Jābir ibn Hayyān

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Jābir ibn Hayyān

Birthdate: (94)
Birthplace: Tus, Iran
Death: circa 815 (86-102)
Kufa, Iraq
Immediate Family:

Son of Hayyān abu Jābir al-Azdi
Father of Musa ibn Jābir ibn Hayyān

Occupation: Persian polymath: a chemist and alchemist, astronomer and astrologer, engineer, geologist, philosopher, physicist, and pharmacist and physician.
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About Jābir ibn Hayyān

Abu Musa Jābir ibn Hayyān (Arabic/Persian:جابر بن حیان) (born c. 721 in Tus, Iran–died c. 815 in Kufa, Iraq) was a prominent polymath: a chemist and alchemist, astronomer and astrologer, engineer, geologist, philosopher, physicist, and pharmacist and physician. Born and educated in Tus, located in Iran's Persian heartland of Khorasan, he later traveled to Kufa. Jābir is held to be the first practical alchemist.

As early as the tenth century, the identity and exact corpus of works of Jābir was in dispute in Islamic circles. His name was Latinized as "Geber" in the Christian West and in 13th century Europe an anonymous writer, usually referred to as Pseudo-Geber, produced alchemical and metallurgical writings under the pen-name Geber.

Life and background

Jabir was a Natural Philosopher who lived mostly in the 8th century, he was born in Tus (Iran), Khorasan, in Iran (Persia), then ruled by the Umayyad Caliphate. Jabir in the classical sources has the been entitled differently as al-Azdi or al-Kufi or al-Tusi or al-Sufi. There is a difference of opinion as to whether he was an Arab from Kufa who lived in Khurasan or a Persian from Khorasan who later went to Kufa or whether he was, as some have suggested, of Syrian origin and later lived in Persia and Iraq. His ethnic background is not clear, and sources reference him as an Arab or a Persian. In some sources, he is reported to have been the son of Hayyan al-Azdi, a pharmacist of the Arabian Azd tribe who emigrated from Yemen to Kufa (in present-day Iraq) during the Umayyad Caliphate. while Henry Corbin believes Geber seems to have been a client of the 'Azd tribe. Jābir became an alchemist at the court of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, for whom he wrote the Kitab al-Zuhra ("The Book of Venus", on "the noble art of alchemy"). Hayyan had supported the Abbasid revolt against the Umayyads, and was sent by them to the province of Khorasan (present day Afghanistan and Iran) to gather support for their cause. He was eventually caught by the Ummayads and executed. His family fled to Yemen, where Jābir grew up and studied the Quran, mathematics and other subjects. Jābir's father's profession may have contributed greatly to his interest in alchemy.

After the Abbasids took power, Jābir went back to Kufa. He began his career practicing medicine, under the patronage of a Vizir (from the noble Persian family Barmakids) of Caliph Harun al-Rashid.His connections to the Barmakid cost him dearly in the end. When that family fell from grace in 803, Jābir was placed under house arrest in Kufa, where he remained until his death.

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