Publication

  •  Download Introduction (434 KB)

    The Ikhwan al-Safa (Brethren of Purity), the anonymous adepts of a tenth-century esoteric fraternity based in Basra and Baghdad, hold an eminent position in the history of science and philosophy in Islam due to the wide reception and assimilation of their monumental encyclopaedia, the Rasail Ikhwan al-Safa (Epistles of the Brethren of Purity). This compendium contains fifty-two epistles offering synoptic accounts of the classical sciences and philosophies of the age; divided into four classificatory parts, it treats themes in mathematics, logic, natural philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, and theology, in addition to didactic fables. The Rasail constitutes a paradigmatic legacy in the canonization of philosophy and the sciences in mediaeval Islamic civilization, as well as having shown a permeating influence in Western culture.

    The present volume is the third of this definitive series consisting of the very first critical edition of the Rasail Arabic, complete with the first fully annotated English translation. Prepared by Professor Owen Wright, Epistle 5: ‘On Music’ presents technical concepts such as rhythm, tone, and metre, alongside more subtle aspects such as the psychological applications drawn from the fourfold theory of humours and the correspondence of numeric proportions, which emphasize the Ikhwan’s view of music as ultimately spiritual in nature.

  • Acknowledgements xv
    Foreword xvii
    Foreword xvii
    Introduction 1
    Epistle 5: On Music 73
    Select Bibliography 177
    Subject Index 181
    Risala 5 (Arabic Text & Variants) [Arabic pagination 3–188]
    Arabic Index [Arabic pagination 189–380]

     

  • Primary Sources

    The Quran: a New Translation, tr. Muhammad Abdel-Haleem. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

    Abu’l-Faraj al-Isbahani. Kitab al-Aghani. 25 vols. Beirut: Dar Sadir, 2004.

    Abu Talib al-Mufaddal ibn Salama. Kitab al-Malahi, in ‘A. al-‘Azzawi, Al-Musiqa al-iraqiyya fi ahdinfo-icon al-mughul wa’l-turkuman min sanat 656–1258 ila sanat 941–1534. Baghdad: Sharikat al-Tijara wa’l-Tiba‘a al-Mahduda, 1370/1951, pp. 73–89. Tr. J. Robson, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 2 (1938), pp. 231–249.

    al-Farabi, Abu Nasrinfo-icon Muhammad. Kitab al-Musiqi al-kabir, ed. Gh. ‘A. al-M. Khashaba, revised M. A. al-Hifni. Cairo: Dar al-Kitab al-‘Arabi li’l-Tiba‘a wa’l-Nashr, 1967. Tr. in R. d’Erlanger, La musique arabe. Vol. 1. Paris: Geuthner, 1930, pp. 163–306

    al-Hasan ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Ali al-Katib. La perfection des connaissances musicales (Kamal adabinfo-icon al-ghina), tr. Amnon Shiloah. Paris: Geuthner, 1972.

    al-Hindi, Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdallah. Jumal al-falsafa, ed. Fuat Sezgin. Publications of the Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, Series C, vol. 19. Frankfurt am Main: Institut fur Geschichte der Arabisch- Islamischen Wissenschaften an der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universitat,

    1985.

    Ibn Sina. Kitab al-Shifa, al-Riyadiyyat, 3 – Jawami‘ ilminfo-icon al-musiqi, ed. Zakariyya Yusuf. Cairo: al-Matba‘a al-Amiriyya, 1956.

    Ibn al-Tahhan al-Musiqi (d. after 1057). Hawi al-funun wa-salwat al-mazun. Facsimile, ed. E. Neubauer. Publications of the Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, Series C, vol. 52. Frankfurt am Main: Institut fur Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften an der Johann

    Wolfgang Goethe-Universitat, 1990.

    al-Khwarizmi, Muhammad ibn Musa. Mafatih al-ulum, ed. G. van Vloten. Leiden: Brill, 1895.

    al-Kindi, Abu Yusuf Ya‘qub ibn Ishaq . Muallafat al-Kindi al-musiqiyya, ed. Zakariyya Yusuf. Baghdad: Matba‘at Shafiq, 1962.

    ----. Kitab al-Musawwitat al-watariyya min dhat al-watar al-wahid ila dhat al-asharat al-awtar, in Muallafat al-Kindi al-musiqiyya, ed. Zakariyya Yusuf. Baghdad: Matba‘at Shafiq, 1962, pp. 63–92.

    Safi al-Dininfo-icon al-Urmawi. Kitab al-Adwarinfo-icon, ed. al-Hajjinfo-icon Hashim Muhammad al- Rajab. Baghdad: Manshurat Wazarat al-Thaqafa wa’l-’I‘lam, 1980.

     
    Secondary Sources

    Bausani, Alessandro. Lenciclopedia dei Fratelli della Purita. Riassunto, con Introduzione e breve commento, dei 52 Trattati o Epistole degli Ikhwan as-safa. Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale, 1978.

    Burgel, Johann Christoph. The Feather of Simurgh: The ‘Licit Magic’ of the Arts in Medieval Islam. New York: New York University Press, 1988.

    Dieterici, Friedrich, ed. and tr. Die Propaedeutik der Araber im zehnten Jahrhundert. Die Philosophie bei den Arabern im X. Jahrhundert n. Chr., vol. 3. Berlin: E. S. Mittler und Sohn, 1865. Repr., Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 1969, pp. 100–153.

    Diwald, Susanne, ed. and tr. Arabische Philosophie und Wissenschaft in der Enzyklopadie Kitab Ihwan as-Safa (III): Die Lehre von Seele und Intellekt. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1975.

     

    Encyclopaedia of Islam, ed. H. A. R. Gibb et al. 2nd ed. 12 volumes. Leiden: Brill, 1960–2004.

    Farmer, Henry George. ‘The Evolution of the Tanbur or Pandore’. Transactions of the Glasgow University Oriental Society, 5 (1923–1928), pp. 26–28.

    ----. ‘Al-Kindi on the “ethos” of Rhythm, Colour and Perfume’. Transactions of the Glasgow University Oriental Society, 16 (1955–1956), pp. 29–38.

    ----. Musikgeschichte in Bildern, Band III: Musik des Mittelalters und der Renaissance, Lieferung 2: Islam. Leipzig: VEB Deutscher Verlag fur Musik. Leipzig, 1966.

    ----. ‘A Note on the Mizmar and Nay’. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1929), pp. 119–121.

    ----. The Organ of the Ancients: from Eastern Sources. London: Reeves, 1931.

    ----. ‘The Organ of the Muslim Kingdoms’. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1926), pp. 495–499.

    ----. Saadya Gaon on the Influence of Music. London: Probsthain, 1943.

    ----. The Sources of Arabian Music; An annotated bibliography of Arabic manuscripts which deal with the theory, practice and history of Arabian music from the eighth to the seventeenth century. Leiden: Brill, 1965.

    ----. ‘The Structure of the Arabian and Persian Lute in the Middle Ages’, repr. in Studies in Oriental Music, ed. E. Neubauer. The Science of Music in Islam 2. Frankfurt am Main: Institut fur Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften an der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universitat, 1997, pp. 223–233.

    ----. Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments. First Series. London: Reeves, 1931.

    ----. Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments. Second Series. Glasgow: Civic Press, 1939.

    al-Faruqi, Lois Ibsen. An Annotated Glossary of Arabic Musical Terms. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981.

    Marquet, Yves. La philosophie des Ihwan al-Safa. Algiers: Societe Nationale d’Edition et Diffusion, 1973.

    Neubauer, Eckhard. ‘Die acht “Wege” der Musiklehre und der Oktoechos’. Zeitschrift fur Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, 9 (1994), pp. 373–414.

    ----. ‘Arabische Anleitungen zur Musiktherapie’. Zeitschrift fur Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, 6 (1990) [pub. 1991], pp. 227–272.

    ----. Arabische Musiktheorie von den Anfangen bis zum 6./12. Jahrhundert, ed. F. Sezgin. The Science of Music in Islam 3. Frankfurt am Main: Institut fur Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften an der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universitat, 1998.

    ----. ‘Der Bau der Laute und ihre Besaitung nach arabischen, persischen und turkischen Quellen des 9. bis 15. Jahrhunderts’. Zeitschrift fur Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, 8 (1993), pp. 279–378.

    ----. ‘Al-Khalil ibn Ahmad und die Fruhgeschichte der arabischen Lehre von den “Tonen” und den musikalischen Metren, mit einer Ubersetzung des Kitab al-Nagham von Yahya ibn ‘Ali al-Munaggim’. Zeitschrift fur Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, 10 (1995/1996), pp. 255–323.

    ----. ‘Das Musikkapitel der Gumal al-falsafa von Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Hindi (1135 n. Chr.)’. Zeitschrift fur Geschichte der arabisch-islamischen Wissenschaften, 4 (1987/1988), pp. 51–59.

    ----. ‘Die Theorie vom Iqa. Part 1: Ubersetzung des Kitab al-Iqa‘at von Abu Nasr al-Farabi’. Oriens, 21–22 (1968–1969), pp. 196–232. Part 2: Ubersetzung des Kitab Ihsa’ al-iqa‘at von Abu Nasr al-Farabi’. Oriens, 34 (1994), pp. 103–173.

    Pacholczyk, J. S. ‘Music and astronomy in the Muslim world’. Leonardo, 29/2 (1996), pp. 145–150.

    Sawa, G. D. Music Performance Practice in the Early Abbasid Era. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1989.

    ----. Rhythmic theories and practices in Arabic Writings to 339 AH/950 CE. Annotated translations and commentaries. Musicological Studies, vol. 93. Ottawa: The Institute of Mediaeval Music, 2009.

    Shehadi, F. Philosophies of Music in Medieval Islam. Leiden: Brill, 1995.

    Shiloah, Amnon. ‘Jewish and Muslim Traditions of Music Therapy’, in Music as Medicine: the History of Music Therapy since Antiquity, ed. P. Horden. Ashgate: Aldershot, 2000, pp. 69–83.

    ----. Music in the World of Islam: a Socio-Cultural Study. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1995.

    ----, tr. ‘L’Epitre sur la musique des Ikhwan al-Safa’’. Revue des Etudes Islamiques, 32 (1965), pp. 125–162, and 34 (1967), pp. 159–193.

    ----. The Epistle on Music of the Ikhwan al-Safa’. Documentation and Studies 3. Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv: 1978. Repr. in A. Shiloah, The Dimension of Music in Islamic and Jewish Culture. Aldershot: Ashgate Variorum, 1993.

    Sims-Williams, Nicholas. ‘A Greek-Sogdian bilingual from Bulayiq’, in La Persia e Bisanzio. Atti dei Convegni Lincei, 201. Rome: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 2004, pp. 623–631.

    West, M. L. Ancient Greek Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992, repr. 1994.

    ----. ‘Music Therapy in Antiquity’, in Music as Medicine: the History of Music Therapy Since Antiquity, ed. P. Horden. Ashgate: Aldershot, 2000, pp. 51–68.

    Wright, Owen. ‘Music and Musicology in the Rasail Ikhwan al-Safa’, in The Ikhwan al-Safa and their ‘Rasail’: An Introduction, ed. N. El-Bizri (New York and London: Oxford University Press in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2008), pp. 214–247.

  • Owen Wright

    English
    Owen Wright is currently Professor of Musicology of the Middle East at SOAS, University of London. His research interests focus on the textual sources for the history of music in the Middle East. Previously, he has acted as Editor of the SOAS Musicology Series, which is published by Ashgate (Aldershot), and has authored several encyclopaedia entries and studies on music. Some of his work including books, book chapters and articles is listed below. Articles Wright, Owen (2008) 'Mais qui était ‘Le compositeur du Péchrev dans le makam Nihavend?' Studii şi Cercetări de Istoria Artei: Teatru,...Read more