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Ibn Sina the Psychologist

    Abu Ali al-Husain ibn Abdullah ibn Sina
preceded nearly every Western philosopher in the development of theories related to psychology. His classifications of soul, images, perception, intellect, and even scientific methodology are truly remarkable. However, despite these wonderful findings Ibn Sina and other Eastern philosophers may have been largely ignored as founders of modern science because of cultural and religious ethno-centricism.

At the time of such mental endeavors competition was rising between the Christian West and Muslim East. Ibn Sina was a Muslim born in the village of Afshana in the Samanid Dynasty (Today this is part of Russia).  He lived approximately from 980 C.E. to 1037 C.E. It was said that by the age of Ten Ibn Sina memorized the Quran and was well versed in Arabic. He was noted as curing some of the World’s most powerful members such as Nooh Ibn Mansour the King of Bukhara. He also wrote approximately 200 books of which one was called al-Qanun fi al-Tibb (The Canon). al-Qanun was an extremely large work of an encyclopedia nature that contained medical information of which modern medical practice now based on. 


According to ibn Sina plants, animals, and humans have souls with varying degrees of ability. The vegetable soul can reproduce, grow, and gather nutrients while the animal soul has all the properties of the vegetable soul but can also perceive individuals and move by violition. The human being, the most complex of animals, maintains all of the properties of the above two souls but in addition can also make rational choices, deduct, and perceive universals. The human soul is more intellectual with stronger mental capabilities then the lower forms of life( Rahman, pp 25). ibn Sina came close to discovering, but never put his finger on,  the theory of evolution.


Ibn Sina also believed that the animal faculties assisted the rational soul in the following ways:
     1. Imaginaion and estimation.
     2. Relations of negative and affirmative
     3. Empirical knowledge through the senses(Rahman pp. 57).

To ibn Sina the body was merely an instrument of the soul. In other words the body’s main function was to assist the soul in its development and duties.   He also made strict criteria for the testing and experimentation of drugs. His system is parallel to modern laboratory procedure. A main principle that he used was the belief that accepting a fact without a cause is unscientific. That cause and effect are major determinants of laws of nature. Using this principle he developed a procedure that helped determine the cause and effect of medicine. 

     1. The drug must not have extraneous accidental qualities.
     2. The drug must be used on simple, not complex, diseases.
     3. The drug must be tested on more than one disease.
     4. Quality of the drug and the strength of the disease must be in proportion.
     5. Time of action must be observed.
     6. The effect of the drug must occur consistently.
     7. Experimentation must eventually be done on humans( Zahoor, pp. 1). 

     However scientific ibn Sina appears he had one main belief that tied all science together; the belief in Allah (God). In Islamic tradition the world was made to be discovered and that each new discovery testifies to the oneness of God. Muslims are commanded by their God (Allah) through the prophets Abraham, Noah, Jesus, Moses, Muhammed, etc. to question all things and find how God has created the world. In Islam their was no contradiction of science and religion and in fact scholars like ibn Sina and other used science as part of religion.
    Afnan, Soheil. (1958). Avicenna, His LIfe and Works. London: G. Allen & Unwin
    Ahmed, Monaur. (1990) Ibn Sina-doctor of doctors. Muslim Technologist

    Rahman, F. (1952). Avicenna’s Psychology, London: Oxford University Press
    Zahoor, A. (1997). Ibn Sina on Testing Medicine: Aramco World