Abu Yousuf Yaqub Ibn Ishaq al-Kindi was born at Kufa
around 800 A.D. He was brilliant in many fields, and on account of his great
work he became known as the philosopher of the Arabs. He died in 873 A.D.
during the reign of al-M'utamid.
His father was an official of Haroon al-Rashid. Al-Kindi was a contemporary
of al-Mamun, al-Mu'tasim and al-Mutawakkil and flourished largely at
Baghdad. Mutawakkil employed him formally as a calligrapher. On account of
his philosophical views, Mutawakkil got angry with him and confiscated all
his books. However, his works were returned later on.
Al-Kindi's skills cover many fields; he was a philosopher, mathematician,
physicist, astronomer, physician, geographer and even an expert in music. It
is amazing how he was able to make original contributions to all of these
He wrote four books in mathematics, on the number system and laid the
foundation of a large part of modern arithmetic. No doubt the Arabic system
of numerals was largely developed by al_Khawarizmi but al-Kindi also made
rich contributions to it. He also contributed to spherical geometry to help
him in astronomical studies.
In the field of chemistry, he opposed the idea that base metals can be
converted to precious metals. In contrast to prevailing alchemical views, he
was emphatic that chemical reactions cannot bring about the transformation
In physics, he made rich contributions to geometrical optics and wrote a
book on it. This book later on provided guidance and inspiration to such
eminent scientists like Roger Bacon.
In medicine, his major contribution comprises the fact that he was the first
one to systematically determine the doses to be administered of all the
drugs known at his time. This resolved the conflicting views prevailing
among physicians on the dosage that caused difficulties in writing recipes.
Very few information was known about the scientific aspects of music in his
time. He pointed out that the various notes that combine to produce harmony
have a specific pitch each. Thus, notes with too low or too high pitches are
non-pleasant. The degree of harmony depends on the frequency of notes, etc.
He also showed that when a sound is produced, it generates waves in the air,
which strike the eardrum. His work contains a notation on the determination
He was a prolific writer: the total sum of books he wrote was 241, the
prominent among which were divided as follows:
Astronomy 16, Arithmetic 11, Geometry 32, Medicine 22, Physics 12,
Philosophy 22, Logic 9, Psychology 5, Arts and Music 7.
In addition, various monographs he wrote deal with tides, astronomical
instruments, rocks, precious stones, etc.
Also he was an early translator of Greek works into Arabic, but this fact
has largely been over-shadowed by his numerous original writings. It is
unfortunate that most of his books are no longer extant, but those existing
speak very high of his standard of scholarship and contribution.
In Latin he was known as Alkindus, and Gherard of Cremona translated a great
number of his books into Latin. His books that were translated into Latin
during the Middle Ages comprise Risalah dar Tanjim, Ikhtiyarat al-Ayyam,
Ilahyat-e-Aristu, al-Mosiqa, Mad-o-Jazr, and Aduiyah Murakkaba.
Al-Kindi's influence on development of science and philosophy was
significant in the revival of sciences in that period. In the Middle Ages,
Cardano considered him as one of the twelve greatest minds. His works, in
fact, lead to further development of various subjects for centuries, notably
physics, mathematics, medicine and literature.
Syria like many other countries around the world
witnessed, during this period, the flood of refugees
from war troubled nations like Somalia, arrival of
people from Algeria during the brutal struggling between
the Mujahidun and the government, resettlement of the
Palestinians fleeing from sophisticated guns of the
Israelis as well as adventure of African migrants for