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Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq and Ādāb al-falāsifa in Context

The Early ‘Abbāsid Period as the Age of Translation

Ādāb al-falāsifa, an anthology of gnomic wisdom attributed to Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq (d. 260/973) ranks among the most successful medieval books which owe their genesis to the translation movement in the early ‘Abbāsid period, when a broad amalgamation of Greek, Persian, Syriac, and Indian literary traditions took place. This is a compilation of wisdom sentences attributed to ancient Greek philosophers, Persian kings and sages, as well as to Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian and Muslim wise men. Better than in any other document perhaps, here we witness, in miniature format, the perfect adoption, assimilation and harmonization of the moral ideals and intellectual heritage contributed by cultural conglomerates coexisting in the Golden Age of the Islamic civilization.

Ādāb al-falāsifa, as well as many other texts of a similar nature, can be best understood and appreciated within the context of the translation movement in the ninth-century Baghdad. Following this insight, the project to study the literary parameters of this flourishing cultural and inter-faith interaction via the medium of wisdom literature, using the Ādāb as a candid example.