Aladin Abu Alhasan Alqarshi Aldimashqi

Biography of Ibn al-Nafis

Assignment 4

Louma Chamaa


Ibn al-Nafis

His full name is Aladin abu Alhasan Alqarshi Aldimashqi also known as Ibn al-Nafis. a Syrian physician and he is one of the most famous scientists in the Islamic golden age.

He was born in the year 1213 in a village near Damascus, Syria. He studied philosophy, literature and medicine for over ten years at the Nuri hospital.

In 1236 he was invited by the sultan to move to Egypt and was given the position of chief physician at the al-Naseri hospital which was founded by Saladin the main hospital in Cairo. He stayed in Egypt for the rest of his life. He was the personal physician of the sultans and other prominent leaders of that era. When he was 74 years old he was appointed as the chief physician of the newly founded hospital al-Mansori where he worked for the rest of his life.

He died in year 1288 but he donated his house and library to Qalawun hospital so it couldanserve as a house of recovery.

He wrote many books during his lifetime, like “The Ccomprehensive bBook on mMedicine” which he planned to be an encyclopedia of medicine containing more than 300 volumes but he was only able to finish 80 before his death. oOnly 2 volumes survived till today. It is still considered the largest medical encyclopedia ever written by one person.

Another Other famous book he wrote was “Commentary on aAnatomy in Avicenna’s cCanon ” because in it he laid down the first accurate description of the pulmonary circulation over 400 years before the English physician William Harvey in 1628.

He also wrote a book called “A sSummary of mMedicine” which was translated to many languages and used as a quick reference book by other physicians at that time. He also wrote about the effect of diet on health.

Although he is remembered for his contribution to the exploration of the pulmonary circulation but, he also contributed to find in finding the coronary circulation which provided the heart muscle with blood. He also theorized the idea of capillary circulation which he stated that there must be small communications between the arteries and veins, an idea that was proved 400 years later.

He also stated that the pulse is a direct result of the heartbeat which disagreed with the previous theories of being created by the arteries’ tunics. He also gave a very detailed description of the lungs and how the blood reaching them gets mixed with air through the alveoli which are small cavities at the end of the pulmonary branches.

He was also one of the few physicians at the time that supported the idea that the brain is responsible of thinking and sensation and not the heart as it was believed at the time.

He emphasized the importance of human relations when practicing medicine. He described in one of his books that before doing any surgical intervention the doctor has to inform the patient about his knowledge and what operation need to be taken then on the next stage is doing the surgery itself followed by a post-surgery appointment and a routine check-up. He also explained the surgeon’s responsibilities when working with nurses and other surgeons.

He was also attributed for giving the earlier reference of the concept of metabolism which he explained as body is always in a continuous state of dissolutions and nourishment, so it is always undergoing permanent change.

He contributed a lot to medicine and surgery during his life but what his major achievement was challenging the centuries old consensus at that time. He put many theories under the test and examined them first hand which lead to his discoveries of the lung circulation and the coronary circulation which lead the way to more discoveries in the later centuries.

His discoveries and publications earned him the title of the greatest physiologist of the middle ages by many science historians.