Islam’s cultural legacy – On a famous Spanish Muslim Scholar, Mohammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Rushd

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SHAFAQNA – On December 10,1198 AD, the famous Spanish Muslim philosopher and polymath, Mohammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Rushd, known to Medieval Europe as “Averroes”, passed away at the age of 72, while on a visit to Marakesh, from where his body was brought back to Spain and buried in his birthplace Cordoba. He was an expert in the sciences of the day, including medicine, astronomy, jurisprudence, Qur’an and hadith, at a time when the Christian World was living in ignorance and darkness.

At the age of 25, he conducted astronomical observations in Morocco, discovering a previously unobserved star. He was also of the view that the Moon is opaque and has some parts which are thicker than others, with the thicker parts receiving more light from the Sun than the thinner parts of the Moon. He gave one of the first descriptions on sunspots. Ibn Rushd made remarkable contributions in medicine. His well-known book in this field is “Kitab al-Kulliyaat fi’t-Tibb”, whose Latin translation known as “Colliget” aroused much interest in medieval Europe.
He has thrown light on various aspects of medicine, including the diagnoses, cure and prevention of diseases and several original observations of him. He was nicknamed “the jurisprudent philosopher” and as a follower of the Maliki School, he compiled a summary of opinions (fatwa) of previous jurists. His works include interpretation of Qur’anic concepts. Ibn Rushd’s most important original philosophical work is “Tahafut at-Tahafut” (Incoherence of the Incoherence), which is a refutation of the Iranian Shafei theologian, Ghazali’s “Tahafut al-Falasefa” (Incoherence of the Philosophers).
Ghazali had criticized as self-contradictory and an affront to Islamic teachings, the presentation of Aristotle’s thoughts by the famous Iranian Islamic genius, Abu Ali Ibn Sina. Ibn Rushd has shown Ghazali’s arguments as mistaken.

The Spanish Muslim poet and literary figure, Abu-Hayyan al-Gharnati
On 2nd of the Islamic month of Safar in 745 AH, the Spanish Muslim poet and literary figure, Mohammad bin Yusuf bin Ali al-Barbari, known popularly as Abu-Hayyan al-Gharnati, passed away at the age of 91 in Cairo, where he had settled. Born in Granada in southern Spain, he travelled widely to acquire knowledge under the prominent scholars of his era, before moving to Ceuta in what is now Morocco in North Africa. He then traveled through Tunisia, Egypt, Ethiopia, and reached Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage.
He wrote the famous book in explaining the linguistic meanings of the holy Qur’an, titled “al-Bahr al-Muheet.” A master of Arabic grammar, he considered himself a student of the school of the celebrated Iranian grammarian of the Arabic language, Sibwaiyh of Shiraz. He has left behind numerous books, including a Diwan or collection of poems.

The Spanish Muslim philosopher and scientist, Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi
On November 7, 994 AD, the Spanish Muslim philosopher and scientist, Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Sa’eed, known popularly as Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi, was born in Cordova. His great-grandfather Hazm had embraced Islam and the family claimed to be of Iranian descent. As a theologian, he was a leading proponent in Spain of the Zaheri School of jurisprudence founded by the Iranian Sunni jurist, Dawoud az-Zaheri al-Isfahani, who opposed the “qiyas” or analogy of his compatriot Abu Hanifa.
He reportedly wrote 400 works on a variety of topics, of which only 40 still survive. At a time when Christian Europe was immersed in the age of ignorance and considered the world to be flat, Ibn Hazm by citing hadith and stating ayahs of the holy Qur’an proved that the earth is spherical, with emphasis on ayah 5 of Surah Zumar, where God Almighty says: the night overlaps the day, and the day overlaps the night. Ibn Hazm pointed out that for this cycle of overlapping the Qur’an uses the word “kawwara” which is derived from “kurra”, meaning “ball” or “sphere”. With the help of a globe he demonstrated that the Sun is always vertical to a particular spot on Earth.

The Spanish Muslim scholar, Sa’eed ibn Hakam al-Qurashi
On December 30, 1204 AD, the Spanish Muslim scholar, Sa’eed ibn Hakam al-Qurashi, who was also ruler of the Mediterranean Balearic island of Minorca (Manurqa in Arabic), was born in what is now Portugal in the city of Tavira (Tabira in Arabic) in the Algarve region (al-Gharb or the ‘west’, in Arabic). He studied philology at Seville (Ishbiliya), the then capital of the al-Muwahadin kingdom, and took part in literary reunions of famous Arabic poets.
An important intellectual figure of his era, he was well versed in Islamic law and medicine, in addition to being a philologist, grammarian and poet. After the occupation of the Balearic Islands by the Christian forces of Aragon, Sa’eed ibn Hakam took the title of Ra’ees and declared Minorca independent. He implemented the benign rules of Islam, and constructed a strong political apparatus in Madinat-al-Jazira (modern Ciutadella) with a council of ministers, secretaries and clan representatives. He also built a great library in this city where he died in 1282 and was succeeded by his son. Some of his books are still kept in the library of El Escorial.
On 17 January 1287, after five glorious centuries of Muslim rule, the Christians occupied this Muslim island, killed many of its inhabitants, sold many of them as slaves in the markets of Ibiza, Valencia and Barcelona, and forcibly Christianized the rest.

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