Research studies

Ibn Duufayl’s Hayy ibn Yaqthan: A Mission for Certainty


Prepared by the researcher :  Dr. Yahya Saleh Hasan Dahami – Associate Professor – Faculty of Languages and Human Sciences, Future University – Sana’a Yemen –  English Department –Faculty of Science and Arts, Al Mandaq – Al Baha University, KSA

Democratic Arab Center

Journal of Social Sciences : Nineteen Issue – July 2021

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin.

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
ISSN 2568-6739
Journal of Social Sciences

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Hayy ibn Yaqthan, as a literary character, has become a very popular and philosophical figure in the Arabic societies and has caught the attention of many reviewers, critics, and thinkers all over the years. Consequently, this study tracks some useful information about a controversial hero who became a legend among a huge number of critics and of literary figures not only Arabs but also universally. It attempts to shed light on the profound philosophical and religious notions of the author represented by his hero. The study gives some connected evidence about the thoughts of both novelist Ibn Duufayl and the character Hayy ibn Yaqthan. The paper applies the analytical-critical-descriptive method as a suitable technique for a literary study. The study commences with an introduction; then, it moves to the first point which deals with the philosophy of the novelist Ibn Duufayl as a thinker and philosopher. After that, the point shifts to the novel and hero Hayy Ibn Yaqthan who tries to quest faith and belief, then it is followed by a brief conclusion.


Hayy Ibn Yaqthan is an Arabic name that means ‘the living, son of the awakened. The novel Hayy Ibn Yaqthan by Ibn Duufayl shows the contribution of the Arab Muslims to the renaissance of literature in the late twelfth century in a very crucial location, Andalusia – the connecting civilized Islamic State linking Arab Muslims with Europe. “It is the religious communication tool for the Islamic states and countries. In the course of its evolution, Arabic has become, owing to favor, to several tongues from which it has assimilated a substantial amount of terminology. It, in turn, has made its impacts, effects, involvements, and influences to several Eastern and Western communication tools”. (Dahami, 2018a).

Furthermore, the “Arabic-Muslim-speaking people were the major bearers of the torch of culture, knowledge, and civilization throughout the world” (Dahami, 2018b; Dahami, 2015; Hitti, 1989, p.557).The title, Hayy Ibn Yaqthan, the name of the novel and the name of the main character, is very expressive; also, it mentions the name of the protagonist, but can also be understood as a metaphor for the process described in the novel. The living, son of the awakened, has a deep connotation with the novelist intended to show. It is a philosophical matter in which the author wanted his readers/critics to think about before going further dealing with the story.

Ibn Duufayl describes in this novel the gradual process of knowledge of the protagonist Hayy Ibn Yaqthan, who is found and raised by a gazelle as an infant on a deserted island. Ibn Duufayl follows the technique of experience and inquiry, not only in philosophical difficulties but also in the matters of normal life. There are no books, no parents, no religion to teach him traditional knowledge. Knowledge, originally, is built on sense, then on interpretation and inference as well as theoretical investigation. However, in the last stages, it counts on an inner intuition.

Hayy Ibn Yaqthan comes through his own uninfluenced thoughts to knowledge about the world, the right behaviors, and the conviction of the existence of a creative force outside of the sensible things. From then on, he devoted himself to Allah. One day he met Asal, who had been exposed on the island, which was believed to be uninhabited, for the purpose of religious contemplation. Through this encounter of the protagonist with a person of Islamic faith, Ibn Duufayl illustrates the parallelism of the truth of reason and belief, not without giving subtle preference to reason. Ibn Duufayl used popular lore and transformed it with a master hand to serve his speculative purposes.

In the early Muslim theology, al kalam, there was an intensive preoccupation with the reasoning of beliefs in the first centuries of the Islamic era. The examination of the authority of the argument as well as of Aristotelian and Neoplatonic philosophy and their methods led to Islamic philosophy known as Falsafah. Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Al-Ghazali, or Ibn Rushd (Averroes) are still known for their scientific contributions in that period of Muslim knowledge and scholasticism. In addition to that, “there is no doubt that here the Arabs contributed a number of masterpieces to descriptive art” (Dahami, 2019a; Motoyoshi, 2004, p. 4). “The notion of pure, unadulterated knowledge that was untainted by traditions is in this way present from the first endeavors of the child Hayy Ibn Yaqzan” (Božović, 2017). However, Ben-Zaken (2011), critically comments that

Al-Ghazzali … traced a historical timeline of the development of knowledge, portraying it as a fall from grace, a decline from pure knowledge into words, characterizing the early stages of Islam as possessing an otherworldly and oral knowledge. Only in the second and third centuries of Islam did this knowledge take written form, and then the jurists (fuqaha) made a science (i’lm) of it that amounted to no more than giving legal rulings (p. 18).

Ibn Duufayl’s teaching also stands in this tradition, but little more than the novel Hayy IbnYaqthan has survived. This sort of tradition summarizes the state of the sciences of that time and the different positions in the discussion about the interpretation of the religious content of the Qur’an all the more impressively. It contains Ibn Duufayl’s philosophical teaching as a narrative allegory that speaks the word to the authority of human reason. According to A’bed (2012), Ibn Duufaylis unique in the Arabic philosophy with his distinguished narrative style, which shares his predecessors in most of the philosophical, mystical, medical, and astronomical views and perspectives (p. 312). Ben-Zaken (2011), opines that the “human reason can independently access scientific knowledge unaided by religion or society and its conventions, leading not only to the tenets of natural philosophy but also to the attainment of mystical insight, the highest form of human knowledge” (p. 2) which is the central argument of Ibn Duufayl’s Hayy ibn Yaqthan.

It can be said that this new conception of reason overcomes the paradoxes and obstacles of modern enlightenment. The reason could be useful for the further justification of a secularization, which does not have to be in contradiction or contradiction to religiosity, also for the Arab-Islamic context. The authorship of the story of Hayy Ibn Yaqthan in the present form is undoubtedly attributed to the philosopher Ibn Duufayl. However, it can be assumed that Ibn Duufayl made use of existing traditions, legends, and stories in order to provide a narrative framework for the description of his theory. He himself points out that the protagonists Asal and Salaman received their names from Ibn Sina. As for the two possible beginnings of history, neither the spontaneous genesis of life from clay nor the abandonment of an infant by his mother are inventions of Ibn Duufayl.

There is also a legend from the life of Alexander The Great that in many details resembles the story of Hayy Ibn Yaqthan – the child’s abandonment by the mother on the water – the favorable wind that drives the basket to an island, the raising of the infant through a gazelle who lost her baby, etc. M. Emilio Garcia Gómez claimed in 1926 that this Alexander legend was the basis for Ibn Duufayl’s story.


The name of Ibn Duufayl is Abu Bakr Muhammadibn A’bdu Al-Malik ibn Duufayl (إبنُ طُفيل) Al-Qaisi. The foreign name is also spelled as Ibn Tufaiyl, Ibn-Tufayl, Ibn Dofayl or even Ibn Tufail, all such names are used, but the closest articulation of the name according to the Arabic articulation might be Ibn Duufayl which is used in this paper. Ibn Duufayl is an Arabby origin and stemmed from the eminent Arab tribeof Qais, also pronounced as Gaiys, as the last part of his name shows. Ibn Duufayl is a widely recognized name, and itis through this name that is referred to him in this research.

Ibn Duufayl was born in Wadi Ash, more than thirty miles North Eastof Granada. His date of birth is thought to be sometimes between 1100 and 1110. The particulars of hisfirst part of life and education are not completely identified. However, itis certain that he captivated all the scientific, theoretical, andphilosophical knowledge obtainable to that age. Ibn Duufayl got his therapeutic and medical education in Granada. Several critics have stated that he practiced and experienced medicine at Granada for a period of time. Ibn Duufaylwas a poet, and some of his poetry has been well-maintained in some records of the day. He also made distinct studies of mathematics, astronomy medicines, and dominantly philosophy. “The philosophy mentioned here by Ibn Taufayl is falsafa [فلسفة], i.e., philosophy on the Greek model, as opposed to the oriental philosophy (hikma) [حكمة]” (Goodman, 2009, p. 179).

His career bears evidence to his resourceful and versatile genius. Ibn Duufayl first acted on behalf of the Secretary to the Governor of Granada; it is said that he also acts on behalf of the Governor of the place at some period of his livelihood. Subsequently, he became the minister of Abu Ya’gub Yusuf and also acted as his Court Physician and philosopher, widely looked upon both for his medical work and for his literary work such as the novel Hayy ibnYaqthan which presents Ibn Duufayl’s spiritual philosophy in an anecdote regarding a solitary who achieves illumination, enlightenment, and insight while living alone on an isolated isle.Ibn Duufayl, as the minister of the Caliph as well as his special friend, had great inspiration overthe Caliph. Ibn Duufayl used to spend the majority of his time conversing on different matters of philosophy with The Caliph. He spent the majority of his time in the full grand library of Abu Ya’qub. Ibn Duufayl was a man of reserved nature, fonder of books than of men. “Its importance to civilisation in a material sense may have been negligible, but among its leading figures the Caliph Abu Ya’qub, not to mention one or two others of his line, is worthy of remembrance for his patronage of philosophy” (Ibn Duufayl, 1929, p. 9).

Ibn Duufayl used his inspiration, impact, and weight with the Caliph in presenting and mentioning men of scholarship and erudition to the favors of the Caliph. Once the Amir articulated the wish to find a thinker who could analyze and elucidate the works of Aristotle, Ibn Duufayl mentioned Ibn Rushd for this determination. It does not only reflect the nobility of his emotion and passion but also his assurance in his own scholarship. A man of shallow learning will never recommend a tangible scholar to the favors of his benefactor and sponsor. Ibn Duufayl remained to enjoy Caliph’sfavors and to maintain his place at the court. In 1185 Ibn Duufayl passed away in Morocco and had been given a great ceremonious burial.

Certainly, Ibn Duufayl was a man of encyclopedicknowledge. He was a many-sided mastermind and virtuoso. He had madewidespread studies in literature, and his design of writingshowed immense literary attractiveness and artistic potentials.He was also notable forhis acquaintance of medicine, and according to several critics, had written two books on medicine. According to Juma’a, (2014), Ibn Duufayl had written a book called In Inhabited and Uninhabited Spots, (في البقع المسكونة والغير المسكونة) and had some distinct views about the divinebodies (p. 115). Abu Bakr Ibn Duufayl had discovered a new structure to explain the actions of heavenly bodies and that structure was unlike and greater than that of Ptolemy.

Ibn Duufayl’s knowledge of scientific experience and skill is also an established fact. In sketching the progress of Hayy Ibn Yaqthan, he gives adequate glimpses of his acquaintance of Astronomy, Mathematics, Anatomy, Physics, and also Geography. Some of his ideas are outstandingly modern. However, there is a suitable occasion to analyze more on Hayy Ibn Yaqthan in the next section.

As stated by several critics, Ibn Duufayl was a man of peaceful, tranquil, and quiet nature. He was a pious man.Ibn Duufayl liked privacy and solitude and hadbecome more kept away from others towards the later stage of his life. He did not enjoy the bravery to faceopposition or to utter his opinions, views, and visions openly in front of the public. He was a religiousman with a profoundly spiritual personality, which is clearly seen in his masterpiece novel Hayy ibn Yaqthan. The strategy of Ibn Duufayl “is to show how human reason may, by observation and experience, arrive at the knowledge of natural things, and from thence to the supernatural, particularly the knowledge of God [Allah]” (Van Dyck, 1905, p. 6). Maintaining in view the natural and instinctive qualities andtraits of Ibn Duufayl, and the features of theperiod, it is not complicated to understand why he pickedthe medium of an anecdote for the manifestation of his views such as Hayy Ibn Yaqthan.


In composing Hayy Ibn Yaqthan, the main attempt of Ibn Duufayl is, so to speak, to combine Greek senseand oriental learning, knowledge, and science into a modern assessment of the realm.In a general way, Ibn Duufayl’s philosophical effort indicates his determination in writing Hayy ibn Yaqthan. Accordingly, it is obvious that Hayy ibn Yaqthan is primarily an exposition or a treatise on spirituality, although it includes other features as well. Hayy “learns physical survival and discovers the laws of the universe, eventually achieving a mystical state” (Conrad, 1996, p. 53).

Hayy Ibn-Yaqzan (Alive Son of the Vigilant) is the tale of the quintessential autodidact. A medieval philosophical treatise in literary form, written by the Andalusian philosopher Abu Bakr Ibn-Tufayl in the 1160s, it relates the story of human knowledge as it rises from a blank slate, through practical exploration of nature, to a mystical or direct experience of God. (Ben-Zaken, 2011, p. 2).

No one denies that the “Arab Muslims were the medium through which ancient science and philosophy were revived and put on the stage of life for everyone, supplemented and transmitted in a manner as to make the renaissance of Western Europe possible” (Dahami, 2019b). The novel named Hayy ibn Yaqthan (also written as Yaqdhan, Yaqzan) is written by Ibn Duufayl in the 1100s. After fourteen centuries, this innovative novel was translated into various European tongues and made a huge impact and impression in different cultures. The chief “philosophical and religious ideas of Hayy Ibn Yaqzan and to suggest that this twelfth-century Spanish-Arabic book has a far-reaching influence on Modern European Thought, and on the Enlightenment movement in Europe in particular” (Attar,2010, p.38). Probably it was translated to the main European literary language, Latin, in 1671, then to English in 1708.  Hayy ibn Yaqthan “is, without doubt, a classic of medieval Arabic philosophical literature. Though its title is taken from that of an earlier work by Ibn Sina (d. 428/1037), the text of Ibn Tufayl represents a clearly distinct, essentially original narrative” (Conrad, 1996, p. 52). Several critics and philosophers such as Leibniz and Spinoza were impressed by the protagonist Hayy ibn Yaqthan whose author, Ibn Duufayl, was inspired by Ibnu Sina (Avicenna). Ibnu Sina was the most gifted, brilliant, and extraordinary Arabic physician and philosopher who inscribed an analogous story or as it might be stated that Ibn Duufayl has paralleled a story of Ibn Sina. Hayy ibn Yaqthan was translated into various languages with different titles, for instance, ‘The Journey of the Soul.’

It is a unique novel, authentically Arabic in origin, a story that is at once philosophy, vision, and literature, representing a way of some philosophers to explain their philosophical ideas through stories, tales, and symbolic visions. Through symbols, mystics express their passionate feelings and how a mystic can say what cannot be said in ordinary language and describe what cannot be described. They rely on sensuous and concrete representations from the outside world, often images from mundane love poetry and the pleasures of life on earth, and use them by elevating them to spiritual experience (Jayyusi, 2010, p. 28).

The main character, Hayy ibn Yaqthan grew up in a remote, isolated isle. On account of an attack on his family’s settlement, his mother placed him in a hamper as the same as the story mentioned in the Holy Qur’an when the mother of Prophet Moses put him in a basket and let the water take him. The situation is tangibly mentioned in the two verses of the Holy Qur’an:

“وَلَقَدْ مَنَنَّا عَلَيْكَ مَرَّةً أُخْرَى (37) إِذْ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى أُمِّكَ مَا يُوحَى (38) أَنِ اقْذِفِيهِ فِي التَّابُوتِ فَاقْذِفِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ فَلْيُلْقِهِ الْيَمُّ بِالسَّاحِلِ يَأْخُذْهُ عَدُوٌّ لِي وَعَدُوٌّ لَهُ وَأَلْقَيْتُ عَلَيْكَ مَحَبَّةً مِنِّي وَلِتُصْنَعَ عَلَى عَيْنِي (39)” سورة طه

“And indeed, We conferred a favour on you another time (before). When We inspired your mother with that which We inspired. Saying: ‘Put him (the child) into the Tabut (a box or a case or a chest) and put it into the river (Nile); then the river shall cast it up on the bank, and there, and enemy of Mine and an enemy of his shall take him.’ And I endued you with love from Me, in order that you may be brought up under My Eye.” Surat TaHA (Al-Hilali, 1419 H., p. 417). Furthermore, in another verse in Surat Al-Qasas Allah Says:

“وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى أُمِّ مُوسَى أَنْ أَرْضِعِيهِ فَإِذَا خِفْتِ عَلَيْهِ فَأَلْقِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ وَلَا تَخَافِي وَلَا تَحْزَنِي إِنَّا رَادُّوهُ إِلَيْكِ وَجَاعِلُوهُ مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ (7)” سورة القصص.

“And We inspired the mother of Musa (Moses): (telling): ‘Suckle him [Musa (Moses)], but when you fear for him, then cast him into the river and fear not, nor grieve. Verily, We shall bring him back to you, and shall make him one of (Our) Messengers.’ [Tafsir Al-Qurtubi] Surat Al-Qasas (The Narration)” (Al-Hilali, 1419 H., p. 516).

From the analogy between Hayy’s mother and Moses’, Ibn Duufayl wanted to send a philosophical notion and allegory that the mother who throws her child into a running river is a strong believer in Allah. There is an indispensable harmony between nature formed by Allah and the words revealed by Him. If there are seeming disagreement and tension, the revelation had better be interpreted in an attempt to remove that discrepancy. The amazing metaphorical comparison is not between Moses and Hayy but between their mothers who represent very strong belief and trust of their creator. The notion is reflexed and returned to the writer, who drew such an amazing abstracted portrait.

The boy, Hayy, soon made distinctions between himself and the other living beings, some of which appeared to belong to the same species. He believes that he is disadvantaged at first but soon finds out that his mind is superior to other living things. On the one hand, he now knows how to help himself by making tools and clothing for himself. On the other hand, he begins to think about the order of the world: he finds unity and multiplicity, alike and different, living and dead, the world and the heavenly spheres. In the course of his thought process, he comes to the necessary insight into the existence of a creative force outside of the sensible things. Thereupon he devoted himself to the Allah show until Asal met him, who let himself be abandoned for the purpose of contemplation on the uninhabited island.

The infant Hayy was left behind crying and possibly all the others died after the dramatic affair against his family and clan. Later an antelope female found him then nursed and raised him. As an infant recognizes nothing, he thought it was his mother. Later the antelope gave birth; Hayy understood that his new seemingly brother does not act like him, but its moves, appearance, and behaviors are similar to the antelope. He became depressingly perplexed and then started to realize that he himself was unlike the antelope and its baby. He belonged to the special nature of creatures that did not exist nearby. The first reaction or response to the situation is that awareness made him conceal his masculine private parts of the body by leaves of trees, as a reference to the father of human beings Adam and his wife Eve. The indication is clear in the revelation of the Holy Qur’an in different verses such as.

“فَأَكَلَا مِنْهَا فَبَدَتْ لَهُمَا سَوْآَتُهُمَا وَطَفِقَا يَخْصِفَانِ عَلَيْهِمَا مِنْ وَرَقِ الْجَنَّةِ وَعَصَى آَدَمُ رَبَّهُ فَغَوَى (121) ثُمَّ اجْتَبَاهُ رَبُّهُ فَتَابَ عَلَيْهِ وَهَدَى (122)” سورة طه

“Then they both ate of the tree, and so their private parts became manifest to them, and they began to cover themselves with the leaves of the Paradise for their covering. Thus, did Adam disobey his Lord, so he went astray.” Surat TaHa (Al-Hilali, 1419 H., p. 426)

“وَقَاسَمَهُمَا إِنِّي لَكُمَا لَمِنَ النَّاصِحِينَ (21) فَدَلَّاهُمَا بِغُرُورٍ فَلَمَّا ذَاقَا الشَّجَرَةَ بَدَتْ لَهُمَا سَوْآَتُهُمَا وَطَفِقَا يَخْصِفَانِ عَلَيْهِمَا مِنْ وَرَقِ الْجَنَّةِ وَنَادَاهُمَا رَبُّهُمَا أَلَمْ أَنْهَكُمَا عَنْ تِلْكُمَا الشَّجَرَةِ وَأَقُلْ لَكُمَا إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَكُمَا عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ (22)” سورة الأعراف

“And he [Shaitan (Satan)] sore by Allah to them both (saying): ‘Verily, I am one of the sincere well-wishers for you both. So, he misled them with deception. Then when they tasted of the tree, that which was hidden from them of their shame (private parts) became manifest to them and they began to cover themselves with the leaves of Paradise (in order to cover their shame). And their Lord called out to them (saying): ‘Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you: Verily, Shaitan (Satan) is an open enemy unto you” Surat Al-A’raf, (Al-Hilali, 1419 H., p. 202)?

When he was around seven, the young Hayy pushed his skills, capabilities, and talents to seem more closely with the other affiliates of the isle. He attempted to fly, but the result was a disaster. At this age, his antelope-mother became old and ailing. Hayy started to pick up how to use the resources that he could attain from the island and watched the antelope with devotion. When the antelope-mother passed away, he was faced with the concept of death. Death is one of the most important elements preoccupied with the author since he was a medical practitioner. The author, Ibn Duufayl, through the hero, presents a real surgery inside the motionless body of the dead antelope in a quest for a hint of life as well as the desire to find a sort of relationship between life and death.

In the beginning, Hayy assumed that if he makes the body warm enough, the antelope mother might return to life once more; however, the consequence is negative. The proficiency of Ibn Duufayl pears in the next step when Hayy started to do a sort of autopsy and examination to discover what is discharging from the body which made it motionless. He checked all the parts of the body and in conclusion, he opened the heart and found the only vacuity inside it. In this context, we may refer to a kind of metaphor about the soul which is too perplexing to all medical practitioners ancient and modern. Hayy

started to seek after the third emulation and tried hard to attain it by pondering over the attributes of the Necessary Being. He had come to know, during the period of his scientific speculation on the subject before he had entered upon any action that these attributes were of two kinds: positive, such as knowledge, power, and wisdom; and negative, such as His complete freedom from corporeality and from the bodily attributes, and from whatever adheres to these attributes or is related to them even remotely (Lerner, 1963).

Hayy found nothing different or special; the body was the same, but with motionless and some undistinguishable thing left the body that was positioned in the heart according to the inventor of this science fiction. Hayy was not sure what to do with the immobile corpus. Still, appreciatively he saw two crows that were clashing with each other in reference to the event of the elderly two sons of Adam, Habeel, and Qabeel – Abel and Cain, who one killed the other. According to the Holy Qur’an, it was the first crime of killing on earth and the first case to bury a corpus. It is amazingly portrayed in Surat Al-Ma’idah (The Table spread with Food) in which Allah Says:

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ابْنَيْ آَدَمَ بِالْحَقِّ إِذْ قَرَّبَا قُرْبَانًا فَتُقُبِّلَ مِنْ أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمْ يُتَقَبَّلْ مِنَ الْآَخَرِ قَالَ لَأَقْتُلَنَّكَ قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ (27) لَئِنْ بَسَطْتَ إِلَيَّ يَدَكَ لِتَقْتُلَنِي مَا أَنَا بِبَاسِطٍ يَدِيَ إِلَيْكَ لِأَقْتُلَكَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللَّهَ رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ (28) إِنِّي أُرِيدُ أَنْ تَبُوءَ بِإِثْمِي وَإِثْمِكَ فَتَكُونَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّارِ وَذَلِكَ جَزَاءُ الظَّالِمِينَ (29) فَطَوَّعَتْ لَهُ نَفْسُهُ قَتْلَ أَخِيهِ فَقَتَلَهُ فَأَصْبَحَ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ (30) فَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ غُرَابًا يَبْحَثُ فِي الْأَرْضِ لِيُرِيَهُ كَيْفَ يُوَارِي سَوْأَةَ أَخِيهِ قَالَ يَا وَيْلَتَا أَعَجَزْتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِثْلَ هَذَا الْغُرَابِ فَأُوَارِيَ سَوْأَةَ أَخِي فَأَصْبَحَ مِنَ النَّادِمِينَ (31) سورة المائدة.

“And (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) recite to them (the Jews) the story of the two sons of Adam (Habil and Qabil-Abel and Cain) in truth; when each offered a sacrifice (to Allah), it was accepted from the one but not from the other. The latter said to the former: ‘I will surely kill you.’ The former said: ‘Verily, Allah accepts only from those who are Al-Muttagun (the pious)” Surat Al-Ma’idah (Al-Hilali, 1419 H., p. 147).

At the end of the combat between the two crows, one kills the other and breaks up the earth making a hole and buries the killed one under the ground. Hayy ibn Yaqthan thought he ought to do the same with the antelope. The comparison in this context is not about the process of the killing crime, but it is about the process of the right way Hayy should do with his dear antelope because it is really the first time for Hayy to find a dead body before him and he is perplexed with what to do. “After the death of the deer, the young boy, who passed his seventh year, dissects her body in search of the vital principle” (Attar, 2019). The vital principle or attitude is not the dead body. He starts a contemplative mission on why death happens. It is the process of death and what is behind it. It is the contemplation of life and the reason behind it.

After this heartbreaking event, Hayy commenced discovering the entire island by himself. He has the ability to communicate with other creatures by imitating their movements and sounds. Analytically, it is a similar comparison with Prophet Solomon’s capability to communicate with all creatures which are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. In a part of Hayy’s exploration and quest of life, he lost his way in a vast and long cave in the total dimness. Figuratively, it can be accepted to say that the isle is a small picture of the world, and the cave is the lives of people, especially the inner ecosphere or universe where there are a lot of conflicts and labyrinths where people are commonly lost. Yet without thinking, lacking a consistently developed civilization and a language, Hayy could still achieve a high level of the intellectual mind and discovers Allah that he spoke through using his internal voice. The faultless human intellect does not stand only in demand of the legislations (Ash-Shari’ah) for its improvement and culture. Such contemplations are kinds of proof about the ability to realize and reorganize Allah in all circumstances and conditions even without a prophet.

According toJayyusi (2010), After a profound dream, Hayy’s “utter loss of self, and true spiritual attainment, he witnessed the highest sphere, which had no physical body. … With the highest pleasure and joy, happiness and delight, he viewed the essence of Truth, Glory be to His Majesty (p. 296). Also, see (p. 57). In addition to that (Idris, 2016) supports the idea when Hayy meets Absal, saying that “One day, Absāl leaves his island in pursuit of seclusion, but is shipwrecked on the island where Ḥayy, who had never met another human, was living. Absāl teaches Ḥayy language, and Ḥayy imparts philosophical wisdom to Absāl. They find that Absāl’s religion is a lesser image of the pure truth that Ḥayy had discovered through contemplation”. At long last, the man from the civilized neighboring island came to the isle in which Hayy lives.

“It is at this point that a second character, named Absāl, arrives from a neighboring island whose inhabitants are ‘followers of a certain true religion, based on the teachings of a certain ancient prophet’” (Wood, 2017). The guest, Absal, invited Hayy ibn Yaqthan to visit his ship in which Hayy accepted the invitation that led later on his travel to Absal’s land. To start a new dimension of the story of the search in his quest about life, Hayy ibn Yaqthan met with Absal’s best companion called Salaman. They had a discourse about their belief and thought of Allah and the creation of the universe that was different from customary beliefs. All the gathering realized that such understanding and appreciation was not for all civilizations, cultures, and societies. After a level of knowledge, the gathering hardly has smooth relations with others intellectually. After confirming the persuasion that their attempts with the people are helpless, they chose to go back to the isolated isle and live together.


After Hayy got sufficient skill to elucidate his life, he shared his acquaintance, knowledge, and experience that he acquired from his past knowledge. In the novel, Hayy and his new human companions surprised the resemblances of their awareness, familiarity, and experience. The hero’s beliefs and knowledge are deeper and uncontaminated than the other companions. To influence the ordinary apprentices of philosophy, that right knowledge consists of the uneasiness of the truths of the spiritual realm, stranded in the belief in Allah. The idea might be a useful act that sets in motion some course of events for the reader/critic of the book to deeply think about such topics. Furthermore, “Dissecting all kinds of living and dead animals, Hay landed in the first place of naturalists and arrived at the highest degree of knowledge in this kind” (Maftouni, 2017).

Ibn Duufayl’s determination in writing Hayy Ibn Yaqthan is a mission searching for certainty and belief. It is motivating to note that diverse critics, readers, and writers have read various determinations into the literary workof Ibn Duufayl. The fact that Ibn Duufayl has implemented the form of an account implies that thinking and education should be given to fellows in keeping with their capacities. It habitually happens with eminent thinkers,whose viewpoint, philosophy and beliefs comprise several features that subsequent philosophers pick up this or that portion from hisphilosophy that strikes them as most significant. In the case of Ibn Duufayl, there is a definite motive that leads to different views. His selection of atale as the standard of his philosophy might contribute,in any measure, to this difference of opinion. The novelist might have either the benefit or the difficulty of veiling his real purposes behind the niceties of the plot.

Slightly allied to this view is the assessment of Fulton (1929), who typifies the book of Ibn Duufayl in these argumentative words.“It is the pilgrim Soul’s upward progress; its returnshome to its ‘Father’ through a series of ascendingstages. In short, one of the main objects of thismodest little book is nothing less than to dramatisethe process of continuous development from sense-perception up to the beatific vision of the One” (p. 25). This notion categoricallysums up the whole tale of Hayy Ibn Yaqthan but does notinform which portion of the tale is most significant. Furthermore, it needlessly attempts to give a Christian traceto the tale.

Grunebaum (1969), describes the book, Hayy Ibn Yaqthan,as a life history of a public declaration of his own faith, showing that human intellect can pick up the uppermost truths through thinking and contemplation. To somedegree, it can be true; however, it does not bear the whole inklingof the book. Certainly, Ibn Duufayl has caused Hayy Ibn Yaqthan the agent for his personal thoughts and knowledge, butwhy has he designated a lonely man, brought up in segregationfrom Humanity, as his hero? The determination of confessions or declaration of his own faithmight have been better attended by a straight account likethat of Al-Ghazali.

It is rather lucrative that Ibn Duufayl indulged in Mysticism near the close of the narration; however, it probably makes an integral portion of his philosophical viewpoint. This assessment is noticeably appropriate as it goes against the obvious declarations of Ibn Duufayl in the Introduction. It can be said that the most fundamental and chief objective of Ibn Duufayl is to show concord, coherence, and agreement between legislations (Ash-Shari’ah) and philosophy.

All of the assessments mentioned above are, to a great extent, true. Nevertheless, there is no reason to doubt the testament of Ibn Duufayl himself, who unambiguously expresses that the novel has been inscribed to communicate, in an indirect form, his personal mystic knowledge, and to inspire and convince his readers/critics to track the mystic path. It is undeniably the central determination of the fiction. Nonetheless, mysticism itself is an effort at merging philosophy with faith and belief and assigning an allegorical clarification to all spiritual doctrines and precepts. The ultimate aim of knowledge is the knowledge of God. Although reason can prove his existence and establish the structure of his being, it is not discursive. Still, intuitive knowledge, gnosis that leads to the realization by the believer of God’s essence and the deepest secrets of the faith (Grunebaum, 1969, p. 237).

Consequently, it is normal that shoulder to shoulder with the exposition of his spiritual perspective and judgment, Ibn Duufayl should also go in for the difficulty of the relation of faith and religious conviction to philosophy. “Since religious philosophy attempts to define religion as an aspect of experience and a branch of human concern, the answer will differ according to what religion is conceived to be” (Goodman, 2009, p. 25). Furthermore,Hayy ibn Yaqthan “tries to access to the religious-philosophical truth in research, its causes without the use of any broker from abroad. This work has been a rapprochement with rational thinking that has prevailed in the West in the eighteenth century” (Alshammari, 2013).Moreover, the difficulty had supposed a special worth in that period and suggested or propounded a challenge to the theorists, philosophers, and thinkers. It can be reserved as the second significant determination of Ibn Duufayl.


The novelist and philosopher Ibn Duufayl could illustrate that the hero eventually comes to recognize that the world is separated between a very few who recognize and realize spiritual truths through their unassisted reason or motive. A larger faction conceives truth through mystical, spiritual, and transcendent symbols and the majority of the mass who simply admit the laws that originate from such symbols. There is no justification to doubt the proof of Ibn Duufayl, who unmistakably expresses that the narration has been inscribed to reveal, in an implicit form, his personal spiritual knowledge, and to stimulate and convince the critics to track the spiritual path.

Ibn Duufayl has succeeded in presenting a strategy to show how human reason can be realized by observation and practice. It is a process that commences from the knowledge of natural elements, and from after that comes to supernatural, principally the familiarity with Allah. Then in order to achieve this aim, Ibn Duufayl has supposed an individual brought up by himself, in which he was completely wanting or lacking any instruction. However, he could get his knowledge and experience only from his own thought and contemplation.

It is unquestionably the vital determination of this narrative. Nonetheless, ibn Duufayl could present that spirituality itself is a determination in amalgamating faith and belief with philosophy and assigning a metaphorical clarification to all spiritual doctrines and principles. It can be stated that the ultimate purpose of knowledge, according to the novelist as well as several critics, is the knowledge of Allah. Ibn Duufayl is a pioneer thinker and philosopher of Arabs who greatly contributes to literary heritage not only of Arabs but also of the world verily through his masterpiece Hayy ibn Yaqthan.


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