Abu Nasr Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Tarhan bin Uzlag al-Farabi at-Turki[Otrar 870 (Farab), Damascus 950 (Syria)]. Some researchers believe that the great thinker, encyclopedic scientist, a native of Otrar, called the “second Aristotle”.


Abu Nasr Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Tarhan bin Uzlag al-Farabi at-Turki [Otrar 870 (Farab), Damascus 950 (Syria)]. Some researchers believe that the great thinker, encyclopedic scientist, a native of Otrar, called the “second Aristotle”, was born in Kedera near Otrar, while others believe that he was born in Oksyz (Uasidzh), which is located on the western coast of the Syr Darya (Seykhun).    

The medieval Arab historians indicate that Farab (Otrar) is located at the mouth of the Arys River at its confluence with the Syr-Darya.  And this is true.

Abu Nasr received his primary education in his homeland, in Otrar.  On his way to knowledge, he stopped in Shash (Tashkent), Samarkand and Bukhara.  He was in the Iranian cities of Rei (Tehran), Isfahan, Hamadan sought to understand science, after which he visited Damascus and Baghdad.  At that time, Abu Nasr did not know the Arabic language, which he later developed during his stay in Baghdad, a large Muslim scientific, cultural and spiritual center of the Near and Middle East.

In Baghdad, he sought to gain knowledge in the field of various sciences.  He studied with the most progressive scientists of his time. Greek was taught to him by the Christian Abu Bakr Mata, and medicine by Johann ibn Hailan. He studied philosophy, logics.  He paid some attention to the works of Aristotle.  Of particular interest there were such branches of science as mathematics, logic, medicine, music, astronomy, etc. Along with various branches of philology he mastered several languages.  In addition to Arabic, he studied in depth Persian, Greek, Ancient Syrian languages, while reading the works of ancient Greek scholars. According to some reports, al-Farabi read “On the Soul” of Aristotle a hundred times, “Harmony of Nature” – forty times, and “Rhetoric” – two hundred times.

He traveled to the city of Halab (Aleppo), located north of Damascus, where the Sultan Saif al-Daul al-Hamdani ruled (916-967).  The representatives of many branches of science — writers, scientists, poets, historians — lived in his palace.  Ahmed al-Mutanabbi (915-965), a classic of medieval Arabic literature, also spent some time in his palace.

It is said that Abu Nasr al-Farabi visited the capital of Egypt – Cairo, where he divided his famous work “Kitab ara ahl al-madinatu-l fadila” – “The Principles of the Views of the Inhabitants of a VirtuousCity” (abbreviated as “Virtuous city”) into sections and supplemented.

There is not so much recorded written information about the life of Abu Nasr al-Farabi.  This can be explained by the fact that the great thinker of rulers and nobles, therefore, in the information available about him there are more legends than truths.                                      

The 1100th anniversary of Abu Nasr al-Farabi was included in the UNESCO Memorial Calendar and was first solemnly celebrated in Almaty in 1975. Shortly before this event, at the end of the 60s of the XX century, the Al-Farabi Research Center had been opened at the Institute of Philosophy and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR. The works of the Otrar thinker were collected in Arabic, English, German, French, Czech and other languages, some of which were published in Kazakh and Russian in Almaty.

The scientific heritage of Abu Nasr al-Farabi has been studied by many prominent scientists of the world, by Soviet scientists and representatives of science from Central Asia and Kazakhstan. Among them are M. Steinschneider, G. Zoiter, F. Diteritsi, A. Resher, B. Gafurov, S. Grigoryan, A. Sagadiev, Yu. Zavadovsky, A. Margulan, A. Mashanov, O. Zhautikov, A. Kasymzhanov  , A. Nysanbaev, A. Derbisaliev, A. Kobesov, M. Burabaev, K. Zharykbaev, M. Khairullaev, K. Tajikova, G. Kurmangalieva and others, who at one time wrote separate monographs and various articles about the life and work of the outstanding Otrar native (or Farab native).

An intensive study of the works of the genius in the field of many sciences in our country began in the 70s of the XX century. The doctoral and candidate dissertations were defended.  Many years have passed since then. In an independent Kazakhstan there are great opportunities for further scientific study of the rich heritage of al-Farabi. At the Kazakh State University named after Abu Nasr al-Farabi, a scientific center was established to study the works of the great ancestor, and several theoretical and practical conferences of international and republican significance were held, in the organization and preparation of which I took a personal and direct part.

In accordance with the 1150th anniversary of the birth of Abu Nasr, which will be widely celebrated in 2020, a year before, the authorities of KazNU named after al-Farabi made a proposal to the relevant bodies to give the planned events a high international status. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan sent a letter to the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan with an order to clarify the date and place of birth of the outstanding scientist and his origin. The cultural institution handed over the commission to the Ministry of Education and Science, which obliged to study the biography and works of the outstanding scientist KazNU named after al-Farabi, the Institute of Oriental Studies named after R.B.  Suleimenov, the Institute of History and Ethnology named after Ch.Ch.  Valikhanov, the Institute of Philosophy, Political Science and Religious Studies of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

As a representative of the Institute of Oriental Studies named after R. B.  Suleimenov, I began to study this issue and based on new research I made a report.

The scientists from the USA, Europe, Asia and Africa continue to study the life and work of Abu Nasr Mohammed al-Farabi.  To begin with, I studied sources in Arabic, because it was the  language that Abu Nasr wrote his works in.

Arabic sources about the background of Abu Nasr al-Farabi. From medieval chroniclers and scholars:

  • Jamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Ḥasan Alī bin Yūsuf al-Qifṭī (1172-1248) wrote: «Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Tarhan Abu Nasr al-Farabi»;
  • Ibn Abi Usaibia (1203-1270) – «Abu Nasr Mohammed bin Muhammad Uzlag (Uzlak, Uzak – Turkic name, Arab historians and European scholars could record a distorted version – A.D.) bin Tarhan»;
  • Ibn Khallikan (1211-1282) – «Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Tarhan bin Auzalag» (possibly «Uzlag», i.e. Uzak);
  • in the book Kitab al-Musiqa (The Book of Music) by Abu Nasr al-Farabi, consisting of 1,500 pages, his name is indicated as «Abu Nasr Muhammed bin Muhammed bin Tarhan bin Uzlag al-Farabi».

The modern Arab scholar Faruh Sad, in his monograph on the life and work of Abu Nasr, refers to him as «Abu Nasr Muhammad bin Muhammed bin Tarhan bin Uzlag al-Farabi at-Turks».

And what do scientists from other countries suppose?

Iran. Iranian scientists do not add at-Turki, which means Turk, since they consider Abu Nasr al-Farabi a Persian by origin.

As the Supreme Mufti, I took part in an international conference in Tehran. Meanwhile, as usual, I visited the National Library of Iran. The director of the library was also an advisor to the president of Iran on culture. During the conversation, I shared my opinion that Abu Nasr al-Farabi is «a native of the Kazakh land». But the director of the library objected: «Al-Farabi is an Iranian scientist». One of the large halls of the library is named after Abu Nasr al-Farabi.

I tried to give convincing arguments confirming that Abu Nasr is a Turk, but he stubbornly expressed his disagreement. I asked: «What fact can you give to convince me that Otrar’s son is an Iranian scientist?» And he answered: «Abu Nasr lived when the Samanids ruled Central Asia and the Samanids are Persians».

The southern part of the Kazakh land, indeed, was ruled by the Samanids, but a little more than a hundred years. Samanids were only at the top of the government, while local residents were Türks. The medieval Arab scholars testified that Abu Nasr al-Farabi was born in the city of Otrar, at the mouth of the river, where the Arys flows into the Syr Darya. Subsequently, Otrar was renamed Farab.

The medieval chronicler Ibn Khallikan (1211-1282) left enough information on the biography of Abu Nasr. «It is likely», I said, addressing the interlocutor, «that his works are in your library».

The director-advisor asked his assistant to deliver Ibn Khallikan’s «Book on the Death of Great People». We started searching together. The content of the book did not mention the fact that Abu Nasr was born in Iran. Ibn Khallikan wrote the following: «Abu Nasr Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Tarhan bin Auzlag [Uzak]. al-Farabi, Turk [by origin], prominent thinker (al-Hakim) …» … Abu Nasr was Turkic [kind], he was born and raised in his country … He knew Turkic and other languages, except Arabic. Having begun to study the Arabic language, he mastered it perfectly and only then began to engage in the thought Sciences (Uloom al-Hikma) that is (philosophy-A.D.)». The director-advisor could not find any words[1, p.153-157].

USA.US scientist Nicholas Rescher, in his work on the bibliography of Abu Nasr al-Farabi, refers to him as «Abu Nasr Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Tarhan bin Uzlag al-Farabi».

Germany. The famous German Orientalist Carl Brockelmann (1868-1956) writes the name of the Otrar scientist as : «Abu Nasyr Mohammed bin Muhammed bin Tarhan bin Uzalag al-Farabi».

Turkey. The Turkish scientists Ismet Binark, Nejat Sefergioglu write the name of the Otrar genius as «Abu Nasr Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Tarhan bin Uzlik al-Farabi at-Turki»;

– Another Turkish scholar Yasar Aydinli pointed out «Abu Nasr Mohammed bin Tarhan bin Uzlag al-Farabi»;

– in the Islamic Encyclopedia [Turkey] it is written: «Abu Nasr Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Tarhan bin Uzlag al-Farabi at-Turks, it is believed that he was born in 258/871-872».

Given the information from many sources, the name of the scientist from Otrar can be indicated as «Abu Nasr Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Tarhan bin Uzlag al-Farabi at-Turks».

The date of the birth of Abu Nasr al-Farabi.Uzbekistan.Among scientists  of the Muslim East and Europe, there is no consensus on the date of birth of Abu Nasr al-Farabi. Their studies indicate dates with a difference of 2-3 years. The Uzbek scientist, academician Muzafar Khayrullaev (1931-2004), who studied the work of Abu Nasra al-Farabi for many years, wrote: “The year of Farabi’s birth is indicated differently in different studies, most often in the Soviet literature is 870”[6.p.152]

What about the Arabic sources.In the capital of the Arab Republic of Syria, Damascus, there is the «Bab As-Sagir» cemetery, where Abu Nasr is buried. On his tombstone it is written: “Better known as Abu Nasr al-Farabi – Muhammad bin Mohammed bin Tarhan bin Uzlag was born in 260 [hijra] (in our year of 873) in the city of Farab, died in 339 Hijras [950] in Damascus”.

The aforementioned Faruh Saad considers the date of birth of Abu Nasra to be the 259th year of the hijra, i.e. 870.Nicholas Rescher (USA) also indicated 870 as the date of birth of Abu Nasr.Turkish scientists Ismet Binark and Nejat Sefergioglu indicated 870 as the year of birth of Abu Nasr. Kazakh scientist, well-known philosopher, professor Kh. Kasimzhanov (1931-2000), who studied the life and work of Abu Nasr al-Farabi for many, in the monograph “Al-Farabi” published in Moscow, indicates 870 as the birth date of Abu Nasra.

Conclusion.It will be correct to write the name of the encyclopedic scientist as “Abu Nasr Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Tarhan bin Uzlag al-Farabi at-Turki“, and the date of his birth should indicate the year 258 of the hijra, i.e. 870.

The issue of determining the year of birth of Abu Nasr was raised in the 70s of the last century. After conferring, scientists and the government decided to indicate the date “870”, so in 1975 the 1,100th anniversary of Abu Nasr al-Farabi was officially celebrated. Arab scientists have expressed their agreement on this subject.

The authors of works  about Al-Farabi, translated from European and Arabic into Russian and Kazakh languages, as well as Moscow and Kazakhstan scientists, referred to the Otrar genius as “Abu Nasr Mohammed bin Muhammed bin Tarhan bin Uzlag al-Farabi at-Turki”, and considered his birth date 870th year.

The birthplace of Abu Nasr.In some medieval sources in Arabic, there is evidence that Farab (kishlak) is located on the territory of present Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan Farab is located west of Bukhara, not far from the Amu Darya. The numerous sources report that Farab, where Abu Nasr was born, is located at the mouth of the Arys River at its confluence with the Syr Darya (Saykhun). Many scientists admit this fact.

As for the Farab area, which is in Afghanistan, then it is called not “Farab”, but “Fariyab” and is located in the Khorasan region.Only in the 70s of the last century they began to write that Abu Nasr al-Farabi, a scientist from the Turkic tribe, was born in the Kazakh city Otrar (Farab). On this occasion, the director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences located in Moscow, academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences, historian, famous scientist B. Gafurov wrote: “The attempts to portray al-Farabi as Kazakh are just as artificial modernization. The process of ethnic self-determination at that time was far from over. It is hardly true that he is Uzbek. Remaining on the basis of facts, it can be argued that al-Farabi is a resident of the Turkic tribe, which later became part of the Kazakh people, that he is an activist who is closely related to the culture of the peoples of the Soviet East.

The ancestors of the Tajiks, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Turkmens, Uighurs, Kirghiz since ancient times, due to the common culture, traditions and life were part of a kind of unified cultural region. In particular, nomadic pastoral farming was largely complementary to sedentary farming, and these two types of farming were not given in a “pure” form at all. Numerous cities of southern Kazakhstan served as a link between the nomadic and sedentary population of oases.

Archaeological studies of the remains of medieval cities and settlements in southern Kazakhstan and Semirechye show that since the early middle ages (VI-VIIIc.) there is an economic and cultural interaction between South Kazakhstan cities and Central Asian cities. This was largely facilitated by trade.  You can point to the great silk road, which connected the West and the East, to the caravan roads and trails that connected Merv, Samarkand, Bukhara and Chach with Taraz, Ispidzhab, Kulan and Otrar. Not only written sources paint a picture of economic relations, but also a rich archaeological material. This can be seen in the generality of architectural schools, construction equipment, Handicrafts and art. At this time, there are common canons in architecture, crafts, but for all the similarities in each of the areas had their own deeply original cultural traditions. The Aisha-Bibi mausoleum is indicative. It is no accident that the ancient Otrar, located at the junction of the steppe and the settled population, agriculture and nomadism, at the fork of the most important trade routes of the time, squeezed out of its cultural environment such a colorful figure as al-Farabi.

Of course, al-Farabi has absorbed broader traditions than those of his native city. Otherwise, his name would not be included in the Pantheon of world culture. Its activities were developed within the framework of the broader cultural region, which can be called Arabic-speaking in its external form. Despite the fact that the Caliphate could not create any stable economic and political unity and has always remained an eclectic Association, the presence of connections and contacts in the culture was a condition for significant spiritual progress. Common language facilitated the exchange of ideas»[3,p.XVII-XVIII]..

Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, along with the publication of the works of Abu Nasr, has been holding  International Farabi readings in Almaty for several years, “which has become a good tradition.

In the first decade of March 2006, the delegation including the rector of KazNU of those years – academician Tolegen Kozhamkulov, akim of the Otrar region Alimzhan Kurtayev, director of the Bilim Publishing House, writer, journalist J. Nuskabayev, head of the al-Farabi Museum in Shaulder Abdulla Zhumashev, went under my leadership to the Arab Republic of Syria. We visited the Bab al-Sagir cemetery, located on the southern side of Damascus, and honored the memory of Abu Nasra al-Farabi. On the tombstone I read the following inscription in Arabic: “al-Fatiha. Bismillahi-r rahmani-r rahim. [This] mausoleum [belongs to] Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Tarhan bin Uzlag, known as Abu Nasr al-Farabi. [He] is an Islamic scholar, philosopher, adib, musician (musicologist). He was born in Farab in 260 [hijras] and died in Damascus 339 [hijras].”

We visited the mausoleum of another son of the Kazakh land Sultan Zahir ad-din Beibars (1217-1277) and Salah ad-din al-Ayyubi (1138-1193), who defeated the crusaders in his times. After returning from the trip, on its results I reported to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.A. Nazarbayev. On March 4-7 of the following year, 2007, the Head of State had an official visit in Syria. I was also a member of the delegation.

During the trip N.A. Nazarbayev assigned an agreement with the Government of Syria to ennoble the grave of al-Farabi and build a cultural center. For these purposes, certain funds were allocated.

In 2012, the Congress of Muslims of Russia was held in the city of Ufa, attended by the Chief Mufti of Syria, Dr. Badr ad-Din Hassun. During the conversation with him, I found out that the construction of the facility had been completed. As soon as the war in Syria is over, it will certainly be officially opened.

We brought to Syria, to the grave of Abu Nasr, a handful of the soil from Otrar. Returning, we took a handful of the soil from the grave of the great scientist and delivered it to his homeland. Akim of the South Kazakhstan region of that time, Bolat Zhylkyshiev announced about the construction of the mausoleum of Abu Nasr al-Farabi to the residents of Otrar. But, since he got  another position, the idea has not been implemented.

At the end of December 2018, at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University there was organized a meeting chaired by the rector, academician of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic Kazakhstan G. Mutanov and famous scientists from Turkey, KazNU, the Institute of Oriental Studies named after R.B. Suleimenov,  the Institute of History and Ethnology named after Ch.Valikhanov, the Institute of Philosophy, Political Science and Religious Studies of the Ministry of  Education and Science of the Republic of  Kazakhstan.

  The meeting was attended by Vice Minister of Culture and Sports Aktoty Raimkulova (currently – Minister, A.D.). The scientists expressed their thoughts about the life and work of Abu Nasr al-Farabi. On behalf of Kazakhstan, the letter was written to UNESCO containing a proposal to hold large-scale celebrations on the occasion of the 1150th anniversary of Abu Nasr al-Farabi in 2020, in Almaty. This proposal was supported by all the participants of the meeting.

At the meeting, I participated as a speaker and presented my research on the 30 scientists and thinkers from Otrar that I found during the work on the creative and scientific heritage of Abu Nasr. The scientists present expressed their support for my research and suggestions.


The particularly valuable work of Abu Nasra al-Farabi “Philosophical tracts” at the end of the 60s of the last century was translated into Russian, and in 1973 into Kazakh[3]. This work of the star of Islamic civilization, who was called the second Aristotle, included his philosophical views and famous works “What must precede the study of philosophy”, “The Treatise on the meanings of the Intellect” and “The Principles of the Views of the Inhabitants of the Virtuous City”[3]. Philosophers of the world pay a particular interest to the last work of Abu Nasr (870-950).

Another book was published back in 1960 by the Moscow philosopher S.N. Grigoryan entitled “The History of Philosophy of Central Asia and Iran (7th -12th centuries) with selected works on philosophy by Al-Farabi, Ghazali and Maimonides” This publication had been published much earlier than the one which was published in Almaty [4].

The collection includes “Commentary on the Preface” by Porfiry, “Classification of Science” and the above-mentioned treatise “The Principles of the Views of the Inhabitants of the Virtuous City” by Abu Nasr in Arabic. It was translated into Russian “The Principles of the Views of the Inhabitants of the Virtuous City” and presented to readers by A.V. Sagadeev[4,p.133-195].

Abu Nasr began to write his famous treatise upon arrival from Otrar to Baghdad and completed in 942 in Damascus. Information about this is contained in uyun al-anba’ fi tabaqat al-atibba’, a famous Arab scholar, Ibn Abu Usaybig (1203-1270)[5,p.203-209] .

Having arrived in the countries of the Near and Middle East, Abu Nasr with great enthusiasm took up the study of Arabic and ancient Greek languages, trying to master them perfectly. He showed particular interest in the works of the ancient Greek scholars of Pythagoras, Aristotle, Euclid, Archimedes, Plato, and achieved an understanding of the deep meaning of their works. He showed a great interest in the study of especially relevant branches of science at that time: ethics, politics, psychology, philosophy, mathematics, music and physics. The particular attention was paid to philosophy and logics, and his works on the indicated sciences were devoted to the study of Aristotle’s philosophy, and the author tried to present knowledge in a more accessible form for understanding. Pursuing this goal, he commented on the treatises of Aristotle, trying to make them understandable to everyone.

It is also necessary to remember how in the first century of our era Christianity, which advanced into the arena of history, and its representatives did everything to destroy the ancient and Hellenistic cultures. Such actions were not inconclusive. Since the Greeks in ancient times worshiped many gods, their books were burned and destroyed.  The preachers of the new Christian religion worshiped God alone. Islam is also a monotheistic religion. But Islam did not argue with Greek science, did not destroy spiritual writing and monuments. On the contrary, the science created by the Greeks was used for the good of Islam, for its study by the people, so Abu Nasr al-Farabi translated and researched the works of ancient Greek scholars. Nevertheless, there were those who accused Abu Nasr al-Farabi of propaganda and revival of the ancient Greek culture and science, which was erroneous indeed. We can say that the revival of science in the world of Islam happened in this way.

The writings of ancient Greek thoughts influenced the formation of Abu Nasr al-Farabi as a scientist. In his work “The Principles of the Views of the Inhabitants of the Virtuous City”, a certain influence of the work of Plato “Republic” is evident. The publications “The Principles of the Views of the Inhabitants of the Virtuous City” of different years, I found in Syria, Egypt and Lebanon, while manuscripts of Abu Nasr al-Farabi – in Sulaymaniyah and other libraries of Turkey. Some of them are available in my personal archive. Complete, averaged, and abridged versions of the work are found.

But what about the publications of  European countries?

The professor at the University of Berlin, a well-known German Orientalist and Arabist, Friedrich Dieterici (1821-1903) was the first to publish a treatise based on the manuscript of the British Museum No. 425.3 (according to the new catalog No. 7518) and the manuscript of the Bodleian Library (Oxford No. 120.3) in Leiden [3,p.418].

Many thinkers of Islamic civilization focused on the ideas of an ideal society and a virtuous city. Following them, al-Farabi also developed the idea of a “perfect society of mankind”, outlining his vision in this work.

The chapter “On the human need for unification and mutual assistance” of the treatise “The Principles of the Views of the Inhabitants of the Virtuous City” says: “By nature, each person is structured so that for his own existence and achievement of the highest perfection he needs many things that he cannot deliver to himself alone and to achieve which he needs a certain community of people ”[3, p. 303].

For this reason, the scientist draws the attention to the need for mutual assistance, believing that only by uniting and living together, having built parishes and huts, people can reach new heights.

What is said by Abu Nasr corresponds to the verses of the holy Quran. In the 12th verse of the Surah “Khuzhurat”, the Creator addresses: “Oh people! It is certain that you were born from one man and one woman. In order for you to get acquainted and be friends (as well as show concern, help each other, live in harmony so that the land flourishes) with each other, they are divided into different countries and tribes. Know, the most revered by Allah are the most righteous (those who zealously worship Allah, turn to the Almighty and obey!). It is true that Allah is Alim (who knows everything, including your condition and what you do), Khabir (who knows everything). ”

The great Otrar scientist writes: The greatest good and the highest perfection can be achieved in the first place by the city….” And also: “ A virtuous city is like a perfect, healthy body, all the organs of which help each other in order to preserve the life of a living being and make it the most complete. How the organs of the body differ from each other, surpassing each other in their nature and their abilities… ” [3, p. 304-305] and “there is a certain person in the city – the head and other people approaching this chapter in their degrees, each of whom, according to his own position and abilities, carries out the action that the goal pursued by the head requires” [3, p. 306]. In this case, Abu Nasr focuses on the need for joint actions by citizens and city leaders at various levels.

That city where they help each other, can be called a “virtuous city.” So the son of Otrar considers. And people, in order to become happy, are obliged to support each other. And only then the will be happy.

According to Abu Nasr, the happiness of the mahalla, the city, the state depends on the head who controls them, since he must be busy, smart, persistent and love science and education. He should always listen to people and pay attention to their (people’s) mood.

According to Abu Nasr, not every person is able to lead a “virtuous city”, because governing the country depends on:

first, the fact that a person by nature was ready for management;

secondly, the position and abilities that have the will as their source.

The management befalls to that one  who is predisposed to this by nature. Not all art can be a means of control; on the contrary, most of the arts are the arts that are served in the city, just as most of the natural abilities are the ability to serve. In the same way, the art of managing a virtuous city cannot turn out to be any art that happens, or any ability that happens [3, p. 312]. The great scientist dwells on the qualities of the head of the virtuous city. Here, the head of the city, Abu Nasr calls the imam. He considers him the first leader. Such a person can only be one who combines the twelve (12) innate natural qualities. 

A person must: 

first, have absolutely perfect body organs … 

be able to understand and imagine from nature everything that is told to him well, comprehending what has been said in accordance with what the speaker has in mind, and with how things are on their own; it is good to keep in memory everything that he understands, sees, hears, not forgetting almost nothing of all this; possess a mind that is penetrating and insightful so that, having noticed the slightest sign of a thing, he can grasp what this sign indicates quickly;

possess expressive skills and be able to state with complete clarity all that he plans;

have a love to learning and cognition, achieving this easily, without experiencing either fatigue from learning, or the pain of the labor involved;

abstain in food, in the use of drinks and in coitus, by nature to avoid game and to be disgusted by pleasures arising from it;

love the truth and its supporters, hate the lies and those who resort to it;

have a proud soul and cherish honor: his soul by nature should be above all low deeds and by nature strive for exalted deeds;

despise dirhams, dinars and other attributes of worldly life;

love justice by nature and its supporters, to hate injustice and tyranny, and those from whom they come;

be fair towards themeselves and strangers, to encourage justice and to compensate the victims of the injustice, providing everyone with what he considers good and beautiful;

– be fair, but not stubborn, not show willfulness and not to persist in the face of justice, but to be completely adamant to all injustice and baseness;

– show decisiveness in doing what he believes necessary, and at the same time to be bold, courageous, not to know fear and cowardice, ”writes Abu Nasr al-Farabi [3, p. 317-319].

Thus, if we combine the twelve qualities presented by Abu Nasr al-Farabi to the first leader, then he must: have clean hands, deeds and conscience; adequately perceive the wishes of the people; have a wonderful memory; be smart and an excellent speaker; learn well; be hardworking, but not a lover of fun and stay away from him; intolerant of lies; be honest, not a miser; loving justice, a noble person who does not divide people; the adversary of the base and courageously achieve the goal. And only then will he be the worthy man whom the people desire. Who will say that this is not relevant today?

The great scientist admits: “Combining all these in one person is a difficult thing, and that’s why people gifted with such nature are very rare and make up only a minority” [3, p. 319] … “so if such a person is found in a virtuous city, and when he grows up, the first six conditions mentioned above or five of them are fulfilled, then, having no equal in imagination, he just will become the head of the city ”[3, p. 319].

In addition to the twelve qualities mentioned above, Abu Nasr al-Farabi considers it necessary to add six more conditions to the person who aims to become the head of the city. “The second chapter, the successor to the first, will be the one who …”:

the  firstis to be wise

 the second is to be knowledgeable, keeping in mind the laws, rules and ordinances teas established for the city by the first imams, and follow them in all their actions.

 the third is to show ingenuity in that which has not survived from his predecessors the corresponding law, following the example of the first imams.

– the fourth – to have insight and cleverness, allowing him to know at any time both the current state of things and future events that could not be guessed by the first imams; in his actions, he should set a goal to improve the welfare of the city.

the fifth – to be able to guide people to the implementation of laws with their own words the first imams and the laws that he created after them, following their example.

-the sixth – to have the bodily strength necessary for conducting military affairs, and to know military art as a service art and as a governing art.” And further: “… if there wasn’t such a person who would combine all these qualities in himself, but find two of them, one of whom would be wise, and the other who would satisfy the rest of the conditions, then both of them would become the heads of the city. If these qualities are distributed among representatives of a whole group of people so that one possesses wisdom, the other one more quality, the third one more, the fourth one more, the fifth one more, the sixth one more, then if they all agree between by themselves, they will all be virtuous chapters. If it ever happens that the leadership lacks wisdom, then even if it satisfies all other conditions, the virtuous city will be left without a sovereign, and the head of the city will not be sovereign in this case, and the city itself will be threatened with death … And if there is no sage who could be assigned to this chapter, the city will inevitably die after sometime” said Abu Nasr al-Farabi [3,p. 320-321].

Based on this, according to al-Farabi it is not enough to be intelligent, educated, honest and impeccable. Along with these, the first head is obliged to know the laws of his country and to ensure that the people comply with these laws.

It seems to me that what was stated by the Otrar thinker in these treatises, as well as the requirements and conditions for those who wish to become the head of the state relates to Kazakhstan, which has become sovereign and building a new democratic society, and to the leadership corps (ministers and akims, members of the Parliament ) at  all levels.

Abu Nasr al-Farabi, telling that by building a virtuous and impeccable society, humanity, makhallas, cities, and states will be able to achieve happiness, does not exclude at the same time the existence of an ignorant and vile leader of the country, city and state, undermining the foundations of all good intentions. These pages are entitled “On cities opposed to a virtuous city.”

A virtuous city is contrasted to an ignorant city, an immoral city, a city of deception, and a lost city. The author of the treatise believes that “in the same way, such cities are opposed to individuals – representatives of these cities.”

An ignorant city, says Abu Nasr al-Farabi, is one whose inhabitants never knew happiness, and it never occurred to them to strive for it. “They never knew it and never believed in it,” he says. The great philosopher describes the inhabitants of an ignorant city as follows: “They are satisfied with insignificant, primitive things and, deceiving what has been achieved to date,” they do not strive for learning, education and finding  people. These people Abu Nasr refers to the inhabitants of an ignorant city.

An ignorant city is divided into several cities.

A city of necessity … whose inhabitants strive to limit themselves only to necessary things, that is, those that the body needs for its existence — food, drink, clothing, housing, sexual intercourse and helping each other to achieve this.

A city of exchange is one whose inhabitants strive to help each other to achieve prosperity and wealth, but not as a means to achieve something else, but as the goal of a lifetime.

A city of rotteness and unhappiness is the city whose inhabitants strive for pleasures – in food, drink, sexual intercourse, in short – they strive for such pleasure that would act on the senses and imagination, seek to excite fun and console themselves with fun in all their forms and manifestations.

An ambitious city is a city whose inhabitants seek to help each other, to be honored, praised, to be spoken about, and to be known to other nations, to be glorified and exalted in word and deed, so that they appear in splendor and brilliance – or in to the eyes of strangers, or to each other, – and all this to the extent of how much they strive for this or how much they manage to achieve this.

A city of  power ambitions is … whose inhabitants strive to ensure that others obey them, and they themselves do not obey anyone; their efforts are aimed at achieving the joy that only victory gives them.

A voluptuous city is is … its inhabitants strive to ensure that each of them is free to do what he wants, without restraining his passion.

Lords of ignorant cities are like these cities themselves. Each of them conducts the affairs of the city controlled by him in such a way as to achieve satisfaction of his own passions and inclinations.

An immoral city is such a city, the views of the inhabitants of which belong to the virtuous and who know happiness, Allah, the great and almighty, secondary formations, an active mind, and in general everything that the inhabitants of a virtuous city can know and what they believe in; but the actions of the inhabitants of this city are the same as the actions of the inhabitants of ignorant cities.

A changeable city is a city whose views and actions were the same in the past as the views and actions of a virtuous city, but which subsequently changed: other ideas penetrated it, and its actions became completely different.

A lost city is one that believes that happiness will be after this life. But his ideas have changed, and he now has such vicious ideas about Allah, the great and omnipotent, about secondary formations and about active reason, that such can neither serve as the basis for piety, nor can be accepted as similarities and images of all these things.The first chapter of this city refers to those who pretend to be enlightened from above, not being such in reality, and use for this forgery, deceit and arrogance ”[3, p. 323-325].

Abu Ali ibn Sina (980-1037), Ibn Rushd (1126-1198), Abd ar-Rahman ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), in the Turkic world, Yusuf Balasaguni later wrote about the idea of Abu Nasr about an ideal and full-fledged society, a virtuous city. (1020-?).


Abu Nasr is the pride of not only the Turk people, in particular the Kazakhs, the entire Islamic civilization and the whole world as well. This is a colossal personality significant for all mankind. The fact that the scientist is our fellow countryman is very important to us, and I believe that it will be natural if we call ourselves the descendants of the great genius.

Otrar gave the world not the only genius – Abu Nasr, but also the other 29 scientists who were born in the X-XV centuries.

In 2007, during the official trip of the Head of State, the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.A. Nazarbayev, we read a prayer together in the name of the learned ancestor in Bab al-Saghir. An agreement was reached with Bashshar Assad on the construction of a mausoleum (as a cultural center), and funds were allocated by the President on behalf of Kazakhstan. The construction has been completed. Upon the cessation of hostilities in Syria, the opening of the mausoleum will certainly take place.


            Photo of the author. Damascus. March 2006.

Honoring the memory of Abu Nasr al-Farabi, his life and work have been studied and continue to be studied. There were the defense of several master’s and master’s theses. A large number of monographs and scientific collections were issued. A number of his works were translated from Arabic. They are published in Kazakhstan.

The name Abu Nasr al-Farabi was given to the main university in Almaty. The large avenue was named after him. The documentary about the outstanding scientist was made.A museum was opened in his homeland – in the village of Shauldir, Otrar district, Turkestan region. One of the districts of the city of Shymkent was given the name of the great scientist. In front of the KazNU named after al-Farabi, a large monument to the genius was erected. The State Prize of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the field of Science and Technology is also named after Abu Nasr al-Farabi.


  1. Abu-l Abbas Shams ad-din Ah¬med bin Mukhammed bin Әbu Bakr bin Khallikan Uafayat әl- ayyan wa abna az-zaman. Beirut
     [year not specified], 5th volume, “Al-Farabi Al-filessuf” “Al-Farabi the philosopher”, p.153-157
  2. Gafurov B. Әl-Farabidің әleumettіk-etnicalyk kozkarastary turaly // Al-Farabi.Әleumettіk etnikalyk tractattar. Ed. “Kalym”, Almaty 1995, p. XVIII
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  4. Grıgorıan S.N. Iz ıstorıı fılosofıı Sredneı Azıı ı Irana. VII-XII vv. S prılojenıem ızbrannyh fılosofskıh proızvedenıı Farabı, Gazalı ı Mamonıda. – M., 1960.
  5. Ibn Abi Usayibiga. Uyun әl-anba fi tabakat әl-attiba. Beirut [year of publication not indicated], pp. 203-209.
  6. Haırýllaev M. Farabı. Epoha ı ýchenıe. – Tashkent: Izdatelstvo «Ýzbekıstan», 1975.
  7. Ábý Nasr ál-Farabı. Kıtab ara aһl ál-madınatý-l fadıla. Ál-Mýallım as-sanı. Kaır, 2002.
  8. Derbіsálі Ábsattar. Qazaq dalasynyń juldyzdary. – Almaty, 1995.

Author: Absattar Derbissali

                                                      Director of the R. SuleimenovInstitute of Oriental Studies,

Doctor of Philological Sciences,