Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi
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Fakhr al-Din al-Razi
|Title||Imām al-Mushakkikīn (Chief of the Skeptics) Fakhr Al-din Razi|
|Era||Islamic Golden Age|
|Main interest(s)||Islamic Philosophy, Kalam, Logic and Tafsir|
|Notable work(s)||Tafsir al-Kabir, The Major Book on Logic, Sharh Nisf al-Wajiz li l-Ghazzali, Sharh al-Isharat Avecina|
Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Umar ibn al-Husayn at-Taymi al-Bakri at-Tabaristani Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi (Arabic:أبو عبدالله محمد بن عمر بن الحسن بن الحسين بن علي التيمي البكري فخرالدین الرازی ), most commonly known as Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi or Fakhruddin Razi, was a Persian Sunni Muslim theologian and philosopher who wrote in Arabic. He was born in 1149 in Ray (today located in Iran), and died in 1209 in Herat (today located in Afghanistan). He also wrote on medicines, physics, astronomy, literature, history and law.
He should not to be confused with Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, also known as Rhazes.
Born in a family originally from Amol, in modern-day Mazandaran province of Iran (ancient Tabaristan), he first studied with his father, and later at Merv and Maragha, where he was one of the pupils of al-Majd al-Jili, who in turn had been a disciple of al-Ghazali. He was accused of rationalism, despite the fact that he restored many to the orthodox faith. While he was a leading proponent of the Ash'ari school of theology, he expressed regret for having upheld the school's philosophy and dialectic while on his deathbed.
His commentary on the Koran (Qur'an) was the most varied and many-sided of all extant works of the kind, comprising most of the material of importance that had previously appeared. He devoted himself to a wide range of studies, and is said to have expended a large fortune on experiments in alchemy. He taught at Ray and Ghazni, and became head of the university founded by Mohammed ibn Tukush at Herat.
The Great Commentary
In Islamic theology, Razi's major work was the Tafsir-e Kabir (The Great Commentary), his eight-volume Tafsir (exegesis) on the Qur'an, also named as Mafatih al-Ghayb (The Keys to the Unknown). This work contains much of philosophical interest. One of his "major concerns was the self-sufficiency of the intellect." He believed that proofs based on tradition (hadith) "could never lead to certainty (yaqin) but only to presumption (zann), a key distinction in Islamic thought." However, his "acknowledgement of the primacy of the Qur'an grew with his years." Al-Razi's rationalism undoubtedly "holds an important place in the debate in the Islamic tradition on the harmonization of reason and revelation."
Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, in dealing with his conception of physics and the physical world in his Matalib al-'Aliya, criticizes the idea of the geocentric model within the Universe and "explores the notion of the existence of a multiverse in the context of his commentary" on the Qur'anic verse, "All praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds." He raises the question of whether the term "worlds" in this verse refers to "multiple worlds within this single universe or cosmos, or to many other universes or a multiverse beyond this known universe."
It is established by evidence that there exists beyond the world a void without a terminal limit (khala' la nihayata laha), and it is established as well by evidence that God Most High has power over all contingent beings (al-mumkinat). Therefore He the Most High has the power (qadir) to create a thousand thousand worlds (alfa alfi 'awalim) beyond this world such that each one of those worlds be bigger and more massive than this world as well as having the like of what this world has of the throne (al-arsh), the chair (al-kursiyy), the heavens (al-samawat) and the earth (al-ard), and the sun (al-shams) and the moon (al-qamar). The arguments of the philosophers (dala'il al-falasifah) for establishing that the world is one are weak, flimsy arguments founded upon feeble premises.
Al-Razi rejected the Aristotelian and Avicennian notions of a single universe revolving around a single world. He describes their main arguments against the existence of multiple worlds or universes, pointing out their weaknesses and refuting them. This rejection arose from his affirmation of atomism, as advocated by the Ash'ari school of Islamic theology, which entails the existence of vacant space in which the atoms move, combine and separate. He discussed more on the issue of the void the empty spaces between stars and constellations in the Universe, that contain very few, or no, stars. in greater detail in volume 5 of the Matalib. He argued that there exists an infinite outer space beyond the known world, and that God has the power to fill the vacuum with an infinite number of universes.
List of works
Al-Razi had written over a hundred works on a wide variety of subjects. His major works include:
- Tafsir al-Kabir (The Great Commentary) (also known as Mafatih al-Ghayb)
- Al-Bayan wa al-Burhan fi al-Radd `ala Ahl al-Zaygh wa al-Tughyan
- Al-Mahsul fi 'Ilm al-Usul
- Al-Mutakallimin fi 'Ilm al-Kalam
- Ilm al-Akhlaq (Science of Ethics)
- Kitab al-Firasa (Book on Firasa)
- Kitab al-Mantiq al-Kabir (Major Book on Logic)
- Kitab al-nafs wa l-ruh wa sharh quwa-huma (Book on the Soul and the Spirit and their Faculties)
- Mabahith al-mashriqiyya fi 'ilm al-ilahiyyat wa-'l-tabi'iyyat (Eastern Studies in Metaphysics and Physics)
- Matalib al-'Aliya
- Muhassal afkar al-mutaqaddimin wa-'l-muta'akhkhirin (The Harvest of the Thought of the Ancients and Moderns)
- Nihayat al 'Uqul fi Dirayat al-Usul
- Risala al-Huduth
- Sharh al-Isharat (Commentary on the Isharat)
- Sharh Asma' Allah al-Husna (Commentary on Asma' Allah al-Husna)
- Sharh Kulliyyat al-Qanun fi al-Tibb (Commentary on Canon of Medicine)
- Sharh Nisf al-Wajiz li'l-Ghazali (Commentary on Nisf al-Wajiz of Al-Ghazali)
- Sharh Uyun al-Hikmah (Commentary on Uyun al-Hikmah)
- Ovamir Anjum, Politics, Law, and Community in Islamic Thought: The Taymiyyan Moment, p 143. ISBN 1107014069
- Ibn Khallikan. Wafayat Al-a'yan Wa Anba' Abna' Al-zaman. Translated by William MacGuckin Slane. (1961) Pakistan Historical Society. pp. 224.
- Richard Maxwell Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760,University of California Press,1996, - Page 29
- Shaikh M. Ghazanfar, Medieval Islamic Economic Thought: Filling the Great Gap in European Economics,Routledge, 2003 
- Yasin T. Al-Jibouri, Nahjul-Balagha: Path of Eloquence, Author House (2013), p. 22
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Moore, F., eds. (1905). "Fakhr-ad-Din ar-Razi". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
- Rashid Ahmad Jullundhry, Qur'anic Exegesis in Classical Literature, pg. 54. New Westminster: The Other Press, 2010. ISBN 9789675062551
- John Cooper (1998), "al-Razi, Fakhr al-Din (1149-1209)", Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Routledge), retrieved 2010-03-07
- Adi Setia (2004), "Fakhr Al-Din Al-Razi on Physics and the Nature of the Physical World: A Preliminary Survey", Islam & Science 2, retrieved 2010-03-02
- Muammer İskenderoğlu (2002), Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī and Thomas Aquinas on the question of the eternity of the world, Brill Publishers, p. 79, ISBN 90-04-12480-2
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).