Recommended edition: Al Farabi. Alfarabi on the Perfect State. Trans. Walzer, Richard. New York, NY. Oxford University Press, 1985.
From Book Review:
“Farabi is Islam’s first and, pace Ibn Sina, perhaps greatest Islamic Neoplatonist. He is certainly more original than his successor who leaned heavily upon him. Farabi in The Virtuous City produced a work “written by a philosophy qua philosopher”. His intention, again to use Walzer’s introductory words, was “to naturalize the material” which he brought to the attention of the Muslim world of his day, “and by doing this to give a new – and i suppose, in his view, the best – answer to the intellectual as well as the religious and political questions of his century” (p. 6). The work has a special and honored place in the histories of both Islamic philosophy and medieval Islamic political theory. However, although it is often thought to provide Islam’s counterpart to Plato’s Republic, the two are, in fact, very different works. Farabi’s volume begins with a lengthy discussion of the Neoplatonic One and does not deal with matters political until Chapter 15 in Section 5.”