Avicenna

Ibn Sina, better known in the West as Avicenna, was born in 980 in Afshana, near Bukhara in present-day Uzbekistan. Bukhara was at that time the capital of the Samanid rulers, for whom Ibn Sina's father worked. Ibn Sina grew up in a bilingual environment; his native language was Persian, but the language of his studies was Arabic. The education provided for him by his father was very wide-ranging, encompassing both Muslim religious studies and secular subjects from the Iranian, Greek, and Indian traditions. Certainly Ibn Sina was a remarkable child, with a memory and an ability to learn which amazed the scholars who met in his father's home. At ten, he had memorized the Koran and most of the Arabic poetry which he had read. At the same age, he had a tutor who taught him Greek philosophy and science, and he soon surpassed his teacher in the knowledge of these subjects. When Ibn Sina reached the age of thirteen, he began to study medicine. By the age of sixteen, he had excelled in this subject to the point that he began to treat patients. He also studied logic and metaphysics, receiving instruction from some of the best teachers of his day, but in all areas he continued his studies on his own.

Having cured the Emir of Khorasan of a severe illness, he was allowed to make use of the splendid Samanid library. At eighteen, he had mastered all the then known sciences. At twenty-one, he wrote his first philosophical book. The following year, however, the death of his father and the defeat of the Samanids forced him to start earning

Ibn Sina Isfahan Women
Miniature from the reign of Shah Tahmasb Safavid shows Ibn Sina healing a sick woman.

his living. Without the support of a patron or his father, he began a life of wandering around to various towns, acting as a physician and administrator by day, while every evening he gathered students around him for philosophical and scientific discussions. After this period of wandering, Ibn Sina went to Hamadan. There he settled for awhile, having become a court physician. The princes often consulted him not only on medical matters, but also in matters of politics. The ruling Buyid prince, Shams al-Dowleh, twice appointed him vizier. However, Ibn

Sina became an object of envy. He was imprisoned, escaped, lived for fourteen years in relative peace at the court of Esfahan, and died in Hamadan during the expedition of the prince Ala al-Dowleh in 1037. He was buried in Hamadan, and a monument was created there to celebrate the millenary of his birth according to the Hegira calendar. The building, where he used to teach in Esfahan (O Map p 153, D2), today houses the workshops of the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization of Esfahan. Ibn Sina is known primarily as a philosopher and a physician, but he contributed also to the advancement of all the sciences that were accessible in his day. The corpus of his works was enormous, but not all of them have survived. His two most important books are "The Book of Healing" and "The Canon of Medicine". The first is a scientific encyclopedia covering logic, natural sciences, psychology, geometry, astronomy, arithmetic, and music. The second is the most famous single book in the history of medicine.

Isfahan Yahudiyeh

A tree of life and a winged lion is a repetitive motif of many early-Islamic textiles.

Nebuchadrezzar (630-561BC) and the exile of Jews from Jerusalem. Today Yahudiyeh constitutes the Jubareh district of Esfahan and is still the residential center for local Jews. In the course of time, the twin towns of Jay and Yahudiyeh expanded until they coalesced to form one city.

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