Ibn an-Nafis ابن النفيس

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Ala-al-din abu Al-Hassan Ali ibn Abi-Hazm al-Qarshi al-Dimashqi, known as Ibn al-Nafis, was an Arab physician who is mostly famous for being the first to describe the pulmonary circulation of the blood.

He was born in 1213 in Damascus. He attended the Medical College Hospital (Bimaristan Al-Noori) in Damascus. Apart from medicine, Ibn al-Nafis learned jurisprudence, literature and theology. He became an expert on the Shafi’i school of jurisprudence and an expert physician.

In 1236, Al-Nafis moved to Egypt. He worked at the Al-Nassri Hospital, and subsequently at the Al-Mansouri Hospital, where he became chief of physicians and the Sultan’s personal physician. When he died in 1288, he donated his house, library and clinic to the Mansuriya Hospital.

Writings

The most voluminous of his books is Al-Shamil fi al-Tibb, which was planned to be an encyclopedia comprising 300 volumes, but was not completed as a result of his death. The manuscript is available in Damascus.

His book on ophthalmology is largely an original contribution. His most famous book is The Summary of Law (Mujaz al-Qanun). Another famous book, embodying his original contribution, was on the effects of diet on health, entitled Kitab al-Mukhtar fi al-Aghdhiya. His Al-Risalah al-Kamiliyyah fil Siera al-Nabawiyyah, translated in the West under the title Theologus Autodidactus, has been argued to be both the first theological novel and the first science fiction novel.

He also wrote a number of commentaries on the topics of law and medicine. His commentaries include one on Hippocrates’ book, and several volumes on Avicenna’s The Canon of Medicine. Additionally, he wrote a commentary on Hunayn Ibn Ishaq’s book.

The opening page of one of Ibn al-Nafis’s medical works.

This is probably a copy made in India during the 17th or 18th century.

Discovery of Blood Circulation by Ibnu Nafis

Ala-al-Din Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn Abi al-Hazm al-Qarshi al-Dimashqi (known as Ibn Al-Nafis) was born in 1213 A.D. in Damascus. He was educated at the Medical College Hospital (Bimaristan Al-Noori) founded by Noor al-Din Al-Zanki. Apart from medicine, Ibn al-Nafis learned jurisprudence, literature and theology. He thus became a renowned expert on the Shafi’i School of Jurisprudence as well as a reputed physician. In 1236

Ibn Nafis moved to Egypt and worked in Al-Nassri Hospital then in Al-Mansouri Hospital where he became chief of physicians and the Sultan’s personal physician. When he died in 1288 A.D. he donated his house, library and clinic to the Mansuriya Hospital .

The most voluminous of his books is Al-Shamil fi al-Tibb, which was designed to be an encyclopedia comprising 300 volumes, but was not completed as a result of his death. The manuscript is available in Damascus. His book on ophthalmology is largely an original contribution and is also extant. His book that became most famous, however, was Mujaz al-Qanun (The Summary of Law) and a number of commentaries that were written on this same topic. His commentaries include one on Hippocrates’ book, and several volumes on Ibn Sina’s Qanun, which are still extant. Likewise he wrote a commentary on Hunayn Ibn Ishaq’s book. Another famous book embodying his original contribution was on the effects of diet on health entitled Kitab al-Mukhtar fi al-Aghdhiya.

His major original contribution of great significance was his discovery of the pulmonary circulation, which was re-discovered by modern science after a lapse of three centuries. He was the first to correctly describe the constitution of the lungs and gave a description of the bronchi and the interaction between the human body’s vessels for air and blood. He also elaborated on the function of the coronary arteries as suppliers of blood to the cardiac musculature.

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