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Critical Analysis: Islamic Moral in Novel Hayy ibn Yaqdhan by Ibn Tufail Essay


THESIS: Islamic moral is an important part of the novel Hayy ibn Yaqdhan as well as the author describes the contact of a lonely child with civilization and Islamic religion.

I. Picture of doe’s death as an example of the Hayy’s medical reflections

II. Demonstration of the characters’ behavior in the unusual situations as a will to show their moral principles according the norms of Islam

  1. A valuable power of “Dweller” as an understanding of the superiority of moral essence over physical body
  2. Hayy’s imagination while dancing in a deep trance as the connection with a supreme power

III. The connection between Absal and Hayy as a step of exploration of the Islamic principles

An Arabic novelist and Islamic philosopher Ibn Tufail wrote his philosophical novel Hayy ibn Yaqdhan, supporting the ideas of dissection and autopsy. Obviously, the author was inspired by Avicenninsm and Sufism.

As the novel tells us the story of a child who lived alone in a desert, we can see the results of lonely life together with the illness and in a close connection with the universal essence. Islamic moral is an important part of the novel Hayy ibn Yaqdhan as well as the author describes the contact of a lonely child with civilization and religion.

The story starts with doe’s death. Before its death, it was weak and exhausted. A boy who was near when it died tried to call its name loudly, but the doe did not respond. He tried to scrutinize it in order to see if there was anything wrong with it, but found nothing (Khadra 293).

A boy decided that the doe was just pretending unconscious and there still was the possibility to wake her up. The reason of his behavior can be found in his own experience in experimenting with his body. He saw that when he closed his ears with the fingers, he could not hear anything until he removed the fingers. The experiments with his nose gave him an idea about what was making the girl be unconscious.

He decided that doe could be awake again. However, after that, he found that the defects were in its internal organs that were intact. He concluded that it was inside the chest since all the organs depended on the organ inside it. He, thus, resolved to open doe’s chest to determine the problem and possibly to rectify it. Therefore, the author describes the physical and medical experiments which are based on his experience an interest of this sphere.

Although Ibn Tufayl uses the name of Avicenna’s work Alive, Son of the Awake, the Vigilant, the author provides more philosophical narration and demonstrates the characters’ behavior in the unusual situations, trying to show their moral principles according the norms of Islam.

Thus, we can see the trappings of religion in the text. The author emphasizes that the material goods only distract people from really important issues such as the truth and strong moral position. In this case, the material things can be considered as the distractions. Such position is a typical for those who live according to the moral principles of Islam.

The final conclusion of Hayy who tried to save doe was the supposition that there was a power that drove body organs and when it departed, the body also lost its powers. He referred to this power as the “Dweller” as a valuable power which is more important that body. After that, he started to be interested in the nature of the “Dweller”, thinking about its form, destiny, and how is it connected with the body (Khadra 294).

Ibn Tufayl provides a very interesting picture of the image that Hayy saw in miracle while dancing in a deep trance. There was a picture of beautiful sun and “sphere of the fixed stars” (Khadra 295).

The essence of the spheres contained thousands of faces glorifying God. Hayy saw some essences that looked like his own but which had belonged to other bodies. This image of the connection with God can be also considered within the Islamic vision. The author uses the esoteric tools, trying to express his philosophical and religious vision. Describing the story of a lonely and somehow wild child, Ibn Tufayl wants to present a human solitary, social isolation and also the first connection and comprehension of God.

We can see the nature of human logical development. Moreover, such picture of the child’s isolation can be interpreted as the metaphor of the mind’s isolation, closed mind that is not able or not ready to see the real nature of things. It is a model of human development with Hayy as its prototype. The isolated child was growing in a contact with the kindness and gentleness that doe was giving him during his childhood.

When a character named Absal arrived to the Hayy’s island, life of the main heroe is going to be changed. Absal decided to go to the island using a boat and some money that he had saved.

After arriving on the island, Absal took to worshiping God, eating fruits and animals when he became hungry. Absal saw Hayy as a religious devotee, while Hayy wondered a lot about Absal (Khadra 295). Absal’s initial attempts to communicate with Hayy were failed.

However, later, Absal began teaching Hayy his language by telling him the names of various objects and things. Hayy learnt the language quickly and soon the guys could communicate without any barrier. Hayy told Absal about a doe, his vision of the essences and religion. Finally, Absal came to realize that Hayy was favored by God and he started following his religion.

The novel of Iby Tufayl can be considered as the historical and philosophical abstract. The author wants to show the power of the natural reasons as a significant tool that can help living in a harmony with the universe. Obviously, such position is closely related with the moral principles of Islam.

Works Cited

Khadra, Salma. Classical Arabic Stories, An Anthropology. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. Print

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"Critical Analysis: Islamic Moral in Novel Hayy ibn Yaqdhan by Ibn Tufail." IvyPanda, 4 Nov. 2018, ivypanda.com/essays/critical-analysis-islamic-moral-in-novel-hayy-ibn-yaqdhan-by-ibn-tufail/.

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IvyPanda. "Critical Analysis: Islamic Moral in Novel Hayy ibn Yaqdhan by Ibn Tufail." November 4, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/critical-analysis-islamic-moral-in-novel-hayy-ibn-yaqdhan-by-ibn-tufail/.

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IvyPanda. 2018. "Critical Analysis: Islamic Moral in Novel Hayy ibn Yaqdhan by Ibn Tufail." November 4, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/critical-analysis-islamic-moral-in-novel-hayy-ibn-yaqdhan-by-ibn-tufail/.

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IvyPanda. (2018) 'Critical Analysis: Islamic Moral in Novel Hayy ibn Yaqdhan by Ibn Tufail'. 4 November.

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