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Ibn Rushd, Reviver of Ancient Greek Knowledge (Scholars of Al Andalus Series)


His Life:

Ibn Rushd (Averroes in Latin) had knowledge of of various subjects, including philosophy, theology, medicine, astronomy, physics, psychology, mathematics, Islamic jurisprudence and law, and linguistics.

He was born in Al Andalus (Córdoba) in 1126 to a family of respected judges—his grandfather was the chief judge of the city of Cordoba. Caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf was impressed with Ibn Rushd’s knowledge and supported his work.


In 1169, the caliph became his patron and commissioned many of Ibn Rushd's commentaries.

Ibn Rushd later served multiple terms as a judge in Seville and as the chief judge of Córdoba. Caliph Abu Yusuf died in 1184 and in 1195, the new caliph sent Ibn Rushd —for political reasons— to Lucena in exile. However, Ibn Rushd was pardoned shortly before his death on 11 December 1198.


Ibn Rushd was enthusiastic about Aristotelian philosophy and opposed the Neoplatonist tendencies of earlier Muslim thinkers, such as Al-Farabi and Ibn Sinna. Furthermore, he justified the use of philosophy in Islam and would go against Al Ghazali and his Ashari ideas! Ibn Rushd gave a lot of importance to reason even with the interpretation of the Quran.

He left a plethora of important texts and books behind and influenced learning even in the Western world:

His Legacy:

- In Islamic jurisprudence, he wrote the Bidāyat al-Mujtahid on the differences between Islamic schools of law and the principles that caused their differences.


- In medicine, he proposed a new theory of stroke, described the signs and symptoms of Parkinson's disease for the first time, and might have been the first to identify the retina as the part of the eye responsible for sensing light. His medical book Al-Kulliyat fi al-Tibb was translated into Latin (named Colliget) and was used as a textbook in Europe for centuries.


- In the West, Ibn Rushd became known for his great commentaries on Aristotle, many of which were translated into Latin and Hebrew (Averroism). This very man and his work brought back the interest in Aristotle and Ancient Greece. The study of Ancient Greek thinkers was abandoned and forgotten by the West. The idea of all humans sharing the same intellect (unity of the intellect thesis) became one of the most well-known and controversial Averroist doctrines in the West attracting followers even up to the 16th century.

In the 13th century, the Catholic Church condemned his work and his ideas. The famous Thomas Aquinas criticised his thoughts and weakened the Averroist movement significantly!

Nevertheless, he has had a profound effect on both the muslims and Christain thoughts and history. So, he is clearly the prime example of the power of the Muslim Golden Age, Al Andalus.


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