Abul Waleed Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Rushd, stands out as a
towering figure in the history of Arab-Islamic thought, as well as that of
West-European philosophy and theology.
Ibn Rushd, known as Averroes in the West, was born in 1128 A.D. in Cordova,
where his father and grandfather had both been judges.
His grandfather was well versed in Fiqh (Maliki School) and was also the
Imam of the Cordova Mosque.
Ibn Rushd received his education in Cordova and lived a quiet life, devoting
most of his time to learned-pursuits. He studied philosophy and law from Abu
J'afar Haroon and from Ibn Baja; he also studied medicine.
Al-Hakam, the famous Umayyad Caliph of Spain, had constructed a magnificent
library in Cordova, which housed 500,000 books. Al Hakam studied many of
these books and made brief marginal comments on them.
This rich collection laid the foundation for intellectual study in Spain and
provided the background for men like Ibn Rushd, who lived two centuries
Abu Yaqub, the Caliph of Morocco, called Ibn Rushd to his capital and
appointed him as his physician in place of Ibn Tufail.
His son, Yaqub al-Mansur, retained him for some time but soon Ibn Rushd's
views on theology and philosophy drew the Caliph's wrath.
All his books, barring strictly scientific ones, were burnt and he was
banished to Lucena.
However, as a result of intervention of several leading scholars he was
forgiven after about four years and recalled to Morocco in 1198; but he died
towards the end of the same year.
Ibn Rushd made remarkable contributions; in philosophy, logic, medicine,
music and jurisprudence.
A common theme throughout his writings is that there is no incompatibility
between religion and philosophy when both are properly understood.
His contributions to philosophy took many forms, ranging from his detailed
commentaries on Aristotle, his defense of philosophy against the attacks of
those who condemned it as contrary to Islam and his construction of a form
of Aristotelianism which cleansed it, as far as was possible at the time, of
His well known book in medicine "Kitab al-Kulyat fi al-Tibb" was written
before 1162 A.D. Its Latin translation was known as 'Colliget'.
In it, Ibn Rushd has thrown light on various aspects of medicine, including
the diagnoses, cure and prevention of diseases. The book concentrates on
specific areas in comparison to Ibn Sina's wider scope of al-Qanun, but
contains several original observations of Ibn Rushd.
In philosophy, his most important work "Tuhafut al-Tuhafut" was written in
response to al-Ghazali's work.
Ibn Rushd was criticized by many Muslim scholars for this book, which,
nevertheless, had a profound influence on European thought, at least until
the beginning of modern philosophy and experimental science.
His views on fate were that man is neither in full control of his destiny
nor is it fully predetermined for him. He wrote three commentaries on the
works of Aristotle, as these were known then through Arabic translations.
The shortest "Jami" may be considered as a summary of the subject. The
intermediate was "Talkhis" and the longest was the "Tafsir". The longest
commentary was, in fact, an original contribution as it was largely based on
his analysis including interpretation of Qu'ranic concepts.
In the field of music, Ibn Rushd wrote a commentary on Aristotle's book "De
Anima", which was translated into Latin by Mitchell the Scott.
In astronomy he wrote a treatise on the motion of the sphere, "Kitab
fi-Harakat al-Falak". He also summarized "Almagest" and divided it into two
parts: description of the spheres, and movement of the spheres. This summary
of the "Almagest" was translated from Arabic into Hebrew by Jacob Anatoli in
According to Ibn al-Abbar, Ibn Rushd's writings spread over 20,000 pages,
the most famous of which deal with philosophy, medicine and jurisprudence.
He wrote 20 books on medicine alone. Regarding jurisprudence, his book
"Bidayat al-Mujtahid wa-Nihayat- al-Muqtasid" has been held by Ibn Jafar
Thahabi as possibly the best book on the Maliki School of Fiqh.
Ibn Rushd's writings were translated into various languages, including
Latin, English, German and Hebrew. Most of his commentaries on philosophy
are preserved in the Hebrew translations, or in Latin translations from the
Hebrew, and a few in the original Arabic, generally in Hebrew script. This
reveals his wider acceptance in the West in comparison to the East. His
commentary on zoology is entirely lost.
Ibn Rushd also wrote commentaries on Plato's "Republic", Galen's treatise on
fevers, al-Farabi's logic, etc. Eighty-seven of his books are still extant.
Ibn Rushd has been held as one of the greatest thinkers and scientists of
the 12th century.
Ibn Rushd influenced Western thought from the 12th to the 16th centuries.
His books were included in the syllabi of Paris and other universities till
the advent of modern experimental sciences.
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Palestinians fleeing from sophisticated guns of the
Israelis as well as adventure of African migrants for