Akinojar The protagonist Hayy ibn Yaqzan grows up from infancy to adulthood on a uninhabited island. You are commenting using your Facebook account. But such Lines may be drawn in all Bodies. But the source of his ideas is of less import- ance than his imaginative handling of them. From all quarters of the Almohad empire troops were collected and formed into the most powerful Muslim army that had ever appeared on the Peninsula, and a great fleet was fitted out for a simultaneous assault on Lisbon.

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Like the later medieval Christian theologians, Islamic and Arabic thinkers sought to reconcile reason and the revelation of their scripture. In eleventh-century southern Spain, Arabic philosophers achieved a thriving intellectual center in the cultural milieu of al-Andalus Andalusia. Ibn Tufayl ca. Ibn Tufayl presented this view in an intriguing essay that posited human solitude as an essential method for acquiring the highest knowledge.

But Ibn Tufayl offered a novel presentation for his recapitulation of philosophical ideas. The purpose of his narrative is to point to esoteric doctrines, beyond philosophy and reason, in order to attract the discerning, as Ibn Tufayl puts it.

But he affirms that is it presented in a veiled way in order to discourage the foolish. This is a standard disclaimer safely affirming religious conformity. The protagonist Hayy ibn Yaqzan grows up from infancy to adulthood on a uninhabited island. Essentially he is a feral or wild child. By presenting this prototype human being as a solitary, a social tabula rasa, Ibn Tufayl can show his reader how reason guides the human intellect naturally and that learning follows the same logical path identified by the methods of the philosophers.

Moreover, the solitude of the uninhabited island is a model of the natural development of the mind in the absence of the diversions and distractions of society. Upon her death, the young Hayy suffers the taunts and attacks of other animals until he moves into a cave and discovers fire.

Hayy sees fire as a symbol of the inner fire or warmth that animates living things, the inner life-source. Hayy confirms this insight, propelled by curiosity: he dissects animals beginning with the dead doe out of the desire for knowledge, concluding that warmth is an animating spirit.

All animals, despite their diversity into species, are "one in reality," the maturing Hayy concludes. In effect, Hayy had reached the consideration of Aristotelian prime mover or non-corporeal cause, which he calls the Necessarily Existent. Hayy had learned that his ultimate happiness and triumph over misery would be won only if he could make his awareness of the Necessarily Existent, so continuous that nothing could distract him from it for an instant In this experience the self vanishes; it is extinguished, obliterated -- and so are all other subjectivities.

Thus Ibn Tufayl insists that mystical experience is the highest form of knowledge and can be attained through reason and disposition. In his allegory, Hayy reaches this conclusion or the author, accepting it already, uses the story to demonstrate it. But Ibn Tufayl shows the second most important factor in the successful quest for understanding: self-discipline.

To cultivate and maintain self-discipline, the naturalness of the state of solitude is requisite. There is the direct influence here not only of Arabic thinkers already cited but of the Sufi tradition that saw reason both in its limits and its compelling logic together with nature leading to the culmination of individual purpose: mystical union.

Hayy is presented discovering what weakens and distracts spirit, what worsens vices. He limits himself to actions that gain him food and physical safety. He eats only what is sufficient to stave off hunger, attempting to control appetite. He deduces that he should spend a minimum of time on the appearance of his dwelling. He finds positive the experience of "never allowing himself to see any plant or animal hurt, sick, encumbered, or in need without helping if he could.

And he decides to imitate the Necessary Existent by at least approximating the behavior of the celestial beings or bodies rotating in the night sky in solitude and silence. Tirelessly he battled against the drives of his body -- and they fought back.

But when for a moment he had the upper hand and rid his mind of tarnish, he would see with a flash what it was like to reach this third type of likeness to the stars.

The third type of likeness contrasts to the two other types, to the inanimate and animate beings on earth. Hayy then sought to cut off sensory experience in order to pursue mystic ecstasy.

This he discovered in a crude way by making wide circular motions like celestial beings with his body until he had lost the senses and imagination -- a clear early reference to the secretive whirling practice of Sufi dervishes.

But ultimately Hayy learns to cut off the senses and imagination in the stillness and silence of his dwelling place: a cave. The cave in our [Western] tradition, which owes more to Athens on this point than to the East, is a symbol of darkness and dogmatic slumber, not of personal enlightenment but of ignorance and unconcern. The great awakening is the moment when a solitary individual stumbles out of the hidden darkness of the cave and away from the cave-thoughts into the sunlight.

Ibn Tufayl stands at a crossroads between Muhammadan and Platonic conceptions. For him the cave is not the social womb but the sacred solitude of a man and his creator. Yet the mission imparted is not public recognition but private enlightenment. The means remain those of Muhammad, but the end has become the end of Islamized philosophy: salvation by the intellectual approach to God.

The two models of the cave are explicit in their differences. The cave retains this image of inner exploration and enlightenment in the Far East, linked, perhaps, to geography.

Caves are prominent in the traditions of India and Tibet. But the cell, the anchorhold, the hut and cottage, are all related to the same configuring of places of nurturing solitude. Such places of solitude have the same function in the entire range of solitary perception, be it enlightenment or harmony with nature. Comparative settings The story of living on an uninhabited island or in social isolation conjures comparison with a number of later well-known instances of literature and speculation, ranging from those concerning human origins and human nature on the one hand and narratives of shipwreck, abandonment, survival, and social isolation on the other.

The abstract philosophical tale of Iby Tufayl is the historically first of a series of such reflections on the nature of human behavior and learning.

Ibn Tufayl attempts to show that natural reason alone can engender ethics and a knowledge of the universe that is in harmony with revelation, in this case the revealed scriptures of Islam. But a feral child, will, of course, not develop in the trajectory of the protagonist Hayy.

However, Rousseau does not see socialization, given its present form, as yielding much better results than being left in nature. Prejudice, authority, necessity, example, all the social conditions into which we are plunged, would stifle nature in him and put nothing in her place.

She would be like a sapling by chance sown in the midst of the highway, bent hither and thither and soon crushed by the passers-by. Rousseau is more emphatic in his celebrated opening phrases of Emile. God makes all things good; man meddles with them and they become evil. He confuses and confounds time, place, and natural conditions. He mutilates his dog, his horse, and his slave.

For Rousseau the perversion of human nature by society is only offset by the close nurturing of a kind and attentive mother, who alone can engender the psychological values that will make the child perceptive, thoughtful, and ultimately independent and free.

Ibn Tufayl took the Arabic tradition of child-rearing for example, two years minimum of breastfeeding and applied its practices to the beneficent surrogate mother of his character Hayy. Edgar Rice Burroughs presents a feral Caucasian boy in the African jungle who would be called Tarzan.

In neither case are these fictional characters more than literary entertainments, of course. There is no interest on the part of these authors to explore deeper issues of social isolation and human development. But they attest to the enduring interest in the topic. However, one survival tale does attempt to address some deeper issues, but in doing so must sacrifice the device of feralness.

Defoe was reportedly influenced by the report of a marooned Alexander Selkirk, who in published an account of his experiences. Because Defoe was such a voracious reader, it is not unlikely that he had read Ibn Tufayl as well. Selkirk himself related that, as Richetti notes, he "frequently bewailed his return to the world" which could not "with all its enjoyments, restore him to the tranquility of his solitude.

Crusoe is a reluctant candidate for solitude. Crusoe has already brought his cultural and social values with him, and they are merely suspended on the island, while Crusoe awaited rescue and return to society. Crusoe having survived and progressed in skills and self-confidence, applying technology and entrepreneurship, the island becomes a productive colony and material resource to Crusoe.

Upon rescue, Crusoe profits from selling the loyal Xury into slavery and is pleased to learn that his Brazilian plantation, with its slave labor, is doing nicely. The baggage of social and cultural values carried into solitude or fictional settings of isolation are further explored by modern writers such as William Golding in his Lord of the Flies.

In this novel, adolescent boys shipwrecked on an island revert to the worst instincts, lacking social authority to enforce order. This cautionary tale proposes not so much a vision of solitude but a vision of society in its barest form.

The necessity of sheer survival easily overwhelms the group. The scenario is what Rousseau predicted of the collective. By now, Hayy is fifty years old. The character of the people in this society "where true religion reigns," -- that is, Islam -- is shaped by their culture, as would be expected, and religion is an integral part of this culture. Absal "loved contemplativeness in Law" and deeply "devoted himself to the quest for solitude. Absal was attracted to the uninhabited island and went "to live there in solitude.

Eventually, recognizing their common purpose, the two hermits get along for years. Absal teaches Hayy to speak and Hayy shares both his survival skills and his philosophic and mystic insight. Hayy could not comprehend society or the use of rituals and laws of which Absal tells him, finding them superficial in the light of mystical experience.

After a while Hayy gives up his efforts. He assesses his encounter with society. Society, he concludes, is a catalog of passions, worldliness, arrogance, stubbornness and ignorance. People cling to factions and pass their lives in base materialistic pursuits. None of this could be different. There was nothing to be added. Hayy had not reverted to a fundamentalism wherein obedience and conformity to scripture and tradition were sufficient.

Nor was his a fideism of the cynic. Rather, he concluded that for the overwhelming majority of people, this outward conformity to religious ritual and doctrine was as far as they could venture in addressing basic philosophical questions. For them, no interpretation was the best interpretation. In the next sequence of the tale, Hayy is ushered before Salaman and his closest advisors. He tells them that they should hold fast to their observance of all the statutes regulating outward behavior and not delve into things that did not concern them, submissively to accept all the most problematical elements of the tradition and shun originality and innovation.

Thus the intelligent or enlightened person in such a society as Hayy encounters -- and by extrapolation all societies -- will not teach or proselytize, as Hayy decided not to do, having failed in his initial enthusiastic ventures. He had taught society how to reach the heights, but society is not interested in the heights; it could at least maintain the good in its culture, a perennial core that all cultures can access.

Why debate the merits of one scripture or practice versus another when each is sufficient for maintaining the good in each culture, for the majority of its people.


Hayy ibn Yaqzan

After his gazelle mother passes away when he is still a child, he dissects her body and performs an autopsy in order to find out what happened to her. The discovery that her death was due to a loss of innate heat sets him "on a road of scientific inquiry" and self-discovery. Without contact with other human beings, Hayy discovers ultimate truth through a systematic process of reasoned inquiry. Hayy ultimately comes into contact with civilization and religion when he meets a castaway named Absal. He determines that certain trappings of religion and civilization, namely imagery and dependence on material goods, are necessary for the multitude in order that they might have decent lives.


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After his gazelle mother passes away when he is still a child, he dissects her body and performs an autopsy in order to find out what happened to her. The discovery that her death was due to a loss of innate heat sets him "on a road of scientific inquiry " and self-discovery. Hayy ultimately comes into contact with civilization and religion when he meets a castaway named Absal. He determines that certain trappings of religion and civilization, namely imagery and dependence on material goods, are necessary for the multitude in order that they might have decent lives. However, he believes that imagery and material goods are distractions from the truth and ought to be abandoned by those whose reason recognizes that they are distractions. Ibn Tufail drew the name of the tale and most of its characters from an earlier work by Ibn Sina Avicenna. It reflects one of the main concerns of Muslim philosophers later also of Christian thinkers , that of reconciling philosophy with revelation.


Hayy Ibn Yaqdhan - Plot Summary

Abu Bakr ibn Tufayl was born c. In , when he was about 30 or 31, Ibn Tufayl traveled to Marrakesh in modern-day Morocco , where he pursued a political career in the Almohad court. In Hayy ibn Yaqzan, he explores some of the most pressing questions of his day about philosophy and religion through the medium of imaginative fiction. Setting the story on a generic island at an unspecified time helps establish this universality. But despite its indefinite setting, the story features intellectual interests, assumptions, and conclusions that point quite clearly to its origins in twelfth-century Almohad North Africa. Soon after, the Almoravids conquered the numerous petty states taifa kingdoms that made up Muslim Spain.

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