Ibn Rushd (Arabic: ابن رشد; full name in Arabic: أبو الوليد محمد ابن احمد ابن رشد, romanized: Abū l-Walīd Muḥammad Ibn ʾAḥmad Ibn Rušd; 14 April 1126  11 December 1198), often Latinized as Averroes (English: /əˈvɛrz/), was a Muslim Andalusian[1] polymath and jurist who wrote about many subjects, including philosophy, theology, medicine, astronomy, physics, psychology, mathematics, Islamic jurisprudence and law, and linguistics. The author of more than 100 books and treatises,[2][3] his philosophical works include numerous commentaries on Aristotle, for which he was known in the western world as The Commentator and Father of Rationalism.[4] Ibn Rushd also served as a chief judge and a court physician for the Almohad Caliphate.

Ibn Rushd
ابن رشد
Statue of Ibn Rushd in Córdoba, Spain
Born(1126-04-14)14 April 1126
Córdoba, Al-Andalus, Almoravid Empire (present-day Spain)
Died11 December 1198(1198-12-11) (aged 72)
Other namesAbū l-Walīd Muḥammad ibn ʾAḥmad ibn Rushd
The Commentator
EraMedieval, Islamic Golden Age
RegionIslamic philosophy
Main interests
Islamic theology, philosophy, Islamic jurisprudence, medicine, astronomy, physics, linguistics
Notable ideas
Relation between Islam and philosophy, non-contradiction of reason and revelation, unity of the intellect

He was born in Córdoba in 1126 to a family of prominent judges—his grandfather was the chief judge of the city. In 1169 he was introduced to the caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf, who was impressed with his knowledge, became his patron and commissioned many of Averroes's commentaries. Averroes later served multiple terms as a judge in Seville and Córdoba. In 1182, he was appointed as court physician and the chief judge of Córdoba. After Abu Yusuf's death in 1184, he remained in royal favor until he fell into disgrace in 1195. He was targeted on various charges—likely for political reasons—and was exiled to nearby Lucena. He returned to royal favor shortly before his death on 11 December 1198.

Averroes was a strong proponent of Aristotelianism; he attempted to restore what he considered the original teachings of Aristotle and opposed the Neoplatonist tendencies of earlier Muslim thinkers, such as Al-Farabi and Avicenna. He also defended the pursuit of philosophy against criticism by Ashari theologians such as Al-Ghazali. Averroes argued that philosophy was permissible in Islam and even compulsory among certain elites. He also argued scriptural text should be interpreted allegorically if it appeared to contradict conclusions reached by reason and philosophy. In Islamic jurisprudence, he wrote the Bidāyat al-Mujtahid on the differences between Islamic schools of law and the principles that caused their differences. In medicine, he proposed a new theory of stroke, described the signs and symptoms of Parkinson's disease for the first time, and might have been the first to identify the retina as the part of the eye responsible for sensing light. His medical book Al-Kulliyat fi al-Tibb, translated into Latin and known as the Colliget, became a textbook in Europe for centuries.

His legacy in the Islamic world was modest for geographical and intellectual reasons. In the west, Averroes was known for his extensive commentaries on Aristotle, many of which were translated into Latin and Hebrew. The translations of his work reawakened western European interest in Aristotle and Greek thinkers, an area of study that had been widely abandoned after the fall of the Roman Empire. His thoughts generated controversies in Latin Christendom and triggered a philosophical movement called Averroism based on his writings. His unity of the intellect thesis, proposing that all humans share the same intellect, became one of the most well-known and controversial Averroist doctrines in the west. His works were condemned by the Catholic Church in 1270 and 1277. Although weakened by condemnations and sustained critique from Thomas Aquinas, Latin Averroism continued to attract followers up to the sixteenth century.