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Ibn Tufayl
Arabic: 'ibnu tufayl


(Wadi Ash, today Guadix, Spain around 1100- Marrakech 1185) Arab Muslim philosopher and physician.
His mystical philosophy is presented in a novel, Walk On, You Bright Boy (hayyā ibnu yaqzhān, in which a boy (called Hayyā (=walk on!) is brought up in isolation on an island.
All by himself, the boy investigates the universe, passing through several stages, each lasting seven years. At the highest level, the boy comes to understand the ultimate nature of universe: the emanations coming from the One that go from level to level, how spirit takes material form, and how the spirit strives to approach the One.
The boy finally returns to human world, where he grasps that his ultimate understanding is the same as the revealed religion (i.e. Islam), but that not all can reach this highest form of understanding.
In the novel, Ibn Tufayl divides human beings into 3 groups:
  1. Those who can understand the highest truth by reason alone (very few).
  2. Those who can understand with help from religious revelation.
  3. Those who accept the laws coming from the symbols of religious revelation
He tells that Hayyā tries to enlighten people, but fails, and returns to his island. The moral seems to be that each of these groups of people should accept their standing, and not strive for more.
Ibn Tufayl served as vizier to the Almohad prince, Abu Yaqub Yusuf. He is noted for having introduced Averroës to the court, helping his career.
His novel was translated into Latin, and came to inspire the British author, Daniel Defoe to write his Robinson Crusoe.




By Tore Kjeilen