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Who is it that may intercede with Him except with His permission? He knows that which is before them and that which is behind them, and they do not comprehend anything of His knowledge except what He wishes. His seat embraces the heavens and the earth, and He is not wearied by their preservation, and He is the All-exalted, the All- supreme. Q The first of these he called the passive intellect; the second the active intellect; cf. Hamlyn tr. Interpreting the title of this book is further complicated by the fact that the books subtitle permits of two different readings, both of which are meaningful.

With this translation, we would understand the author Ibn Tufayl to be making explicit reference to the long tradition of Oriental epistemologies, which are sometimes associated with the Latin expression ex oriente lux or Light meaning Wisdom comes from the East. The other reading, Fi asrar al-hikma al-mushriqiyya a difference of only one vowel would translate to On the Secrets of the Enlightening Wisdom or: Illuminating Philosophy.

This translation calls to mind the metaphor of light, which is alluded to repeatedly in the novel, Hayy ibn Yaqzan. Light as a metaphor for divine wisdom was significant not only to Aristotle BCE , but also to several very influential Muslim philosophers, theologians and mystics, including Abu Hamid al-Ghazali , Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi , and, in later times, Mulla Sadra Hence, if we interpret this expression as al-hikma al- mushriqiyya, meaning enlightening wisdom or illuminating philosophy, then the idea of intellectual growth and the possibility of finding God through rational contemplation, as Ibn Tufayls protagonist does, would be clearly articulated in the books title.

Goichon, Hayy b. Yakzan, in: Bernard Lewis et al. Grammatically speaking, however, the reading mushriqiyya seems to be less likely. According to the rules of classical Arabic, the so-called nisba endings, which form denominal adjectives that indicate belonging or relationship as the expression in question here does , are usually derived from nouns such as mashriq , but not from participles such as mushriq.

The protagonist in Ibn Tufayls novel, Hayy ibn Yaqzan, is a boy who grows up and lives alone on a desert island in the Indian Ocean. Hayy thus embodies a sort of prototype Robinson Crusoe to the extent that he is utterly self-reliant and far removed from other human beings and civilization. This is not to imply, however, that Ibn Tufayls book is merely a robinsonade in Islamic guise, i.

On the contrary, Ibn Tufayls Hayy ibn Yaqzan is the story of someone who persistently strives to acquire knowledge. In fact, without the aid of divine revelation or prophecy, but relying instead only on his acute powers of observation in his. Third Revised Edition, transl. I have made use in this study of the translation by Lenn Evan Goodman tr.

Page numbers in the main text of the article refer to this translation. The original Arabic text is included, for example, in: LonGauthier tr. Catholique, [Repr. Detailed studies on the structure and contents of Ibn Tufayls book were offered by George F.

Hayy ibn Yaqdhan | Revolvy

Most useful is the volume of collected studies by Lawrence I. Conrad ed. See now also Salma Khadra Jayyusi ed. Particularly notable in this regard is the fact that Hayys intellectual abstraction is not rooted in any human language: Hayy did not know how to speak, as we read in the novel p. In the preface, Ibn Tufayl sets out the academic framework of his novel. He names a number of Muslim scholars whose religious- philosophical views he studied. He mentions the names of philosophers such as al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Bajja , who were well known in Europe at that time, as well as Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, probably the most important Islamic theologian and mystic of the day.

Although their individual approaches to knowledge acquisition and learning significantly differ, these scholars including Ibn Tufayl have two important characteristics in common: First, there is the fascination of these Muslim scholars with fundamental philosophical concepts of knowledge and the influence exerted by the writings of Plato and Aristotle on this topic; and second, it is striking to note the vital role that the relationship between philosophy and religion plays in their deliberations on the human capacities manifested in the search for and acquisition of knowledge.

Following this rather theoretical preface, Ibn Tufayl relates the first fascinating details of the unusual circumstances of the birth of his literary figure, Hayy ibn Yaqzan. The readers attention is quickly engrossed as the author then relates two different versions of how Hayy was born. The first story of Hayys origins is quite fascinating. It claims that Hayy was born on the island with no human involvement. According to this account, it all began when a bit of clay started to ferment. Heat joined with cold, and damp with dryness. These natural processes caused bubbles to form in the clay, which in turn created a space for the soul, which emanates continuously from God glory be to Him p.

Out of these compounds of fermenting clay and God-sent soul, Hayy, the human being, came into existence in a kind of mystical spontaneous creation.


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This image of a human being formed of clay parallels the idea of Adam in the Bible, the first human, who came to life with neither parents nor past. From the clay, a blood- clot then formed. The blood-clot became an embryo that grew to be a person just as described in Quranic accounts of the origin of life. The second story, however, relates that the sister of a tyrannical king bore a son as the fruit of a forbidden love affair with Yaqzan, a man from the neighboring kingdom. Fearing the rage of her hard-hearted brother and king, the princess entrusted the fate of the newborn to God and put the suckling babe out to sea in a well-sealed box.

Then We made him a drop of [seminal] fluid [lodged] in a secure abode. Then We created the drop of fluid as a clinging mass. Then We created the clinging mass as a fleshy tissue.

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Then We created the fleshy tissue as bones. Then We clothed the bones with flesh. Then We produced him as [yet] another creature. So blessed is Allah, the best of creators! The Bible, Exodus The passage in the Quran reads as follows: Godsaid, Moses, your request is granted. Indeed We showed you favor before. The two different stories of Hayys birth both lead to a single continuation of the tale in the main part of the novel. Here, Hayys life is described as developing in a series of stages, each seven years in length.

First stage: A gazelle finds the baby Hayy, suckles him, cares for him and raises him as her own offspring. Living with the gazelle and the other animals on the island, Hayy becomes acquainted with basic feelings such as affection and warmth as well as unhappiness, shame, and sorrow. He also learns how to do certain things necessary for survival in the wilderness, for example, how to find his own food and to defend himself.

At the age of seven, he finally becomes aware that he is not an animal, or at least that he is quite different from other animals. Second stage: The second phase of Hayys life encompasses two seven-year stages, continuing until he is twenty-one years old. Hayy now realizes that, unlike the animals, he is naked and defenseless; so he begins covering himself in leaves and feathers and learns to make use of his physical advantages, such as the ability to walk upright.

Hayy also starts to make conscious use of his mind. Through observation, experimentation and analogical reasoning, he considerably increases his knowledge of the world he lives in.

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He discovers, for example, that he can alter and adapt some of the things he finds in nature. He also learns how to control fire and how to build a protective shelter. When the gazelle, his beloved mother, dies, he is filled with pain and grief. He decides to cut the gazelle open to try and find out chest, thenplace him in the river. Let the river wash him on to its bank, and he will betaken in by an enemy of Mine and his.

I showered you with My love and plannedthat you should be reared under My watchful eye. He finds the creatures heart which, he surmises, is where life is located. He opens the heart and finds that one of its chambers is filled with blood, and the other is empty. He concludes that the vital force of his mother, the gazelle, must have resided within this now-empty chamber.

For Hayy, this explains the gazelles death. He recognizes that the dead body is but an empty hull, worth nothing without that breath that had previously animated it. Hence, his feelings of love for his mother are no longer fixed on the lifeless body of the gazelle, but only on the being which had departed from the heart p. Hayy thus comprehends the finite nature of material existence and the immortality of the soul, which goes on living even after the body dies. Through these contemplations, the pain, which he had suffered upon the death of the gazelle, has become bearable, so that he can now bury her.

Hence, Hayy learns what is to be done with a dead body from watching a raven that killed another raven in battle and then covered it up with earth. According to the Islamic tradition, it was Cain who learned from a raven which buried its dead mate in the ground that he must let go of his dead brother Abel and bury him. Sebastian Gnther, Hostile brothers in transformation. An archetypical conflict figuring in classical and modern Arabic literature, in: Angelika Neuwirth et al. Kratz, Arbeit am Mythos.

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Tbingen: Mohr Siebeck, pp. He recognizes that every circumstance and every occurrence has a cause and an effect. His observation of the sky, together with the realization that the celestial bodies are in regular motion along fixed courses, leads Hayy to philosophical reflection. He deems the heavenly bodies to be made of light. From this, he concludes that they must have been created from an even stronger light and that this source of light may well be the origin of all things. From this point on, Hayy begins to differentiate individuals by type, material objects by form and effects by cause.

Fourth stage: In the fourth phase of his life, up to the age of thirty- five, Hayy develops his epistemological capabilities. He now observes the cosmos and the stars purposefully and devotes his attention to questions about the composition and finite nature of space. His contemplations on the structure of the cosmos and on astronomical questions bring him to fundamental metaphysical queries, which lead him to the insight that the universe must have an omnipotent Creator.

Fifth stage: The fifth phase, extending up to age fifty, ultimately describes Hayys religious awakening, a process which is divided into three steps: The first step concerns material things and the task of securing bare survival. The second step involves the awareness that there are perceptible forms beyond those in the immediate environment, and that events in this life have connections with another world. The result of this learning process is the conclusion that everything must have been created and animated by a higher or divine force.

This leads Hayy to develop a kind of contextual or social behavior, which encompasses the veneration of God. The third step relates to a meditative approach to and mystical immersion in the dispositions of the Creator. The vision of God comes to him as the highest level of awareness. He now comprehends that this highest stage incorporates knowledge pertaining to the attributes of the Creator. Sixth stage: The peak of this cycle of development is reached when Hayy is fifty years old. The protagonist, Alive, Son of Awake, at last sees that which no eye has seen or ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart [i.

In the original Arabic text, this sentence is presented as a quotation from the Prophet Muhammad, which has been authenticated several times in the standard collections of the prophetic traditions, the Hadith literature. It is particularly interesting to note that the words presented in Ibn Tufayls text as a quotation from the Prophet Muhammad are identical to a passage in The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians Bible, 1 Corinthians Abu Hurayra said: Read [and verify], if you so desire: No soul knows what [joy] is kept kept hidden [in store] for them [as a reward for what they have done] Q Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari , al-Jami al-musnad al-sahh al-mukhtasar min umur rasul Allah wa-sunanihi wa- ayyamihi, ed.

Muhammad Zuhayr ibn Nasir al-Nasir, 9 vols. The tradition is also reported in hadith nos. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. It is, however as stated in the Bible not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world 1 Corinthians As in the Biblical sense and in the understanding of the Islamic tradition as well, for Ibn Tufayl these are insights into Gods plan which had been hidden from ordinary humans a plan God had devised long before he created the world and with which he lets humankind share in his glory.

Overwhelmed by this experience of the divine, Hayy now chooses to dedicate himself entirely to the contemplation of God and never again to leave this state of beatitude. Thus Hayy arrives at an abstract-mystical understanding of God that is not connected with any particular religion or act of worship.

Hayy now has perfected his cognitive abilities. At the point when the protagonist of the novel has achieved a state of complete beatitude, the reader may expect that the story has come to its conclusion. However, Ibn Tufayl follows up the tale with an epilogue. Here, the author reports that Hayy has come into contact with other people and with civilization. He relates that one day a man named Absal journeyed from a neighboring atoll to Hayys island. The reason for Absals trip was, as the reader learns, that he was at odds with his friend Salaman over a number of fundamental religious.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. Therefore, Absal sought solitude and peace in which to find a more comprehensive understanding of God. He believed that there must be some deeper meaning in religion, something more than he had come to know through the formalized practice of faith on his home island.

His companion Salaman, by contrast, was satisfied with the manifest content and conventions of religion. When Absal encounters Hayy on his desert island, he teaches Hayy human language. This, in turn, enables the two men to communicate verbally and exchange their thoughts on philosophical issues. Hayy soon learns that he is in agreement with Absal on the important questions that have occupied him for such a long time. These concern first and foremost the belief in the existence of an omnipotent creator, in the intellectual capacity of humans to discern the structure of the world and of the universe, as well as to understand the place and the destiny of humans within this system.

However, where Hayy had arrived at pure truth through a kind of inner reflection, combined with an independent assessment of the properties, dispositions, and forces in the world around him and of his own actions within that world , Absal and the people on the neighboring island had come to very similar insights with the help of a prophet and the revelations he had shared with them, including all the instructions, images, and symbols involved in the communication of divine revelation.

Absal and Hayy now travel together to the neighboring island, on which Salaman has since become king. When Hayy meets Salaman and the people in his kingdom, Hayy tries to teach this group and explain some of his profound wisdom to them p. It becomes clear that the majority of the people are not receptive to the complex imagery in Hayys explanations about religion, nor are they capable of understanding its deeper meanings.

They soon turn away from Hayy and dedicate themselves anew to the strictly literal and simple understanding of their religious teachings and traditional duties that had been communicated to them by their prophet. Hayy is forced to recognize that the people, with very few exceptions, prefer the trivialities of everyday life. They strive for material riches and sensuous pleasures in this life and remain devoted to their sectarian notions of God, rather than seeking an understanding of God that is deepened by rational thought.

Hayy therefore abandons the hope of changing the people and decides to return with Absal to his deserted island where they can spend the rest of their days in seclusion and in mystical contemplation of God. The main part of the novel closes with the sentence: Thus they served God on the island until mans certain fate overtook them p. At the end of the novel, the author addresses the reader directly. He explicitly notes like the Apostle Paul in the Bible, 1 Corinthians that his story belongs to a hidden branch of study p. With his book, the author says, he has for the first time lifted the veil p.

The reason for doing so, Ibn Tufayl writes, is that wrong opinions and corruption had gained the upper hand in society, so that many weak people were rejecting the authority of the Prophet and were instead following the ways of fools p. Nonetheless, Ibn Tufayl also remarks that he hopes his treatise will excite desire in his readers to take themselves on an intellectual journey through which they, too, can strive towards the secret and achieve knowledge of Him p.

This fascinating concluding passage reads in the original as follows:. It takes up a line of discourse not found in books or heard in the usual sort of speeches. It belongs to a hidden branch of study received only by those who are aware of God and unknown to those who know Him not. In treating of this openly I have broken the precedent of our righteous ancestors, who were sparing to the point of [stinginess] in speaking of it. Fearing that the weak-minded, who throw over the authority of prophets to ape the ways of fools, might mistake these notions for the esoteric doctrines which must be kept secret from those unfit to know them, and thus be all the more enticed to embrace them, I decided to afford them a fleeting glimpse of the mystery of mysteries to draw them to true understanding and turn them away from this other, false way.

Nonetheless, I have not left the secrets set down in these few pages entirely without a veil a sheer one, easily pierced by those fit to do so, but capable of growing so thick to those unworthy of passing beyond that they will never breach it. Thus Ibn Tufayl makes it very clear that, for him, truth is something that exists outside of the purview of the text. The text functions as a type of indirect communication. The role of the text is not to confine Truth, but to open it up to the readers gaze, as A. Hughes noted.

The idea of an autodidactic, rational way of religious learning eventually leading to belief in and vision of God, communicated in the literary form of a philosophical-allegorical novel, was not entirely new in the history of Arabic literature and Islamic thought at the time. Among Ibn Tufayls predecessors and intellectual mentors from the 11th century, the most important was Ibn Sina Avicenna , a physician, philosopher and polymath who wrote a trilogy of mystical tales or recitals in Arabic in which he recaptures his spiritual autobiography in the form of symbols.

Willard R. Trask, New York: Pantheon, , p. This book was originally published in French as Avicenne et le recit visionnaire, 2 vols. Despite Hayy ibn Yaqdhan originally being written in Islamic Spain, the first Spanish translation of the novel wasn't published until , by F. Pons Boigues in Zaragoza. An accurate French translation was also published that same year by Prof.

Gauthier at Algiers. The story of Hayy ibn Yaqdhan also anticipated Jean-Jacques Rousseau 's Emile: or, On Education in some ways, and is also similar to the later story of Mowgli in Rudyard Kipling 's The Jungle Book as well Edgar Rice Burroughs ' Tarzan , in that a baby is abandoned in a deserted tropical island where he is taken care of and fed by a mother wolf. Despite condemning the ' Mahometans ' as infidels , Mather viewed the protagonist of the novel, Hayy, as a model for his ideal ' Christian philosopher ' and ' monotheistic scientist '.

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Mather also viewed Hayy as a noble savage and applied this in the context of attempting to understand the Native American 'Indians' in order to convert them to Puritan Christianity. All translations of Hayy ibn Yaqdhan. A windows pop-into of information full-content of Sensagent triggered by double-clicking any word on your webpage.

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