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Pieces of Aristotle’s work had started to become translated from Greek into Arabic. Averroes read some of these pieces and realized that they were incomplete and that the translation was poor. The more he read the more his interest grew. However, other duties kept him from attacking the problem in a diligent manner.

Averroes was 42 years old when a friend, ibn Tufayl, realized that The Prince of the Faithful, Abu Yaqub Yusuf, might prove helpful in Averroes’ Aristotelian endeavors.

Abu Yaqub Yusuf was the son of the first caliph of the Almohad dynasty. Yusuf and his bloodline were descended from the Berbers that controlled North Africa; Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria.

Abu Yaqub Yusuf

It was in 1169 AD that Averroes’ friend, ibn Tufayl, set up a meeting with Yusuf, Prince of the Faithful. Ibn Tufayl knew that Yusuf had an interest in philosophy. Because philosophy was not a subject discussed in public the meeting got off to a slow start.

Yusuf, Prince of the Faithful, did have an interest in philosophy. Ibn Tufayl praised Averroes’ abilities in the philosophy of Aristotle. When the prince looked at Averroes and asked him a question about his interest Averroes gave a rather indirect answer. The Prince of the Faithful realized that Averroes was hesitant and prudent about becoming involved in a discussion on philosophy; especially with the Prince of the Faithful.

The prince turned to ibn Tufayl and engaged him in a rather lengthy discussion on philosophy. This made Averroes feel more comfortable and he gradually opened up about his efforts in translating Aristotle’s works.

The prince told Averroes that nothing would make him more pleased than to help support Averroes’ efforts in completing those translations.



Tomorrow: The Translations

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