Abu Ali Sina , great Muslim philosopher, physician
The course of ibn Sina's life was dominated by the period of great political instability through which he lived. The Samanid dynasty, the first native dynasty to arise in Iran after the Muslim conquest, controlled Transoxania and Khorasan from about 900. Bukhara was their capital and it, together with Samarkand, were the cultural centres of the empire. However, from the middle of the 10th century, the power of the Samanid's began to weaken. By the time ibn Sina was born, Nuh ibn Mansur was the Sultan in Bukhara but he was struggling to retain control of the empire.
Ibn Sina's father was the governor of a village in one of Nuh ibn Mansur's estates. He was educated by his father, whose home was a meeting place for men of learning in the area. Certainly ibn Sina was a remarkable child, with a memory and an ability to learn which amazed the scholars who met in his father's home. By the age of ten he had memorised the Qur'an and most of the Arabic poetry which he had read. When ibn Sina reached the age of thirteen he began to study medicine and he had mastered that subject by the age of sixteen when he began to treat patients. He also studied logic and metaphysics, receiving instruction from some of the best teachers of his day, but in all areas he continued his studies on his own. In his autobiography ibn Sina stresses that he was more or less self-taught but that at crucial times in his life he received help.
At the age of 17, he was fortunate in curing Nooh Ibn Mansour, the Samanid King, of an illness in which all the well-known physicians had given up hope. On his recovery, the King wished to reward him, but the young physician only desired permission to use his uniquely stocked library.
On his father's death, Bu Ali left Bokhara and travelled to Jurjan where Khawarazm Shah welcomed him. There, he met his famous contemporary Abu Raihan Al-Biruni. Later he moved to Ray and then to Hamadan, where he wrote his famous book Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb. Here he treated Shams al-Daulah, the King of Hamadan, for severe colic. From Hamadan, he moved to Esfahan, where he completed many of his monumental writings. Nevertheless, he continued travelling and the excessive mental exertion as well as political turmoil spoilt his health. Finally, he returned to Hamadan where he died in 1037 A.D.
He was the most famous physician, philosopher, encyclopaedist, mathematician and astronomer of his time. His major contribution to medical science was his famous book al-Qanun, known as the "Canon" in the West. The Qanun fi al-Tibb is an immense encyclo- paedia of medicine extending over a million words. It surveyed the entire medical knowledge available from ancient and Muslim sources. Due to its systematic approach, "formal perfection as well as its intrinsic value, the Qanun superseded Razi's Hawi, Ali Ibn Abbas's Maliki, and even the works of Galen, and remained supreme for six centuries". In addition to bringing together the then available knowledge, the book is rich with the author's original contribution. His important original contribution includes such advances as recognition of the contagious nature of phthisis and tuberculosis; distribution of diseases by water and soil, and interaction between psychology and health. In addition to describing pharmacological methods, the book described 760 drugs and became the most authentic materia medica of the era. He was also the first to describe meningitis and made rich contributions to anatomy, gynaecology and child health.
His philosophical encyclopaedia Kitab al-Shifa was a monumental work, embodying a vast field of knowledge from philosophy to science. He classified the entire field as follows: theoretical knowledge: physics, mathematics and metaphysics; and practical knowledge: ethics, economics and politics. His philosophy synthesises Aristotelian tradition, Neoplatonic influences and Muslim theology.
Ibn Sina also contributed to mathematics, physics, music and other fields. He explained the "casting out of nines" and its application to the verification of squares and cubes. He made several astronomical observations, and devised a contrivance similar to the vernier, to increase the precision of instrumental readings. In physics, his contribution comprised the study of different forms of energy, heat, light and mechanical, and such concepts as force, vacuum and infinity. He made the important observation that if the perception of light is due to the emission of some sort of particles by the luminous source, the speed of light must be finite. He propounded an interconnection between time and motion, and also made investigations on specific gravity and used an air thermometer.
In the field of music, his contribution was an improvement over Farabi's work and was far ahead of knowledge prevailing else- where on the subject. Doubling with the fourth and fifth was a 'great' step towards the harmonic system and doubling with the third seems to have also been allowed. Ibn Sina observed that in the series of consonances represented by (n + 1)/n, the ear is unable to distinguish them when n = 45. In the field of chemistry, he did not believe in the possibility of chemical transmutation because, in his opinion, the metals differed in a fundamental sense. These views were radically opposed to those prevailing at the time. His treatise on minerals was one of the "main" sources of geology of the Christian encyclopaedists of the thirteenth century. Besides Shifa his well-known treatises in philosophy are al-Najat and Isharat.
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