Al-Kindi; the Arabic scientist with immense contribution and influence in the world of perfumery.
Al-Kindi lived between 801 and 873 AD, born in Kufa, Abbasid Caliphate which is now known as Iraq. He was educated in Baghdad and grew to become a very prominent figure and a number of Abbasid Caliphs appointed him to carry out and also oversee the translation of scientific and philosophical texts which were then in Greek into Arabic language. It is widely believed that his role in the translation work and deep contact with the Greek Philosophy had a great influence in him in terms of intellectual development. This interaction enabled him to write hundreds of original papers on a wide range of subjects and topics. Al- Kindi has written on subjects such as Metaphysics, logic, psychology, ethics, Pharmacology, mathematics, optics, medicine, astronomy and astrology. He also wrote on practical topics such as perfumes, jewels, glass, tides, and earthquakes among many others. Al-Kindi worn several hats; he was a mathematician, musician, astronomer, physicist, pioneer cryptography. He is also believed to have been a great philosopher although he was eventually eclipsed by the greatest Islamic philosophers such as Ibna Sina and Baruni. One of the greatest Italian Renaissance scholars Geralomo came to identify him as one of the twelve great men of the Middle East, more so for the profound contribution in different scholarly fields. In his lifetime, he is believed to have written more than two hundred and sixty books with his influence in fields of philosophy, medicine, physics, music and mathematics having a far reaching effect for a number of centuries.
His role in development of early Islamic philosophy
As a person who was in charge of the institute of learning and transition and his patronizing by the Abbasid Khalifa, he became a great influence in Muslim community. He made Hellenistic and Greek knowledge widely accessible and acceptable in Islamic faith. Together with the people in the House of Wisdom, an office in Abbasad Khalifa, they translated important texts which became part of Arabic philosophy. His works were later to be produced by great Islamic philosophers such as Al-Farabi.
His role in the field of chemistry was great; he was the first chemist to dispel the myth that it was possible to transform simple base metals into precious metals such as silver or gold. In the field of winery, he is credited as the first person who managed to produce pure alcohol from the process where he distilled wine. He managed to isolate ethanol as a pure compound, a product that is still used today as a drink and also in many other industries.
Interest in perfume and scented products
Al-Kindi is described as a person who had great interest in perfumes and scented products. He carried out extensive research in this area and through experiments managed to extract a number of perfumes. Through his study of several plants and flowers, he learnt that a variety of scent products can be produced. Many of the plant products that he experimented on ended up producing very useful cosmetics as well as pharmaceutical products. Many consider him as the pioneers of the science of perfumery.
He is credited with coming up with several techniques which made the production of perfumes. Through combination of raw materials from different plants several new scents were created. His work was advanced by several scientists and through that they have formed the basis of most of the perfumes and scents that used today in different parts of the world. The number of records that he produced over the period of time in the science of perfumery were great influence in the field and continued to be referred in the academic field and also in the production of perfumes and scents in different parts of the world. One of the widely used materials is the book called “The Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations.” In this book there are hundreds of recipes that can be used in preparations of perfumes and scented products. Some of the recipes include fragrant oils, aromatic water, camphor, salves and also some relatively cheaper alternatives to expensive drugs. These recipes have been widely used in preparation of perfumes, with some of the products in the market today being made using Al-Kindi methods with slight adjustments to meet the needs and preferences of the cosmetic users today.
His great work in natural perfumery makes him one of the greatest perfumist in the history of cosmetics. Also, the father of natural perfumery, the world of cosmetics has been greatly influenced by his experiments and productions. It is highly likely that some of the products you are using today can in one way or another be traced to his methodologies and recipes. His name will live forever, more so because he is associated with a product that makes people feel good about themselves and also boosts their confidence.