Ibn Sina and the Role of Spirituality in Medicine
Maryam Khan, Masters in Lifestyle Medicine (c), BSA, Neuroscience, University of Texas
Abu Ali al-Husayn ibn Abd Allah ibn Sina (or Ibn Sina) was born in 980 AD at a time of political decentralization and religious heterogeneity in the Arab world.This Arabian Golden Age was fruitive to new intellectual and religious trends, and Ibn Sina rode waves of both to synthesize a unique philosophical and medical curriculum that resulted in The Canon of Medicine. Incorporating the works of prominent Greek philosophers and physicians, Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Galen, along with Quranic references in his Canon, Ibn Sina demonstrated the interwoven relationship between medicine, religion, and philosophy in patient care. His incorporation and adaptation of work from the Greek medical community, despite the fact that they could be considered pagan by monotheistic academic peers, suggests that in the pursuit of improving patient care, details such as the contrasting religious backgrounds of medical scholars held minimal importance. Considering that Western medicine is deeply rooted in classical antiquity, it is surprising to see the trend drift from relative indifference regarding inclusion of religious ideologies, to our modern-day secularization of medicine. Taking into account the numerous studies demonstrating the benefits of spirituality on prognosis and the mind-body connection, I suggest we support patient spirituality as another component working towards a more holistic healing experience in the hospital - especially in today’s fear filled world.