The primary source document for the assignment will be On the Perfect State written by Al-Farabi during the ninth century. The book offers a clear picture of how social institutions, culture, and values interplayed during the formative years of the Islamic nation. The book is of great historical importance since it presents the history of an era that has not been captured by many writers. In the book, Al-Farabi discusses the imperatives of the perfect society and how people can expect the maximum from the state. Considering that Al-Farabi is one of the most iconic Muslim writers, it is hoped that the book shall discuss how Islam as a religion interplays within the interests of the society. In much of the Islamic world, Al-Farabi is a revered philosopher often considered at the same level as Aristotle. A quick perusal of the book reveals how Al-Farabi presents what he considers an ideal society. In his view, society should be focused on the fulfillment of true happiness. The assignment will, therefore, seek to find how Al-Farabi outlines the components of a perfect society.
Al-Farabi wrote the book during an era when most writers were primarily concerned with religion, and philosophy was regarded as a concern of a few. At the time of writing the book, some of the major subject areas studied across the Islamic world were Logic, Philosophy, Politics, and Mathematics (Khalidi, 2005). All around him in the city, life was vibrant and many people focused on the luxuries and pleasures that existed in abundance. It is this kind of life that made Al-Farabi think differently and adopt a different lifestyle. He, therefore, lived a simple life fully contented with the little he got. At that time, Neoplatonic ideas were so profound in the Arab world, and many writers like Al-Farabi were profoundly influenced (Khalidi, 2005). As a result, On the Perfect State contains many Platonic ideas on philosophy, logic, and religion.[“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
Although the book provides the possibility that a perfect society is possible, Al-Farabi acknowledges that it is rare and requires many circumstances to be realized (Fakhry, 2014). The source also outlines the necessary qualities that the head of a society should have. These qualities are in recognition of the fact that the leader exists to serve the interests of the community and is looked upon for knowledge and guidance (Fakhry, 2014). In this regard, Al-Farabi places great emphasis on the power of persuasion, imagination, understanding, and philosophy. The source also provides an outline of the various types of states and the nature of their citizens. The book further offers a deeper understanding of the Islamic society and Islamic tenets that guide life and conduct.
The assignment will analyze the primary source document and also rely on four secondary sources. This will help to describe how Al-Farabi’s background and experiences are reflected in his work. The secondary sources are also products of careful analysis and review of his works. The secondary sources have been carefully selected to give the best reference to the study. Apparently, Al-Farabi has a significant influence on the Islamic world and beyond. His ideas on social institutions, philosophy, and education help to present an accurate picture of how situations occurred during his time and the changes he aspired to see. On the Perfect State is, therefore, part of this goal since it presents these though in a philosophical way. Although written in the ninth century, is hoped that the experiences of the writer remain relevant to date. Al-Farabi wrote this book primarily to offer truth and guidance on matters of society and how people should relate aspects such as politics and sociology within the society.
Al-Farabi’s partial career as a teacher transformed him into an excellent educator, and this is clearly evident in On the Perfect State as he emphasizes the need for a teacher to be well versed in their subject matter. The political, social, and intellectual circumstances that prevailed during Al-Farabi’s time also influenced the contents of the book. During this time, the central Islamic caliphate was fragmented into independent states and different schools of thought known as “madhahib” (Khalidi, 2005). As a result, Al-Farabi’s mission in this writing and many others was to restore unity in the Islamic world.
The book was evidently written for a broad range of audiences. Much of the information contained on the imperatives of society and how to attain personal fulfillment apply to many people. Considering that Al-Farabi was influenced by both Christian and Islamic writers, his mode of writing in On the Perfect State is mostly neutral to enable all religions to find it relevant. More importantly, he focuses on society as a social structure where people live and not as a private enterprise (Khalidi, 2005). The book seeks to enable the reader to define the role of humanity in the cosmic order and the important role of happiness. To a large extent, the source is also directed to the philosopher and teacher as important people in the society. Al-Farabi valued philosophy, and he, therefore, considers the philosopher as a great member of the community. The book will, therefore, make even greater sense for philosophers and students of the subject (Khalidi, 2005). It provides valuable material for people who seek to understand the relationship between the universe and humankind.
From the manner Al-Farabi presents society, social values, humanity, and the role of philosophy, he attempts to inform his audience about the possibility of the world becoming a much better place. As a founder of epistemology, he places a high value on universal reasoning and the role of logic (Fakhry, 2014). His reference as the “Second Teacher” also underscores the fact that he was a philosopher concerned with educating the masses on various matters that relate to society, religion, education, and humanity. In a way, Al-Farabi also intended to persuade his audience to lead a pious life through the book. He presents the Quran as the link between humans and desired values (Fakhry, 2014).[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.] He emphasizes that the first essential knowledge for any society is the knowledge of God as it helps in shaping moral conduct.
In writing this book, Al-Farabi sought to create a society that appreciates the role of peace and happiness. He aspired to see a world where people are united and the bonds of brotherhood and recognized and respected (Hyman, Walsh, & Williams, 2010). Similarly, he sought to inform leaders and heads of state on the importance of their positions in helping the society meet its goals. Al-Farabi somehow attempted to provide the society with a manual on how to attain happiness and to inform them about the important role of the philosopher in the attainment of this joy (Hyman et al., 2010). He therefore perfectly played the role of a teacher, educating the community on matters that directly affect the people. While some of the information in the text is debatable, the writer essentially meant to teach or persuade the reader but not to mislead them in any way. Consequently, much of the information contained in this source can be trusted at face value and even upon careful analysis.
As a student, teacher and philosopher, Al-Farabi had many opinions, motivations, and interests. He was an expert in many languages and spent much time learning languages. His primary interest was in philosophy, and he considered the subject as the source of truth (Fakhry, 2014). To him, philosophy was a way of life intended to guide people in all matters. He loved logic, and many of his ideas on the subject are used in Christian, Jewish, and Islamic philosophy (Hyman et al., 2010). He was also greatly interested in religion and wrote many books on Islamic tenets and ways of life. Al-Farabi was mainly motivated by the life and circumstances around him. He lived in a society that, in his view, had many limitations which hampered people’s realization of happiness. As a result, his aim was to change society and the world through his teachings. Al-Farabi also loved music and even wrote a book where he outlined the philosophical principles that underlie music (Hyman et al., 2010). The cosmic qualities of music and its ability to influence people interested him. His opinions on physics, psychology, and mathematics are widely cited in philosophy. All these interests and motivations somehow influenced his way of thinking and his writings. [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
On the Perfect State provides much information regarding values and perspectives of the society. It emerges that the society at that time had well-defined value systems, and every effort was made to ensure that everyone was happy and contented (Hyman et al., 2010). The society also created a clear distinction between philosophy and religion and there was a sharp contrast between the two issues. From Al-Farabi’s account, it appears that the society during his time significantly understood the value of education (Hyman et al., 2010). Education was considered a means of acquiring values, knowledge, and skills. Al-Farabi’s society was, therefore, cultured and highly advanced. This is demonstrated by the complexity of Al-Farabi’s writings which were intended to be read by the society during his time. The book had great influence on that culture since it established the need for a clear value system. On the Perfect State provided the society with information on how to attain full happiness through values and actions.
Many scholars have widely accepted the ideas presented by Al-Farabi in this book. His thoughts and opinions on education, social systems, the role of philosophy and mathematics remain relevant today. Nevertheless, some scholars question the possibility of what Al-Farabi defines as the ideal society (Hyman et al., 2010). Some of the elements might be too difficult to actualize, and this renders some of his ideas merely illusionary. Personally, I find Al-Farabi’s ideas on how to create a perfect society rather factual and meaningful. His focus on the pursuit of happiness resonates with many readers. As a result, the book is very relevant and can be read and applied across religions and cultures.
Al-Farabi,a A., & Walzer, R. (1985). Al-Farabi on the perfect state: Abu Nasr al-Farabi’s Mabadi’ ara’ahl al-Madina al-fadila: A revised text with an introduction, translation, and commentary. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
Fakhry, M. (2014). Al-Farabi, founder of Islamic Neoplatonism: His life, works and influence. New York, NY: Oneworld Publications.
Hyman, A., Walsh, J. J., & Williams, T. (Eds.). (2010). Philosophy in the Middle Ages: The Christian, Islamic, and Jewish traditions (3rd ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing.
Khalidi, M. A. (Ed.). (2005). Medieval Islamic philosophical writings. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.