The story of Robinson Crusoe was based on a twelfth century tale

The story of Robinson Crusoe was based on a twelfth century tale
Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy Ibn Yaqzan: A Philosophical Tale

Abu Bakr ibn Tufayl (died c.1186) was physician to the Almohad ruler (the Almohads ruled North Africa in the twelfth century) and the author of the philosophical tale Hayy ibn Yaqzan (Living, Son of Awake). This tale was translated into Latin in 1671 and is thought to be the model for Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. In his story, Ibn Tufayl em­ploys several Sufi concepts including “direct vision,” “mystical experience,” and “sainthood.” The tale de­scribes the self-education of Hayy who lands on a tropical island and is raised by a doe. As he grows up, he is able, through reflection, to deduce philosophical truths and derive actions that lead to ultimate happiness. His life of self-denial and contemplation leads him to direct vi­sion and a spiritual experience in God. Hayy then comes into contact with two men, first Absal who comes to the island in search of solitude, then Salaman from a nearby island whose inhabitants follow a prophetic religion. Absal follows a mystical and allegorical interpretation of revelation, while his friend Salaman is a literalist. Hayy and Absal go to the nearby island now ruled by Salaman, and Hayy tries to teach his wisdom to its inhabitants. His attempt fails and he recognizes that mystical and philosophical truths are not meant for all persons and that literalist religion is sufficient for the majority.

References:
Alnoor Dhanani, Muslim Philosophy and the Sciences, The Institute of Ismaili Studies
Kamal Abdul Malek “Muslim Literature in Arabic” The Muslim Almanac ed. A. Nanji, Detroit, Gale research Inc. 1996
Research by Nimira Dewji


Muslim Civilizations & Scholars

ibn al-Arabi

ibn Battuta

ibn al-Hani

ibn al-Haytham

al-Kirmani

al-Khwarizmi

Nasir Khusraw

al-Muayyad

ibn Rushd

al-Sijistani

ibn al-Sina

al-Tusi

ibn Tufayl

ibn al-Arabi

ibn Battuta

Ibn al-Hani

ibn al-Haytham

al-Kirmani

al-Khwarizmi

al-Muayyad

ibn Rushd

al-Sijistani

ibn al-Sina

al-Tusi

ibn Tufayl

Nasir Khusraw

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