Also popularly known as ‘Avicenna’, Ibn Sina was indeed a true polymath with his contributions ranging from medicine, psychology and pharmacology to geology, physics, astronomy, chemistry and philosophy. He was also a poet and an Islamic scholar and theologian. His most important contribution to medical science was his famous book al-Qanun, known as the “Canon” in the West. This book is an immense encyclopedia of medicine including over a million words and like most Arabic books is richly divided and subdivided. It comprises of the entire medical knowledge available from ancient and Muslim sources.
Early Life:This great scientist was born in around 980 A.D in the village of Afshana, near Bukhara which is also his mother’s hometown. His father, Abdullah an advocate of the Ismaili sect, was from Balkh which is now a part of Afghanistan. Ibn Sina received his early eduction in his home town and by the age of ten he became a Quran Hafiz. He had exceptional intellectual skills which enabled him to overtake his teachers at the age of fourteen. During the next few years he devoted himself to Muslim Jurisprudence, Philosophy and Natural Science and studied Logic, Euclid, and the Almeagest.
Ibn Sina was an extremely religious man. When he was still young, Ibn Sina was highly baffled by the work of Aristotle on Metaphysics so much so that he used to leave all the work and pray to God to guide him. Finally after reading a manual by a famous philosopher al-Farabi, he found the solutions to his difficulties.
Contributions and Achievements:At the age of sixteen he dedicated all his efforts to learn medicine and by the time he was eighteen gained the status of a reputed physician. During this time he was also lucky in curing Nooh Ibn Mansoor, the King of Bukhhara, of an illness in which all the renowned physicians had given up hope. On this great effort, the King wished to reward him, but the young physician only acquired consent to use his exclusively stocked library of the Samanids.
On his father’s death, when Ibn Sina was twenty-two years old, he left Bukhara and moved to Jurjan near Caspian Sea where he lectured on logic and astronomy. Here he also met his famous contemporary Abu Raihan al-Biruni. Later he travelled to Rai and then to Hamadan, where he wrote his famous book Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb. Here he also cured Shams al-Daulah, the King of Hamadan, for severe colic.
From Hamadan, he moved to Isfahn, where he finished many of his epic writings. Nevertheless, he continued to travel and the too much mental exertion as well as political chaos spoilt his health. The last ten or twelve years of his life, he spent in the service of Abu Ja’far ‘Ala Addaula, whom he accompanied as physician and general literary and scientific consultant. He died during June 1037 A.D and was buried in Hamedan, Iran.
Besides his monumental writings, Ibn Sina also contributed to mathematics, physics, music and other fields. He explained the concept and application of the “casting out of nines”. He made several astronomical observations, and devised a means similar to the venire, to enhance the accuracy 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.