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Abū-Bakr Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn al-Sāyigh (Arabic أبو بكر محمد بن يحيى بن الصائغ), known as Ibn Bājjah ( ), was an Andalusianmarker-Arab Muslim polymath: an astronomer, logician, musician, philosopher, physician, physicist, psychologist, poet and scientist. He was known in the West by his Latinized name, Avempace. He was born in Zaragozamarker in what is today Spainmarker and died in Fes, Moroccomarker in 1138. Avempace worked as vizir for Abu Bakr ibn Ibrahim Ibn Tîfilwît, the Almoravid governor of Saragossamarker. Avempace also wrote poems (panegyrics and 'muwasshahat') for him, and they both enjoyed music and wine. Avempace joined in poetic competitions with the poet al-Tutili. He later worked, for some twenty years, as the vizir of Yahyà ibn Yûsuf Ibn Tashufin, another brother of the Almoravid Sultan Yusuf Ibn Tashufin (died 1143) in Morocco.

His philosophic ideas had a clear effect on Ibn Rushd and Albertus Magnus.Most of his writings and book were not completed (or well organized) because of his early death.He had a vast knowledge of Medicine, Mathematics and Astronomy.His main contribution to Islamic Philosophy is his idea on Soul Phenomenology, but unfortunately not completed.

His beloved expressions were Gharib غريب and Mutawahhid متوحد, two approved and popular expressions of Islamic Gnostics.

Ibn Bajjah was also a renowned poet. In his explanation of the Zajal E.G. Gomes writes: "There is some evidence for the belief that it was invented by the famous philosopher and musician known as Avempace. Its chief characteristic being that it is written entirely in the vernacular. ” (Emilio Gracia Gomes in his essay “Moorish Spain")

Though many of his works have not survived, his theories on astronomy and physics were preserved by Maimonides and Averroes respectively, which had a subsequent influence on later astronomers and physicists in the Islamic civilization and Renaissance Europe, including Galileo Galilei.


In Islamic astronomy, Maimonides wrote the following on the planetary model proposed by Ibn Bajjah:

In his commentary on Aristotle's Meteorology, Ibn Bajjah presented his own theory on the Milky Way galaxy. Aristotle believed the Milky Way to be caused by "the ignition of the fiery exhalation of some stars which were large, numerous and close together" and that the "ignition takes place in the upper part of the atmosphere, in the region of the world which is continuous with the heavenly motions." On the other hand, Aristotle's Arabic commentator Ibn al-Bitriq considered "the Milky Way to be a phenomenon exclusively of the heavenly spheres, not of the upper part of the atmosphere" and that the "light of those stars makes a visible patch because they are so close." Ibn Bajjah's view differed from both, as he considered "the Milky Way to be a phenomenon both of the spheres above the moon and of the sublunar region." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes his theory and observation on the Milky Way as follows:


In Islamic physics, Ibn Bajjah's law of motion was equivalent to the principle that uniform motion implies absence of action by a force. This principle would later form the basis of modern mechanics and have a subsequent influence on the classical mechanics of physicists such as Galileo Galilei. Ibn Bajjah's definition of velocity was also equivalent to Galileo's definition of velocity:

Velocity = Motive Power - Material Resistance

where the motive power is measured by the specific gravity of the mobile body and the material resistance is the resisting medium whose resistive power is measured by its specific gravity.

Ibn Bajjah was also the first to state that there is always a reaction force for every force exerted, a precursor to Gottfried Leibniz's idea of force which underlies Newton's third law of motion or law of reciprocal actions.Shlomo Pines (1964), "La dynamique d’Ibn Bajja", in Mélanges Alexandre Koyré, I, 442-468 [462, 468], Paris.

Abel B.

Franco (October 2003).

"Avempace, Projectile Motion, and Impetus Theory", Journal of the History of Ideas 64 (4), p.

521-546 [543].)

Ibn Bajjah also had an influence on Thomas Aquinas' analysis of motion. In his Systeme du Monde, the pioneering historian of medieval science, Pierre Duhem, stated:

Text 71

Text 71 of Averroes' commentary on Aristotle's Physics contains a discussion on Ibn Bajjah's theory of motion, as well as the following quotation from the seventh book of Ibn Bajjah's lost work on physics:

Averroes writes the following comments on Ibn Bajjah's theory of motion:


In Islamic psychology, Ibn Bajjah "based his psychological studies on physics." In his essay, Recognition of the Active Intelligence, he wrote that active intelligence is the most important ability of human beings, and he wrote many other essays on sensations and imaginations. He concluded that "knowledge cannot be acquired by senses alone but by Active Intelligence, which is the governing intelligence of nature." He begins his discussion of the soul with the definition that "bodies are composed of matter and form and intelligence is the most important part of man—sound knowledge is obtained through intelligence, which alone enables one to attain prosperity and build character." He viewed the unity of the rational soul as the principle of the individual identity, and that by its contact with the Active Intelligence, it "becomes one of those lights that gives glory to God." His definition of freedom is "that when one can think and act rationally". He also writes that "the aim of life should be to seek spiritual knowledge and make contact with Active Intelligence and thus with the Divine."


  1. Ziauddin Sardar, Science in Islamic philosophy
  2. Jon Mcginnis, Classical Arabic Philosophy: An Anthology of Sources, p. 266, Hackett Publishing Company, ISBN 0872208710.
  3. Vincent Lagardère, 1989, pp. 80 and 174-178)
  4. Ernest A. Moody (April 1951). "Galileo and Avempace: The Dynamics of the Leaning Tower Experiment (I)", Journal of the History of Ideas 12 (2), p. 163-193.
  5. Ernest A. Moody (June 1951). "Galileo and Avempace: The Dynamics of the Leaning Tower Experiment (II)", Journal of the History of Ideas 12 (3), p. 375-422 [379].
  6. Ernest A. Moody (April 1951). "Galileo and Avempace: The Dynamics of the Leaning Tower Experiment (I)", Journal of the History of Ideas 12 (2), p. 163-193 [172-173].


  • Marcinkowski, M. Ismail (April 2002), "A Biographical Note on Ibn Bajjah (Avempace) and an English Translation of his Annotations to al-Farabi's Isagoge", in Iqbal Review (Lahore, Pakistan), vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 83-99.

  • The Diwan Attributed to Ibn Bajjah (Avempace),D. M. Dunlop, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 14, No. 3, Studies Presented to Vladimir Minorsky by His Colleagues and Friends (1952), pp. 463-477

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