72 Facts About Averroes


Ibn Rushd, often Latinized as Averroes, was an Andalusian polymath and jurist who wrote about many subjects, including philosophy, theology, medicine, astronomy, physics, psychology, mathematics, Islamic jurisprudence and law, and linguistics.


Averroes was a strong proponent of Aristotelianism; he attempted to restore what he considered the original teachings of Aristotle and opposed the Neoplatonist tendencies of earlier Muslim thinkers, such as Al-Farabi and Avicenna.


Averroes defended the pursuit of philosophy against criticism by Ashari theologians such as Al-Ghazali.


Averroes argued that philosophy was permissible in Islam and even compulsory among certain elites.


Averroes argued scriptural text should be interpreted allegorically if it appeared to contradict conclusions reached by reason and philosophy.


Averroes's thoughts generated controversies in Latin Christendom and triggered a philosophical movement called Averroism based on his writings.


Averroes's works were condemned by the Catholic Church in 1270 and 1277.


Averroes's family was well known in the city for their public service, especially in the legal and religious fields.


Averroes learned Maliki jurisprudence under al-Hafiz Abu Muhammad ibn Rizq and hadith with Ibn Bashkuwal, a student of his grandfather.


Averroes's father taught him about jurisprudence, including on Imam Malik's magnum opus the Muwatta, which Averroes went on to memorize.


Averroes studied medicine under Abu Jafar Jarim al-Tajail, who probably taught him philosophy too.


Averroes knew the works of the philosopher Ibn Bajjah, and might have known him personally or been tutored by him.


Averroes joined a regular meeting of philosophers, physicians and poets in Seville which was attended by philosophers Ibn Tufayl and Ibn Zuhr as well as the future caliph Abu Yusuf Yaqub.


Averroes studied the kalam theology of the Ashari school, which he criticized later in life.


Averroes was hoping to find physical laws of astronomical movements instead of only the mathematical laws known at the time but this research was unsuccessful.


Averroes was similarly impressed by Abu Yaqub and later said the caliph had "a profuseness of learning I did not suspect".


Averroes took the opportunity from his travels to conduct astronomical researches.


Historian of Islamic philosophy Majid Fakhry wrote that public pressure from traditional Maliki jurists who were opposed to Averroes played a role.


Averroes was initially buried in North Africa but his body was later moved to Cordoba for another funeral, at which future Sufi mystic and philosopher Ibn Arabi was present.


Averroes was a prolific writer and his works, according to Fakhry, "covered a greater variety of subjects" than those of any of his predecessors in the East, including philosophy, medicine, jurisprudence or legal theory, and linguistics.


Averroes wrote commentaries on nearly all of Aristotle's surviving works.


Averroes classified his commentaries into three categories that modern scholars have named short, middle and long commentaries.


Averroes wrote stand alone philosophical treatises, including On the Intellect, On the Syllogism, On Conjunction with the Active Intellect, On Time, On the Heavenly Sphere and On the Motion of the Sphere.


Averroes wrote several polemics: Essay on al-Farabi's Approach to Logic, as Compared to that of Aristotle, Metaphysical Questions Dealt with in the Book of Healing by Ibn Sina, and Rebuttal of Ibn Sina's Classification of Existing Entities.


Averroes, who served as the royal physician at the Almohad court, wrote a number of medical treatises.


Averroes's other surviving titles include On Treacle, The Differences in Temperament, and Medicinal Herbs.


Averroes served multiple tenures as judge and produced multiple works in the fields of Islamic jurisprudence or legal theory.


Averroes rejected al-Farabi's attempt to merge the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, pointing out the differences between the two, such as Aristotle's rejection of Plato's theory of ideas.


Averroes criticized Al-Farabi's works on logic for misinterpreting its Aristotelian source.


Averroes wrote an extensive critique of Avicenna, who was the standard-bearer of Islamic Neoplatonism in the Middle Ages.


Averroes argued that Avicenna's theory of emanation had many fallacies and was not found in the works of Aristotle.


Averroes disagreed with Avicenna's view that existence is merely an accident added to essence, arguing the reverse; something exists per se and essence can only be found by subsequent abstraction.


Averroes rejected Avicenna's modality and Avicenna's argument to prove the existence of God as the Necessary Existent.


Averroes argues that the Quran calls for Muslims to study philosophy because the study and reflection of nature would increase a person's knowledge of "the Artisan".


Averroes tries to deflect Al-Ghazali's criticisms of philosophy by saying that many of them apply only to the philosophy of Avicenna and not to that of Aristotle, which Averroes argues to be the true philosophy from which Avicenna has deviated.


Averroes lays out his views on the existence and nature of God in the treatise The Exposition of the Methods of Proof.


Averroes argues that there are two arguments for God's existence that he deems logically sound and in accordance to the Quran; the arguments from "providence" and "from invention".


Averroes cited the sun, the moon, the rivers, the seas and the location of humans on the earth.


Therefore, Averroes argues that a designer was behind the creation and that is God.


Averroes devotes the most attention to the attribute of knowledge and argues that divine knowledge differs from human knowledge because God knows the universe because God is its cause while humans only know the universe through its effects.


Averroes argues that the attribute of life can be inferred because it is the precondition of knowledge and because God willed objects into being.


Averroes argues that knowledge and power inevitably give rise to speech.


Averroes responded to Al-Ghazali in his Incoherence of the Incoherence.


Averroes said the pre-eternity doctrine did not necessarily contradict the Quran and cited verses that mention pre-existing "throne" and "water" in passages related to creation.


Averroes argued that a careful reading of the Quran implied only the "form" of the universe was created in time but that its existence has been eternal.


Averroes further criticized the kalam theologians for using their own interpretations of scripture to answer questions that should have been left to philosophers.


Averroes combines his ideas with Plato's and with Islamic tradition; he considers the ideal state to be one based on the Islamic law.


Averroes accepted Plato's ideas of the deterioration of the ideal state.


Averroes says the Almoravid and the Almohad empires started as ideal, shariah-based states but then deteriorated into timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny.


Averroes writes that the application of qiyas could give rise to different legal opinion because jurists might disagree on the applicability of certain analogies and different analogies might contradict each other.


Averroes argued that those objects move uniformly in a strictly circular motion around the earth, following Aristotelian principles.


Averroes used this observation to support Aristotle's argument for the spherical Earth.


Averroes was aware that Arabic and Andalusian astronomers of his time focused on "mathematical" astronomy, which enabled accurate predictions through calculations but did not provide a detailed physical explanation of how the universe worked.


Averroes confessed that he had not enough time or knowledge to reconcile the observed planetary motions with Aristotelian principles.


In physics, Averroes did not adopt the inductive method that was being developed by Al-Biruni in the Islamic world and is closer to today's physics.


Averroes expounds his thoughts on psychology in his three commentaries on Aristotle's On the Soul.


Averroes is interested in explaining the human intellect using philosophical methods and by interpreting Aristotle's ideas.


Averroes was the first to describe the signs and symptoms of Parkinson's disease in his Kulliyat, although he did not give the disease a name.


Jewish Averroism peaked in the fourteenth century; Jewish writers of this time who translated or were influenced by Averroes include Kalonymus ben Kalonymus of Arles, France, Todros Todrosi of Arles, Elia del Medigo of Candia and Gersonides of Languedoc.


The influence of his commentaries led to Averroes being referred to simply as "The Commentator" rather than by name in Latin Christian writings.


Averroes has been sometimes described as the "father of free thought and unbelief" and "father of rationalism".


Averroes's writing attracted a strong circle of followers known as the Latin Averroists.


Averroes received a mixed reception from other Catholic thinkers; Thomas Aquinas, a leading Catholic thinker of the thirteenth century, relied extensively on Averroes's interpretation of Aristotle but disagreed with him on many points.


Averroes opposed Averroes on the eternity of the universe and divine providence.


Averroes had no major influence on Islamic philosophic thought until modern times.


Part of the reason was geography; Averroes lived in Spain, the extreme west of the Islamic civilization far from the centers of Islamic intellectual traditions.


Averroes's focus on Aristotle's works was outdated in the twelfth-century Muslim world, which had already scrutinized Aristotle since the ninth century and by now was engaging deeply with newer schools of thought, especially that of Avicenna.


References to Averroes appear in the popular culture of both the western and Muslim world.


The poem The Divine Comedy by the Italian writer Dante Alighieri, completed in 1320, depicts Averroes, "who made the Great Commentary", along with other non-Christian Greek and Muslim thinkers, in the first circle of hell around Saladin.


Averroes is depicted in Raphael's 1501 fresco The School of Athens that decorates the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, which features seminal figures of philosophy.


Averroes is referenced briefly in Victor Hugo's 'The Hunchback of Notre-Dame'.


The plant genus Averrhoa, the lunar crater ibn Rushd, and the asteroid 8318 Averroes are named after him.