Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ

  • Gregg DeYoung
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-3934-5_9258-2

The 48 treatises composed by the Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ (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 Shīʿite and Ismāʿīlī 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...


Interior Angle Human Cooperation Islamic Civilization Exterior Angle Phenomenal Feature 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The American University in CairoCairoEgypt