Did you know …
… that the Aga Khan Museum’s collection includes Ibn Sina’s manuscript of Qanun fi’l-tibb
(Canon of Medicine)?
This manuscript dated 1052, is part of an encyclopedic corpus, used as a standard medical textbook in Europe for over 700 years.
Ibn Sina (980-1037), also known in the West as Avicenna, wrote over 200 books on art, astronomy, geometry, medicine, philosophy and theology.
His Qanun fi’l-tibb (The Canon of Medicine) was translated into Latin in the twelfth century and became a textbook for medical schools in Europe until the end of the nineteenth century. It is the most famous single book in the history of medicine. It is an encyclopedia of five books that add up to about one million words in length.
The earliest-known existing manuscript of any part of this text is a copy of the fifth volume devoted to compound drugs and pharmacopoeia, dated 1052.
The Qanun stressed the importance of diet and the influence of climate and environment on health.
Ibn Sina also laid out the basic rules of clinical drug trials, principles that are still followed today. His contemporaries called him “the prince of physicians.”
In the Qanun Avicenna not only produced a brilliant synthesis of his predecessors’ work, he greatly enriched medical science through his own observations and discoveries.
Avicenna was born c. 980 in Afšana, a village near Bukhara (in present-day Uzbekistan), the capital of the Samanids, a Persian dynasty in Central Asia and Greater Khorasan. His mother, named Setareh, was from Bukhara; his father, Abdullah, was a respected Ismaili scholar from Balkh, an important town of the Samanid Empire, in what is today Balkh Province, Afghanistan.
Ibn Sīnā was a devout Muslim and sought to reconcile rational philosophy with Islamic theology. His aim was to prove the existence of God and His creation of the world scientifically and through reason and logic.
Explore, Discover and Learn more:
- Aga Khan Museum – Online Gallery: Manuscript of Qanun fi’l-tibb (Canon of Medicine) of Ibn Sina, Vol. 5
- The Institute of Ismaili Studies: From Ibn Sina to Tusi: The Scientific Tradition in Medieval Islam
- Unesco: The UNESCO Courier October 1980
- Wikipedia: Avicenna