Either of these hypotheses lead to the conclusion that Jabir’s life straddled the eighth and ninth centuries. 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. Anawati, “Arabic alchemy”, in R. Journal of Comparative Poetics. Jabir professed to have drawn his alchemical inspiration from earlier writers, both legendary and historic, on the subject. Fire was both hot and dry, earth cold and dry, water cold and moist, and air hot and moist.

After the Abbasids took power, Jabir went back to Kufa. The scope of the corpus is vast: Heinrichs, Brill, , Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science. Another work, the Katib al-Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadim, part biography and part bibliography, written around , ascribes a long list of works to Jabir and insists that he was a real personage. He also is said to have facilitated the acquisition of copies of Greek and Latin authors for translation into Arabic. This came from the elementary qualities which are theoretical in nature plus substance.

Jabir ibn Hayyan – New World Encyclopedia

While modern science has revealed the hurdles which any such attempt would be faced with, the state of knowledge from ancient times up until the nineteenth century, was not such as to have been an adequate impediment to the pursuit of alchemical studies. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.

He was thus able to practice medicine under the protection of the caliphate. Open in a separate window. He invented an additive which, when applied to an iron surface, inhibited rust and when applied to a textile, would make it water repellent. 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.

The works ascribed to Geber introduced improved laboratory equipment such as water baths, furnaces, and systems for filtration and distillation.


Anawati, “Arabic alchemy”, in R. Geber seems to have been a client of the Azd tribe established in Kufa. Another group, reported by al-Nadim, says only The Large Book of Mercy is genuine and that the rest are pseudographical. Thus, Jabir theorized, by rearranging the qualities of one metal, a different metal would result. It is claimed that he became a student of Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq.

The Scientific Odyssey

Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. His books strongly influenced the medieval European alchemists and justified their search for the philosopher’s stone, a symbol for the method by which the baser metals such as lead and tin could be transformed into gold. Because his works rarely made overt sense, the term gibberish is believed to have originally referred to his writings Hauck, p.

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 hwyyan it seems likely that their author could read Arabic. Names, Natures and Things.

Others say his teacher was another Jafar, the Barmecide vizier Jafar ibn Yahya, who was put to death inby the ruler Harun al-Rashid. Other achievements included preparation of various metals, development of steel, dyeing of cloth and tanning of leather, varnishing of water-proof cloth, use of manganese dioxide in glass-making, prevention of rusting, and identification of paints and greases.

National Center for Biotechnology InformationU. This gayyan abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3. Several technical Arabic terms introduced by Jabir, such as alkalihave found their way into various European languages and have become part of scientific vocabulary. 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.

The authorship of some works, particularly those in Latin with no Arabic originals, are disputed by modern scholars, many of whom claim that the chemical knowledge they display is far ahead of what was known to ninth-century practitioners.


The question of Pseudo-Gebers identity was still in dispute in This came from the elementary qualities which are theoretical in nature plus substance.

Jabor are not the elements that we know by those names, but hayywn principles to which those elements are the closest approximation in nature. The consensus among scholars who have studied the body of work attributed to Jabir is that they could not all have been written by him. 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.

Jabir ibn Hayyan

A problem which historians of chemistry have not yet succeeded in solving is whether these works are genuine or not. He proposed three categories: Jabir fled to Kufa, where he is said to have lived long enough to persuade the succeeding Caliph, Al-Ma’mun, to nominate a successor of Jabir’s choice.

Alchemie-Chemie-Botanik-Agrikultur bis ca H.

Views Read Edit View history. Some argue that one man could not have written that much material even in a lifetime. To Aristotelian physics, Jabir added the four properties of hotness, coldness, dryness, and moistness Burkhardt, p. Medicine in the medieval Islamic world. Jabir’s works paved the way for most of the later Islamic alchemists, including RaziTughrai and al-Iraqi, who wpisode in the ninth, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries respectively. Either of these hypotheses lead to the conclusion that Jabir’s life straddled the eighth and ninth centuries.

An Influential Hypothesis Revisited”.