News story

IIS Publishes Second Volume from the Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’

11th March 2011

Another publication was released by the IIS in October: On Logic: An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of Epistles 10-14, edited and translated by Professor Carmela Baffioni. This is the second volume of primary text from the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity (Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’), which is being published in its entirety, over sixteen bilingual volumes, by Oxford University Press in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies. This series is vitally important as it presents for the first time a critical edition and English translation of this pervasively influential tenth-century text.


The Brethren of Purity (Ikhwan al-Safa’) were an anonymous group of learned men who met regularly in both Basra and Baghdad, syncretistically collating the philosophies and sciences of their age with the ultimate goal of providing an epistemological pathway for the salvation of the soul. Although the identity of these men remains unsettled, scholars agree on the strong Ismaili character of the work, which draws also on Greek, Persian, Indian and other sources. The encyclopaedic corpus as a whole spans four broad areas of knowledge, from the mathematical, natural, and ‘psychical’, through to theological sciences.


This volume collects those epistles dealing with logic, from the end of the first (mathematical) section of the Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’. The five epistles cover Porphyry’s Isagoge, Aristotle’s Categories, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, and Posterior Analytics; the fundamentals of logic presented here are derived principally from Aristotle’s Organon, popularly circulating in Arabic at that time, under the Neoplatonising influence of Plotinus via Porphyry and with some additional interpretation of the Ikhwan themselves. The work is contextualised by the comprehensive introduction and extensive annotations to the English translation by Carmela Baffioni.


Professor Carmela Baffioni is an expert on the Ikhwan al-Safa’, having published many articles on their Rasa’il, as well as having written extensively on other medieval Islamic philosophers such as al-Kindi, al-Farabi and Ibn Sina. She currently holds the position of Full Professor of History of Muslim Philosophy at the Universita degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”.


Related Pages on the IIS Website


  • Introduction to Academic Publications
  • Epistles of the Brethren of Purity Series
  • Publication Page: On Logic: An Arabic critical edition and English translation of Epistles 10-14