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Avicenna, celebrated Iranian physician and philosopher

Each year, in Iran, Avicennas birthday (23th August, Iranian month: 1st Shahrivar) is celebrated and commemorated as the National Day of Physicians.

 

Avicenna known as prince of physicians in west and chief master of all sciences in Muslim world (born on 23th August

near Bukhara, Iran-died on 1037, Hamadan, Iran) is the celebrated Iranian physician and philosopher and the most famous and influential of the philosopher-scientists of the Islamic world. He was particularly noted for his contributions in the fields of Aristotelian philosophy and medicine. He composed the kitab al-shifa (Book of Cure), a vast philosophical and scientific encyclopedia, and Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb (The Canon of Medicine), which is among the most famous books in the history of medicine.

According to Avicennas personal account of life, he read and memorized the entire Quran (Muslims Holy Book) by age 10. By age 16, Avicenna turned to medicine, a discipline over which he claimed "easy" mastery. When the king of Bukhara fell ill with an ailment that baffled the court physicians, Avicenna was called to his bedside and cured him. In gratitude, the king opened the royal Samanid library to him, a fortuitous benevolence that introduced Avicenna to a veritable cornucopia of science & philosophy.

Avicenna began his prodigious writing career at age 21. Some extant titles bear his name. They cross numerous fields including medicine, mathematics, geometry, astronomy, physic, metaphysics, philology, music, and poetry.

 

The influence of Avicenna on medical studies in the West

Despite a general assessment favoring Razis (another Iranian noted scientist) medical contributions, many

 physicians historically preferred Avicenna for his organization & clarity. Indeed, his influence over Europes great medical schools extended well into the early period. There, the Canon of Medicine became the preeminent source, rather than Razis Kitab al hawi (the Comprehensive Book).

From the early fourteenth to the mid-sixteenth century, Avicenna held a high place in Western European medical studies, ranking together with Hippocrates & Galen as an acknowledged authority. His works had a formative influence on the scholastic medicine of the later Middle Ages, and at some places continued to be used for teaching to the eighteenth century.

Although Avicenna was more of a philosopher and natural scientist than a physician, the European saw him primarily as the Prince of Physicians, in contrast with the Muslims who revered him as chief master of all sciences.

The Canon came into use among medical scholars during the thirteenth century and in university courses during the fourteenth century.

Academically trained physicians in the later Middle Ages undoubtedly were familiar with the entire Canon.

The Canon was one of the medical books most frequently printed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Avicennas penchant for categorizing becomes immediately evident in the Canon, which is divided into five books.

The first book contains four treatises, the first of which examines the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) in light of Greek physician Galen of Pergamums four humors (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile). The first treatise also includes anatomy.

The second treatise examines etiology and symptoms while the third covers hygiene, health and sickness, and deaths inevitability.

The fourth treatise is a therapeutic nosology (classification of disease) and a general overview of regimens and dietary treatments.

Book II of the Canon is a "Materia Medica", Book III covers "Head-To-Toe Diseases", Book IV examines "Diseases That Are Not Specific to Certain Organs"(fevers and other systemic  pathologies), and Book V presents "Compound 

Drugs".

   

Legacy

As early as 14th century, Avicenna has been recognized by both East & West, as one of the great figures in intellectual

 history.

George Sarton, the author of "The History of Science" described him as "one of the greatest thinkers and medical scholars in history" and called him "the most famous scientist of Islamic world and one of the most famous of all races, places, and times."

In Iran, he is considered a national icon, and is often regarded as one of the greatest Persians who have ever lived. His birthday is celebrated each year as the National Doctors Day.

Many portraits & statues of him remain in Iran today. An impressive monument to the life and works of the man who is known as the" doctor of doctors" still stands outside the Bukhara museum.

The Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science is awarded every two years by UNESCO which is intended to reward the activities of individuals and groups in the field of Ethics in Science.

It has been printed in the UNESCO website:"The Prize owes its name to the renowned 11th-century physician and philosopher of medieval Islam known in Europe as Avicenna. A healer and humanist, Avicenna developed an exemplary holistic approach that captures the essence of ethics and has thus come to serve as a source of inspiration for the promotion of this concern, which is of central importance to UNESCO. Avicenna Prize established by the Executive Board of UNESCO at its 166th session on the initiative of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

In March 2008, it was announced by WHO that The World Directory of Medical Schools has been transferred to the AVICENNA Directory for Medicine.

The AVICENNA Directory is maintained by the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME).

The directory includes the latest information from the new survey in progress of all the worlds medical schools, as well as information from the 7th edition (2000) of WHO World Directory of Medical Schools with updates submitted to the WHO Directory between 2000 and 2007.

National Doctors Day in Iran

The date of 23th August (the birthday of Avicenna) was chosen to celebrate Doctors Day in Iran.


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