National exam | Arts Stream | Catch-up Session 2014

National exam | Arts Stream | Catch-up Session 2014

The exam’s Comprehension Text

       [1] Ibn Sina, also known as ‘Avicenna’, was indeed a true polymath with contributions in many fields such as medicine, psychology, pharmacology, geology, physics, astronomy, chemistry and philosophy. He was also a poet and an Islamic scholar and theologian. His most important contribution to medical science was his famous book known in the West as the Canon. This book is an immense encyclopaedia of medicine. It comprises the entire medical knowledge available from ancient and Muslim sources.

       [2] This great scientist was born late in the tenth century in the village of Afshana, near Bukhara which is also his mother’s hometown. His father, Abdullah, was from Balkh which is now part of Afghanistan. Ibn Sina received his early education in his hometown and by the age of ten he learnt the Quran by heart. He had exceptional intellectual skills which enabled him at the age of fourteen to do better than his teachers. During the next few years, he devoted himself to the study of Islamic laws and principles, philosophy and natural sciences. Ibn Sina also studied the work of Aristotle on metaphysics but couldn’t fully understand it because of his young age. It was only after reading a manual by the famous philosopher Al Farabi that he found a solution to this problem.

       [3] At the age of sixteen, Ibn Sina dedicated all his efforts to learning medicine and by the time he was eighteen he became a famous doctor. During this time, he was able to cure Ibn Mansour, the King of Bukhara, of an illness which no other doctor could cure. The King wished to reward him for this achievement, but the young doctor only asked for permission to use the prestigious royal library.

       [4] When his father died in 1002, he left Bukhara and moved to Jurjan, where he lectured on logic and astronomy. There, he met his famous contemporary Al-Biruni. Later, he travelled to Rai and then to Hamadan, where he wrote his famous book the Canon and also cured King Shams al-Daulah of a severe illness.

       [5] From Hamadan, he moved to Isfahan, where he finished many of his greatest writings. Shortly afterwards, his health started to deteriorate, so he travelled less often. He spent the last twelve years of his life in the service of Abu Jaafar, whom he accompanied as his doctor and scientific consultant. He died in June 1037 and was buried in Hamadan.

       [6] Besides his monumental writings in medicine, Ibn Sina also contributed to mathematics, music and other fields. His findings inspired later scientists in various fields of knowledge and he is still considered a valuable reference to many researchers.

Adapted from:


National exam | Arts Stream | Catch-up Session 2014



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