Abu Zayd Balkhi

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Abu Zayd Balkhi Ahmad Ibn Sahl, leading theologian, philosopher, geographer and man of letters, born in Balkh. The book “al-Fehrest” (written by Ibn Nadim) is the earliest source which noticed Abu Zayd Balkhi, and the most complete source is “Mu’jam al-Udaba” (Yaqut Hemawi). He travelled to Iraq in his youth to research on Imamiyya (the term indicates the Twelver Shia and as such is distinguished from Ismailiyya, which branched off from the Imamiyya after the death of Imam Sadeq “the 6th Imam of Shias”). Abu Zayd studied the intellectual #### sciences in the presence of Yaqub Ibn Isaac Kendi (Arab scholar and philosopher, ca. 801- 866). He stayed for 8 years in Iraq, studeid philosophy, astronomy, medicine, metaphysics, theology, and other common Islamic sciences under great scholars. Then returned to Balkh and was considered by “Abu Ali Jeyhani” (the minister of the Samanid king, Nasr Ibn Ahmad Samani). Abu Zayd trained some students:
1- Ibn Farighun (author from the upper Oxus lands; he wrote a concise Arabic encyclopedia of the sciences)
2- Abul Hasan Muhammad Ameri (in philosophy)
3- Abu Muhammad Hasan Waziri (he wrote a biography of Abu Zayd)

Some believe that Zakariyya Razi was also his student and Abu Zayd’s teachings caused him to become interested in neoPythagoratic philosophy. Abu Zayd Balkhi was praisd by the early and late scholars: Abu Hayyan Tawhidi, called him “The sea of seas” and “The scholar of scholars”

He was fully versed at different sciences, therefore his works are on various fields such as: philosophy, theology, astronomy, politics, commentary, history, geography, ethics, philology, inflexion, syntax and zoology. Ibn Nadim, named 42 books and treatises of him, Yaqut Hemawi named 13 of them and Bayhaqi added 2 more works. The following are hisa two important works:
1- The book of the shapes (on geographical maps. The original copy ahs been disappeared, just the main part has been written in the works of Arab geographer, Abu Isaac Ibrahim Istakhri, called “The principles”, “The countries” and “The regions”. The late scholars all believe that Istakhri’s works are compiled from the “Book of shapes”. Abu Zayd is considered as the pioneer of drawing the geographical maps among Muslim geographers
2- The benefits of the body and soul (on the health of body and soul and their relationship. The book has two articles:
One on the benefits of the body and the other on the soul:
The first article has 14 sections:
1- The man’s need for taking care of the body
2- The role of the four humours (blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm) in the body
3- Different climates
4- The clothes which preserve man from heat and cold
5- Food
6- Drinks
7- Perfumes
8- Sleep
9- Virility
10- Taking a bath
11- The exercises which are useful for body
12- Messaging
13- Hearing
14- Returning the health

In the second article, he noticed the diseases of the soul. It has 8 sections:
1- The man’s need for the benefits of the soul
2- Keeping the soul healthy
3- Returning the soul’s health
4- The soul’s diseases
5- Eliminating the anger
6- Soothing the fear and anxiety
7- Eliminating the grief and sorrow
8- Eliminating the inward temptation

Abu Zayd Balkhi tried to harmonize the religious laws with philosophy. He was as expert as Jahez Basri (famous Arab prose writer of Basra, 770 – 869) at theology. There are three great Muslim theologians: Jahez Basri, Ali Ibn Ubayde Lutfi and Abu Zayd Balkhi.


Islamic encyclopedia


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