News story

Latest volume in the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity Series published

2nd October 2011

The Institute of Ismaili Studies is pleased to announce the publication of the next volume in the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity (Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’) Series, entitled On Arithmetic and Geometry: An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of Epistles 1 & 2, edited and translated by Dr Nader El-Bizri.

This is the sixth volume published in this series, which is a joint venture between the IIS and Oxford University Press (OUP). Epistles 1 and 2 mark the beginning of the corpus and, as such, represent the foundation of the Brethren’s teachings.

Dr El-Bizri, who edited and translated this volume, is also the general editor of the Epistles series. At present, he is Associate Professor in the Civilisation Sequence Programme at the American University of Beirut. His main areas of research include Islamic intellectual history, phenomenology, and architectural humanities.

The Ikhwan al-Safa’ series is a 17 volume project, composed of 52 epistles which offer synoptic accounts of the classical sciences and philosophies of the tenth century CE. The compendium is divided into four classificatory parts which treat themes in mathematics, logic, natural philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, and theology, as well as didactic fables.

Epistles 1 and 2 look at the technical and knowledge-based analysis of various mathematical concepts, in addition to their metaphysical underpinnings, investigating the properties of numbers and of geometric magnitudes. This is based mainly on the traditions of Nicomachus of Gerasa and of Euclid, with a strong Pythagorean influence. The content of this volume offers enlightening perspectives on the popularisation of the mathematical sciences within the greater Muslim intellectual milieu.

This book will appeal to all those interested in the history of mathematical concepts and, in particular, arithmetic and geometry, as well as to those who have a wider interest in medieval Muslim thought and the Ikhwan al-Safa’.