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Template:Infobox Philosopher Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā (Persian: ابن سينا) (c. 980 in Afshana near Bukhara[1], Khorasan1037 in Hamedan[2]), commonly known in English by his Latinized name Avicenna (Gr. Ἀβιτζιανός),[3] was a Persian[4] Shi'a Muslim polymath: an astronomer, chemist, logician and mathematician, physicist and scientist, poet, soldier and statesman, theologian, and foremost physician and philosopher of his time.[5]

He wrote almost 450 works on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived. In particular, 150 of the surviving works concentrated on philosophy and 40 of them concentrated on medicine.[6] His most famous works are The Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine, which was a standard medical text at many Islamic and European universities up until the 18th century. Ibn Sīnā developed a medical system that combined his own personal experience with that of Islamic medicine, the medical system of Galen, Aristotelian metaphysics, and ancient Persian, Mesopotamian and Indian medicine. Ibn Sīnā is regarded as the father of modern medicine,[7] particularly for his introduction of systematic experimentation and quantification into the study of physiology,[8] his discovery of the contagious nature of infectious diseases,[9] the introduction of quarantine to limit the spread of contagious diseases, the introduction of clinical trials,[10] and the first descriptions on bacteria and viral organisms.[11] He is also considered the father of the fundamental concept of momentum in physics.[12]

George Sarton, the father of the history of science, wrote in the Introduction to the History of Science:

"One of the most famous exponents of Muslim universalism and an eminent figure in Islamic learning was Ibn Sina, known in the West as Avicenna (981-1037). For a thousand years he has retained his original renown as one of the greatest thinkers and medical scholars in history. His most important medical works are the Qanun (Canon) and a treatise on Cardiac drugs. The 'Qanun fi-l-Tibb' is an immense encyclopedia of medicine. It contains some of the most illuminating thoughts pertaining to distinction of mediastinitis from pleurisy; contagious nature of phthisis; distribution of diseases by water and soil; careful description of skin troubles; of sexual diseases and perversions; of nervous ailments."[9]


Early life

Ibn Sīnā's life is known to us from authoritative sources. A biography, which is widely considered by foremost Arabicists to have been composed by a disciple and later redacted, covers his first thirty years, and the rest are documented by his disciple al-Juzjani, who was also his secretary and his friend.

He was born in Persia around 980 (370 AH) in Afshana, his mother's home, a small city now part of Uzbekistan. His father, a respected scholar, was from Balkh of the Persian province of Khorasan, now part of Afghanistan, and was at the time of his son's birth the governor of a village in one of the Samanid Nuh ibn Mansur's estates. He had his son very carefully educated at Bukhara. Ibn Sina's independent thought was served by an extraordinary intelligence and memory, which allowed him to overtake his teachers at the age of fourteen.

Ibn Sīnā was put under the charge of a tutor, and his precocity soon made him the marvel of his neighbours; he displayed exceptional intellectual behaviour and was a child prodigy who had memorized the Quran by the age of 7 and a great deal of Persian poetry as well. From a greengrocer he learned arithmetic, and he began to learn more from a wandering scholar who gained a livelihood by curing the sick and teaching the young.

However he was greatly troubled by metaphysical problems and in particular the works of Aristotle. So, for the next year and a half, he also studied philosophy, in which he encountered greater obstacles. In such moments of baffled inquiry, he would leave his books, perform the requisite ablutions, then go to the mosque, and continue in prayer till light broke on his difficulties. Deep into the night he would continue his studies, and even in his dreams problems would pursue him and work out their solution. Forty times, it is said, he read through the Metaphysics of Aristotle, till the words were imprinted on his memory; but their meaning was hopelessly obscure, until one day they found illumination, from the little commentary by Farabi, which he bought at a bookstall for the small sum of three dirhams. So great was his joy at the discovery, thus made by help of a work from which he had expected only mystery, that he hastened to return thanks to God, and bestowed alms upon the poor.

He turned to medicine at 16, and not only learned medical theory, but also by gratuitous attendance on the sick had, according to his own account, discovered new methods of treatment. The teenager achieved full status as a physician at age 18 and found that "Medicine is no hard and thorny science, like mathematics and metaphysics, so I soon made great progress; I became an excellent doctor and began to treat patients, using approved remedies." The youthful physician's fame spread quickly, and he treated many patients without asking for payment.


His first appointment was that of physician to the emir, who owed him his recovery from a dangerous illness (997). Ibn Sina's chief reward for this service was access to the royal library of the Samanids, well-known patrons of scholarship and scholars. When the library was destroyed by fire not long after, the enemies of Ibn Sina accused him of burning it, in order for ever to conceal the sources of his knowledge. Meanwhile, he assisted his father in his financial labours, but still found time to write some of his earliest works.

When Ibn Sina was 22 years old, he lost his father. The Samanid dynasty came to its end in December 1004. Ibn Sina seems to have declined the offers of Mahmud of Ghazni, and proceeded westwards to Urgench in the modern Uzbekistan, where the vizier, regarded as a friend of scholars, gave him a small monthly stipend. The pay was small, however, so Ibn Sina wandered from place to place through the districts of Nishapur and Merv to the borders of Khorasan, seeking an opening for his talents. Shams al-Ma'äli Kavuus, the generous ruler of Dailam and central Persia, himself a poet and a scholar, with whom Ibn Sina had expected to find an asylum, was about that date (1052) starved to death by his troops who had revolted. Ibn Sina himself was at this season stricken down by a severe illness. Finally, at Gorgan, near the Caspian Sea, Ibn Sina met with a friend, who bought a dwelling near his own house in which Ibn Sina lectured on logic and astronomy. Several of Ibn Sina's treatises were written for this patron; and the commencement of his Canon of Medicine also dates from his stay in Hyrcania.

Ibn Sina subsequently settled at Rai, in the vicinity of modern Tehran, (present day capital of Iran), the home town of Rhazes; where Majd Addaula, a son of the last Buwayhid emir, was nominal ruler under the regency of his mother (Seyyedeh Khatun). About thirty of Ibn Sina's shorter works are said to have been composed in Rai. Constant feuds which raged between the regent and her second son, Amir Shamsud-Dawala, however, compelled the scholar to quit the place. After a brief sojourn at Qazvin he passed southwards to Hamadãn, where another Deylamite emir had established himself. At first, Ibn Sina entered into the service of a high-born lady; but the emir, hearing of his arrival, called him in as medical attendant, and sent him back with presents to his dwelling. Ibn Sina was even raised to the office of vizier. The emir consented that he should be banished from the country. Ibn Sina, however, remained hidden for forty days in a sheikh's house, till a fresh attack of illness induced the emir to restore him to his post. Even during this perturbed time, Ibn Sina persevered with his studies and teaching. Every evening, extracts from his great works, the Canon and the Sanatio, were dictated and explained to his pupils. On the death of the emir, Ibn Sina ceased to be vizier and hid himself in the house of an apothecary, where, with intense assiduity, he continued the composition of his works.

Meanwhile, he had written to Abu Ya'far, the prefect of the dynamic city of Isfahan, offering his services. The new emir of Hamadan, hearing of this correspondence and discovering where Ibn Sina was hidden, incarcerated him in a fortress. War meanwhile continued between the rulers of Isfahan and Hamadãn; in 1024 the former captured Hamadan and its towns, expelling the Tajik mercenaries. When the storm had passed, Ibn Sina returned with the emir to Hamadan, and carried on his literary labours. Later, however, accompanied by his brother, a favourite pupil, and two slaves, Ibn Sina escaped out of the city in the dress of a Sufi ascetic. After a perilous journey, they reached Isfahan, receiving an honourable welcome from the prince.

Later life

Avicenna's tomb in Hamedan, Iran

The remaining ten or twelve years of Ibn Sīnā's life were spent in the service of Abu Ja'far 'Ala Addaula, whom he accompanied as physician and general literary and scientific adviser, even in his numerous campaigns.

During these years he began to study literary matters and philology, instigated, it is asserted, by criticisms on his style. He contrasts with the nobler and more intellectual character of Averroes. A severe colic, which seized him on the march of the army against Hamadãn, was checked by remedies so violent that Ibn Sina could scarcely stand. On a similar occasion the disease returned; with difficulty he reached Hamadãn, where, finding the disease gaining ground, he refused to keep up the regimen imposed, and resigned himself to his fate.

His friends advised him to slow down and take life moderately. He refused, however, stating that: "I prefer a short life with width to a narrow one with length". On his deathbed remorse seized him; he bestowed his goods on the poor, restored unjust gains, freed his slaves, and every third day till his death listened to the reading of the Qur'an. He died in June 1037, in his fifty-eighth year, and was buried in Hamedan, Iran.


Scarcely any member of the Muslim circle of the sciences, including theology, philology, mathematics, astronomy, physics, and music, was left untouched by the treatises of Ibn Sīnā. This vast quantity of works - be they full-blown treatises or opuscula - vary so much in style and content (if one were to compare between the 'ahd made with his disciple Bahmanyar to uphold philosophical integrity with the Provenance and Direction, for example) that Yahya (formerly Jean) Michot has accused him of "neurological bipolarity".

Ibn Sīnā wrote at least one treatise on alchemy, but several others have been falsely attributed to him. His book on animals was translated by Michael Scot. His Logic, Metaphysics, Physics, and De Caelo, are treatises giving a synoptic view of Aristotelian doctrine, though the Metaphysics demonstrates a significant departure from the brand of Neoplatonism known as Aristotelianism in Ibn Sīnā's world; Arabic philosophers have hinted at the idea that Ibn Sīnā was attempting to "re-Aristotelianise" Muslim philosophy in its entirety, unlike his predecessors, who accepted the conflation of Platonic, Aristotelian, Neo- and Middle-Platonic works transmitted into the Muslim world.

The Logic and Metaphysics have been printed more than once, the latter, e.g., at Venice in 1493, 1495, and 1546. Some of his shorter essays on medicine, logic, etc., take a poetical form (the poem on logic was published by Schmoelders in 1836). Two encyclopaedic treatises, dealing with philosophy, are often mentioned. The larger, Al-Shifa' (Sanatio), exists nearly complete in manuscript in the Bodleian Library and elsewhere; part of it on the De Anima appeared at Pavia (1490) as the Liber Sextus Naturalium, and the long account of Ibn Sina's philosophy given by Muhammad al-Shahrastani seems to be mainly an analysis, and in many places a reproduction, of the Al-Shifa'. A shorter form of the work is known as the An-najat (Liberatio). The Latin editions of part of these works have been modified by the corrections which the monastic editors confess that they applied. There is also a حكمت مشرقيه (hikmat-al-mashriqqiyya, in Latin Philosophia Orientalis), mentioned by Roger Bacon, the majority of which is lost in antiquity, which according to Averroes was pantheistic in tone.



A Latin copy of the Canon of Medicine, dated 1484, located at the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Main article: The Canon of Medicine
About 100 treatises were ascribed to Ibn Sina. Some of them are tracts of a few pages, others are works extending through several volumes. The best-known amongst them, and that to which Ibn Sina owed his European reputation, is his 14-volume The Canon of Medicine, which was a standard medical text in Europe and the Islamic world up until the 18th century.[13] The book is known for its introduction of systematic experimentation and quantification into the study of physiology,[8] the discovery of contagious diseases,[9] the introduction of quarantine to limit the spread of infectious diseases, the introduction of clinical trials,[14] and the first descriptions on bacteria and viral organisms.[15] It classifies and describes diseases, and outlines their assumed causes. Hygiene, simple and complex medicines, and functions of parts of the body are also covered. In this, Ibn Sīnā is credited as being the first to correctly document the anatomy of the human eye, along with descriptions of eye afflictions such as cataracts. It asserts that tuberculosis was contagious, which was later disputed by Europeans, but turned out to be true. It also describes the symptoms and complications of diabetes. Both forms of facial paralysis were described in-depth. In addition, the workings of the heart as a valve are described. [citation needed]
File:Canon ibnsina arabic.jpg
A copy of the Canon of Medicine, dated 1593

An Arabic edition of the Canon appeared at Rome in 1593, and a Hebrew version at Naples in 1491. Of the Latin version there were about thirty editions, founded on the original translation by Gerard de Sablonetta. In the 15th century a commentary on the text of the Canon was composed. Other medical works translated into Latin are the Medicamenta Cordialia, Canticum de Medicina, and the Tractatus de Syrupo Acetoso.

It was mainly accident which determined that from the 12th to the 18th century, Ibn Sīnā should be the guide of medical study in European universities, and eclipse the names of Rhazes, Ali ibn al-Abbas and Averroes. His work is not essentially different from that of his predecessor Rhazes, because he presented the doctrine of Galen, and through Galen the doctrine of Hippocrates, modified by the system of Aristotle, as well as the Indian doctrines of Sushruta and Charaka.[16] But the Canon of Ibn Sīnā is distinguished from the Al-Hawi (Continens) or Summary of Rhazes by its greater method, due perhaps to the logical studies of the former.

The work has been variously appreciated in subsequent ages, some regarding it as a treasury of wisdom, and others, like Averroes, holding it useful only as waste paper. In modern times it has been seen of mainly historic interest as most of its tenets have been disproved or expanded upon by scientific medicine. The vice of the book is excessive classification of bodily faculties, and over-subtlety in the discrimination of diseases. It includes five books; of which the first and second discuss physiology, pathology and hygiene, the third and fourth deal with the methods of treating disease, and the fifth describes the composition and preparation of remedies. This last part contains some personal observations.

He is, like all his countrymen, ample in the enumeration of symptoms, and is said to be inferior to Ali in practical medicine and surgery. He introduced into medical theory the four causes of the Peripatetic system. Of natural history and botany he pretended to no special knowledge. Up to the year 1650, or thereabouts, the Canon was still used as a textbook in the universities of Leuven and Montpellier.

In the museum at Bukhara, there are displays showing many of his writings, surgical instruments from the period and paintings of patients undergoing treatment. Ibn Sīnā was interested in the effect of the mind on the body, and wrote a great deal on psychology, likely influencing Ibn Tufayl and Ibn Bajjah. He also introduced medical herbs.


As a chemist, Avicenna was the first to write refutations on alchemy. Four of these works were translated into Latin as:[17]

  • Liber Aboali Abincine de Anima in arte Alchemiae
  • Declaratio Lapis physici Avicennae filio sui Aboali
  • Avicennae de congelatione et conglutinatione lapifum
  • Avicennae ad Hasan Regem epistola de Re recta

In one of these works, Ibn Sīnā was the first to discredit the theory of the transmutation of substances commonly believed by alchemists:

"Those of the chemical craft know well that no change can be effected in the different species of substances, though they can produce the appearance of such change."[18]

Among his works refuting alchemy, Liber Aboali Abincine de Anima in arte Alchemiae was the most influential, having influenced later medieval chemists and alchemists such as Vincent of Beauvais.[17]


Ibn Sīnā used steam distillation to produce the first essential oils. As a result, he is regarded as a pioneer of aromatherapy.[19]


In 1070, Abu Ubayd al-Juzjani, a pupil of Ibn Sīnā, claimed that his teacher Ibn Sīnā had solved the equant problem in Ptolemy's planetary model.[20]


In chemistry, steam distillation was invented by Ibn Sīnā in the early 11th century, which he used to produce essential oils.[19]

Earth sciences

Ibn Sīnā wrote on the earth sciences in The Book of Healing. In geology, he hypothesized two causes of mountains:

"Either they are the effects of upheavals of the crust of the earth, such as might occur during a violent earthquake, or they are the effect of water, which, cutting itself a new route, has denuded the valleys, the strata being of different kinds, some soft, some hard... It would require a long period of time for all such changes to be accomplished, during which the mountains themselves might be somewhat diminished in size."[21]


In physics, Ibn Sīnā was the first to employ an air thermometer to measure air temperature in his scientific experiments.[22]

In mechanics, Ibn Sīnā developed an elaborate theory of motion, in which he made a distinction between the inclination and force of a projectile, and concluded that motion was a result of an inclination (mayl) transferred to the projectile by the thrower, and that projectile motion in a vacuum would not cease.[23] He viewed inclination as a permanent force whose effect is dissipated by external forces such as air resistance.[24] His theory of motion was thus consistent with the concept of inertia in Newton's first law of motion.[23] Ibn Sīnā also referred to mayl to as being proportional to weight times velocity, a precursor to the concept of momentum in Newton's second law of motion.[25] Ibn Sīnā's theory of mayl was further developed by Jean Buridan in his theory of impetus.

In optics, Ibn Sina discovered that the speed of light is finite, as he "observed that if the perception of light is due to the emission of some sort of particles by a luminous source, the speed of light must be finite."[26] He also provided a sophisticated explanation for the rainbow phenomenon. Carl Benjamin Boyer described Ibn Sīnā's theory on the rainbow as follows:

"Independent observation had demonstrated to him that the bow is not formed in the dark cloud but rather in the very thin mist lying between the cloud and the sun or observer. The cloud, he thought, serves simply as the background of this thin substance, much as a quicksilver lining is placed upon the rear surface of the glass in a mirror. Ibn Sīnā would change the place not only of the bow, but also of the color formation, holding the iridescence to be merely a subjective sensation in the eye."[27]


Ibn Sīnā wrote extensively on the subjects of philosophy, logic, ethics, metaphysics and other disciplines. Most of his works were written in Arabic - which was the de facto scientific language of that time, and some were written in the Persian language. Of linguistic significance even to this day are a few books that he wrote in nearly pure Persian language (particularly the Danishnamah-yi 'Ala', Philosophy for Ala' ad-Dawla'). Ibn Sīnā's commentaries on Aristotle often corrected the philosopher, encouraging a lively debate in the spirit of ijtihad.

Ibn Sīnā's philosophical tenets have become of great interest to critical Western scholarship and to those engaged in the field of Muslim philosophy, in both the West and the East. However, it is still the case that the West only pays attention to a portion of his philosophy known as the Latin Avicennian School. Ibn Sīnā's philosophical contributions have been overshadowed by Orientalist scholarship (for example that of Henri Corbin), which has sought to define him as a mystic rather than an Aristotelian philosopher. The so-called حكمت مشرقيه (hikmat-al-mashriqqiyya) remains a source of huge irritation to contemporary Arabic scholars, in particular Reisman, Gutas, Street, and Bertolacci.

The original work, entitled The Easterners (al-mashriqiyun), was probably lost during Ibn Sīnā's lifetime; Ibn Tufayl appended it to a romantic philosophical work of his own in the twelfth century, the Hayy ibn Yaqzan, in order to validate his philosophical system, and, by the time that the work was transmitted into the West, appended as it was to a set of "mystical" opusculae and sundry essays, it was firmly accepted as a demonstration of Ibn Sīnā's "esoteric" orientation, which he concealed out of necessity from his peers.

Some argue that such interpretations of Ibn Sīnā's "true" state of mind ignore the vast corpus of work that he produced, from major treatises to slurs on his enemies and rivals, misrepresent him utterly. It also detracts attention from the fact that Muslim philosophy flourished during the ten centuries after Ibn Sīnā's death, emerging from Ibn Sīnā's inflammatory pronouncements on all matters within the world, whether physical or metaphysical; the works of the post-Avicennian Baghdadi Peripatetics and anti-Peripatetics, for example, remain to be studied in much greater detail.

Metaphysical doctrine

Islamic philosophy, imbued as it is with theology, distinguishes more clearly than Aristotelianism the difference between essence and existence. Whereas existence is the domain of the contingent and the accidental, essence endures within a being beyond the accidental. However, Ibn Sīnā's commentaries upon the Metaphysics in particular demonstrate that he was much more clearly aligned with a philosophical comprehension of the metaphysical world rather than one that was grounded in theology. (See, for example, the Compendium on the Soul, where beneath the heading of Metaphysics he prioritises Universal Science (Being-as-such and First Philosophy) over theology.) The philosophy of Ibn Sīnā, particularly that part relating to metaphysics, owes much to Aristotle and to Al-Farabi. The search for a truly definitive Islamic philosophy can be seen in what is left to us of his work.

God as the first cause of all things

For Ibn Sīnā, essence is non-contingent. For an essence to be realised within time (as an existence), the existence must be rendered necessary by the essence itself. This particular relationship of cause and effect is due to an inherent property of the essence, that it is non-contingent. For existence in general to be possible, there must exist a necessary essence, itself uncaused - a being or God to begin a process of emanation.

This view has a profound impact on the monotheistic concept of creation. Existence is not seen by Ibn Sīnā as the work of a capricious deity, but of a divine, self-causing thought process. The movement from this to existence is necessary, and not an act of will per se. The world emanates from God by virtue of his abundant intellect - an immaterial cause as found in the neoplatonic concept of emanation.

Ibn Sīnā found inspiration for this methaphysical view in the works of Al-Farabi, but his innovation is in his account a single and necessary first cause of all existence. Whether this view can be reconciled with Islam, particularly given the question of what role is left for God's will, was to become a subject of considerable controversy within intellectual Islamic discourse.

The Ten Intellects

In Ibn Sīnā's account of creation (largely derived from Al-Farabi), from this first cause (or First Intellect) proceeds the creation of the material world.

The First Intellect, in contemplating the necessity of its existence, gives rise to the Second Intellect. In contemplating its emanation from God, it then gives rise to the First Spirit, which animates the Sphere of Spheres (the universe). In contemplating itself as a self-caused essence (that is, as something that could potentially exist), it gives rise to the matter that fills the universe and forms the Sphere of the Planets (the First Heaven in al-Farabi).

This triple-contemplation establishes the first stages of existence. It continues, giving rise to consequential intellects which create between them two celestial hierarchies: the Superior Hierarchy of Cherubim (Kerubim) and the Inferior Hierarchy, called by Ibn Sīnā "Angels of Magnificence". These angels animate the heavens, but are deprived of all sensory perception, but have imagination which allows them to desire the intellect from which they came. Their vain quest to join this intellect causes an eternal movement in heaven. They also cause prophetic visions in humans.

The angels created by each of the next seven Intellects are associated with a different body in the Sphere of the Planets. These are: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury and the Moon. The last of these is of particular importance, since its association is with the Angel Gabriel ("The Angel").

This Ninth Intellect occurs at a step so removed from the First Intellect that the emanation that then arises from it explodes into fragments, creating not a further celestial entity, but instead creating human souls, which have the sensory functions lacked by the Angels of Magnificence.

The Angel and the minds of humans

For Ibn Sīnā, human minds were not in themselves formed for abstract thought. Humans are intellectual only potentially, and only illumination by the Angel confers upon them the ability to make from this potential a real ability to think. This is the Tenth Intellect, identified with the "active intellect" of Aristotle's De Anima.

The degree to which minds are illuminated by the Angel varies. Prophets are illuminated to the point that they posses not only rational intellect, but also an imagination and ability which allows them to pass on their superior wisdom to others. Some receive less, but enough to write, teach, pass laws, and contribute to the distribution of knowledge. Others receive enough for their own personal realisation, and others still receive less.

On this view, all humanity shares a single agent intellect - a collective consciousness. The final stage of human life, according to Ibn Sīnā, is reunion with the emanation of the Angel. Thus, the Angel confers upon those imbued with its intellect the certainty of life after death. For Ibn Sīnā, as for the neoplatonists who influenced him, the immortality of the soul is a consequence of its nature, and not a purpose for it to fulfill.


Ibn Sīnā's heterodox beliefs, namely his belief that bodily resurrection was impossible, placed him at odds with traditionalist Muslim scholars of his time. This departure from orthodox thought led the prominent Ash'ari scholar al-Ghazzali to consider Ibn Sīnā a disbeliever of Islam, and he argued that it was fard to consider him a Kafir.[28]


The first criticisms on Aristotelian logic were written by Ibn Sina, who produced independent treatises on logic rather than commentaries. He criticized the logical school of Baghdad for their devotion to Aristotle at the time. He investigated the theory of definition and classification and the quantification of the predicates of categorical propositions, and developed an original theory on "temporally modalized" syllogism. Its premises included modifiers such as "at all times", "at most times", and "at some time".[29]

Natural philosophy

Ibn Sina and Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī, who are both regarded as two of the greatest polymaths in Persian history, engaged in a written debate, with al-Biruni mostly criticizing Aristotelian natural philosophy and the Peripatetic school, while Avicenna and his student Ahmad ibn 'Ali al-Ma'sumi respond to al-Biruni's criticisms in writing. Al-Biruni began by asking Avicenna eighteen questions, ten of which were criticisms of Aristotle's On the Heavens. After Avicenna responded to the questions, al-Biruni was unsatisfied with some of the answers and wrote back commenting on them, after which Avicenna's student Ahmad ibn 'Ali al-Ma'sumi wrote back on behalf of Avicenna.[30]


In the chapters on mechanics and engineering in his encyclopedia Mi'yar al-'aql (The Measure of the Mind), Avicenna writes an analysis on the ilm al-hiyal (science of ingenious devices) and makes the first successful attempt to classify simple machines and their combinations. He first describes and illustrates the five constituent simple machines: the lever, pulley, screw, wedge, and windlass. He then analyzes all the combinations of these simple machines, such as the windlass-screw, windlass-pulley and windlass-lever for example. He is also the first to describe a mechanism which is essentially a combination of all of these simple machines (except for the wedge).[31]


Almost half of Ibn Sīnā's works are versified.[32] His poems appear in both Arabic and Persian. As an example, Edward Granville Browne claims that the following verses are incorrectly attributed to Omar Khayyám, and were originally written by Ibn Sīnā [33]:

از قعر گل سیاه تا اوج زحل,
Up from Earth's Centre through the Seventh Gate

کردم همه مشکلات گیتی را حل,
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,

بیرون جستم زقید هر مکر و حیل,
And many Knots unravel'd by the Road;

هر بند گشاده شد مگر بند اجل.
But not the Master-Knot of Human Fate.


Ibn Sīnā commemorated on a Polish stamp
Imaginary portrait of Ibn Sīnā as seen depicted on a stamp issued by the United Arab Emirates

George Sarton, the father of the history of science, described Ibn Sīnā as "one of the greatest thinkers and medical scholars in history"[9] and called him "the most famous scientist of Islam and one of the most famous of all races, places, and times." He was one of the Islamic world's leading writers in the field of medicine. He was influenced by the approach of Hippocrates and Galen, as well as Sushruta and Charaka. Along with Rhazes, Abulcasis, Ibn al-Nafis, and al-Ibadi, Ibn Sīnā is considered an important compiler of early Muslim medicine. He is remembered in Western history of medicine as a major historical figure who made important contributions to medicine and the European Renaissance. Ibn Sīnā is also considered the father of the fundamental concept of momentum in physics.[12]

In Iran, he is considered a national icon, and is often regarded as one of the greatest Persians to have ever lived. Many portraits and statues remain in Iran today. An impressive monument to the life and works of the man who is known as the 'doctor of doctors' still stands outside the Bukhara museum and his portrait hangs in the Hall of the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Paris. There is also a crater on the moon named Avicenna.


* Bu-Ali Sina University in Hamedan (Iran) and the ibn Sīnā Tajik State Medical University in Dushanbe (The capital of the Republic of Tajikistan) bear Avicenna's name.

See also


  1. Von Dehsen, Christian D.; Scott L. Harris. Philosophers and Religious Leaders. Greenwood Press, p. 19. ISBN 1-5735-6152-5. 
  2. [1] [2]
  3. Greenhill, William Alexander (1867), "Abitianus", in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. 1, pp. 3
  4. "Avicenna", in Encyclopaedia Britannica, Concise Online Version, 2006 (LINK); D. Gutas, "Avicenna", in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Version 2006, (LINK); Avicenna in (Encyclopedia of Islam: © 1999 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands)
  5. Charles F. Horne (1917), ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, p. 90-91. Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, New York. (cf. Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (973-1037): On Medicine, c. 1020 CE, Medieval Sourcebook.)

    "Avicenna (973-1037) was a sort of universal genius, known first as a physician. To his works on medicine he afterward added religious tracts, poems, works on philosophy, on logic, as physics, on mathematics, and on astronomy. He was also a statesman and a soldier."

  6. O'Connor, John J. & Robertson, Edmund F., "Avicenna", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive
  7. Cas Lek Cesk (1980). "The father of medicine, Avicenna, in our science and culture: Abu Ali ibn Sina (980-1037)", Becka J. 119 (1), p. 17-23.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Katharine Park (March 1990). "Avicenna in Renaissance Italy: The Canon and Medical Teaching in Italian Universities after 1500 by Nancy G. Siraisi", The Journal of Modern History 62 (1), p. 169-170.

    "Students of the history of medicine know him for his attempts to introduce systematic experimentation and quantification into the study of physiology".

  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 George Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science.
    (cf. Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq (1997). Quotations From Famous Historians of Science, Cyberistan.)
  10. David W. Tschanz, MSPH, PhD (August 2003). "Arab Roots of European Medicine", Heart Views 4 (2).
  11. The Canon of Medicine, The American Institute of Unani Medicine, 2003.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Seyyed Hossein Nasr, "Islamic Conception Of Intellectual Life", in Philip P. Wiener (ed.), Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Vol. 2, p. 65, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1973-1974.
  13. Ziauddin Sardar, Science in Islamic philosophy
  14. David W. Tschanz, MSPH, PhD (August 2003). "Arab Roots of European Medicine", Heart Views 4 (2).
  15. The Canon of Medicine, The American Institute of Unani Medicine, 2003.
  16. Hakeem Abdul Hameed, Exchanges between India and Central Asia in the field of Medicine
  17. 17.0 17.1 Georges C. Anawati (1996), "Arabic alchemy", in Roshdi Rashed, ed., Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, Vol. 3, p. 853-885 [875]. Routledge, London and New York.
  18. Robert Briffault (1938). The Making of Humanity, p. 196-197.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Marlene Ericksen (2000). Healing with Aromatherapy, p. 9. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 0658003828.
  20. A. I. Sabra (1998). "Configuring the Universe: Aporetic, Problem Solving, and Kinematic Modeling as Themes of Arabic Astronomy", Perspectives on Science 6 (3), p. 288-330 [305-306].
  21. Stephen Toulmin and June Goodfield (1965). The Discovery of Time, p. 64. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  22. Robert Briffault (1938). The Making of Humanity, p. 191.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Fernando Espinoza (2005). "An analysis of the historical development of ideas about motion and its implications for teaching", Physics Education 40 (2), p. 141.
  24. A. Sayili (1987), "Ibn Sīnā and Buridan on the Motion of the Projectile", Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 500 (1), p. 477 – 482:

    "It was a permanent force whose effect got dissipated only as a result of external agents such as air resistance. He is apparently the first to conceive such a permanent type of impressed virtue for non-natural motion."

  25. A. Sayili (1987), "Ibn Sīnā and Buridan on the Motion of the Projectile", Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 500 (1), p. 477 – 482:

    "Thus he considered impetus as proportional to weight times velocity. In other words, his conception of impetus comes very close to the concept of momentum of Newtonian mechanics."

  26. George Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, Vol. 1, p. 710.
  27. Carl Benjamin Boyer (1954). "Robert Grosseteste on the Rainbow", Osiris 11, p. 247-258 [248].
  28. Keller, Nuh Ha mim (2006), Kalam and Islam [3]
  29. History of logic: Arabic logic, Encyclopædia Britannica.
  30. Rafik Berjak and Muzaffar Iqbal, "Ibn Sina--Al-Biruni correspondence", Islam & Science, June 2003.
  31. Mariam Rozhanskaya and I. S. Levinova (1996), "Statics", in Roshdi Rashed, ed., Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, Vol. 2, p. 614-642 [633]. Routledge, London and New York.
  32. E.G. Browne, Islamic Medicine (sometimes also printed under the title Arabian medicine), 2002, Goodword Pub., ISBN 81-87570-19-9, p61
  33. E.G. Browne, Islamic Medicine (sometimes also printed under the title Arabian medicine), 2002, Goodword Pub., ISBN 81-87570-19-9, p60-61)

Further reading

  • A good introduction to his life and philosophical thought is Avicenna by Lenn E. Goodman (Cornell University Press: 1992, updated edition 2006)
  • For Ibn Sina's life, see Ibn Khallikan's Biographical Dictionary, translated by de Slane (1842); F. Wüstenfeld's Geschichte der arabischen Aerzte und Naturforscher (Gottingen, 1840).
  • Shahrastani, German translation, vol. ii. 213-332
  • For a list of extant works, C. Brockelmann's Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur (Weimar, 1898), vol. i. pp. 452-458. (XV. W.; G. W. T.)
  • For an overview of his career see Shams Inati, "Ibn Sina" in History of Islamic Philosophy, ed. Hossein Seyyed Nasr and Oliver Leaman, New York: Routledge (1996).
  • For a new understanding of his early career, based on a newly discovered text, see also: Michot, Yahya, Ibn Sînâ: Lettre au vizir Abû Sa'd. Editio princeps d'après le manuscrit de Bursa, traduction de l'arabe, introduction, notes et lexique (Beirut-Paris: Albouraq, 2000) ISBN 2-84161-150-7.
  • O'Connor, John J. & Robertson, Edmund F., "Abu Ali al-Husain ibn Abdallah ibn Sina (Avicenna)", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive
  • For his medicine, see:
  • Sprengel, Histoire de la Medicine
  • Edward G. Browne, Islamic Medicine, 2002, Goodword Pub., ISBN 81-87570-19-9
  • For his philosophy, see:
  • Henry Corbin, History of Islamic Philosophy (London: Kegan Paul 1993; original French 1964)
  • Michot, Jean R., La destinée de l'homme selon Avicenne (Leuven: Peeters, 1986) ISBN 90-6381-071-2.
  • Dimitri Gutas, "Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition: Introduction to Reading Avicenna's Philosophical Works" (Leiden: Brill 1988)
  • Reisman, David C. (ed.), "Before and After Avicenna: Proceedings of the First Conference of the Avicenna Study Group" (Leiden: Brill 2003)
  • The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy, edited by P. Adamson and R. Taylor, (Cambridge: Cambridge: University Press 2005)
  • Amos Bertolacci, The reception of Aristotle's Metaphysics in Avicenna's Kitab al-Sifa'. A milestone of Western metaphysical thought (Leiden: Brill 2006)
  • Avicenne: Réfutation de l'astrologie. Edition et traduction du texte arabe, introduction, notes et lexique par Yahya Michot. Préface d'Elizabeth Teissier (Beirut-Paris: Albouraq, 2006) ISBN 2-84161-304-6.
  • Shoja MM, Tubbs RS. The disorder of love in the Canon of Avicenna (A.D. 980-1037). Am J Psychiatry 2007; 164:228–229.

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