Jābir ibn Hayyān


Jābir ibn Hayyān : biography

721 – 815
  • William R. Newman, Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey, an American Alchemist in the Scientific Revolution, Harvard University Press, 1994. p.94: "According to traditional bio-bibliography of Muslims, Jabir ibn Hayyan was a Persian alchemist who lived at some time in the eighth century and wrote a wealth of books on virtually every aspect of natural philosophy"
  • William R. Newman, The Occult and Manifest Among the Alchemist, in F. J. Ragep, Sally P Ragep, Steven John Livesey, Tradition, Transmission, Transformation: Proceedings of Two Conferences on pre-Modern science held at University of Oklahoma, Brill, 1996/1997, p.178: "This language of extracting the hidden nature formed an important lemma for the extensive corpus associated with the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan"
  • Henry Corbin, "The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy", Translated by Joseph H. Rowe, North Atlantic Books, 1998. p.45: "The Nisba al-Azdin certainly does not necessarily indicate Arab origin. Geber seems to have been a client (mawla) of the Azd tribe established in Kufa"
  • Tamara M. Green, "The City of the Moon God: Religious Traditions of Harran (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World)", Brill, 1992. p.177: "His most famous student was the Persian *Jabir ibn Hayyan (b. circa 721 C.E.), under whose name the vast corpus of alchemical writing circulated in the medieval period in both the east and west, although many of the works attributed to Jabir have been demonstrated to be likely product of later Ismaili’ tradition."
  • David Gordon White, "The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India", University of Chicago Press, 1996. p.447
  • William R. Newman, Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature, University of Chicago Press, 2004. p.181: "The corpus ascribed to the eighth-century Persian sage Jabir ibn Hayyan.."
  • Wilbur Applebaum, The Scientific revolution and the foundation of modern science, Greenwood Press, 1995. p.44: "The chief source of Arabic alchemy was associated with the name, in its Latinized form, of Geber, an eighth-century Persian."
  • Neil Kamil, Fortress of the Soul: Violence, Metaphysics, and Material Life in the Huguenots New World, 1517–1751 (Early America: History, Context, Culture), JHU Press, 2005. p.182: "The ninth-century Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan, also known as Geber, is accurately called pseudo-Geber since most of the works published under this name in the West were forgeries"
  • Aleksandr Sergeevich Povarennykh, Crystal Chemical Classification of Minerals, Plenum Press, 1972, v.1, ISBN 0-306-30348-5, p.4: "The first to give separate consideration to minerals and other inorganic substances were the following: The Persian alchemist Jabir (721–815)…"
  • George Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, Pub. for the Carnegie Institution of Washington, by the Williams & Wilkins Company, 1931, vol.2 pt.1, page 1044: "Was Geber, as the name would imply, the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Haiyan?"
  • Dan Merkur, in The psychoanalytic study of society (eds. Bryce Boyer, et al.), vol. 18, Routledge, ISBN 0-88163-161-2, page 352: "I would note that the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan developed the theory that all metals consist of different ‘balances’ …"
  • Anthony Gross, The Dissolution of the Lancastrian Kingship: Sir John Fortescue and the Crisis of Monarchy in Fifteenth-century England, Paul Watkins, 1996, ISBN 1-871615-90-9, p.19: "Ever since the Seventy Books attributed to the Persian alchemist Jabir Ibn Hayyan had been translated into Latin …." 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.Henry Corbin, "The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy", Translated by Joseph H. Rowe, North Atlantic Books, 1998. p.45: "The Nisba al-Azdin certainly does not necessarily indicate Arab origin. Geber seems to have been a client of the Azd tribe established in Kufa" 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 Umayyads and executed. His family fled to Yemen,E. J. Holmyard (ed.) The Arabic Works of Jabir ibn Hayyan, translated by Richard Russell in 1678. New York, E. P. Dutton (1928); Also Paris, P. Geuther. 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.

It has been asserted that Jābir was a student of the sixth Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq and Harbi al-Himyari, however other scholars have questioned this theory.