Ibn Rushd came from a family of Islamic legal scholars; his grandfather Abu Al-Walid Muhammad (d. 1126) was chief judge of Córdoba under the Almoravid dynasty. His father, Abu Al-Qasim Ahmad, held the same position until the coming of the Almohad dynasty in 1146. Despite his Arab origins, Ibn Rushd considered Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) to be his home and even claimed that it possessed the best climate in the world.[4]

Ibn Rushd began his career with the help of Ibn Tufail ("Aben Tofail" to the West), the author of Hayy ibn Yaqdhan and philosophic vizier of Almohad amir Abu Yaqub Yusuf. It was Ibn Tufail who introduced him to the court and to Ibn Zuhr ("Avenzoar" to the West), the great Muslim physician, who became Ibn Rushd's teacher and friend.[5] Ibn Rushd later reported how it was also Ibn Tufail that inspired him to write his famous Aristotelian commentaries:

Abu Bakr ibn Tufayl summoned me one day and told me that he had heard the Commander of the Faithful complaining about the disjointedness of Aristotle's mode of expression — or that of the translators — and the resultant obscurity of his intentions. He said that if someone took on these books who could summarize them and clarify their aims after first thoroughly understanding them himself, people would have an easier time comprehending them. “If you have the energy,” Ibn Tufayl told me, “you do it. I'm confident you can, because I know what a good mind and devoted character you have, and how dedicated you are to the art. You understand that only my great age, the cares of my office — and my commitment to another task that I think even more vital — keep me from doing it myself.”[6]

Ibn Rushd was also a student of Ibn Bajjah ("Avempace" to the West), another famous Islamic philosopher who greatly influenced his own Averroist thought. However, while the thought of his mentors Ibn Tufail and Ibn Bajjah were mystic to an extent, the thought of Ibn Rushd was purely rationalist. Together, the three men are considered the greatest Andalusian philosophers.[4]

In 1160, Ibn Rushd was made Qadi (judge) of Seville and he served in many court appointments in Seville and Cordoba, and in Morocco during his career. At the end of the 12th century, following the Almohads conquest of Al-Andalus, his political career was ended. Ibn Rushd's strictly rationalist views which collided with the more orthodox views of Abu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Mansur led to him banishing Averroes though he had previously appointed him as his personal physician. Averroes was not rehabilitated until shortly before his death. He devoted the rest of his life to his philosophical writings.



Ibn Rushd's works were spread over 20,000 pages covering a variety of different subjects, including early Islamic philosophy, logic in Islamic philosophy, Arabic medicine, Arabic mathematics, Arabic astronomy, Arabic grammar, Islamic theology, Sharia (Islamic law), and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). In particular, his most important works dealt with Islamic philosophy, medicine and Fiqh. He wrote at least 67 original works, which included 28 works on philosophy, 20 on medicine, 8 on law, 5 on theology, and 4 on grammar, in addition to his commentaries on most of Aristotle's works and his commentary on Plato's The Republic.[4]

He wrote commentaries on most of the surviving works of Aristotle. These were not based on primary sources (it is not known whether he knew Greek), but rather on Arabic translations. There were three levels of commentary: the Jami, the Talkhis and the Tafsir which are, respectively, a simplified overview, an intermediate commentary with more critical material, and an advanced study of Aristotelian thought in a Muslim context. The terms are taken from the names of different types of commentary on the Qur'an. It is not known whether he wrote commentaries of all three types on all the works: in most cases only one or two commentaries survive.

He did not have access to any text of Aristotle's Politics. As a substitute for this, he commented on Plato's The Republic, arguing that the ideal state there described was the same as the original constitution of the Arab Caliphate,[4] as well as the Almohad state of Ibn Tumart.

His most important original philosophical work was The Incoherence of the Incoherence (Tahafut al-tahafut), in which he defended Aristotelian philosophy against al-Ghazali's claims in The Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahafut al-falasifa). Al-Ghazali argued that Aristotelianism, especially as presented in the writings of Avicenna, was self-contradictory and an affront to the teachings of Islam. Averroes' rebuttal was two-pronged: he contended both that al-Ghazali's arguments were mistaken and that, in any case, the system of Avicenna was a distortion of genuine Aristotelianism so that al-Ghazali was aiming at the wrong target. Other works were the Fasl al-Maqal, which argued for the legality of philosophical investigation under Islamic law, and the Kitab al-Kashf, which argued against the proofs of Islam advanced by the Ash'arite school and discussed what proofs, on the popular level, should be used instead.

Averroes is also a highly-regarded legal scholar of the Maliki school. Perhaps his best-known work in this field is Bidāyat al-Mujtahid wa Nihāyat al-Muqtaṣid ( بدايات المجتهد و نهايات المقتصد), a textbook of Maliki doctrine in a comparative framework. He is also the author of al-Bayān wa’l-Taḥṣīl, wa’l-Sharḥ wa’l-Tawjīh wa’l-Ta`līl fi Masā’il al-Mustakhraja, a long and detailed commentary based on the Mustakhraja of Muḥammad al-`Utbī al-Qurtubī.

In medicine, Averroes wrote a medical encyclopedia called Kulliyat ("Generalities", i.e. general medicine), known in its Latin translation as Colliget. He also made a compilation of the works of Galen (129-200) and wrote a commentary on The Canon of Medicine (Qanun fi 't-tibb) of Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (980-1037).

Jacob Anatoli translated several of the works of Averroes from Arabic into Hebrew in the 1200s. Many of them were later translated from Hebrew into Latin by Jacob Mantino and Abraham de Balmes. Other works were translated directly from Arabic into Latin by Michael Scot. Many of his works in logic and metaphysics have been permanently lost, while others, including some of the longer Aristotelian commentaries, have only survived in Latin or Hebrew translation, not in the original Arabic. The fullest version of his works is in Latin, and forms part of the multi-volume Juntine edition of Aristotle published in Venice 1562-1574.

Excerpted from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Averroes