What is Ikhwan-i Safa and What Does It Mean?

What is Ikhwan-i Safa and What Does It Mean?

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Although it is not known who the İhvan-Safa (Cleaning Brothers) was composed of, his encyclopedic works called Resail are known. They try to interpret religion with a philosophical point of view and to deal with it away from any kind of instrumentality.

Neo-Platonian influence is seen in his philosophical attitudes. They adopt an attitude of adopting their positive aspects by approaching all kinds of thoughts positively. They embrace all the intellectual heritage of humanity up to their time.

It is a name given to the supporters of a philosophy that emerged in Basra in the 10th century. Translating his treatises, which are a kind of encyclopedia of philosophy, into German, Fr. Dietrici says their name means “Halis brothers”.

This Ikhwan, as a sect, first emerged in the Wasit region in 980, when the Negro uprising in Iraq was completely suppressed. This Ikhwan al-Safa, which was born from the gathering of people who believed in the immortality of the human soul, mutual aid and education, was under the influence of the Neoplatonism view.

C. Brockelmann explains the basis of their views as follows: “The Gnostic institutions of Hermetic origin with the idea of ​​God’s mercy in Iran, the elements of Greek philosophy and the Manichaean religion of the enlightened, in the form of esoteric doctrine, which is in accordance with the mysterious tendencies of the Near East (Anatolian) race, which spread in the east as a legacy. became confused and used by celebrity-hungry agitators at various times as the best policy tool. These rules reached their literary form a century later in the encyclopedic works of the “Halis brothers.”

There is no detailed information about the members of the Ikhvan-ı Safa community, and the information available consists of the criticisms and news of those who are against the community.

Ikhwan al-Safa collected his thoughts, views and philosophical beliefs in 52 books called “risales”, that is, journals. Headed by Zayd b. Rufaa had a wide influence on the scholars, theologians, philosophers and Sufis of the Islamic world, such as Risaleler Gazali (1058-1111) and Ibn Arabi (1165-1240), whose secretary was Abu Suleiman. The philosophies of Plato, Hermetic teachings, Neo-Pythagoreanism, the teachings of the Sabians are presented by combining Islamic teachings.

As it is understood from the examination of the treatises, the epoch of “Al-Ihvan al-Safa” is not alien to ancient Indian and Iranian cultural products, philosophical-religious views.

Entity Concepts

The main issues that Ikhwan al-Safa focused on; the divine source of the world, the return of the soul to God, the essence of divine qualities and spirit. The world has sprung from God. This output velocity has been gradual:

At the stage of unity of God (vahdet-i divine); All types of beings are in unity, in the essence of God. The only being here is God.
in al-Aql stage; with manager, supervisor, tutorial, guiding features; the divine being, the mind, is formed. This formation is also a gush.
al-Nafs is a power that constitutes the essence of living beings and is close to reason in terms of quality.
The first substance (material ûla) is the constitutive device of space-occupying beings.
Dehr (universe) is the whole that encompasses all types of beings.
Ecsam (bodies-objects) are individual entities that take up space.
Wallachia (heavenly layers) are areas of existence that have separate characteristics.
Anâsır (principles, that is, elements) are the constituent essences that make up the types of existence. All types of beings that fill the universe are formed by the combination of these principles in certain proportions and in a certain order.
Minerals, plants and animals (cemâdât, plants and animals) are the three major divisions in which all types of beings in the universe are gathered. Whatever is seen on earth depends on one of these three types.

These layers of existence arise from the previous one according to a certain sequence. Creation began with the exit from God, and reached completeness at the last level of existence. This outlet was a powerful gush from the essence of God. For this reason, there is no such thing as creation out of nothing, there is formation from the existing God to the field of appearance.

Understanding of Information

Knowledge has three stages:

The senses give the information of the lower levels of being. The information of the objects and beings occupying the earth around us is provided only by sensory data. Knowledge of higher beings is gained through proof. With reason, intuition, man provides the knowledge of his own essence, he knows himself. To know oneself is to reach the highest level of knowledge.

The mind is the most reliable ability that leads man to success, since it is the mind that first emerged from God in the stages of existence, it is also the closest to God.

Ikhwan al-Safa philosophers adopted the way of interpreting the Qur’an metaphorically. The rationalist view they defended faced the reaction of the Islamic sages, who regarded faith as superior to the master. The excessive accusations of the ideas stemming from the Qur’an and Hadith did not diminish the influence of the Ikhwan al-Safa philosophers. This rationalistic view, which expresses the actor’s problems with the behaviors in his living environment, interpreted man as a “being of reason”.