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Assessing Avicenna’s (d. 428/1037) Medical Influence in Prolegomena to Post-Classical (1100‒1900 CE) Medical Commentaries

Ibn Abī Ṣādiq (d. after 460/1067), ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī (d. 629/1231), Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606/1210)
Kamran I. Karimullah
p. 93-134


Dans cet article, j’examine l’influence d’Avicenne (d. 428/1037) sur la tradition médiévale de la médecine arabe. Dans cette perspective, j’analyse plusieurs introductions aux commentaires relatifs à la médecine et composés par Ibn Abī Ṣādiq (m. après 460/1067), ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī (m. 629/1231) et Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (m. 606/1210). Le commentaire d’Ibn Abī Ṣādiq sur les Aphorismes dʼHypocrate démontre que l’influence d’Avicenne sur la médecine arabe n’a pas été immédiate. Toutefois, au viie/xiiie siècle l’influence exercée par son système philosophique et son mode de vie philosophique apparaît manifeste dans l’introduction du commentaire d’al-Baġdādī sur les Aphorismes d’Hippocrate et dans l’introduction du commentaire d’al-Rāzī sur Le canon de la médecine.

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  • 1 Mansfeld, Prolegomena.
  • 2 Biesterfeldt, “Palladius on the Hippocratic Aphorisms”.
  • 3 Ibid., p. 389.
  • 4 Schoeler, “Der Verfasser der Augenheilkunde”.
  • 5 Ibn al-Ṭayyib, Der Kategorienkommentar von Abū l-Faraǧ ʿAbdallāh ibn a-ayyib.
  • 6 Bos, Langermann, “The Introduction”.
  • 7 Wisnovsky, “Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī’s Discussion”.

1The continuity of the prolegomena to the commentary in late antique and classical Islamic philosophy and medicine is well-documented.1 In late antiquity and in classical Islamic philosophy and medicine, the prolegomena to reading a book or a commentary eventually took a fairly standard form. In his classic study entitled Prolegomena, Jaap Mansfeld highlights the fact that the standard list of questions to be settled prior to studying an author or a text informed how Galen’s commentary crafted his autobiographical works, his commentaries, and what he took the commentator’s role to be when he was expositing a Hippocratic text.2 In late antiquity (ca.200–800 CE), these prolegomena to studying a medical text assumed an almost canonical form. In his study of early Arabic translation of a commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms attributed to the obscure iatrosophist Palladius (fl. 550), Hinrich Biesterfeldt has observed that the eight preliminaries (κεφάλαια) gained wide currency in platonist commentators on Aristotle and appear in “virtually all” classical Arabic philosophical and medical authors.3 These preliminary themes are: (1) aim, (2) usefulness, (3) reason for the title, (4) division of chapters, (5) order within the syllabus of medical or philosophical works to be studied, (6) authenticity of authorship, (7) under which part of philosophy or medicine the present work belongs, and finally (8) method of instruction. Schoeler has observed these same preliminaries in the book on optics K. Nūr al-ʿuyūn;4 Ferrari has noted that these eight preliminaries appear at the beginning of Abū al-Faraǧ ibn al-Ṭayyib’s (d. 435/1043) Commentary on Aristotle’s Categories;5 Gerrit Bos and Tvi Langermann have noted these eight preliminary questions in Sergius of Rēshʿainā’s (d. 536) introduction to Galen’s commentary on the Hippocratic On Nutriment;6 and Robert Wisnovsky has edited and translated Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī’s (d. 363/974) Discourse of Five Inquiries about the Eight Headers (Maqāla fī mabāi al-amsa ʿan al-ruʾūs al-amāniya).7

2In this paper I will point to evidence that suggests that in post-classical Islamic philosophy and medicine, this long-standing, even tenacious feature of late antique models appears to be challenged, or even put entirely aside, at least in the medical and philosophical scholastic traditions that developed in the lands east of Baghdad and in Transoxania. I argue that the change in the structure and content of the prolegomena may be traced in part to the influence exerted by Avicenna on the scholarly methods and attitudes about the nature and role of philosophical discourse in post-classical scholarly circles between the Euphrates and the Oxus.

  • 8 Roueché, “Did Medical Students Study Philosophy in Alexandria?”.
  • 9 Pormann, Joosse, “Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms in the Arabic Tradition”.

3In Section I, I discuss ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s long introduction to his commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms. Baġdādī’s introduction shows that he approaches medical commentary in the same quasi-philosophical manner as the late-antique iatrosophists.8 Yet, his introductory remarks in the prolegomena make it apparent that Baġdādī knew Avicenna and the Canon of Medicine well, even if he was critical of Avicenna’s medical and philosophical thought.9 Baġdādī’s introduction is remarkable for several reasons. The first is the fact that he discusses the eight preliminary questions at great length. Second, in his introduction, Baġdādī criticises his contemporaries for their failure to follow the method of the ancient Greek philosophers and physicians (al-qudamāʾ). Third, against Avicenna’s opening remarks in the Canon, Baġdādī appears keen on maintaining that it is more suitable for medicine to be understood as an art (ināʿa) than as a science (ʿilm). In spite of Baġdādī’s well known animosity for Avicenna and the “non-Arab” philosophers (al-ʿaǧam), Baġdādī enlists the aid of Avicenna’s well-known hierarchy of the demonstrative sciences to emphasise the fact that medicine is not, properly speaking, a philosophical science.

4ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s views about the prolegomena and the place of medicine in relation to the philosophical sciences stand in stark contrast to Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s, who, among other works, authored an influential commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms. In Section II, I critically examine the evidence that suggests that Ibn Abī Ṣādiq was influenced by Avicenna. Like Baġdādī, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq expresses the high esteem in which he held Galen and Galen’s Aphorisms commentary. Yet, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s preliminary remarks differ in important ways from Baġdādī’s, especially in his dismissive attitude towards the conventional eight preliminary topics to be discussed before commenting on a book. I argue too that there are signs of Avicenna’s influence on Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s attitude towards medicine as a philosophical science, towards tradition and commentary, and the ways in which medico-philosophical knowledge is acquired by the intellect. I conclude that what we witness in Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s writings is a trend in medieval Islamic medicine emerging in Transoxiana, in which medical discourse is incorporated more and more into the philosophical sciences. While Avicenna may have initiated this shift, I suggest that this trend may have reached its maturity in the writing of Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī.

5In Section III, I examine Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s introduction to his influential commentary on Book One (the so-called Book of Generalities, K. al-kulliyyāt) of Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine. I suggest that while it is well-known that Baġdādī increasingly distanced himself from Avicenna, it is likely that Baġdādī’s caustic remarks about his contemporaries in his introduction are directed towards Rāzī or his students. Rāzī gives no attention to the eight preliminary topics. Rāzī takes Canon One to be, in effect, a book about natural philosophy. What is more, Rāzī appears to believe that Avicenna wrote the Canon in the allusive style that characterized Avicenna’s later philosophical writing such as Pointers and Reminders (Išārāt wa-tanbīhāt). Rāzī presents himself as an Avicennian autodidact who possesses a native ability to hit on the middle term, and to grasp Avicenna’s Canon One in a way not shared by his contemporaries. Finally, Rāzī devotes a great deal of attention to speaking about his patron and the material conditions that led him to publish his Canon commentary. For Rāzī, it appears that medical and philosophical praxis were one, and that both were substantially dictated by the vagaries of court patronage.

6Taken together, these texts suggest that medieval Islamic medical authors slowly adopted attitudes towards medical research that were inspired by concepts, literary genres, tropes and terminology drawn from Avicenna’s philosophical program. From an historical perspective, Baġdādī appears to have been a late and lone dissenter. By the end of the 13th century, this trend no longer appears isolated to texts produced east of Baghdad and in Transoxiana. The writings of Ibn al-Nafīs (d. 687/1288 CE) and Abū al-Faraǧ ibn al-Quff al-Karakī (d. 685/1286) provide ample testimony to the fact that a philosophical attitude towards medical theory had come to dominate Mamluk Egypt and the Levant.

The Eight Ruʾūs in ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms

  • 10 Ullmann, Die Medizin im Islam.
  • 11 Ibid., p. 171.

7In his autobiography preserved in Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa’s ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, ʿAbd al-Laṭīf reports that he studied theology and philology in Baghdad with the students of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ġazālī (d. 505/1111) and, later on, philosophy and alchemy with students of Avicenna.10 Manfred Ullmann observes that later in life, however, Baġdādī distanced himself from Avicenna’s medical and philosophical legacy and presented himself as the real heir of Hippocrates, Galen and Aristotle.11 Ullmann sums up Baġdādī’s intellectual and scholarly outlook in the following words:

  • 12 Ibid., p. 171.

ʿAbd al-Laṭīf’s autobiography shows that its author was a man of special originality of character and independent thinking, as well as a scholar who passionately stood up for his beliefs as correct. At the same time, however, he was a man who directed violent attacks against his contemporaries and especially against his idols whom he used to worship: Avicenna and alchemy. He was not being impartial when he recommended that the medical writings of the ancient authors Hippocrates and Galen, as well K. al-Miʾa [Book of One Hundred Chapters] by Abū Sahl al-Masīḥī [fl. 1010] and Kunnāš [Medical Compendium] by Ibn Sarābiyyūn [fl. ca.873] should be read, but that the other Arabic compendia, especially Avicenna’s Canon, should be left aside as worthless. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf’s sharply polemical critique of Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s notes that he had written on the Generalities of Avicenna’s Canon was deeply biased. He dismantles Rāzī’s [comments] whilst insinuating that Avicenna is hardly any better.12

8On the whole, as a characterization of Baġdādī’s general outlook on medical education and practice in Baġdādī’s introduction to his Aphorisms-commentary, Ullmann’s words mostly ring true. It is true that in his introduction Baġdādī draws a sharp distinction between the virtues of some of the ancient Greek authors, such as Hippocrates, Galen, Aristotle, and Theophrastus and, among the Arabic authors, Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (d. 260/873). Above all he avers that following their example (itiāʾ) and the conventions (ʿāda) that they followed as the key to success in medicine and philosophy. And Baġdādī mentions the eight preliminary questions as one of the most important conventions of the “recent commentators [ʿādat al-mutaʾaḫḫirīn min al-šurrā]”, and goes to some length to justify treating them in the expansive way that he does.

[T1] Before beginning the commentary on this book, it is necessary that we investigate the eight preliminary questions, with which it is conventional for recent commentators to preface their commentaries, namely investigating [1] what the purpose of the book is, [2] what method of instruction it uses, [3] what its relation [to other books the Hippocratic corpus] is, [4] what benefit it affords, [5] what its rank is [in the medical curriculum], [6] what parts it is divided into, [7] what the meaning of its title is, and [8] what the name of its author is. There are benefits in knowing about these preliminary questions in advance. Among them is that the student is acquainted with all the concerns [awāl] that are in the book so that he begins learning with discernment, and appreciates the duration, free time, and effort that completing the book demands so that he can make the suitable arrangements for them, or wait until the time that they become available. For someone who sets out on a journey but is not aware of the journey’s length, destination, the difficulties and challenges there will be, nor the strength required for it or what preparations to make—it is likely that this person will stop short of his goal. Another is that in all that it pursues, the soul seeks out and longs for these eight meanings [al-maʿānī]. Of them is that if the student ponders these meanings before the book, then he acquires learning from it [the book] as he proceeds along with a soul that is confident and tranquil; he proceeds along earnestly and is familiar with its [the book’s] pathways and how far they go. If something is omitted from the book, he seeks it out, or if the book neglects it or is oblivious to it, he pursues it and seeks to understand it. Of the benefits of the preliminary questions is that the person who claims to know the book can be tested. For if he is ignorant of them, especially its division into parts, he will have yet greater ignorance of the book itself.

  • 13 The only similarity between the two texts is that both authors say that the benefit of knowing the (...)

9Above all, the reasons that Baġdādī gives for discussing the eight preliminary questions are used to rationalize the conventional practice (ʿāda) of late antique medical and philosophical commentators. Even by the late 10th-century, Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī felt compelled to explain why earlier commentators devoted so much attention to the eight preliminary questions. There are, nevertheless, few similarities shared by Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī’s treatise devoted to this question and Baġdādī’s brief excursus here.13

  • 14 This is a familiar trope in Baġdādī’s writings, though the extent that it reflects the medical real (...)
  • 15 There were a large number of medical compendia for Arabic physicians to consult: such as Muḥammad i (...)

10Yet, in his introduction to the commentary on the Aphorisms, the main criticism is leveled against the bookishness that Baġdādī perceived to pervaded contemporary medicine.14 On the one hand, Baġdādī criticises physicians who used an abused medical compendia (kunnāš) in administering medical treatment. He faults this group for failing to realize that the therapeutic prescriptions in the medical compendia were originally tailored to individual cases of disease and to individual patients.15 According to Baġdādī, his contemporaries wrongly treated the symptoms, therapy regimens, and the types and amounts of drugs and foodstuff that were recorded in these compendia as if they were suited to every disease and every patient. In other words, Baġdādī highlights a methodological shortcoming, in which physicians improperly infer a universal judgment from a limited number of particular observations. This inductive inference is, for Baġdādī, invalid.

[T2] Since those who use medical compendia [arbāb al-kanānīš] do not proceed towards the goal systematically [ʿalā al-sunan], their method is blameworthy. For they speak about general principles, but complement them with drugs whose amounts are measured for a particular individual. In such instances it is only possible for [the general principles, sc. qawānīn] to correspond to [the measurement for an individual, sc. taqdīr] by chance or coincidence for they [general principles] do not in themselves entail it [the particular amount administered to the patient]. If it must be said that they entail them at all, then they do so accidentally, for a universal complements the universal and a particular complements the particular. If what the medical compendia contain are taken as examples, they can be useful in medical practice. However, if they are regarded as reflecting how medical practice ought to be, that is harmful.

11Thus, Baġdādī does not recommend using medical compendia in an unqualified way. He adds the caveat that the case histories in the compendia can be helpful if they inform medical treatment, which is otherwise based on sound medical theory as well as empirical facts that the practicing physician must gather on his own. However, if the case histories are taken as prescriptive, they may prove unhelpful or even detrimental.

  • 16 ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī, Physician as a Rebellious Intellectual, p. 107*, 82 [f. 73v]: “Those who (...)

12In Baġdādī’s view, medicine had also become bookish in the sense that it had taken an overly theoretical turn. While Ullmann’s words cited earlier suggest that Baġdādī was critical of Avicenna’s Canon, recent evidence suggests that what troubled Baġdādī most about medical encyclopedia, such as the Canon or al-Māǧūsī’s Royal Book,was the practical ramifications that these books had for medical practice. In Baġdādī’s eyes, such books tended to transform medicine into a theoretical discourse, so that the medical art’s ultimate aim, namely bringing about individual well-being, became lost.16 For Baġdādī, the discourse about things related to practicing medicine is not equivalent to

  • 17 Referring to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics 9 1166a 31: “…ἔστι γὰρ ὁ φίλος ἄλλος αὐτός…” “…for a fr (...)

[T3] what is itself practiced [whilst treating individual patients]. Instead, its aim and utility are that it serves as principles from which the particular actions that are performed [during medical treatment] are derived. It is evident too that the logical faculty [al-quwwa al-maniqiyya] is utilised whilst learning and acquiring the discourse relating to medical practice [al-ǧuzʾ al-ʿamalī]; so the discourse relating to medical theory [al-ǧuzʾ al-ʿilmī], thus, stands in greater need of [logic]. On the other hand, the art of logic is not required to learn hands-on therapy [al-ǧuzʾ al-fāʿil] itself, but is based on imitation [al-itiāʾ] and performing the action repeatedly [tikrār al-fiʿl]. As we said, the art is thus called this [namely, an “art”] because the parts of the animal are used to acquire it, not because something in the soul is signified by it, nor because knowledge and states are brought about in the soul by them, such as when the tongue moves as it forms an utterance, or when many limbs move when making a gesture that takes the place of utterances or complements utterances. Sometimes these movements are occasioned by the body parts of the physician himself, or they may be occasioned by instruments [ālāt]. The instruments may be connected [to the physician] or they may be separate from him. The [instruments] that are separate from him either breathe or they do not, and the ones that breathe are either rational or non-rational. The rational instrument is like slaves and servants, and Hippocrates alludes to them in the second part of the first aphorism. The friend and companion is like a deputy because he is like the person himself, since the friend is, as Aristotle says, another you.17

Thus, the person who knows what is in the books by Hippocrates and Galen does not acquire the art of medicine until he develops a capacity to perform actions that come about by means of these principles. The word “art” does not signify a large amount of knowledge that the human acquires. Rather, it signifies the capacity to perform actions that are caused by principles that are in the soul.

13Baġdādī’s discussion is directed against a notion of medicine as a science (ʿilm), or we might say a scientific discourse in which doing medical therapy is not an essential part. For Baġdādī this conception of medicine cannot be right because it fails to culminate in bringing about individual well-being (medicine’s aim, ġara), it makes room for a kind of physician who has medical knowledge but never practices medical therapy, and it permits a view of medicine that has no practical utility (or, no benefit, manfaʿa), but is merely the logical inference of medical theses from general principles (qawānīn kulliyya). Gleaning knowledge of medicine from books—whether it is taken from Avicenna, Galen or Hippocrates is irrelevant—does not make a physician in Baġdādī’s mind, nor does the intellect have any role to play in learning how to provide medical treatment. Drilling and imitating the motions of a master physician are the way to realise medicine’s ultimate goal of bringing about individual well-being, not carrying out logical inferences from first principles.

  • 18 I have collated the Baghdad (B) edition against the Arabic edition (R) of the Canon printed by the (...)

14Baġdādī attributes his view of the medical art as well as the tripartite division into discourse relating to theory, discourse relating to practice and medical practice to Porphyry (d. 305). Yet, the division of medicine that Baġdādī adumbrates in his introduction to the commentary on the Aphorisms is, for all practical purposes, a variation of Avicenna’s division of medicine in the opening lines of the Canon of Medicine. Here, Avicenna speaks about medicine as a science (ʿilm), in which hands-on therapy is a dispensable element of medical instruction, and the aims of the medical science may be realised without the student ever dispensing medical treatment. In the following passage, Avicenna is also engaged in a dialectical exchange between earlier writers who held that medicine has elements that are theoretical (ʿilmī) and other parts that are practical (ʿamalī). According to these anonymous authors, acquiring the former elements involves “learning the science [of medicine, taʿallum al-ʿilm]”, and the acquiring the latter elements involves “directly practicing [therapy, al-mubāšara li-l-ʿamal]”. Avicenna disagrees.18

  • 19 Reading “yukaṯṯifu” with R for “yakšifu” in B.
  • 20 Avicenna, al-Qānūn fī al-ibb, i.3.

You ought to know that [the division of medicine] sought here is something else. In fact, both divisions of medicine are sciences. One, however, is the science relating to the principles of medicine [ʿilm uūl al-ibb] and the other is the science relating to how to give medical treatment [kayfiyyat mubāšaratihi]. The first of these is singled out for the name “science [ʿilm]” or the name “theory [naar]”, whereas the second is singled out for the name “practice [ʿamal].” By “theory” we mean that the instruction yields only opinion [yufīdu raʾyan], but it does not involve an exposition on how to practice medicine, as it is said that “in medicine there are three kinds of fever and nine temperaments.” By “practice” we do not mean actual practice, nor performing movements with the body [that giving medical treatment involves]. Rather, it is the part of the science of medicine [ʿilm al-ibb] instruction in which yields opinion. That opinion is connected to an exposition on how to practice, as it is said “in medicine at the outset of hot swelling [remedies] that dissipate, cool and make firm19 must be used, after which [remedies] that dissipate are mixed with [remedies] that relax. Then, from the moment that it [swelling] has reached its climax until it diminishes, only relaxing remedies that dissolve are administered, except in cases of swelling that is caused by matter that is expelled from the principal parts of the body”. This instruction produces an idea [raʾyan] of how to practice. If you know [fa-iā ʿalimta] these two parts of medicine, you have acquired the theoretical science and the practical science [of medicine], even if you never actually practice medicine.20

15It is easy to see why this conception of medicine as a science (ʿilm) would be noxious to a physician such as Baġdādī, who conceived of medicine as a practical art (ināʿa) that culminates not in a body of knowledge (maʿārif), but in capacities in the medical student that are inculcated by imitation (itiāʾ) and drilling (tadarrubāt), all of which are directed at providing therapy to individual patients. In any event, Baġdādī’s doctrine that medicine as an art that must culminate in giving medical treatment appears not to have been shared by many the end of the 13th century. Indeed, in Section II I present evidence that suggests that Avicenna’s view of medicine as first and foremost a scientific discourse had already become influential in Transoxiana by as early as 1067, at least in the writings of famed Aphorisms commentator Ibn Abī Ṣādiq.

Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s Introduction to Commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms

  • 21 Even more surprising is that he appears never to have seen Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī’s Aphoris (...)

16It seems that Baġdādī had never read, seen or even heard of Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms,21 at least at the time he was composing the commentary’s introduction.

  • 22 Baġdādī may be referring to the commentary by Palladius, which may be preserved in the Beirut ms.

[T4] I have not seen any recent commentator summon the courage to comment on this book, save in the form of glosses and marginal notes. However, two commentaries by the ancients [viz. writing in Greek] have reached us. One is by Galen, translated by Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq. It is the well-known [commentary], and the one I have relied upon and whose model I have followed. The other is by one of the Greeks, but it has been badly translated, its mode of expression is poor and it differs from the eloquence of Galen and Ḥunayn.22

17This fact stands in stark contrast to Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s purported fame—Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa calls him the “second Hippocrates [Abuqrā al-ānī]”—to the popularity of Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s Aphorisms commentary enjoyed among manuscript copyists, and to the frequency with which Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s commentary is quoted in later Aphorisms commentaries. Part of Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s fame arises from reports that he was supposedly the direct student of Avicenna, which is reported for example by Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa in ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ. Though Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa says that this report is “very likely true [aqrabu ilā al-iḥḥati]”, the evidence that he enlists to support his case is rather flimsy. It is likely, says Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa, because

  • 23 Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾabaqāt al-aibbāʾ, II, p. 22.

Ibn Abī Ṣādiq lived at the same time as Ibn Sīnā, and he was in Transoxiana [bilād al-ʿaǧam] at the time when Ibn Sīnā’s reputation, the amount of his knowledge and the number of students were great, and he was older than Ibn Abī Ṣādiq and had greater renown.23

  • 24 See Chapter Five of Ahmed Ragab, The Medieval Islamic Hospital: Medicine, Religion, and Charity (Ca (...)
  • 25 For example, in Sunnī kalām: Robert Wisnovsky, “One Aspect of the Avicennian Turn in Sunnī Theology (...)

18For my part, I doubt that Ibn Abī Ṣādiq was ever Avicenna’s student, and I am certain that Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa’s argument has little probative force.24 Still, for the sake of the argument I am making here, it is not indispensable for Ibn Abī Ṣādiq to have been Avicenna’s student in order for us to detect an Avicennian influence, for we know that Avicenna’s influence on Islamic scientific culture was felt almost immediately.25 We know next to nothing about Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s life and the intellectual climate in which he practiced and studied medicine. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa’s entry on him in ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ informs us that he wrote several major commentaries, on works by Galen, Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, and Hippocrates, and a defense of Galen against the criticisms of Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī entitled all šukūk Ǧālīnūs. All these works appear to have been written around the year 460/1067, or just 30 years after Avicenna’s death.

  • 26 See Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p324, n. 8: “He [Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā] bit (...)
  • 27 Avicenna refers to Galen as “who is strong in medicine but weak in logic”; see Nabil Shehaby, The P (...)

19It is not surprising, then, that ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ reveals that in general Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s greatest intellectual debt was owed to Galen and Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā, not Avicenna. The reports about Galen’s importance to Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s medical thought in ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ are corroborated by a careful reading of Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms. Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s commentary also shows that Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī exerted a strong influence on Ibn Abī Ṣādiq. Avicenna despised Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā,26 disparaged Galen’s claims to being a philosopher, and found Galen’s logic amateurish.27 Additionally, in Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s Aphorisms-commentary there is no telling evidence that Ibn Abī Ṣādiq relied heavily on Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine. Yet, what we see in Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s introduction to his commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms is a tendency to (1) cast the medical authority whose book is being commented upon—in this case, Hippocrates—as an idealized Avicennian philosopher, (2) to treat the practice of medical commentary as an Avicennian method for identifying primary principles and deriving from them corollary principles, (3) to impatiently dismiss the customs of earlier philosophical and medical commentators, and finally (4) to treat medicine as primarily a demonstrative scientific discourse (ʿilm) rather than as an art (ināʿa). Following a brief exordium, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq says:

[T5] The concern that that impels people to acquire one or other of the scientific disciplines is among the noblest human virtues, especially [a science] that humans have a greater need for than another, such as the science of medicine [ʿilm al-ibb]. For it is evident to everyone that among the chief blessings that He [God] has blessed humans with, the very best of them and the greatest in worth, is well-being. Consequently, when health, which is the aim that is sought for in this science, is absent, a kingdom does not benefit its king nor wealth the wealthy person. For it [being in good health, sc. al-iḥḥa] is the noblest aim that the human being aspires to in this worldly realm. What increases the nobility of the aim is the nobility of the subject matter [al-mawūʿ], which [in the case of the medical science] is the human body [al-badan al-insānī] since he [man] is the noblest being in this worldly realm. Linked to the nobility of this sciences’ subject matter and its perfection [kamālihi] is the fact that the demonstrations [al-barāhīn] that are employed in it are reliable, for all the principles [qawānīn] of medicine are demonstrative [burhāniyya], nor is intuition [ads] or making an educated guess [al-taqrīb al-ināʿī] used in it save in particular cases that are put into practice. So, insofar as the arts and the sciences [al-ināʿāt wa-l-ʿulūm] are arranged hierarchically according to whether its subject matter is noble, its aim is virtuous and the demonstrations that are used in it are reliable, and, further, since it is the case that this science [medicine] occupies the highest rank in respect of all three respects, it is fitting that it possesses the greatest share of nobility and virtue.

All the ancient [Greek] and recent [Arabic] authors who have spoken about medicine felt that they ought to compile digests and summaries of its first principles [ǧumalan wa-ǧawāmiʿ min uūlihi] for posterity. Yet, the Book of the Aphorisms by Hippocrates is better than any of them because it is among the most succinct books written on this subject as well as the one that is the most comprehensive with regard to the topics that are treated in its chapters. It is one of the books that is indispensable to memorise for someone who wants to acquaint himself with these arts. For every aphorism in it conveys principles [of the topics, sc. abwāb] in such a way that it is as if the person from whom [the aphorism] issued received heavenly support [taʾyīd samāwī] and was granted divine success [tawfīq ilāhī]. The person [Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī] who said that it [the Book of Aphorisms] is a “melange and disordered [mutala ʿādim li-l-niām]” has diminished some of his virtue, nor is it fitting that one of the recent scholars utter such words. In truth, I say Hippocrates was inspired to compile it [the Book of Aphorisms], and was driven [by divine inspiration] to compose it, to the extent that not a word that it ought to have is missing, nor does it contain inaccuracy.

Previously Galen wrote a commentary on this book, which was complete in meaning. Our aim, thus, is to utilize what he said and to add to it what he overlooked, drawing on what we have learned from him [Galen] in other texts [fī mawāiʿ u]. In this book, Hippocrates’ aim [ġara] is to gather statements [fiqar, sing. fiqra] on the principles of medicine [uūl al-ibb], and to gather what he said in his other books. This fact is obvious to anyone who thinks deeply about the Aphorisms, for it contains digests and summaries of his book On Prognostics, the Airs [Waters] and Places, On Acute Diseases, and remarks and observations [nukatan wa-ʿuyūnan] from his book entitled Epidemics, and aphorisms [fuūlan] from his book on Pains in Women and other books authored by him.

Familiarizing oneself with this discipline [al-bāb, i.e. medicine, sc. al-ibb] in this way [namely, by means of aphorisms] is extremely useful. For medical students [al-mutaʿallimūn], familiarity with them [aphorisms] impels them to seek more medical knowledge. For accomplished physicians [al-mustakmalūn], [the aphorisms] serve as digests and summaries of the whole medical art, which they studied previously. They [aphorisms] serve as a reminder for the latter and as a source of insight [tabiratan] for the former. As for the other topics [abwāb] that are placed at the beginning of every commentary, we have no need to make the book longer by mentioning them, since they have no place here [wa-ammā sāʾir al-abwāb allatī tuqaddamu qabla kulli tafsīr fa-lasnā naǧu nuawwilu al-kitāb bi-ikrihā i laysa lahā hāhunā waǧh].

20As he himself alludes to in this text, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq discusses several of the preliminary questions that were institutional in Arabic medical and philosophical commentary prolegomena. He discusses the book’s (1) aim or purpose (ġara), (2) usefulness (manfaʿa), (3) authenticity, or the name of its author (ism al-wāiʿ), (4) its relation to other texts in the Hippocratic (and Galenic corpus) (nisba), and (5) its didactic style (naw al-taʿlīm). (1) Ibn Abī Ṣādiq says that the aim of the Aphorisms is to serve as a concise digest or summary of all medical knowledge that is contained in Hippocrates’ most important medical books. (2) The book is useful for medical students because familiarity with the aphorisms creates the desire to increase their medical knowledge in them. It is also useful for the practicing physician who has finished his studies because it can serve as a reminder of the knowledge he acquired in medical school. (4) The Aphorisms serves as a concise summary of nearly every book in the Hippocratic corpus, such as Prognostics, Airs, Waters, Places, On Acute Diseases, Pains of Women, Epidemics, and “other books”. Finally, (5) Ibn Abī Ṣādiq mentions that Hippocrates adopted the aphoristic style to facilitate memorization.

  • 28 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 102–103.
  • 29 What Gutas titles the “Memoirs of Disciple (Ibn Zayla?) Writing from Rayy” is translated in Gutas, (...)
  • 30 Ibid., p. 254.

21However, as I alluded to earlier, there are four elements in Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s introduction that diverge from the traditional preliminary questions. One important divergence is obviously the fact that Ibn Abī Ṣādiq sees fit to simply dismiss the other topics that he says are traditionally discussed at the beginning of every commentary, because he feels that they are not relevant (laysa lahā waǧh) to his Aphorisms commentary. Baġdādī felt compelled to discuss the eight ruʾūs owing to the fact that it was the “convention” of the commentators to open their commentaries with such discussions. Yet, Baġdādī was clearly aware of the fact that appeals to tradition were not sufficient for readers in his day as a justification for introducing his Aphorisms commentary in this manner. Where Baġdādī rationalized his prefatory remarks, perhaps making use of Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī’s treatise on the subject, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq simply dismissed the rest of the preliminary questions as irrelevant. Ibn Abī Ṣādiq seems to have shared some of Avicenna’s scorn for commentaries and their authors. According to biographical sources, early in his career it appears that Avicenna wrote lemmatic commentaries. If his biographer Abū ʿUbayd al-Ǧuzǧānī (fl. 5th/11th century) is to be believed, he wrote them on the whole Aristotelian corpus.28 Yet, Avicenna’s attitude towards commentary and its purpose in philosophical praxis is generally negative. In the letter from one of Avicenna’s disciple (Ibn Zayla?) in Rayy writing to an anonymous addressee who was probably residing in Baghdad, the student summarizes Avicenna’s assessment of commentators, especially the so-called Baghdad Peripatetics. These authors are, according to Avicenna’s assessment reported by the student, notable for the “scant attention they give the meaning [al-maʿānī, i.e. of the text commented on], the narrow scope of exposition, the dubious argumentation that fails to convince, the use of rhetorical and sophistical methods in the demonstrative sciences, and the inconsistent procedures”.29 For Avicenna, then, the customary practice of commentators (ancient or contemporary) and their fixation on words (alfā) rather than meanings (maʿānin) was something to be shunned.30 Some of this attitude towards received commentary practices may be discerned in Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s final line of his introduction. Of course, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq deals with five of the eight preliminary questions that were traditional to discuss before commenting on a text. Yet, he appears to have had no patience for discussing the other topics (abwāb) that it was normal to discuss before writing a commentary, likely owing to the fact that he felt that reverence for the past that, as Avicenna says, is practiced by those “who cannot separate the accidental from the essential”, and that customary “practice obstructed truth, and many an accommodating stance [musāʿada] has diverted [thinkers] from reflection!”

  • 31 Sabra, “Avicenna on the Subject Matter of Logic”.
  • 32 Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdi, The Philosophical Treatises, p. 414–424. The treatise is entitled: Exposition on th (...)
  • 33 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 250.
  • 34 For example, see Gutas, “Paul the Persian on the Classification of the Parts of Aristotle’s Philoso (...)

22The second divergence is Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s discussion of the medical science (ʿilm al-ibb). He devotes more than half the introduction to discussing the medicine’s subject matter (mawūʿ), its aim (ġara) and rank (šaraf) in relation to all the other sciences. Ibn Abī Ṣādiq states that medicine’s aim is bringing about well-being (ʿāfiya) in its subject matter, namely, the human body (al-badan al-insānī). Yet, it would be wrong to conclude from this that Ibn Abī Ṣādiq shared Baġdādī’s belief that medicine is a practical art that culminates in treating individual patients. By focusing on medicine’s aim and subject matter, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq is reproducing a form of argument that Avicenna had used in the Cure to argue that logic is one of the philosophical sciences,31 and that Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī had used to argue that logic is a science that is distinct from grammar.32 Just as important is the fact that the evidence Ibn Abī Ṣādiq enlists to corroborate this conclusion is the claim that, in effect, the praxis of the medical science shares the structure with Avicennian philosophical praxis, that is, deriving corollary theses from primary principles by means of demonstrative inferences. According to Gutas, for Avicenna doing philosophy “consists, essentially, of two operations: discerning the Fundamental Principles (uūl) of the Knowledge and Working Out Corollary Principles on their basis (tafrīʿ)”.33 Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s purpose, then, was to explain how the medical science fits into the hierarchy of sciences in his day, chief among them being the philosophical sciences. No doubt Ibn Abī Ṣādiq felt the need to argue this point in part because medicine was traditionally excluded from the philosophical sciences by classical Arabic philosophers.34

  • 35 Zimmermann, “Al-Farabi und die philosophische Kritik an Galen”, p. 402.
  • 36 Gutas, “Avicenna’s Philosophical Project”, p. 36.

23The third divergence is that Ibn Abī Ṣādiq argues that, as a science, medicine’s main activity involves intellectual or cognitive actions rather than manipulating instruments. Medicine, for Ibn Abī Ṣādiq, is primarily an activity about logically deducing corollary theses from primary principles, whereas estimation and approximation have only a secondary role in medicine. On the contrary, as we have seen, Baġdādī was keen to emphasize medicine’s essentially practical nature of treating individual patients, in which estimation and approximation play a much more important role in prescribing medications and providing regimens that are personalized for each patient. According to Avicenna, for philosophical discipline to count as a true science, and not a mere art (ināʿa) as al-Fārābī scathingly calls medicine,35 it is necessary that the discursive format of the discipline displays an underlying, though necessarily explicit, syllogistic structure. For Avicenna, demonstration (burhān), and the demonstrative syllogism stood at the “core” of philosophical verification, and Avicenna counted “hitting upon the middle term” an “indispensable element of all certain intellectual knowledge”.36 It appears that Ibn Abī Ṣādiq entertained an especially Avicennian medical program, for on several occasions he tellingly avers that the proofs in medicine, like the other disciplines of philosophy, are not just true, or reliable, but demonstrative.

24The fourth divergence is inspired by his desire to vindicate Hippocrates against Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī’s criticisms of Hippocrates in the former’s Medical Guide, or Medical Aphorisms. Indeed, it seems that Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s thought about the purpose of the Aphorisms, its pedagogical utility and the virtues of the aphoristic format are derived directly from the following passage. At the beginning of this text, Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā states the reasons that inclined him to compose his own medical aphorisms in the Hippocratic mould.

  • 37 Rāzī, al-Muršid aw al-fuūl, p. 3–214, 17.

What compelled me to formulate first principles [ǧawāmiʿ] and generic premises [ǧumal] of the medical art in aphoristic format is the fact that Hippocrates’ Aphorisms are in a confused and disorderly state, [their meaning] is abstruse, and they fail to mention all or most of the first principles and universal premises of the medical art, but also the fact that it is well-known that memorising aphorisms and keeping them in mind is easy. However, [in my aphorisms] I have sought to make things clear and to provide examples whilst avoiding speaking in excess, and discussing too deeply questions that are obscure, disputed, or need further research and investigation. [I have composed the book in this way] so that it will serve as a primer to the [medical] art and as a method for medical students [wa-arīqan li-l-mutaʿallimīn].37

25It is clear from this text that Ibn Abī Ṣādiq makes use of this text by Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā to deal with four out of the five preliminary issues that I highlighted earlier. However, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq feels that Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā’s casual criticism of Hippocrates is tantamount to medical heresy. Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s jumps to Hippocrates’ defense by painting Hippocrates as a prophetic figure who received what is akin to medical revelation, (the muse of Greek philosophy and literature), that the poor or seemingly confused arrangement of the Aphorisms is a consequence of its almost divine origin, and is, thus, to that extent infallible.

  • 38 For a trenchant critique of interpreting Avicenna’s philosophy mystical theosophy, see, for example (...)

26For Avicenna, hitting on the middle term (ads) was a major element of philosophical practice, and possessing the ability to quickly intuit the middle term for a syllogism was the sine qua non of a great philosopher. For this reason, Avicenna adopted some vocabulary from Islamic mysticism in order to characterize the states of the soul as they go through the process of acquiring philosophical knowledge of existent things.38 It is certainly true that Ibn Abī Ṣādiq treats Hippocrates as a prophet who is inspired by God (cf. Muḥammad about who God says (Q 53:3–4) lā yaniqu ʿan al-hawā, in huwa illā wayun yūā), and to that extent Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā’s criticism is treated as equal to heresy. There is reason to belive, then, that the Avicennian notion that the philosopher, especially the great ones such as Aristotle, can instantaneously hit upon the middle term, prompts Ibn Abī Ṣādiq to unapologetically portray Hippocrates as a prophet whose words issue from him without there being any prerogatives. Ibn Abī Ṣādiq presents Hippocrates in a manner that is similar to the way Avicenna describes Aristotle. Gutas says:

  • 39 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 372; idem., “Avicenna’s Philosophical Project”, (...)

At a higher level Avicenna analyzed non-discursive thinking, which takes no time and grasps its object in a single act of intellection, though the knowledge acquired is still structured syllogistically, complete with middle terms […]. Avicenna also discussed a facility for or habituation with intellection, which he called direct vision or experience (mušāhada) of the intelligibles. It comes about after prolonged engagement with intellective techniques through syllogistic means until the human intellect is not obstructed by the internal or external senses and has acquired a certain familiarity or “intimacy” with its object, “without however the middle term ceasing to be present”. […] The highest level of intellection is that of the prophet, who, on account of his supremely developed ability to hit upon middle terms, acquires the intelligibles “either at once or nearly so … in an order which includes the middle terms”.39

27It would appear, then, that by painting Hippocrates as a medical prophet, so to speak, who sets out the general principles of medicine in the Hippocratic Aphorisms, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq has in mind an Avicennian physician-philosopher, who is able lay down the principles of medicine and deduce its corollary principles by means of demonstrative proofs, which others have need of but he is able to hit upon them instantaneously, as if by inspiration.

  • 40 Zimmermann, “Al-Farabi und die philosophische Kritik an Galen”, p. 401–402: “Möglichkeiten spricht (...)
  • 41 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 363; idem, “Avicenna’s Philosophical Project”, p (...)
  • 42 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 364; idem, “Avicenna’s Philosophical Project”, p (...)
  • 43 Ibid.

28While Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s debt to Galen and Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā are evident, these four divergences suggest to me that Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s attitude towards medicine and its relation to the philosophical sciences was strongly influenced by Avicenna, either directly because he was Avicenna’s student, or because Avicenna’s powerful, unifying vision of science (ʿilm) had come to exert a strong if indistinct influence on scholarly activity in Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s intellectual milieu. The respect for what Gutas has termed “customary practice [ʿāda]”, which is on display in Baġdādī’s discussion of the eight preliminary questions is swept aside in Avicennian style by Ibn Abī Ṣādiq with the charge that these topics are irrelevant. Ibn Abī Ṣādiq argues that the structure of medical practice is akin to the structure of philosophical practice, that is, logically deriving corollary theses from primary principles. In addition, he emphasizes the unerring quality of Hippocrates’ medical knowledge in a manner that recalls the idealised Avicennian philosopher who has the unique ability to unerringly hit on the middle term. Above all, it is clear that in the introduction to his Aphorisms-commentary, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq is keen to argue that medicine should be one of the philosophical sciences. Perpetuating Greek Neoplatonitic commentary practices, a large literature by the likes of al-Fārābī, Baghdad Peripatetics such as Ibn al-Ṭayyib and Ibn ʿAdī, and Avicenna (at least in the Cure), argued that the philosophical sciences are distinguished from others by their purpose (ġara) and their subject matter (mawūʿ). Noticeably absent in the classifications of the sciences by philosophers is medicine, which was not widely considered a science, viz. a philosophical science, by the likes of al-Fārābī for example.40 Yet, as we saw in Section II, Avicenna himself characterizes medicine as a science (ʿilm) in the Canon. It seems that Ibn Abī Ṣādiq was keen to explain why medicine is not only a genuine science according to philosophical criteria, but that it is one of the more important sciences humans can learn. He argues that medicine’s aim is bringing about well-being (ʿāfiya) and health (iḥḥa) in the human body, the latter of which he identifies as medicine’s subject-matter (mawūʿ). It is these two factors that distinguish medicine from all the other philosophical sciences. By omitting medicine from the classifications of the philosophical sciences, Alfarabi, Avicenna and others were following a philosophical curriculum, based on a philosophy of education that was “influential in imperial and late antique times and throughout the Middle Ages”.41 Gutas has spoken about how the “traditional classification of the Aristotelian corpus and, by extension, all of philosophy, presented a blueprint for an all-encompassing book of knowledge”.42 Gutas says however that by being the first philosopher to write about “all philosophical knowledge (what he called simply al-ʿilm, knowledge)”, Avicenna was breaking from all earlier precedent. Yet, medicine was often not included as a genuine article, even in Avicenna’s ambitious philosophical program. Philosophy, according to Avicenna, “needed to be presented as a whole, to reflect both the interrelatedness and interdependence of all knowledge, and its correspondence with reality”.43 Thus, in line with or extending this Avicennian scientific program, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq feels compelled to argue that the principles of medicine, particularly those presented in the Aphorisms, deserve to be included in this body of scientific knowledge. Part of what drove Ibn Abī Ṣādiq in his commentary was the desire to show how medicine fits into the unified Avicennian philosophical account of what is.

Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s Introduction to His Commentary on the Canon of Medicine

  • 44 Eşref Altaş has attempted the most comprehensive study to date: Altaş, “Fahraddin er-Râzî’nin Eserl (...)
  • 45 Savage-Smith, Bodleian Library, p. 245. See Ibn al-Qifṭī, Tārīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, p. 291.
  • 46 For example, see Pormann, Savage-Smith, Medieval Islamic Medicine, p. 70–71 for the rather extreme (...)

29Unfortunately, a full chronology of Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s major works remains a desideratum.44 Nor can we date his commentary on Avicenna’s Canon with any degree of confidence. Following al-Qifṭī’s dating, Emilie Savage-Smith says in her catalogue of the Arabic medical manuscripts in the Bodleian library that Faḫr al-Dīn wrote this commentary at the beginning of his journeys in Transoxiana, so around 580/1184.45 Prior to his arrival in Bukhara and then Samarqand, Faḫr al-Dīn resided briefly in Saraḫs where he made the close acquaintance of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Saraḫsī who, according to Faḫr al-Dīn’s own account, aided Faḫr al-Dīn financially during his stay there and engaged in friendly but spirited discussions about philosophical and especially medical topics. It appears that these discussions were mainly directed at philosophical aporia in Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine, Book One (the Generalities, al-Kulliyyāt). That there were “difficulties” in the Canon was a well-known fact well before Faḫr al-Dīn wrote his commentary.46 While early commentaries on the Canon seem to have focused on medical topics, the “difficulties” that Faḫr al-Dīn alludes to in the introduction to his commentary and in the title of his commentary are thoroughly theoretical, or even philosophical.

  • 47 Shihadeh, The Teleological Ethics of Far al-Dīn al-Rāzī, p. 8–9.
  • 48 Frank Griffel, “On Fakhr al-Dīn’s Life and the Patronage He Received”, p. 320.
  • 49 Altaş, “Kronolojisi”, p. 103.

30In a tentative chronology of Faḫr al-Dīn’s major writings, Ayman Shihadeh says that Faḫr al-Dīn’s commentaries on the Canon and on Pointers and Reminders were likely written in 580/1184.47 Frank Griffel has, however, expressed strong reservations about the accuracy of Ibn al-Qifṭī’s knowledge about Faḫr al-Dīn’s life.48 Based on the fact that the commentary on the Canon is cited in the Mulaḫḫaṣ and in the Mabāḥiṯ and that the text is mentioned by Nūr al-Dīn al-Ṣābūnī (d. 580/1184), Altaş dates the Canon commentary to well before 580/1184, estimating that it was likely written around 573–574/1178–1179.49

31The introductions of Faḫr al-Dīn’s commentary on the Pointers and his commentary on the Canon appear to spring from the same periods in Faḫr al-Dīn’s career. They, nevertheless, have the same structure, highlight the same themes, portray Faḫr al-Dīn’s accomplishments and his contemporaries in the same light, and, most surprisingly, show that Faḫr al-Dīn believed, oddly enough, that Avicenna wrote Generalities in the same terse and allusive style as Pointers. In his introduction to his Canon-commentary, Faḫr al-Dīn alludes to the fact that his philosophical works that he had written earlier met with great success. I suspect that Commentary on the Pointers is one of the books Faḫr al-Dīn is indirectly referring to.

  • 50 Rāzī refers to a Prophetic saying, which adī scholars such as al-Ḏahabī say is not a genuine sayi (...)

[T6] [A] God has granted me success so that I reached the paths of the philosophical method, so that I scaled them until I reached the peak of philosophical investigation. I uncovered thereby the farthest reaches attained by the ancients, and became proficient in expounding the aims of the eminent philosophers [al-fualāʾ]. [B] Among the noble sciences [al-ʿulūm al-šarīfa] is the science of bodies [ʿilm al-abdān], which the Prophet [al-ādiq al-adūq, literally “the honest and ever-truthful”] made to complement the science of religions [ʿilm al-adyān].50 [C] It is distinguished by the following virtues: first, it is necessary at every moment and instant, and in every place and age; second, the subject matter that it investigates is the human body [badan al-insān], which is the noblest body [ašraf al-aǧsām] in the cosmos [al-makān]; third, the foundation of its principles require the corroboration of clear proofs and lucid demonstrations. So when I considered carefully the extent of this science’s perfection and virtues, its lofty rank and station, I gave my mind to plunging into its waves, climbing to the very limits until I reached to its core principles [lubāb], diving into its deep caverns and ascending until I reached its effulgences. [D] Further, people of sagacity agree that the Canon by the šay al-raʾīs Ibn Sīnā is the best book that has been written on this topic. [They also agree that] the first book in particular [al-kitāb al-awwal] is distinguished from the rest of its [the Canon’s] books by the fact that it contains philosophical subtleties, scientific intricacies, extraordinary remarks, and astonishing secrets that the minds of the people of this era are at a loss, and their abilities are too weak to reach the stars on their horizons. [For all these reasons, namely, AD], I exerted every effort and added to that the limit of my understanding and turned my whole attention to explaining its principal texts, commenting on its chief passages, clarifying its difficulties, unraveling its perplexities, providing excuses when there are inaccuracies if they occur in the lemma [under discussion], and I supplied it with tests for students’ minds in the course of the discussion.

So when divinely bestowed success [al-tawfīq] enabled me to accomplish this tremendous objective and noble aim, and I triumphed in achieving this farthest aim, and I won the greatest share, Ifound no one in my day who was enthusiastic about the fact that this aspiration had been realized and who was inspired to give the book his attention. But how should it be otherwise? The landmarks of science have been effaced, its waypoints have been turned on their heads, it traces have been obliterated, its appearance on the horizon is [taken as] a bad omen. Ignorance has become the shining banner and the evident sign, whilst ignoramuses have achieved every purpose and desire, attained every wish and objective, are promoted to high and noble offices, and are compensated with high and exalted positions. In this regard, too, they have different ranks and occupy disparate positions. The deeper they descend into the sea of stupidity and the farther they deviate from the light of intellect and revelation, the loftier are the ranks to which they are promoted, the easier they win acceptance, and the greater and more exemplary is the knowledge they are thought to possess [...].

Al-Mutanabbī says:

The eminent men of this age are in my view the most vile, for the knowledgeable among them is a dolt, and the judicious a scoundrel.

The noblest is a dog, the most perspicacious is blind. The most devoted is negligent, and the bravest an ape.

Indeed, today having knowledge has become an onerous weight on those who possess it, and ill omen for those who love it and students who seek it. Having spent his life acquiring it, surpassing all of his peers and contemporaries, and being distinguished by offering solutions to dilemmas in the philosophical sciences and uncovering the veiled secrets that they hold, in spite of this, you shall witness that because of this a man [viz. Faḫr al-Dīn is referring to himself] is debarred from every aim, turned away from every wish and goal. This is how it is. Yet, by His all-embracing bounty, immense generosity, all-encompassing bestowing and perfect benevolence, God has granted the people who possess knowledge noble intellectual happiness in place of the base, sensual enjoyments, and has exchanged vile worldly pleasures with honourable otherworldly bliss. Oh! How absurd it is that angels should be compared with blacksmiths! And what affinity is there between the darkness of apostasy and the effulgences of religion? What similarity is there between the donkey’s pleasure as he brays and staggers about, and the pleasures felt by holy men, and the delight they experience while they are close to and in the presence of the Lord of the universe? But beneath every tribulation God has placed a subtle lesson, and behind every mishap lies a splendid and gratifying wisdom.

So when success [afforded by God] aided me in expositing, refining, editing and ordering this book properly, I dedicated it to the preeminent Imām and verifying philosopher [al-akīm al-muaqqiq], master of the philosophers and physicians ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Saraḫsī. For in addition to the fact that he has ornamented himself with abundant knowledge, great virtue, a pleasing and admirable character, and seemly and lofty habits, he has also shown me great favour and generosity, and he has given his attention to setting my affairs in order and putting my mind at ease during my stay [in Saraḫs] and at the time that I was setting out. I thought to write this book for him for three reasons. First, many of these topics investigated [in this commentary] were exposited in his presence while he served as interlocutor, and were further refined while contesting points and debating with him. Second, [I wrote it for him] to settle one of his debts [li-yakūna qaāʾan li-baʿḍ huqūqihi]. Third, [I wrote it for him] because I am certain that he has a firm grasp [lit. he is strong, bi-quwwatihi] of this science and that he is realized in it. For I found that he has a strong grasp of this science’s fundamental and corollary principles [furūʿā al-ʿilm wa-uūlihi], especially in relation to the chapters and section in this book [viz. the Generalities, Kulliyyāt of the Canon of medicine]. I realized that it is he who would recognize the value of the erudite remarks and philosophical wonders that I have gleaned from it, [insights] which are not to be found in the writings of the ancients [the Greeks] nor in writings by recent [Arabic] authors, nor does any book that was composed earlier contain them. So when I set myself to undertaking this task, I sought help from God, who bestows forms and meanings, and who has fully expounded [mufaṣṣil al-suwar wa-l-maānī] the chapters [of the Qurʾān] and the Oft-repeated [opening chapter, al-Fātia, called in the Qurʾān al-Maānī]. This I do as I begin the Commentary on Difficulties in the Generalities of the Canon.

32Faḫr al-Dīn mentions in a very summary way a few of the traditional preliminary questions dealt with in classical philosophical and medical commentaries. He repeats the way Ibn Abī Ṣādiq justifies counting medicine as a science (ʿilm), saying that medicine is distinguished from the other sciences by the fact that its subject-matter is the human body, its aim, which is returning or maintaining health, is a constant human need, and finally that demonstration is medicine’s chief scientific technique. Faḫr al-Dīn also alludes almost tangentially to the fact that the commentary was intended to have some practical use for students.

  • 51 Ullmann, Die Medizin im Islam, p. 171; Joosse, Pormann, “Decline and Decadence”, p. 6. n. 28.

33Above all, however, Faḫr al-Dīn sees this commentary on the Canon in the same light as he sees his commentary on Pointers and Reminders: for all intents and purposes Faḫr al-Dīn treats Canon Book One as a book of philosophy, a view that is consistent with Avicenna’s and Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s views of medicine, but that would have been odious to ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī. We know that Baġdādī devoted an entire treatise to rebutting Faḫr al-Dīn’s commentary on the Generalities.51 And while we do not find direct or indirect criticism of Faḫr al-Dīn in Baġdādī’s Aphorisms commentary, he may have had Faḫr al-Dīn in mind when he spoke about medical dilettantes in The Book of the Two Pieces of Advice who occupy with the theoretical aspects of medicine while neglecting medical practice itself. Thus, while Faḫr al-Dīn may not have been foremost in Baġdādī’s mind as he wrote his introduction, Baġdādī’s introduction reads very much like a critique of the philosophically oriented approach to medicine that Faḫr al-Dīn adopted in his commentary on the Generalities, but which was encouraged by Avicenna’s opening remarks about the divisions of medicine in the Canon, and may characterise Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s attitude towards medicine as well.

  • 52 Gutas, “Avicenna’s Philosophical Project”, p. 33–34.
  • 53 Ibid., p. 34.

34Ayman Shihadeh has highlighted the apologetic turn in philosophical discourse that characterized the period between al-Ġazālī and Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī. Though Faḫr al-Dīn adopted a generally antithetical position towards this form of apologetics, in his Canon-commentary and his Pointers-commentary he justifies discussing medicine in his Canon-commentary because the Prophet made the science of the human body to complement the religious sciences. In a similar vein, Faḫr al-Dīn disingenuously justifies his interest in the Pointers and writing a commentary that exposits philosophical doctrines by, in effect, saying that philosophy is kind of inert theology that investigates God’s nature in a way that is indifferent to particular religious creeds. Sounding an Avicennian note, according to Faḫr al-Dīn the truths that are expounded by the philosophical sciences “do not differ from place to place, time to time, confession to confession, or religion to religion”. And “without a doubt”, the noblest science, which is ostensibly what his commentary on Pointers is about, is God’s entity and attributes. Faḫr al-Dīn’s sentiments reflect an important element in Avicenna’s philosophical project. Dimitri Gutas has pointed out that Avicenna treated philosophy as in effect, a “scientific system explaining all reality”. This stance necessitated that what Gutas calls “religious phenomena” such as “prophecy and miracles, and the efficacy of religious practices like prayer, fasting, and the visitation of saints’ tombs, as well as the insights of some mystics, were all real […]. At the same time, however, he set out to understand the causes of these phenomena, explain how they happen, and describe the mechanisms of the human soul which bring them about”.52 And Muslim scholars of every stripe, whether they proved sympathetic to his cause or not, showed that they were keenly aware of the fact that Avicenna had attempted, in the words of a 12th-century Malikite jurist, “to derive the principles of religious doctrines from philosophy”.53

35Faḫr al-Dīn also characterises the literary style Pointers and Reminders and the Canon in similar ways, as well as the difficulty that his contemporaries had in grasping both books. Of the Canon Faḫr al-Dīn says that it contains “philosophical subtleties, scientific intricacies, extraordinary remarks and astonishing secrets that surpass” the ability of my peers to understand. Of Pointers Faḫr al-Dīn uses nearly the same words and expressions.

Pointers and Reminders is one of the books by the Šayḫ al-Raʾīs. Its size is small, but great knowledge is stored in it, and it has a considerable reputation. Yet its mode or expression [nam] is obscure, and difficult to understand, but it also propounds wondrous marvels that are in agreement with [the doctrines] of the sages [ūlū al-albāb], contains astonishing remarks, and extraordinary lessons that most philosophical primers omit, and which are entirely absent from the encyclopaedic summas.

  • 54 Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, Commentary on Pointers and Reminders, p. 2.

I observed too that a great many people were devoting themselves to verifying its meanings, researching its secrets and foundations, searching for obscurities and difficulties in it, and studying its lessons and insights. Yet, I saw that [after great exertion] some of them returned with hardly anything to show [for their efforts].54

  • 55 See Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 379–386; idem., “Avicenna’s Philosophical Pr (...)

36In both cases, Faḫr al-Dīn alludes to Avicenna’s tendency later in life to write for audiences who had philosophical training as well as the ability to hit upon the middle term. Of course, the Canon was written early in Avicenna’s career and was by no means part of Avicenna’s later writing program of using symbolism and allegory to convey philosophical truths to the initiated while obscuring them for the uninitiated.55 It seems that by Faḫr al-Dīn’s day, however, the allusive style of Pointers and Reminders in combination with its extraordinary popularity suggested to some readers that this was the Avicennian mode of communicating philosophical knowledge. Faḫr al-Dīn thus presents himself as an Avicennian philosopher in the sense that he, unlike his contemporaries, is able to hit on the hidden secrets and philosophical wonders that Avicenna has hidden from amateur philosophers, but reveals to real philosophers such as Faḫr al-Dīn by way of mere hints and pointers.

  • 56 For the patron’s name, see Shihadeh, “Al-Rāzī’s (d. 1210) Commentary on Avicenna’s Pointers”, p. 30 (...)
  • 57 In Controversies §§ 9–11 of his Controversies, Faḫr al-Dīn submits Ġazālī’s philosophical critique (...)

37Finally, the way Faḫr al-Dīn presents his commentary and its relationship to his patron in both commentaries is similar. In addition, it seems that Faḫr al-Dīn is casting himself in the mould of the Avicennian sage. It is important to note that Faḫr al-Dīn wrote (or claims to have written) his commentary on the Canon on his own, in the sense that he does not mention other scholars from whom he took the philosophical knowledge and acumen that allowed him to write his Canon-commentary. It is true that he acknowledges Saraḫsī’s help and that the book was improved and sharpened by conversation and debate with him. Nevertheless, Faḫr al-Dīn dedicated the already completed book to Saraḫsī because he was supposedly the only philosopher-physician with the knowledge and mental capacity to grasp Faḫr al-Dīn’s thought and appreciate its true value. Faḫr al-Dīn paints a similar portrait of the relationship between his patron Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad the son of Abū Saʿīd al-Wazzān and the conditions under which Faḫr al-Dīn wrote his commentary on Pointers and Reminders.56. Faḫr al-Dīn says that after observing that the scholarly community of his day was failing to understand Pointers and Reminders properly, he decided to compose a commentary for the edification of people or students who were studying Pointers. He came to this realisation based on the fact that it was he alone who had devoted “a substantial portion of his life to examining its essential parts [fuūihi], trying to grasp its central passages [nuūihi], uncovering its secrets, and diving deeply into the depths [of its meaning]”. This lifetime acquaintance with Avicenna’s Pointers and his native intelligence made Faḫr al-Dīn the only person in his day who correctly understood and thus could rightly criticise Avicenna. Everyone else, including al-Ġazālī in Faḫr al-Dīn’s mind, was a mere dilettante.57 It was his patron alone who could appreciate the worth of Faḫr al-Dīn’s commentary, even if, as Faḫr al-Dīn implies, he could not write one himself. Faḫr al-Dīn paints his patrons as an exaggerated ideal of an Avicennian sage, a “verifier” whose soul is characterized by perfect virtue, and who has deposited all of the minutiae of philosophical knowledge in books.

  • 58 Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, Commentary on Pointers and Reminders, p. 3.

I searched far and wide for someone who recognized the great effort that I exerted in putting together this commentary [taḥṣīl hāā al-šar], and how much of my life I gave to examining notebooks [dafātir] and collections of notes [awrāq]. And when I came to him [Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad] and entered his noble presence, I saw that God had granted him a blazing intellect and an a nature that inclines to critical analysis [al-abʿ al-naqqād], and so when I recognized that he was keen to see that I complete the commentary on this book, and dedicate myself to perfecting it so that there should be no errors in it nor that it be prolix, and that [in writing it] I should distinguish the accidental elements from the essential ones, and the drosses from the wine, I threw myself headlong into the currents [that flow] in its oceans, and I devoted myself entirely to discovering its pearls and secrets.58

38Thus, in the commentary on Pointers and on the Canon, Faḫr al-Dīn dresses up his patron almost as a spirit of Avicenna who stamps Faḫr al-Dīn’s commentary with his approval. In putting himself forward as a kind of Ašʿarite Avicenna, Faḫr al-Dīn recognizes the importance that patronage played in Avicenna’s life. David Reisman has rightly emphasised the importance of patronage in Avicenna’s philosophical life and the very concept of philosophical praxis which he upheld. The evidence from Avicenna’s philosophical works as well as his personal letters makes clear

  • 59 Reisman, “The Life and Times of Avicenna”, p. 7–27, 26–27.

the importance of patronage for Avicenna’s life and works. The winning of patronage involved the staging of intellectual controversy, and the environments provided by Avicenna’s patrons determined the boundaries of his fields of research, and above all, the language in which Avicenna presented his philosophical system. Both of these factors, patronage and language use, had profound effects on Avicenna’s thought and its subsequent interpretation. The central role of controversy enabled him to develop an early adherence to Aristotelianism, to the criticism of that philosophical system as it was practiced in his day, and finally to the discovery of solutions to problems that emerged from the Aristotelian heritage.59

39It seems that in these commentaries on these two important books by Avicenna, Faḫr al-Dīn is seeking to imitate and duplicate the normative Avicennian philosophical way of life (sīra), in which competition for patronage played such a crucial part. In composing commentaries on Avicenna’s works, it seems that Faḫr al-Dīn had in mind to subject Avicenna to criticism and analysis but in the spirit of Avicenna himself. In this way, Faḫr al-Dīn sought to cast himself as Avicenna’s true philosophical heir.


40In this paper I presented evidence of Avicenna’s influence on the post-classical medical commentary tradition. I have argued that various aspects of what Dimitri Gutas calls Avicenna’s “philosophical project” influenced how medical commentators thought and wrote about medicine, its relation to the philosophical sciences, and what the proper role of the medical writer is. This is not to say that Avicenna’s influence was greeted openly by physician in the same way or to the same extent. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī lived in an age in which it is clear that Avicenna’s philosophical and medical thought wielded a powerful influence on attitudes towards medicine and medical writing. Yet, ʿAbd al-Laṭīf thought little of Avicenna’s philosophical and medical thought. One of the strategies ʿAbd al-Laṭīf adopted to oppose an increasingly Avicennising view of medical science as an essentially discursive activity is by presenting himself as the true inheritor of the Galenic and Hippocratic medical legacy, in which individual well-being still served as the primary goal of medicine. Baġdādī’s desire to cast himself as the true Hippocratic physician in opposition to what he perceived as the over-intellectualising quacks of his day left an impression on an important formal element of his commentary. I have argued that it is for this reason that Baġdādī respects the ancient convention of discussing the eight preliminary questions before beginning his commentary, despite the fact that by well before the 13th century this formal aspect of the commentary had ceased to be a convention that carried a heavy obligation for medical authors and commentators.

41Indeed, looking back some two centuries before ʿAbd al-Laṭīf, Avicenna’s influence is present but diffuse in Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s Aphorisms commentary. Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s introduction retains many of the preliminary subjects that were traditionally discussed before beginning exegesis on the lemmata. Nevertheless, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq appears to have adopted an Avicennian impatience with conventional commentary practices. He also casts Hippocrates in the mould of an Avicennian philosopher-prophet, whose powerful intellect is able to immediately hit on middle terms whilst seamlessly inferring corollary principles from the primary principles of medicine. Medical praxis in Ibn Abī Ṣādiq is akin to Avicennian philosophical praxis, in the sense that its activity is primarily cognitive and dictated by the rules of demonstrative logic, whereas Ibn Abī Ṣādiq insists that estimation and approximation are secondary elements in medicine. Above all, there is Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s desire to incorporate medicine into a classification of the philosophical sciences that traditionally had excluded it. While Avicenna himself never sought to carry out this task, by discussing medicine’s aim and subject matter, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq enlists a form of argument to bring medicine into the fold of philosophical discourse. It was a type of argument that Avicenna himself had used to argue that logic was a genuine philosophical science rather than an instrument (āla) for philosophy, as al-Fārābī and most Peripatetics held. Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s philosophising attitude toward medicine and medical discourse is also consistent with Avicenna’s tendency to see Aristotelian philosophy as providing a unitary, rational account of what is. While in the Canon Avicenna is careful to say that medicine receives its underlying principles from physics and to keep discussion of philosophical questions to a minimum, it is clear that later authors did not feel compelled to uphold such strictures on their writing, or to maintain clear boundaries between medical and philosophical writing genres.

42The traditional eight preliminary questions are almost entirely absent from Faḫr al-Dīn’s commentary on the Canon. Faḫr al-Dīn summarises Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s argument for why medicine should be considered a genuine science, obliquely referring to medicine’s purpose, subject-matter, and the fact that its proofs and axioms are demonstrative. Nevertheless, Faḫr al-Dīn spends most of his words speaking about the poor state of scholarship in his day, the difficulties that he has encountered in finding a patron who would appreciate him and his work, and why he finally accepted the patronage of Saraḫsī. In all this, Faḫr al-Dīn is positioning himself as Avicenna’s true 6th/12th-century heir. He takes the Canon to have an allusive even symbolic mode of communication that is similar to Pointers and Reminders. It is clear that the philosophical-theological apologetics of the 12th century have left their mark on Faḫr al-Dīn, since he justifies his interest in the Canon and in Pointers on religious grounds. Nevertheless, Faḫr al-Dīn also props himself up as a philosophical autodidact in the way Avicenna describes himself in his Autobiography. Faḫr al-Dīn also sees that he alone in his age has the philosophical abilities required of an Avicennian philosopher, and the required lifelong familiarity with books of philosophy to see through the veils Avicenna deliberately places in his writing in order to put off those without the proper education and mental capacity. Finally, Faḫr al-Dīn probably wrote his commentary on the Canon prior to his sojourns in Khwarazm and Transoxiana. Assuming that Faḫr al-Dīn’s reports about his encounters are historically accure, it could not have been lost on him that he would soon be visiting Avicenna’s city of birth and the stage of Avicenna’s early debates as he competed for patronage. It seems that Faḫr al-Dīn saw that making controversy and argumentation were central to the Avicennian philosophical way of life (sīra). With evident satisfaction, Faḫr al-Dīn appears to have created nearly as much a philosophical stir in Transoxania as Avicenna did. It remains to see how successful Faḫr al-Dīn was in shaping or even replacing Avicenna’s heritage in the 13th century and beyond.


43The following are the texts cited in this paper. In addition to citations from manuscripts, I have also included Arabic texts from unpublished editions. In the critical apparatus below, the Arabic to the left of the left square-bracket “]” designates the Arabic lemma, the Roman capital sigla to the right designates the manuscripts that testify to the reading.

44[T1] [M=]ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī, Commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms, ed. Sherif Masry [unpublished MA thesis]. I have occasionally adopted a reading different from Masry after consulting two manuscripts: [K=] Istanbul, ms. Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Paşa 885/1, f.2a, ll.11–23; [D=] Dublin, Chester Beatty Library, ms. Ar. 5458, ff.2a, l.20–2b, l.8.

  • 60 يطلبه ] KD: تطلبه M.

45وقبل الشروع في شرح الكتاب ينبغي أن ننظر في الرؤوس الثمانية الّتي جرتْ عادة المتأخّرين من الشرّاح أن يفتتحوا بها شروحهم، وهي: الفحص عن غرض الكتاب ما هو، وعن نحو التعليم المستعمل فيه، وعن نسبته، ومنفعة ما فيه، ومرتبته، وأقسامه، ومعنى عنوانه، واسم واضعه. وفي تعجيل العلم بهذه الرؤوس منافع، منها: أن يطلع المتعلّم على جمل أحوال الكتاب بأسرها، فيقدّم على التعلّم على بصيرة، ويدري مقدار الزمان والفراغ والتعب الّتي يحتاج إليها في قطع الكتاب فيعدّها أو ينتظر وقت تهيؤها؛ فإنّ من شرع في قطع مسافة لا يدري مقدارها وغايتها ومشاقها وعوائقها والقوّة عليها والعدّة لها، كان حري أن يقلع دون غايتها. ومنها أنّ النفس طالبة في كلّ ما تطلبه وتشتاقه على هذه المعاني الثمانية. ومنها أنّ المتعلّم إذا وقف على هذه المعاني قبل الكتاب، سلك في تحصيله مطمئنّ النفس، قرير العين، سالكًا على الجدّ، يعرف مسالكه ومسافاتها، فلو سقط من الكتاب شيء طلبه، أو غفله وجهله بحث عنه ويطلب60 فهمه. ومن منافع هذه الرؤوس أن يمتحن بها من يدّعي معرفة الكتاب، فإنّ جهلها كان بالكتاب أجهل، ولاسيّما أقسامه.

46[T2] [M=]ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī, Commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms, ed. Sherif Masry [unpublished MA thesis]. Istanbul, ms. Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Paşa 885/1, f.3b, ll.7–12; Dublin, Chester Beatty Library, ms. Ar. 5458, ff.3b, l.21–f.4a, l.1.

  • 61 ذمت ] KD: ذوقت M.

47ولمّا كان أرباب الكنانيش لا يجرون إلى الغاية على السنن ذمّتْ61 طريقتهم وذلك أنّهم يذكرون قوانين كلّيّة ويردفونها بأدويّة مقدّرة جزئيّة تقديرًا شخصيًا، وحينئذٍ لا يمكن أن تطابقه إلّا على جهة الاّتفاق والمصادفة لأنّه لا يقتضيه بذاته بل إن كان ولابدّ فبالعرض، وإنّما يطابق الكلّيّ كلّيّ والشخصيّ شخصيّ، فإن أخذ ما في الكنانيش على أنّه أمثلة كان نافعًا في العمل، وإن أخذ على أنّه هو الّذي ينبغي أن يعمل كان ضارًّا.

48[T3] ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī, Commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms, ed. Sherif Masry [unpublished MA thesis]. Istanbul, ms. Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Paşa 885/1, ff. 3a, l.12–3b, l.2; Dublin, Chester Beatty Library, ms. Ar. 5458, ff.3a, l.25–4a, l.16.

49وقد تبيّن أنّ ما يعلّم في الجزء العمليّ ليس هو نفس ما يعمل، لكنّ الغاية منه ومنفعته أن يكون أصولًا تستنبط منها الجزئيّات الّتي تعمل. ثمّ أنّ الجزء العمليّ يستعان في تعلّمه واكتسابه بالقوّة المنطقيّة، والجزء النظريّ أشدّ حاجةً إليها. وأمّا الجزء الفاعل فليس يحتاج في تعلّمه إلى صناعة المنطق بل اعتماده على الاحتذاء أكثر وعلى تكرير الفعل، فالصناعة الفاعلة سُمّيتْ بذلك كما قلنا لاستعمالها أعضاء الحيوان في اكتسابها لا للدلالة بها على ما في النفس، ولا لأن توقّع بها في النفس معارف وحالات كتحريك اللسان بالألفاظ وتحريك كثير من الأعضاء بالإشارة الّتي تقوم مقام الألفاظ أو تعيين الألفاظ وهذه الحركات قد تكون بأعضاء الطبيب نفسه، وقد تكون بآلات، والآلات قد تكون متّصلة وقد تكون منفصلة، والمنفصلة قد تكون متنفّسة وقد تكون غير متنفّسة، والمتنفّسة قد تكون ناطقة وقد تكون غير ناطقة، والآلة الناطقة هي بمنزلة العبيد والخدم وإليهم أشار أبقراط في الجزء الثاني من الفصل الأوّل، وأمّا الصديق والصاحب فعلى جهة النيابة لأنّه يقوم مقام النفس، إذ الصديق كما قال أرسطوطاليس. آخر هو أنت. فمن علم ما في كتبأبقراط وجالينوس لا تحصل له صناعة الطبّ حتّى تحدث له قوّة على الفعل الكائن عن تلك الأصول، فاسم الصناعة ليس يدلّ على معارف كثيرة تحصل للإنسان، بل على القوّة الّتي بها يفعل عن تلك المبادئ الحاصلة في نفسه.

50[T4] ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī, Commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms, ed. Sherif Masry [unpublished MA thesis]. Istanbul, ms. Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Paşa 885/1, f.1b, ll.7–10; Dublin, Chester Beatty Library, ms. Ar. 5458, f.1b, ll.9–11.

51وهذا الكتاب لم نجد أحدًا من المتأخّرين تطاول إلى شرحه إلّا على جهة الحواشي والتعاليق، ولكن وصل إلينا عن المتقدّمين له شرحان: أحدهما: لجالينوس، بنقل حنين بن إسحاق، وهو المشهور، وعليه اعتمدنا وحذوه احتذينا. والآخر: لبعض اليونانيّين، رديء النقل، سيّئ العبارة في جانب عن فصاحة جالينوس وحنين.

52[T5] Ibn Abī Ṣādiq, Commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms, ed. Kamran Karimullah, Taro Mimura, Nicola Carpentieri, and Emily Selove [unpublished electronic edition]. Istanbul, Beyazid Devlet Kütüphanesi, MS Veliyeddin Efendi 2508, ff.1b, l.3–2a, l.6.

53إنّ العناية الّتي تحثّ الخلق على اقتناء باب من أبواب العلوم من أشرف الفضائل الإنسانيّة، سيّما ما كان الناس كافّة أمسّ حاجة إليه من غيره كالعلم الطبّ. فإنّ من البيّن عند الكافّة أنّ العافية رأس النعم الّتي أنعم بها على الإنسان وأولاها وأجلّها قدرًا. ولذلك فليس تتهنّأ مملكة لملك ولا ثروة لمثر مع فقدان الصحّة الّتي هي الغاية المطلوبة بهذا العلم. إذ هي أشرف غاية يتمنّاها الإنسان في هذا العالم. ثمّ ينضاف إلى شرف هذه الغاية شرف الموضوع الّذي هو البدن الإنسانيّ، إذ هو أشرف موجودات هذا العالم. وتقترن بشرف الموضوع هذا العلم وشرف كماله وثاقة البراهين المستعملة فيه. فإنّ قوانين الطبّ أجمع برهانيّة. وليس يستعمل فيها الحدس والتقريب الصناعيّ إلّا في بعض الجزيّئات الّتي تخرج إلى الفعل. وإذا كانت الصناعات والعلوم تتفاضل بحسب شرف الموضوع وفضيلة الكمال ووثاقة البراهين المستعملة فيها، ثمّ كان لهذا العلم أعظم الرتب من ثلاثتها، فبالحري أن يكون له القسط الأوفر من الشرف والفضيلة. وقد كان كلّ من المتقدّمين والمتأخّرين ممّن تكلّموا في الطبّ رأوا أن يدوّنوا لمن بعدهم جملًا وجوامع من أصوله، إلّا أنّ كتاب الفصول لأبقراط أفضلها كلّها لأنّه من أوجز الكتب المصنّفة في هذا الباب، وأكثرها حصرًا لفصول في أبوابها. وهو أحد الكتب الّتي لا بدّ لمن يريد الإلمام بهذه الصناعات أن يحفظه، إذ كان كلّ فصل منه يتضمّن أصلًا من الأصول يشبه أن لا يكون قد صدر عن صاحبه إلّا بتأييدٍ سماويّ وتوفيق إلهيّ. ولقد يخسّ من الفضيلة نصيب من زرى به قائلًا بأنّه مختلط عادم للنظام. فإنّ مثل هذا الكلام ليس هو من محلّ أحد من المتأخّرين أن ينطق به. وحقًّاأقول إنّ أبقراط قد ألهم بجمعه، وسدّد لتأليفه حتّى لم يسقط له من فصوله كلمة ولا زلّتْ له فيها قدم. وقد سبق جالينوس تفسير هذا الكتاب تفسيرًا تامًّا في معناه. ونحن غرضنا أن نستثمر ما قاله ونضيف إليه ما أغفله ممّا قد استفدناه منه في مواضع أخر.

54فأقول إنّ غرض أبقراط بهذا الكتاب هو أن يجمع فيه فقر أصول الطبّ، وأن يستثمر به ما قد جمعه في كتبه الآخر. وهذا ظاهر لمن تأمّل فصوله. فإنّها تنتظم جملًا وجوامع من كتابه في تقدمة المعرفة وكتاب الأهويّة والبلدان وكتاب الأمراض الحادّة ونكتًا وعيونًا من كتابه المعنون بأبيذيميا وفصولًا من كتابه في أوجاع النساء وغير ذلك من سائر كتبه الأخر. والمعرفة بهذا الباب على هذا الوجه جد نافع. أمّا المتعلّمون، فبأن يأنسوا بها فيدعوهم ذلك إلى الاستكثار من هذا العلم. وأمّا المستكملون، فبأن تكون عندهم جملًا وجوامع ما مضى لهم في جملة الصناعة، فتكون تذكرة لهؤلاء وتبصرة لألئك. وأمّا سائر الأبواب الأخر الّتي تقدّم أمام كلّ تفسير، فلسنا نحتاج نطول الكتاب بذكرها، إذ ليس لها هاهنا وجه.

55[T6] Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606/1210), Commentary on Canon of Medicine, ed. K. Karimullah, Oxford, Bodleian Library, ms. Arch. Seld. A 64 ff.4b–6a.

56فإنّ اللّه تعالى لمّا وفّقني للوصول إلى مداريج المناهج الحكميّة والترقّي إلى معارج المباحث الحكميّة والاطّلاع على نهايات أقدام العقلاء والاضطلاع بتلخيص مباغي الفضلاء وكان من جملة العلوم الشريفة علم الأبدان الّذي جعله الصادق الصدوق قرينًا لعلم الأديان واختصّ من الفضائل أمّا أوّلًا فبعموم الحاجة إليه في كلّ حين وأوان وحيز وزمان، وأمّا ثانيًا فلأنّ موضوع نظره بدن الأنسان الّذي هو أشرف الأجسام في هذا المكان، وأمّا ثالثًا فلاعتضاد مقاعد قواعده بواضح الحجّة ولائح البرهان. ولمّا وقفتُ على كمال هذا العلم ومنقبته وعلوّ درجته ومرتبته أردتُ الخوض في عبابه والترقّي في غاية الوصول إلى لبابه والتعمّق في أغواره والترقّي إلى أنواره. ولمّا كان كتاب القانون للشيخ الرئيس أحسن كتاب صُنّف في هذا الباب باتّفاق أولي الألباب ثمّ أنّ الكتاب الأوّل منه تميّز عن سائر كتبه باللطائف الحكميّة والدقائق العلميّة والنكت الغريبة والأسرار العجيبة الّتي حارت أذهان أبناء الزمان عن إدراكها وخارت قواهم عن الوصول إلى درّي أفلاكها صرفتُ نهاية وكدي وثنيتُ غاية وهمي وهمّي إلى تفسير عيونه وشرح متونه واستيضاح مشكلاته واستخراج معضلاته والاعتذار عن مساهلاته إن وقعتُ في أثناء كلماته وامتحانات لعقول المتعلّمين ضمّنتها في سياق عباراته. ولمّا ساعدني التوفيق على هذا المطلب العظيم والمقصد الكريم وظفرتُ فيه بالمقصد الأقصى وفزتُ بالقدح المعلي لم أجد في زماني أحدًا ينشط لظهور هذا المرام ويهتزّ لسماع هذا الكلام وكيف والعلم صارتْ معالمه مدروسة وأعلامه منكوسة وآثاره مطموسة وطوالعه منحوسة، وأصبح الجهل باهر الرايات ظاهر الآيات وصار أهله فائزين بغايات المقاصد والمآرب واصلين إلى نهايات الأماني والمطالب واجدين للمناصب الرفيعة الشريفة نائلين للمراتب العليّة المنيفة. ثمّ هم في ذلك درجات متفاوتة ومقامات متباينة. فكلّ من كان في عمق بحر الحمق أوحج وعن ضياء المعقول والمنقول أخرج كان إلى أوج الإقبال والقبول أوصل وعند أبناء الزمان أعلم وأفضل وللّه القائل:
إنّ الزمان لتابع للأندل * تبع النتيجة للأخسّ الأرذل

57وللمتنبّيّ في قوله:
أذمّ إلي هذا الزمان أهيله * فأعلمهم فدم وأحزمهم وغد
وأكرمهم كلب وأبصرهم عمي * وأشهدهم فهد وأشجعهم قرد

58بل العلم صار كلًّا في هذا الزمان على كلّ أصحابه ووبالًا على محبيه وطلّابه. فترى الرجل بعد أن أفنى في تحصيله زمانه وفاق فيه أترابه وأقرانه وتعيّن بحلّ الغوامض في العلوم وإظهار ما فيها من السرّ المكتوم ممنوعًا بسبب ذلك عن جميع المرادات مدفوعًا عن كلّ المباغي والطلبات. هذا ولكنّ اللّه تعالى بفضله العميم وطوله الجسيم وإنعامه العامّ وإكرامه التامّ عوض أهل العلم من السعادات الخسيسة الحسية بالسعادة الكريمة العقليّة، ومن اللذّة الدنية الدنيويّة باللذّة الشريفة الأخرويّة. وهيهات أن تقايس الملائكة بالحدّادين وأي مناسبة لظلمة الكفر إلى أنوار الدين وأي مشابهة للذّة الحمار في قبقبه وذبذبه بلذّة الروحانيّين وابتهاجهم بدوام قربهم من جوار ربّ العالمين. وله سبحانه وتعالى تحت كلّ محنة لطيفة خفيّة وراء كلّ حادثة حكمة شريفة مرضيّة.

59ثمّ لمّا ساعد التوفيق على تلخيص هذا الكتاب وتهذيبه وتحريره وترتيبه جعلتُه باسم الشيخ الإمام الفاضل الحكيم المحقّق ثقة الدين شرف الإسلام سيّد الحكماء والأطبّاء عبد الرحمن بن عبد الكريم السرخسيّ حرّس اللّه أيّامه فإنّه بعد أن تحلّى بالعلم الكثير والفضل الغزير والطريقة الفاضلة الرضيّة والسنّة الحسنة السنيّة كثر إحسانه إلي وإنعامه عليّ وطال انجذاب خاطره إلى ما يتعلّق بصلاح حالي وإفراغ بالي حالتي إقامتي وارتحالي فأردتُ أن أكتب هذا الكتاب باسمه لأغراض ثلاثة. الأوّل أنّ كثيرًا من هذه المباحث تُلُخِّصَتْ بمجاورته ومحاورته وتُهُذِّبَتْ بمنافسته ومناقشته. الثاني ليكون قضاءً لبعض حقوقه. الثالث لوثوقي بقوّته في هذا العلم وتحقيقه، فإنّي وجدتُه واقفًا على فروع هذا العلم وأصوله لا سيّما على أبواب هذا الكتاب وفصوله فعرفتُ أنّه الّذي يعرف قدر ما استخرجتُه من النكت العلميّة والغرائب الحكميّة الّتي لا توجد في شيء من المصنّفات الّتي للقدماء والمتأخّرين ولم يشتمل عليها كتاب أحد من السالفين. ولمّا عزمتُ على ذلك استعنتُ باللّه عزّ وجلّ محصّل الصور والمعاني مفصّل السور والمثاني وهذا حين أشرع في شرح مشكلات كلّيّات كتاب القانون على ترتيب.

60[T7] [M=]ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī, Commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms, ed. Sherif Masry [unpublished MA thesis]. Istanbul, ms. Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Paşa 885/1, ff., 5b.25–6a,, l.4; Dublin, Chester Beatty Library, ms. Ar. 5458, f.6b, ll.1–6.

61وأمّا واضعه فهو أبقراط بشهادة جالينوس وغيره من المتقدّمين والمتأخّرين، وأنّ ما فيه مبثوث في سائر كتبه باللفظ أو بالمعنى وخصوصًا كتاب أبيديميا، ثمّ إنّه من نوع كلامه في سائر تصانيفه. على أنّ العلم بواضع الكتاب ليس ضروريًّا ولا نافعًا في فهم ما فيه اللهم إلّا بالعرض، لأنّ المتعلّم إذا عرف من واضعه كانتْ نفسه إليه أسكن، وقلبه به أوثق، وربّما صار حرصه على تعلّمه أزيد متى اعتقد في واضعه الحذق والنباهة.

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1 Mansfeld, Prolegomena.

2 Biesterfeldt, “Palladius on the Hippocratic Aphorisms”.

3 Ibid., p. 389.

4 Schoeler, “Der Verfasser der Augenheilkunde”.

5 Ibn al-Ṭayyib, Der Kategorienkommentar von Abū l-Faraǧ ʿAbdallāh ibn a-ayyib.

6 Bos, Langermann, “The Introduction”.

7 Wisnovsky, “Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī’s Discussion”.

8 Roueché, “Did Medical Students Study Philosophy in Alexandria?”.

9 Pormann, Joosse, “Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms in the Arabic Tradition”.

10 Ullmann, Die Medizin im Islam.

11 Ibid., p. 171.

12 Ibid., p. 171.

13 The only similarity between the two texts is that both authors say that the benefit of knowing the book’s author is that the student is less inclined to question the coherence and textual integrity of the text he is reading when he knows for certain that a great master wrote the book in front of him. Ibn ʿAdī says (Wisnovsky, “Yaḥyā b. ʿAdī’s Discussion of the Prolegomena”, p. 196, 192*–193*): “He needs to know the book’s author, because a student’s instruction sometimes comes to a halt at difficult things that are far beyond him and hard to understand the proof of, due to the weakness of his capacity to apprehend it. In cases like this it is necessary that the teacher’s statement be accepted on his authority and out of trust for him […]. He seeks evidence for its attribution to its author either from its contents, if they are similar, in their soundness or their unsoundness, to the sound and unsound contents of the books that are known to be genuinely his […] or from the similarity between his manner of expression in it [the book] and the manner of expression in books that are authentically his […] or from the attestation of reliable commentators; or from his [the author’s] mentioning it in his genuine books or [his mentioning] them in it.” And ʿAbd al-Laṭīf (see [T7] in Appendix): “Based on the testimony of Galen and other ancient and recent [medical authorities], on the fact that what is in the book is scattered throughout his [other] books in word and in meaning—especially the Epidemics—and on the fact that the speech in it shares the form of speech in all his writings, the [book’s] author is Hippocrates. Nevertheless, knowledge of the author is not necessary, nor does it assist in understanding what it is in it, except in an accidental way. For if the medical student knows who the author is, his soul will be more at ease, and his heart will have greater confidence in it [the book], and his zeal to learn it may increase if he believes that the author is skillful and pre-eminent [in the art].”

14 This is a familiar trope in Baġdādī’s writings, though the extent that it reflects the medical reality in the 13th century is doubtful; see Pormann, Joosse, “Decline and Decadence in Iraq and Syria”.

15 There were a large number of medical compendia for Arabic physicians to consult: such as Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī’s (d. ca.313/925 or 323/935) Comprehensive Book (K. al-āwī), Ibn Sarābiyyūn’s Medical Compendium, Paul of Aegina’s (fl. 7th c.) Medical Compendium, as well as the compendia of Oribasius’ (ca.325–400) and Aëtius’ (fl. 530).

16 ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī, Physician as a Rebellious Intellectual, p. 107*, 82 [f. 73v]: “Those who occupy themselves at this time with the art of medicine usually read a bit in the Generalities of the Canon [i.e. the first part of the K. al-Qānūn (fī al-ibb) (by Ibn Sīnā) dealing with general principles (kulliyyāt)]. Then they learn by heart the definition of medicine, the definition of the element, the definition of the temperament, and the like. They carry on a dispute about them, repeat them on top of their voices during social gatherings, and in bazaars and markets. Afterwards, they proceed to treat (patients) in the (false) opinion that this (alone, i.e. basic book learning) is beneficial and suffices, and that he who knows the definition of medicine correctly is able to cure (patients) of fevers and other (diseases), and know their different kinds. I admonish those who take my advice, if they want to be physicians, not to abandon Galen’s and Hippocrates’ books.” See also Pormann, Joosse, “Decline and Decadence”, p. 21–22.

17 Referring to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics 9 1166a 31: “…ἔστι γὰρ ὁ φίλος ἄλλος αὐτός…” “…for a friend is another self…”, See Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, p. 534–535.

18 I have collated the Baghdad (B) edition against the Arabic edition (R) of the Canon printed by the Medici Press in Rome in 1593. The text is accessible on-line.

19 Reading “yukaṯṯifu” with R for “yakšifu” in B.

20 Avicenna, al-Qānūn fī al-ibb, i.3.

21 Even more surprising is that he appears never to have seen Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī’s Aphorisms commentary either, though we have textual witnesses for this text in Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s commentary.

22 Baġdādī may be referring to the commentary by Palladius, which may be preserved in the Beirut ms.

23 Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾabaqāt al-aibbāʾ, II, p. 22.

24 See Chapter Five of Ahmed Ragab, The Medieval Islamic Hospital: Medicine, Religion, and Charity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

25 For example, in Sunnī kalām: Robert Wisnovsky, “One Aspect of the Avicennian Turn in Sunnī Theology”.

26 See Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p324, n. 8: “He [Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā] bit more than he could chew in his attempts to deal with Theology and he even exceeded his abilities when lancing abscesses […] and examining urine and feces—he certainly disgraced himself and exhibited his ignorance in what he endeavored and aimed to do.” The Arabic for this text is cited from Sayyed Hossein Nasr and Mehdi Mohaghegh, Abū Reān Bērūnī va Ebn-e Sīnā, al-asʾila wa-l-ajwiba, p. 13.

27 Avicenna refers to Galen as “who is strong in medicine but weak in logic”; see Nabil Shehaby, The Propositional Logic of Avicenna, p. 5–6. This disparaging attitude towards Galen’s logical abilities is found in Alfarabi’s logical writings also; see Zimmermann, “Al-Farabi und die philosophische Kritik an Galen von Alexander zu Averroes”.

28 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 102–103.

29 What Gutas titles the “Memoirs of Disciple (Ibn Zayla?) Writing from Rayy” is translated in Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 59–67, 64.

30 Ibid., p. 254.

31 Sabra, “Avicenna on the Subject Matter of Logic”.

32 Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdi, The Philosophical Treatises, p. 414–424. The treatise is entitled: Exposition on the Difference Between Philosophical Logic and Arabic Grammar (Tabyīn al-fal bayna ināʿatay al-maniq al-falsafī wa-l-naw al-ʿarabī).

33 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 250.

34 For example, see Gutas, “Paul the Persian on the Classification of the Parts of Aristotle’s Philosophy”, especially p. 261–267.

35 Zimmermann, “Al-Farabi und die philosophische Kritik an Galen”, p. 402.

36 Gutas, “Avicenna’s Philosophical Project”, p. 36.

37 Rāzī, al-Muršid aw al-fuūl, p. 3–214, 17.

38 For a trenchant critique of interpreting Avicenna’s philosophy mystical theosophy, see, for example, Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. xxixxii.

39 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 372; idem., “Avicenna’s Philosophical Project”, p. 37.

40 Zimmermann, “Al-Farabi und die philosophische Kritik an Galen”, p. 401–402: “Möglichkeiten spricht [Alfarabi], auf die sich die Zuständigkeit der Medizin sowie der Landwirtschaft beschränke. Mit der gleichen Regelmäßigkeit, mit der Farabi Galen als Arzt apostrophiert, stellt er auch die Medizin mit der Lanwirtschaft zusammen. Diese Zusammenstellung macht nicht nur deutlich, daß die Formel ̦der Arzt Galen’ herabsetzend gemeint ist, sie läßt auch ahnen, daß Farabi eine wissenschaftstheoretische Begründung für seine Degradierung der Medizin im Sinne hat.”

41 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 363; idem, “Avicenna’s Philosophical Project”, p. 31.

42 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 364; idem, “Avicenna’s Philosophical Project”, p. 31.

43 Ibid.

44 Eşref Altaş has attempted the most comprehensive study to date: Altaş, “Fahraddin er-Râzî’nin Eserlerinin Kronolojisi”.

45 Savage-Smith, Bodleian Library, p. 245. See Ibn al-Qifṭī, Tārīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, p. 291.

46 For example, see Pormann, Savage-Smith, Medieval Islamic Medicine, p. 70–71 for the rather extreme reactions of Abū ʿAlāʾ Zuhr (d. 525/1131), and the more moderate discussion of his student Ibn Ǧumayʿ al-Isrāʾīlī (d. 594/1198).

47 Shihadeh, The Teleological Ethics of Far al-Dīn al-Rāzī, p. 8–9.

48 Frank Griffel, “On Fakhr al-Dīn’s Life and the Patronage He Received”, p. 320.

49 Altaş, “Kronolojisi”, p. 103.

50 Rāzī refers to a Prophetic saying, which adī scholars such as al-Ḏahabī say is not a genuine saying of the Prophet, but attribute to al-Šāfiʿī; see Savage-Smith, “Attitudes Toward Dissection in Medieval Islam”, p. 72.

51 Ullmann, Die Medizin im Islam, p. 171; Joosse, Pormann, “Decline and Decadence”, p. 6. n. 28.

52 Gutas, “Avicenna’s Philosophical Project”, p. 33–34.

53 Ibid., p. 34.

54 Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, Commentary on Pointers and Reminders, p. 2.

55 See Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 379–386; idem., “Avicenna’s Philosophical Project”, p. 43–47.

56 For the patron’s name, see Shihadeh, “Al-Rāzī’s (d. 1210) Commentary on Avicenna’s Pointers”, p. 305.

57 In Controversies §§ 9–11 of his Controversies, Faḫr al-Dīn submits Ġazālī’s philosophical critique of the philosophers and his legal theory to repeated criticism, mainly, it seems, for his own gratification and to irritate his hapless interlocutor Šaraf al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Masʿūd al-Masʿūdī (d. ca.585/1189‒594/1194): Kholeif, A Study of Far al-Dīn, p. 32*–47*, p. 55–70. On al-Masʿūdī, see Shihadeh, “From al-Ghazālī to al-Rāzī”, p. 154–162.

58 Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, Commentary on Pointers and Reminders, p. 3.

59 Reisman, “The Life and Times of Avicenna”, p. 7–27, 26–27.

60 يطلبه ] KD: تطلبه M.

61 ذمت ] KD: ذوقت M.

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Kamran I. Karimullah, « Assessing Avicenna’s (d. 428/1037) Medical Influence in Prolegomena to Post-Classical (1100‒1900 CE) Medical Commentaries »MIDÉO, 32 | 2017, 93-134.

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Kamran I. Karimullah, « Assessing Avicenna’s (d. 428/1037) Medical Influence in Prolegomena to Post-Classical (1100‒1900 CE) Medical Commentaries »MIDÉO [En ligne], 32 | 2017, mis en ligne le 23 avril 2017, consulté le 24 juin 2024. URL :

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Kamran I. Karimullah

University of Manchester

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