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Abu Al-Walid Muhammad Ibn Rushd, or better known as Ibn Rushd or Averroes to the West, is a symbol of the migration of thought. He was an Islamic law expert and a philosopher. The combination of his expertise in these two fields is rather unique and it provoked inquiries because philosophy is seen as discussing theoretical and speculative matters while Islamic law is a practical field that discusses issues like the daily problems of people – among others. This uniqueness is what makes up – this Islamic thinker of the twelfth century AD, - Ibn Rushd. If Ibn Sina is regarded as a knowledgeable person of the Islamic civilization famous in the West, Ibn Rushd is famous in the West because he proved to be the bridge between Islamic civilization and the modern Western civilization.

Ibn Rushd was born in the year 1126 AD in Cordoba, a centre of learning in Andalusia, Spain. His uniqueness in combining theories of knowledge with various opinions and practical knowledge as well as social life and current politics is something to be proud of. He received his early education in the field of traditional Islamic knowledge. In spite of that, he also shone in philosophy such that he was nicknamed the commentator of Aristotle’s philosophy.

Idris Rashid said: “Like many of the great thinkers in the golden era of Islam, Ibn Rushd possessed skills in many fields such as mathematics, physics, astronomy, logic, philosophy and medicine. He was also proficient in Qur’anic knowledge, hadith, especially the fiqh of Maliki school of thought. He once reviewed the book, Maliki Al-Muwatta. His work of fiqh entitled Bidayatul Mujtahid became an important reference material in fiqh knowledge. His medical work was equally important compared to Ibn Sina’s even though it is not as popular.”

Ibn Rushd’s contribution to the field of law cannot be refuted. He is not only an academic in fiqh and law but also a Head Qadi, or Head Judge, in Andalus, Spain. His work in fiqh and law entitled Bidayatul Mujtahid is still the reference for students and academics today. It succeeded in combining law, the administration of law, science and philosophy.

Despite that, Ibn Rushd’s most important contribution to Islamic and Western civilizations is his ability to create synthesis or unity between Greek philosophy and Islam.

History has portrayed Ibn Rushd as a great Islamic philosopher and an excellent commentator of Aristotle. His comments can be found in Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic. His comments enable the Western world to become reacquainted with the heritage of Greek knowledge such that Christian and Jewish thinkers were able to free their mindset from the boundaries of the Christian and Jewish church during Medieval Europe. This proved to be his greatest contribution to the rise of the Western civilization during the fourteenth century, which was known as the “Renaissance”.

Ibn Rushd’s great contributions are not only to Muslims and the Islamic civilizations, but also to the practitioners of other religions and modern Western civilization. With his knowledge and contributions through the doors of Andalus, the Western civilization laid their foundations to achieve what they have today. The intellectual contributions of a thinker, which are not confined to the boundaries of time and space, are very crucial to society and other civilizations existing in a multicultural and multiracial context. Some of his intellectual treasuries include as many as 78 books in the field of knowledge, 20,000 pages that discusses philosophy and law as well as 20 more books in the medical field. A large proportion of these materials are still used in the educational curriculum in University of Paris and other Western universities.

During the Islamic golden age of the Bani Umayyah in Andalus in the ninth and tenth centuries, there were many Jewish and Christian scholars who stayed there to study the various fields of knowledge which were developed or popularised by Islamic thinkers. Ibn Rushd was a manifestation of an active interaction between civilization and human culture. He continuously searched for truth and wisdom, regardless of its source. This is the spirit that once lived and has to be continued, this is, by seeing the difference as a reason for the meeting of civilizations.

Intellect, rationality and divine message cannot be seen as conflicting; in fact they strengthened and compliment each other. Ibn Rushd, through his work has balanced the roles of both intellectualism and divine message. In fact, he stressed the importance combining science, religion and philosophy. Without this combination, disintegration will be conceived between personal and social structures. This proved to be one of Ibn Rushd’s greatest contributions.


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