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Ibn Ṭufayl

(641 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
, celebrated philosopher, whose full name was Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Malik b. Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Ṭufayl al-Ḳaysī . He belonged to the prominent Arab tribe of Ḳays; he was also called al-Andalusī, al-Ḳurṭubī or al-Is̲h̲bīlī. Christian scholastics call him Abubacer, a corruption of Abū Bakr. Ibn Ṭufayl was probably born in the first decade of the 6th/12th century in Wādī Ās̲h̲, the modern Guadix, 40 miles N.E. of Granada. Nothing is known of his family or his education. That he was a pupil of Ibn Bād̲j̲d̲j̲a [ q.v.], as is frequently stated, is incorrect, for in the introduc…


(414 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
(a.), the earthly, lower world, this world here below. The word is used in the Ḳorʾān and in Muslim theology in a disparaging sense of “this world” in opposition to the next. Muḥammad’s use of this word quite recalls that of Christian preachers: “Those that buy this earthly life at the price of the future life, shall not receive any relief from punishment nor shall they be helped” ( Ḳorʾān, ii. 80); — “Ye prefer the life of this world; and yet the hereafter is better and more lasting. This is found in the ancient books, in the books of Abraham and Moses” ( Ḳorʾān, lxxxvii. 16—19). We see from the …


(106 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
(a.), explanation, definition, description, from ʿarafa, to know; e.g. taʿrīf Ayā Ṣūfiyā, description of St. Sophia; Kitāb al-Taʿrīfāt, book of definitions, a well-known treatise of Saiyid S̲h̲arīf Ḏj̲urd̲j̲ānī on the explanation of Ṣūfī terms. In administrative language, in the feminine form, taʿrīfa or taʿrifa with a short i, the word has the meaning of tariff, tax, price of food, of transport, etc.; e. g. in Turkish: gumruk taʿrīfèsi, customs duties; démir yol tarifèlèri, railway charges. In grammar this word means the Arabic definite article al, which is called the particle…


(294 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
1. S̲h̲iḳḳ is the name of two diviners who lived shortly before the rise of Islām. According to the Synopsis of Marvels, S̲h̲iḳḳ the elder was the first diviner among the Arabs of ʿAriba. He is quite a fabulous personage. Like the Cyclops, he had only one eye in the middle of his forehead or a fire which split his forehead into two ( s̲h̲aḳḳa to split). He is also mixed up with Dad̲j̲d̲j̲āl, Antichrist, or at least Dad̲j̲d̲j̲al is of his family. He is said to have lived chained to a rock on an island where volcanic phenomena occurred. The second S̲h̲iḳḳ call…


(663 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
(a.), pl. tafāsīr, ex pl a n a t i o n, commentary, verbal form: fassara to explain. The name is applied to commentaries on scientific and philosophical works and is an alternative to s̲h̲arḥ; it is regularly applied to the Greek and Arabic commentaries on Aristotle: the following are examples taken from Ibn al-Ḳifṭī’s History of Scholars: Banas al-Rūmī wrote a Tafsīr on the Al-magesta and another on the tenth book of Euclid; Abu ’l-Wafāʾ al-Buzd̲j̲ānī, the famous astronomer, wrote a tafsīr on the works of Diophantes and of al-Ḵh̲wārizmī on Algebra; Muḥammad b. Zakarīyā al-Rāzī, the …


(265 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
(a.), pl. tābiʿūn, follower, follower of a prince, disciple of a teacher, adherent of a doctrine; the verbal form is tābaʿa, e. g. tābaʿa Ḏj̲ālīnūs, he followed Galen (in medicine). The word is of special significance in Tradition where the name tābiʿ is given to those who came after the Companions of the Prophet, the Aṣḥāb. The aṣḥāb are the people who saw and were directly acquainted with the Prophet; the tābiʿūn are those of the next generation or contemporaries of the Prophet, who did not know him personally but who knew one of his Companions. The “followers” of the second generation ( tābiʿu…


(342 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
, St. George. Islam honours this Christian martyr as a symbol of resurrection and renovation; his festival marks the return of spring. The legend of St. George had become syncretic long before the days of Islam, for we can recognize in St. George overthrowing the dragon a continuation of Bellerophon slaying the Chimaera. Bellerophon himself was symbolic of the Sun scattering the darkness, or of spring driving away the mists and fogs of winter. ¶ According to Muslim legend, D̲j̲ird̲j̲īs lived in Palestine in the time of the disciples, and was martyred at Mosul under the ruler Dādān—presumably Diocletian; during his execution the saint died and was resurrected three times. The legend is found in a considerably developed form in the Persian version of Ṭabarī and always with the same motif: it is simply a series of deaths …


(478 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
a Persian and Arabic word meaning “obstacle” “hindrance” “separation” (perhaps identical with Persian farsak̲h̲ [ q.v.], a measure of distance). It is found three times in the Ḳurʾān (xxiii, 102; xxv, 55 and lv, 20) and is interpreted sometimes in a moral and sometimes in a concrete sense. In verse 100 of Sūra xxiii the godless beg to be allowed to return to earth to accomplish the good they have left undone during their lives; but there is a barzak̲h̲ in front of them barring the way. Zamak̲h̲s̲h̲arī here explains the word by ḥāʾil , an obstacle, and interprets it …


(352 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
Under the name of Buk̲h̲t-Naṣar, the Arabs have confused Nabonassar and Nebuchadnezzar. Ptolemy, following Hipparchus, makes use in his Almagesta of the era, known as that of Nabonassar, beginning in the year 742 B. C. al-Bīrūnī and Maʿsūdī ( Tanbīh, French transl., p. 265) …

Ḏj̲alāl al-Dīn Rūmī

(1,217 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
, one of the great mystic poets of Islām, was born at Balk̲h̲ in 604 (1207). His family claimed descent from Abū Bakr and was connected by marriage with ¶ the royal family of Ḵh̲wārizm. When three years of age (607 = 1210), he was taken by his father to Nīs̲h̲āpūr and presented to the aged ʿAṭṭār. The latter, according to the legend, predicted his future greatness and gave him his Book of Secrets. His father Bahāʾ al-Dīn Walad had to leave Balk̲h̲ at this time, because he had incurred the wrath of the ruler Muḥammad Ḳuṭb al-Dīn Ḵh̲wārizms̲h̲āh. He took the young Ḏj̲alāl al-Dīn with him and a…


(1,151 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
, “Garden” is the name most frequently given in the Ḳorʾān and Tradition to Paradise, the abode of the blessed. It is only once referred to in the Ḳorʾān by the Persian name Firdaws alone and a second time by the two words together d̲j̲annat al-Firdaws, It is fairly often called d̲j̲annāt ʿeden, the gardens of Eden; cf. the Biblical name gan ʿēden (Genesis, ii. 15). Muḥammad’s conception of Paradise is well known to be materialistic and voluptuous; it is ¶ expressed in several sūras, which belong to the first period of his preaching: e.g. (xlvii. 16-17): “this is the descripti…


(1,027 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
(a.), general sense: opening, exposition. It has two special meanings: I. exposition of a science, commentary on a book, like s̲h̲arḥ [q. v.]; 2. the science of anatomy which is the “opening” and exposition of the structure of the body. The two meanings are found in one sentence in Ibn al-Ḳifṭī: “Galen was the key of medicine, its bāsiṭ and its s̲h̲āriḥ, that is to say, it was he who expounded it and commented upon it… No one ever surpassed him in the science of tas̲h̲rīḥ and he wrote 17 books upon it.” The reference here is to anatomy. Anatomy was not a very popular science in Islām; the rep…


(629 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
, Brahmans. The Arab author who was best acquainted with, indeed one might almost say the only one who was acquainted with Brahmanical India, was al-Bīrūnī. His great work on India ( India, ed. and transi. Sachau 1888; new edition of transi. 1910) testifies to his study of this country, a study for which he was qualified by exceptional gifts in the dive…


(410 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
, the sacred well of Mecca, also called the well of Ismāʿīl. It is in al-ḥaram al-s̲h̲arīf S. E. of the Kaʿba opposite the coiner of the sanctuary in which the Black Stone is inserted. It is 140 feet deep and is surmounted by an elegant dome. The pilgrims drink its water as health-giving and take it home with them to give it to the sick. Zamzam in Arabic means “abundant water” and zamzama “to drink by little gulps” and “to mutter through the teeth”. Muslim tradition connects the origin of this well with the story of Abraham. It was opened by the …


(2,090 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
, Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Tark̲h̲ān Abū Naṣr, the greatest philosopher of Islām before Avicenna, was born in a Turkish family towards the end of the ixth century a. d. at Wasīd̲j̲, a small fortified town in the district of Fārāb (ʿOtrār) in Transoxiana. His father is said to have been a general. He studied in Bag̲h̲dād under the Christian physician Yoḥannā b. Ḥailān and also worked with Abū Bis̲h̲r Mattā, a Nestorian Christian, celebrated as a translator of Greek works. He then went to Ḥalab to the court of the Ḥamdānid Sai…


(248 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
, Muḥyi ’l-Dīn Abu ’l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad b. ʿAlī al-Būnī (i.e. of Bōna), is one of the most important Arab writers on occult sciences. He died in 622 (1125). He is the author of books like the Sirr al-Ḥikam, or “ Secret of Sciences”, on the Cabbala and divination, of minor works on the virtues of the basmala, on those of the divine names and of the letters of the alphabet. In these treatises, the construction of magic squares, cabalistic letters, and other talismanic signs. The works of al-Būnī are those which are the most used even to the present day by Muḥammadans, who deal in magi…


(845 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
(a.) “substance”. The notion of substance is not so prominent in Oriental scholasticism as it was among the schoolmen of the west. The Muslim thinkers, following the Greek conception, regarded substance as that which exists by itself, which logically at least requires nothing else for its existence; it is opposed to the accident which is always in some thing other than itself; thus for example the body logically exists before the colour; it is considered a substance with regard to it and …


(142 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
This word is used by the philosophers to mean “eternity” in opposition to time. Time is regarded as something transitory and fleeting and eternity on the other hand as abiding. Time is the abode of that which changes or alters; it is measured by the movements of the heavenly bodies. Things, which do not move and are eternal, have their place not in time but in eternity, like the “Ideas” of Plato. The latter, philosophers tell us, is in a sense the basis of time; it is the “inner principle of time”, bāṭin al-zamān (cf. my Avicenne, p. 189). The book of the taʿrīf…


(814 words)

Author(s): Carra de Vaux, B.
(the Biblical David). The Ḳorʾān has several passages in which reference is made to the legend of the kingly prophet David, the Ḵh̲alīfa of Allāh ( Sūra, 38, 25). Like the legends of the other prophets, it has been somewhat corrupted and shows signs of Rabbinical influence or ¶ of an effort to explain certain imperfectly known verses of the Bible. Muḥammad knew that David slew Goliath (Ḏj̲ālūt) ( Ḳorʾān, Sūra 2, 250 et seq.) and that he received the Psalms from God: The Book of Psalms is one of the four volumes of the Bible with which Muḥammad was acquainted. David sh…
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