Abu ‘Ali al-Husayn ibn Sina is better known in Europe by the Latinized name “Avicenna”. He was born in Afshana near Bukhara in Central Asia in about 980.
He was a Percian Muslim polymath who is regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age and the father of modern medicine. Avicenna is also called “the most influential philosopher” of the pre-modern era. Of the 450 works he is believed to have written, around 240 have survived, including 150 on philosophy and 40 on medicine. He is best known as a polymath, as a physician whose major work the Canon (al-Qanun fi’l-Tibb) continued to be taught as a medical textbook in Europe. Ibn Sina’s philosophy is an attempt to construct a coherent and comprehensive system that accords with the religious exigencies of Muslim culture. As such, he may be considered to be the first major Islamic philosopher.
His most famous works are Kitab al-Shifa’ (The Book of Healing), a philosophical and scientific encyclopedia, and Al-Qanun fi’l-tibb (The Canon of Medicine), a medical encyclopedia which became a standard medical text at many medieval universities and remained in use as late as 1650. In 1973, Avicenna’s Canon Of Medicine was reprinted in New York.
Besides philosophy and medicine, Avicenna’s corpus includes writings on astronomy, alchemy, geography and geology, psychology, Islamic theology, logic, mathematics, physics and works of poetry.
Ibn Sina’s Quotes
- Width of life is more important than length of life.
- There are no incurable diseases — only the lack of will. There are no worthless herbs — only the lack of knowledge.
- The knowledge of anything, since all things have causes, is not acquired or complete unless it is known by its causes.
- The more brilliant the lightning, the quicker it disappears.
- An ignorant doctor is the aide-de-camp of death.
A depiction of Ibn Sina
According to Prof.Dr.Yahya Akyüz, Ibn Sina’s method of work is described as follows:
When I was surprised about something, I would go to the mosque, pray and beg Allah. On top of that everything that is closed for me opens. Difficulties would be easier. At night I would work in my house in the light of oil lamps, and when I came to sleep I would sleep thinking about it. So much for me that many issues solved in sleep.