Biography of Abentofail o Ibn Tufayl (1109-1185)

Real name Abu Baker Muhammad ibn Abd al - Malik ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Tufayl. Doctor, philosopher, mathematician, and poet Moorish, allegedly born in the year 1109, at Wadi-Ash, current Guadix (Granada province, Spain), and died in the year 1185, in Marrakesh (Morocco). Abentofail was the continuation of the philosophical work undertaken by his master Avempace, at the same time which played a key role in the philosophical thought of one of the greatest Muslim philosophers of all time, Averroes, which was a contemporary and great friend.

Owner of an impressive, very soon erudition's fame spread throughout the South of the Iberian peninsula and the Muslim world in general. He/She enjoyed the admiration and appreciation of the Almohad Court, where he/she served as personal physician of emir Abú Yacub Yusuf between the years 1163 to 1184. Thanks to his role at Court, managed to attract to it the most illustrious scholars of his time, among them the Averroes (ibn Rush), to which the Almohad King commissioned, by his Council, the drafting of a clear and reasoned analysis of the work of Aristotle.

Abentofail was raised the same problem as your master Avempace, that is, find the ideal path allowing man to arrive to join the Universal understanding. However, the great originality of Abentofail consisted of having built on this problem a real philosophical novel, which was titled Hayy ibn Yaqdán (the living, child caretaker), and which passed to posterity. This work became quickly enough translations: two Egyptian; German, Pritins and Eichhorn; three English, of Ockley, Ashwell and Keith; a Hebrew in charge of Moisés of Narbonne; a Dutch; a French, Léon Gauthier; a Spanish, Francisco Pons; and, finally, a Latin by E. Pococke, in the year 1671, who changed his title by the Latin Philosophus autodidactus, variation perfectly logical inasmuch as the protagonist of the novel, Hajj, as opposed to the Andremio of El Criticón, Baltasar Gracián, the work of very similar structure and purpose, has no masters, but that is educated and discovers the truth by himself, without help from anyone.

After analyzing the most important views of previous philosophers (Avempace, Algazal, Alfarabiand Avicena ), Abentofail exposes the discoveries that made the protagonist of his novel, Hajj, to reach union with God. The protagonist, orphaned of father and mother, is abandoned from very small on an island at the western end of the known world, where grows breastfed by the milk of a Gazelle. Absolutely alone, Hajj overcomes the various periods of his life marked by successive progress of their knowledge. Starting with sensitive knowledge, it gradually comes to realize the unity of humans and to conceive the intelligible forms, the first of which is that of "species". Rising to conceive the unity of the world through the concepts of matter and form, Hajj comes to recognize a be agent that perpetuates the existence of the world and sets it in motion. From that moment, the sole purpose of the protagonist will be back to that Supreme being, which will try to separate materials senses and imagination to focus all your thoughts on the task of fully identify with it, that is, with God and eternity. In the highest grade of contemplation, Hajj sees the direct reflection of God in the universe. Finally, to reach ecstasy, you see how Dios emanates in the various celestial spheres and descends to a multitude of human beings, some cigars and saved, other impure and doomed.

In this philosophical novel, Abentofail expressed the attitude common to all Muslims philosophers of the time that through philosophy could reach the same conclusions using the path of religion, but always by different ways: personal research and empirical demonstration. In addition, the novel presupposes, and here lies the importance of the same, the current doctrines in Muslim philosophy about intellect. The true agent of human knowledge is Universal understanding, the latest emanation of the Supreme being. The power or human intellect is dominated and directed by him. Many specialists believe that much of the work of the philosopher Ramon Llull mallorquí were inspired by the thoughts of Abentofail.


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