The Heart in Ancient Wisdom at Intersection with Modern Cardiac Sciences, Part II

Table of Contents

Ibn Sina known in the west as Avicenna (c.980 – June 1037) was a Muslim scientist who is regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age and in scientific history as a whole [11]. He has been described as the father of modern medicine His most famous works are The Book of Healing, a philosophical and scientific encyclopedia, and The Canon of Medicine, a medical encyclopedia [12-14], which became a standard medical text at many medieval universities [15] for more than sex hundred years and remained in use as late as 1650 [16].

He pulled together his own experiences and compiled the teachings of his predecessors, Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Galen, in order to write his Canon. The eleventh section of the third book principally deals with various kinds of heart diseases, their effects, and treatment [17,18], in his Canon of Medicine integrated Aristotle’s ideas within his largely Galenic physiology when he wrote: The heart is the root of all faculties and gives the faculties of nutrition, life, apprehension, and movement to several other members.” He believed that heart produced breath, the “vital power or innate heat” within the body; it was an intelligent organ that controlled and directed all others. He was great posologist. He identified the pulse as “a movement in the heart and arteries which takes the form of alternate expansion and contraction, whereby the breath becomes subjected to the influence of the air inspired.”

William Harvey (1 April 1578 – 3 June 1657) was an English physician who was described as significant contributor in anatomy and physiology and mainly in discovery of circulation. Meticulous investigation of his work necessitate two major commentaries that were discussed in King of Organs conferences (The International Congress for Advanced Cardiac Sciences: 2006-2008-2010- 2012 and 2019). First, William Harvey contribution specifically on pulmonary circulation was precedent by Ibn Alnafees (1213- 1288) by three hundred years. This fact was known after the rediscovery of Ibn Nafis’ manuscript no. 62243- by an Egyptian physician, Dr M. Altatawi – titled Sharah al Tashreeh al Qanoon, or “Commentary on the anatomy of Canon of Avicenna” in 1924 AD in Europe, it became clear that Ibn Nafis had described the pulmonary circulation almost 300 years before Harvey, and the historians like Aldo Mieli, Max Mayrhoff, Edward Coppola etc. clearly state that Ibn Nafis is the real discoverer of the pulmonary circulation and that he should be given the credit for the discovery of the pulmonary circulation, not William Harvey [19].

Corrals in different colors
Great Barrier Reef Corals from The Great Barrier Reef of Australia (1893) by William Saville-Kent (1845-1908).

Second, Harvey views to human heart as merely physical pump has been challenged during his life by Rene Descart (March 1596-February 1650). Despite his mechanistic tendencies, Descartes (who was not a physician) rejected Harvey’s notion that the heart was simply a pump that propelled blood through the body. In part, this reflected Descartes ‘belief that all muscles were controlled by the will’. Although Descartes acknowledged that some muscular actions, such as scratching, could result from a reflex action, he rejected the notion of involuntary muscular contraction. In 1648, two years before his death, he was working on a book on the human body that he never finished. Parts of the manuscript, entitled La description du Corps Humain, were published posthumously in 1664. A recent translation of a passage from this text demonstrates Descartes’ conviction that the mind and the body were critically linked: “If we suppose that the heart beats the way Harvey describes it, we would have to imagine some faculty causes this motion, and the nature of this faculty would be much more difficult to understand than what it claims to explain” [20,21].

He agreed with Harvey that blood returned to the heart through a system of veins, but it was the heated blood that animated the system rather than the heart itself [18].

The religious and philosophical spirit of the Heart

At all times the basic interpretation of the nature of the human heart was perceived with religious and philosophical spirit. This holistic perspective was cumulative in all holy books until it reaches a peak with the descend of the holy Quran. The human heart occupies holy and honorable position in the holy Quran. It was mentioned as a heart in singular and pleural form 132 times. The real astonishment which contrast very well with William Harvey and supporters was the total absence of the meaning of propelling of blood function, which is the dominant believe created in the twenty century. In contrast the heart was referred in articulated Arabic language as a mind and origin of intention and human decision making functions. Our interpretation for this massive discrepancy is the fact that we, humans, as the top creatures has been distinguished by the mind while the heart pumping function – although being very important for life- is common between us and animals.

If religion is pure as it is in the holy books, it should carry the ultimate wisdom. Religion and science must be compatible and complementary but not competitive nor contradicting each other. The heart and its anonyms in the holy Quran is a true scientific treasure that need to be explored utilizing the state of art technological advances now a days. The Islamic era scientists and philosophers explored the new knowledge of the heart and its different anonyms and functions in a way that is creating virgin field for scientific explorations.

fish in different colors
Great Barrier Reef Fishes from The Great Barrier Reef of Australia (1893) by William Saville-Kent (1845-1908).

In this context, we will confined our discussion to two philosophers who were guided by The Holy Quran in their discussions of the heart: Abu Abdullah Mohammad Ibn Ali Alhakeem Altrmothy (referred later as Altrmothy) who died in 942 AD, and The great philosopher Alemam Abu Hammed Algazaly (referred later as Algazaly [1058-1111AD]). Altrmothy wrote delicate treatise where he navigated in the detailed descriptions of the heart, the chest, the heart of the heart (alfuad), and the nucleus (al-lob refers to the mind). He explored extensively in the human emotions associated with each term of the four terms under his investigation.

Algazaly wrote his well-known diamond: The Wonders of the Heart as part of his encyclopedic book: Ehya Aloom Aldeen. He explored in the difficult fields that were dealt with marginally by his ancestors: Spirit, Soul, Mind and Heart. He navigated deeply to document that the heart is the reference and the central issue of the soul, spirit and mind. The way he described the heart is truly miraculous. In our state of art and cutting edge international conferences that we held in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2019 (King of Organs International Congresses For Advanced Cardiac Sciences) we feel that we are just touching the great scientific heritage denoted by Algazaly in his treatise: Wonders of the Heart. He is the first scholar in human history who detailed about the flush of the muscular heart and the higher functioning Spiritual Heart. Before discovery of waves and energetic fields he refers to those meanings in his miraculous description of the human heart and its higher functions as: The nice spiritual goddess with physical heart attached and that gentle is the reality of human being and the conscious of the world a round and the know legible piece of the human and the addressee, punished, appellant and demanded that has relationship to the physical heart.


Dr. Alabdulgader, a senior congenital cardiologist/electrophysiologist, has obtained multiple board certifications and memberships from prestigious medical schools and universities in record time (1991-1995) and established a major cardiac hospital funded by his Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz.

He established the first registry of congenital heart diseases in the middle east which was followed by a nationwide registry and was credited for being the first to described a new congenital anomaly of the heart in 2005. He established a series of international conferences (King of Organs) for advanced cardiac sciences in 2006 which is the first medical conference that explores topics related to the information processing and energetic role of the heart.

Dr. Alabdulgader believes that we are at the start of a true revolution in the history of medicine, and his understanding of the broader role of the human heart in ethical, religious and social contexts has drawn major media attention. He was recently elected as a member of the scientific board of the International committee on Global Geological and Environmental Change.

different water plants
Great Barrier Reef Alcyonaria from The Great Barrier Reef of Australia (1893) by William Saville-Kent (1845-1908).


Aquatic wonders in chromolithographs bursting with color digitally enhanced from our own edition of “The Great Barrier Reef of Australia” by William Saville-Kent (1893). Kent was an English Marine Biologist who was an early pioneer of sustainable fishing practices. He was also one of the first people to explore the incredible diversity of The Great Barrier Reef. In this kaleidoscopic collection, you will be able to explore the magnificence of the aquatic world in their wonderful living tints including fish, corals, sponges and more.


11. Orfanos CE. From Hippocrates to modern medicine. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2007; 21: 852-858.

12. Katz AM, Katz PB. Diseases of the heart in the works of Hippocrates. Br Heart J. 1962; 24: 257-264.

13. Withington ET. Hippocrates. Volume III. London: William Heinemann; 1927.

14. Lloyd GER. Hippocratic writings. New York: Penguin; 1950.

15. Tsung O. Cheng. Hippocrates an cardiology. Am Heart J. 2001; 141: 173-183.

16. E.g. at the universities of Montpellier and Leuven (see “Medicine: an exhibition of books relating to medicine and surgery from the collection formed by J.K. Lilly”. Archived from the original on 14 December 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-19.

17. Ibn Sina AA. Beirut: Dar Alkotob Alelmiah; 2003. Kitab al Qanoun fi Al Tibb [The Book of the Canon of Medicine, Book 3] (Arabic).

18. Chamsi-Pasha MA, Chamsi-Pasha H. Avicenna’s contribution to cardiology. Avicenna J Med. 2014; 4: 9-12.

19. M Akmal, M Zulkifle, AH Ansari. Ibn Nafis – A Forgotten Genius In The Discovery Of Pulmonary Blood Circulation. Heart Views. 2010; 11: 26-30.

20. Bruce fye W. M.A.Profiles in Cardiology. Clin Cardiol. 2003; 26: 49-51.

21. Shea WR. The Magic of Numbers and Motion: The Scientific Career of René Descartes, p 308. Canton Mass.: Science History Publications. 1991.


This is the first part of an article first published in “Cardiology & Vacular Research”. Alabdulgader A. The Ancient Wisdom at Intersection with Modern Cardiac Sciences. Cardiol Vasc Res. 2021; 5(1): 1-13. Part I you can find here.

Share a beautyfull Life ;-)