Abu'l Waleed Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Rushd, known as Averros in
the West, was born in 1128 C.E. 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 Jamia Mosque of Cordova. The young 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, He himself had studied many of
these 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 2 centuries later.
Abu Yaqub, the Caliph of Morocco, called him 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. In medicine his well- known book Kitab al-Kulyat fi
al-Tibb was written before 1162 C.E. 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 of 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. These three commentaries would seem to correspond to
different stages in the education of pupils; the short one was meant for the
beginners, then the intermediate for the students familiar with the subject, and
finally the longest one for advanced studies. 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. This book 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
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. On
medicine alone he wrote 20 books. 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. The 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. According to Philip Hitti, 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