The "founding father of secular thought in Western Europe" Ibn Rushd, born in Al-Andalus


14 April 1126, Al-Andalus' foremost polymath Ibn Rushd, known to the West as Averroës or simply "The Commentator" was born in Cordoba.

"The world is divided into men who have wit and no religion and men who have religion and no wit." (Ibn Rushd)

Detail of Andrea Bonaiuto's "Triunfo de Santo Tomás" (14th century) showing Averroës


Born in a time when twilight had already fallen upon the splendid Arabic civilisation in Spain, with the Reconquista pressing in from the North and ultra-orthodox ruling families from North Africa, Ibn Rushd was tasked to work up Aristotle for Islam, doing such an unmissable job that he salvaged the half-forgotten philosopher for Christian Europe as well. Ibn Rushd's exegesis of Aristotle was probably the very fundament of the High Middle Ages' European scholastic thinking.

Ibn Rushd saw logic as the sole possibility for mankind's happiness and Aristotelian logic was the way to reach cognisance and truth from what the senses perceived. And, being a true polymath, he implemented this mode of thinking in his exploits of jurisprudence, medicine and the natural sciences as well.

No wonder that educationally challenged orthodox potentates and their circles had no use at all for Ibn Rushd and his teachings. He was banished from Al-Andalus for lèse majesté and died in Marrakesh. His theology is still at least controversial in orthodox Islam.