Joseph ben Judah ibn Aknin - Music therapy from Tibb al-Nufus (Hygiene of Souls)
Type of Spiritual Experience
Joseph ben Judah ibn Aknin (c. 1150 – c. 1220) was a Jewish writer of numerous treatises, mostly on the Mishnah and the Talmud. He was born in Barcelona, but settled in Fez. Though a native of Spain, his family had originated in North Africa. In addition to an introduction to the Talmud in Arabic (Hebrew translation at Mevo ha-Talmud), and a treatise on Talmudic weights and measures, his surviving works include:
- Tibb al-Nufūs ("The Hygiene of Healthy Souls and the Therapy of Ailing Souls") - A book on psychology and healing, with a chapters on friendship, speech and silence, keeping a secret, lying, food and drink, education, the needs and destiny of the soul, persecutions and the proper response to them, and repentance. The chapter on education argues that the study of logic and science should not be undertaken before the age of thirty, and only after a solid traditional education.
- Inkishāf al-asrar watuhūr al-anwār ("The Divulgence of Mysteries and the Appearance of Lights") - A commentary on the Song of Songs, treating each verse at three levels: at the literal level, citing contemporary grammarians to explain every word on the scroll; at a rabbinical level, based on midrashic texts, symbolising the people of Israel's relationship with God; and at an allegorical level, describing the soul trying to unite itself with the higher spirit, supported by Jewish and Arab poets, and the philosophy of Al-Farabi and Avicenna.
- A Hebrew translation of Al-Farabi's Kitab al-Musiqa al-Kabir (Great Book of Music)
A description of the experience
Tibb al-Nufus (Hygiene of Souls) - Ibn 'Aqnin
in the case of melancholy ... [when the sick person] cannot see things as they are and he is afraid of things of which he has no reason to be afraid, this is a bad disease. He can cure it by listening to the performance of instrumentalists and to the singing of poems accompanied by these five instruments:
- kinnorim and nevalim [lyres]
- man'ammim [perhaps mena'ne'im, rattles],
- mezalzelim [cymbals], and
- 'uggavim [wind instruments].