Refinement of Character


Tahdhib al-akhlaq (Refinement of character) is a guide to practical conduct by the famous Iranian polymath Ibn Miskawayh (died 1030). It is considered a primary contribution to the field of ethics. Its origins are firmly rooted in Greek philosophy rather than in Islamic texts and traditions. In his philosophical writings, Ibn Miskawayh presents rational rather than scriptural arguments. Often associated by scholars with Neo-Platonist methods, the author makes frequent reference to Aristotle in discussing human nature, requirements for happiness, and the virtuous life. Ibn Miskawayh is sometimes categorized with Shia medieval philosophers, but he is universally heralded throughout the Muslim world, as exemplified by this rendering of the work by Egyptian editor ‘Abd al-‘Alim Salih, who dedicates the work to Ottoman sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid II and to Egyptian ruler ‘Abbas Hilmi Basha (1874−1944). The edition also includes a preface by a prominent jurist of al-Azhar, a further testament to the widespread appeal of Ibn Miskawayh’s writings in the Islamic world. The work was published in Cairo at al-Taraqqi Press. It is not a critical edition of the original. Rather, it gives the appearance of being a private endeavor, perhaps published to win favor at the Egyptian court. Ibn Miskawayh (also seen as Ibn Miskawah or Ibn Meskavayh) was a person of many accomplishments -- a librarian, court official, associate of princes, historian, physician, and philosopher. He was the correspondent or intellectual companion of many of the great thinkers of his time, such as Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi (died 1023). Depending on the vicissitudes of politics or career opportunities, he lived in Abbasid Baghdad and at other times at courts in Persian cities. Tahdhib al-akhlaq is also known by its subtitle Tathir al-‘irq (Purity of disposition). Ibn Miskawayh’s historical and philosophical writings have received much attention from modern scholars.

Date Created

Publication Information

Al-Taraqqi Press, Cairo


Title in Original Language

تهذيب الاخلاق

Type of Item

Physical Description

187 pages ; 25 centimeters


  1. C. Edmund Bosworth, “Meskavayh, Abu ʿAli Ahmad,” in Encyclopaedia Iranica,

Last updated: January 16, 2015