Al-Farabi studied Arabic (he was a Turk by birth) and philosophy in Baghdad, where he attended the lectures of Abu Bishr Matta bin Yunus, who possessed, and also imparted to his pupils, the gift of expressing the deepest meanings in the easiest words. From Baghdad he went to Harran, where Yuhanna bin Khailan, the Christian philosopher, was teaching logic, and after his return he made all the works of Aristotle his special study.
It is related that the following note was found inscribed in Al-Farabi's handwriting on a copy of Aristotle's treatise on the soul: 'I have read over this book two hundred times.
' He also said that he had read over Aristotle's 'Physics' forty times, and felt that he ought to read it over again. Abul Kasim Said, of Cordova, says in his 'Classes of Philosophers' that 'Al-Farabi led all the professors of Islam to the right understanding of logic by unveiling and explaining its secrets, as well as by considering all those points which Al-Kindi had neglected, and by teaching the application of analogy to all occurring cases.
' In his enumeration and limitation of the sciences, Al-Farabi embraced the whole system of knowledge as it then existed. He went to Egypt, and afterwards to Damascus, where he died in A.D. 950. During his residence at Damascus he was mostly to be found near the borders of some rivulet, or in a shady garden; there he composed his works and received the visits of his pupils.
He was extremely abstemious, and entirely indifferent to wealth and poverty. The list of his works on philosophical and scientific subjects amount to sixty-one. Mr. Munk's 'Mélanges de Philosophie Juive et Arabe' (Paris, 1859) contains good articles on Al-Farabi and Al-Kindi.