The Commentary on the Epitome of Ibn al-Nafis


Sharḥ Mūjiz ibn al-Nafīs (The commentary on the epitome of Ibn al-Nafis), also known as al-Mughnī (The sufficient), written by Sadid al-Din ibn Mas'ud Kazaruni (died 1357), is a well-known medical text of the 14th century. It is, as well, a wonderful illustration of the commentary tradition in the Islamic world: Sharḥ Mūjiz ibn al-Nafīs consists of Sadid al-Din’s commentary on al-Mūjiz by Ibn al-Nafis (circa 1210–88). Al-Mūjiz, in turn, was the epitome or abstract written by Ibn al-Nafis on his own commentary of al-Qānūn fī al-ṭibb (The canon of medicine) by Ibn Sina (980–1037, known in the West as Avicenna)Ibn al-Nafis’s work consists of four sections entitled fann (art). The first fann contains the principles of the theory and practice of medicine. The second fann is a study of materia medica and foods followed by a treatise on compound drugs. The third fann deals with diseases specific to each organ, as well as their causes, symptoms, and treatments. The last fann is on symptoms that are not specific to certain organs, such as fevers, and swellings. The present manuscript contains only Sadid al-Din’s commentary on Fann 3 and Fann 4 of Ibn al-Nafis’s work. Sadid al-Din concludes his work by listing some of the authors whose works he consulted as reference. They include Hippocrates, Galen, Hunayn ibn Ishaq al-ʻIbadi, Muhammad ibn Zakariya Razi (known in the West as Rhazes or Rasis), and Ibn Sina. The author also singles out Qutb al- Shirazi’s commentary on al-Qānūn, called al-Tuḥfa al-Sa‘dīya (The Saʻdīya offering), as having served as a major source for his commentary. That Shirazi’s name appears in the present manuscript as “al-Razi al-Shirazi” is clearly an error. Indeed, Shirazi is referred to as Kazaruni by some biographers (likely in reference to the birthplace of his father); thus in some accounts he shares this appellation with Sadid al-Din. The manuscript was completed on the 21st day of Rabi al-Thani, 1065 AH (February 28, 1655). It is written in a beautiful naskh script in black and red ink.

Last updated: November 27, 2015