Abū ‘Alī al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Sīnā Balkhi', known as Abu Ali Sina Balkhi (Persian: ابوعلی سینا بلخى) or Ibn Sina (Persian: ابن سینا) and commonly known in English by his Latinized name Avicenna (Greek: Aβιτζιανός), (born c. 980 near Bukhara, contemporary Uzbekistan, died 1037 in Hamedan in modern Iran) was a Persian polymath and the foremost physician and philosopher of his time. He was also an astronomer, chemist, geologist, logician, paleontologist, mathematician, physicist, poet, psychologist, scientist, soldier, statesman, and teacher.
Ibn Sīnā wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived. In particular, 150 of his surviving treatises concentrate on philosophy and 40 of them concentrate on medicine. His most famous works are The Book of Healing, a vast philosophical and scientific encyclopaedia, and The Canon of Medicine, which was a standard medical text at many medieval universities. The Canon of Medicine was used as a text-book in the universities of Montpellier and Louvain as late as 1650. Ibn Sīnā developed a medical system that combined his own personal experience with that of Islamic medicine, the medical system of the Greek physician Galen, Aristotelian metaphysics (Avicenna was one of the main interpreters of Aristotle), and ancient Persian, Mesopotamian and Indian medicine. He was also the founder of Avicennian logic and the philosophical school of Avicennism, which were influential among both Muslim and Scholastic thinkers.
Ibn Sīnā is regarded as a father of early modern medicine, and clinical pharmacology particularly for his introduction of systematic experimentation and quantification into the study of physiology, his discovery of the contagious nature of infectious diseases, the introduction of quarantine to limit the spread of contagious diseases, the introduction of experimental medicine, evidence-based medicine, clinical trials, randomized controlled trials, efficacy tests, clinical pharmacology, neuropsychiatry, risk factor analysis, and the idea of a syndrome, and the importance of dietetics and the influence of climate and environment on health. He is also considered the father of the fundamental concept of momentum in physics, and regarded as a pioneer of aromatherapy for his invention of steam distillation and extraction of essential oils. He also developed the concept of uniformitarianism and law of superposition in geology.
"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."
Avicenna created an extensive corpus of works during what is commonly known as Islam's Golden Age (ca 10-11 century CE), in which the translations of Graeco-Roman, Neo- and Mid-Platonic, and Aristotelian texts by the Kindi schools were commented, redacted and developed substantially by Islamic intellectuals, as well as building upon Persian and Indian mathematical systems, astronomy, algebra, trigonometry, and medicine. Samanid dynasty in Greater Khorasan and central Asia as well as Buwayhid on in western part of Persia and Iraq could provide a thriving atmosphere for scholarly and cultural development. Under the Samanids, Bukhara rivalled Baghdad as a cultural capital of Islam.
The study of Quran and Hadith thrived in such a scholarly atmosphere. Philosophy Fiqh and theology kalam were further developed, most noticeably by Avicenna and his opponents. al-Razi and Al-Farabi had provided methodology and knowledge in medicine and philosophy. Avicenna could use the great libraries of Balkh, Khwarezm, Gorgan, Rey, Isfahan and Hamedan. As various texts, such as the 'Ahd with Bahmanyar show, he debated philosophical points with the greatest scholars of the time. As Aruzi Samarqandi describes in his four articles before Avicenna left Khwarezm he had met Abu Rayhan Biruni (a noted scientist and astronomer), Abu Nasr Iraqi (a renowned mathematician), Abu Sahl Masihi (a respected philosopher) and Abu al-Khayr Khammar (a great physician).
His full name was Hussain ibn Abdullah ibn Hassan ibn Ali ibn Sina. He was born near Bukhara around 980 to a Persian family. He was born in Khurmaithan, a village near Bukhara in Greater Khorasan which was his mother's hometown. His father, Abdullah, was a respected Ismaili  scholar from Balkh, an important town of the Persian Empire, in what is today contemporary Afghanistan. His mother was named Setareh. His father was at the time of his son's birth the governor in one of the Samanid Nuh ibn Mansur's estates. He had his son very carefully educated at Bukhara. Ibn Sina himself was a Twelver[dubious – discuss] Shia. 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. As he said in his autobiography, there was nothing that he not learned when he reached eighteen.
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 Qur'an by the age of 10 and a great deal of Persian poetry as well. He learned Indian arithmetic from an Indian greengrocer, and he began to learn more from a wandering scholar who gained a livelihood by curing the sick and teaching the young. He also studied Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) under the Hanafi scholar Ismail al-Zahid.
As a teenager, he was greatly troubled by the Metaphysics of Aristotle, which he could not understand until he read al-Farabi's commentary on the work. For the next year and a half, he studied philosophy, in which he encountered greater obstacles. In such moments of baffled inquiry, he would leave his books, perform the requisite ablutions (wudu), then go to the mosque, and continue in prayer (salah) 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 of the sick had, according to his own account, discovered new methods of treatment. The teenager achieved full status as a qualified 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. Qabus, 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 (1012) 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, Shams al-Daula, however, compelled the scholar to quit the place. After a brief sojourn at Qazvin he passed southwards to Hamadãn where Shams al-Daula, another Buwayhid 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 Ahmed Fadhel's house, until 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 and Death
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 Hamadan, was checked by remedies so violent that Ibn Sina could scarcely stand. On a similar occasion the disease returned; with difficulty he reached Hamadan, 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.
Medicine and pharmacology
Though the threads which comprise Unani healing can be traced all the way back to Claudius Galenus of Pergamum, who lived in the second century of the Christian Era, the basic knowledge of Unani medicine as a healing system was developed by Hakim Ibn Sina in his medical encyclopedia The Canon of Medicine. The time of origin is thus dated at circa 1025 AD, when Avicenna wrote The Canon of Medicine in Persia. While he was primarily influenced by Greek and Islamic medicine, he was also influenced by the Indian medical teachings of Sushruta and Charaka.
he Canon of Medicine
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. The book is known for its introduction of systematic experimentation and quantification into the study of physiology, the discovery of contagious diseases and sexually transmitted diseases, the introduction of quarantine to limit the spread of infectious diseases, the introduction of experimental medicine, clinical trials, neuropsychiatry, risk factor analysis, and the idea of a syndrome in the diagnosis of specific diseases, and hypothesized the existence of microrganisms. 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.
The Canon of Medicine was the first book dealing with experimental medicine, evidence-based medicine, randomized controlled trials, and efficacy tests, and it laid out the following rules and principles for testing the effectiveness of new drugs and medications, which still form the basis of clinical pharmacology and modern clinical trials:
1. "The drug must be free from any extraneous accidental quality."
2. "It must be used on a simple, not a composite, disease."
3. "The drug must be tested with two contrary types of diseases, because sometimes a drug cures one disease by Its essential qualities and another by its accidental ones."
4. "The quality of the drug must correspond to the strength of the disease. For example, there are some drugs whose heat is less than the coldness of certain diseases, so that they would have no effect on them."
5. "The time of action must be observed, so that essence and accident are not confused."
6. "The effect of the drug must be seen to occur constantly or in many cases, for if this did not happen, it was an accidental effect."
7. "The experimentation must be done with the human body, for testing a drug on a lion or a horse might not prove anything about its effect on man."
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 Sabloneta. 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. 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 mainly of 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 ample in the enumeration of symptoms, and is said to be inferior 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.
Avicenna extended the theory of temperaments in The Canon of Medicine to encompass "emotional aspects, mental capacity, moral attitudes, self-awareness, movements and dreams." He summarized his version of the four humours and temperaments in a table as follows: