Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues (Print ISSN: 1544-0036; Online ISSN: 1544-0044)

Research Article: 2021 Vol: 24 Issue: 6S

Some Aspects of Political Thought in Islam: Al-Farabi as a Model

Ahmed Aref Arheel Al-Kafarneh, Al-Balqa Applied University


 The study aims at revealing Al-Farabi's most important ideas in the field of politics and logic through writing the opinions of Utopia's people. Hence, the paper is an attempt to find out Al-Farabi'a's treatment of certain political issues in Islamic thought. The researcher has used the descriptive-analytical method to achieve the aim of the study and getting a clear conclusion. Likely, he has depended upon the historical method through reading al-Farabi's translations of Greek philosophical book for knowing how he had been influenced by these translations and his influence upon the Islamic philosophical thought.

Among the conclusions of the paper al-Farabi's casting the idea of the Islamic state despite his being influenced by the Greek philosophy and his endorsing his translation of Plato's Republic? The idealistic city from al-Farabi's view is that of different establishments that help its citizens to be near religious salvation. Likely, the caliph or emir must be a real philosopher who can realize the truth. There must be a society or group to rule people in what is known as democracy. The idealistic state in al-Farabi's view is that one ruled by the philosopher because this will be an imitation of the universe ruled by the Almighty Creator. He declared that the philosopher gets knowledge from the mind whereas the prophet gets it through Gabriel.


Political, Islamic Political Philosophy, Utopia


By reviewing Al-Farabi's political views in human sociology, we will find that although he did not break up any new ground in identifying the reasons that lead people to meet with others and this is what both Plato and Aristotle emphasized, but there is a strong influence which changed the direction of Al-Farabi's ideas, this influential is the Islamic faith through which al-Farabi was able to distinguish himself from various thinkers and scholars.

Therefore, we will find that this effect has a clear role in encouraging the community to cooperate in establishing the utopia and that the members of this community are equal, therefore we find that it has transcended the concept of the city in Greece and the consensus around one king (caliph). If we look closely at the city of Al-Farabi, we will find that there are fundamental differences between it and the city of Plato, as we find that the head of state for Al-Farabi is a philosopher and a prophet and that the president is not settled by one person in the city of Al-Farabi, but it is settled by one person in the city of Plato, then we find that Al-Farabi in his city welcomes all people from all classes, it has become a global city, while Plato’s city is the monopoly of one class. Al-Farabi used to believe that corruption is not in legislation as Plato sees it, but corruption lies in the corruption of people, so he did not talk about legislation.

Al-Farabi referred to the main duties of the state, namely: ensuring the right to life, the right to property, and happiness, as the state that does not guarantee to the citizen these matters is not democratic. Thus, he would have paved the way for pre-French philosophers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and others to these three duties, and as for property, Al-Farabi called for the distribution of property according to the Sunni equality theory. It can be said: Al-Farabi linked Greek philosophy and Islamic thought in terms of religion and state, thus he laid the foundation stone for Islamic political philosophy so he was considered as one of the pioneers in this field. Although Al-Farabi’s idea came from outside the state and authority, it was an attempt to remove and maintain the damage that afflicted countries during that period, and to ensure the establishment of the state to describe it as a basic necessity.

There is no doubt that the idea of utopian of Al-Farabi, who deserved the title of "the second teacher", as a result of a high degree of maturity and eloquence. Also, there is no doubt that he is a genius of Muslim philosophers, and is considered one of the pioneers of Islamic political thought.

Talking about the issue of Islamic political thought is considered one of the thorny topics that have raised great controversy, not because of the lack of Islamic heritage of these issues and the scarcity of political writing in Islamic political thought, but because of the spread of many foreign ideas, also some thinkers and scholars deepen the cultures of other peoples and then apply these connotations to these ideas On the common terms, concepts, and laws of the Islamic political heritage, and re-interpreting and formulating it with other meanings in favor of other cultures and not recognizing a political thought among Muslims until the end of the Abbasid state,this research came to shed light on the current problems of Islamic political thought.

These events and divisions affected Al-Farabi’s psyche, as he kept watching the events closely, which stimulated many ideas, so he established his virtuous city similar to the city of Plato. By merging philosophy and politics in a creative way full of ideas, pointing to his views that were against division and the multiplicity of leaders that were in the Abbasid state, at that stage, to regain their prestige and greatness among other nations. Therefore, Al-Farabi's books came to describe and address the issue of the optimal organization in the leadership of the state.

Problem and Questions of the Study

The problem of the study is to reveal the most important ideas of Al-Farabi in the field of politics and logic by writing the opinions of the people about the virtuous city and his defense of justice to achieve what he seeks through the virtuous city and its ruler, also he referred to the constructivism view of knowledge, so this research was an attempt to reveal Al-Farabi's treatment of specific policy issues in Islamic political thought. Therefore, the research tries to answer the following questions:

1- What is the definition of politics in Islamic thought, its importance, and evidence?

2- What are the intellectual political issues that Al-Farabi was exposed to?

3- Is Islamic political thought able to develop and renewal?

Hypothesis of the Study

The name Al-Farabi was associated with Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle until he became one of the most prominent scholars of Greek civilization and it translators until he became called the second teacher, so this research came to prove that there is a correlation between Greek philosophy and Islamic philosophy, this intellectual mixture led to the formation of a new Islamic intellectual policy on power.

Importance of Studying

The importance of this research comes from the idea that Al-Farabi dealt with, which is based on linking Greek philosophy with Islam, as Al-Farabi believed that the goal of politics is represented through human happiness. Therefore, Al-Farabi's goal was to clarify the relationship between religion and political philosophy, so this research is considered one of the tools of knowledge that will add some detail to inference on Islamic political thought in the late Abbasid era, and it is a modest attempt to touch the scientific contributions of Al-Farabi that affected Islamic political thought later.

Methodology of the Study

The descriptive-analytical method was used to achieve the aim of the study and getting a clear conclusion. Likely, he has depended upon the historical method through reading Al-Farabi's translations of Greek philosophical book for knowing how he had been influenced by these translations and his influence upon the Islamic philosophical thought.

Literary Biography

Al-Farabi: His Biography and Achievements

Al-Farabi is Abu Nasr Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Tarkhan Ibn Duzulg Al-Farabi, he was born in 357 AH of Turkish origin. Ibn Abi Isba`ah mentions that his father was Persian in origin and married a Turkish woman, his father was a commander in the Turkish army1 so his name was Muhammad while his nickname is Abu Nasr "the second teacher" after Aristotle," the first teacher "and there are several interpretations of this name, among them because he is considered the first and most important Arab explanation of Aristotle's logic,another opinion relates it to the impact he left on the development of science, and a third opinion explains the reason for this name because He transferred a book by Aristotle called “The Second Education” (Mujahid,1986)2 to the Arabic language. It can be said that Al-Farabi was born a Greek philosopher with an Arab-Muslim character that matches the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and does not contradict it.

Al-Farabi followed the words in line with the development that occurred to them until a single form was adopted, which was represented by the Arabic phrasing, so that linguistics was formed as a system that justifies this historical view3. It may be necessary to introduce Al-Farabi, because most of the ancient references did not agree to define him sufficiently, and there became overlaps and differences in information about his lineage and origin sometimes. However, we know that he was a watchman in one of the orchards in Baghdad, which indicates the simplicity of his life4.

The references did not mention extensive information about his upbringing and the first year of his life, which means that he learned in his hometown5 then he moved to Baghdad where he learned logic on the authority of Abu Bishr Matta bin Yunus and met the linguistic fundamentalist Ibn Al-Sarraj 6. Mental and logical, Baghdad was at that time a destination for scholars in various sciences, especially the rational and logical sciences, as the Caliphs translated the books of Isagogy, Galen, Aristotle, Plato, Stoics, and Sophistism. Perhaps they realized the usefulness of these sciences in protecting the Islamic faith, then al-Farabi traveled to Damascus and lived in Aleppo in the court of Sayf al-Dawla al-Hamdani until he passed away in 339 AH/950 CE. He was in the company of Prince Al-Hamdani in Damascus, where he was buried and many people prayed for him7.

We can say that he left an important scientific wealth which is considered as a reference for many studies in various fields, in addition to his influence on others in his methodology and opinions of Arabs and non-Arabs to the point that what was written about him in other cultures far exceeds what was written about him in the Arabic language, in the following are the most important books that were written about him:

• Science Statistics, Ahmed Amin, Egypt, translated into Spanish.

• The meanings of the mind, which is translated into more than one language.

• Fusus al-Hukm, translated into German - questionable ascribed to him.

• Eyes matters.

• The opinions of the people of the utopian city.

• Civil politics, with a translation in Hebrew (Shreim, 1960) 8.

• A book on public speaking and it has been mentioned about 20 volumes.

• Comments, Hyderabad edition 1933 AD.

• Expressions used in logic, edited by Mohsen Mahdi, 1986.

• The phrasebook on logic.

• Rhetoric book on logic9.

As for the commentaries, Aristotle wrote on rhetoric, sayings, fallacy, controversy, analogy, ethics, and superior effects, as he explained to Ptolemy Al-Majesty and Alexander Aphrodisian in an article on psychology (Rosenthal, 1961)10.

Social Life

Al-Farabi lived under the Abbasid state during the period in which it began to deteriorate due to the many problems it faced, whether inside or outside the Caliphate Palace, so Baghdad became weak and unable to impose its authority. Consequently, it became coveted by leaders and soldiers, as the Mamluks, Turks, Seljuks, and Daylam took control of the Abbasid caliphs. The Islamic state became divided into states, so the Buyid state was in Persia and Baghdad, the Hamdanid state in Mosul and Aleppo, the Toulouniyya and after it Al-Ikhchidiyah and then the Fatimids in Egypt, the Zahirians in North Africa, and the Samiites in Khorasan and beyond, just as Andalusia from the Umayyad era was an independent state from the caliphate (Al-Hashem, 2018)11. As for social life, the corruption that afflicted political life extended to social life, as it was widespread at that time the slave trade, the weakness of religious faith, and there was often a struggle between sects, and people were divided into classes based on wealth, in addition to the collapse of moral standards and dealing bribery, especially for state jobs (Al-Hashem, 2018)12.

Al-Farabi Style

Al-Farabi's style was distinguished by its ambiguity and abundance of brevity, there is no synonym or digression, it gives abundant meanings in imperative phrases, and the repetition method is used only in special cases. He is more interested in meaning than with the structure of phrases, so it is hard to understand his intentions, so the reader of Al-Farabi's writings feels complicated and difficult because his style is characterized by shortness in pronunciation and depth in meaning, perhaps the reason is that he does not write in his mother tongue, which is the Arabic language, that he learned in his old age when he Came to Baghdad as he was over forty years old13.

Chapter One

Defining politics in Islamic Thought, its Importance, and Evidence

This chapter talks about introductions in political science in Islamic thought. Everyone who wants to specialize in political science should know these basic elements; what is politics in Islamic thought, its importance, and the evidence that is based on. Therefore, this chapter focused on two topics, namely: Defining politics in Islamic thought, explaining its importance, and evidence.

Definition of Politics

Politics in Language

Political in the language is derived from politics, which means taking over the leadership of the people and leading them, and also means managing and reforming situations, it's plural is politicians, in other words, politics is to give instructions that are in the interest of the people14, thus it becomes clear that the word "politics" is purely Arabic. So, politics means the policy of society and the management of its internal and external affairs in a way that secures the public interest of the country and the people.

Procedural Definition

Thinkers have differed about the definition of politics, some of them see it as the professionalism of government and authority, that is, the exercise of power over people in society, and some of the thinkers define politics as measures to achieve religious, economic, and cultural values in people's behavior, their relationships and the system of life, and some of them see it as theories for organizing society and human relations15.

Definition of Politics in Islamic thought

Politics in Islam means controlling the individual’s movement and behavior in society through their leader or the person responsible for them by reference to Sharia rulings, in other word, it is: “managing the affairs of the human, and organizing its facilities following the spirit of Sharia and its total principles, even if nothing is mentioned about it in the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet”16. The author of the book “lectures on Sharia politics” defined it as: "Managing the affairs of the Islamic state that is not mentioned in any text or that are likely to change and change in the interests of the nation and line with the spirit of Sharia and its general principles"17. It is also said: It is leading people to their religious and worldly interests with the provisions of Islamic law, with a focus on interests and avoiding corruption, by the observance of the purposes that Islam came to preserve and protect, represented in the following five elements: religion, soul, reason, honor, and money.

Accordingly, every rule or system that is related to the affairs of the state and is in the interest of the state and is consistent with the provisions of Sharia and its fundamentalist rules and objectives, is considered a policy in Islamic thought, but if it does not have an interest or contradicts the Sharia, it is not considered politics in Islamic thought. It has nothing to do with Islam18.

The word politics is not mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, so some people may consider this to indicate that the Qur’an or Islam did not pay attention to politics. There is no doubt that this claim is not true because many words, although they are not written in an explicit expression in the Qur'an, their meaning refers to another meaning, for example, the word "belief", it is not mentioned in the Qur'an explicitly, even though the entire Qur'an refers to a belief, starting with a belief in God, his angels, his books and messengers, and the Last Day. The first central issue around which the verses of the Noble Qur'an revolve, as well as the word belief, although it is not explicitly mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, the Qur'an from its beginning to its end urges virtue, the adoration of noble values and ideals and avoiding vice.

The Almighty said, "We have given the House of Abraham the Book and Wisdom, and we have given them a great kingdom”. Also he mentioned from the family of Ibrahim Youssef, Who rescued his Lord and said: “My Lord, You have given me some authority, and you taught me some interpretation of events. (Youssef: 101), likewise, from those whom God has granted to become kings: Taloot, whom God sent asking for the people of Israel to fight with him, the Almighty said: "And their prophet said to them, “Allah has appointed Saul to be your king.”(Al-Baqarah: 247).

Likewise, Solomon God has given him wealth that no one has obtained on earth and among the kings mentioned in the Qur'an is Dhu al-Qarnayn whom God has bestowed upon him from everything until his possession expanded from the West to the East.19 The Almighty said: [And they ask you about Zul-Qarnain. Say, “I will tell you something about him.” We established him in the land, and we gave him the means of everything] (Al-Kahf: 83-84). Likewise, the Qur’an mentioned the Queen of Sheba, where her ruler was based on shura and not on tyranny and oppression. The Almighty said: She said, "O counselors, advise me in this matter of mine. I never decide unless you are present."(An-Naml: 32).

The Qur’an talked about some kings without praising or denigrating them, such as the king of Egypt who appointed Yousef to the properties of Egypt, as The Almighty said: [And thus we established Joseph in the land, so that he may settle wherever he pleased. We touch with our mercy whomever we will, and we never waste the reward of the good-doers.] (Yusuf: 56). Likewise, what he said about the immigrants: [Those who, when we establish them in the land, perform the prayer, and give regular charity, and command what is right, and forbid what is wrong. With Allah rests the outcome of events.”(Al-Hajj: 41)

The word “governance” and its derivatives came in many verses of the Noble Qur’an to clarify the administration of the Islamic state at home and abroad within just and wise policies20. The Almighty said: [This is what we relate to you of the Verses and the Wise Reminder (Al-Nisa: 58). “The Qur’an emphasized that the Qur’an would be the reference in rulings and warned against sedition and drifting with the rulings of the Jahiliyyah. The Almighty said: [And judge between them according to what Allah revealed. And do not follow their desires. And beware of them, lest they lure you away from some of what Allah has revealed to you. And if they turn away, know that Allah intends to strike them with some of their sins. A great many people are corrupt."(Al-Ma’aidah: 49).

Here we conclude from the verses of the Qur'an that the pre-Islamic regimes, capitalist and communist regimes, and the forces of ancient colonialism and injustice seek to question Muslims about their faith and the implementation of God's commands in the Qur'an in terms of governance, politics, economics, and jihad, provided that Islam remains a meaningless ritual that only governs aspects related to personal status Of people's lives.

Today we are in dire need of ruling by relying on the Noble Qur’an, at a time when many intellectual currents are trying to divide our unity and the best evidence of socialist and capitalist attempts in the past decades that resulted in defeats, occupation, and loss of the nation’s capabilities The Almighty said: [Is it the laws of the Age of Ignorance that they seek? And who is fairer in judgment than Allah, for a certain people?] (Al-Ma`idah: 50).

As for the Sunnah, it referred to politics in several places. Abu Hurairah said: The Prophet said: 21

It can be said: The oldest text mentioned the word politics in the sense of governance when Amr ibn al-Aas said to Abu Musa al-Ash'ari in describing Mu’awiyah: The policy that he follows in governance and administration is good, It was also mentioned on the authority of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, who said: The Arabs will fail when they give the ruling to those who do not follow the Sunnah and the Qur’an22.

The Second Topic: The Importance of Working with Politics in Islamic Thought

The importance of working with Islamic policy to keep pace with social developments and meet the requirements of renewed life, by devising rulings for new events and facts in the life of the human, especially for those which we do not find a legal text or consensus, so we measure based on the interest of society, at the same time is consistent with the rules of Islamic law without referring to man-made laws and policies that violate Sharia rules in many matters23.

Therefore, no one doubts the importance of Islamic policy in the life of the Muslim community, as it was present in the era of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as a leader, ruler, and head of the Islamic state in Medina and this was exemplified by his application of the penalty, so he made sure of the criminal, and he was not punished until the evidence proved. Also, the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered to burn the homes of those who neglected the Friday and congregational prayers, and commanded to break wine vessels, as he (peace be upon him) commanded to break the pots in which the forbidden meat was cooked and to kill drinker. These punishments were subject to change according to what the interest required, so Umar increased the penalty of flogging more than forty24.

The political systems in Islamic history were keen on preserving the Islamic entity and the existence of the Muslim nation for many centuries, therefore the commitment of Muslims to the Islamic political system was the reason for the religion to become strong and its rulings preserved, but later the nation weakened due to the abandonment of the legitimate policy, i.e., the religion,thus it occupied the land and sanctities in Palestine for a long time under the regimes based on subservience to policies and positivist ideas that only serve the interests of the nation's enemies; Because it reached us through them. Therefore, we also conclude that Islamic politics has gained its importance, because it focuses and cares about the interests of all people, and works to eliminate corruption in society, in addition to taking into account the conditions and capabilities of people, that is, it takes into account what serves the public interest of the nation.

Islamic policy has its greatest importance in preserving the interests of the individual, the family, society, the state, and the nation as a whole, and this matter is considered one of the forms of enjoining good and forbidding vice, as it works to control all activities in society, and it works to direct the behavior of the individual, just as Islamic policy It is considered part of the components of Islamic law and one of its branches, and it is derived from it, so whoever is aware of its objectives wins and succeeds and does not need the help of others.

Chapter Two: Al-Farabi's Theory of Society

The First Topic: The Truth of Human Cooperation and Meeting with Others

Al-Farabi believed that human beings by their nature need many things, whether material or intangible, that they cannot do by themselves. Therefore, he believes that human beings seek to achieve two goals from their cooperation and meeting with others. The first goal is because of a feeling of need, second is to reach perfection (happiness), thus, Al-Farabi sees that any person needs to meet and cooperates with others25. Rather, everyone in this society needs others, because each of them has his specialization or job in life that cannot be dispensed with. To achieve this purpose, people spread and settled around the earth in the form of cooperating sects, thus societies were formed26.

Al-Farabi believes that the cooperation and gathering between people should not be based on oppression and conquest, but rather on the basics of the unity of faith27. So, he sees that perfection can only be achieved through meeting or gathering with others. This is what he referred to in his book "The Opinions of the People of the Utopian City." A person can attain perfection only through meets many collaborators people who help and support each other until he attains perfection28.

For Al-Farabi, the highest goal of people meeting with each other is mental perfection, and he considers that the best cooperation is based on two things. The first is economic cooperation, which is based on distributing various jobs among different people. The second: cultural cooperation based on the acquisition of mental perfection from philosophers and prophets29.

However, Al-Farabi differs from Aristotle in defining the happiness that a person seeks by meeting others, as Al-Farabi distinguished between the worldly happiness in this worldly life and the ultimate happiness, which is the eschatological happiness, which is the ultimate goal that Al-Farabi seeks. so we notice that the effect of the Islamic faith on Al-Farabi's ideas as a Muslim becomes clear, as he determined the kind of happiness that a person should strive for which is the permanent happiness that comes after this worldly life, which he considers a path leading to extreme happiness30.

The Second Topic: Societies in Al-Farabi's Thought

First: The Integrated Societies

This is where social cooperation is fully achieved and fulfills its needs, which are divided into three types:

. High: it is at the level of the entire human community.

. Middle: It is at the level of a part of the human community.

. Law (Safari): It is the gathering of the people of the city, which represents a small part of the nation.

Second: Non-integrated Societies

They are societies in which cooperation is not fully developed, lacking money, and all the basic elements, which include the following:

The village: which he considered as the servant of the city.

The city parts: It is part of the city and its neighborhoods.

Meeting in a street, which is part of the locality.

Meeting in a house, which is the gathering of family members in one house, as the shortest of these societies is the family meeting, the lesser the street society, and the least of them all is the village community31.

A person's ultimate happiness is in a general agreement that includes the whole of humanity in a unified system and common laws based on love and peace, but despite Al-Farabi's idealism and his imagination, he feels that this kind of agreement is impossible to achieve or at least excluded because of the ambitions and selfishness of other countries, so he suffices to suggest the virtuous city system, as the smallest complete system in which one enjoys prosperity and happiness32.

As for the system, it is based on two complementary principles:

- The First: It is the willingness and authority of each member of the political community in terms of his knowledge, experience, and natural readiness.

- The Second: It is the responsibilities that individuals undertake to meet the needs and requirements of countries that would generally please them33.

Al-Farabi has defined a virtuous city in which all its members agree to cooperate on the good. Therefore, we find that he saw the gathering of people that aims at good and perfection which constitutes the virtuous nation, thus the achievement of goodness and perfection in the whole world34.

Chapter Three: Al-Farabi's Political Theory

The First Topic: The Characteristics of the Utopian City

The criterion by which Al-Farabi distinguished the virtuous cityfrom other cities is cooperation between its members to reach happiness35. He likens the utopia to the body whose members cooperate to preserve human life from any defect that afflicts any organ that damages other parts, Thus, the utopia of its members cooperate to achieve happiness and perfection. However, it differentiates between the president and the rest of the members as the relationship of God with other beings, which is the cause of its existence and its mastermind.

Al-Farabi divided the virtuous city into parts and ranks and defined the role of each part according to the capabilities of individuals in Al-Farabi city, which consists of36:

- The Honorable: They are wise men, thinkers, and decision-makers.

- Religious campaigners, preachers, rhetoricians, poets, and writers.

- The able people: They are engineers, doctors, astrologers, and others.

- The Mujahideen are the fighters.

- Financial: They are the producers, farmers, shepherds, sellers, and others.

The basis that binds these groups to each other is the cooperation between them to obtain happiness, and to maintain cooperation and balance in the countries. Al-Farabi set common principles on which everyone must unite, know, and apply them. Among these principles37:

- Knowing the first reason: the duty to exist.

- The world of the spheres and what each of the heavenly gems is described by.

- The world of the universe and corruption.

- The human being and his psychological powers and his connection to the active mind.

- The ruler of the virtuous cityand the presidents who come after him.

- The utopian city, its people and happiness.

- Counter-cities, their views, and their destiny.

-The virtuous nations and nations against them.

These principles can only be understood by a few people who are wise men and the general multitude - they learn them through approximation and clarification with pictures and proverbs that are known to them38.

The Second Topic: The Authority of Political Organization (Ruler or City Leader)

Al-Farabi considers the presidency of the state as the highest and most honorable position, as its position is seen as the position of the heart of the rest of the body, so the president has a special place in Al-Farabi’s utopia, as he is the source of life for it. Due to the importance of the role of the president, Al-Farabi assumes that the president is prepared for that by nature in terms of character and administrative faculty and that he has special talents so that he is the closest possible to perfection in the body, mind, morals, and religion39.

According to Al-Farabi, the ruler has the characteristics of a philosopher and a prophet. Al-Farabi describes his prince with all the virtues of humanity and all the virtues of philosophy, so he is a philosopher in the guise of a prophet40. Al-Farabi stipulated that the ruler of the virtuous cityshould have innate qualities and certain conditions of these qualities, which are41:

- Soundness of body.

- Accurate understanding.

- He should have a sharp memory of what he sees, hears, or understands, and realizes so that he almost does not forget it.

- Must be intelligence and quick-wittedness

- He should be eloquent and not fear the word of truth

- Love learning and acquiring knowledge.

- Love of truth and truthful men and hatred for falsehood and lairs

- Magnanimity, love honor, and detest for everything ugly and base.

- That money, the world, and all the luxuries of this world have no value.

- Must be fair, hating injustice.

- Must be bravery and firm resolve in doing the right thing.

As for the ruler acquired qualities, Al-Farabi indicated that he must have five characteristics:

- To be wise.

- He should be a scientist, who kept the laws and Sunnahs that the early adopters devised with new affairs.

- To be able to derive rulings from the Shari’a and follow the first imams.

- To be a guide according to the laws of the first Imam.

- To be courageous in taking instructions concerning war42.

However, Al-Farabi sensed that the previous innate qualities cannot be found in one person because they are the characteristics of the prophets. Therefore, he abandoned the idea of the president, the “Prophet”, provided that another person can be appointed if has the previously mentioned acquired qualities43 even if these qualities are not found in one person, but are found dispersed in several people, even if they are six, then a cabinet can be formed headed by someone who possesses the attribute of wisdom, because wisdom is the basic characteristic in which the establishment and continuation of the state are only with it44.

If there is no wise man to take over the rule, then civilization after some time will perish45. Therefore, these assumptions and views put forward by Al-Farabi raise the question of how to obtain such a president, and what is the role of emotion and reason? Then to what extent can Al-Farabi be correct in his assumptions? This is what leads us to talk about Al-Farabi's idealism:

1- It is known that Plato was an idealist in his republic, so Al-Farabi did not follow practical facts in his policy, but rather drew inspiration from Plato's book of the Al-Jomohour.

2- Al-Farabi's policy is the application of his theoretical philosophy that makes the active intellect the center of every idealistic and imaginative philosophy.

3- Al-Farabi was wrong when he thought that a single political system could be applied to all ages and all societies, that is, he did not take into account the development of these societies and their needs.

4- Al-Farabi believes that the inhabitants of a virtuous civilization should be rational without affection, neither greed nor deceit nor fraud, but merely service, sincerity in everything since these societies are not human societies but mental

5- The difficulty of obtaining a "purely rational" president without being influenced by any human or emotional inclinations. This is impossible.

Al-Farabi did not pay attention to make a clear provision and laws for his city because of the thoughts that the wise president is sufficient to organize politics in a just political organization.

Does all of the foregoing mean that Al-Farabi's views about his city were purely idealistic, far from realism and practicality? The answer is: No, there are many reasons and various situations that come close to Al-Farabi's realism, such as46:

1- That Al-Farabi did not discuss practical politics much, only what was mentioned in the book “Opinions of the People of Virtuous Civilization”, that he researched general political principles, not how to apply them.

2- Al-Farabi set the principle of cooperation as a prerequisite for a sound socio-political life.

3- Create the idea of a common culture in one community.

4- He permitted more than one person to participate in the same authority, and this is considered new in Islamic thought.

The Third Topic: The Antagonists of the Utopian City

Al-Farabi's interests were not limited to the virtuous cityonly but dealt with definition and analysis of the types of the non-virtuous citybased on their situations among true happiness and its purpose, that’s what he referred to in his book "Tahssel Alsa’adah.". The antagonists of the utopia are not just cities, but also people. The following explains the definition of the characteristics of each city separately:

The Ignorant City

It is a city whose people have never known happiness, and their goal in life is good things, such as the integrity of the bodies, the enjoyment of pleasure, and the manifestations of greatness. The people of this city consider that this is happiness. There are different types of ignorant cities such as:

1- The Necessary City: It is the city whose citizens tend to pursue the necessities of food, clothing, drink, and residence.

2- The City of Exchange (trade): It is the city whose citizens tend to accumulate wealth and make it their goal in life then do not make the right use of it.

3- The City of Meanness: It is the city whose citizens tend to enjoy food, drink, and body’s charms related to their taste, imagination, and tendency to play and a homer.

4- The City of Ambition: it is the city whose citizens intend to be famous such as Muhammad and Hussein among themselves.

5- The Power-Hungry City: it is the city whose citizens tend to defeat others and their purpose is centered on it.

6- The Voluptuous City (licentious): It is the city whose citizens tend and want to live according to their instincts and do what they wish unsanctioned.

The Wicked City

It is the city which knows happiness and its basis, so it knows almighty God, the Effective Reason, and all the people of the virtuous city know, but that their actions are the actions of the ignorant city’s people.

The Substituted City

It is the city whose opinions and actions are the same as the opinions and actions of the virtuous city, but it was replaced and transformed into the actions of the ignorant city.

The Misguided City

 It is the city that abusively believes in God and creatures, and that its ruler deceives the people by claiming that he receives a revelation. Moreover, they believe that happiness comes after death, and they are on the contrary with the virtuous city and its ruler.

Second:" The Deputies of the Cities"

Those are individuals, not cities, and they are the virtuous city's people, but they are not virtuous. The Farabi divided them to various types:

- The Pursuers: Those who visually pursue deeds that achieve their happiness, but they are seeking to take-over some purposes such as dignity and pride.

- The Distorters: Those who abuse the understanding of the true norms however they do not have the right perception for the sayings of the norms' maker to achieve non-virtuous purposes.

- The Fake Party: Those who tend to falsify the opinions and sayings of the norms' maker among themselves and others.

- The Ignorant Ages: Those who do not believe in the perception of a sincere and consider a person who perceives a lie. Also, the Farabi described the deputies as the thorns growing between the plants. He confirmed on the head of the virtuous state to educate and cure them to get rid of their wickedness47.

A General Evaluation of the Political Philosophy for the Farabi: 


Bridging between politics, religion, and manners, thus the political philosophy of the Farabi has advantages that indicate linking it with politics and manners. This is illustrated through his report: “the purpose of the civilian politics is to provide moral perfection for individuals by the aid of law and education." His political philosophy contradicts the philosophies that separate politics and manners (e.g., Machiavelli has raised the slogan of “the end justifies the means"). One of the advantages of his philosophy is that it is linked between philosophy and religion. His political philosophy contradicts the philosophies that separate between politics and religion (e.g., Liberalism which relies on Secularism).


Extremism in Bridging between Politics and Religion (mixing) and Establishing the Theocracy

Al-Farabi's political philosophy has many disadvantages, including his extremism in linking politics and religion to an extent where he made the relationship between them as a relationship of convergence and confusion as illustrated by his description of one of the theocratic forms; one of its most significant manifestations is that: '' the link of the head of the virtuous city with the active mind." the Theocracy contradicts with the Islam as a religion because Theocracy authorizes absolute religious power: prohibition and allowance powers without context "Restrictions." one of it is manifestation is taking-over the authority of the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice." This is entailed in the right of taking-over the political authority. Islam does not have an absolute religious power "prohibition and permission without a clear context." Almighty says: (But say not - for any false thing that your tongues may put forth,- "This is lawful, and this is forbidden," to ascribe false things to Allah. For those who ascribe false things to Allah, will never prosper? [An-Nahl: 166].

As well as the rulers do not have sole restricted religious authority in the political Islamic perspective, " "the propagation of virtue and the prevention of Vice," because this restricted religious authority is empowered by the public replacement for the Muslims brotherhood: ? Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong? [Al-Imran:110]. Moreover, rulers do not have sole restricted religious authority in the political Islamic perspective because it is assigned to the Muslim brotherhood in accordance to the general replacement too; Almighty says ?and whose rule [in all matters of common concern] is consultation among themselves?[Ash-Shura:38]. As for the ruler, he is a deputy and an agent for the Muslim brotherhood and it has the right to appoint him, monitor him, and dismiss him. Also, Abu Yali says (1- Extremism in bridging between politics and religion (mixing)and establishing the Theocracy: Al-Farabi's political philosophy has many disadvantages, including his extremism in linking politics and religion to an extent where he made the relationship between them as a relationship of convergence and confusion as illustrated by his description of one of the theocratic forms; one of its most significant manifestations is that: '' the link of the head of the virtuous city with the active mind." the Theocracy contradicts with the Islam as a religion because Theocracy authorizes absolute religious power: prohibition and allowance powers without context "Restrictions." one of it is manifestation is taking-over the authority of the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice." This is entailed in the right of taking-over the political authority.1- Extremism in bridging between politics and religion (mixing)and establishing the Theocracy: Al-Farabi's political philosophy has many disadvantages, including his extremism in linking politics and religion to an extent where he made the relationship between them as a relationship of convergence and confusion as illustrated by his description of one of the theocratic forms; one of its most significant manifestations is that: '' the link of the head of the virtuous city with the active mind." the Theocracy contradicts with the Islam as a religion because Theocracy authorizes absolute religious power: prohibition and allowance powers without context "Restrictions." one of it is manifestation is taking-over the authority of the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice." This is entailed in the right of taking-over the political authority.1- Extremism in bridging between politics and religion (mixing)and establishing the Theocracy: Al-Farabi's political philosophy has many disadvantages, including his extremism in linking politics and religion to an extent where he made the relationship between them as a relationship of convergence and confusion as illustrated by his description of one of the theocratic forms; one of its most significant manifestations is that: '' the link of the head of the virtuous city with the active mind." the Theocracy contradicts with the Islam as a religion because Theocracy authorizes absolute religious power: prohibition and allowance powers without context "Restrictions." one of it is manifestation is taking-over the authority of the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice." This is entailed in the right of taking-over the political authority.

Based on the foregoing, al-Farabi's political philosophy, despite its consistency with the Islamic political perspective in many cases, is not consistent with him in the issue of the relationship between religion and politics, because the Islamic political perspective makes the relationship between religion and the state a relationship of unity and correlation (not a relationship of confusion or congruence as In theocracy, as indicated above), because power in the Islamic political perspective is restricted to concepts and values of universal rules, whose source is certain texts that are definite and indicative, such as consultation, justice and equality ... and the relationship of distinction(and not a relationship of separation as in secularism) because Islam distinguishes between legislation as a fixed divine status and diligence as a change of good tidings.

The saying of the absolute priority of the spirit over matter and the influence of Platonism

The researcher believes that the reason for Al-Farabi's political philosophy is inconsistent with the Islamic political perspective in his case of the relationship between religion and politics. This is because Al-Farabi's attempt to reconcile Greek philosophy, in general, with Platonic philosophy, in particular, ended by his approach to the absolute priority of spirit over matter, which was said by the Platonic philosophy, and which targets to prove the spiritual existence to the extent of dematerializing it. "One of its manifestations is the denial of the existence of the real and physical world," And his departure - to some extent - from the balance between matter and spirit, which the Islamic view of existence says, based on the concept of moderation, which was mentioned in many texts, as in his Almighty saying: (Thus, have We made of you an Ummat justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves) [Al-Baqara:143], and he's saying: ?and who, whenever they spend on others, are neither wasteful nor niggardly but [remember that] there is always a just mean between those [two extremes]?[Al-Furqan:67]. The Islamic existential perspective is based on the fact that there is an absolute unseen existence limit, but does not eliminates, the actual existence of time and place and rejects the extremism of proving the physical existence,' the tangible' to the extent of denying the existence of an absolute metaphysical world- the paradoxes of this actual existence, which is limited in time and place - as in the materialistic philosophies of Western philosophy.

It also rejects extremism in proving the existence of metaphysical paradoxes, to the extent of the abolition of the "material - tangible" real existence, as in the ideal philosophies of Western philosophy, such as Platonic philosophy. Consistent with this, the Islamic perspective is based on the balance between this world and the Hereafter, and calls for fulfilling both the human and spiritual needs, says Almighty: (And some men say: "Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and defend us from the torment of the Fire!") [Al-Baqarah: 201]. Also, the prophet says-r-:" this lowly world is a (your) garden to the afterlife." The prophet rejects extremism in concentrating on the world to the extent of canceling the Hereafter and then calling for the satisfaction of man’s material needs and ignoring his spiritual needs. This was expressed in the Holy Quran by the term “inclination to earth," as in his Almighty saying: ?If it had been our will, we should have elevated him with our signs, but he inclined to the earth, and followed his vain desires. His similitude is that of a dog: if you attack him, he lolls out his tongue, or if you leave him alone, he (still) lolls out his tongue. That is the similitude of those who reject our signs; so relate the story; perchance they may reflect) [Al-A'raf: 176]. The prophet also rejects extremism in concentrating on the hereafter to the extent of canceling this world and then calling for the satisfaction of his spiritual needs and ignoring man's material needs. This was expressed in the Holy Quran by the term "monastic," as in the Almighty saying: (Say: Who hath forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah, which He hath produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, (which He hath provided) for sustenance? Say: They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Judgment. Thus do we explain the signs in detail for those who understand) [Al-Araf: 32].


Al-Farabi proposed the idea of the Islamic state system despite his deep influence by the Greek philosophy and his adoption of the translation of Plato's Republic book.

1- The ideal state, according to Al-Farabi, is the state of various institutions that help the citizens to make them closer to the idea of religious salvation.

2- The Khalifah, prince, or the head of the state must be a true philosopher and be able to comprehend what the truth is.

3- A state, in which there is no true philosopher, shall not be transformed into any individual with all the supreme powers to a ruler taking-over the absolute powers. Rather, there must be an organization or a group that collectively governs, and this is one of the indicators of contemporary democracy.

4- The model state, according to Al-Farabi, is ruled by a philosopher, because that is an imitation of the universe ruled by the Almighty God.

5- Religion parallels philosophy, and based on that, religion is a unifying factor for society.

6- Al-Farabi distinguished between the prophet and the philosopher in an issue, although knowledge according to Al-Farabi depends on the total abstraction of the tangible things if he clarifies that the philosopher receives knowledge from the active intellect, while the Prophet receives knowledge from a revelation through King Gabriel as its source.



  1. Al-Azhari (1964). (Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Al-Azhar): Tahdheeb Language, edited by Muhammad Abd al-Salam Haroun, Cairo.
  2. Al-Hashem, J. (1975). Al-Farabi study and texts. Beirut New Orient House Publications, 2018.
  3. Al-Fakhoury, H. (1993). History of Arab philosophy. Badran and Partners Foundation - Beirut.
  4. Al-Qaradawi, Y. (2007). Religion and politics rooting and dismissing suspicions. Dublin: European Council for Fatwa and Research.
  5. Al-Baradi, R. (1969). Leaders of Islamic thought in the light of modern thought. The Egyptian Renaissance Library, Cairo - First Edition.
  6. Al-Nasser, A.b.I.b. Sharia policy in Islamic jurisprudence. Lectures - College of Education, King Saud University.
  7. Al-Qaradawi, Y. (2000). Sharia policy in light of the texts and objectives of Sharia. The Message Foundation.
  8. Abbas, M. (1960). Notables of Islam Al-Farabi. House of Revival of Arab Books.
  9. Al-Ansari, A.A-D.A.A.-A. (1948). The aims of Islamic philosophy, its origin and development. Arab Thought House.
  10. Amin, O. (1949). Science statistics by Al-Farabi, Arab Thought House, Egypt – (First Edition).
  11. Ali, A.W.W. (1973). The virtuous city of Al-Farabi. The World of Books for Printing and Publishing, Cairo.
  12. Al-Farroukh, O. (1981). The new curriculum in philosophy for Arabic, house of science for the millions, Beirut (Second Edition).
  13. Al-Farabi (Abu Nasr d. 339 AH) (1968). Science statistics, Osman Amin's investigation, (3rd Edition). The Anglo-Egyptian Library, Cairo.
  14. Al-Farabi (Abu Nasr d. 339 AH) (1968). Expressions used in logic, edited by Mohsen Mahdi. The Catholic Press, Beirut.
  15. Al-Farabi (Abu Nasr d. 339 AH) (1970). Al-Hraf, edited by Mohsen Mahdi, Beirut.
  16. Al-Farabi, A.N. (1982). “An essay on the laws of the making of poets,” included, The Art of Poetry, authored by Aristotle, with the old Arabic translation and commentaries by al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd, translated from Greek, explained and edited by Abd al-Rahman Badawi, House of Culture, Beirut-Lebanon. Farouk Saad - with Al-Farabi and the Virtuous City - Dar Al-Shorouk - Beirut (First Edition).
  17. Al-Qamoos Al Muheet by Fayrouz Abadi, Part 2, Chapter of Seine
  18. Al-Yazji, K. (1977). The Notables of Arab Philosophy - House of Knowledge for the Millions - Beirut (First Edition).
  19. Al-Yazji, K. (1979). Milestones of Arab Thought in the Medieval Era, House of Knowledge for the Millions - Beirut. I 7
  20. Al-Mawardi (n.d). The Sultani Rulings. Cairo, Dar Al-Hadith, 210
  21. Al-Masir, M.S.A. (n.d). The ideal society in philosophical thought and the position of Islam on it, Cairo, Dar Al-Turath Library, The Qur’an Sciences Foundation - d.
  22. Al-Shamali, A. (1965). Studies in the History of Arab and Islamic Philosophy, and the Archeology of Its Men, Dar Beirut, Fourth Edition.
  23. Al-Rahman, M.M.A. (n.d). From Greek philosophy to Islamic philosophy - Madinah Publications - Beirut.
  24. Al-Waseet Dictionary, (1/462).
  25. Boer, T.C. D. (1957). History of Philosophy in Islam, translated by Dr. Muhammad Abd al-Hadi Abu Raida, Cairo, (Fourth Edition).
  26. Benali, A. (n.d). Political philosophy of Al-Farabi. Al-Tale'ih house for printing and publishing, Beirut.
  27. El-Deriny, F. (2013). Characteristics of Islamic legislation in politics and governance. Beirut, Al-Risala House Beirut.
  28. Encyclopedia of Politics, Abd al-Wahhab al-Kayyali and others, Beirut, General Foundation.
  29. Farroukh, O. (1980). The genius of the Arabs in science and philosophy, (Fourth Edition). Publications of the modern library - Beirut.
  30. Farroukh, O. (1966). Arab thought, house of science for the millions. Beirut.
  31. Farroukh, O. (1972). History of Arab thought to the days of Ibn Khaldun - House of Science for the Millions – Beirut.
  32. Fadhel, M. (1970). Arab and Islamic political thought, between its past and present. Baghdad, National Publishing House.
  33. Fakhry, M. (1974). History of Islamic philosophy, a transfer to the Arabic Kamal Al-Yazji. Arab Publishing House.
  34. Hassan, H.I. (n.d). History of political, religious, cultural and social Islam - Part Three. House of Revival of Arab Heritage - Beirut.
  35. Issa'ah I.A. (Muwaffaq al-Din bin Yusuf d.668 AH): The eyes of the news in the classes of doctors, an investigation by Nizar Rida, Al Hayat Library House, Beirut, Dr. T.
  36. Ibrahim, M.Y. (2011). Contemporary Political Participation in the Light of Sharia Politics. Cairo. Yusr House 1st floor.
  37. Jezzini, (1967). The book of opinions of the people of the virtuous city – The House of Al Qamoos Al-Hadith - Beirut.
  38. Jehamy, G. (1994). The linguistic problem in arabic philosophy, Al Sharq House, Beirut.
  39. Jumaa, M.L. (1927). History of the Philosophers of Islam, in the East and the Maghreb. Al Maarif Press - Egypt.
  40. Madkour, I. (1983). Abu Nasr Al-Farabi, on the millennium anniversary of his death 95 AD, the Egyptian General Book Authority 1983.
  41. Madkour, I. (1947). In Islamic philosophy, method and application, House of Revival of Arab Books, 1947.
  42. Manzur, I., & Al-Arab, L. (n.d). (6/109,108).
  43. Mahmoud, I.A.H. (n.d). Philosophical Thinking in Islam - Dar Al Maaref.
  44. Mujahid, H.T. (1986). Political thought from Plato to Muhammad Abdo, Anglo-Egyptian Library, 1986 CE.
  45. Mazaj, A. (1969). Milestones of Philosophical Thought, in the Middle Ages, The Anglo-Egyptian Library, Cairo - First Edition.
  46. Nassar, M.A.A.-S. (1982). Issues and Problems in Islamic Philosophy - Part One, The Anglo-Egyptian Library.
  47. Rayan, M.A.A. (1970). History of philosophical thought in Islam. House of Knowledge, University of Alexandria.
  48. Rosenthal (1961). (Franner): Methods of Muslim scholars in scientific research, translated by Anis Freiha, 1961.
  49. Saliba, J. (1975). From Plato to Avicenna, Lectures on Arabic Philosophy, (4th Edition). Al-Andalus House, 1975.
  50. Shreim, J. (1960). Al-Farabi, flags of Arab thought, commercial office for printing and publishing, Beirut, 1960.
  51. The merits of interpretation by Al Qasimi, 11/89.
  52. The kingdom of morocco, ministry of national education - philosophical thought in islam, knowledge library 1983-1984.
  53. ……… (1993). Lectures on Sharia Politics by Abdel-Al Atwa, Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University - Department of Culture and Publishing.
Get the App