Ibn Al Nafees: Road To Education


IBN AL NAFFES  is one of the most prominent intellectuals in Islamic History. His great contributions benefitted the Islamic world greatly, however to know more about such a significant human being, one must first trace his life back to the beginning.


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, Syria.  He attended the Medical College Hospital (Bimaristan al-Noori) in Damascus. Ibn al-Nafis was also learned in many other subjects, besides medicine, including Arabic literature, Fiqh,theology, and early Islamic philosophy. Later on he became an expert physician and a teacher of Fiqh at the Shi’i School.


Ibn al-Nafis moved to Cairo, Egypt in 1236 C.E and worked at the Al-Nassri Hospital and Al- Mansouri Hospital, and became the Chief of Physicians in doing so. At the age of 29 in the year 1242, he published his most famous work, the Commentary on Anatomy in Avicenna’s Canon, which contained many new discoveries regarding Anatomy, most significantly the pulmonary and coronary circulations. Soon after, he begun work on The Comprehensive Book on Medicine, for which he already published 43 volumes by 1243-1244 CE, ath the age of 31. However, this book never became complete before Ib Al- Nafees’s death. Nevertheless, even in its incomplete state, The Comprehensive Book on Medicine was the largest encyclopedia up until that time, and still remains one of the largest medical encyclopedias today.


Ibn al-Nafis grew up in a time of political instability in both Syria and Egypt, which is during the time of the  Crusades and Mongol invasions. After the invasion of of Baghdad in 1258 by the Mongols, Syria was became temporarily occupied by the Mongol Empire in 1259. However in 1260 C.E, the Egyptian Sultan Baibars fought the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260.Hence, between 1260-1277, Ibn Al-Nafees became the personal physician of Sultan Baibars.\