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medieval Persian polymath, physician, and philosopher
A drawing of Avicenna from 1271

Avicenna (c. 980 – 1037)[1][2] was a Persian polymath and the most important doctor and Islamic philosopher of his time.

He wrote about 450 works on a wide range of subjects, and about 240 have survived, including 150 on philosophy and 40 on medicine.[3]

His most famous works are The Book of Healing – a philosophical and scientific encyclopedia, and The Canon of Medicine – a medical encyclopedia.[4]

He is also known as Ibn Sīnā and Pour Sina (Persian: پور سینا) which means "Son of Sina" in English.[5] His full name in Arabic is Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā (ابو علی الحسین ابن عبدالله ابن سینا). In English, he is usually called Avicenna (Greek: Aβιτζιανός), his Latinized name.[6][7]


Early lifeEdit

Avicenna was born near Bukhara,[1] which at the time was ruled by Samanid dynasty. His father was a government official and his home served as a meeting place for men of learning. Avicenna had educated teachers while growing up. By age 14 he had mastered many subjects and had already memorized the Quran. From the age of 14 to 18 he taught himself because he could not find a tutor to provide more information that he already knew. He began to practice and learn about medicine at 16. He also learned about law and natural sciences. He was good at all of the subjects but he had a talent for medicine. Sometime before he turned 18 years old, he cured a Samanid chief. Because of what he did he was allowed into the libraries that were taken care of by the Samanid dynasty princes. By the age of 18 he had become a master of the most important works of science in his time. Also, his reputation as a doctor had grown.[8] At 20 he was regarded as one of the wisest people of his time.[9]


Besides philosophy and medicine, Avicenna's works includes writings on astronomy, alchemy, geography and geology, psychology, Islamic theology, logic, mathematics, physics and poetry.[10][11]

Later lifeEdit

From 1015 to 1022, Avicenna was a high official and doctor to the ruler of Hamedan. After the ruler of Hamedan died Avicenna was put in prison. He was released four months later when Hamadan was captured by Alā al-Dawla, the ruler of Isfahan. Alā al-Dawla only captured Hamadan for a short period of time. He escaped as a dervish (a member of the Muslim society known for dancing) to Isfahan to work for Alā al-Dawla as a doctor. In 1030, the Ghaznavids attacked Isfahan and some of Avicenna's work was lost and possibly stolen. He died during an attack on the city of Hamedan.[12][13]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Avicenna, Encyclopaedia Britannica
  2. Von Dehsen, Christian D.; Scott L. Harris (1999-10-21). Philosophers and Religious Leaders. Greenwood Press. p. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-57356-152-5.
  3. O'Connor, John J; Edmund F. Robertson "Avicenna". MacTutor History of Mathematics archive.  
  4. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2007). "Avicenna". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved on 5 November 2007. 
  5. "Extracts from the history of Islamic pharmacy". Pharmacy History. Pharma Corner. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
  6. Greenhill, William Alexander (1867), "Abitianus", in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, p. 3,
  7. Sizgorich, Tom. "Avicenna". World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.
  8. Sizgorich, Tom. "Avicenna." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
  9. Ramsey, Matthew. "Avicenna." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2013. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.
  10. "Avicenna", in Encyclopædia Iranica, Online Version 2006". Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  11. Charles F. Horne (1917), ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, p. 90-91. Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, New York. (cf. Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (973-1037): On Medicine, c. 1020 CE, Medieval Sourcebook.)

    "Avicenna (973-1037) was a sort of universal genius, known first as a physician. To his works on medicine he afterward added religious tracts, poems, works on philosophy, on logic, as physics, on mathematics, and on astronomy.

  12. Marmura, Michael. "Avicenna." Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Gale, 2006. Biography In Context. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
  13. Ibn Sina / Avicenna - Saab Medical Library - AUB Avicenne: A.H.370-428/A.D.980-1037 (Ibn Sina) : étude sur la vie, l'oeuvre et le système théologique et mystique d'Abou Ali el-Hosein Ben Abd Allah ... (His Les Grands philosophes) (French ed.) (9789060224854): Bernard Carra de Vaux: Books Archived 25 June 2007 at WebCite

More readingEdit

  • Avicenna by Lenn E. Goodman (Cornell University Press: 1992, updated edition 2006) – A good introduction to his life and philosophical thought.

Other websitesEdit