Ali-Kindi History Focusing on Cryptography






Ali-Kindi History Focusing on Cryptography


            Cryptography is a technique that is used by people when they are communicating in the presence of a third (Stallings, 2011). In the past, the use of cryptography was not as wide as present. Many people are using coding information so that unwanted third parties cannot view them. For instance, terrorists use coded information to communicate when they are preparing to make terrorism attacks. In this case, the other groups that are being targeted use cryptography to encode this information to establish the plans of the enemies (Stallings, 2011). The process of encoding involves creating of ciphers. For this reason, it is good to understand, the history Ali-Kindi, who is believed to have initiated cryptography, and how he created this idea.


Abu Yusuf Ya qūb ibn Ishaq al-Sabbah al-Kindī commonly known as Ali-Kindi is a Muslim philosopher (Khan, 2008). In most case, he is referred by people as the philosopher of the Arabs. This is because he was the first Arab philosopher. He was born in Kufa as a descendant of the Kinda tribe (Khan, 2008). He pursued his education in Kufa be later on going for further studies in Baghdad. He became an Arab philosopher, physician, musician and a mathematician (Khan, 2008). For this reason, he became a prominent figure in the house of wisdom and received appointments from several Abbasids of the Abbasid dynasty. It is worth noting that Ali-Kindi was one time employed as a calligrapher due to his beautiful work of calligraphy.

In his appointments, Ali-Kindi played several roles in his appointments. One of them was to interpret Greek reading to Islamic. This led to the promotion of Greek reading to the Muslim world. As a result, he ended up writing many original readings from adapted from Greek incorporated to Islam. Secondly, he was expected to introduce Indian numerical to Islam and Christianity. In all his work, it required him to break a code so that he could be able to translate a reading into Islam. As a result, he initiated cryptography by developing ciphers using mathematics to break codes.

Ali-Kindi began cryptography in his early stages when he was appointed by Abbasid. At first, he did not think of breaking codes and developing ciphers so that he could be able to understand the hidden meaning. He used to work normally and translate the different Hindu or Greek readings into Islam and Christianity. However, through the performance of his duties, Ali-Kindi noted that when he was translating there was a common occurrence in trends in most of the readings. This showed that there was a hidden code in the readings and it required a code to break them.

After realizing this, Ali-Kindi started using his mathematics knowledge to create ciphers for the purposes of breaking the codes. He did this by using several Indian readings that he was meant to translate to Islam and Christianity (Olson, 2011). He studied the readings carefully so that he could come with a common frequency where he will be able to create ciphers that will break the hidden code in the readings. At first, it was not that easy for Ali-Kindi because there were several instances where e failed to break the code leading to frustrations. At one point Ali-Kindi almost quit developing codes due to the amount of time and energy he had spent developing ciphers to break the codes.

Finally, at around Ad 800 Ali-Kindi developed the first ciphers that were used to break the codes in the different readings. It was so fascinating that he was able to cipher many readings and translate them with the shortest time possible. In the beginning, people did not understand cryptography because they saw it be a complicated method. Additionally, not many people were literate like Ali-Kindi, henceforth it was a bit difficult for the people because the knowledge that Ali-Kindi had was not available to everybody even those who were learned. For this reasons, Ali-Kindi decided to write a book explaining the different codes.

Ali-Kindi wrote the book for making people understand the process of cryptography. In the book, Ali-Kindi described his first cryptanalysis techniques where he used Arab phonetics, syntax and polyalphabetic ciphers (Olson, 2011). In this process, Ali-Kindi also established the first descriptions on frequency analysis using the cryptanalysis frequencies. In this case, Ali-Kindi was trying to educate people how to cipher information and encode from its raw for to a way that is readable by the third party.

Finally, Ali-Kindi continued to write other books based cryptography so that he could be able to educate people. After his death, Most of his work was lost due to the wars that were occurring between in the Islamic community where the different dynasties were fighting. Additionally, the different libraries present at that time were also destroyed by the different invasions that were constantly occurring (El-Konaissi, 2003). For this reason, most of his work in cryptography took time before other scholars and historians could revise and apply.


            Cryptography is one of the techniques of hiding encoding information between two parties who do not want a third party decipher. In the recent past, after the different terror attacks, different governments have introduced cryptography as part of their security system so that they can know what their enemies are planning and at the same time, they can transfer information from a place to without being. All of this can be attribute to the Arab Philosopher Ali-Kindi who first initiated cryptography when he was translating Greek and Indian writings into Islam and Christianity.



El-Konaissi, A. (2003). Early Muslim concept of epistemology. Gent: Communication & Cognition.

Khan, M. M. (2008). Muslim 100: The lives, thoughts and achievements of the most influential Muslims in history. Leicestershire: Kube.

Olson, C. J. (2011). Voices of Oman: A different Mid-East story, an oral history of the Omani renaissance. London: Stacey International.

Stallings, W. (2011). Cryptography and network security: Principles and practice. Boston: Prentice Hall.

Use the order calculator below and get started! Contact our live support team for any assistance or inquiry.