Abū Bishr Mattā ibn Yūnus al-Qunnāʾī (Arabic: ﺍﺑﻮ ﺑﺸﺮ ﻣﺘﺎ ﺑﻦ ﻳﻮﻧﺲ ﺍﻟﻘﻨﺎﻱء; c. 870-20 June 940) was an Arab Christian philosopher who played an important role in the transmission of the works of Aristotle to the Islamic world. He is famous for founding the Baghdad school of Aristotelian philosophers.


He was trained at the dayr Qunnā monastery (hence the name "al-Qunnāʾī"), a Nestorian institution not far from Baghdad, which supplied the government of the Abbasid Caliphate with many high-ranking officials. He then taught in Baghdad where the Muslim philosopher Al Farabi and the Syriac Christian philosopher Yahya ibn Adi were among his pupils.


He is best known for his Arabic translations of Aristotle and of his Greek commentators. Most of these translations were made from Syriac to Arabic but the famous Arabic bibliography Kitab al-Fihrist mentions a translation of Aristotle's Sophistical Refutations from Greek to Syriac.

These Arabic translations of the Aristotelian corpus were continued by his students (especially Yahya ibn Adi) and were used by later Arabic philosophers such as Avicenna.

Abu Bishr wrote several commentaries of his own on Aristotle but they are all lost.


Aristotelian Corpus

Other Translations

Debate on the merits of logic and grammar

He is reported to have debated a Muslim theologian and grammarian, Abu Sa'id al-Sirafi on the merits of logic and grammar, in the audience of a vizier in Baghdad in 932.[1][2][3] Accounts of the debate were biased towards of al-Sirafi, but the debate appeared to have gone in al-Sirafi's favour, who attacked logic as only applicable to Greek and not useful for Arabic speakers.[2][3] Al-Sirafi also managed to confound Abu Bishr with a series of Arabic grammatical riddles.[3] Abu Bishr's younger colleagues, Al-Farabi and Yahya ibn Adi would later offer additional argument to support his case.[2][3]

Further reading


  1. ^ Margoliouth, D. S. (2011). "IV. The Discussion between Abu Bishr Matta and Abu Sa'id al-Sirafi on the Merits of Logic and Grammar". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland. 37 (1): 79–129. doi:10.1017/S0035869X00032706. ISSN 0035-869X.
  2. ^ a b c "Logic in Islamic philosophy: Logic, language and grammar". muslimphilosophy.com. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Street, Tony (1 January 2015). Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Arabic and Islamic Philosophy of Language and Logic: Farabian Aristotelianism. Retrieved 13 June 2016 – via Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.