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Human’s Anthropological Appearance in Abai

Zh. D. Dadebayev, M.T. Kozhakanova, I.K.Azimbayeva

Abstract—The issue of human anthropology took an important role in the last epochs and still hasn’t lost its importance. Scientists of different countries were interested in investigating the appearance of human being and the idea of life after death. While writing this article we noticed that scientists who made research in this issue, despite of he different countries and different epochs in which they lived, had similarities in their opinions. In given article we wrote great Kazakh poet AbaiKunanbayev’s philosophical view to the problem of human anthropology.

Keywords—anthropology, concept, human, nature, phenomenon.


The human kind is described comprehensively in the works of the great Kazakh poet Abai Kunanbayev (1845-1904). He described human’s character, soul, body, mind and sense: if he is cleveror ignorant, merciful or villain, impartial,audacious or coward, generous or stingy, hardworking or lazy, conscientious or dishonorable, free or dependent. In Abai’s drawing of conclusions and estimating human’s activities, he suggested deep thoughts about human being and the meaning of human life. There are three human dignities: vigorous strength, bright mind, warm heart[2]. Abai told that those three dignities are eternal and which never emaciate. In the poet’s works, life’s phenomenons and human beings are

estimated according to these dignities. The poet showed forcefully through his words the state humans will be in while using those dignities for good purposes, and the state of being when humans can’t achieve those dignities.

Abai knew the thoughts about soul and body, of those principles, conclusions and deductions of poets who lived before him. Abai collected his poetical thoughts on the basis

of the social truth of his time. The social truth of his time and eternal intrinsic values are integrated as one aesthetic phenomenon in the poet’s thoughts and opinions about soul and body. When Creater created the human body from soil, he breathed life and soul into the body. The soul has an advantage over the body, in that when the body becomes old,it dies[1]. However, the soul doesn’t die.Creater created the soul to govern the body. Soul received the order from Creater to “Return to your Creator”. The process of this separating of soul from the body was deeply investigated in well-known

scientists’ works, which led to important scientific deductions

and principles.

The idea that “knowing about returning to his owner, soul doesn’t fall to other purposes” is known from artistic works of world literature. In the history of anthropology such

phenomena and dignities of soul were realized (and are still being realized) in different periods. If we read the works of scientists of last epoch there are similarities with Abai’s thought: Body returns to soil; soul returns to Creator. There is a deep meaning in the passage “The ignoramuses called death, the parting between “I” and “mine”[2]. For Abai “I” is body,“mine” is soul. Abai’s opinion is interrelated with Plato, Aristotle, Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina’s opinions. Plato explains the death as a separation of soul from body[3]. Abaicriticized

Plato’s understanding of death as separation of soul from body. In Abai’s opinion the process of separation soul from body can not be called death, because soul is immortal. Abai’s poetical comprehension of human’s “I” is his mind and soul.

Human’s humanity is in his mind and soul. Referring to those findings, Abai wrote his next deduction: Nature can die, but humans are immortal; human’s mind and soul never die.

Abai’s poetical thoughts are different from Plato’s, Aristotle’s and Ibn Sina’s. To find human’s humanity from soul and mind, to consider human’s immortality from immortality of mind and soul was uniquely the thoughts of Abai. In Abai’s opinion, if human wants to achieve their purposes while they are alive they shouldn’t forget of the existence of the Creator.

Abai wrote “the life is like a strained bow”. The head (top) of two sides of strained bow are in the Creator’s hand. Abai’s thought is given in figurative way and it has subtext. The Creator put the human soul to the one side of strained bow and takes it from another side. The understanding that the Creator takes back the soul, which was given before by him to the human being, came from that meaning.

“When Aristotle in his work “About Soul” weighed the thoughts of geniuses of the past and of his contemporaries, he considered the knowledge about the concept of soul to be a distinguishing mark of the most advanced thinkers”. Such kind of thoughts appeared in works of Turkish geniuses who lived between the time of Aristotle and Abai.

We shouldn’t divide the knowledge about soul to strictly religious or scientific spheres. There is no difference between Abai’s view and the religious, general human knowledge. That is why it is impossible to understand or explain Abai’s view about mind and soul in one way. Abai’s view about soul and

body is based on general theory and scientific values conglomerated from the existence of the universe.

Plato told about different images human can own after

death. The soul who served to satisfy the body’s messy and bad requests, himself becomes dirty and can be considered as injured. Soul can’t get rid of this even after separating from

the body. The souls of humans, who don’t think about honor and shame, who don’t know when to stop living life enjoying only for today without thinking about tomorrow will go to the coffin in the appearance of donkey, pig or animals like them.

The souls of the unjust, power-seeker and thief will get the appearance of predators like wolf, hawk and kite. According to Al-Farabi the souls of such a human will stay depending on

matter, they meet their death when matter will be destroyed[11]. When Abai says “no future” he means of such people.That idea of Al-Farabi’s came to our epoch through written


Abu Hamid Muhammed al-Gazali at-Tusi divided human nature into four parts. The first nature is

likened to animals: to drink and eat, to sleep, to propagate. The second is concerned with the predator’s actions: to kill, attack, breach, eat. The third nature is like the devil’s desire:

selfishness, cunning, meanness. The fourth is a kind to an angel who respects the Creator’s dignity [4]. Also Rumi wrote about such thoughts. “Human’s body is as a dense rock, where are gathered a large number of predators. There are thousand

wolves and pigs in our soul and thousand pure, messy, glorious and vile characters inside us. If one of those characters dominates, we will depend on it. In one time human

becomes a devil, another time into angel, another into predator[5].

Al-Zhilani abdal-Kadyr (1077-1166) showed four kinds of


1. Human has not heart or tongue;

2. Human has tongue, but no heart;

3. Human has heart, but no tongue

4. This human should be called the greatest of Creator’s palace, as for the Creator; there is not human being without heart and tongue. Sinful, stupid, proud are those people. Educated people have to show them the way of truth. Human who has tongue, but no heart pretends to be on the side of mind, but when they have to do things which are characteristic to mind they turn their backs. They can invite with the help of a tongue to the way of Justice, when in fact they are far away from justice.

We should steer clear of such hypocrites. Human who has heart, but no tongue is on the path of justice. All good and blessings of the world go with them. Educated people who give their knowledge to another have an angel’s character [6].

In Abai’s creativity a human who wants to stay human has to receive knowledge, give received knowledge to others, and wish other people to achieve the success which was achieved before by him.

The poet offers important rules a) not to confuse those who are in a right way or on the right path, and b) to reform those who in a wrong way.

According to these rules, an opinion has been formed about a person who is confusing or leading astray people who arealready in a right way and a person trying to reform those who

are in a wrong way. This opinion is given like this: “The person who has committed one hundred bad deeds is not worth a person who has made one good deed”. There are valuable thoughts devoted to human nature and sense of life in the works of thinkers of the past. Nowadays, the historical and theoretical value of Aristotle’s, Al-Farabi’s and Ibn Sina’s thoughts don’t lose their importance. Al-Gazali’s, al-Zhilani’s and Rumi’s opinions are based on the opinions of thosethinkers. Ibn Sina’s ideas had influence on the formation of many cultural figures’ points of view, as had influence of Aristotle to Al-Farabi, and Al-Farabi to Ibn Sina.

Rumi, in developing this idea, rose to the top of poetic art. In the culture of Islam, after Kuran and the Prophet’s Khadis (story), Rumi’s works are in great demand [7].

Representatives of Persian literature saw Rumi’s poem “Masnavi” as Kuran in Persian language[8]. These traditional rules which began from Aristotle have found their continuation in the works of Abai, Zhalalad-Din Dauani(1467-1502),Yu.Balasagun(XI),A.Yassaui(XII-XII), M.Khorezmi (XIY), Nizami, Navaii, Abdirakhman Zhami, and Saadi, Hafiz. There is assonance in the ideas of those scientists. The difference is not in content but in form. If one scientist’s word is exact, the next one’s word has concealed

meaning. But all scientists had the general idea: Humanity begins when person looks inside of himself and tries to learn the origin and secrets of character and human nature. In Abai’s

opinion, human who wants to know the secrets of nature, truth and to feel justice should convince themselves that external and internal nature of human are different things. Human’s

external nature is body, and internal nature is soul. In scientific literature “desire”, “spirit”, “heart” or “soul” all

mean one concept. In spite of this, it is difficult to give the definition of the word “spirit”. Scientists give different

definitions such as fire, heat, movement, or source of movement. According to Democrates, mind and soul are the same. According to Plato, out of spirit cannot be either mind or

rationality. The soul is created before body; therefore it

surpasses a body. Soul is the governor and the owner of a body. Aristotle agreed with Plato and he underlined that the governor of soul is mind. The soul is neither matter nor substratum, it is another concept with what we feel, think and live. If matter is opportunity, the form is its execution [10].

Human’s soul consist of those two bases. Aristotle’s principles about “strong-minded soul”, “stupid soul”, ability of soul to know the truth (feel, imagine, think or intuition, opinion, knowledge, mind), and five ways of recognizing or denying truth (art, science, practice, wisdom, mind) were

conducive to Abai’s thoughts about soul and body [9]. Abai underlined the distinction of soul and body, mind and feeling, that what distinguishes human being from beast is that soul

and body exist in with the concepts of mind and sense.

Aristotle in his “Nicoma aesthetics” wrote if human has excessive passion they become like animal. In his work he showed three kinds of existence for human. The lowest kind is to live like animal. According to Al-Farabi, there are people who have the courage and judgment to fulfill the wish of the

mind. Such kind of people we call free man. Human who hasn’t those two dignities are called human like animals[11]. Human who has mind, but not courage is called slave. Such

kind of issues of soul and body are written in the works of Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Rene Descartes (1596-1650), Blaise Paskal (1623-1662), Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677).

Paskal defined human greatness with ability of mind.

Theoretical rule has a profound meaning in the work “aesthetics” and other works of Spinoza [14]. Abai’s social ethical thoughts and philosophical views about the soul, body, mind, sense have much in common with the principles of East

and West scientists. Abai’s thought about people of his time “Many people are not perverted because of stupidity; they are perverted because of lack of resolve, and the courage in the heart to understand the words of an intelligent”, have much in common with opinions of those scientists[12]. If they told about people who have or have not sanity and will power to

do things peculiar to the mind, Abai told about people who have or have not, the heart, determination and courage to understand the intelligent person’s words.

Plato’s, Aristotle’s, Al-Farabi’s, IbnSina’s, F.Bacon’s, R.Deskarte’s, B.Paskal,’s B.Spinoza’s, and Abai’s opinion about certain phenomenon are similar. Differences are not in opinions and thoughts; differences are in methods and means used to substantiate those opinions and thoughts.


Al-Farabi in his work “civic politics” described human nature as Aristotle “like beasts”, “like wild animal”, “like

predator”. Those thoughts of Al-Farabi, Aristotle and Abai’s “if there is no light in mind, you live like predator”,; “if there is no light in the heart, of what are you made any better than the beast”, with Aristotle’s and Al-Farabi’s characterization of

human “like beasts”, “like wild animal”, “like predator” and

Abai’s description of human behavior “to live like predator” of what you’d be better than a beast” have accordance. There is no contradiction in the description of scientists who lived in different epochs with Abai’s description about the three human dignities: “vigorous strength”, “bright mind”, and “warm heart”. We can’t say that Abai knew and read Socrates’, Plato’s, Aristotle’s, Ksenefont’s, Al-Farabi’s, Ibn Sina’s, Ph. Bacon’s, R.Deskarte’s, B.Paskal’s, or B.Spinoza’s work. In spite of this, in Abai’s world, his view and thoughts

have correspondence with those scientists. We can say that Abai made deep, rich thought about the concepts of soul and body.




[1] Plato. Worksin 4 volumes. Volume III._Part I.-St.Petersburg, 2007, p.22.

[2] Àbai Kunanbayev. Works in 2 volumes. Volume I. – Àlmaty, 1977, pp265-266.

[3] Plato. Works in 4 volumes. Volume II. St.Petersburg, 2007, p.48

[4] Àl-Gazali, Àbu Hamid. Instructionsforrulers. – Ì., 2008, p. 86.

[5] Rumi, Zhalalad-din, Muhammed. Massnavi-Manavi (Poem about hiding

meaning). St.Petersburg, 2010

[6] Àl-Dzhilani, abdàl-Êàdir. Disclosureofhidden: Ñollection of 75 sermons. Ì., 2008, pp 141.

[7] Zhan Sh.Mevliana Dzhalaleddin Rumi (Life, person, thoughts).

St.Petersburg, 2007, p. 9.

[8] A.Hismattullin. Fromeditor//Rumi. Jalalad-din, Muhammed Masnavi-

Manavi (Poemabouthiddenmeaning). Translated from Persian. St.

Peterburg, 2009, p.13.

[9] Àristotle. Ethics, Aesthetics, Policy- Minsk, 2011, pp 45-50.

[10] Àristotle.Poetics. Rhetoric. Aboutsoul / translatedby Â. Appellort, N.Platonova, P.Popov. – Ì., 2009, pp.309-315.

[11] Al-Farabi. Social-ethical tractates. Àlmaty, 1975, p.49

[12]A.Kunanbayev.Works in two volumes.Volume2.Almaty,1977, p.219.

[13] Aristotle. Mistery. Library of ancient Rus. Volume 9. http://

[14] B. Spinoza. Ethics. html

[15] S.Lukanov .Selected works. Volume ² . – Àlmaty, 1980.

 World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, Issue 66, June 2012.  Published in USA.


pISSN 2010-376x

eISSN 2010-3778

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The institute of Abai was opened in Kazakh National University named after Al-Farabi on the 24th of March, 2009. The Academician of International High School Science Academy, Doctor of Philology Science and professor Zhangara Dadebaev was chosen as a director of the Institute of Abai.