This primary-source study of four medical works of the 13th century Muslim scholar Ibn al-Nafis confirmed that his Kitab al-Mûjaz fi al-Tibb was authored as an independent book. It was meant as a handbook for medical students and practitioners not as an epitome of Kitab al-Qanun of Ibn Sina as thought by recent historians. Ibn al-Nafis' huge medical encyclopedia Al-Shamil represents a wave of intense scientific activity that spread among the scholars of Cairo and Damascus in the 13th century. Like his predecessors in the Islamic Era, Ibn al-Nafis critically appraised the views of scholars before him in the light of his own experimentation and direct observations. Accordingly, we find in his books the first description of the coronary vessels and the true concept of the blood supply of the heart as well as the correct description of the pulmonary circulation and the beginnings of the proper understanding of the systemic circulation. Those discoveries, spreading from East to West, were translated into Latin by Andreas Alpagus and appeared in the works of European scholars from Servetus to Harvey. Furthermore, this study documented several other contributions of Ibn al-Nafis to the progress of human functional anatomy and to advances in medical and surgical practice.
Contributions of Ibn al-Nafis to the Progress of Medicine and Urology
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Figure 1. The Tabula Rogeriana, drawn by al-Idrisi for Roger II of Sicily in 1154, one of the most advanced ancient world maps. Modern consolidation, created from the 70 double-page spreads of the original atlas. (Source)
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