PEARLS FROM THE PAST: IBN RUSHD- A GREAT PHILOSOPHER

Ibn Rushd was the great Muslim philosopher of the Middle Ages. During and after the fourteenth century C.E. (900 AH.) his research and explanations on the various branches of philosophy were regarded by scholars as comprehensive and unquestionable. His works were prescribed as textbooks by the Universities of Paris, Oxford and Prague. He is still held in very high esteem by students of philosophy in the West, who know him as Averroes.

He was born in 1126 at Cordova, which was for centuries the chief centre of learning in Muslim Spain. His family was noted for its learning and culture, and his grandfather, who had been the Qadi of that city, had left works of rare value to prosperity. Ibn Rushd studied law and medicine in his native town, and attained a high standard of proficiency in them at an early age. He was appointed as the Qadi of Seville (Spain) in 1169 CE, and transferred to Cordova two years later.

In 1182 he was Court physician (personal doctor) to Abu Yaqub Yausaf at Marrakush, but soon reverted to his old calling, this time as the Chief Qadi of Cordova.In 1192, due to jealousy and opposition from the theologians who rejected some of his writings, he was disgraced and later suspected to be preaching heresy (belief that is against the teachings of Islam) under the pretence of philosophy, with the result that he was sentenced to a term of exile. He died in 1198.From his youth upwards, this great philosopher had been a keen observer of nature and natural phenomena. His remarkable analysis and notes of - the works of Aristotle (the most gifted of the ancient Greek philosophers) won him Fame and high reputation through the ages.

VIEWS ON RELIGION: Ibn Rushd was a rationalist (one who believes in using reasoning and logic as the basis of accepting or rejecting religion) but not the supporter of free thought and unbelief. He wrote on the concord of religion and rhilosophy. In his book, Kitab Fasl-al-Maka, he subordinated philosophy to religion and emphatically maintained that philosophy must of necessity agree with religion and that instructions in religion must be of a standard that will conform to the intellectual.

According to him, there are three cathegories of believers: (i) those who believe as a result of preaching, (ii) those whose beliefs are based on reasoning; and (iii) those whose beliefs are based on proofs which rest on a chain of established premises. In his major books, he dealt with the creation of the world, the Divine knowledge of particular things, and the future of the human soul. He held the view that nature is developing itself gradually, every moment and that this enables the slobe to maintain its existence and its equilibrium. This means that a creative Power, Allah, is permanently at work not only on earth but in the entire universe. Allah's knowledge is the only motive power behind the universe. Ibn Rushd taught that the life after death must always be more important to us than our mere earthly existence.

HIS BOOKS: In Europe, Ihn Rushd. is best  as a commentator on Aristotle. He spent his life researching and critisizing Aristotle's work as a seeker after truth. His commentaries take the form of a series of treatises, most of which have been preserved in Hebrew translations. Perhaps his most famous work is his Tahafut-al-T abafut (the Refutation of the Refutation), which is a reply to Imam AIGhazzali's great book entitled - T ahafut-al-Falaslfah (The Refutation of Philosophers), in which-the latter attacked rationalism. In addition to these books he wrote -several standard works on astronomy and medicine.

CAREER GUIDANCE: TO BE A PHILOSOPHER

A philosopher is a person who thinks deeply about things and whose life is governed by reason. Generally speaking a philosopher is a person whose mind is untroubled by passions and hardships.

Sometimes you are asked what your philosophy of life is? It means a set of beliefs (an outlook in life) that guides your behaviour. Mind you, the Muslim's philosophy is following the deen of Allah and doing what Allah wants always.

Philosophy as a subject is the search for knowledge and understanding of the nature and meaning of the universe and of human life or system of beliefs. There are several forms of philosophy. For instance, there is moral philosophy which is the study of principles on which human behaviour is based.

TO BE A PHILOSOPHER: You must possess an open mind, dedicated to knowing new things, an ability to think deeply and above all, you should be able to see beyond the ordinary appearance of things. In short, you must have a 'third eye'. Philosophy is offered as a course in seven Nigerian universities. The minimum requirement is any 5 O'Level credits (including English Lang. and Maths) and a good score in English and three other subjects in JAMB. (See JAMB brochure for more il1- formation.) When qualified, a philosopher either lectures in a higher institution or works in a company's personnel or administrative sections

TYPES: There are various types of philosophers. There are those whose reasoning make them deny the Creator, thus believing that the world has everlastingly being in existence just as it is, these are THE MATERIALISTS. Another group are THE NATURALISTS who after studying the nature of animals, plants and the universe, their observations made them believe there is a Creator but they were misguided when they hold that whatever dies cannot return to existence. So they reject life after death, heaven, hell, resurrection, the Day of Judgement and reward (for obedience) or punishment (for sins)! These are the IRRELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHERS.

The MUSLIM PHILOSOPHER'S reasoning is guided first by accepting Allah, then expressing love, fear and obedience of Him.

 "In the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the day there are indeed signs for men of understanding; those who ... ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth; and say, "our Lord You have not created this in vain Holy are you; save us from the punishment of the fire". (Q3:190-191)

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited