Compendium of the Canon of Medicine


Ali ibn Abi al-Hazm al-Qarshi al-Dimashqi (1210 or 1211−88), better known as Ibn al-Nafis, was a physician. He most likely was born in Damascus, where he studied medicine with Shaykh ʻAbd al-Rahim ibn ʻAli Muhadhdhab al-Din, better known as al-Dakhwar (1169 or 1170−1230 or 1231). Al-Nafis moved to Cairo where he  served as the personal physician of Sultan Baybars I. He lectured on Shafiʿi jurisprudence in the Masruriyya School in Cairo, where he died at around the age of 80, leaving his books in the Mansuri Hospital, which was founded by Sultan Qalawun in 1287. He wrote a number of works, the most notable of which are al-Shāmil fī al-ṭibb (The comprehensive in medicine), Sharḥ qanūn Ibn Sīna (Commentary on the Canon by Ibn Sina, commonly known as Avicenna), and Kitāb al-muhadhab fī al-kuḥl (The polished book of ophthalmology). Ibn al-Nafis’s fame as a physician was such that people referred to him as the “second Ibn Sina.” In 1924 a manuscript by al-Nafis was discovered in which he describes the circulation of the blood—centuries before this was done in the West. The manuscript shown here is a compendium of extracts from the Canon and is considered a concise and useful reference, especially for specialists. This work became famous in the field of medicine and many commentaries were written on it. The main content is Ibn Sina's views as expressed in his Canon, recounted by Ibn al-Nafis in a scientific fashion, based on his own experiments and knowledge gained from his own clinical experience. Al-Nafis also included in the compendium prescriptions of medications for the treatment of many diseases, thereby making this book particularly important as a reference for medical practitioners.

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Title in Original Language

موجز القانون في الطب

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1 manuscript ; 23 x 14 centimeters


  1. John Freely, Light from the East: How the Science of Medieval Islam Helped to Shape the Western World (London and New York: Taurus, 2015).

Last updated: November 3, 2015