Makers of the Muslim World: Ikhwan al-Safa

Nov 19, 2017


Welcome to Marjorie Cowley's insightful exploration of the Ikhwan al-Safa, a group of Muslim philosophers whose contributions shaped the intellectual history of the Muslim world. In this engaging book, Marjorie Cowley delves deep into the life and ideas of this influential group, highlighting their remarkable achievements in the field of arts and entertainment - books and literature.

The Legacy of the Ikhwan al-Safa

The Ikhwan al-Safa, also known as the "Brethren of Purity," emerged during the 10th century in Basra, Iraq. Comprised of anonymous thinkers, they played a significant role in disseminating knowledge and promoting intellectual inquiry. Their works covered a wide range of subjects, including philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and ethics. Through their writings, they sought to educate and inspire individuals, fostering a sense of intellectual curiosity and critical thinking.

Marjorie Cowley's comprehensive book explores the lasting impact of the Ikhwan al-Safa on Muslim intellectualism. Their writings acted as a bridge between the ancient Greek tradition and the Muslim world, providing a unique perspective that blended philosophical thought with Islamic teachings. Their influence extended beyond their contemporaries, shaping the intellectual discussions that followed and leaving an indelible mark on subsequent generations.

Philosophical Inclinations of the Ikhwan al-Safa

The Ikhwan al-Safa embraced a broad range of philosophical ideas and integrated them into their own unique worldview. They drew inspiration from various philosophical traditions, including Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, and Pythagoreanism. Through their writings, they sought to reconcile Greek philosophy with Islamic teachings, establishing a cohesive framework that harmonized reason and faith.

Their philosophy emphasized the pursuit of knowledge through contemplation and intellectual exploration. They believed that acquiring knowledge was not only a means to attaining spiritual enlightenment but also a way to improve society and promote social harmony.

The Ikhwan al-Safa's Literary Contributions

Marjorie Cowley's book highlights the literary prowess of the Ikhwan al-Safa and their significant contributions to arts and entertainment, specifically in the realm of books and literature. Their writings, collectively known as the "Epistles of the Brethren of Purity," encompass a wide range of disciplines, presenting a comprehensive worldview grounded in Islamic thought.

Each epistle explores different subjects and serves as a guide to understanding various aspects of the universe. Their works delve into topics such as metaphysics, ethics, cosmology, biology, and astrology, among others. With remarkable attention to detail and a deep understanding of the subjects they tackled, the Ikhwan al-Safa created a significant body of work that remains relevant to this day.

The Relevance Today

Marjorie Cowley's book not only sheds light on the historical significance of the Ikhwan al-Safa but also underscores the enduring relevance of their ideas in contemporary times. The Ikhwan al-Safa's emphasis on the unity of knowledge, the pursuit of intellectual curiosity, and the integration of diverse philosophical traditions resonates strongly with the challenges and aspirations of today's world.

Their ideas continue to inspire scholars, thinkers, and individuals seeking a deeper understanding of the world and their place within it. By exploring the intellectual contributions of the Ikhwan al-Safa, Marjorie Cowley encourages readers to engage with their ideas and draw connections to present-day issues, fostering a sense of continuity between the historical and the modern.


Marjorie Cowley's insightful book, "Makers of the Muslim World: Ikhwan al-Safa," provides a comprehensive and detailed exploration of the intellectual legacy of this influential group of Muslim philosophers. Through her richly written narrative, Cowley brings to life the profound contributions of the Ikhwan al-Safa, highlighting their lasting impact on arts and entertainment, particularly in the realm of books and literature.

Whether you are a scholar, a history enthusiast, or simply curious about the profound thinkers of the past, Marjorie Cowley's book offers an immersive journey into the world of the Ikhwan al-Safa. Discover their unique blend of philosophy and Islamic teachings, and gain a deeper appreciation for their enduring contributions to the Muslim world.

Guoyi Sun
Fascinating exploration of the Ikhwan al-Safa and their incredible impact on Muslim intellectual history.
Nov 11, 2023