جابر بن حیان

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جابر ابن حیان
Jabir ibn Hayyan.jpg
یک نقاشی از جابر که در قرن ۱۵ میلادی در اروپا کشیده شده
زادروزاحتمالاً ۷۲۱ میلادی
طوس، خراسان، خلافت اموی[۱]
درگذشتاحتمالاً ۸۱۵ میلادی
کوفه[نیازمند منبع]
آرامگاهکوفه
محل زندگیعراق
ملیتایرانی[نیازمند منبع]
تبارایرانی[۲][۳][۴][۵]
نقش‌های برجستهکیمیاگری، نجوم، اخترشناسی، پزشکی، فلسفه، فیزیک
دورهدوران طلایی اسلام
دیناسلام [نیازمند منبع]
آثارالکتب الکمیاء

ابوموسی جابر بن حیان (زادهٔ حدود سال ۱۰۰ هجری شمسی معادل با ۷۲۱ میلادی در طوس[۱] – درگذشتهٔ حدود سال ۱۹۴ هجری شمسی معادل با ۸۱۵ میلادی در کوفه[۶]) دانشمند و کیمیاگر و فیلسوف ایرانی[۷][۸][۹][۲] بود. او را پدر یا بنیان‌گذار علم شیمی اولیه نامیده‌اند و بسیاری از روش‌ها (مانند تقطیر) و انواع ابزارهای اساسی شیمی مانند قرع و انبیق را به او نسبت می‌دهند.

زندگی‌نامه

یک نقاشی از جابر

ابوموسی جابر بن حیان، کیمیاگر برجستهٔ ایران، در سال صد هجری شمسی در شهر توس از توابع خراسان متولد شد. مدت کوتاهی پس از تولدش، پدر او که یک داروساز شناخته شده و پیرو مذهب شیعه بود، به دلیل نقشی که در براندازی حکومت اموی داشت، دستگیر شد و به قتل رسید. جابر به نوشته‌های باقی‌مانده از پدرش علاقه‌مند شد و به ادامهٔ حرفهٔ او پرداخت. او با شوق و علاقه به یادگیری علوم دیگر نیز می‌پرداخت. همین، سبب هجرت او از توس به کوفه که در آن زمان مرکز علمی جهان بود شد. کتاب‌ها و رسالات متعدد جابر، سال‌ها بعد از او، توجه کیمیاگران اروپایی را به خود جلب کرد و سال‌ها از آن به عنوان منبع معتبری استفاده می‌کردند. به گفتهٔ آن‌ها، این کتاب‌ها تأثیر عمیقی بر تغییر و تصحیح دیدگاه کیمیاگران غربی گذاشته‌است. عاقبت، جابر بن حیان، در سال صد و نود و چهار ه‍.ش (معادل با ۸۱۵ میلادی) در شهر کوفهٔ درگذشت.

شاگردی جعفر صادق

در اعتقادات مرتبط با شیعه همواره جابر یکی از شاگردان بزرگ امام ششم شیعیان جعفر صادق معرفی می‌شود[۶] و آنچه مسلم است این است که جابر خود را شاگرد جعفر صادق می‌دانسته از سویی دیگر برخی مستشرقین غربی مانند هانری کوربن در زمینه شاگردی جابر برای جعفر صادق با احتیاط تشکیک کرده[۱۰] یا مانند الیزر پاول کراوس، مستشرق یهودی، آن را از اساس رد کرده‌اند؛[۱۱] اگر چه پاسخ‌هایی نیز در رد ادعای کراوس از جمله رساله «مسئله جابری» منتشر شده‌است.[۱۲]

اختلاف نظر در مورد تاریخ تولد وی

در مورد تاریخ دقیق تولد و مرگ و محل تولد وی اختلاف نظر وجود دارد. به گفته برخی وی متولد سال ۱۰۰ هجری شمسی و وفات وی در سال ۱۹۴ هجری شمسی بوده‌است.[۶] برخی نیز او را متولد سال ۱۰۳ هجری شمسی دانسته و وفات وی را در سال ۲۰۰ هجری شمسی ذکر کرده‌اند.[۱۳] با این حال دانشنامهٔ بریتانیکا وی را متولد سال ۷۲۱ میلادی و وفات وی را در سال ۸۱۵ میلادی (نزدیک به هزار و دویست سال پیش) ثبت کرده‌است.[۸]

منزلت جابر در علم شیمی

جابربن حیان نخستین شیمیدان ایرانی است. وی اولین کسی است که به علم شیمی شهرت و آوازه بخشید و احتمالا نخستین مسلمانی است که شایستگی کسب عنوان شیمیدان را دارد.

اکسیر و عقیده جابر دربارهٔ آن

عقیده جابر این بود همچنان که طبیعت می‌تواند اشیاء را به یکدیگر تبدیل کند، مانند تبدیل خاک و آب به گیاه و تبدیل گیاه به موم و عسل به‌وسیله زنبور عسل و تبدیل قلع به نقره در زیر زمین و … کیمیاگر نیز می‌تواند با تقلید از طبیعت و استفاده از تجربه‌ها و آزمایشها همان کار طبیعت را در مدت زمانی کوتاهتر انجام دهد. اما کیمیاگر برای اینکه بتواند یک شیء را به شیء دیگر تبدیل کند، به‌وسیله‌ای نیازمند است که اصطلاحاً آن را اکسیر می‌نامند.

اکسیر در علم کیمیا، به منزله دارو در علم پزشکی است. جابر اکسیر را که از آن در کارهای کیمیایی خود استفاده می‌کرد، از انواع موجودات سه‌گانه (فلزات، حیوانات و گیاهان) به دست می‌آورد. او خود، در این زمینه می‌گوید: هفت نوع اکسیر وجود دارد:

  • اکسیر فلزی: اکسیر بدست آمده از فلزات
  • اکسیر حیوانی: اکسیر بدست آمده از حیوانات
  • اکسیر گیاهی: اکسیر بدست آمده از گیاهان
  • اکسیر حیوانی - گیاهی: اکسیر بدست آمده از امتزاج مواد حیوانی و گیاهی
  • اکسیر فلزی - گیاهی: اکسیر بدست آمده از امتزاج مواد فلزی و گیاهی
  • اکسیر فلزی - حیوانی: اکسیر بدست آمده از امتزاج مواد فلزی و حیوانی
  • اکسیر فلزی - حیوانی - گیاهی: اکسیر بدست آمده از امتزاج مواد فلزی و گیاهی و حیوانی

نگارخانه ابزار کیمیاوی

عقیده جابر بن حیان دربارهٔ فلزات

جابر هفت فلز: طلا، نقره، مس، آهن، سرب، جیوه و قلع را «فلزات اصلی» می‌دانست. این فلزات به تعبیر جابر اساس صنعت کیمیا را تشکیل می‌دهند. به عبارت دیگر قوانین علم کیمیا بر این هفت فلز استوار است. با این حال، خود این کانی‌ها از ترکیب دو کانی اساسی، یعنی گوگرد و جیوه بوجود می‌آیند که به نسبتهای مختلف، در دل زمین، باهم ترکیب می‌شوند؛ بنابراین، تفاوت میان فلزات هفتگانه تنها یک تفاوت عرضی وجود دارد نه جوهری که محصول تفاوت نسبت ترکیب گوگرد و جیوه در آن است. اما طبیعت هر یک از گوگرد و جیوه تابع دو عامل زمینی و زمانی است. به عبارت دیگر، تفاوت خاک زمینی که این دو کانی در آن بوجود می‌آیند و همچنین تفاوت وضعیت کواکب به هنگام پیدایش آن‌ها موجب می‌شود که طبیعت گوگرد یا جیوه تفاوت پیدا کند.

تعریف جابر از بعضی فلزات و تبدیل آن‌ها

  • قلع

دارای چهار طبع است. ظاهر آن، سرد و تر و نرم و باطنش گرم و خشک و سخت … پس هرگاه صفات ظاهر قلع به درون آن برده شود و صفات باطنی آن به بیرون آورده شود، ظاهرش خشک و در نتیجه قلع به آهن تبدیل می‌شود.

  • آهن

از چهار طبع پدید آمده‌است که از میان آنها، دو طبع، یعنی حرارت و خشکی شدید به ظاهر آن اختصاص دارد و دو طبع دیگر یعنی برودت و رطوبت به باطن آن. ظاهر آن، سخت و باطن آن نرم است. ظاهر هیچ جسمی به سختی ظاهر آن نیست. همچنین نرمی باطن آن به اندازه سختی ظاهرش است. از میان فلزات جیوه مانند آهن است. زیرا ظاهر آن آهن و باطن آن جیوه‌است.

  • طلا

ظاهر آن گرم و تر و باطنش سرد و خشک است. پس جمیع اجسام (فلزات) را به این طبع برگردان. چون طبعی معتدل است.

  • زهره (مس)

گرم و خشک است ولی خشکی آن از خشکی آهن کمتر است زیرا طبع اصلی مس، همچون طلا، گرم و تر بوده‌است اما درآمدن خشکی بر آن، آن را فاسد کرده‌است؛ لذا با از میان بردن خشکی، مس به طبع اولیه خود برمی‌گردد.

  • جیوه

طبع ظاهری آن سرد و تر و نرم و طبع باطنی‌اش گرم و خشک و سخت است؛ بنابراین ظاهر آن، همان جیوه و باطنش آهن است. برای آن که جیوه را به اصل آن یعنی طلا برگردانی، ابتدا باید آن را به نقره تبدیل کنی.

  • نقره

اصل نخست آن، طلا است ولی با غلبه طبایع برودت و یبوست، طلا به درون منتقل شده‌است و در نتیجه ظاهر فلز، نقره و باطن آن طلا گردیده‌است؛ بنابراین اگر بخواهی آن را به اصلش یعنی طلا برگردانی، برودت آن را به درون انتقال ده، حرارت آن آشکار می‌شود. سپس خشکی آن را به درون منتقل کن، در نتیجه، رطوبت آشکار و نقره تبدیل به طلا می‌شود.

از آثار وی

  • مجسطی اقلیدس
  • خواص موازین
  • السبعین
  • صندوق الحکمه
  • کتاب الاجساد الاربعه
  • کتاب المجردات[۱۴]

دستاوردها

نوآوری انواع گوناگونی از وسایل آزمایشگاهی، از جمله انبیق به اسم او ثبت شده‌است. کشف مواد شیمیایی متعددی همچون هیدرو کلریک اسید، نیتریک اسید، تیزاب (مخلوطی از دو اسید یاد شده که از جمله اندک موادی است که طلا را در خود حل می‌کند)، سیتریک اسید (جوهر لیمو) و استیک اسید (جوهر سرکه)، همچنین معرفی فرایندهای تبلور و تقطیر که هر دو سنگ بنای شیمی امروزی به‌شمار می‌آیند، از جمله یافته‌های اوست. او همچنین یافته‌های دیگری دربارهٔ روش‌های استخراج و خالص سازی طلا، جلوگیری از زنگ زدن آهن، حکاکی روی طلا، رنگرزی و نم ناپذیر کردن پارچه‌ها و تجزیهٔ مواد شیمیایی ارائه داد. از جمله اختراع‌های دیگر او، قلم نوری است. قلمی که جوهر آن در تاریکی نیز نور می‌دهد. (احتمالاً با استفاده از خاصیت فسفرسانس این اختراع را انجام داده‌است) در آخر، بذر دسته‌بندی امروزی عنصرها به فلز و نافلز را می‌توان در دست نوشته‌های وی یافت.

پانویس

  1. ۱٫۰ ۱٫۱ Tus, V. Minorsky, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. X, ed. P.J. Bearman, T. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs, (Brill, 2000), 741.
  2. ۲٫۰ ۲٫۱ *William R. Newman, Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey, an American Alchemist in the Scientific Revolution, Harvard University Press, 1994. p. 94: "According to traditional bio-bibliography of Muslims, Jabir ibn Hayyan was a Persian alchemist who lived at some time in the eighth century and wrote a wealth of books on virtually every aspect of natural philosophy"
    • William R. Newman, "The Occult and Manifest Among the Alchemists", in F. J. Ragep, Sally P Ragep, Steven John Livesey, Tradition, Transmission, Transformation: Proceedings of Two Conferences on pre-Modern science held at University of Oklahoma, Brill, 1996/1997, p. 178: "This language of extracting the hidden nature formed an important lemma for the extensive corpus associated with the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan"
    • هانری کوربن، "The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy", translated by Joseph H. Rowe, North Atlantic Books, 1998. p. 45: "The Nisba al-Azdin certainly does not necessarily indicate Arab origin. Geber seems to have been a client (mawla) of the Azd tribe established in Kufa"
    • Tamara M. Green, "The City of the Moon God: Religious Traditions of Harran (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World)", Brill, 1992. p. 177: "His most famous student was the Persian *Jabir ibn Hayyan (b. circa 721 C.E.), under whose name the vast corpus of alchemical writing circulated in the medieval period in both the east and west, although many of the works attributed to Jabir have been demonstrated to be likely product of later Ismaili' tradition."
    • David Gordon White, "The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India", University of Chicago Press, 1996. p. 447
    • William R. Newman, Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature, University of Chicago Press, 2004. p. 181: "The corpus ascribed to the eighth-century Persian sage Jabir ibn Hayyan..."
    • Wilbur Applebaum, The Scientific revolution and the foundation of modern science, Greenwood Press, 1995. p. 44: "The chief source of Arabic alchemy was associated with the name, in its Latinized form, of Geber, an eighth-century Persian."
    • Neil Kamil, Fortress of the Soul: Violence, Metaphysics, and Material Life in the Huguenots New World, 1517–1751 (Early America: History, Context, Culture), JHU Press, 2005. p. 182: "The ninth-century Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan, also known as Geber, is accurately called pseudo-Geber since most of the works published under this name in the West were forgeries"
    • Aleksandr Sergeevich Povarennykh, Crystal Chemical Classification of Minerals, Plenum Press, 1972, v.1, ISBN 0-306-30348-5, p.4: "The first to give separate consideration to minerals and other inorganic substances were the following: The Persian alchemist Jabir (721–815)..."
    • George Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, Pub. for the Carnegie Institution of Washington, by the Williams & Wilkins Company, 1931, vol.2 pt.1, page 1044: "Was Geber, as the name would imply, the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Haiyan?"
    • Dan Merkur, in The psychoanalytic study of society (eds. Bryce Boyer, et al.), vol. 18, Routledge, ISBN 0-88163-161-2, page 352: "I would note that the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan developed the theory that all metals consist of different 'balances' ..."
    • Anthony Gross, The Dissolution of the Lancastrian Kingship: Sir John Fortescue and the Crisis of Monarchy in Fifteenth-century England, Paul Watkins, 1996, ISBN 1-871615-90-9, p. 19: "Ever since the Seventy Books attributed to the Persian alchemist Jabir Ibn Hayyan had been translated into Latin ...." خطای یادکرد: برچسب <ref> نامعتبر؛ نام «SourcesP» چندین بار با محتوای متفاوت تعریف شده‌است. (صفحهٔ راهنما را مطالعه کنید.).
  3. Kraus, P. (1962). "Djābir B. Ḥayyān". Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2 (2nd ed.). Brill Academic Publishers. pp. 357–359. As for Djābir's historic personality, Holmyard has suggested that his father was "a certain Azdī called Hayyan, druggist of Kufa... mentioned... in connection with the political machinations that were used by many people, in the eighth century, finally resulted in the overthrow of the Umayyad dynasty.
  4. Holmyard, Eric John, "Introduction" to The Works of Geber, translated by Richard Russell (London: Dent, 1928), p. vii: "Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan, generally known merely as Jabir, was the son of a druggist belonging to the famous South Arabian tribe of Al-Azd. Members of this tribe had settled at the town of Kufa, in Iraq, shortly after the Muhammadan conquest in the seventh century A.D. , and it was in Kufa that Hayyan the druggist lived."
  5. https://archive.org/details/WorksOfGeber
  6. ۶٫۰ ۶٫۱ ۶٫۲ برگرفته از پشت جلد کتاب شیمی ۳ سال سوم دبیرستان
  7. Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan (Arabian alchemist) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  8. ۸٫۰ ۸٫۱ "Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2008. خطای یادکرد: برچسب <ref> نامعتبر؛ نام «britannica.com» چندین بار با محتوای متفاوت تعریف شده‌است. (صفحهٔ راهنما را مطالعه کنید.).
  9. S.N. Nasr, "Life Sciences, Alchemy and Medicine", The Cambridge History of Iran, Cambridge, Volume 4, 1975, p. 412: "Jabir is entitled in the traditional sources as al-Azdi, al-Kufi, al-Tusi, al-Sufi. There is a debate as to whether he was an Arab from Kufa who lived in Khurasan or a Persian from Khorasan who later went to Kufa or whether he was, as some have suggested, of Syrian origin and later lived in Persia and Iraq".
  10. The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy By Henry Corbin Translated by Joseph H. Rowe Published by North Atlantic Books, 1998 ISBN 1-55643-269-0, 9781556432699
  11. Jabir ibn Hayyan. Mukhtar rasaʾil Jabir Ibn Hayyan. Edited by Paul Kraus. Cairo: al-Khanji, 1935.
  12. مسئله جابری (نوع‌شناسی اشارات جابر بن حیان به امام جعفر صادق (ع))عالم زاده، هادی - کوهکن، رضا، تاریخ «اسلام پژوهی» پاییز و زمستان ۱۳۸۴ - شماره ۱
  13. Islamic Medical Manuscripts
  14. حمیرا زمردی-فاطمه مهری (زمستان ۱۳۹۳فصلنامه تخصصی سبک‌شناسی نظم و نثر فارسی (بهار ادب)-شماره پیاپی۶۲-سال‌هفتم-شماره‌چهارم، ص. صفحه۳۵۴–۳۳۹

منابع

پیوند به بیرون

Jabir ibn Hayyan
Jabir ibn Hayyan.jpg
15th-century European portrait of "Geber", Codici Ashburnhamiani 1166, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence
TitleFather of Chemistry
Personal
Born
Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan

c. 721 CE
Tus, Khurasan, Umayyad Caliphate[1]
Diedc. 815 CE
ReligionIslam
EraIslamic Golden Age
DenominationShia[2]
Main interest(s)Alchemy and Chemistry, Astronomy, Astrology, Medicine and Pharmacy, Philosophy, Physics, philanthropist
Notable work(s)Kitab al-Kimya, Kitab al-Sab'een, Book of the Kingdom, Book of the Balances, Book of Eastern Mercury, etc.
Muslim leader

Abū Mūsā Jābir ibn Hayyān (Arabic/Persian جابر بن حيان, often given the nisbas, al-Azdi, al-Kufi, al-Tusi or al-Sufi; fl. c. 721 – c. 815),[3] is the supposed[4] author of an enormous number and variety of works in Arabic often called the Jabirian corpus.[5] The scope of the corpus is vast and diverse covering a wide range of topics, including alchemy, cosmology, numerology, astrology, medicine, magic, mysticism and philosophy.[6]

Popularly known as the father of chemistry, Jabir’s works contain the oldest known systematic classification of chemical substances, and the oldest known instructions for deriving an inorganic compound (Sal ammoniac or Ammonium chloride) from organic substances (such as plants, blood, and hair) by chemical means.[7]

As early as the 10th century, the identity and exact corpus of works of Jabir was in dispute in Islamic circles.[8] The authorship of all these works by a single figure, and even the existence of a historical Jabir, are also doubted by modern scholars.[4][9] Instead, Jabir ibn Hayyan is seen more like a pseudonym to whom "underground writings" by various authors became ascribed.[10]

Some Arabic Jabirian works (e.g., the “Book of Mercy”, and the “Book of Seventy”) were translated into Latin under the Latinized name "Geber",[11] and in 13th-century Europe an anonymous writer, usually referred to as pseudo-Geber, started to produce alchemical and metallurgical writings under this name.[12]

Biography[edit]

Early references[edit]

In 988 Ibn al-Nadim compiled the Kitab al-Fihrist which mentions Jabir as a spiritual follower, companion and as a student to Jafar as-Sadiq, the sixth Shia Imam. In another reference al-Nadim reports that a group of philosophers claimed Jabir was one of their own members. Another group, reported by al-Nadim, says only The Large Book of Mercy is genuine and that the rest are pseudographical. Their assertions are rejected by al-Nadim.[8] Joining al-Nadim in asserting a real Jabir; Ibn-Wahshiyya ("Jaber ibn Hayyn al-Sufi ...book on poison is a great work...") Rejecting a real Jabir; (the philosopher c. 970) Abu Sulayman al-Sijistani claims the real author is one al-Hasan ibn al-Nakad al-Mawili. The 14th century critic of Arabic literature, Jamal al-Din ibn Nubata al-Misri declares all the writings attributed to Jabir doubtful.[6]

Life and background[edit]

According to the philologist-historian Paul Kraus (1904–1944), Jabir cleverly mixed in his alchemical writings unambiguous references to the Ismaili or Qarmati movement. Kraus wrote: "Let us first notice that most of the names we find in this list have undeniable affinities with the doctrine of Shi'i Gnosis, especially with the Ismaili system."[13] Henry Corbin believes that Jabir ibn Hayyan was an Ismaili.[14] Jabir was a natural philosopher who lived mostly in the 8th century; he was born in Tus, Khorasan, in Persia,[3] well known as Iran then ruled by the Umayyad Caliphate. Jabir in the classical sources has been variously attributed as al-Azdi, al-Kufi, al-Tusi, al-Sufi, al-Tartusi or al-Tarsusi, and al-Harrani.[15][16] There is a difference of opinion as to whether he was an Arab[17] from Kufa who lived in Khurasan, or a Persian[18][19][20] from Khorasan who later went to Kufa[15] or whether he was, as some have suggested, of Syrian Sabian[21] origin and later lived in Persia and Iraq.[15] In some sources, he is reported to have been the son of Hayyan al-Azdi, a pharmacist of the Arabian Azd tribe who emigrated from Yemen to Kufa (in present-day Iraq).[22] while Henry Corbin believes Geber seems to have been a non-Arab client of the 'Azd tribe.[23] Hayyan had supported the Abbasid revolt against the Umayyads, and was sent by them to the province of Khorasan to gather support for their cause. He was eventually caught by the Umayyads and executed. His family fled to Yemen,[22][24] perhaps to some of their relatives in the Azd tribe,[25] where Jabir grew up and studied the Quran, mathematics and other subjects.[22] Jabir's father's profession may have contributed greatly to his interest in alchemy.

After the Abbasids took power, Jabir went back to Kufa. He began his career practicing medicine, under the patronage of a Vizir (from the noble Persian family Barmakids) of Caliph Harun al-Rashid. His connections to the Barmakid cost him dearly in the end. When that family fell from grace in 803, Jabir was placed under house arrest in Kufa, where he remained until his death.

It has been asserted that Jabir was a student of the sixth Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq and Harbi al-Himyari;[8][26] however, other scholars have questioned this theory.[27]

The Jabirian corpus[edit]

An illustration of the various experiments and instruments used by Jabir Ibn Hayyan.

In total, nearly 3,000 treatises and articles are credited to Jabir ibn Hayyan.[28] Following the pioneering work of Paul Kraus, who demonstrated that a corpus of some several hundred works ascribed to Jābir were probably a medley from different hands,[6]:3[29] mostly dating to the late 9th and early 10th centuries, many scholars believe that many of these works consist of commentaries and additions by his followers,[citation needed] particularly of an Ismaili persuasion.[30] On the other hand, contemporary scholar Syed Nomanul Haq refuses the multiplicity of authors hypothesis, and says that Kraus has misrepresented the Jabirian corpus for three main reasons : a) he hasn't inspected the bibliographies correctly, considering that there have been many leaps (in one instance, we have no titles between 500 and 530), so, all in all, the numbers are more over 500 than close to 3000 ; b) in many cases, a part or chapter of a book has been counted as a book itself, like with the Kitab al-Jumal al-'Ishrin (book of twenty maxims), which has been counted for 20 books and c) finally, many of the supposed "books" are not so in the formal sense, the Kitab al-Sahl occupying a single paragraph and many others few folios. Syed Nomanul Haq concludes that "this rough investigation makes it abundantly clear that we should view with a great deal of suspicion any arguments for a plurality of authors which is based on Kraus’ inflated estimate of the volume of the Jabirian corpus."[31]

The scope of the corpus is vast: cosmology, music, medicine, magic, biology, chemical technology, geometry, grammar, metaphysics, logic, artificial generation of living beings, along with astrological predictions, and symbolic Imâmî myths.[6]:5

  • The 112 Books dedicated to the Barmakids, viziers of Caliph Harun al-Rashid. This group includes the Arabic version of the Emerald Tablet, an ancient work that proved a recurring foundation of and source for alchemical operations. In the Middle Ages it was translated into Latin (Tabula Smaragdina) and widely diffused among European alchemists.
  • The Seventy Books, most of which were translated into Latin during the Middle Ages. This group includes the Kitab al-Zuhra ("Book of Venus") and the Kitab Al-Ahjar ("Book of Stones").
  • The Ten Books on Rectification, containing descriptions of alchemists such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
  • The Books on Balance; this group includes his most famous 'Theory of the balance in Nature'.

Jabir states in his Book of Stones (4:12) that "The purpose is to baffle and lead into error everyone except those whom God loves and provides for". His works seem to have been deliberately written in highly esoteric code (see steganography), so that only those who had been initiated into his alchemical school could understand them. It is therefore difficult at best for the modern reader to discern which aspects of Jabir's work are to be read as ambiguous symbols, and what is to be taken literally.

People[edit]

Jabir professed to have drawn his alchemical inspiration from earlier writers, both legendary and historic, on the subject.[32] In his writings, Jabir pays tribute to Egyptian and Greek alchemists Zosimos, Democritus, Hermes Trismegistus, Agathodaemon, but also Plato, Aristotle, Galen, Pythagoras, and Socrates, as well as the commentators Alexander of Aphrodisias, Simplicius, Porphyry and others.[6]:5

A huge pseudo-epigraphic literature of alchemical books was composed in Arabic, among which the names of Persian authors also appear like Jāmāsb, Ostanes, Mani, testifying that alchemy-like operations on metals and other substances were also practiced in Persia. The great number of Persian technical names (zaybaq = mercury, nošāder = sal-ammoniac) also corroborates the idea of an important Iranian root of medieval alchemy.[33] Ibn al-Nadim reports a dialogue between Aristotle and Ostanes, the Persian alchemist of Achaemenid era, which is in Jabirian corpus under the title of Kitab Musahhaha Aristutalis.[34] Ruska had suggested that the Sasanian medical schools played an important role in the spread of interest in alchemy.[33] He emphasizes the long history of alchemy, "whose origin is Arius ... the first man who applied the first experiment on the [philosopher's] stone... and he declares that man possesses the ability to imitate the workings of Nature" (Nasr, Seyyed Hussein, Science and Civilization of Islam).

Theories[edit]

Jabir's alchemical investigations ostensibly revolved around the ultimate goal of takwin, the artificial creation of life. The Book of Assemblage "Kitāb Al-Tajmi' "[35] includes several recipes for creating creatures such as scorpions, snakes, and even humans in a laboratory environment, which are subject to the control of their creator. What Jabir meant by these recipes is unknown.

Jabir's alchemical investigations were theoretically grounded in an elaborate numerology related to Pythagorean and Neoplatonic systems.[citation needed] The nature and properties of elements were defined through numeric values assigned to the Arabic consonants present in their name.

By Jabir's time Aristotelian physics had become Neoplatonic. Each Aristotelian element was composed of these qualities: fire was both hot and dry, earth, cold and dry, water cold and moist, and air, hot and moist. This came from the elementary qualities which are theoretical in nature plus substance. In metals two of these qualities were interior and two were exterior. For example, lead was cold and dry and gold was hot and moist. Thus, Jabir theorized, by rearranging the qualities of one metal, a different metal would result. Like Zosimos, Jabir believed this would require a catalyst, an al-iksir, the elusive elixir that would make this transformation possible – which in European alchemy became known as the philosopher's stone.[6]

According to Jabir's mercury-sulfur theory, metals differ from each in so far as they contain different proportions of the sulfur and mercury. These are not the elements that we know by those names, but certain principles to which those elements are the closest approximation in nature.[36] Based on Aristotle's "exhalation" theory the dry and moist exhalations become sulfur and mercury (sometimes called "sophic" or "philosophic" mercury and sulfur). The sulfur-mercury theory is first recorded in a 7th-century work Secret of Creation credited (falsely) to Balinus (Apollonius of Tyana). This view becomes widespread.[37] In the Book of Explanation Jabir says

the metals are all, in essence, composed of mercury combined and coagulated with sulphur [that has risen to it in earthy, smoke-like vapors]. They differ from one another only because of the difference of their accidental qualities, and this difference is due to the difference of their sulphur, which again is caused by a variation in the soils and in their positions with respect to the heat of the sun

Holmyard says that Jabir proves by experiment that these are not ordinary sulfur and mercury.[22]

The seeds of the modern classification of elements into metals and non-metals could be seen in his chemical nomenclature. He proposed three categories:[38]

The origins of the idea of chemical equivalents might be traced back to Jabir, in whose time it was recognized that "a certain quantity of acid is necessary in order to neutralize a given amount of base."[39][verification needed]

Laboratory equipment and material[edit]

Ambix, cucurbit and retort of Zosimus, from Marcelin Berthelot, Collection of ancient Greek alchemists (3 vol., Paris, 1887–1888).

The Jabirian corpus is renowned for its contributions to alchemy. It shows a clear recognition of the importance of experimentation, "The first essential in chemistry is that thou shouldest perform practical work and conduct experiments, for he who performs not practical work nor makes experiments will never attain to the least degree of mastery."[40] He is credited with the use of over twenty types of now-basic chemical laboratory equipment,[41] such as the alembic[42] and retort, and with the description of many now-commonplace chemical processes – such as crystallisation, various forms of alchemical "distillation", and substances citric acid (the sour component of lemons and other unripe fruits), acetic acid (from vinegar) and tartaric acid (from wine-making residues), arsenic, antimony and bismuth, sulfur, and mercury[40][41] that have become the foundation of today's chemistry.[43]

According to Ismail al-Faruqi and Lois Lamya al-Faruqi, "In response to Jafar al-Sadiq's wishes, [Jabir ibn Hayyan] invented a kind of paper that resisted fire, and an ink that could be read at night. He invented an additive which, when applied to an iron surface, inhibited rust and when applied to a textile, would make it water repellent."[44]

Mineral acids and alcohol[edit]

Directions to make mineral acids such as sulfuric acid, nitric acid and aqua regis appear in the Arabic Jabirian corpus,[45] and later in the pseudo-Geberian works Liber Fornacum, De inventione perfectionis, and the Summa.[46]

According to Forbes, there is no proof that Jabir knew alcohol.[46] Later, Al-Kindi unambiguously described the distillation of wine in the 9th century.[47][48][49]

Legacy[edit]

The book cover of The Works of Geber book by E J Holmyard and Richard Russell.
European depiction of "Geber".
Geber, Chimistes Celebres, Liebig's Extract of Meat Company Trading Card, 1929.

Whether Jabir lived in the 8th century or not, his name would become the most famous in alchemy.[27] He paved the way for most of the later alchemists, including al-Kindi, al-Razi, al-Tughrai and al-Iraqi, who lived in the 9th–13th centuries. His books strongly influenced the medieval European alchemists[43] and justified their search for the philosopher's stone.[50][51] In the Middle Ages, Jabir's treatises on alchemy were translated into Latin and became standard texts for European alchemists. These include the Kitab al-Kimya (titled Book of the Composition of Alchemy in Europe), translated by Robert of Chester (1144); and the Kitab al-Sab'een (Book of Seventy) by Gerard of Cremona (before 1187). Marcelin Berthelot translated some of his books under the fanciful titles Book of the Kingdom, Book of the Balances, and Book of Eastern Mercury. Several technical Arabic terms introduced by Jabir, such as alkali, have found their way into various European languages and have become part of scientific vocabulary.

Max Meyerhoff states of Jabir ibn Hayyan:

"His influence may be traced throughout the whole historic course of European alchemy and chemistry."[43]

The historian of chemistry Erick John Holmyard gives credit to Jabir for developing alchemy into an experimental science and he writes that Jabir's importance to the history of chemistry is equal to that of Robert Boyle and Antoine Lavoisier. The historian Paul Kraus, who had studied most of Jabir's extant works in Arabic and Latin, summarized the importance of Jabir to the history of chemistry by comparing his experimental and systematic works in chemistry with that of the allegorical and unintelligible works of the ancient Greek alchemists.[52] The word gibberish is theorized to be derived from the Latinised version of Jabir's name,[53] in reference to the incomprehensible technical jargon often used by alchemists, the most famous of whom was Jabir.[54] The Oxford English Dictionary suggests the term stems from gibber; however, the first known use of the term "gibberish" dates prior to the first known use of the word "gibber".

The Geber-Jabir problem[edit]

The identity of the author of works attributed to Jabir has long been discussed.[8] According to a famous controversy,[55] pseudo-Geber has been considered as the unknown author of several books in Alchemy.[56] This was first independently suggested, on textual and other grounds, by the 19th-century historians Hermann Kopp and Marcellin Berthelot.[57] Jabir, by reputation the greatest chemist of Islam, has long been familiar to western readers under the name of Geber, which is the medieval rendering of the Arabic Jabir, the Geber of the Middle Ages.[58] The works in Latin corpus were considered to be translations until the studies of Kopp, Hoefer, Berthelot, and Lippman. Although they reflect earlier Arabic alchemy they are not direct translations of "Jabir" but are the work of a 13th-century Latin alchemist.[59] Eric Holmyard says in his book Makers of Chemistry Clarendon press.(1931).[60]

There are, however, certain other Latin works, entitled The Sum of Perfection, The Investigation of Perfection, The Invention of Verity, The Book of Furnaces, and The Testament, which pass under his name but of which no Arabic original is known. A problem which historians of chemistry have not yet succeeded in solving is whether these works are genuine or not.

However, by 1957 when he (Holmyard) wrote Alchemy[61] Holmyard had abandoned the idea of an Arabic original (although they are based on "Islamic" alchemical theories).

The question at once arises whether the Latin works are genuine translations from the Arabic, or written by a Latin author and, according to common practice, ascribed to Jabir in order to heighten their authority. That they are based on Muslim alchemical theory and practice is not questioned, but the same may be said of most Latin treatises on alchemy of that period; and from various turns of phrase it seems likely that their author could read Arabic. But the general style of the works is too clear and systematic to find a close parallel in any of the known writings of the Jabirian corpus, and we look in vain in them for any references to the characteristically Jabirian ideas of "balance" and the alphabetic numerology. Indeed for their age they have a remarkably matter of fact air about them, theory being stated with a minimum of prolixity and much precise practical detail being given. The general impression they convey is that they are the product of an occidental rather than an oriental mind, and a likely guess would be that they were written by a European scholar, possibly in Moorish Spain. Whatever their origin, they became the principal authorities in early Western alchemy and held that position for two or three centuries.

The question of Pseudo-Gebers identity was still in dispute in 1962.[62] It is said that Geber, the Latinized form of "Jabir," was adopted presumably because of the great reputation of a supposed 8th-century alchemist by the name of Jabir ibn Hayyan.[63] About this historical figure, however, there was considerable uncertainty a century ago,[64] and the uncertainty continues today.[65] This is sometimes called the "Geber-Jābir problem".[8] It is possible that facts mentioned in the Latin works, ascribed to Geber and dating from the twelfth century and later, may be placed to Jabir's credit.[58]

In 2005, the historian Ahmad Y. Al-Hassan pointed out that earlier Arabic texts prior to the 13th century, including the works of Jabir and Al-Razi, already contained detailed descriptions of substances such as nitric acid, aqua regia, vitriol, and various nitrates.[45] In 2009, Al-Hassan criticized Berthelot's original hypothesis and, on textual grounds, argued that the Pseudo-Geber Corpus was originally written in Arabic. Al-Hassan criticized Berthelot's lack of familiarity with the complete Arabic corpus and pointed to various Arabic Jabirian manuscripts which already contain much of the theories and practices that Berthelot previously attributed to the Latin corpus.[66] Regardless of the identity of pseudo-Geber, the contents of the Pseudo-Geber Corpus are mostly derived from earlier Arabic alchemy, including the work of Jabir as well as other Arabic authors such as Al-Razi.[66]

In popular culture[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

The Pseudo-Geber corpus[edit]

The Latin corpus consists of books with an author named "Geber" for which researchers have failed to find a text in Arabic. These books were heavily influenced by Arabic books written by Jabir, the "real" Geber, and by Al Razi and others. They are available in Latin only, date from about the year 1310, and their author is identified as "Geber" or pseudo-Geber:

  • Summa perfectionis magisterii ("The Height of the Perfection of Mastery").[69]
  • Liber fornacum ("Book of Furnaces"),
  • De investigatione perfectionis ("On the Investigation of Perfection"), and
  • De inventione veritatis ("On the Discovery of Truth").
  • Testamentum gerberi

The Liber fornacum, De investigatione perfectionis and De inventione veritatis "are merely extracts from or summaries of the Summa Perfectionis Magisterii with later additions."[70] which may have been compiled by later writers.

English translations of Jabir and the Pseudo-Geber[edit]

  • Syed Nomanul Haq, Names, Natures and Things: The Alchemists Jabir ibn Hayyan and his Kitab al-Ahjar (Book of Stones), [Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science p. 158] (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1994), ISBN 0-7923-3254-7.
  • Donald Routledge Hill, 'The Literature of Arabic Alchemy' in Religion: Learning and Science in the Abbasid Period, ed. by M.J.L. Young, J.D. Latham and R.B. Serjeant (Cambridge University Press, 1990) pp. 328–341 [333–335].
  • E. J. Holmyard (ed.) The Arabic Works of Jabir ibn Hayyan, translated by Richard Russel in 1678. New York, E.P. Dutton (1928); Also Paris, P. Geuther.
  • Geber and William R. Newman, The Summa Perfectionis of Pseudo-Geber: A Critical Edition, Translation and Study ISBN 978-90-04-09464-2.
  • William R. Newman, New Light on the Identity of Geber, Sudhoffs Archiv, 1985, Vol.69, pp. 76–90.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tus, V. Minorsky, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. X, ed. P.J. Bearman, T. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs, (Brill, 2000), 741.
  2. ^ "KIMIĀ – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 29 August 2019. The treatises were probably composed in Iraq by a school of Shiʿite alchemists during the 9th and 10th centuries (Kraus, 1943, Introduction).
  3. ^ a b "Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 11 February 2008.
  4. ^ a b Forster, Regula (1 December 2018). "Jābir b. Ḥayyān". Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE.
  5. ^ "Jabir | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Haq, Syed Nomanul (28 February 1995). Names, Natures and Things: The Alchemist Jabir Ibn Hayyan and His Kitab Al-Ahjar (Book of Stones). Springer. ISBN 978-0-7923-3254-1.
  7. ^ Stapleton, H.E; Azo, R.F & Hidayat Husain, M. “Chemistry in Iraq and Persia in the Tenth Century A.D.”, Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. VIII, no. 6, 1927, pp. 317-418 (here pp. 338-340).
  8. ^ a b c d e Brabner, Tod (2005). "Jabir ibn Hayyam (Geber)". In Thomas F. Glick; Steven John Livesey; Faith Wallis (eds.). Medieval Science, Technology, and Medicine: An Encyclopedia. Psychology Press. pp. 279–281. ISBN 978-0-415-96930-7.
  9. ^ Delva, Thijs (15 June 2017). "The Abbasid Activist Ḥayyān al-ʿAṭṭār as the Father of Jābir b. Ḥayyān: An Influential Hypothesis Revisited". Journal of Abbasid Studies. 4: 35–61. doi:10.1163/22142371-12340030.
  10. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, "Alchemy: Arab alchemy"
  11. ^ Darmstaedter, Ernst. “Liber Misericordiae Geber: Eine lateinische Übersetzung des gröβeren Kitâb l-raḥma”, Archiv für Geschichte der Medizin, 17/4, 1925, pp. 181–197; Berthelot, Marcellin. “Archéologie et Histoire des sciences”, Mémoires de l’Académie des sciences de l’Institut de France, 49, 1906, pp. 308–363; see also Forster, Regula. "Jābir b. Ḥayyān", Encyclopaedia of Islam, Three.
  12. ^ Newman, William R. “New Light on the Identity of Geber”, Sudhoffs Archiv, 1985, 69, pp. 76–90; Newman, William R. The Summa perfectionis of Pseudo-Geber: A critical edition, translation and study, Leiden: Brill, 1991, pp. 57–103. It has been argued by Ahmad Y. Al-Hassan that the pseudo-Geber works were actually translated into Latin from the Arabic (see Al-Hassan, Ahmad Y. “The Arabic Origin of the Summa and Geber Latin Works: A Refutation of Berthelot, Ruska, and Newman Based on Arabic Sources”, in: Ahmad Y. Al-Hassan. Studies in al-Kimya': Critical Issues in Latin and Arabic Alchemy and Chemistry. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 2009, pp. 53–104; also available online).
  13. ^ Paul Kraus "Dignitaires de la hierarchie religieuse selon Gabir ibn Hayyan', Bulletin de l'Institut Francais d'Archeologie Orientale de Caire (1942): 85.
  14. ^ Diana, Steigerwald (2015). Imamology in Ismaili Gnosis. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers & Distributors. p. 141. ISBN 978-93-5098-081-1.
  15. ^ a b c S.N. Nasr, "Life Sciences, Alchemy and Medicine", The Cambridge History of Iran, Cambridge, Volume 4, 1975, p. 412: "Jabir is entitled in the traditional sources as al-Azdi, al-Kufi, al-Tusi, al-Sufi. There is a debate as to whether he was an Arab from Kufa who lived in Khurasan, or a Persian from Khorasan who later went to Kufa or whether he was, as some have suggested, of Syrian origin and later lived in Persia and Iraq".
  16. ^ Selin, Helaine (2008). Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 101."Elsewhere his name is given as Abu Musa, and he is variously described as Tusi, Tartusi or Tarsusi, Harranian and from Khorasan (Holmyard 1923: 47)."
  17. ^ Holmyard, Eric John, Introduction to The Works of Geber, translated by Richard Russell. (London: Dent, 1928), p. vii: "Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan, generally known merely as Jabir, was the son of a druggist belonging to the famous South Arabian tribe of Al-Azd. Members of this tribe had settled at the town of Kufa, in Iraq, shortly after the Muhammadan conquest in the seventh century A.D., and it was in Kufa that Hayyan the druggist lived."
  18. ^ Ragep, F. Jamil; Ragep, Sally P.; Livesey, Steven John (1996). Tradition, Transmission, Transformation: Proceedings of Two Conferences on Pre-Modern Science Held at the University of Oklahoma. BRILL. p. 178. ISBN 978-90-04-10119-7. This language of extracting the hidden nature formed an important lemma for the extensive corpus associated with the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan as well.
  19. ^ George Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, Pub. for the Carnegie Institution of Washington, by the Williams & Wilkins Company, 1931, vol. 2 pt. 1, p. 1044: "Was Geber, as the name would imply, the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Haiyan?"
  20. ^ William R. Newman, Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey, an American Alchemist in the Scientific Revolution, Harvard University Press, 1994. p. 94: "According to traditional bio-bibliography of Muslims, Jabir ibn Hayyan was a Persian alchemist who lived at some time in the eighth century and wrote a wealth of books on virtually every aspect of natural philosophy."
  21. ^ Cyril Glassé; Huston Smith, The New Encyclopedia of Islam, (2003), Rowman Altamira, p. 233: "Jabir ibn Hayyan. A celebrated alchemist, not a Muslim, but a Harranian from the community of the Harranian "Sabians" of North Syria."
  22. ^ a b c d Holmyard, Eric John (1931). Makers of Chemistry. The Clarendon press.
  23. ^ Henry Corbin, "The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy", Translated by Joseph H. Rowe, North Atlantic Books, 1998. p. 45: "The Nisba al-Azdin certainly does not necessarily indicate Arab origin. Geber seems to have been a client of the Azd tribe established in Kufa."
  24. ^ E.J. Holmyard (ed.) The Arabic Works of Jabir ibn Hayyan, translated by Richard Russell in 1678. New York, E.P. Dutton (1928); Also Paris, P. Geuther.
  25. ^ Holmyard, E.J. (2012). Alchemy. Courier Corporation. ISBN 978-0-486-15114-4.
  26. ^ Haq, Syed N. (1994). Names, Natures and Things. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 158/ Kluwar Academic Publishers. pp. 14–20. ISBN 978-0-7923-3254-1.
  27. ^ a b "Iranica JAʿFAR AL-ṢĀDEQ iv. And Esoteric sciences". Retrieved 11 June 2011. The historical relations between Jaʿfar al-Ṣādeq and Jāber b. Ḥayyān remain very controversial, as they are linked to still unresolved questions about dating, composition, and authorship of the texts attributed to Jāber. Scholars such as Julius Ruska, Paul Kraus, and Pierre Lory consider Jaʿfar al-Ṣādeq’s involvement in the transmission of alchemical knowledge as a literary fiction, whereas Fuat Sezgin, Toufic Fahd, and Nomanul Haq are rather inclined to accept the existence of alchemical activity in Medina in Jaʿfar al-Ṣādeq’s time, although they remain cautious regarding the authenticity of the attribution of the Jaberian corpus to Jāber b. Ḥayyān and of the alchemical works to Jaʿfar al-Ṣādeq (Ruska, 1924, pp. 40–52; idem, 1927, pp. 264–266; Kraus, I, pp. lv-lvii; Lory, pp. 14–21, 57–59, 101–107; Sezgin, I, p. 529, IV, pp. 128–311; Fahd, 1970, pp. 139–141; Nomanul Haq, pp. 3–47).
  28. ^ Josef W. Meri; Jere L. Bacharach (2006). Medieval Islamic Civilization. Taylor and Francis. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-415-96691-7.
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