Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdallāh Ibn Rus̲h̲d, Qadi

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Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdallāh Ibn Rus̲h̲d, Qadi

Immediate Family:

Son of Averroes, Qadi al-Qurtubi & al-Sebilla

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About Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdallāh Ibn Rus̲h̲d, Qadi

Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdallāh Ibn Rushd (sixth-seventh/twelfth-thirteenth centuries) was one of the sons of the famous philosopher Ibn Rushd (d. 595/1198), known in the West as Averroes. According to the meagre Arabic biographical literature available about him, ʿAbdallāh Ibn Rushd worked as the physician of the Almohad caliph Muḥammad al-Nāṣir (r. 595–610/1199–1213) in Marrakech (Burnett, 281ff.). The report by Giles of Rome (d. 1316 C.E.) that Muḥammad b. Rushd's sons “were with the Emperor Frederick [II]” (Egidius Romanus, Quodlibeta II, quaestio 20) can be taken seriously, although we do not have further proof of this (Burnett). ʿAbdallāh Ibn Rushd wrote two treatises: one “On the therapeutic method,” which can be identified as an epitome of Galen's Methodus medendi (possibly preserved in MS. Escorial 884, fols. 76–8, but attributed there to ʿAbdallāh's father, Abū l-Walīd Ibn Rushd), and one “On the intellect,” specifically “On whether the active intellect unites with the material intellect whilst it is clothed with the body” (Hal yattaṣil bi-l-ʿaql al-hayūlānī al-ʿaql al-faʿʿāl wa-huwa multabis bi-l-jism).

The philosophical text was translated into Hebrew by Samuel b. Tibbon (d. 1232 C.E.), together with two short treatises by Muḥammad Ibn Rushd (the father, Averroes) on conjunction of the material intellect with the active intellect. This translation, together with an Arabic-to-Latin translation by an anonymous translator done sometime before 1240, testifies to the interest in the nature of the intellect that existed in the seventh/thirteenth century. The text, which is now available in its Arabic original together with the Hebrew and Latin versions (Burnett and Zonta), discusses the question whether the active intellect unites with the material, that is, potential, intellect in the body. ʿAbdallāh Ibn Rushd attributes to the active intellect the ability to actualise the intellect in habitu, which he explains as “the potential thoughts” (al-maʿqūlāt bi-l-quwwa). The active intellect “is connected with man, being like his form (al-ṣūra),” and as such is the actualisation of the intellect in habitu (al-ʿaql alladhī bi-l-malaka), which is the potential thoughts. Potentiality for thinking necessarily turns into actuality of thinking in the separate, active, acquired intellect, which is the perfection and actuality of the first matter, the potential intellect. This perfection, this form, is at the same time a potentiality for another form, for another perfection, leading finally to perfection no longer with potentiality. This increasing perfection is the increasing knowledge in a human being who is “obedient to God and approaches Him”.

ʿAbdallāh Ibn Rushd quotes Alexander of Aphrodisias and Themistius, and presupposes the concept of a human material intellect as something common to all human beings. In this he follows the later position of his father, who, in a growing dissociation from Aristotle and by modifying Ibn Bājja's (d. 533/1139) thinking, had developed this doctrine in his own late treatises (Grignaschi; Davidson, 258ff., 295ff.; Bland 1ff.). According to this position,the human being is a link between the created world and the eternal world of the separate intelligences. Therefore, conjunction with the active intellect means self-apprehension, that is, perception of the mind (Fakhry, 201f.).

Hans Daiber



Kalman P. Bland, The epistle of the possibility of conjunction with the active intellect by Ibn Rushd with the commentary of Moses Narboni, New York 1982

Charles Burnett and Mauro Zonta, Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdallāh Ibn Rushd (Averroes junior), On whether the active intellect unites with the material intellect whilst it is clothed with the body. A critical edition of the three extant medieval versions, together with an English translation, Archives d'Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Âge 67 (2000), 295–335

(for previous editions, see Hans Daiber, Bibliography of Islamic philosophy (Leiden, Boston, Köln 1999), 2:11 (and on Ibn Rushd's doctrine of the intellect and its influence in the Middle Ages see references to literature in 2:250f.))

Majid Fakhry, Three varieties of mysticism in Islam, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 2 (1971), 193–207

Mario Grignaschi, Il miraggio dell'immortalità dell ‘anima nell'aristotelismo arabo, in Biancamaria Scarcia Amoretti and Lucia Rostagno (eds.), Yād-nāma in memoria di Alessandro Bausani (Rome 1991), 1:205–17

Herbert Davidson, Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, on intellect. Their cosmologies, theories of the active intellect, and theories of human intellect, New York and Oxford 1992

Charles Burnett, The “Sons of Averroes with the Emperor Frederick” and the transmission of the philosophical works by Ibn Rushd, in Gerhard Endress and Jan Aertsen (eds.), Averroes and the Aristotelian tradition. Sources, constitution and reception of the philosophy of Ibn Rushd (1126–1198). Proceedings of the Fourth Symposium Averroicum, Cologne, 1996 (Leiden, Boston, and Cologne 1999), 259–99.

Cite this page

Daiber, Hans. "Ibn Rushd, Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdallāh ." Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Edited by: Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Brill Online, 2013. <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-isla...>