The unrivaled legacy of Avicenna.
By KOUROSH ZIABARI
the European nations usually boast of being the foremost pioneers and
harbingers in various fields of science and arts, they know well that they owe
to the Persians the achievement of many peaks and breakthroughs which they
introduce as being theirs. Persians have been traditionally skilful and
dexterous in different branches of astronomy, mathematics, physics, medicine,
psychiatry, architecture, philosophy, theology and literature and the
unparalleled names of Ferdowsi, Rumi, Rhazes, Rudaki, Biruni, Al-Farabi,
Al-Khawrizmi and Avicenna attest to the fact that Iran has been perpetually a land
of science, knowledge and conscience in which cleverness grows and talent
we are customarily grappling with our daily concerns and rarely find the
opportunity to study about the figures who have shaped our civilization and our
knowledge of the external world, it's vitally necessary to have a basic
acquaintance with these great men and know the reasons why they did become
eternal and everlasting in the annals of history.
is one out of hundreds of Iranian intellectuals whose contributions to science
and literature has made him an unforgettable name in the memory of the world
and there are millions of people around the globe who admire and respect him
for what he achieved and what he was.
was an 11 century Persian polymath, physician, philosopher and
scientist, born in the ancient Iranian province of Bukhara in 980. He has
written more than 450 books on various subjects, particularly in physics,
medicine and philosophy.
considered himself a student whose knowledge is incomplete and imperfect. In a
famous distich, he described himself this way: My knowledge reached to the
point that / I can know that I know nothing
exceptional talents emerged since his early childhood and by the age of ten he
was proficient in memorizing and reciting the Holy Qur'an. In his adolescence
years, he studied Islamic jurisprudence, philosophy and natural sciences. He
started studying medicine when he was 17 and described the field as "not
difficult" to study. By the age of 18, he had become a prominent physician
and the Samanid ruler Nuh ibn Mansur, in gratitude to his services, invited him
to attend the royal library where the young Avicenna could access to a number
of rare and unique books. Avicenna set out to write his first book by the age
death of his father, Avicenna left Bukhara and went to Khiva and then to Gorgan
at the southern coastline of Caspian Sea. He was attracted by the prominence of
Gorgan's ruler as a science-loving emperor; however, his arrival in Gorgan
coincided with the overthrow and killing of King Qabus. He consequently went to
Ray near the modern Tehran and carried out a set of concentrated researches on
medicine. Following the blockade of Ray city, he set out to Hamedan and treated
Amir Shamsud-Dawla's colic. He was then appointed as the Hamedan's Prime
Minister by Amir. While serving as the Prime Minister, he wrote the "Book
of Healing." Following the demise of Shamsud-Dawla, a number of vicious
soldiers planned a conspiracy against Avicenna and compelled Amir's successor
to imprison him. He spent 4 months in prison where he compiled the mystic
treatise of "Hayy ibn Yaqdhan."
his release, Avicenna spent a few times in seclusion and isolation.
Consequently, he went to Isfahan along with his brother and one of his students
where they were warmly welcomed by the regional ruler, Ala Al-Daula. Avicenna
spent 14 tranquil years in Isfahan and this gave him the opportunity to
complete his unfinished books. He advised Ala Al-Dula in scientific and
literary matters and accompanied him in war campaigns. In 1037 and while he was
en route to Hamedan accompanying the king, he got sick and passed away in 58. Avicenna
is the first Iranian philosopher who has compiled organized and structured
books on philosophy and medicine. He was influenced by Prophet Muhammad,
Plotinus, Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi and Biruni. His enormous book the "Canon of
Medicine" was used as a textbook in the universities of Montpellier and
Louvain by 1650s.
astoundingly versatile in his skills and abilities. He was an astronomer,
chemist, geologist, Qur'an memorizer (Hafiz), Islamic psychologist, theologian,
logician, paleontologist, physicist, poet and mathematician.
scholar and researcher Soheil Muhsin Afnan who has written on the works and
life of Avicenna extensively describes him as "the most provocative figure
in the history of thought in the East."
profoundness and authoritativeness of Avicenna's works, Afnan writes:
"with a wideness of range, a vigor of thought, and a unity of conception
unequalled among the phiosophists, his thoughts extended far beyond the Eastern
lands, giving rise to the most complete philosophical system that the Islamic
world was to have."
"Danish-naama-i-Alai" is the first Persian-written dissertation on
philosophy. It's consisted of five main categories: logic, natural sciences,
astronomy, music and theology. In this treatise, he has proposed new Persian
equivalents for the Arabic philosophical terms.
scientific organizations around the world are named after Avicenna. A lunar
crater lying on the far side of the Moon, just beyond the western limb on the
northern rim of the Lorentz basin is named in honor of Avicenna.
Canon of Medicine is actually his most well-known book. The book starts with a
definition of the science of medicine. Then, he goes on to say that the human's
health cannot be restored unless the causes of both health and illness are
consequently gives a definition of the material cause which is the physical
body, the primary constituents of the human body which are elements and the
humors which are the vital essences of the body including the sanguineous
humor, the phlegm humor, the bilious humor and the atrabilious humor.
Subsequently, he describes the variability of the humors, the temperaments, the
psychic faculties, the vital force, the organs, the efficient causes, the
formal causes, the vital faculties and the final causes.
works have influenced a number of Western scholars and researchers and it's
widely believed that his works, specially his Cannon of Medicine, are until now
the most remarkable works ever written by an Eastern scientist.
about Avicenna should not be limited to a single article which cannot surpass
more than a few hundred words. It demands thousands of pages to explain the
realities of Avicenna, his works, his dexterities and his innovations; however,
it may suffice for a rudimentary introduction that Avicenna was a man who seems
to remain unrivaled at least throughout the 21 century.
-- Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian freelance journalist.
He has interviewed political commentator and linguist Noam Chomsky, member of
New Zealand parliament Keith Locke, Australian politician Ian Cohen, member of
German Parliament Ruprecht Polenz, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, former
US National Security Council adviser Peter D. Feaver, Nobel Prize laureate in
Physics Wolfgang Ketterle, Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry Kurt WE-thrich,
Nobel Prize laureate in biology Robin Warren, famous German political prisoner
Ernst ZE-ndel, Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff, American author Stephen
Kinzer, syndicated journalist Eric Margolis, former assistant of the US
Department of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, American-Palestinian journalist
Ramzy Baroud, former President of the American Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Sid Ganis, American international relations scholar Stephen Zunes, American
singer and songwriter David Rovics, American political scientist and
anthropologist William Beeman, British journalist Andy Worthington, Australian
author and blogger Antony Loewenstein, Iranian geopolitics expert Pirouz
Mojtahedzadeh, American historian and author Michael A. Hoffman II and Israeli
musician Gilad Atzmon.
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