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Utopias in the Islamic Middle Ages: Ibn Ṭufayl and Ibn al-Nafīs


This essay examines the utopian features in two related works from the Islamic Middle Ages. Both use the theme of an isolated thinker living alone on a desert island and try to convey different theoretical conclusions about man, society, and the use of reason through this narrative device. Utopian themes common to both books are shown to include the utopian city, utopian education, and utopian transcendence; however, in the end Ibn Ṭufayl tends to dismiss society entirely, while Ibn al-Naf īs endorses social reality as it is.