ENVISIONING A PERFECT CITY: AN INTRODUCTION TO AL FARABI’S POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
Acmad Toquero Macarimbang
This paper focuses on Al-Farabi’s political philosophy. It addresses specifically his thoughts on the following issues: first, the qualities of the ruler, second, the difference between Excellent City and Ignorant City; and last, his concept on how to attain happiness. Before proceeding into these issues, the paper provides an account of his life. During Al-Farabi’s time, a perfect city was a just vision, and the wisdom of perfectly achieving it was close to impossible. Even so, this is perfectly true in today’s society. However today, Al-Farabi’s political thoughts, especially on the type of ruler who should lead the community will hopefully inspire Muslim leaders to live and lead nobly. Of course, attaining the philosopher-king state of leadership is also close to impossible even today. Moreover, it is my hope in this paper for the Muslim communities to look back into what the classical Muslim philosophers like Al-Farabi’ were saying on the characteristics of a ruler and what a city should look like. Eventually, his political thoughts will inspire Muslim community on the importance of a city being ruled and guided by a genuine happiness.
For purposes of clear discussion, the word “City” refers to a state or a city-state. Al-Farabi’s “Ara’ ahl al-Madinah Al-Fadila” translated by Richard Walzer (1985) in his book On the Perfect State of al-Farabi, is used as the primary source. His “Tahsil al-Sa’adah” translated “Directing Attention to the Way to Happiness” by John McGinnis and David C. Reisman (2007) in their book Classical Arabic Philisophy: An Anthology of Sources is another important source.