Cabir B. Hayyan

Kimyager, Doğa Bilgini, Felsefeci

Diğer İsimler
Ebu Musa Câbir b. Hayân b. Abdullâh el-Kûfî

Chemist, natural scientist and philosopher (B. 721, Tûs – D. 815, Tûs / Khorasan). His full name is Ebu Musa Câbir b. Hayân b. Abdullâh el-Kûfî. He should not be confused with the inventor of algebra, the Andalusian mathematician Câbir b. Eflah (?-1150). Câbir’s father Hayyân is known as a spice-seller who originally came from the Ezd tribe of Yemen and Câbir is believed to have been born in Tus while his father was in Khorasan region.

Câbir, who spent most of his life in Kufah, took lectures from Caferes -Sâdık there. After continuing his works in Baghdad for a while, he returned to Kufah and continued his works there until the period of Caliph Me’mun, since the Bermeki family under whose patronage he was living has been moved away from the state rule in Baghdad.

Câbir states that he acquired all his knowledge from İmam Cafer-i Sadık whom he calls “the source of wisdom”. Besides he mentions Harbî el-Himyerî among his masters and says that he learnt Himyeri language from him, aside from various sciences. One of his masters was a priest who was a student of Marianus. He also mentions other masters aside from them. The sources state that he was afraid of government oppression and therefore he could not live in the same place for a long period and had to travel continuously. He also says that he had been in Iraq and Syria and travelled to Egypt and India.

Câbir’s works encompass medicine, astronomy, mathematics, natural sciences, philosophy and other sciences of the period but he is primarily known as a chemist. E.J. Holmyard is the first person who discovered his privileged place in the history of chemistry and that he turned chemistry into an empirical science. E. O. Lippmann claims that Câbir’s place in the history of chemistry is equal to the founders of modern chemistry such as Boyle, Priestley and Lavoisier. In deed Câbir realized the importance of empirical method in natural sciences and applied this method to all of his works.

Câbir’s natural philosophy is based on the traditional minor universe (human) – major universe paradigm and the thought that celestial powers affect earthly incidents. Besides his laying great stress on the quantitative dimension of the universe and on calculation and experiment in his scientific understanding are a reflection of Pythagorean theory which claims that the basic factor in the universe is number, on his natural philosophy.

Among the existences in the universe which are mines, plants and animals, mines have a special place in Câbir’s works. That mines are analyzed in his works not only in terms of mines’ constitution but also in terms of their transformation is the starting point of chemistry researches. According to his chemistry all mines come into being upon the union (marriage) of sulfur and mercury in different rates and under special celestial effects. Mines are signs of planets on earth due to their origins. Therefore they are substances which do not only belong to earth. However mercury and sulfur which are essential in the constitution and transformation process of mines should not be understood as chemistry elements but rather as a being principle like principles of male and female. Consequently, the chemist should be able to control the concerning celestial effects when turning worthless mines into gold.

    Câbir b. Hayyân who raised many students explained his scientific experiments in depth and interpreted the results achieved with a great sensibility and attention. He detected some chemicals’ compositions and explained them. He also explained the building and use of tools used for experiments and built sensitive measurement tools to use for the science of chemistry. He discovered numerous acids such as sulfuric and nitric acids, and elements such as sodium carbonate and potassium.

It is related that Câbir b. Hayyân has 2000 large and small works. He was busy with atom and its structure long before numerous European scientists such as Enrico Fermi and Einstein, who would come about thousand years after him and spend years on the same topic and even at that time, he explained that atomic fission would be possible in detail in his books. He said following things about this topic: “Atom which is the smallest part of the matter has an intensive energy. Unlike what the Greek scientists said, it is not possible to claim that this cannot be splintered; it can be. And when this is done, such a power (energy) comes into being that Baghdad is turned upside down”.

Câbir bin Hayyan analyzed the structures of poison and poisonous items and wrote a book about it called “Kitâb-üs-Sümum” and he also produced a paper which could not be burnt by fire. He built a distillery for the first time. He made numerous inventions in the field of treating various metals, development of steal, varnishing water resistant clothes, use of manganese tetroxide in glass production, prevention of rust, gilded ornaments, detection of paints and oils. He categorized matters in three groups due to their properties and guided their next classifications. He detected numerous chemicals and named them with Arabic names which are still used. Câbir Khorasani who is the inventor of clock, nitric acid, the number zero and algebra, also defined intervals and space. His most important invention is that time has a linear line, like space.

Câbir’s theory of balance and chemical system based on it brought him to another system called “ilmül-havâs”. Câbir with this system researched the properties of mines, plants and animals, similarities and differences among them and importance of them in terms of practice and medicine.

In his booklet titled “Kitâbül-Havâs” he related the concepts of “havas” and “cause” and criticized the religious scholars who refuse the existence of ‘havas’ and philosophers who thought that the apprehension of ‘havas’ causes was beyond human intellectual. Câbir went further than Plato by having mentioned that the nature could be improved and even living creatures which are not present in the nature could be derived.

Câbir bin Hayyan wrote hundreds of works in various fields such as applied physics-chemistry, theoretical physics-chemistry, mines’ physics-chemistry, mathematics, astronomy, philosophy and history of religions.

It emerged later that western scientists translated and laid claims to numerous works of Câbir who passed away in 815 in Tûs. For example it is understood that “Summa Perfectionis” which has been used as a handbook by people in Europe who were interested in chemistry was written to a large extent basing on Câbir’s “Yetmişlik Kitabı”. Like this work, a major part of Câbir’s works were lost. Only 27 of them were published in Latin and German languages in Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Strasbourg between 1473 and 1710.

MAIN WORKS: Kitabü’l-beyan, Kıtabü’l-hacer, Kitabü’n-nûr, Kitabü’l-izah..., Kitabü’ş-şems, Kitabü’l-kamer, Kitabü’l-hayyavan, Kitabü’s-sema, Kitabü'l-arz...


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