Abuū Mūsā Jābir ibn Hayyān (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: The greatest alchemist of Islam, Jābir is regarded as the father of Arabian chemistry; his many works considerably influenced later Arabian and European chemists, and his alchemical ideas and recipes helped advance chemical theory and experimentation.
It must be said at the outset that many scholars, some from as long ago as the tenth century, have believed that Jābir ibn Hayyān did not exist at all, but belief in his existence has always had its defenders. Those accepting his authenticity think that his family came from the southern Arabian Azd tribe that had settled, during the rise of Islam, in Al-Kufa, then a rapidly growing city on the Euphrates just south of the ruins of Babylon. Abū Mūsā Jābir ibn Hayyān, Jābir’s father, was a Shiʿite apothecary in Khorasan in eastern Persia, and he supported the powerful ʿAbbasid family, who hoped to overthrow the Umayyad caliph. (The Umayyad dynasty had ruled the Muslim Empire since 661.) The ʿAbbasids sent Abū Mūsā throughout Persia to prepare the way for a revolution. In the course of this political mission he visited Tūs, near the modern Mashhad in northeast Iran, and there, around 721, his son was born and named for him. Unfortunately, while the younger Jābir was still a child, his father was captured by the caliph’s agents and beheaded.
Jābir was sent to southern Arabia, where he studied all branches of Eastern...
(The entire section is 2823 words.)
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