Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Umar ibn al-Husayn al-Taymi al-Bakri al-Tabaristani Fakhr al-Din al-Razi[1] (Arabic/Persian: أبو عبدالله محمد بن عمر بن الحسین فخرالدین الرازي) or Fakhruddin Razi was a well-known Persian[2][3] Sunni Muslim theologian and philosopher. He was born in 1149 (543 AH) in Ray of Persia (today located in Iran). According to some sources his family traced its lineage to the first Muslim Caliph, Abu Bakr, and died in 1209 606AH in Herat (today located in Afghanistan). He also wrote on medicine, physics, astrology, literature, history and law.

He should not to be confused with Rhazes, also known as al-Razi.


He was born in Ray now a district of modern Tehran. He studied Kalam, Fiqh and other Islamic sciences from his father, Diya'uddin known as Khatib al-Rayy. He then studied from Majduddin al-Jili and Kamal Samnani. He was from the Shafi`i school of Islamic law and Asharite school of theology. He was also known as Ibn al-Khatib and Khatib al-Rayy. He is mostly called as Imam Razi in Iran and Afghanistan.

According to William M. Slane, "the relative adjectives al-Taymi al-Bakri indicate here that Fakhr al-Din al-Razi was a descendent of the Khalif abu Bakr, one of whose ancestors was Taym the son of murrah the son of Ka'b..."[4]

Razi traveled to Khwarazm, Khorasan and Transoxiana. He attracted a large number of students in each city that he went. He recorded the account of the places he visited, the scholars he met, and summaries of their discussions in his book Munazarat Fakhr al-Din al Razi fi Bilad Ma Wara' al-Nahr. As a result of his discussions in various cities, he found many opponents such as the Mutazilites, Hanbalites (who opposed philosophy and Kalam), Batinites and Qarmatians of whose al-Razi criticized the teachings. He settled in his late years of life in Herat where a mosque was built for him and died in 1209.

Razi's most major works is Tafsir-e Kabir (The Great Commentary) (his Exegesis (Tafsir) on the Quran), also named as Mafatih al-ghayb (The Keys to the Unknown). However, his most important philosophical works are Sharh al-Isharat (a commentary on Ibn Sina's Kitab al-isharat wa-'l-tanbihat), "al-Mahsul" in usul-al-fiqh and Mabahith al-mashriqya (Eastern Discussions).

The person who did the most to defend Ibn Sina's philosophy against the criticisms of al-Razi was Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, whose commentary on the Kitab al-isharat was in large measure a refutation of al-Razi's opinions.

In his "Wasaya" (Testament), which he wrote before his death, he writes:

I have explored the ways of kalam and the methods of philosophy, and I did not see in them a benefit that compares with the benefit I found in the Qur'an. For the latter hurries us to acknowledge that greatness and majesty belong only to Allah, precluding us from involvement into the explication of objections and contentions. This is for no other reason than because human minds find themselves deadened in those deep, vexing exercises and obscure ways of Kalam and Philosophy.


The world is a garden, whose gardener is the state;
The state is the sultan whose guardian is the Law;
The Law is a policy, which is protected by the kingdom;
The kingdom is a city, brought into being by the army;
The army is made secure by wealth;
Wealth is gathered from the subjects;
The subjects are made servants by justice;
Justice is the axis of the prosperity of the world.

-Jami' al-'ulum


His major works are:

  • Tafsir al-Kabir (al-Razi)
  • Mabahith al-mashriqiyya fi 'ilm al-ilahiyyat wa-'l-tabi'iyyat (Eastern Studies in Metaphysics and Physics)
  • Muhassal afkar al-mutaqaddimin wa-'l-muta'akhkhirin (The Harvest of the Thought of the Ancients and Moderns)
  • Kitab al-nafs wa l-ruh wa sharh quwa-huma (Book on the Soul and the Spirit and their Faculties)
  • al-Mahsul fi 'Ilm al-Usul
  • Sharh al-Isharat (Commentary on the Isharat of Ibn Sina)
  • al-Mutakallimin fi 'Ilm al-Kalam
  • Nihayat al 'Uqul fi Dirayat al-Usul
  • Risala al-Huduth
  • Kitab al-Mantiq al-Kabir (The Major Book on Logic)
  • Al-Bayan wa al-Burhan fi al-Radd `ala Ahl al-Zaygh wa al-Tughyan
  • Sharh Asma' Allah al-Husna
  • Sharh Nisf al-Wajiz li l-Ghazzali
  • Sharh Kulliyyat al-Qanun fi al-Tibb (A Commentary on major Rules in Medicines of Ibn Sina)


  1. ^ Ibn Khallikan. Wafayat Al-a'yan Wa Anba' Abna' Al-zaman. Translated by William MacGuckin Slane. (1961) Pakistan Historical Society. pp. 224.
  2. ^ Richard Maxwell Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760,University of California Press,1996, - Page 29
  3. ^ Shaikh M. Ghazanfar, Medieval Islamic Economic Thought: Filling the Great Gap in European Economics,Routledge, 2003 [1]
  4. ^ Ibn Khallikan. Wafayat Al-a'yan Wa Anba' Abna' Al-zaman. Translated by William MacGuckin Slane. (1961) Pakistan Historical Society. p. 224 (annotation by the translator).

For his life and writings, see:

  • G.C. Anawati, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition, ed. by H.A.R. Gibbs, B. Lewis, Ch. Pellat, C. Bosworth et al., 11 vols. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960-2002) vol. 2, pp. 751-5.

For his astrological-magical writings, see:

  • Manfred Ullmann, Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften im Islam, Handbuch der Orientalistik, Abteilung I, Ergänzungsband VI, Abschnitt 2 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1972), pp. 388-390.

For his treatise on physiognomy, see:

  • Yusef Mourad, La physiognomie arabe et le Kitab al-firasa de Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (Paris, 1939).

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