Ibn Sina,also known as Avicenna in western world, is a persian and a muslim scientist,scholar,theologian,matematician,poet, physician and a philosopher who was born in 980 C.E. in a village named Afsana near Buhara.He is also known to be a genius who displayed a great intellectial potential in his first years of education and had the chance to be educated by his father,who was a clerk for the royal palace and some of other persian teachers for the royal family. At the age of ten he was known to memorize the Qur’an and was proficient in arithmetics.During the next years he studied fiqh(islamic jurisprudence),linguistics,logic,euclidian geometry,philopsopy and “The Almagest”.He is said to be interested in and troubled with Aristotelean philosophy and metaphysics and overcame the troubles with the help of the book “al-Ibane” by another Persian philosopher Alpharabius and greatly influenced by him.
After his father’s death, he left Buhara and went to get in the service of Qabus,ruler of Jurjan who was famous with his interest to education and taught logic and astronomy,also contined on writing “Canon” there.After the murder of the Qabus he continued on travelling around firstly going to Ray,a place near Teharan now, and then Hamada to cure the Amir Shamsud-Dawala to cure his colic and rewarded as being a prime minister for such a service.
Avicenna’s days in Hamada went on busy and divided into two different jobs,being a prime minister and a scholar who gathered his students and taught medicine using his already finished two books “Canon” and newest one “Kitab al-Shifa”(means healing power in persian,also known as “The Book of Healing” in western civilizations). Those days ended after Amir’s death.He hid himself in an apothecary and continued on his workd and teaching.At the same time Hamada was in war with Isfahan which was a city meaning more free environment and peace for Avicanna,so he secretly send letters to the important people of Isfahan,offering his services. The new Amir of Hamada got aware of this situation and Avicenna’s hiding place and put him into imprisonment. In time,Isfahan managed to capture Hamada and towns around it,after the war was over Avicenna returned to Hamada with Amir and continued on his studies for some time.One night,he escaped the city with his brother,a pupil and two slaves and went to Isfahan to be welcomed warmly by the Prince of Isfahan .
Until his death,he remained in the service of the prince of Isfahan and offered his services to the Ala-al Daula the prince of Isfahan as his personal physician,literary and scientific adviser who accompanied him everywhere,including the military campaigns.As he was a chronic colic sufferer he lived his last years under great pain and refused to live moderately and allow himself to relax.He continued to accompany prince on his campaings and these were the places where made the Avicenna’s illness got stronger.He is said to be told that “I prefer a short life with width to a narrow one with length”. Although one of the most famous quotes from him is “The world is divided into men who have wit and no religion and men who have religion and no wit.” And he did not practiced the islamic duties for his religion publicly, he gave away his belongings to the poor,freed his slaves and read Qur’an at his last times of life.He died in june 1037 at the age of 58 and buried in Hamadan,Iran.His mausoleum is still could be visited in Hamadan.
According to Al-Qifti,Avicenna wrote 21 major an 24 minor works on philosophy,medicine,theology,astronomy and the like. Eight of the sixteen medical texts are written in versifed treatises for example,”25 signs indicating fatal termination of ilnesses”,”hygienic precepts”,”proved remedies” etc. Apart from them,”Canon” is the largest,most widely known and one of the most important works of Avicenna which also led him to be known in western civilizations as well.It contains 14 volumes and more than one million words and unites Galen’s and Hippocrates’ with some serious addition which are Avicenna’s researches and his own experiences.Whole book is split into five different books addressing to five different categories and these are first part is the general principles,second part is the basic drugs in alphebetical order with the information of where and when to use,possible effects on patients,third part is the members of body and diseases of the particular organs,fourth part is the diseases which are local but affecting the entire body,fifth part is the using drugs together to create a more effective treatment. Canon said to have more than 450 remedies which were noted carefully with effects,possible side effects and how to apply them to treat diseases successfully.
He also noted interesting things in Canon such as advising surgeons to treat cancer in earlier stages,being sure that they’ve taken out all the ill part of the organ,testing new remedies on animals before the humans and noted the effect of emotions on physical condition.Interestingly enough he even diagnosed “love sickness” and the treatment for this disease was to make the suffered one get together with the loved one.
The Arabic version of Canon published in Rome in 1593,being one of the earliest arabic books to be printed.In the 12th century it was translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremonia and served as a chief guide to the medical science ,displacing the work of Galen and being “the medical bible” till the 1600s.It is also said to be influenced Leonardo Da Vinci in his researches.
In “Book of Healing” also called “The Cure”, despite the english name he didn’t write on medicine but wrote about “curing the ignorance of the soul”.The book is split to four parts; first part is logic,second part is natural sciences,third part is mathematics and the fifth part is metaphysics.He wrote about his knowledge on astronomy,chemistry,earth sciences,psychology,logic,metaphysics and the philosophy of science.The information in the book was mainly influenced by the teachings of ancient greek philosophers,hellenistic thinkers and some earlier muslim and persian scientists and philosophers.
Although Avicenna is a big name of medical history and sometimes addressed as “doctor of the doctors”,he is not widely known as he should be. He had to travel around a lot to have himself secure and be able to study on his desired area of practices but he was a genius,who studied in many different disciplines including medicine,theology,philosophy,logic,geometry,mathematics,alchemy and created his most valuable work in medicine. He wrote “Canon” ,”Book of Healing” and many other books on various topics such as philosophy.
*Avicenna His Life and Works by Soheil Afnan
*Encyclopaedia Brittanica Online Version
*Wikipedia,Vikipedi(Turkish version of Wikipedia containing different articles)
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