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Title: The Awakening of the Soul
Author: Tufail, Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Malik Ibn
Language: English
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The Wisdom of the East Series






    “’Twas what it was, ’tis not to be expressed.
    Enquire no further, but conceive the best.”






    F.R.G.S., F.R.HIST.S., M.R.A.S., ETC.







    _To Her Excellency
    Lady-in-Waiting to Her Majesty
    The Queen of Wurtemberg
    Respectfully dedicated



  INTRODUCTION,                                                  9

  Different Accounts of the Birth of Hayy Ibn Yokdhan,          29

  Hayy Ibn Yokdhan, son of a Princess,                          30

  Hayy is exposed by his Mother,                                30

  Hayy is driven by the tide to another Island,                 31

  Hayy is found by a Roe, which takes care of him,              31

  Spontaneous Generation,                                       32

  Hayy grows up nursed by the Roe,                              33

  Hayy learns to imitate animals’ voices,                       34

  Hayy begins to take a careful view of things,                 34

  Hayy observes the difference between the animals and himself, 35

  Hayy as a boy of seven. He covers himself with leaves,        36

  Hayy becomes aggressive, and attacks wild beasts,             36

  Hayy covers himself with the skin of an Eagle,                37

  Hayy spreads terror among the beasts,                         37

  Hayy is grief-stricken at the death of the Roe,               38

  Hayy takes an aversion to the dead body,                      38

  Hayy buries the body of the Roe,                              39

  Hayy observes divers kinds of living creatures and plants,    39

  Hayy discovers Fire kindled by the friction of reeds,         40


  Hayy makes himself clothes and shoes of the skins of animals, 42

  Hayy learns to ride,                                          43

  Hayy examines the nature of bodies,                           44

  Hayy transfers his thoughts to the heavenly bodies,           46


  Hayy ponders over heaven and stars,                           47

  Hayy finds that the body of heaven is finite,                 47

  Hayy contemplates sun, moon, and stars,                       48

  Hayy concludes that the heaven is of a spherical figure,      48

  Hayy ponders over the creation of the world,                  50

  Hayy concludes that the world must have a Creator without
    bodily substance,                                           51

  Hayy admires the work of the Creator,                         56


  Hayy is completely taken up with the contemplation of the
    superior intellectual world,                                58

  Hayy examines all his senses and faculties,                   58

  HAYY RETURNS TO THE SENSIBLE WORLD                            63


  Asal and Salaman appear on the scene,                         65

  Nature and character of Asal and Salaman,                     66

  Further differences of Asal and Salaman,                      66

  Asal repairs to Hayy’s Island,                                67

  Hayy and Asal meet,                                           69

  Hayy catches hold of Asal,                                    70

  Hayy and Asal stroke one another,                             71

  Hayy and Asal try to understand each other,                   71

  Asal makes Hayy eat of his food,                              72

  Hayy Ibn Yokdhan at last joins Asal at dinner, but repents
    afterwards,                                                 72

  Asal becomes Hayy’s companion and teacher,                    73

  Hayy enlightens Asal on his inner life,                       74

  Asal tells Hayy of the Island from whence he had come,        75

  Hayy observes that men are dull, stupid, and brutish,         78

  Asal persuades Hayy to follow him to his Island,              79

  Hayy and Asal return together to Asal’s Island,               79

  Hayy begins to teach and instruct Salaman’s subjects,         80

  Hayy despairs of being able to reform the vulgar crowd,       81

  Hayy’s philosophical views on the value of this world,        81

  Hayy gives up his preachings and teachings,                   84

  Asal and Hayy return to their Island,                         85

  Epilogue of the Author,                                       86


The object of the Editors of this series is a very definite one. They
desire above all things that, in their humble way, these books shall be
the ambassadors of good-will and understanding between East and
West--the old world of Thought and the new of Action. In this endeavour,
and in their own sphere, they are but followers of the highest example
in the land. They are confident that a deeper knowledge of the great
ideals and lofty philosophy of Oriental thought may help to a revival of
that true spirit of Charity which neither despises nor fears the nations
of another creed and colour.

                                            L. CRANMER-BYNG.
                                            S. A. KAPADIA.

        21, CROMWELL ROAD,
            KENSINGTON, S.W.


It is to two English scholars, father and son, Edward Pococke, senior
and junior, that the world is indebted for the knowledge of one of the
most charming productions Arabian philosophy can boast of.

Generally looked upon as a subject of repulsive aridity, in its strange
combination of the most heterogeneous philosophical systems, devoid of
the grace and charm of attractive style, unbrightened by brilliancy of
wit or spirit, Arabian philosophy has, for centuries past, been subject
to sad and undeserved neglect.

Yet I cannot imagine a better and more eloquent refutation of this
erroneous view than a rendering, in fresh garb, of this romance of Hayy
Ibn Yokdhan, simple and ingenuous, yet fragrant with poetry and withal
fraught with deep philosophical problems the interest in which I wish to

It was in the year 1671 that there was published by the Oxford
University Press, as one of its first issues of Arabic texts, a book
called, “Philosophus autodidactus,” edited by Edward Pococke the son,
together with a Latin translation. It had a preface that bore the
signature of Edward Pococke, the father, and this fact alone was
sufficient to stamp it at once as a work in which vast erudition and
thoroughness of investigation had joined hands--for both these _savants_
were men of wide reputation and brilliant attainments.

England, that has put students of Oriental lore under such large
obligations, has never given to the world a greater Arabic scholar than
Edward Pococke, “the Glory and Ornament of his Age and Nation,” the
famous author of the “Specimen historiæ Arabum”;[1] a veritable
store-house of historical, scientific, literary, and religious
information, and the equally famous editor of the annals of Eutychius
and of the history of Dynasties by Abul faradj.

    [1] This book, by the way, was the first book in Arabic type
    which issued from the Oxford University Press, just as his
    “Porta Mosis,” containing the six Prefatory Discourses of
    Maimonides on the Mishna, was the first Hebrew text (in fact
    Arabic with Hebrew characters) printed at Oxford.

In the splendid array of famous Arabic scholars the last century has
produced there are only two in England that rank with Edward Pococke on
the same level--two men whose names stand out in bold relief, namely,
Edward William Lane, prince among lexicographers, and William Wright,
the brilliant exponent of the theories of the native Arabic grammarians.

The co-operation of Edward Pococke, the father, in the edition of this
book, “Philosophus autodidactus,” was indeed the best recommendation.
To Edward Pococke, the father, is due the honour of having discovered
and unearthed this priceless gem of Arabic philosophical literature,
whilst the son, “the worthy son of so great a father,” undertook the
task, by no means an easy one, of editing the Arabic text and furnishing
it with a Latin translation.[2] This Latin translation was undoubtedly
for that time a praiseworthy performance; yet, considering the enormous
strides Oriental science has made during the last centuries, and with
all the new material at hand, we are to-day able to put the philological
groundwork on a more solid basis.

    [2] The value of the book was quickly recognised. In a
    comparatively short time it quite caught the fancy of the
    public--in fact it took the world by storm, and for a long time
    it remained greatly in vogue.

In casting about for the work of an Arabian philosopher for the “Wisdom
of the East” Series, I could not think of anything more engaging, more
captivating, than this simple romance.

Unfortunately, for reasons of space, I could not give a translation in
full, but I have given the most interesting parts. On the passages,
however, which I had to leave out, I have dwelt at greater length in
this Introduction. In the translation I have tried to preserve the
_cachet_, the archaic flavour and spirit of the book.

The idea underlying the story is, as Ockley puts it, to show how human
capacity may, unassisted by any external help, attain to the knowledge
of the higher world, and so by degrees find out its dependence upon a
superior Being, the immortality of the soul, and other questions of the
highest importance. In short, it describes the gradual awakening of the
soul, the evolution of an original mind from its first groping in the
dark to the most dazzling heights of philosophical speculation.

The great charm of the book lies in its simplicity and ingenuousness; in
its entire freedom from affectation of style; in the transparent
lucidity of its exposition, which is in pleasant contrast with the
ponderous works of other philosophical writers amongst the Arabs.

Yet with all its ingenuousness, what sustained power of thought, what
depth of philosophical penetration!

Hayy Ibn Yokdhan--this prototype of Robinson Crusoe--truly a pathetic,
yet inspiring figure!

The simple setting of a man, living a solitary life on an Island,
entirely given up to meditation and introspection, is used by our author
as an arena for the display of his philosophical views, which, in
kaleidoscopic transformation, cover the whole range of wisdom of those
times--astronomical, geographical, cosmographic, physiological,--and so
on, the whole picture touched with the wand of the master.

The author of the story, Ibn Tufail, though he is generally not reckoned
among the most prominent in that brilliant array of Arabian philosophers
for whom Spain became the rallying-point in the eleventh and twelfth
centuries, yet his name will outlive centuries. For the romance which he
has given to the world is a work of everlasting beauty, of immortal
freshness; one that will never grow stale in the flight of ages.

Little is known of his private life, which seems to have passed by as
uneventful as that of many of the philosophers and scientists of those

He was born at Guadix, a little town of Andalusia. After having finished
his education, he became a secretary at Granada, and later on we find
him as Vezir and Physician to Abu Yakub, one of the first
representatives of the dynasty of the Almohades. He died in Morocco, in
1185, leaving, besides his story of Hayy Ibn Yokdhan, only a few poems
of insignificant value; whilst his principal work, the Self-taught
Philosopher, has secured for him immortality.

In the following pages I will endeavour to give a short _résumé_ of this
story, though I am painfully aware of the fact that such an analysis can
scarcely do justice to the beauty of the language nor to the wealth of
philosophical thought and speculation represented therein.

From the outset the atmosphere is created with broad and happy touches.

On an Island in the Indian Ocean, famous for its health-giving
atmosphere, abounding in fruits and inhabitants, Hayy Ibn Yokdhan comes
into this world, as the son of a Princess, who is compelled to expose
the child soon after his birth. The tide carries him to another Island,
where he is found by a roe, that takes pity on him, nurses him like a
mother, and watches over his every movement with tender affection.

Under her care he quickly develops into a fine strapping boy who is not
afraid to venture a passage with wild beasts that dare to oppose him.

After the death of the roe, at which he is grief-stricken, he is wholly
thrown on his own resources. Yet he knows how to look after himself. He
covers himself with leaves of trees, and finds out other ways to keep
himself warm and protected.

As the repairing of the coverings of leaves was very troublesome, he had
a design of taking the tail of some dead beast and wearing it himself;
but when he perceived that all beasts avoided those which were dead of
the same kind, it made him doubt whether it was safe or not. At last, by
chance he found a dead eagle, and observing that none of the beasts
showed any aversion to that carcase, he concluded that this would suit
his purpose, and so he cuts off the wings, the tail, and spreads the
feathers open: then he draws off the skin and divides it into two equal
parts, one of which he wears upon his back; with the other he covers his
breast: the tail he wore behind and the wings were placed upon each arm.

This dress answered different ends: for in the first place it covered
his nakedness, helped to keep him warm, and then it made him so
frightful to the beasts that none of them cared to meddle with him or
come near him.

After awhile he began to make experiments with the body of the roe,
anxious to find out its composition.

He noticed, when he shut his eyes or held anything before him, he could
see nothing at all till this obstacle was removed; and so, when he put
his fingers in his ears that he could not hear till he took them out
again. From which he concluded that all his senses and actions were
liable to obstacles and impediments, upon the removal of which the same
functions returned to their former course.

Now, when he found no visible defect in the external parts of the body
of the roe, and yet at the same time perceived a universal cessation of
its motions, he began to imagine that the hurt from which the roe had
died was hidden in the inward part of the body.

Now he had observed on the bodies of wild beasts and other animals that
all their members were solid, and that there were only three cavities,
viz. the skull, the breast, and belly. He imagined, therefore, that the
part the nature of which he wanted to find out must be in one of these
cavities, and he had a strong persuasion that it was in the middlemost
of them.

And having by this way of reasoning assured himself that the disaffected
part lay in the breast, he resolved to open the breast of the roe; and,
providing himself with sharp flints and splinters of dry cane almost
like knives, he made an incision between the ribs, and, cutting through
the flesh, came to the _Diaphragm_.

When he found this tough and not easily broken, he assured himself that
such a covering must belong to that part for which he was looking out.
After great efforts he succeeded in breaking through, and the first part
he met was the lungs; and at last he found the heart, which he saw
closed with a very strong cover and fastened with strong ligaments and
guarded with a membrane.

On finding the same membrane on the inside of the ribs, and the lungs in
the same posture as on the other side which he had opened first, he
concluded the heart to be the part he looked for. When, however, he
found that the being which had dwelt there before, had left its house
before it fell to ruin, and forsaken it, the whole body seemed to him an
inconsiderable thing.

Then his mind was perplexed with a variety of thoughts as to its
substance and subsistence, the reason of its departure, etc. After much
deliberation, at last he found that from that part of the heart which
had departed proceeded all those actions by which the roe had shown her
care of him and her affection,--that the body was only as an instrument
or tool, like his cudgel with which he used to fight with the wild
beasts. Thus all his regard for the body was over and transferred to
that by which the body is governed, and by whose power it moves. So he
decides in the end to bury the body.

After its burial, the impression of his loneliness and of his dependence
upon himself being deepened, he quickly develops his faculties. In a
short time he becomes an expert in different sports, as hunting and
fishing. He makes himself clothes and shoes of the skins of wild beasts.
By the observations he made upon the swallows’ nests, being taught the
art of building, he builds with his hands a room for his own use, a
store-house, and a pantry. Then he contrives to make some wild horses so
tractable that he can use them for riding, which is a great help to him
in his expeditions and excursions.

His material existence thus once firmly established and secured, he
begins to indulge in his speculations on all sorts of bodies,--on the
different kinds of animals, plants, minerals and different sorts of
stones, earth, water, exhalations and vapours, ice, snow, hail, smoke,
fire, etc.

By the time he attains to the age of twenty-eight (fourth Septenary),
his mind starts to ponder over astronomical problems--over heaven and
stars, sun and moon; and in the end comes to the conclusion that the
body of heaven is finite and is of a spherical figure.

At last his mind finds itself occupied with the great problem of
Creation and Creator. With admirable skill the author delineates here
the gradual development of Hayy’s reasonings on the Creator and Mover of
the world, and concludes with the panegyric words of the Koran: _He is
the Existence, He is the Absoluteness, He is the Perfection, He is the
Beauty, He is the Glory, He is the Power, He is the Knowledge, He is He,
and all Things perish beside Him._

All his thoughts were henceforward confined to the contemplation of this
necessarily self-existent Being. In order to do this, he removed all his
affections from sensible things, shut his eyes, stopped his ears, and
refrained himself as much as possible from following his imagination,
endeavouring to the utmost to think of nothing besides him.

Whilst so, on the one side, the imagination and all the other faculties
which make any use of the organs of the body grew weak; on the other
side, the operations of his essence which did not depend upon the body
grew strong, so that sometimes his meditation was pure and free from any
mixture, and he beheld thereby the necessarily self-existent Being; but
then again corporeal faculties would return upon him and spoil his
contemplation, and bring him down to the lowest degree.

Thus he continued, he opposing his corporeal faculties, and they
opposing him, and mutually struggling one against another. Then, when he
observed that the negative attributes consisted in separation from
bodily things, he began to strip himself of all bodily properties--to
remove and reject all those things from himself, as being in no wise
consistent with that state which he was now in search of.

Thus he continued, confining himself to rest in the bottom of his cave,
with his head bowed down and his eyes shut, and turning himself
altogether from all sensible things and the corporeal faculties, and
turning all his thoughts and meditations upon the _necessarily
self-existent Being_ without admitting anything else besides him: and if
any other object presented itself to his imagination, he rejected it
with his utmost force, and persisted therein to that degree that
sometimes he did neither eat nor stir for many days together.

When he succeeded in preventing the admission of an extraneous object
into that contemplation, he endeavoured as it were to disappear from
himself--to detach himself entirely from his corporeal faculties, so as
to be wholly taken up in the vision of that true Being.

And, thereto when at last he attained both the heaven and the earth, all
spiritual forms and corporeal faculties, and all those powers that are
separate from matter, all disappeared and vanished, and were as if they
had never been. And amongst these his own being disappeared too, till
at last there remained nothing but this _One, True, Perpetually
Self-existent Being_, who spoke thus in that saying of his (the Koran):
To whom now belongs the Kingdom? To this One, the Almighty God.

Thus he deeply immersed himself into this state, and witnessed “that
which neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it ever entered
into the heart of man to conceive.”

When he came to himself from that state which was like drunkenness--he
began to think that his own essence did not at all differ from the
essence of that True Being, and that there was nothing in him but this
true essence. It appeared to him that this True, Powerful, and Glorious
Being was not by any means capable of multiplicity, and that his
knowledge of his essence was his very essence, from whence he argued
thus: “He that has the knowledge of this essence, has the essence
itself, but I have the knowledge of this essence. Ergo, I have the
essence itself.”

Now Hayy Ibn Yokdhan being wholly immersed in the speculation of those
things, and perfectly abstracted from all other objects, saw in the
highest sphere a Being devoid of any maker; it was like the image of the
sun which appears in a well-polished looking-glass. In the essence of
that separate sphere he saw such perfection, splendour, and beauty, as
is too great to be expressed by any tongue and too subtle to be clothed
in words. It was, as he perceived it, in the utmost perfections of
delight and joy, exaltation of gladness.

The next sphere to it--that of the fixed stars, had an immaterial
essence that was not the essence of that _True one_, nor the essence of
that highest, separated sphere, nor the sphere itself, but like the
image of the sun that is reflected upon a looking-glass from another
glass placed opposite to the sun; and in this essence he observed also
the like splendour, beauty, loveliness, and pleasure that he had
observed in the essence of the other highest sphere; the same splendour
and delight he saw also in other essences. In fact, in all the spheres
he observed immaterial distinct essences of the same kind; he saw such
beauty, splendour, pleasure, and joy as eye has not seen nor ear heard,
until he came to the lower world, subject to generation and corruption,
which comprehends all that is contained within the sphere of the moon.

This essence, immaterial like the rest, had seventy thousand faces, and
every face seventy thousand mouths, and every mouth seventy thousand
tongues, that sanctified and glorified incessantly that One, True Being.

Now, he perceived in his own essence, and in those other ones that were
in the same rank with him, infinite beauty, brightness, and light, such
as neither eye has seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into man’s
heart, which none can describe nor understand, but those which have
attained thereto, and know it by experience.

But, on the other hand, he saw a great many other immaterial essences
that resembled rusty looking-glasses, covered over with filth, and
having their faces marked from those polished looking-glasses that had
the image of the sun imprinted upon them. These essences had so much
filthiness adhering to them, and such manifold defects, as he could not
have conceived. Besides they were afflicted with infinite pains, that
caused incessant sighs and groans; they were compassed with torments and
“scorched with the fiery veil of separation.”

Then, when he came to consider the divine essences and heroic spirits,
he found them to be free from body and all its adherents, and removed
from them at the utmost distance, having no connection or dependence
upon them; their sole connection and dependence being that _One True
Necessary Self-existent Being_ who is the beginning and the cause of
their existence.

Now, though the sensible world follows the divine world as a shadow does
the body, and the divine world stands in no need of it and is
independent of it; yet, it is absurd to suppose a possibility of its
being annihilated, because it follows the divine world: but the
corruption of this world consists in its being changed, not annihilated.
And that glorious book (the Koran) spoke, where is no mention made of
“moving the Mountains and making them like the world, and men like
fire-flies, and darkening the Sun and Moon; and eruption of the Sea in
that day when the earth shall be changed into another earth and the
heavens likewise.”

This is the substance of what Hayy saw when in his glorious state of

When _Hayy_, after his digression into the higher world, returned to the
sensible world, he began to loathe the troubles of this mortal life on
earth, and became very anxious to return to the same state he had been
in before.--And by dint of continued exercise and strenuous endeavour he
was at last able to attain to that state whenever his desire drove him
to do so. While in this state he wished that God might detach him
altogether from his body and bodily desires and necessities, so that he
might give himself up for ever to his delight, and be freed from all
grief and pain.

In the meantime he had passed the _Seventh Septenary_, and had attained
to the age of fifty. And then came suddenly the great metamorphosis in
his life, viz. his connection and acquaintanceship with another human
being, called _Asal_.

This came about in the following way:

Not very far from the Island where Hayy passed his days, there was
another Island to which had retired one of those pious sects which
abounded then in that part of the world. Among its votaries were the
most zealous and devoted members, two men, named Asal and Salaman.
Though both were constant in performing those ceremonies prescribed by
the law of this sect, they greatly differed in their character and in
their propensities.

_Asal_, being of a contemplative and meditative disposition, affected
retirement from the world and a solitary life as the best means to
attain to happiness and salvation. _Salaman_, on the other hand, with
his natural aversion to contemplation, and subtle inquiries into the
higher world of things, preferred conversation, human society, and
company, as the best means to drive away evil thoughts. Though they were
the best of friends, this disparity in their views caused them in the
end to separate.

_Asal_, advised of the fertility and health-giving atmosphere of that
Island wherein _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_ dwelled, decided to go thither. After
having sold his goods, and having distributed part thereof among the
poor, he hired a ship and was transported into Hayy’s Island.

As _Hayy_, being wholly taken up in sublime speculations, scarcely ever
stirred out of his cave, Asal did not at first light upon him. One day,
however, when Hayy was stepping out of his cell to look out for some
food, he spied _Asal_--and the following episode forms one of the most
charming chapters of the story in its description of how Hayy brings
Asal to book, and how they try to make themselves understood to one

_Hayy_, who is taken by _Asal_ to be one of those religious persons
given to solitude, like himself, who had retired to that Island to give
himself up to contemplation and prayers, stands, on his part, in wonder
and amazement at the appearance of _Asal_. He could not imagine what it
was. For of all the creatures he had ever beheld in his life, there was
none that in the least resembled him. And in the end he came to the
conclusion that he must be one of the essences, that had the knowledge
of the True One. He is anxious to get into closer contact with him; and
therefore, when he sees Asal making off with all might and in great
haste, he follows him, and, being endowed with great bodily vigour,
overtakes him, seizes him, and holds him fast so that he could not get
off again.

When _Asal_ looked upon him, and beheld him clothed with the skins of
wild beasts, and his own hair so long that it covered part of his body,
he felt great fear of him and tried to pacify him by stroking him.
_Hayy_, on the other hand, when he perceived those tokens of his fear,
endeavoured to allay it with such vocal expressions as he had learned
from some animals, and furthermore by stroking, with great gentleness,
his hand, his head, his neck, until he succeeded, by the expression of
great kindness and joy, in allaying _Asal’s_ fears.

Then _Asal_, being a great expert in languages, began to question him
concerning his doings and ways of life in all the languages he was
master of. But _Hayy_ did not understand anything of all that was said
to him; and so they stood for a long time, wrapped up in wonder, looking
at one another.

_Asal_, however, did not lose hope that it should come to pass that he
should teach him languages, knowledge, and religion; and by dint of
patience and application, he at last succeeded in teaching him the
rudiments of language; and then he very quickly advanced him so far that
he could converse with him any length of time.

Thereupon, he began to question him about his past and about his manner
of living, and _Hayy_ described to him the progress he had made in
knowledge until he had attained to that degree of union with God, and
told him of those essences that are separated from the sensible world;
and of that essence, the True One, the Almighty and Glorious, with all
his glorious attributes.

When _Asal_ heard of all this, the eyes of his heart were opened and
his mind enlightened, and he realised that all those rules and precepts
he had been taught himself in his law, regarding the Almighty and
Glorious God, his Angels and Books, his Messengers and the Day of
Judgment, Paradise and Hell, were, in fact, resemblances of what Hayy
had seen, and that his religion and Hayy’s philosophy were only two
different forms of the One Eternal Truth.

Now, when _Hayy_ heard from _Asal_, in the course of their further
conversations and discussions, of the sad state of the inner life which
the people on _Asal’s_ Island lived in, he was greatly affected with
pity towards them, and a resolution entered into his mind of going over
to them in the hope and desire to become an instrument in their
salvation. _Asal_ quickly fell in with this plan. So they took the first
ship that passed the shore of their Island and repaired to the opposite

When they arrived there, _Asal’s_ friends gathered round him, anxious to
hear of his adventures; and when they heard his account of _Hayy Ibn
Yokdhan_, they flocked together from all sides, surrounding him with all
tokens of reverence and admiration.

_Hayy_ sets to work at once. He begins to explain to them the mysteries
of wisdom, and to inculcate them with those precepts with which he was
imbued. But as they were diametrically opposed to the notions deeply
rooted in their minds, they began to withdraw themselves from him, and
to loathe and abhor him; outwardly, however, in his presence, making a
great show of kindness.

_Hayy_ soon found out that it was hopeless to reform these people, whose
only God was their lusts and appetites, blinded and captivated as they
were by the trifles and vanities of this world, tossed up and down until
they tottered to their graves. He saw that God had sealed up their
hearts and ears, a thick mist being before their eyes and sore
punishment abiding them.

When Hayy saw how things stood--that there was no salvation for this
weak, tractable, and defective sort of men, he craved pardon for the
things he had spoken and desisted from further efforts in that

Greatly disappointed at being unable to regenerate Salaman’s subjects,
he bade him farewell and returned with Asal to his Island. There they
continued to devote themselves to contemplation and the search after the
Eternal Truth, and did not cease worshipping God until death laid his
hands upon them.

These are the outlines of the story of Hayy Ibn Yokdhan.

Both Myth and History are the parents of many of its most touching and
tender motives.

Stranded, or rather exposed on an Island by his mother, a Princess--who
is not reminded of the same motive in a biblical story?--nursed by a
Roe--another favourite motive of semi-mythical periods.

Later on, wholly left to his own resources, yet nothing daunted, by
sheer pluck and energy he builds himself up a material existence, then
by the sharpness of his wit, the originality and penetration of his
thought, the incisiveness of his intuition, he rapidly builds up a
spiritual structure of Nature, Heaven, and its Mover and Ruler, God,
until, at the age of fifty, he has attained to that highest stage of
Sufic evolution, the Ecstasy, the complete immersion in, and absorption
by, the One Essence, the True One, that Eternal Being: Ecstasy, the same
state which is so beautifully described by that famous Arabian
philosopher, Avicenna, when he says:--“Then when a man’s desires are
raised to a high pitch, and he is sufficiently well exercised in that
way, there will appear to him some small glimmerings of the Truth, as it
were flashes of lightning, very delightful, which just shine upon him
and then go out. Then the more he exercises himself, the more often
he’ll perceive them . . . till through frequent exercise he at last
attains to a perfect tranquillity: and that which used to appear to him
only by fits and starts, becomes habitual; and that which was only a
glimmering before, a constant light.”

To detach and deliver the soul--if only for a few hours--from the
withering despotism of everyday life and strife, grey and monotonous
with its eternal round of toil, worry, and trouble; to bathe the soul in
the full sunshine of sublime wisdom, depicted and represented in this
simple romance, with its exquisite charm and captivating grace, clear as
crystal yet pregnant with ideas that have moved the world--this was the
idea which guided me in embarking upon this work.

If I have succeeded in this task, even only in a small degree, by
resuscitating this gem of Arabian philosophical literature--then I
consider myself richly repaid for the labour I have bestowed on this
little book, which has, indeed, been a labour of love.

                                                PAUL BRÖNNLE.

    _25th April 1904._



_Different Accounts of the Birth of Hayy Ibn Yokdhan._

Our good Forbears--may God be gracious unto them--report: there is an
Island amongst the Indian Islands (in the Indian Ocean), situated under
the Equinoctial, where men spring into being without father or mother.
There is also planted a tree that produces women, and they are those
whom al-Masʿudi calleth the Wakwak Damsels.

The Island is so blessed with the influence of light and sun as to be
the most temperate and perfect of places; an opinion, however, that does
not agree with that of the greatest philosophers and most famous
physicians, who hold that there is nothing more temperate in the world
than the fourth climate. According to them Hayy Ibn Yokdhan belonged to
the number of those that are born without father or mother. Others,
however, relate the story in a different manner. They tell us:

_Hayy Ibn Yokdhan, son of a Princess._

Not far from this Island there lay another Island of great tract and
large compass, abounding in fruits and well peopled. It was then
governed by a Prince of haughty, fierce, and jealous disposition: he had
a sister, graced with matchless beauty. He kept her in close custody and
would not permit her to marry; for among her suitors there was not one
he declared worthy of her.

Yet in spite of his watchfulness, his near kinsman, named Yokdhan,
succeeded in winning her affections, and married her clandestinely
according to the rites commonly known in those times. And before long
she was with child and delivered of a son.

_Hayy is exposed by his Mother._

Being in fear lest the matter should be discovered and her secret
disclosed, she put him into a little ark and closed it firmly after
having suckled the babe. Accompanied by her most trusted servants, she
carried it to the seashore early in the night, her heart burning and
distracted with love and fear, and then (tenderly kissing him with
tearful eyes) she took her last leave of him, sending up this prayer to

“O God! thou didst create this little child, when as yet it was nothing;
thou didst cherish and nourish him while he lay confined within the dark
closet of my womb; thou didst take great care of him until he formed
into perfection and harmony. I, trembling before the haughty, unjust,
and violent Prince, commend him unto thy goodness and pray that thou
who surpasseth all in mercy wilt be bountiful unto him. Be thou, I pray
thee, a guide and assistance unto him; forsake him not, and never leave
him destitute of thy care.”

_Hayy is driven by the tide to another Island._

With these words she committed the little ark with the child into the
sea, and the waters swelling with the tide carried it in the same night
to the shore of another Island whereof we have just made mention.

It so happened that there was such a powerful current of the high
water--as it does happen there once a year--that the ark was carried
right to the shore, and by its force cast into a shady grove, thick set
with trees,--a very pleasant place, well sheltered from wind and rain,
and secured from the sun, which at its rising and setting receded from

Then when the waters subsided, the ark wherein the infant peacefully
slumbered was left stranded, banked up by sands, safely aground,
sheltered from blustering wind or in-coming tide. For when the wind
blew, the sands were heaped together and obstructed the passage to the
grove, and thus prevented the coming of any water into it so that the
flood could not reach it.

_Hayy is found by a Roe, which takes care of him._

Now it came to pass that the nails of the ark and its joints became
loosened by the violence of the waves. The child, feeling hungry, began
to cry bitterly, seeking relief and moving about in the ark.
Fortunately it so happened that its cry was heard by a roe that was
wandering about in search of her fawn, which, having ventured out of its
den, had been carried off by an eagle.

When she heard the cry, she at first took it to be the cry of her fawn;
so she followed it quickly up, until she came to the ark. She at once
started to break it open with her hoofs, and, aided by the struggling
child within, she at last forced a board covering the upper part of the

Whereupon, beholding the dear child, she took pity on him, and being
moved with tender affection towards him, she suckled him. Thus she fully
satisfied him with milk, and, while he was weak and helpless, did come
and guard him, defending him from evil and keeping him from all harm.
And this is the tale that is told by those who refuse to believe that a
man can come into the world without parents. But we shall explain later
on how it grew and how it progressed until it reached unto great

_Spontaneous Generation._

Those, however, who think he was born out of the earth, without father
or mother, say that, in a low piece of ground in that Island, it
happened that in the course of years a certain mass of clay so fermented
that the four qualities heat and cold, moisture and dryness, agreed in
equal mixture and in equal strength; and there was a great bulk of this
clay in which some parts excelled the others, being more equally
tempered and therefore fitter for the generation (of a mixed body); the
middle portion of the clay being of the most perfect temper, and most
closely approaching the human temper. The matter being in a state of
fermentation, bubblings arose by reason of its great clamminess; and it
came to pass that there was some clammy thing in the midst of it with a
small bubbling, being divided with a thin partition into two parts, full
of a spirituous and airy body, of the most equal temper. Thereupon, at
the command of the most high God, a spirit was infused into it and
joined so closely thereto that it could scarcely be separated therefrom
either by sense or thought; this spirit constantly flowing out from God,
as is manifest in the light of the sun which constantly influenceth the
world . . . and creates.

_Hayy grows up nursed by the Roe._

According to the other account (which we follow) the infant developed
and grew, being nourished with the roe’s milk, until he was two years
old. By this time he began to walk by degrees and grow his foreteeth. He
always followed the roe, who guarded him with most tender affection, and
led him into places where there grew trees full of fruit, and fed him
with ripe and sweet fruits that fell from the tree, breaking those that
had a hard shell with her teeth.

She suckled the babe whenever he pleased. When he thirsted for water,
she led him thereto; when the beams of the sun were in any way
troublesome to him, she shaded him. When he suffered from the cold, she
cherished and warmed him. And when the night approached, she brought him
home to his former abode and covered him with her own body and partly
with feathers such as remained of those wherewith the ark was stuffed
when he was first put into it. When they went forth in the morning or
came home of an evening, they were always accompanied by a herd of deer
that lay together with them, in the same place.

_Hayy learns to imitate animals’ voices._

In this way the boy keeping company with them also learned their voice,
which he imitated so exactly that scarcely any difference could be
perceived between them. In like manner, whatever other voice he heard,
whether of bird or beast, he came very near it by virtue of a very
apprehensive faculty wherewith he was endowed. But of all the voices he
imitated, he made most use of the deer’s when they cried out for help or
called their fellow-deer, when they wanted them nearer by or farther
off. For as you know, those creatures have diverse voices according to
their various ends and uses. Thus the child kept company with the deer,
and they were not in the least afraid of one another.

_Hayy begins to take a careful view of things._

Now when the images of things, after being removed out of sight, became
fixed in his mind, it affected him so that he took a fancy to some
things, whilst he had a distaste for others. In the meanwhile he took a
careful view of all the beasts. He saw them covered with wool, hair, and
different kinds of plumes; he beheld their great swiftness and strength
and the weapons they were armed with for protection and defence, viz.
horns, teeth, hoofs, spurs, nails, and the like. Then he viewed himself
and found he was naked, destitute of weapons, slow and weak. For
whenever they contended with him about the fruits they were to feed on,
he generally got the worst of it; they pulled the fruit from him,
keeping it for themselves, and he could not beat them off or flee from

_Hayy observes the difference between the animals and himself._

Moreover, he observed that his fellow-fawns began to have little horns
which they had not had at first; and while they were at first weak, and
unable to run far, yet in progress of time grew to be very vigorous and
nimble, and active in their movements. But none of all this he perceived
to befall himself, and as often as he pondered over the matter, he could
not make out what should be the reason thereof.

Also, when he beheld the creatures such as had any fault or defect of
limbs, he could not find one amongst them like himself. All these
matters evoked great grief and anxiety within him; and after having
earnestly pondered over the matter and perplexed himself therewith, he
at last gave up, in utter despair, the hope of being supplied with
that, the want of which so sorely troubled his mind.

_Hayy as a boy of seven. He covers himself with leaves._

Thereupon he, having by this time grown to be a boy of seven, decided to
put forth his own efforts and to help himself. He took some broad leaves
of trees (wherewith to cover his nakedness) and put some on the
fore-part of his body, covering the hinder parts with the others; and
having thus made a girdle of palm-leaves and rushes together, he girded
his waist therewith.

But it was not long before the leaves, growing dry, withered and fell
off from him.

Hayy, by no means discouraged, at once took fresh ones in their stead,
and put them one on top of another, thus forming double folds; but even
then, though remaining somewhat longer, they would not last but a short
time. Thereupon, he broke off the bough of a tree, the ends whereof he
made straight, stripping off the twigs, and then smoothed the middle
parts thereof.

_Hayy becomes aggressive, and attacks wild beasts._

Thus armed, he began to attack and affright such of the wild beasts as
ventured to oppose him, assaulting the weaker and defending himself
against the stronger. In this way he came to understand to some degree
his own strength, and found out that his head by far excelled theirs, as
he had been enabled therewith to cover his own nakedness and to provide
himself with a weapon wherewith to defend himself. So that now he had
no need of those natural weapons which he had formerly so much desired.

_Hayy covers himself with the skin of an Eagle._

By this time he had grown up and was now past seven years of age; and as
he found the frequent repairing of the leaves wherewith he covered
himself very troublesome to him, it entered his mind to take unto him
the tail of some dead beast, and gird it about him. But when he noticed
that all the beasts shunned the dead bodies of those that were of the
same kind, and saw them flee from them, he began to feel doubtful
whether it was safe for him to do so, until at length he lighted one day
on a dead eagle; and when he noticed that none of the animals fled
before him, he thought that from him he might get his desire

So, seizing the opportunity, he stepped forward towards him and first
cut off the wings and the tail complete just as they were; then he
smoothed the feathers, and spread them open; thereupon he tore off the
remainder of the skin, dividing it into two portions, whereof he wore
the one on his back, the other upon his belly and the secret parts. The
tails he fixed behind and the wings on his arms. Thus he was at the same
time covered and kept warm.

_Hayy spreads terror among the beasts._

Moreover, he spread such terror among the beasts that they did not
venture to resist or oppose him, and none dared to come near him except
his roe which had suckled him and brought him up; and he never separated
from her nor she from him. And when she became old and weakly, he led
her to those places where there was the best food to be found, gathering
the sweetest fruits and giving them to her to eat.

_Hayy is grief-stricken at the death of the Roe._

Yet in spite of all the care he bestowed upon her, she grew more lean
and feeble every day, and in the end death overtook her, when all her
motions stopped and her actions ceased.

When the boy noticed this, sad grief overcame him, and he was stricken
with the greatest sorrow. He called her with the same voice she used to
answer; and though he shouted at the top of his voice, he could not
perceive any movement or alteration in her. Thereupon he began to look
closer into her eyes and ears, but could not find any visible defect. In
equal manner, when he examined all the other parts of the body, he could
find nothing amiss. He therefore earnestly desired to find out where the
defect lay hidden, so that he might be able to remove it and make her
return to her former state of vigorous life. But he was quite at a loss
and utterly unable to find by what means to attain his ends. . . .

_Hayy takes an aversion to the dead Body._

In the meantime the dead body of the roe began to putrefy and to exhale
noisome vapours, which tended to increase his aversion to it and made
him unwilling to look upon it.

Not long after this he chanced to see two ravens fighting together, and
one of them struck the other down dead. After that it began to scrape
the earth with its claws, till it had dug up a pit wherein it buried the
carcase of its adversary. When Hayy observed this, he said to himself:
“How well has this raven done in covering the body of his companion,
though he did ill in killing him. How much greater reason was there for
me to have performed this good office to my mother.”

_Hayy buries the body of the Roe._

Thereupon he digged a grave, in which he laid his mother’s body,
throwing earth upon it. Then he went on meditating on the thing which
had governed the body, but could not apprehend what sort of thing it
was. But when he looked on the rest of the roes, and saw that they all
had the same figure and form as his mother had had, he gathered there
was in every one of them something that governed and actuated them, like
that which had actuated and governed his mother. And on account of that
likeness he continued to follow them, and liked to be in their company.

_Hayy observes divers kinds of Living Creatures and Plants._

In this condition he remained some time, contemplating divers kinds of
living creatures and plants, and walking about the shore of that Island
to see whether he could find anything like himself, as he observed many
of the other animals and plants had many resembling one another. But as
much as he looked about, he could not find one like himself. And when,
on walking round, he perceived that the Island was everywhere compassed
with the sea, he fancied there was no other Island besides.

_Hayy discovers Fire kindled by the friction of Reeds._

But once it so happened that fire was kindled by friction among a parcel
of reeds, which at first greatly frightened him, being a thing he had
never seen before, so that he stood at a distance a good while, greatly
wondering at it.

Yet at last he ventured to draw nearer and nearer to it by degrees; in
amazement he observed the brightness of its light, and that wondrous
force in consuming everything it seized, converting it into its own
nature, till in the end, full of wonder and incited by that innate
boldness and courage that God had implanted in his mind, he felt induced
to stretch his hand out to get hold of it.

But when it burnt his fingers, and he saw he could not lay hold of it,
he endeavoured to take a stick from the burning tree which the fire had
not as yet completely seized upon, and taking hold of that part that was
still untouched, he easily gained his ends and carried the tree brand
home to his lodgings, which he had selected.

There he kept his fire and ceased not to tend it day and night.
Particularly at night it was of great service to him, inasmuch as its
light and heat supplied the place of the sun, so that he was greatly
pleased with it and began to look upon it as the most excellent thing he
had yet had about him.

And when he noticed that it always tended upwards--he felt convinced
that it was one of those celestial substances which he saw shining in
the firmament. He then tried the strength thereof upon all sorts of
bodies by throwing them into it, and he perceived it consumed them all
sooner or later according to their natures, which rendered them more or
less combustible.

Amongst other experiments wherewith he tried to prove its strength, he
flung therein certain fishes which the sea had cast upon the shore; as
the steam thereof came to his nose, the smell whetted his appetite so
that he ventured to taste of them; and when he found it agreeable to his
palate, he began to get used to the eating of fish and flesh. Then he
applied himself to fishing and hunting those creatures that are
specially fit to feed on, until he became a great expert in those

Thus his regard for the fire greatly increased day by day, because it
helped to provide him with various sorts of food with which he was quite
unacquainted before.


_Hayy makes himself Clothes and Shoes of the Skins of Animals._

By the time he had attained to the end of his _third septenary_, viz. to
the twenty-first year of his age, he had found out many things which
were of great use to him for the conveniences of life. He made himself
clothes and shoes of the skins of wild beasts after he had dissected
them for use. He made himself thread of their hair, as also of the rind
of the stalks of althea mallows, and other plants that could be easily
parted asunder and drawn into threads. And he learned the making of
these threads from the use he had made of the rushes before. He made a
sort of bodkin of the strongest thorns he could get and splinters of
cane sharp pointed with stones.

The art of building he was taught by the observations he made upon the
swallows’ nests. He built himself a room to repose and rest therein, and
also a store-house and pantry to lay up the remainder of his victuals.
He guarded it with a door made of canes twisted together to prevent any
of the beasts from getting in when he happened to be away. He also got
hold of certain birds of prey which he made use of for hawking, and
others of the tamer sort which he bred up, and fed upon their eggs and
chickens. He also took to him the horns of wild bulls, which he fastened
upon the strongest canes he could get and the staves of the tree Alzan
and others of similar kind.

Thus, by the help of fire and of sharp edged stones, he so fitted them
that they served him as spears. He made himself also a shield of the
skins of beasts folded and compacted together. And thus he tried to
provide himself with artificial weapons, being destitute of natural

_Hayy learns to ride._

When he saw that his hand supplied all those defects quite well, and
that none of the various kinds of wild beasts ventured to stand up
against him, but fled away from him and only excelled him in their
swiftness, he bethought himself of contriving some art how to be even
with them, and finally decided there would be nothing so convenient as
to chase some of the strongest and swiftest beasts of the Island,
nourishing them with food until they might let him get on the back of
them, so that he might pursue other kinds of wild beasts.

There were in that island wild horses and asses, out of which he chose
some that seemed fittest for the purpose, and by dint of exercise he
made them so tractable that he became complete master of his wishes. And
when he had made out of the skins of those beasts something that served
him instead of bridles and saddles, it was an easy matter for him to
overtake such beasts, which he scarcely could have taken in any other

He made all these discoveries whilst he busied himself in the study of
anatomy, studiously searching after the properties of the component
parts of animals and their difference, and all this he did, as we
mentioned above, by the time he was twenty-one years of age.

_Hayy examines the Nature of Bodies._

After this he proceeded further to examine the nature of bodies that
were subject to generation and corruption, as the different kinds of
animals, plants, minerals and different sorts of stones, earth, water,
exhalations and vapours, ice, snow, hail, smoke, fire, and hoar-frost.

In all these he observed different qualities and a diversity of actions
and motions, agreeing in some respects and differing in others. He found
that, so far as they agreed, they were _one_; where they disagreed, _a
great many_; and when he looked into the properties whereby they were
distinguished from one another, he found them so manifold that he could
not comprehend them.

As to himself, he knew that his spirit was one in essence, and was
really the substance of his being, and that the other parts served only
as so many instruments. So he perceived his own essence to be but one.

Then attentively considering the different kinds of animals, he
perceived that the one thing common to them all was sensation and
nutrition and the faculty of moving of their own accord wheresoever
they pleased, all of which actions he was assured were the proper
effects of the animal spirit, and that those lesser things in which they
differed were not so proper to that spirit.

For he considered that the animal spirit may differ with regard to some
qualities, according to the variety of constitutions in several animals.
And so he looked upon the whole species of living creatures as one.

Then, on contemplating the different species of plants, he perceived
that the individuals of every species were like one another in their
boughs, branches, leaves, fruits; and so, taking a view of all the
different kinds of plants, he decided within himself that they were all
_one_ and the same in respect of that agreement between themselves in
their actions, viz. their nourishment and growth.

He then contemplated those bodies which have neither sense, nourishment,
nor growth, such as stones, earth, water, air, and fire; which he saw
had all of them three dimensions, viz. _length_, _breadth_, and
_thickness_; and that their differences only consisted in this, that
some of them were coloured, others not; some were hot, others cold, and
similar differences.

He noticed also that hot bodies grew cold, and, on the contrary, cold
ones grew warm. He saw further that water rarefied into vapours, and
vapours again thickened and turned into water. Then he observed that the
bodies which were burnt turned into coals, ashes, flame, and smoke; and
that the smoke, when in its ascent it was intercepted by an arch of
stones, thickened them into soot, and became like other earthly
substances. From whence he concluded that all things were in reality
_one_, like the animals and plants, though multiplied and diversified in
some respects.

_Hayy transfers his thoughts to the Heavenly Bodies._

Now after he had attained thus far, so as to have a general and
indistinct notion of an _Agent_, a vehement desire seized him to get a
more distinct knowledge of him. But since he had not yet withdrawn
himself from the sensible world, he began to look for this voluntary
Agent among things sensible; nor did he know, as yet, whether it were
one Agent or many. Therefore he took a view of all the bodies that were
near him, viz. which his thoughts had been continually fixed upon; which
he found all successively liable to generation and corruption, either
completely or in parts, as _water_ and _earth_, parts of which are
consumed by _fire_.

He perceived likewise that the air was changed into snow by extremity of
cold, and then again into water; and among all the other bodies which he
had near him, he could find none which had not its existence anew and
required some voluntary Agent to give it a being. Therefore he laid all
those sublunary bodies aside, and transferred his thoughts to the
consideration of the heavenly bodies.


_Hayy ponders over Heaven and Stars._

Thus far had he arrived with his reflections about the _fourth
septenary_ of his age. He recognised that the heavens and all the stars
contained therein were bodies, because they are extended according to
the three dimensions: length, breadth, and thickness.

Then he began to ask himself whether their extension was infinite,
whether they extended to an endless length and breadth, or whether they
were circumscribed by any bounds and terminated by certain limits.

_Hayy finds that the Body of Heaven is finite._

This problem continually occupied his mind. But soon, owing to the power
of his reflection and the penetration of his thought, he perceived that
the idea of an infinite body was an absurdity, an impossibility, a
notion quite unintelligible. And he confirmed himself in this way of
thinking by numerous arguments that presented themselves to his mind.

And when, by the singular sharpness of his wit, he had satisfied
himself that the body of heaven was finite, he wanted to find out, in
the next place, of what form it was and how it was limited by the
superficies that compassed it round.

_Hayy contemplates Sun, Moon, and Stars._

First of all he contemplated the sun, moon, and stars, and saw that they
all rose in the East, and set in the West; and those lights which went
right over his head described a greater circle, whilst those at a
greater distance from the vertical point towards the North or South
described the lesser circle. So that the least circles which were
described by any of the stars were those two which went round the two
poles, the one North, the other South, the last of which is the circle
of the star Suhail (that is Canopus) and the circle Al-farkadani, which
was next the northern.

And, since he lived in an island situated under the equinoctial line,
all those circles cut the horizon at right angles and had alike
reference to North and South, seeing both the poles appeared to him at
once. He observed that when a star arose in a larger circle and another
in a lesser, yet they both arose together and set at the same time, and
he noticed it to be the case with all stars at all times.

_Hayy concludes that the Heaven is of a spherical Figure._

Therefore, it was evident to him that the heaven was of a spherical

In this he was further confirmed by observing the return of the sun,
moon, and the other stars to the East after their setting; and also
because they always appeared to him of the same proportion of magnitude
when they arose, when they were in the midst of heaven, and when they
set; for if their motions had not been circular, they must have been
nearer to sight at some time than at others; and then their dimensions
would have appeared greater or lesser when they were nearer to him or
further off.

But since there was no such appearance, he felt assured that the figure
of heaven was spherical. Then he considered the motion of the moon, and
saw that it was carried from the East to the West as the other planets
were. So that at length a great part of astronomy became known to him.

It appeared to him, further, that the motions of the planets were in
different spheres, all of which were comprehended in another that was
above them all, and which turned about all the rest in the space of a
day and a night. But it would be too tedious to set down, to explain in
particular, how he advanced in this science; and what we have already
said is quite sufficient for our present purpose.

Now, when he had attained to this degree of astronomical science, he
found that the whole of the heavens and whatever it contained was one
thing composed of parts mutually joined together; and that all those
bodies which he had before considered--as earth, water, air, plants,
animals--were all of them contained in it, so that none of them went
beyond its bounds. He found also that the whole body was like one animal
in which the stars answered to the senses; the spheres joined together
answered to the limbs; and all those bodies therein, which were liable
to generation and corruption, resembled those things which are contained
in the belly of an animal.

_Hayy ponders over the Creation of the World._

Now, whereas it appeared to him that the whole world was only one
Substance which stood in need of a voluntary Agent, and that its various
parts seemed to him but one thing, in like manner as the bodies of the
lower world which is subject to generation and corruption, he took a
broad view of the whole world, and debated within himself whether it
existed in time after it had been, and came to be out of nothing; or
whether it was a thing that had existed from eternity and never wanted a

In respect to this matter, he had many and grave doubts within himself,
so that neither of these opinions prevailed over the other. For when he
proposed to himself the belief of eternity, there arose many objections
in his mind with regard to the impossibility of an _infinite being_,
just as the existence of an _infinite body_ had seemed impossible to

He saw, furthermore, that any substance that was not void of _qualities_
produced anew, but always endued with them, must also itself be produced
anew, because it cannot be said to be before them; and that which cannot
exist before qualities newly produced, must needs itself be newly

On the other hand, however, when he proposed to himself to believe in a
new production thereof, other objections occurred to him--in particular
this, that the notion of its being produced after non-existence could in
no wise be understood, unless it was supposed there was some time
antecedent to its existence; whereas time was amongst the number of
those things that belonged to the world and was inseparable therefrom,
wherefore the world cannot be understood to be later than time.

He then reasoned within himself: if the world be produced anew, it must
needs have a producer or creator; and if so, why did this creator create
the world now and not before?

Was it because some motive supervened which it had not before? But there
was nothing besides him, the Creator.

Was it, then, owing to some change in his own nature? If so, what has
caused this change?

Thus he did not cease to consider these things within himself for some
years, and to ponder over its different bearings; and a great many
arguments offered themselves on both sides, so that neither of those
opinions preponderated in his judgment over the other.

_Hayy concludes that the world must have a Creator without bodily

Since it seemed difficult to him to make a definite decision on this
question, he began to consider within himself what would be the
necessary consequence which did follow from either of those opinions,
and that they might both be alike. And he perceived that, if he supposed
the world to be created in time, and to have had an existence after
non-existence, it would necessarily follow therefrom that the world
could not come forth into existence by its own power, but required some
agent to produce it; but this agent could not be perceived by any of the
senses; for if it were an object of the senses, it would be _body_, and
if _body_, part of the world, and would have had its existence anew; so
that it would have stood in need of some other cause which should have
produced it anew. And if this second creator were also a body, he would
depend upon a third, and that third upon a fourth, and so on _ad
infinitum_, which, however, would be absurd and irrational.

The world, therefore, must necessarily have a creator that has not a
bodily substance; and as the creator is, indeed, without such a bodily
substance, it is quite impossible for us to apprehend him by any of our
senses; for we perceive nothing by the help of the five senses but
bodies or such qualities as adhere to bodies.

And since it cannot be apprehended by sense, neither can it be
comprehended by imagination. For imagination is nothing else but a
representation of the forms of things, when their bodily objects are
absent. And seeing it is not a body, we must not attribute to him any
bodily properties, the first of which is extension into length, breadth,
thickness; but he is free from that, and also from all other properties
of body that flow from it. And seeing he is the Creator of the world,
doubtless he knows whatsoever is in it, and has the sovereign command
over it. “Shall not he know, that created it? For he is most eminent in
knowledge and omniscient.” (Koran.)

On the other side he saw that if he believed in the eternity of the
world, and that it was ever as it is now, and that no time of chaos
preceded it, that necessarily it would follow that motion was from
eternity also, without any period of beginning, because there could be
no rest before it whence to take its beginning.

Now, every motion necessarily requires a _mover_, and that mover is
either some power diffused in some body, to wit, either in the body of
the thing moved or else through some other body without it, or else some
other power that is not diffused or dispersed through anything at all.

Now every power diffused in any body and dispersed through it, is
divided or doubled. For example: gravity in a stone which causes it to
move downwards. For if the stone be divided into two parts, the gravity
is also divided into two parts; and if you add thereto another stone of
equal weight, the gravity is doubled. And if it were possible that the
stone grew _ad infinitum_, the gravity would also grow _ad infinitum_.
On the other hand, if the stone should grow to a certain size and remain
there, also the gravity would increase to the same extent, and no

Now it has already been demonstrated that every body must necessarily
be finite, and consequently every power inherent in a body is also
finite. If, therefore, we can find a power which produces an infinite
effect, it must needs be such a power that is not inherent in any body.

Now we find that the heaven is moved with a perpetual motion, without
any cessation at all.

Therefore, if we affirm that its motion has no beginning, it necessarily
follows that the power that moves is not inherent in its own body nor in
any other body that is without it; but proceeds from something
altogether abstract from bodies, and which can be described by no terms
applicable to bodies.

Then it was evident to him, from his former contemplation of the lower
world which is liable to generation and corruption, that the true
essence of body consisted in its form, which is its disposition to
various motions, but that that part of its essence which consisted in
matter was very mean and poor, and can scarcely be conceived. Therefore
the existence of the whole world consists in its disposition to be moved
by this Mover, who is free of all matter and of all adjuncts belonging
to the body, abstracted from everything which senses can apprehend or
imagination can reach.

And since he is the efficient cause of the motion of the heaven, in
which (though there be different kinds) there is no difference, no
innovation or cessation, doubtless he has power over it and a perfect
knowledge of it.

Thus his contemplation brought him to the same conclusion to which he
had arrived before. Nor did it trouble him in any way that he doubted
the eternity of the world and its existence anew. For either way it was
manifest to him that the Creator of the world was no body nor joined to
body nor separated therefrom. For conjunction and separation, to be
within and without, are the qualities of bodies, from which the Creator
is quite free. And because every body stands in need of a form to be
added to their matter, considering it cannot subsist but by that, nor
exist without it, but by this voluntary Agent, it appeared to him that
all things owed their existence to this Agent; and that none of them
could subsist but through him; and consequently this Agent was the cause
of them all, and they the effects, whether they were newly created after
non-existence or whether they had no beginning with respect of time,
without any privation foregoing it.

For upon either of these two cases their existence depended, for they
could not continue, unless he continued, nor exist unless he existed,
nor be eternal without his being eternal; but he stood not in any need
of them nor in any way depended upon them.

And how should it be otherwise, considering it has been demonstrated
that its power and virtue is infinite, whereas all bodies are finite and
terminated and equally whatsoever adhereth unto them or dependeth upon
them; therefore that the whole world, and whatsoever is in it, heaven,
earth or stars, and whatsoever belongs to them, above or beneath them,
is all his work and creation and consequently posterior to him in
nature though not in time. As if you take any body in your hand and then
move your hand, the body must necessarily follow the motion of your hand
with a motion which is posterior to the motion of the hand in nature,
though not in time, seeing both motions began together.

So all this world is created and caused by this Agent out of time, whose
command is, when he would have anything done: _Let it be_, and _it is_.

_Hayy admires the work of the Creator._

Now, when he saw that all things existing were the work of the Creator,
he again considered the power of the same, greatly admiring so rare a
workmanship, such accurate wisdom and profound knowledge.

There appeared to him in the most minute creatures (much more in the
greater) such signs of wisdom and marvels of the work of creation that
his mind was filled with the greatest admiration. Then he became assured
that all these things must proceed from a voluntary Agent of infinite
perfection, even above all perfection, to whom even the weight of an
atom could not be unknown whether in heaven or earth, nor any other
thing whether lesser or greater than it.

Thereupon he considered all the different sorts of animals, and how this
Agent had given to every one of them such a fabric of body and then
taught them what use to make thereof. For if he had not taught them to
use the members he had given them for those employments for which they
were designed, they would not have derived any benefit or advantage
therefrom, but on the contrary would rather have found them a burden.

Hence he knew that he was most bountiful and most gracious of all. And
then, when he perceived among the creatures anything that had beauty,
perfection, power and strength, or whatever other excellency it had, he
concluded that it must necessarily proceed from that voluntary Agent,
from his existence and by his operation.

He knew that the qualities that were in him were much greater, more
perfect, more absolute, more bountiful, more excellent and more lasting;
and there was no comparison between those things that were in him and
those that were found in the animals.

Nor did he cease to go on with his search till he had run through all
the attributes of perfection, and found that they were all in the Agent
and proceeded from him, and that he was worthy of them more than any to
whom they should be ascribed.

Also he searched all the attributes of defects, and saw him free from
them and void of them. And how was it possible for him to be otherwise,
since the notion of imperfection is nothing but mere privation or what
depends upon it.

How should he in any degree partake of privation, who is a most simple
being, the very essence himself, and giving a being to everything that
exists, and besides whom there is no existence. _For He is the
Existence, He is the Absolute, He is the Perfection, He is the Beauty,
He is the Glory, He is the Power, He is the Knowledge, He is He, and all
Things perish beside Him._ (Koran.)


_Hayy is completely taken up with the Contemplation of the Superior
Intellectual World._

Thus far he had advanced in his knowledge by the end of the _fifth
septenary_ from his birth, that is when he was thirty-five years old.
And the consideration of this supreme being was then so fixed in his
mind that it hindered him to think of any other thing, so that he forgot
altogether the consideration of their existence and of their nature,
until in the end it came to this, that as soon as he cast his eyes upon
any thing of any kind whatsoever, he at once saw in it the prints of
this Agent, and in a moment his thoughts were diverted from the Creature
and transferred to the Creator, so that his heart was altogether
withdrawn from thinking on this inferior world, which contains the
objects of sense (inferior sensible world), and entirely taken up with
the contemplation of the superior intellectual world.

_Hayy examines all his Senses and Faculties._

Having now attained the knowledge of this supreme being of permanent
existence, which has no cause of its own existence, but itself is the
cause of the existence of all other things, he was next desirous to know
by what means he came to this knowledge and by what faculty he had
apprehended this being.

Therefore he first examined all his senses, viz. his hearing, seeing,
smelling, tasting, and feeling, and saw that all these apprehended
nothing but what was bodily or what is in the body.

For the hearing apprehended nothing but sounds, and these arose from the
agitation of the air, by the friction of bodies. The sight apprehends
colours, the smelling odours; the taste savours, the touch temperatures
of the body, hardness and softness, roughness and smoothness. Nor does
the imagination apprehend anything which has not length, breadth, and

Now all these things which are thus apprehended are the adjuncts of
bodies, and our senses apprehend nothing else, because they are
faculties diffused through our bodies and divided according to the
division of bodies, and therefore cannot apprehend anything else but
divisible body. For as this faculty is diffused through the visible
body, it must necessarily, whenever it apprehends anything, be divided
as the faculty is divided. Therefore every faculty which is seated in
the body can apprehend nothing except a body, or what is inherent in a

Now it has already been shown that this necessarily existent being is
free from all material qualities in any respect, and consequently cannot
be apprehended except by something which is neither matter nor any
faculty inherent in matter, or in any way dependent upon it, neither
within it nor without it, neither joined to it nor separated from it.

It appeared also to him that he apprehended this supreme being, and that
he gained a firm knowledge of it by that which was his own essence. It
was therefore clear to him that his essence was something incorporeal
without any material quality; and whatever material thing he apprehended
by his outward sense, was not in reality his essence; but that it was
something of an incorporeal substance, whereby he apprehended that
absolute and perfect being that is necessarily and of itself existent.

Having thus learnt that his real essence was not a corporeal substance
perceived by his senses and compassed about by his skin, his body seemed
to him something altogether contemptible, and so he wholly addicted
himself to the contemplation of that noble essence whereby he
apprehended that noble and necessarily existent being. Then he
considered within himself, whether this noble essence could possibly be
dissolved, corrupted, and vanish altogether, or whether it were of
perpetual duration.

Now he knew that corruption and dissolution were properties of bodies,
and consisted in putting off one form and putting on another; as for
instance when water is changed into air and air into water, or when
herbs are turned into earth or ashes, and earth into herbs--for this is
the true notion of corruption. But an incorporeal being, independent of
body and altogether free therefrom, cannot be liable to corruption.

Having thus quite assured himself that his real essence could not be
corrupted, he desired to know in what condition it would be itself when
it left the body and was separated therefrom; but now he knew that it
was not so, until the body was no longer a fit instrument for its use.

Therefore weighing in his mind all his apprehensive faculties, he saw
that every one of them apprehended its object, sometimes potentially,
sometimes actually--as when the eye is shut or turns itself away from
the visible object, it is potentially apprehensive--which means, though
it does not actually apprehend it at present, yet is able to do so for
the time to come. And when the eye is open and turned toward the effect,
it is actually apprehensive, which means, it apprehends it at present.
And so it is with all the other faculties.

Furthermore he saw that if any of these faculties never actually
apprehended its proper object, yet so long as it is potentially
apprehensive, it has no desire to apprehend any particular object,
because it has no knowledge thereof, as is seen in a man who is born
blind. But if it did ever actually apprehend, and becomes afterwards
potentially apprehensive, it is inclined to apprehend its object
actually, because it has been acquainted with the object and is intent
upon it, as a man, who has before enjoyed his sight, continually desires
visible objects after he is blind; and the more glorious, perfect, and
beautiful the object is, the more his desire increases and the greater
is his grief for the loss.

So if we can find out anything which has an unlimited perfection,
infinite beauty, brightness and splendour, that does not proceed from
it, then he who is deprived of the sight and knowledge of that thing,
after having once known it, must necessarily suffer inexpressible
anguish, so long as he remains destitute thereof; whereas he that has it
continually present before him, must needs enjoy uninterrupted delight,
perpetual felicity, boundless joy and gladness.


As to the end of his story, I will tell you all about it, with the help
of God.

When _Hayy_ returned to the Sensible World, after his digression into
the Divine World, he began to loathe the burden and troubles of this
mortal life on earth, and to be filled with a most earnest and
passionate desire of the life to come; and he strove to return to the
same state in the same way as at first, until he attained thereto with
less labour than he had done formerly. And he continued in it the second
time longer than at the first.

Then he returned to the Sensible World; and then again he sought to
re-enter into that state of speculation, and found it easier than the
first and second time, and continued therein much longer.

In this way it grew easier and easier unto him, and his remaining
therein became longer and longer, until at last he could attain it
whenever he desired, and remain therein as long as he pleased, except
when the necessity of his body required it. Those necessities, however,
he had restrained within so narrow a compass that a narrower could
hardly be imagined.

And, while in this state he often wished that God, the Almighty and
Glorious, would altogether detach him from this body of his that called
him away from that place, so that he might wholly and continually give
himself up to his delight, and might be freed from all that pain and
grief with which he was afflicted, as often as he was forced to turn his
mind from that state to attend on his bodily necessities.


_Asal and Salaman appear on the Scene._

Thus he continued in this state until he had passed the _seventh
septenary_ of his age, that is, until he was fifty years of age. Then it
happened that he made the acquaintance of Asal. And the account of this
meeting with him we shall now relate, with the help of God.

They report that there is an Island near unto that where _Hayy Ibn
Yokdhan_ was born--according to one of those two different accounts as
to the manner of his birth--unto which had retired one of those pious
sects that had for its founder some of the ancient Prophets (the Mercy
of God be upon them!), a sect which used to discourse on all things that
had a new existence in nature and by way of parables to represent their
images to the imagination, so that their impressions fixed themselves in
the minds of men. This sect spread itself in that Island and began to
prevail and become famous, till at length the King himself entered it
and forced his subjects also to adhere to it.

Now there were born in that same Island two men of great endowments and
excellence, great lovers of goodness--their names were _Asal_ and
_Salaman_. Meeting with this sect, they embraced it most heartily,
addressing themselves to the punctual observance of all its precepts and
the continuous exercise of the works required thereby; and to that end
they entered into a bond of friendship with each other. They studiously
made careful inquiries into the passages contained in the law of that
sect, amongst others on the descriptions of God, the Almighty and the
most Glorious, and His angels; on the resurrection, and the rewards and
punishments of a future life.

_Nature and Character of Asal and Salaman._

Now, of the two _Asal_ was the one who made a deeper search into the
inside of things, was more given to studying mystical meanings and
senses of words, and diligently endeavoured to interpret them.
_Salaman_, on the other hand, his fellow student, mostly observed the
outward things, never troubling himself about such interpretations, and
abstained from a curious search and speculation of things. Apart from
this difference, however, both were constant in performing those
ceremonies prescribed, and strove to fight against their unruly passions
and affections.

_Further Differences of Asal and Salaman._

Now, in this law there were contained some sayings which seemed to
exhort and encourage men to affect retirement and a solitary life, and
to intimate that salvation and happiness were to be attained thereby;
other sayings, again, seemed to encourage men unto conversation and
fellowship and applying themselves to embrace human society.

_Asal_ addicted himself wholly to retirement, and he preferred those
sayings which tended thereunto, seeing that he was by nature inclined to
perpetual contemplation, and searching into the meanings of things; for
he had great hopes of attaining to his ends by selecting a solitary

_Salaman_, however, applied himself to conversation and human society
and those sayings of the law that tended that way, because he had a
natural aversion to contemplation and more subtle inquiries into things;
and it occurred to him that society and company tended to drive away
evil thoughts, and banished that diversity of opinions which intruded
themselves into his mind and kept him from attending the motions and
suggestions of evil spirits. And in the end their disagreement on this
particular point caused them to depart one from another.

_Asal repairs to Hayy’s Island._

Now _Asal_ had heard of that Island wherein it is reported that Hayy
grew up. He knew the fruitfulness and conveniences thereof and the
health-giving temper of its air, so that it would afford him such a
resting-place as he wished to find. He decided, therefore, to go
thither and to withdraw himself from company and society for the
remainder of his days.

Therefore, gathering all his goods together, with a part thereof he
hired a ship to convey him to that Island, whilst the rest he
distributed among the poor people. Then he took his farewell from his
friend Salaman and went abroad. The mariners transported him safely unto
the Island, set him ashore, and departed.

There he continued serving God, the Almighty and Glorious, sanctifying
him and meditating upon his glorious names and attributes, without being
in any way interrupted or disturbed. When he felt hungry he took of the
fruits of the Island or he got by hunting as much as satisfied his

In this state he remained for some time, enjoying the greatest possible
pleasure and complete tranquillity of mind, arising out of the
communication he had with his Lord; and every day experiencing his
favours and most precious gifts, he easily brought to his hand such
things as he wanted and were necessary for his support, which confirmed
his belief in him and gave him great comfort.

_Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_ in the meantime was wholly taken up with sublime
speculations, and never stirred out of his cave but once a week, to take
unto him such food as most readily presented itself. Thus it happened
that _Asal_ did not light upon him at first. For walking round the
utmost parts of the Island, and compassing the extremes thereof, he
neither met any man nor could he perceive the footsteps of any one:
which increased his gladness of mind, and he was delighted with what he
had proposed unto himself--that was solitude and retirement.

_Hayy and Asal meet._

At last it came to pass at a certain time that, _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_
stepping out of his cell to look out for some food in the same place to
which _Asal_ had retired, they spied one another.

_Asal_, for his part, had no doubt but that the man he saw was some
religious person given to solitude who had retired into that Island as
he had done himself. He was afraid, therefore, lest if he should come up
to him and make himself known, it might spoil his meditation, and thus
become an impediment to him in accomplishing his desires.

But, as for _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_, he could not imagine what it was: for of
all the creatures he had ever beheld in his life, there was none that
resembled him in the least.

Now _Asal_ was clothed in a black coat, made up of hair and wool, which
he fancied was a natural cover; at which _Hayy_ stood a long time in
utter wonder and astonishment. Thereupon _Asal_, being afraid lest he
should disturb his meditation and divert his attention therefrom, turned
his back and fled. _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_ ran after him, driven by an innate
desire to know and find out the truth of things.

When he saw, however, that _Asal_ fled from him with all his might in
such haste, he retired a little into the background and hid himself
there, so that _Asal_ thought he had gone off altogether and gone far
away from that place where he had seen him. _Asal_ therefore began to
betake himself, as his custom was, unto his prayers and reading, to
invocation and weeping, to supplication and complaining, and these
exercises had quite turned him away from any other thing.

_Hayy catches hold of Asal._

In the meantime _Hayy_ drew near little by little, while _Asal_ did not
perceive him at all, until at length he came so near as to hear his
reading and the prayers he uttered. He also took notice of his humble
gesture and his weeping, whence he heard a pleasant voice, consisting of
words quite distinct, such as he had never observed before in any kind
of animals. Then, beholding his shape and lineaments, he observed that
he was of the same form with himself. He was satisfied that the coat
with which he was clothed was not a natural skin, but an artificial
habit like unto his own clothing. And when he observed the decency and
comeliness of his behaviour and his supplication and weeping, he did not
at all question but that he was one of the Essences, which had the
knowledge of the _True One_.

Therefore, he felt a passionate desire to get acquainted with him, to
find out what was the matter with him and what was the cause of that
weeping and supplication. Thereupon he came nearer unto him, until
_Asal_, observing it, took to his heels again. But _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_,
endowed with vigour and power, both of knowledge and body, bestowed upon
him by God--pursued him with all his might, till at last he overtook
him, seized him, and held him fast that he could not make again his
escape from him.

_Hayy and Asal stroke one another._

Thereupon, when _Asal_ looked upon him and beheld him clothed with the
skins of wild beasts with the hair on, and his own hair so long that it
covered part of his body, and observed his great swiftness and strength,
he was greatly afraid of him and began to pacify him by stroking him,
and to entertain him in words. But _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_ did not understand
a word of what he said nor knew any of his meaning, only he perceived
the tokens of his fear and endeavoured to allay his fear with such
voices as he had learned from some of the animals: he gently stroked his
hand, his head, and the sides of his neck, and showed kindness unto him
and expressed much gladness and joy, till at last _Asal’s_ fear was
assuaged, and he perceived that he intended no evil to him.

_Hayy and Asal try to understand each other._

Now _Asal_, in his earnest desire to obtain the knowledge of things, had
studied most languages and was skilful of them. So he began to speak to
_Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_, and to interrogate him concerning his condition in
every tongue he knew, and asked him questions concerning his doings and
ways of life, and took pains to make himself understood by him. But it
was all in vain: for _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_, taking notice of all this,
stood all the time wondering at what he heard, being quite at a loss to
know what it all meant. He observed only the serenity of his countenance
and manifest signs of goodwill. Thus they stood wrapped in wonder,
looking at one another.

_Asal makes Hayy eat of his food._

Now _Asal_ had by him some of the remainder of the food which he had
brought along with him, from the inhabited Island from whence he came.
This he offered now to _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_, but he did not know what it
was; for he had never seen anything of that kind before. Then _Asal_,
eating some of it himself, invited _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_ to take some of it
with him. But _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_ bethought himself of those laws which
he had prescribed to himself concerning the taking of his food, and
seeing he knew not the nature of those things that were set before him,
and whether it was lawful for him or not to partake thereof, restrained
himself from eating. Whereupon _Asal_ continued urging him on and kindly
invited him thereunto.

_Hayy Ibn Yokdhan at last joins Asal at dinner, but repents afterwards._

At last _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_, being desirous and very anxious to get
acquainted with him, and, besides, being afraid that in continuing to
insist on his refusal, he might alienate his affections from him,
ventured to partake of that meat and to eat thereof. But as soon as he
had tasted it and found it very pleasant to his taste, he recognised
that he had done amiss by breaking his contract and the resolution and
promises he had made to himself concerning his diet. Thus he became
greatly repentant of what he had done, and had a mind of withdrawing
himself from _Asal_, and to betake himself unto his former state by
endeavouring to return to his former exercise of sublime speculation.

_Asal becomes Hayy’s Companion and Teacher._

When he found that this intellectual vision did not immediately return
to him, he thought it best to remain with _Asal_ in the sensible world,
until he had thoroughly satisfied himself as to his condition, so that
afterwards there might remain no further inclination towards him, and
then he might return to his former state and apply himself to his former
contemplation without any interruption. So he joined himself to the
company and fellowship of _Asal_: and when _Asal_ saw that he could not
speak, he was fully assured that no danger could arise to his religion
by keeping company with him; and besides he had hopes that it might come
to pass that he should teach him Language, Knowledge, and Religion, when
he should obtain a very great reward and a nearer approach unto God.

So _Asal_ began to teach him to speak, first by showing him particular
things, and pronouncing their names, and by repeating them often unto
him he made him to pronounce them again, which he presently did, until
he had taught him all names, and so by degrees he advanced him so far
that he could speak in a very short time.

_Hayy enlightens Asal on his Inner Life._

Then _Asal_ began to interrogate him concerning his condition, and from
whence he had come into that Island. But _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_, in his
reply, told him that he knew nothing of his own origin, nor of any
father or mother that he had, but only that Roe that brought him up.

Then he described to him his whole state and manner of living, from
beginning to end, and what progress he had made in knowledge, until he
had attained to that degree of conjunction with God.

Then _Asal_ heard from him the declaration of those truths which he
related, of those essences which are separated from the sensible world
and which have the knowledge of the _Essence_, of that _True One_--the
Almighty and Glorious--and heard him give an account of the _Essence_ of
that _True One_--the Almighty and Glorious--with all his attributes, and
had described to him as far as it was possible for him to describe that
which he had witnessed when he had reached the joys of those that are
joined unto God, and the torments and griefs of those that are separated
from him.

_Asal_ then had no doubt but that all those things which were delivered
in his law, concerning the commandment of that Almighty and Glorious
God, his angels and books, his messengers and the last day, Paradise and
Hell--all these were resemblances of what _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_ had seen.
And the eyes of his heart were opened, and his mind was enlightened,
when he saw that the things which he apprehended and discerned by
reason, and that which he had received by tradition (“the Original and
the Copy”), agreed very well together. And now the ways of mystical
interpretation became easy unto him, nor was there anything difficult or
remained dark of those precepts which he had received that was not now
quite plain and perspicuous.

In this way his intellectual faculty grew strong and vigorous, and he
began to look upon _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_ with such admiration and respect
that he greatly reverenced him, and assured himself that he was _one of
the Saints of God, such as were not molested with any fear upon them,
and who shall not suffer through pain_. (Koran.)

Thereupon he made himself ready to wait upon him, to imitate him, and to
follow his admonitions in the performance of such works as did occur
unto him, in those legal things which formerly he had learned in his

_Asal tells Hayy of the Island from whence he had come._

Then _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_ began to enquire of him concerning his condition
and his manner of living, and _Asal_ gave him an account of the state
of that Island from whence he had come--what kind of people inhabited
it, and what sort of life they led before that religious sect which we
mentioned came among them, and how it was now, since his coming

He also gave him an account of all those things that were delivered in
the law, concerning the description of the divine world, of Paradise and
the fire of Hell (Gehenna), of the awakening and resurrection of
mankind, of their gathering unto Judgment, of the account then to be
given up, of the scales wherein the actions of men should be weighed,
and the way through which they were to pass.

Now, _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_ understood very well all those things, nor did
he perceive that any of them were unsuitable to that which he had seen
when in that exalted condition; and he knew that he who had described
those things and delivered them unto men, was true in so declaring them,
and that in these his sayings he was a true and faithful messenger sent
from God. And he believed him and acknowledged the truth thereof and
bore testimony to his mission.

Then he began to ask him concerning the precepts which the messenger of
God had delivered and the rites of worship which he had ordained. Thus
_Asal_ told him of _Prayer_, _Alms_, _Fasting_, and _Pilgrimage_, and
the like external works: which he received and practised, and took upon
him the performance thereof, in obedience to that command of the
Lawgiver, being persuaded and assured of the truth and faith of him who
delivered the same. Notwithstanding, there were _two things_ that fixed
themselves into his mind which he wondered at, neither could he perceive
wherein the wisdom thereof consisted.

One of those two things was, why this messenger of God, in describing
most things that relate to the divine world, used to express them unto
men by parables of similitudes and abstained from a clear unfolding
thereof, which caused a good many men to fall into that error by
affirming corporeity in God and believing that to be something of that
_Essence_ the _True One_, the Almighty and Glorious, from which,
however, it is absolutely free, and in the same manner concerning those
things which relate to the rewards and punishments of a future world.

The other was why he did not proceed beyond those precepts and rites of
worship, permitting men to seek after riches and the amassing of wealth,
and to enjoy their liberty as to the matter of food: by which means they
vainly delivered themselves unto vain things and turned themselves away
from the truth. Whilst his judgment was that nothing ought to be taken
from any; but only so much as may enable him to sustain the remainder of
his life. But as to riches, he considered them of no value at all.

Now when he saw what was laid down and prescribed in the law concerning
those things that belonged to the employment of riches, namely alms, and
the distribution thereof and trading with them, also with regard to
usury, mulcts, and punishments, these things seemed all very odd and
uncouth unto him, and he judged them to be quite superfluous. For he
said that if men would judge of the matter according to truth, they
would certainly withdraw themselves from those vain things, and only
follow the truth, so that all this would be quite superfluous, nor would
any man challenge the property in riches as to have those dues exacted
from him, or to cause his hands to be cut off for those things secretly
stolen, or that lives should be destroyed by taking them away openly.

_Hayy observes that men are dull, stupid and brutish._

This was what he thought; and that which put this opinion into his mind
was that he thought that all men were imbued with an ingenuous temper, a
penetrating understanding, and a mind constant unto themselves. Nor did
he know how stupid and dull they were, how ill advised and how
inconstant in their resolutions; so much so that they were entirely like
brutes, even more apt than they to wander out of the way.

Therefore, since he was greatly affected with pity towards mankind, and
anxiously desired that he might be an instrument in their salvation, a
resolution entered into his mind of going over to them that he might be
able to unfold and lay before them the truth of things. This desire he
therefore made known to his companion _Asal_, and asked whether he could
find out any way whereby he could come unto them and discourse with

_Asal persuades Hayy to follow him to his Island._

_Asal_, on the other hand, told him what sort of people they were--how
much lacking in ingenuousness, and how averse from obeying the
commandments of God. But _Hayy_ could not understand this; and his mind
was intent upon that which he hoped to compass. _Asal_ also greatly
desired that it would please God, by his means, to direct some of his
acquaintances which were of a more pliable temper and more easily to be
guided than the rest, and not so far distant from sincerity as the
others, into the right way. Thus he was ready to support the design of
_Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_.

_Hayy and Asal return together to Asal’s Island._

Thereupon they resolved to betake themselves unto the seashore, nor to
depart thence either by day or night till God should please to afford
them an opportunity of crossing the sea. And always they were intent
upon this thing, and continued with their prayers and supplications to
God to direct them in this work and bring it to a successful issue.

At last it came to pass, by the commandment of God, the Almighty and
Glorious, that the winds and waves drove a ship that had lost its course
to the shore of that Island. And as it drew nearer unto the land, they
who were in it, seeing two men upon the shore, made towards them. Then
_Asal_ bespeaking them, expressed the desire that they should carry them
with them; they readily acquiesced therein, took them both into the
ship; and it pleased God to send them a fair wind, which in a very short
time conveyed them unto the desired Island. There they landed and went
into the City.

Now, the friends of _Asal_ all gathered round him, and he gave them an
account of _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_. Whereupon they flocked together from
every side, surrounding him with reverence and admiration. Then _Asal_
told him that this sect was superior in understanding and sharpness of
comprehension to all others, so that if he were not able to instruct
them in the truth and work upon them, there was much less hope that he
would be able to teach the ordinary lot of men.

_Hayy begins to teach and instruct Salaman’s subjects._

Now the Sovereign and Prince of that Island was _Salaman_ the friend of
_Asal_, of whom we have given an account above. He was the one who
thought it best to join and apply himself to human society, and
considered it unlawful to give himself over to solitude. Therefore _Hayy
Ibn Yokdhan_ began to instruct them and to explain the mysteries of
wisdom unto them. But when he began, and had proceeded a little beyond
that which was plain and obvious to them, and began to inculcate that
which was quite contrary to their notions deeply rooted in their minds,
they began to withdraw themselves from him, and their minds abhorred
from what he spoke. And inwardly in their hearts they were very angry
with him, though in his presence they made a great show of kindness,
both because he was a stranger and out of regard to his friend Asal.

_Hayy despairs of being able to reform the vulgar crowd._

_Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_, however, continued day and night to deal gently with
them and manifest the truth both in private and public, which only
increased their hatred towards him and made them avoid his company;
though otherwise they were lovers of that which is good, and desirous of
the truth. But from that defect in their nature, they did not search for
it in the right manner nor apprehend it as they should do: but sought
the knowledge of it after the common way, like the rest of the world,
after the vulgar fashion: so in the end he despaired of reforming them,
and lost all hope of bringing them unto a better condition which was
less acceptable unto them, because he perceived they were not willing to
accept what he taught them.

_Hayy’s philosophical views on the value of this world._

And afterwards looking round about him and reviewing the several ranks
and orders, degrees and conditions of men, he found that every sect and
company of them rejoiced in those things which they had and possessed at
present, and that their lusts and appetites were their God, and that
they destroyed and lost themselves by gathering together the trifles and
vanities of the world, the eager desire of getting them into their
hands still captivating and blinding them until they tottered to their
graves; and that no good counsel prevailed upon them, and that disputing
with them had only the effect of making them the more obstinate. As to
wisdom, they had no way open to it or access thereto, nor did any
portion thereof belong unto them. “For folly has wholly overwhelmed
them, and what they eagerly sought after has corrupted their hearts as
rust; God has sealed up their hearts and ears, a thick mist is before
their eyes, and a sore punishment awaits them.” (Koran.)

Thus he saw that they were encompassed within the cauldrons of
punishment and covered over with the darkness of a veil, and that all of
them--a few only excepted--minded their religion no otherwise than with
respect to the world, and cast the observance of religious performances
behind their backs, and made little or no account thereof, and that
merchandise and trading took up their minds and diverted them from
thinking upon God, so that they had “no fear of that day in which both
their hearts and eyes shall be turned round” (Koran)--continually
employed about their worldly affairs. When he saw all this, it was
apparent to him, and he held it for certain, that it was impossible for
him to speak unto them to any purpose, and that it was not expedient
that any works should be enjoined unto them beyond this measure, and
that the greatest benefit which accrued to the common sort of men by the
law was wholly in relation to their life in this world, namely, that the
course and manner of their life, whilst they continued here, should
proceed on in good order, so that none of them should be injurious to
another in the things which he may call his own; he saw that none of
them attain unto the felicity of another world but some very few, viz.
those who prepare themselves to that world and rightly endeavour to
attain to the same; that is, such as believe and follow the truth: but
“to him that erred from the truth, and prefers the life of the present
world before it, Hell shall be his place of habitation.” (Koran.)

And what labour can be greater, and what misery more grievous, than his
who works, if you well observe, from the time he awakes till he goes to
sleep again; there will not be found so much as one amongst them who
does anything but what tends to the attaining of some one or other of
these vile sensible things that are of no value, to wit, either
riches--to heap them up, or pleasure which he may take, or lust whereby
to satisfy his mind, or wrath and revenge whereby he may satisfy his
mind, or power whereby to defend himself, or some outward work commanded
by the law, whereof he may make a vain-glorious show or whereby he may
care to save his neck? “Now all these are darkness upon darkness in the
deep sea: nor is there any of you who doth not go in thither: for such
is the unchangeable decree of the Lord.” (Koran.)

When, therefore, he understood the state and condition of men to be such
as this, and seeing that most of them might be justly ranked amongst
unreasonable creatures--were, in fact, like brute beasts--he knew that
all wisdom, discretion and success was grounded on and consisted in
that which the messengers of God spoke and the law delivered, and that
there was no other rule possible, and that there could be nothing added
to it, and that these were men appointed to every work, and every one
was mostly capable of that thing unto which he was ordained by nature:
and that the law of God was the same unto those that had gone away
before, neither was there any change in the law of God.

_Hayy gives up his Preachings and Teachings._

Whereupon, returning to _Salaman_ and his companions, he craved pardon
for those things that he had spoken amongst them and desired to be
excused, and told them that he was of the same opinion with them, and
went on in the same way and persuaded them to stick firmly to their
resolution of respecting and following the customs of the law and the
performance of the external rites without intruding themselves upon
things that did not concern them or intermeddling therewith, that in
doubtful things they should give credit and yield a ready assent to
those rules that they had of old received: that they should be averse to
novel opinions and to their appetites, and follow the examples of their
good Forbears, and leave novelties severely alone.

He also commanded that they should shun and avoid that neglect of the
laws that is seen in the vulgar sort of men, and the love of the world,
and this he specially bade them to take heed of: for he and his friend
_Asal_ well knew that there was no salvation to this weak, tractable,
and defective sort of men but by this means; and that if they were
forced away and raised above this to curious speculations, their
condition would be much worse, so much so that it would be impossible
for them to obtain the state and degree of the Blessed; but that they
would be wavering in their motives, and tossed up and down, and at last
meet with a bad end. But if they remained in that state of things in
which they were till death overtook them, they should obtain salvation
and should be placed amongst those that are on the right hand. But, on
the other side, as for those who had gone before and outwent them, those
came near unto them: yet these came next after and approached near to

_Asal and Hayy return to their Island._

Thus _Asal_ and _Hayy_, after this admonitory talk, having bid farewell
to Prince Salaman and his people, took leave of them and waited for an
opportunity of returning to their own Island, till at length it pleased
God, the Almighty and Glorious, to afford them a commodious passage
thither. And _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_ endeavoured to attain to his lofty state
of speculation in the same manner as formerly, until he attained
thereto: and _Asal_ followed his steps till he came near him or was not
far therefrom. So they continued worshipping God in that Island until
death seized upon them.

_Epilogue of the Author._

And this is that--God help thee and us by his spirit--which we have
received of the history of _Hayy Ibn Yokdhan_ and _Asal_ and _Salaman_.

In its setting down we have made such choice of words as are not found
in any other book nor accustomed to be heard in common and vulgar
speech. And it is part of that hidden knowledge which no man receives
but he who has the knowledge of God; nor is any man ignorant of it, but
those that have not the right knowledge of God. We have indeed followed
a method quite contrary to that of our good Forbears, as to their
keeping secret these matters and their sparingness of divulging them.
But the reason that readily persuaded us to divulge this secret, and to
break through this veil, was, these evil opinions which have risen up in
this our time, the corrupt notions which are being devised by some
pretenders to philosophy in this world, so that they are dispersed and
diffused into various regions, and the mischief and evil arising
therefrom has grown epidemical. So that we are solicitous on behalf of
the weak--who have rejected what they received by tradition from the
Prophets of blessed memory and make choice of that which is delivered
them by foolish men--lest they should think those opinions to be a
secret that ought to be kept from them who are not capable thereof, and
this should increase their desire after them, and would awake a more
eager appetite after them.

Therefore, it seemed good to us to give them a glimpse of this secret of
secrets, whereby we may lead them into the way of truth and divert them
from that wrong path.

Nevertheless, we have not committed the secrets that are comprehended in
these leaves as to leave them without a thin veil which will be easily
unveiled by those who are capable of understanding them, but shall be so
thick and gross to those who are unworthy to go further on and pass
beyond it, that it will be impossible for him to pierce through it.

And now, I crave pardon of those of my brethren as shall read this
treatise, that they would excuse me with regard to those things which I
have so readily declared and so freely described. For I would not have
done this, unless I had been carried and elevated to such heights as
transcend the reach of human sight, which cannot attain thereunto. I
endeavoured to render my discourse easy to be understood, by fitly
placing and ordering its parts so that I might stir up in men a keen
desire to enter into the right way. But I crave of the Lord pardon and
forgiveness, and that He will please to bring us to the true and certain
knowledge thereof. For he is bounteous and liberal of His favours. Peace
be to thee, my brother, whose promotion is decreed, and the mercy and
blessing of God come upon thee.

=Praise be unto God alone.=


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  Transcriber's Note

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