(In continuation to A Tale of a Dangerous Student)
The year was AH 390 (or AD 1000) when the emir of Bukhara, Nuh Ibn Mansur summoned his young and famous court physician.
‘Tell me Ali Husain’ said the emir, ‘how did you learn so much about medicine and the cures for so many diseases?’
‘Why do you ask, my Lord?’
‘It is because you are a young man and yet you have gained so much wisdom. How did you manage it?
Ali Husain smiled.
‘It was gained from my own experiences in dealing with the sick but also because I studied logic and metaphysics thoroughly, my Lord.’
‘And where did you study these subjects?’
‘From my tutors, but also from the books I read in your library.’
The emir laughed. Ali Husain smiled and continued.
‘But there was one book that I found in the market place that really opened my eyes.’
‘It was a book on metaphysics by a Greek philosopher with a commentary by al Farabi.’
The emir’s eyes narrowed.
‘Al Farabi? Quite a few of our scholars consider him a heretic.’
‘My Lord, I think he has a wonderful mind.’
The emir thought this over.
‘How did this book help you?’
‘It helped me to think deeply and maturely: to find the causes of things and the effects of these causes and then to find the cures, my Lord.’
‘Does this knowledge only apply to medicine?’
‘No my Lord, it applies to everything around us. It helps us understand our world, the stars, and the universe. There is I believe a grand design behind all creation. Our job is to find out the reasons.’
The emir thought for a while again.
‘Who was this scholar of metaphysics?’
‘His name was Aristotle.’
‘You mean you learnt all this from a heretic and a pagan?’
‘My Lord, I believe you can learn a lot from people who think differently.’
The emir smiled.
‘Be careful, Ali Husain. Your knowledge might disturb quite a few of our scholars.’
‘Why should it, my Lord? In fact this is such a wonderful way to understand Allah and all that he created. To know how and why things are the way they are,’ said twenty year old Ali Husain.
(Continued in The Dangerous Student is now a Grand Shaykh)