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The unrivaled legacy of Avicenna.

Summary: Historically, Iran has been a land of prominent, influential figures in science, letters, arts and literature whose impact on the global civilization will remain in place forever. Throughout its ancient history, Iran has introduced numerous people to the world who have been among the most impressive, notable and valuable figures in their own field of expertise.

By KOUROSH ZIABARI

Although

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

develops.

Although

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.

Avicenna

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.

Avicenna

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.

He always

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

Avicenna's

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

of 21.

After the

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."

Following

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.

Avicenna was

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.

The Arab

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."

On the

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."

Avicenna's

"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.

Many

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.

Avicenna's

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

found out.

He

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.

Avicenna's

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.

Writing

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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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Aug 9, 2010
Words:1324
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