The works of Ibn Sina in the Süleymaniye Manuscript Library

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Cover of gilded binding of Al-Qanun

Description: Documentary heritage submitted by Turkey and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2003. Abu Ali al-Hussain Ibn Abdallah Ibn al-Hassan Ibn al-Ali Ibn Sina (980-1038), often known by his Latin name of Avicenna, has been described as possessing the mind of Goethe and the genius of Leonardo da Vinci. European medical historians consider him to be one of the most famous scientists of Islam and one of the most famous persons of all races, places and times. Ibn Sina was not only a great physician and scientist but a philosopher as well. He also contributed into the fields such as psychology, geology, mathematics, chemistry, astronomy and logic. Today, Ibn Sina’s portrait hangs in the main hall of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Paris. The works of Ibn Sina that have come down to us are considerable, even if not complete. For some, Ibn Sina wrote about 450 works of which around 240 have survived. G.C. Anawati lists, in his bibliography of 1950, a total of 276 works including texts noted as doubtful and some apocryphal works. Yahya Mahdawi lists 131 authentic and 110 doubtful works in “Bibliographie d’I.S.” in 1954. The Süleymaniye Manuscript Library in Istanbul is known to be possessing the manuscript copies of all the survived works of Ibn Sina. Some of them are dated as far back as 11th century. Some 600 manuscripts of Ibn Sina’s works in the Süleymaniye Library naturally includes considerable number of copies, however, among them 263 manuscripts have different titles. Hence the Süleymaniye Manuscript Library is known to be the only library in the world that is accommodating the manuscript copies of all the survived works of Ibn Sina. Almost all these works of Ibn Sina were written in Arabic, the language of religion and scientific expression in the entire Muslim World at that time. Ibn Sina’s works in the Suleymaniye Library are all unique as manuscripts even if they were the copies of existing manuscripts. Besides, some of them are precious because of their caligraphic styles, illuminations, miniatures, illustrations and bindings. Taken as a whole, Ibn Sina’s works in the Süleymaniye Manuscript Library may be said to be invaluable as such that their significance is deemed to transcend the boundries of time and culture, and therefore they should preserved for present and future generations.

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