Avempace, a Scientist Immortalized on the Moon

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bu Bakr Mohammed bin Yahya bin al-Sayegh commonly referred to as Ibn Bajja, or by his Latinized name Avempace, was born in 1095 in the Taifa of Saragossa, modern day Spain and died in Fez, Morocco. He was not only a great Arab-Muslim thinker, but also an active politician in Moroccan society who served as minister for the Almoravids. Avempace wrote extensively on astronomy, logic, philosophy, music, botany, medicine, psychology, and poetry.

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The cover of “Kitab al-Nafs”.

His book titled Kitab al-Nafs (Book of The Soul) was a philosophical treatise focusing on psychology and the principles of logic and reason. Although this treatise establishes a parallel with Aristotle's work De Anima (On the soul), with which it is often compared, it is not an explicit comment by him.

Avempace also had an influence on Averroès (1126-1198 AD), an Andalusian philosopher famous for being the “commentator on Aristotle” during the Almoravid and Almohad eras.

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Ibn Bajja had particular gifts for song and for music which earned him the recognition of the powerful through his writings of musical treatise and composing of popular songs.

The manuscript contains a series of Avempace's works, including his most famous, the Solitaire rule. In this series, three passages deal with music. The first two concern the theory of hearing:

Sound production



The nature of the bodies that produce sounds

The vibration of the lute string

The difference between sound and musical note

The human voice

While the third passage focused on the melodic correspondence between the proportions of celestial and terrestrial music, natural elements, moods, and so on.

He's also credited with the synthesis between Oriental music, Berber music and Hispanic music as well as the zajal poetic form intended for singing and which has endured through the Romancero.

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Avempace, philosopher and poet, sang this short poem one night near the grave of one of his friends while the moon was rising in the sky:

Your friend has just been put in the grave
And you appear after his death
What are you not veiling
So that your eclipse will be a mourning habit for him.

Avempace's writings are available in some of the best libraries in the world, such as Oxford, El Escorial, Berlin, Cairo, Taskent, Istanbul, and Baghdad.

In 2009, in honor of his achievements, The International Astronomical Union founded in 1919, decided to name a lunar crater in his name.

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