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Ikhwān al‐Ṣafā ˒

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The 48 treatises composed by the Ikhwān al‐Ṣafā ˒ (Brethren of Purity) constitute an encyclopedia of the sciences which has had a long and influential career in Islamic civilization. The collection was prepared by a group of scholars who preferred anonymity. This anonymity has generated considerable debate among historians over their identity. Current scholarship places the date of composition in the last half of the fourth AH/AD tenth century, and the place of composition in Basra. This collection of treatises continues to play an important role in the intellectual milieu of modern Islam, especially among groups influenced by Shi ˓ite and Ismā ˓īlī ideas.

The treatises contain a strong gnostic element, an emphasis on esoteric knowledge that exists within the exoteric or phenomenal features of everyday life but is accessible only to the initiated. This interest in esoteric or inner knowledge does not imply that they were uninterested in the physical world. It is necessary to have a...

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_9258
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References

  • Bausani, A. Scientific Elements in Ismā ˓īlī Thought: The Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. Ismā ˓ īlī Contributions to Islamic Culture. Ed. S. H. Nasr. Tehran: Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy, 1977. 121–40.

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  • Brentjes, S. Die erste Risāla der Rasā ˒il Iḫwān aṣ‐Ṣafā ˒ über elemetare Zahlentheorie – ihr mathematischer Gehalt und ihre Beziehungen zu spätantiken arithmetischen Schriften. Janus 71 (1981): 181–274.

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  • Diwald, S. Arabische Philosophie und Wissenschaft in der Enzyklopädie Kitāb Iḫwān aṣ‐Ṣafā ˒. 3 vols. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1975.

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  • Goldstein, B. A Treatise on Number Theory From a Tenth Century Arabic Source. Centaurus 10 (1964): 129–60.

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  • Nasr, S. H. An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964.

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  • De Young, G. Euclidean Geometry in Two Medieval Encyclopaedia. Al‐Masāq 14 (2002): 47–60.

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© 2008 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York

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Young, G.d. (2008). Ikhwān al‐Ṣafā ˒ . In: Selin, H. (eds) Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_9258

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