Abu'l‐ḥasan ˓Alī Ibn Riḍwān ˓Alī Ibn Ja ˓far, a self‐educated physician philosopher, was born in AD 998 at Gīzah, a suburb south of Cairo (al‐Fusṭāṭ). He was the son of a poor baker ( farrān) and had to earn money in his youth by practicing medicine, teaching, and telling people's fortunes from astrological signs. When he was 59, he wrote a book entitled Fī Sīratihī (On His Own Conduct). The work is now lost, but its text is partly preserved in Ibn Abī Uṣaybi ˓a's ˓Uyūn al‐Anbā˒fī Ṭabaqāt al‐Aṭibbā˒ (Sources of Information About the Classes of Physicians).
In his youth, he believed in astrology ( ˓ilm al‐nujūm) and was convinced that the stars at the time of his birth indicated a prosperous medical career. To realize his ambition, he first sought out a popular teacher in Cairo, who instructed Ibn Riḍwān to memorize Ḥunayn Ibn Isḥāq's (d. AD 873) Kitāb al‐Masā˒il fi'l‐Ṭibb li'l‐Muta˓allimīn(Questions on Medicine for Students). Ibn Riḍwān watched him teaching: pupils read the text;...
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