Ibn-sina (avicenna) 980-1037 A.d.

Ibn-Sina's full name is Abu-Ali Husayn lbn-Abdullah lbn-Sina, and his titles were Al-Shaykh Al-Rais (The chief Master) or Al-Muallim Al-Thani (The Second Teacher), second to Aristotle (Browne 1962). He is known in the Western World as Avicenna.

In 980 A.D. Avicenna was born in Bukhara which is now part of Russia and known as Uzben. By the age of 10, he was already proficient in the Qur'an and Arabic classics. By the age of 16, he finished Islamic law studies, geometry, anatomy, logic and philosophy. His metaphysics were influenced by an earlier philosopher in Islam, Al-Farabi. By the age of 18, he completed the study of medicine.

Soon after, he became the Prime Minister (the Visier) and Court-Physician of Prince Nuli-Ibn-Mansur, the Samanid Ruler of Bukbara. The prince was impressed by the intelligence and endurance of his Visier and opened for him the royal library which was unique in its literary richness. Ibn-Sina wrote his first book at the age of 21.

Then he became Visier of Ali ibn Maimun, the ruler of Khawarazm or Khiva. But he ultimately fled to avoid being kidnapped by the Sultan Mohammed El-Ghazin. Ironically, fate played an important role in the life of Avicenna who was a master in planning. The ruler of Hainadan, the southern part of Persia, who was called Amir Shwnsu'd-Dawla, had renal colic. Ibn-Sina treated the Amir's colic. The latter was very pleased and appointed Ibn-Sina, not only his Court-Physician but also his Visier. Avicenna was a proud and arrogant man.

This created enemies leading to a mutiny of the military leaders against him resulting in his dismissal and imprisonment. Fortunately, the Amir got renal colic once more and no one could relieve his pain. He thus summoned back Avicenna who cured him. The Amir apologized to Avicenna and reinstated him.

Avicenna's life during this time was extraordinarily strenuous. All the day he was busy with the Amir's services. The great part of the night was passed in lecturing and writing his books, with intervals of wine-drinking, music, and minstrelsy. After many vicissitudes, worn out by hard work and hard living, Avicenna died and was buried in Hamadan, Persia, in 1037 A.D. at a comparatively early age of 57. In his last illness, he treated himself unsuccessfully, so that it was said by his detractors that neither could his physics save his body nor his metaphysics save his soul (Browne 1962).

Avicenna wrote I00 treatises, 21 of them were major of which 16 were in medicine. He wrote in philosophy, medicine, named Al-Qanon fi Al- Tibb (Canon of Medicine). It was an encyclopedia containing more than one million words. It was composed of 5 volumes:

Volume I- described the principles and theories of medicine.

Volume II- contained the simple drugs arranged alphabetically.

Volume III- described localized diseases of the body from the head to the toes.

Volume IV- was addressed to generalized diseases of the body e.g. fevers.

Volume V- explained compound drungs.

The Canon contained all medical knowledge up to the 1Oth century. It was translated to many languages and was the reference for medical schools in Europe.

up to the 17th century. Although the Canon was a great book, it overshadowed the important works prior to it by Al-Razi and Al-Zahrawi, and subsequent to it by Ibn-Al-Nafis and Ali Ibn-Abbas, Halle Abbas, (Haddad 1942).

Avicenna wrote Arabic and Persian poems.The last of his Arabic poem, which is considered a classical beauty, describes the descent of the Soul into the Body from the Higher Sphere which is its home (Browne 1962).

Avicenna is considered a great philosopher, and his writings affected the thinkers and influenced many of those who appeared after him. He was a unique phenomenon, not only because of this encyclopedic accomplishments in medicine, but also because of the versatility of his genius. He has been compared in this respect with Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci, and Goethe. (Keys 1971).

Ibn-Rushd (AVERROES) 1126-1198 A.D. Ibn-Rashid, or Averroes as known in Europe, was born in Granada in 1126 A.D. He studied philosophy, medicine and law. He was appointed as a judge in Seville in 1169 A.D. where he stayed in office for a quarter of a century. He was affected by Aristotle on whom he wrote important commentaries (Black 1970, Al-A'sar 1972). In these interpretations he asserted that the human soul is not independent, but shares a universal mind. This belief caused a great controversy and was later declared heretical by both the Moslems and Christians alike because it contradicted the doctrine of personal immortality.

He was admired by the Jews of Spain who spread Ws philosophy into Europe especially into Italy and France after they were forced out of Spain. His followers interpreted some of his writings to mean that there are two kinds of truth, a philosophical and a religious truth. This implied a separation of reason and faith and influenced philosophical and theological speculation for many centuries. Because of his bold ideas, he was dismissed from his work and sent to Morocco where he was kept in prison till he died on December 12, 1198. his important contribution to medicine was "Al- Kulliyat fi Al-Tibb" (Colliyet).

It was a summary of the medical science at that time and composed of seven parts. He wrote another book, "Al-Taisir" on practical medicine. It consisted of useful excerpts and a clinical description of diseases including serous pericarditis and mediastinal abscens. He personally suffered from the latter disease and left very careful records of his own symptoms. The book is not known in Arabic, but there are several Latin editions (Haddad 1942). Ibn-Rushd was another example of the cultured Arabic physician.


In 1135, Musa Ibn-Maimon (Moses Maimonides) was born in Cordova, Spain (Minlcin 1968). His father was a Rabbi and had a great influence of Moses in his interests and future achievements. During that period, the Jews had a golden era in Spain. Minkin (1968), a renowned scholar and an eminent Rabbi wrote "It was Mohammedan Spain, the only land the Jews knew in nearly a thousand years of their dispersion, which made the genius of Moses Maimonides possible."

In1160 A.D., Moscs emigrated to North Africa to the city of Fas where be studied medicine. In 1165 A.D., he left to Palestine. However, he was dissatisfied with the cultural atmosphere. Therefore, he went to Egypt where he stayed until he died in 1204 A.D. He was buried in Teberias, Palestine.

Maimonides first started his career as the Rabbi of the jewish Comniunity of El-Fostat city, the capital of Egypt at that time and part of old Cairo now. Later on in life, he practiced medicine. He became an eminent and respected physician. He served both Kings Salah-El-Din (Saladin) and his elder son Sultan Al-Malik Al-Afdel during his short reign (1198-1200 A.D.). He had the confidence of both. During Salali-El-Din war with King Richard, the Lion-Hearted, the latter fell sick.

Although those two kings were at war, they had respect and admiration of each other. Saladin sent Ibn- Maimon to Richard to treat him. After being, cured. Rictiard asked Ibn- Maimon to join his court. But the latter politely declined and preferred to stay with Saladin (Minkin 1968).

Ibn-Maimon's impact on the Jewish religion is very important. He wrote classical work in the Jewish religion including codification of the Jewish laws (Black and Roth 1970). Hc also wrote in philosophy. His book, "Dalalat Al-Hai'ran" (The Guide of the Perplexed) is an important achievement which was welcomed not only by those of the Jewish faith but also by Moslems and Christians alike. He was affected by his contemporary Ibn- Rushd, and by Aristotl'e, but he tried to unite logic and faith. He wrote his book in Arabic. He did not live long enough to see the Hebrew translation of his book which would have given him a great satisfaction.

In medicine Ibn-Maimon did two important things: First, be translated many Arabic books into Hebrew which were than translated into Latin and other European languages. An example of these books is the Canon of Avicenna. Second, be wrote a few books of his own. One of them is "Magala fl Tadbir Al-Sihha" (Regimen Sanitatis) which stressed proper diet, personal hygiene, and moderation in the pleasures of life. It was in the form of letters to the Sultan Al-Afdel. The other was "Kitab" Al-Fusal fi Al-Tibb" (Fisul Musa). This was a collection of 1,500 aphorisms extracted from Galen writings together with forty-two critical remarks. Moses also wrote a book on poisons and their antidotes (Al-A'sar 1971).

When he died, the Jewish Community in Egypt built a synagogue named after him. Some Jews, up-till-now, stay overnight in this synagogue in hope of receiving healing through the spirit of this great physician (Minkin 1968).