IBN SINA (Avicenna)

Abu Ali al-Husain ibn Abdallah ibn Sina (known in the west as Avicenna), was born in 980 in Kharmaithen (near Bukhara), in Uzbekistan. He was a famous Islamic philosopher and physician.

Ibn Sina was born into a middle class family and his father was the governor of a village in one of Nuh ibn Mansur's estates. He was educated by his father, and was a very intelligent child. By the age of ten, ibn Sina had memorised the entire Qur'an and several volumes of the Arabic poetry. Ibn Sina began studying medicine when he was thirteen and mastered the subject by the age of sixteen, when he began his practice. Ibn Sina was a court physician for the Samanid ruler in Bukhara - who was overthrown a year latter. From 1023 to his death in 1037, he served as scientific advisor with the local ruler of Esfahan. He also studied logic and metaphysics. In his autobiography, ibn Sina stressed that he was mostly self-taught but admits that he received instruction at several critical points in his life.

Among his works, the Canon of Medicine is the most important. It was used in both the Middle East and in Europe (a Latin translation was made in the 12th century). Ibn Sina's most famous philosophical work was the Book of Healing (kit‚bu sh-shif‚'), which dealt with Aristotelian logic, metaphysics, psychology and natural sciences.

Ibn Sina, combined the ideas of Aristotle and Neoplationism. He tried to reconcile philosophy with the religion of Islam. Ibn Sina denied the existence of the individual soul. He also doubted that God had any interest in any individual person. Ibn Sina also believed that there was no creation of the world and believed that there was a dualism of mind and matter. Matter was passive, and creation had been an act of instilling existence into the passive substance. Only God lacked this dualism.

The thoughts of Ibn Sina were important for centuries. His views were attacked by Sunni theologians - both in his own time, and afterwards. (Source)

Whatever their reasons to attack him, there are elements of astrology in his "Book of Treasures". Astrology, magic and other animistic practices are, however, not foreign to orthodox Islam, see Samuel Zwemer's The Influence of Animism on Islam.

For him also the following quote is relevant:

"To give Islam the credit of Averroes and so many other illustrious thinkers, who passed half their life in prison, in forced hiding, in disgrace, whose books were burned and whose writings almost suppressed by theological authority, is as if one were to ascribe to the Inquisition the discoveries of Galileo" -- Ernest Renan, "Islamisme et la science", lecture given at the Sarbonne, 29 March 1883. Basel, Bernheim.


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