Abu Al- Walid Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Rushd, known in the West as Averroës or Avén Ruiz or Averrhoes, was born in 1126 A.D. in Cordova (once the capital of Moorish Spain), and died in Marrakech, Morocco (Capital of the Almohad or al-Muwahhidun dynasty) on December, 10, 1198 A.D. Akin to many Arab and Muslim physicians and scholars we discussed in this series,1–6 Ibn Rushd was a true polymath, with knowledge, expertise and genuine contributions to philosophy, islamic law (jurisprudence), medicine, astronomy, mathematics, physics and geography. Not surprisingly, he became known as the “Prince of Science”.
Ibn Rushd was a descendent of distinguished family of scholars, excelling in Quranic studies and theology, and with a long and well-respected tradition of legal and public service. Ibn Rushd is sometimes referred to the grandson (Al-Hafid), since his grandfather who carried the same name, used to be the grand judge (Qadi) of Cordoba. Ibn Rushd (the grandfather) was the author of a famous treatise in Maliki jurisprudence, the kitab al-Mugad Dimat al Mumahhidat. Ibn Rushd’s father, Abu Al-Qasim Ahmad was also a Qadi.7
It was Ibn Tufail (Abubacer), the philosophic vizier of Almohad Caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf, who introduced Ibn Rushd to the court. In 1169 A.D., Ibn Rushd was appointed a judge in Seville and in 1171 A.D., he was transferred to Cordova, where he held the position of a judge (Qadi) for ten years. During that time, he wrote commentaries and interpretations on the works of Aristotle, among others on Metaphysics, and on Plato’s Politeia. In 1182 A.D., he was called to Marrakesh to work as a personal physician for the Caliph there, but he was soon transferred back to Cordova with the title of Great Qadi (Chief Judge). Ibn Rushd fell out of favor with the Caliph due to the opposition that theologians had raised against his writings. He was accused of heresy, interrogated and banned to Lucena, close to Cordova. At the same time (1195 A.D.), the Caliph ordered the books of Ibn Rushd to be burnt, with the exception of his works on medicine, arithmetic and elementary astronomy. Sometime later, the Caliph revoked the banishment and called Ibn Rushd back to Marrakesh.
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