AVICENNA xi. Persian Works



xi. Persian Works

Only two works in the Persian language by Avicenna have come down to us: a short book entitled Andar dāneš-e rag (On the science of the pulse, also known as Resāla-ye nabż), and a treatise on philosophy in the broadest sense entitled Dāneš-nāma (Book of science).

Authenticity. No problem of authenticity exists in the case of either work. Avicenna’s authorship was confirmed by his disciple and friend Abū ʿObayd ʿAbd-al-Wāḥed b. Moḥammad Jūzjānī (Gowzgānī) and has never been called into question (Ebn al-Qefṭī, Taʾrīḵ al-ḥokamāʾ, p. 418; Ebn Abī Oṣaybeʿa, ʿOyūn II, p. 2; Ẓahīr-al-dīn Bayhaqī, Taʾrīḵ, pp. 59-60). The prefaces of the two works show that both were written at the request of ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Kākūya, the Buyid ruler of Isfahan, i.e., during the last fourteen years of Avicenna’s life, which he spent in that city. Comparison of these prefaces, both addressed in eulogistic language to the ruler of Isfahan, indicates that Dāneš-e rag was probably composed before the Dāneš-nāma because Avicenna states in the preface to the latter that “in that prince’s shadow he had achieved all his ambitions—for security, dignity, respect for science . . .” This implies that he had spent many happy years at Isfahan before he completed the Dāneš-nāma.

General description. Avicenna’s writings in Arabic, the language of religion and scientific expression in the entire Muslim world at that time, were intended for his disciples and other specialists and may be described as “advanced textbooks.” In marked contrast, his two books in Persian, the spoken and literary language of the Iranian peoples, are introductory manuals written for the use of an uninitiated person and possessing the appropriate qualities: Clear language, near-colloquial phraseology (Arabic technical terms being replaced with Persian equivalents in the Dāneš-nāma and given together with Persian equivalents in Dāneš-e rag), choice of themes and questions which give access to relatively elementary knowledge in each field, exclusion of subjects which could only be of interest to specialists, reduction of chapter lengths, and frequent use of explanatory description rather than logical definition. These are among the common characteristics of the two works. The contents of each are outlined below.

Andar dāneš-e rag (ed. S. M. Meškāt, Rag-šenāsī yā resāla andar nabż, Tehran, 1330 Š./1952, with a list of technical terms). The book’s first three chapters are a prologue to its main subject, study of the pulse. They describe (1) the substances which, when in harmonious synthesis, constitute the human body, the vital spirits, which animate it, and the soul (ravān, nafs) which dwells in it; (2) the necessity of inhalation, nutrition, and elimination; (3) the functions of the lungs, heart, and arteries as regulators of the pulse, illustrated by the example of the blacksmith’s bellows, and the way in which, at every beat, these regulators cause movements of expansion and contraction, each followed by a pause.

The study of the pulse as such is commenced in chapter four and pursued in chapters five and six. Here the author gives simplified summaries of the thorny problems which he had examined in detail in the first chapter of the third lesson of the eleventh section (fann) of the first volume of the Qānūn fi’l-ṭebb, namely, (1) why every beat comprises the aforesaid four moments; (2) a list of ten types of pulse condition with descriptions of symptoms which permit diagnosis of each; (3) explanation of the causes of these ten types and of varieties and sub-varieties to be found in each, together with the appropriate Persian and Arabic technical terms, such as long (derāz) pulse and short (kūtāh) pulse in conditions identifiable by the length (andāza) of the beat, rapid (tīz) and slow (derangī) in conditions identifiable by its frequency, even (hamvār) and uneven in conditions identifiable by the symmetry or dissymmetry (mostawī-mānanda būdan wa nabūdan) of the beats. Chapter seven is a summary of the discussion of regular and irregular (mostawī wa moḵtalef) pulse behavior in the second chapter of the above-mentioned third lesson in the Qānūn, and chapter eight, which enumerates varieties and names of composite pulse conditions, is a summary of the third chapter of the same lesson. Some of the descriptive terms for pulse conditions used in this book correspond to those used in modern medical textbooks, e.g., mūṛčagī (Ar. al-namlī, formicant), setabr ʿaẓīm (large), dom-e mūšī (myurous), mawjī (bounding, undulating), do-zaḵmī (dicrotic).

Chapter nine, which concludes the work, is a summary of all the questions studied in the remaining sixteen chapters of the lesson in the Qānūn, namely, the best pulse condition, the constituents of the pulse, the factors which influence these constituents, the pulse in males, females, and pregnant females, the pulse in different ages, life-stages, seasons, temperatures, and temperaments, and the effects of climates, sleep, being awake, bathing, physical exercise, pain, inflammations, and emotions on the pulse.

This short book’s plan of three introductory chapters, three chapters on the more difficult problems, and one final chapter dealing concisely with easier matters shows that Avicenna intended it to be a condensed synopsis. He accomplished his task with great skill.

Dāneš-nāma. This work, like the Šefāʾ and the Najāt (but unlike the Ketāb al-ešārāt which deals only with logic and metaphysics) is a comprehensive treatise on seven sciences grouped in four sections: logic (ed. S. M. Meškāt and M. Moʿīn, Manṭeq-e Dāneš-nāma-ye ʿalāʾī, Tehran, 1331 Š./1952), metaphysics (ed. M. Moʿīn, Elāhīyāt-e Dāneš-nāma-ye ʿalāʾī, Tehran, 1331 Š./1952), natural science (ed. S. M. Meškāt, Ṭabīʿīyāt-e Dāneš-nāma-ye ʿalāʾī, Tehran, 1331 Š./1952) and mathematics (the last-named consisting of geometry, astronomy, arithmetic, and music). The original section on mathematics was lost in Avicenna’s lifetime, and the extant text (ed. M. Mīnovī, Rīāżīyāt-e Dāneš-nāma-ye ʿalāʾī, Tehran, 1331 Š./1952) is a reconstituted version which his disciple ʿAbd-al-Wāḥed Jūzjānī put together by translating into Persian the master’s short monographs on the same subjects. (The original Arabic monographs constitute the mathematical section of the Ketāb al-najāt, which was not edited by Avicenna himself.)

The Dāneš-nāma should not be compared with the Šefāʾ, an encyclopedic work in which the number and diversity of the problems and theories under discussion is very great and the number of the chapters is very large. Although comparable to the Najāt in general content, the Dāneš-nāma differs from it in the relative lengths and specific topics of the chapters and the order of the sections. Its exposition of logic, in two parts on definition and proof respectively, follows the plan of the Ešārāt rather than that of the Najāt. Although most of its chapters are summaries or abridgments of chapters in the Najāt, there are some which give longer and fuller explanations. The abridgment is generally done through combination of two or more chapters into a single chapter with a composite title, e.g., the chapter on “Explanation of genus, species, difference, common property, and accident” (Bāz namūdan-e jens, nawʿ, faṣl, ḵāṣṣa wa aʿrāż-e ʿāmm). In some cases, however, the abridgment is done through suppression of chapters interesting only to academicians and specialists, e.g., that on the theory of the contents of propositions and the three modalities of judgment (possible [šāyad būdan, momken], necessary [żarūrī, and impossible [na-šāyad būdan, momtaneʿ]). This theory, which is one of the bases of Avicenna’s logic of judgment, receives only ten lines of explanation in the Dāneš-nāma compared with ten pages in the Najāt and twelve pages in the Ešārāt. Also drastically pruned is the treatment of contradiction and conversion, which are here reduced to their absolute forms; Avicenna preferred to omit from the Dāneš-nāma any discussion of contradiction and conversion in modal propositions. The discussion of the four figures of the syllogism is equally brief. On the other hand, Avicenna writes at considerable length in this book on a subject passed over in silence in the Ešārāt, namely reasoning by analogy (meṯāl); he here denounces this method of reasoning dear to the scholastic theologians whom he describes as “dialecticians” (jadalīān). He also writes at some length on the “subject-matter of the syllogism,” one of his main innovations which forms the epistemological aspect of his logic and is its most strikingly original contribution, being concerned with search for the sources of human knowledge and evaluation of its degrees of certainty.

As regards metaphysics, a noteworthy feature of the Dāneš-nāma is the placing of this subject immediately after logic, whereas in both the Najāt and the Šefāʾ the metaphysical discussions form the concluding and crowning section of the work. The different arrangement in the Dāneš-nāma is not fortuitous. This book was written in order to acquaint an uninitiated mind with the notion of science and its subject and object, and with the division of the sciences into speculative and practical disciplines and the subjects and objects of each. For this purpose there was need of an introductory prologue which could only be placed straight after the section on logic and at the head of the section on metaphysics. The generalized outline of the subjects and objects of the sciences leads on to define explanations of the subject of higher science (ʿelm-e barīn), i.e., metaphysics, namely, being qua being, and of its object, namely, the states of being qua being. These states are presented as pairs of opposites. They provide the chapter headings and the content of the metaphysical section of the work as follows: substance (jawhar) and accident (ʿaraż), universal (kollī) and particular (jozʾī), single (wāḥed) and multiple (kaṯīr), cause (ʿellat) and effect (maʿlūl), action (feʿl) and potentiality (qowwa), possible (momken) and necessary (wājeb); these are predicates of being qua being.

By starting with the study of substance and accident as the first pair of states of being qua being, Avicenna breaks more frankly here than in the Šefāʾ with the Aristotelian conceptions and traditions regarding the theory of substance and its categories of accidents and the position of these ten highest genera of “things.” In the Dāneš-nāma he integrates this study with metaphysics, while in the Najāt he examines the categories together with the theory of definition in the section on logic. Now this idea of substance and its nine categories conceived as the ten highest genera of “things” is directly linked to another idea which is fundamental to Avicenna’s metaphysics, i.e., the idea of the accidentality of existence; for saying that such and such a substance or accident exists is tantamount to saying that existence is not the element which constitutes the essence (quiddity) of any of these ten highest genera of “things,” in other words that existence is not logically conceivable as other than an accidental predicate of the essence. The presentation of this original theory is all the more noteworthy because Avicenna begins his discourse with a criticism of “persons who lack sharp insight,” i.e., scholastic theologians, in the Najāt called motakallemān. At the same time this idea of existence as an accidental predicate of the essence is closely connected with the last pair of states of being qua being, namely the contingent and the necessary.

The study of these two states forms the introduction to the second area of metaphysics, which Avicenna calls “the science of divine sovereignty.” Forty chapters are devoted to the search for the Necessarily Existent Being (wājeb al-wojūd) and His attributes (ṣefāt). These chapters occupy more than two thirds of the metaphysical section of the Dāneš-nāma and form the longest dissertation in the whole book. The relative extent of the section is a measure of the importance which Avicenna attached to it and the more remarkable because the book does not contain any lengthy chapters (such as are found in the Šefāʾ and the Najāt) on purely theological matters like human bodily resurrection, divine inspiration, proofs of prophethood, etc. This makes the treatment of metaphysics more akin to that in the Ešārāt than that in the Najāt. Moreover, the Dāneš-nāma sometimes echoes the former’s directives (ešārāt), notably those of chapter six on the purposes of principles and order and chapter seven on detachment (tajrīd).

The most distinctive feature of the Dāneš-nāma, however, is its style, which is much simpler, easier, less formal, and more lively than that of the Arabic works. In this book Avicenna again takes issue with his adversaries, the scholastic theologians. In the Najāt he describes some of them as “weak” (żoʿafāʾ al-motakallemīn) (Najāt, p. 213), but here he goes further and speaks disparagingly of them as “dialecticians” (jadalīān). He ironically ridicules their method of proving the existence of the invisible (ḡāyeb), from the existence of the witness (šāhed), and in a pretended exposition of their reasoning, ascribes to them actions which expose the logical absurdity of their words, for example in the section on logic (manṭeq): “Then they went and gazed at the sky and found that it resembled a house . . .” (pp. 96ff.). Many more words and phrases carry, in the context, an ironic sting, e.g., “they thought of a subterfuge,” “some who were a little wilier” (ibid., p. 98). In the section on metaphysics, the criticism is directed at Plato and the Platonic “ideas.” In the Najāt Avicenna alludes discreetly and very briefly to the Platonic “ideas.” In the Šefāʾ he devotes a rather long and very closely and forcefully reasoned chapter to their refutation. In the Dāneš-nāma he does not refute them but ridicules them. He invites us to imagine the idea of an “idea,” that of a unique and real “humanness” (mardomī) which would exist per se (be-ʿaynehī) in every human individual and would be Plato after acquiring knowledge and someone else if remaining ignorant. Even more astonishing would be the idea of “animal,” at once mobile and immobile, flying and flightless, quadruped and biped.

In conclusion, it must be emphasized that the Dāneš-nāma is an original work and that its originality does not lie solely in its being written in Persian. After the Ešārāt, which Avicenna composed in the same period of his career, it is the most personal of his writings. His intention to give this book a different stamp from his other works is revealed by his preference for certain themes and the number and length of the chapters which he devoted to them, notably to contingent and neccessary, cause and effect, and the Necessary Being and His attributes. Another feature is that he does not include under metaphysics any discussion of extra-philosophical theses such as life after death, missions and miracles of prophets, and marvels of saints, but only touches very briefly on these matters in the section on natural science. His great veneration for Aristotle, “the chief of the sages” (emām-e ḥakīmān), “the guide and master of the philosophers” (dastūr o āmūzgār-e fīlsūfān) (Elāhīyāt, p. 110; Ṭabīʿīyāt, pp. 59 and 90), his spontaneous humor, and his genial irony with regard to the scholastic theologians (motakallemān or jadalīān) give us clues to understanding of the man. This book was, of course, written for a patron who must be spared the bother of reading pedantic disquisitions. Even so, and despite all the abridgments and suppressions, nothing of real importance is omitted. It is a comprehensive treatise on philosophy, unique in its kind among Persian writings in this field.

Editions of tire Dāneš-nāma-ye ʿalāʾī. 1. Lithographed, under the title Māya-ye Dāneš-e ʿalāʾī mašhūr be’l-Ḥekmat al-ʿalāʾīya, Hyderabad (Deccan), 1309/1891, comprising three parts—logic, metaphysics, and natural science. Marred by too many errors, but noteworthy as the first published edition. 2. Edited by A. Ḵorāsānī under the title Dāneš-nāma-ye ʿalāʾī yā ḥekmat-e Bū ʿAlī, Tehran, 1315 Š./1926. Critical text based on four mss., comprising two parts—logic (manṭeq) and metaphysics (ʿelm-e barīn)—preceded by a preface made up of (1) Ḵorāsānī’s translations of the autobiography of Avicenna and the supplementary biography of him by Abū ʿObayd b. ʿAbd-al-Wāḥed Jūzjānī (Gawzgānī), (2) some poems attributed to Avicenna, namely, two short pieces in Arabic and four quatrains and a short piece about wine in Persian, (3) a list of Avicenna’s works, and (4) a brief study of features of the language of the Dāneš-nāma and a glossary of the Persian technical terms in the Dāneš-nāma with their Arabic equivalents. 3. Edited by M. Moʿīn and S. M. Meškāt, published for the Avicenna Millenary celebration at Tehran in 1331 Š./1952; consists of the first three parts in separate volumes, namely, (1) logic (Resāla-ye manṭeq), ed. Moʿīn and Meškāt, (2) metaphysics (Elāhīyāt-e Dāneš-nāma-ye ʿalāʾī), ed. Meškāt, (3) natural science (Ṭabīʿīyāt-e Dāneš-nāma-ye ʿalāʾī), ed. Meškāt. The critical text based on ten mss. on the whole concurs with that of Ḵorāsānī despite numerous variants. Appended to each volume is a combined list of Persian and Arabic technical terms in alphabetic order.

The language aspects of the Dāneš-nāma and of Andar dāneš-e rag, above all the originality of their Persian vocabulary, were noted by Ḵorāsānī and are of great interest to Iranian philologists. This subject was discussed in two communications to the Avicenna Millenary conference at Tehran, one by Ḥ. Ḵaṭībī on Avicenna’s Persian prose style in the context of the Persian prose of the late 4th/10th and early 5th/11th centuries, the other by M. Moʿīn on Avicenna’s Persian vocabulary and its influence on Persian literature (see Ḏ. Ṣafā, ed., Jašn-nāma-ye Ebn Sīnā II, Tehran, 1334 Š./1955, pp. 316-28, 342-90). Holding that the Persian language at the time when Avicenna wrote was more influenced by Pahlavi than by Arabic, Ḥ. Ḵaṭībī credited Avicenna with the invention of Persian scientific-philosophic terminology and diction; he cites as examples of the distinctiveness of Avicenna’s prose style the frequent use of the particles mar and andar, of the verbal prefix hamī instead of , and the word order of the often terse, but always precise, sentences. M. Moʿīn studied Avicenna’s creation of a Persian scientific-philosophic vocabulary, his sources and methods, and the varieties of this vocabulary used by his disciples in their translation of his works and later by other thinkers such as Nāṣer(-e) Ḵosrow, Afżal-dīn (Bābā Afżal) Kāšānī, and Abū Ḥāmed Moḥammad Ḡazālī.

Translations of the Dāneš-nāma-ye ʿalāʾī. 1. Arabic. The Maqāṣed al-falāsefa of Moḥammad Ḡazālī (d. 505/1111) may be regarded as the Arabic translation of the Dāneš-nāma because its structure and content are in general on the same lines. 2. French. Translation of all four parts by M. Achena and H. Massé, under the title Le livre de science, 2 vols., Paris, 1955-58; vol. I logic and metaphysics, vol. II natural science and mathematics. Appended to vol. I is an analysis of the metaphysics by Achena. A revised and corrected new edition came out in 1985; to this has been added a prologue comprising translations of Avicenna’s autobiography and Jūzjānī’s biography, an introduction to the logic, and a revised and amplified version of the same analysis of the metaphysics as in the first edition. 3. English. Translation with commentary by P. Morewedge, entitled The Metaphysica of Avicenna (Ibn Sīnā): A Critical Translation-Commentary and Analysis of the Fundamental Arguments in Avicenna’s Metaphysica in the Dānish Nāma-i ʿAlāʾī, PHS, London, 1973. [The present writer has not seen this book.] 4. Russian. Translation by Bugutdinov, Stalinabad (Dushanbe), 1973.

Avicenna’s Persian poems. Avicenna is the reputed author of Persian quatrains and qeṭʿas (short poems) quoted in anthologies and miscellanies. Their number and quality vary with the source. There is every reason to believe that Avicenna possessed poetic talent and wrote poems in his spare time, particularly when in captivity. This is attested by the undoubtedly authentic opening verses which are all that remain of two Arabic odes (qaṣīdas) which he composed (see Le livre de science, Prolog, p. 11). That he should have written poems in Persian, his native and everyday language, is probable, but can not be proved. H. Ethé collected twelve quatrains and two qeṭʿas which are ascribed to Avicenna in anthologies and other sources, and published the texts with German translations (Nachrichten von der Kgl. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften und der Georg-August-Universität zu Göttingen, no. 21, 1 September 1875, pp. 555-67). E. G. Browne gives translations of two quatrains from Ethé’s collection (Lit. Hist. Persia II, pp. 108-09, 267). S. Nafīsī included in his book on Avicenna’s life and works (Pūr-e Sīnā, Tehran, 1333 Š./1954) all poems known to have been ascribed to Avicenna, with particulars of the source of each. It may be added that the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris possesses the following two manuscripts: (1) ms. Suppl. Pers. 793, a small anthology which, on folio 103, contains the quatrain “Mā-īm be-loṭf-e to tamannā karda” found in many anthologies and attributed in some to Avicenna, in others to Ḵayyām, and following it a quatrain attributed to Abū Saʿīd b. Abi’l-Ḵayr (cf. Nafīsī, op. cit., p. 47); (2) ms. Suppl. Pers. 1777, a selection of poems by three poets, Qāsem al-Anwār, ʿAṭṭār, and Nāṣer Ḵosrow, in which have been inserted, on the margin of folio 326, six quatrains said to be by Avicenna, though none is cited by Nafīsī. This manuscript is dated 25 Ṣafar 825/1422. Ḏ. Ṣafā has published a collection of Persian poetry ascribed to Avicenna (Jašn-nāma-ye Ebn Sīnā I, Tehran, 1331 Š./1952, pp. 111-15).

Apocryphal treatises. At the time of the millenary celebrations in 1331 Š./1952, the Anjoman-e Āṯār-e Mellī (q.v.) in Tehran published a series of Persian resālas (treatises), all short, which are stated in the manuscripts to be from the pen of Avicenna. All, however, contain evidence which throws doubt on the attribution, and none are mentioned in the list of Avicenna’s works. G. Lazard had demonstrated the spuriousness of these resālas in a detailed study (“Publications iraniennes à l’occasion du millénaire d’Avicenne,” REI 22, 1954, pp. 153-55). Brief indications of the content of each are given below.

(1) Resāla-ye nafs, ed. M. ʿAmīd, Tehran, 1331 Š./1952. This is in fact one of two existing Persian translations of Avicenna’s Arabic treatise on the soul which bears six different titles in different manuscripts (see Y. Mahdawī, Ketāb šenāsī-e Ebn Sīnā, Tehran, 1333 Š./1954, p. 244). ʿAmīd states that all the manuscripts which he used in preparing his edition attribute the translation to Avicenna himself. The language of this translation, however, differs greatly from that of the Dāneš-nāma, being full of Arabic words and technical terms not found in corresponding passages in the latter, such as edrāk (perception) on p. 19 instead of andaryāft as in the Dāneš-nāma, Ṭabīʿīyāt, p. 101; qowwat-e ʿāmela (agential faculty) on p. 24 instead of qowwat-e konāʾī; qowwat-e ʿālema (cognitive faculty) on p. 24 instead of qowwat-e andaryāft-e naẓarī. Furthermore we know from a statement of the translator of the other Persian version that Avicenna did not personally translate his treatise from Arabic into Persian; in the words of this translator in his preface, “A learned man had translated this resāla (here entitled al-Maʿād) into Persian, but on comparing the translation with the original text he found it defective, erroneous, and incomplete, and therefore, at a friend’s request, made a new and more complete and accurate translation” (see Mahdawī, op. cit., p. 247).

(2) Resāla andar aqīqīyat wa kayfīyat-e selsela-ye mawjūdāt wa tasalsol-e asbāb wa mosabbabāt (Treatise on reality and the mode of connection of beings and the interconnection of causes and effects), ed. M. ʿAmīd, Tehran, 1331 Š./1952. This resala is written in the form of questions and answers—a form not normally used by Avicenna. It is certainly apocryphal, not only because the vocabulary and phrasing, the constant reference to the Koran and citation of its verses in support of arguments, and the imprecision and logical unsoundness of the premises and inferences are untypical of Avicenna’s authentic works, but above all because the assertions contradict Avicenna’s teachings. The words mostaʿār (borrowed or metaphorical), mostafād (understood), jāʾez (allowed), jāʾez al-wojūd (allowed to exist), which recur from the answer to the first question onward, are not only un-Avicennian but also have meanings which conflict with Avicenna’s concepts of momken (potential) and momken al-wojūd (potentially existent). The question whether the existence of the creator can be inferred from that of created beings is answered with the assertion of creation ex nihilo (ebdāʿ), which the Asḥʿarite theologians postulated and Avicenna always rejected, counterposing his own theory of process (ṣoṇʿ) (Dāneš-nāma, [Manṭeq, rāh-e jadalīāŋ] p. 95; Ešārāt, the whole chapter “Fi’l-ṣoṇʿ waʾl-ebdāʿ;” and especially “Tanbīh,” p. 153).

(3) Meʿyār al-ʿoqūl (Assay of minds), ed. J. Homāʾī, Tehran, 1331 Š./1952. The subject-matter, which is far removed from Avicenna’s interests, and the use of Arabic terms such as ṣolb (spine), ṯeql (weight), rasan (rope), which are not found in Avicenna’s Persian prose, are sufficient proof of the inauthenticity of this resāla.

(4) Qorāża-ye ṭabīʿīyāt (Scrap of the natural science), ed. Ḡ.-Ḥ. Ṣadīqī, Tehran, 1331 Š./1952. In the first lines of his preface the editor acknowledges that this resāla has nothing in common, aside from the form, with Avicenna’s Persian works. The presentation of problems, the advocacy of certain theories such as the teleological theory, the abundance of Arabic terms, and the peculiarities of the language, all prove that this short treatise is spurious.

(5) Konūz al-moʿaẓẓamīn (Treasures for great men), ed. J. Homāʾī, Tehran, 1331 Š./1952, a small manual on practical use of charms. There is also an Arabic version entitled al-Nīranjāt (Mahdawī, op. cit., p. 251). On the ground that all the manuscripts bear Avicenna’s name, Homāʾī thought that this resāla must be authentic. It is diflicult, however, to believe that Avicenna, who placed treatises on logic at the head of all his philosophical works and based his logic on axioms of pure reason, could have been led to teach magic arts with such conviction. Further proofs of inauthenticity are the differences of style and language from those of Avicenna’s Persian writings, and the advice given in the preface to “keep this book away from the indiscretion of unqualified and unworthy persons.”

(6) Resāla-ye jūdīya, ed. M. Najmabādī, Tehran, 1330 Š./1951, a short advice-book on prevention and, above all, cure of afflictions ranging from sneezes to fly-swarms and including snake-bites. The editor, himself a doctor of medicine, is to be commended for the painstaking erudition with which he explains and comments on the recommended remedies. He accepts the attribution to Avicenna as authentic, and thinks that the title ought correctly to be Resāla-ye maḥmuīdīya because the work is dedicated to the sultan Maḥmūd Ḡaznavī. Its prose, however, is in no way comparable with that of Avicenna’s Persian works, and its counsels and remedies are too simple and credulous to be from the pen of any medical practitioner, even a country doctor, let alone the author of the canon of medicine. The dedication linking Avicenna to the sultan Maḥmūd is a further illustration of the forger’s naïveté.

(7) Ẓafar-nāma, ed. Ḡ. -Ḥ. Ṣadīqī, Tehran, 1331 Š./1952, a small collection of maxims said to have been enunciated by Bozorgmehr in reply to questions put to him by Ḵosrow I Anōšīrvān. If so, it must have been translated from a Pahlavi text. The only external source in which the translation is attributed to Avicenna is Hājjī Ḵalīfa’s Kašf al-ẓonūn, according to which the Samanid prince Nūḥ b. Manṣūr commissioned his minister Ebn Sīnā to render this collection of maxims from Pahlavi into Persian. All the evidence points to a confusion or a fictitious attribution. Avicenna did not know Pahlavi and was not Nūḥ b. Manṣūr’s minister. Moreover, the language is not comparable with that of Avicenna’s Persian works. Ṣadīqī writes interestingly on possible explanations in his excellent preface.

To the above list must be added a resāla called Meʿrāj-nāma [not seen by the present writer]. According to Mahdawī (op. cit., p. 297), the text has twice been published: first in facsimile, secondly in print ed. by Ḡ. -Ḥ. Ṣadīqī in the Anjoman-e Āṯār-e Mellī series (Tehran, 1331 Š./1952. For a further list of works in Persian attributed to Avicenna see Ḏ. Ṣafā, Tārīḵ-e ʿolūm-e ʿaqlī dar tamaddon-e eslāmī I, 4th ed., Tehran, 1356 Š./1977, pp. 231-35 and idem, ed., Jašn-nāma I, pp. 57-63.


Works by Ebn Sīnā. 

Dāneš-nāma-ye ʿalāʾī, ed. S. M. Meškāt and M. Moʿīn, repr. Tehran, 1353 Š./1974. Ketāb al-najāt, Cairo, 1960.

Ketāb al-šefāʾ, Cairo, 1952-83. Ketāb al-ešārāt wa’l-tanbīhāt, ed. Forget, Leiden, 1892.

Al-Qānūn fi’l-ṭebb, Būlāq, 1294/1877; Eng. tr. by Q. C. Gruner. Ẓahīr-al-dīn Bayhaqī, Taʾrīḵ ḥokamāʾ al-eslām, Damascus, 1946.

Ebn Abī Oṣaybeʿa, ʿOyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭebbāʾ, ed. von Muller, Cairo, 1299/1882.

Ebn al-Qefṭī, Taʾrīḵ al-ḥokamāʾ, Leipzig, 1903. Ṣafā, Adabīyāt II, pp. 625-28.

(M. Achena)

Originally Published: December 15, 1987

Last Updated: August 18, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 1, pp. 99-104

Cite this entry:

M. Achena, “AVICENNA xi. Persian Works,” Encyclopædia Iranica, III/1, pp. 99-104, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/avicenna-xi (accessed on 30 December 2012).