-Husayn al-Taymi al-Bakri al-Tabaristani Fakhr al-Din al-Razi , most commonly known as Fakhruddin Razi was a well-known Persian Sunni Muslim theologian and philosopher....

 was one of Abu'l-Barakāt's eminent disciples. The influence of Al-Baghdadi’s views appears especially in Al-Razi’s chief work Al-Mabāḥith al-Mashriqiyyah (Oriental Discourses). Abu'l-Barakāt influenced certain conceptions of Suhrawardi
Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi
Other important Muslim mystics carry the name Suhrawardi, particularly Abu 'l-Najib al-Suhrawardi and his paternal nephew Abu Hafs Umar al-Suhrawardi."Shahāb ad-Dīn" Yahya ibn Habash as-Suhrawardī was a Persian...

.

See also

  • Physics in medieval Islam
  • Ibn Bajjah
    Ibn Bajjah
    Abū-Bakr Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn al-Sāyigh , known as Ibn Bājjah , was an Andalusian polymath: an astronomer, logician, musician, philosopher, physician, physicist, psychologist, botanist, poet and scientist. He was known in the West by his Latinized name, Avempace...

  • Fakhr al-Din al-Razi
    Fakhr al-Din al-Razi
    Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Umar ibn al-Husayn al-Taymi al-Bakri al-Tabaristani Fakhr al-Din al-Razi , most commonly known as Fakhruddin Razi was a well-known Persian Sunni Muslim theologian and philosopher....

  • Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi
    Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi
    Other important Muslim mystics carry the name Suhrawardi, particularly Abu 'l-Najib al-Suhrawardi and his paternal nephew Abu Hafs Umar al-Suhrawardi."Shahāb ad-Dīn" Yahya ibn Habash as-Suhrawardī was a Persian...


External links