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Ibn Abi Usaibia, History of Physicians (1971) pp.531-946


On the Classes of Persian Physicians


Tayadurs was a Christian with a profound knowledge of medicine and an experience in its practice. Sabur 'with the wings' built him a church in his town. It was also said that it was built for him by Bahram Gur. He wrote a Compendium of Medicine.


Barzawaih. It was said that he was learned in medicine and known for it, distinguished in his times and versed in the sciences of the Persians and the Indians; that he was the one who brought the book, "Kalila wa-Dimna" from India to Anushi`rwan ibn Qubadhin Fairuz, the Persian king, and translated it for him from the Indian language to the Persian, then in the Islamic era `Abd Allāh ibn al-Muqaffa` the preacher translated it from Persian into Arabic. This book is reputed y conducive to good morals and behavior and does not have an equal. `Abd Allāh ibn al-Muqaffa` the preacher was also a Persian, the scribe of Abū Ja`far al-Mansūr. He also translated Aristotle: "Categories," "De Interpretatione," the "Book of Analytics," and also the introduction to the works on logic known as "Isagugi Furfurius al-Sūrī." His style was easy and readable. He also wrote some original works, among which are the epistle on literature and politics and the epistle known as "al-Yatīmah," on obedience to the ruler.  [p.532]


Raban al-Tabarī. The ruler Jamal al-Dīn ibn al-Qiftī wrote in his book that this Raban al-Tabarī was a Jewish physician and astronomer, born in Tabaristān. Distinguished in medicine, outstanding in geometry and the exact sciences, he translated scientific works. His father Alī ibn Raban was a famous physician, who moved from Tabaristān to Irāq and settled in Samarra. He was an advanced scholar of Judaism. Al-Raban, al-Rabīn, al-Rāb — all these are names for those well-versed in the knowledge of the Jewish law.

Abū Ma`shar was asked concerning the casting of shadows. He discoursed at length until finally he said: "The translators of the version of al-Majistī taken from the Greek did not mention the matter of casting shadows, which is not to be found except in the version translated by Raban al-Tabarī the physician. In the old versions the matter of Ptolemy's casting shadows is not mentioned, neither did Thābit, nor Hunayn al-Qalawsī nor al-Kindī nor any other of those great translators know about it, including the sons of Nawbakht."


Ibn Raban al-Tabarī, i.e., Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Sahl ibn Raban al-Tabarī. Ibn al-Nadīm al-Baghdādī, the scribe Alī ibn Rubal, tells the following: He was a scribe of Mazyār ibn Qārin, and then was converted to Islam by al-Mu`tasim and became his favorite. Al-Mutawakkil took him to be one of his companions. He was held in high esteem as a man of letters and was al-Rāzī's teacher in medicine. He was born and bred in Tabaristān. One of his saying is: "An ignorant physician instigates death." He wrote the following:

1) "The Orchard of Philosophy," in seven chapters comprising 30 essays which together contain 360 items.

2) "The Pleasures of Life."

3) "The Gem of Kings."

4) "Compendium of the Court."

5) "The Advantages of Different Foods, Beverages and Herbs."  [p.533]

6) "The Preservation of Health."

7) "On Charms."

8) "On Phlebotomy."

9) "On Diets."


AL-RĀZĪ (Rhazes)

Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī. Born and raised in al-Ray, when he was in his thirties he traveled to Baghdād, where he stayed for a while. From his youth he had a penchant for the rational, sciences and devoted himself to these and to literature; he also wrote poetry.

Medicine he studied when he was already adult, his teacher being Alī ibn Raban al-Tabarī.

Abū Sa`īd the ascetic scholar said in his book on hospitals that the reason for his taking up medicine was the following. When he came to Baghdād he visited the `Adudi Hospital, and it so happened that he met an old man there who was the hospital pharmacist. He asked him about drugs and who was the first to discover them. The other answered: "The first known drug was the 'living world,' because of Ablanius the descendant of Asclepius. This Ablanius had an acute swelling on his arm, which was very painful. He desired to go to the riverbank, and ordered his servants to take him. A certain plant was growing there, and he put his arm on it. This cooled it and the pain was relieved; he left his arm there for a long time, and on the morrow did the same, until he was cured. People saw how fast he had recovered and were informed of that plant which had effected the cure, they called the plant 'the life of the world.'" Ionynes abbreviated it to the 'living world.' When al-Rāzī heard this he was amazed. He came back to that hospital and saw a boy born with one head and two faces. Asking the physicians for the reason, he was informed accordingly and greatly astonished. Thus he [p.534] continued to ask one thing after the other, the answers were given, and he stored them up in his heart until he decided to learn the profession, in which he became the Arab Galen.

This is Abū Sa`īd's version. Others say that al-Rāzī was among those who decided to build the `Adudi Hospital and that `Adud al-Dawlah had consulted him concerning a suitable site. Al-Rāzī ordered a slave to hand a piece of meat in each quarter of Baghdād and then watched to see which one did not spoil and rot quickly. In that quarter he suggested that the hospital be built, and indeed it was.

Kamal al-Dīn Abū al-Qāsim ibn Abū Turāb al-Baghdādī the scribe told me the following: "When he built the hospital which is called after him, `Adud al-Dawlah, intended to employ there a group of the best physicians, and accordingly asked for a list of the famous physicians who were then living in Baghdād and its environs. More than a hundred names were given and he chose about fifty from them, taking into account their circumstances and their medical skill. Al-Rāzī was among them. Then he chose ten from the fifty, and al-Rāzī was among these. At last he chose three out of the ten, and again al-Rāzī was one of them. He then compared the three and found al-Rāzī to be the best, so he put him in charge of the hospital."

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah continues: The truth emerged as the following. Al-Rāzī was older then `Adud al-Dawlah ibn Buwayhi, and he had frequented the hospital before its restoration by `Adud al-Dawlah; for he wrote a book describing the hospital and the conditions of the patients he found there.

`Ubayd Allāh ibn Jibrā΄īl told the author that when `Adud al-Dawlah built the new hospital at the end of the bridge on the west side of Baghdād he brought in physicians from all around. He ordered twenty-four to be chosen from them, and among those selected was Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Baks, a blind man who used to teach medicine there. Also chosen were Abū al-Hasan ibn Kashkarāyā, known as the disciple of Sunān, Abū Ya`qub al-Ahwāzī, Abū `Isā Baqiyyah, al-Quss al-Rūmī, [p.535] the sons of Hasnun, and a group of physicists. `Ubayd Allāh continues: "My father Jibrā'īl had come from Shīrāz with `Adud al-Dawlah and was classified among the physicists of the hospital and as one of the specialists. The hospital also had some distinguished oculists, such as Abū Nasr ibn al-Dahlī, surgeons, like Abū al-Khayr and Abū al-Hasan ibn Tuffāh, and his group, and bone-setters, including Abū al-Salt."

Sulaymān ibn Hassān said that al-Rāzī was in charge of the hospital in al-Ray a long time before he was employed at the `Adudi Hospital. He has it that al-Rāzī started out as a lute-player and only later turned to medicine and philosophy, in which he excelled.

The judge Sā`id in his book "The History of the Nations" says that al-Rāzī did not go deeply into theology and could not grasp its ultimate significance. This warped his mind, and he adopted hateful opinions and followed wicked paths. He censured people whom he could not understand and whose ways he could not learn.

Muhammad ibn Ishāq al-Nadīm, known as Abū al-Faraj Abū Ya`qub, wrote in his "Fihrist" that al-Rāzī was traveling in the country when he struck up a warm friendship with Mansūr ibn Ismā`īl, for whom he wrote the Mansūrī book. Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Warrāq told Abū al-Faraj that a very old man from al-Ray, whom he had asked about al-Rāzī, told him that the latter was a shaikh with a very large head who used to sit in his council with his disciples opposite him, behind them their disciples and behind them theirs. When a man came he would tell his problem to the first ones he met. If they could solve it well and good — if not, they would pass it on to the others: if they knew, so much the better, but if not, al-Rāzī would discuss it. He was noble and virtuous, pure of heart and kind to the poor and sick, giving generous donations and treating them.

Abū Ya`qūb continues: "Whenever I visited him, I never saw him leaving the stairs [?] and the books he was correcting for better or worse. His sight was affected by the amount of broad beans he used to eat until [p.536] he became blind in his last years. He used to say that he studied philosophy under al-Balkhī. This al-Balkhī was a man from Balkh who traveled around the world, profoundly knowledgeable in philosophy and the sciences of the ancients. It is said that al-Rāzī used his name as a pen-name. Ibn al-Nadīm saw a great deal of material on many sciences written in his hand, canvasses and notebooks of which he did not compile a whole book for publication; however, people say that his books were available in Khurasan.

"Al-Rāzī had a contemporary called Shahfd ibn al-Husayn, known as Abū al-Hasan, who followed his path of philosophy in the sciences and wrote copiously. He and al-Rāzī had arguments in which each contradicted the other."

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah continues: al-Rāzī was wise, skilled and benevolent to the sick, endeavoring to do his utmost for them. He persevered in his research into the unknown in medicine and in his quest of its truths and secrets. He applied the same zeal in the other sciences too, to the point where most of the time he had no interest in anything but the study of the problems raised by the distinguished scholars in their works. I found a mention by him in one of his books that he had a noble friend who used to spend the nights with him reading Hippocrates and Galen.

There are many stories told about al-Rāzī with various morals concerning his skill in medicine and his genius in the treatment of the sick, the recognition of their maladies from given information and his prescriptions and drugs, which few physicians knew about. He himself tells many stories in this connection, drawn from his experience. A number of them he mentioned in a special chapter of his book "Al-Hāwī" [the Collection] and in his "Secrets of Medicine."

The judge Abū Alī al-Muhsin ibn Abū Jahm al-Tanūkhī, in his book "The Relief Following Suffering," mentions the following story to exemplify his miraculous prescriptions and prognoses. It is told in [p.537] the name of Muhammad ibn Alī ibn al-Khalāl al-Basrī Abū al-Husayn, a truthful judge, who heard it from a trustworthy physician. A youth from Baghdād arrived at al-Ray emitting blood. It had happened while he was on his way, and he was asking for Abū Bakr al-Rāzī, the physician celebrated for his skill, the author of famous books. He showed the latter the hemorrhage and told his story. Al-Rāzī took his pulse, examined his urine and then asked him to describe his condition from its onset. He could not detect any sign of phthisis or ulcer and was at a loss to diagnose the illness, so he asked for time to think the matter over. The patient was overcome by pain and exclaimed: "I give up hope if this skillful physician does not know my malady! " The bleeding increased, and then it occurred to al-Rāzī to return and ask him about the water he had drunk on his way. He was informed that the man had drunk from swamps and cisterns. The physician, with his trained mind and sharp intellect, then hit upon the idea that there had been leech in the water which had entered his stomach and was now causing the bleeding. He said to the youth: "Tomorrow I shall come and treat you, and I will not leave you until you are cured. Only on one condition, that you will order your servants to obey me in whatever I tell them to do." The patient having agreed, al-Rāzī went and got two big tubs full of green moss, which he brought with him on the morrow and showed to the youth, ordering him to swallow their entire contents. The patient swallowed a little and then stopped. The physician ordered him to go on, but he said he could not. He then told the servants to take him and lay him on his back, which they did. They opened his mouth, and al-Rāzī forced the moss into his throat, pushing it hard and ordered him to swallow it, willy nilly, even threatening him with a beating, until he swallowed all of one of those tubs, while crying for help — but nothing could stop al-Rāzī. He then said: "This very moment I shall vomit it all!" But al-Rāzī only continued to press the moss into his mouth, until the patient was overcome by the urge and vomited.  [p.538] Al-Rāzī examined the vomit and indeed found a leech in it. By its nature it started to leave its place and turn to gnaw on the moss when it felt its presence; the patient ejected it, together with the moss and arose cured.

Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn `Abd Allāh ibn Muhammad al-Rāzī, known as Ibn Hamdūn, told in the name of Abū Bakr Ahmad ibn Alī al-Rāzī the jurist, who heard it from Abū Bakr ibn Qārin al-Rāzī the skillful physician, that the famous al-Rāzī knew many sciences better than the Hadith, but the people used to tell and write traditions in his name which I had never heard from him. The judge from Tanūkh notes that in spite of his long acquaintance with al-Rāzī, he had never heard this story from him.

Said Ibn Qārim al-Rāzī, who was al-Rāzī's medical student, relates that he heard al-Rāzī telling the following story after his return from the Emir of Khurāsān, who had called for him and was cured by him of a grave illness. Said al-Rāzī: "On my way I passed through Naysābūr Baykām, which is a place midway between Naysābūr and al-Ray. Its chief welcomed me, took me to his house and treated me most kindlv. He then asked me to examine his son, who had dropsy. He took me into a house which was set aside for him and I examined him, but my host did not want him to be cured, so I diverted my conversation in front of the patient. When I was left alone with the father, who had asked me whether I agreed with him, I confirmed this and threw him into despair of his son's life, saying: "Let him do as he likes, for he will not live long!" I then left Khurāsān and came back twelve months later. I passed by there and the man welcomed me back. When we met I felt a great uneasiness, for I had no doubt as to his son's death, remembering that I was the one to announce it, and fearing lest I be a burden upon him. He took me into the house and I could not find any sign of the situation, but I was loath to ask him about his son and thus renew his sorrow. One day he asked me: 'Do you recognize this fellow?' pointing to a youth of good [p.539] countenance and health, with plentiful blood and vigor, who was standing among the boys serving us. I said I did not know him, and he told me it was his son, of whose life I had made him despair. I was amazed and asked how he had recovered. He then told that after I had left, the boy understood that I had made his father despair of him and said to him: 'Undoubtedly this man, who is unique in our times in medicine, made you give up hope for me; now I have a request that you do not let these boys (meaning those serving him), who are my friends, come here; for when I see them healthy, knowing that I am going to die, my heart is assailed by fever which hastens my end. Spare me this, by keeping them away from me, and allot to my service that woman, my nurse.' The father fulfilled his request; she was given her daily keep, and the boy was given everything he asked for without any restraint. One day, when the nurse was given meat cooked in sour milk to eat, she left it where the boy could see it, and went back to her duties. She told the father that when she came back she saw that his son had eaten most of what was in the bowl, and what was left seemed to be spoiled. She asked him what it was, and he exclaimed: 'Don't go near the bowl!' and snatched it away, saying: 'I saw a great snake come out, creep toward it, and eat from it, then it vomited and its color changed to what you see now. I said to myself — I am going to die, and would not like to suffer great pain. When shall I have an opportunity like this? — so I ate from the bowl as much as I could, so that I would die quickly and find rest. When I could not eat any more I returned to my place, and then you came in.' The nurse saw the meat in sour milk on his hands and mouth and cried out. He said: 'Do not do anything, but go and bury the bowl with its contents, lest somebody eat from it and die, or an animal eat it and bite somebody to death.' She did as he said, and then went to the boy's father and told the whole story. He was overwhelmed by grief and rushed to his son, whom he found asleep. He ordered him [p.540] to be left undisturbed until they could find out what to do. He woke up at the end of the day, having sweated profusely, and asked for the pot. He rushed to it and his stomach evacuated fiercely. That night and the following day he evacuated more than a hundred times, and their despair for him deepened. After many days had passed, he ate a little, and then asked for chicks and ate them. His strength steadily returned, after being so thin that his belly touched his back. Hope for his recovery grew stronger and he was forbidden to mix his food. His strength increased, until he came to be as al-Rāzī now witnessed.

"I was greatly astonished and remarked that the ancients had said that a man afflicted with dropsy may be cured by eating the meat of a reptile hundreds of years old. Now if I had told the man that that would be his son's cure, he would have thought that I was just evading the issue for how can we know how old a reptile is, when we find it and it stays silent?!"

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah continues: Al-Rāzī has many such personal anecdotes, of which I mentioned several in my book "Stories of Physicians about Treating the Sick." Al-Rāzī stayed mostly in Persia, his homeland, and that of his family. He served as physician to the kings of the Persians and wrote many books there, on medicine and other topics. He dedicated his book "al-Mansūri" to al-Mansūr ibn Ismā`īl ibn Khāqān the ruler of Khurāsān and Transoxania. His "al-Mulukī" was dedicated to `Alī the son of the ruler of Tabaristān. Al-Rāzī also applied himself to the philosophical sciences and distinguished himself in that field. In the beginning he was interested in natural magic and chemistry and what pertains to them. He wrote books on all of these subjects. I have copied the following from a manuscript by Balmuzaffar ibn Mu`arrif: al-Rāzī used to say: "I do not consider a man to be a philosopher unless he knows the science of chemistry, for by this he has no need to have recourse to the filthiness of people and can stay clear from them and their help." [p.541]

A physician told me that al-Rāzī had sold to some people from Byzantium golden ingots, which they carried to their country; a few years later they found an alteration in their color and so realized that they were spurious. They brought them back and he was compelled to take them.

Another one told me that once al-Rāzī entertained a vizier as his guest and the latter heartily enjoyed the food he ate there. He thought about the matter until he bought one of the girls who cooked for al-Razī, hoping that she would cook the same for him. When she prepared some food, he did not find it as tasty as it was at al-Rāzī's. Having asked her about it, she informed him that the food was the same, only the pots at al-Razi's were all of gold and silver. He then understood that this explained the taste and that al-Rāzī had mastered the science of chemistry. He summoned al-Rāzī and ordered him to teach him all he knew about chemistry, but al-Rāzī would not disclose a thing. The other envied his knowledge and would have wished to strangle him with a rope.

Others say that in the beginning al-Rāzī was a moneychanger, a fact that is proved by an old manuscript by al-Mansūrī that I have found, the end of which has disappeared and the rest mostly torn because of its age. Its introduction runs exactly thus: "The compendium of al-Mansūrī, written by Muhammad ibn Zakariyyā the money-changer." The man to whom the manuscript belongs informed me that it is in al-Rāzī's own handwriting. Al-Rāzī was a contemporary of Ishāq ibn Hunayn and the group of that generation. In his last years he became blind of a cataract. It was suggested that he undergo a perforation, but he refused to allow this, saying: "I have seen this world to the point where I am weary of it."

Abū al-Khayr al-Hasan ibn Suwār ibn Bābā, who was roughly of the same generation as al-Rāzī, said that the latter died in 290/902-3 or 300/912, but he was in doubt about the date. I have copied from a [p.542] manuscript by BalMuzaffar ibn Mu`arrif that al-Rāzī died in 320/932. `Ubayd Allāh ibn Jibrā'īl reported that al-Rāzī held a high position in al-Ray and the other mountain cities. He lived until he was reached by Ibn al-`Amīd the master of al-Hāwi` al-Sāhib ibn Ibād, who arranged the publication of his book. For when he arrived at al-Ray, al-Rāzī was already dead, and he asked his sister for this book, paying many dinars, until finally she gave him the canvasses. He gathered together al-Rāzī's disciples, the physicians of al-Ray, and they put the book together, with the result that it came out with all the disorder that is in it.

Among al-Rāzī's sayings are:

"The truth of medicine is an attainable goal, and the treatment is what is found in textbooks, coupled with the experience and opinions of the skilled physician."

"Excessive reading of the sages' books and the study of their secrets are things advantageous to every physician of high standing."

"Our life is too short to learn the significance of every plant that grows, so learn the most famous that you know well, leave aside the irregularities and concentrate on those you have experimented with."

"One who has not studied the natural things, the philosophical sciences and the rules of logic, but is inclined to worldly pleasures — his knowledge is to be suspected, especially where medicine is concerned."

"When Galen and Aristotle agree upon something, it is the truth; when they disagree, it would be very difficult for us to decide where the truth lies."

"Maladies with fever are more fatal than cool maladies, because of the swiftness with which the fire moves."

"For recovering from an illness, when they desire some food that might harm them, the physician must use deceit in giving that food and changing it to a beneficial quality, but he should never forbid them to overcome their desire." [p.543]

"A physician must always be encouraging to his patient about his health and hope for it, even when he entertains doubts, for the state of the body follows that of the spirits."

"The physicians who are ignorant and copiers and the young ones who have no experience and no knowledge, only desires, are all murderers."

"The physician must not neglect any question he can put to his patient concerning the source of his illness from within or without —then he should judge which is the decisive factor."

"A patient must stick to one reliable physician only, for an error on his part, compared to his rightness, would be a trifling one."

"A patient who consults many physicians causes each one of them to fall into error."

"When a physician concentrates on experience, without analogy and the study of books, he is lost."

"One must not trust the good knowledge of medicine until he comes up against a tough problem and tests it."

"A physician must take the middle road — not turn to the world completely, nor turn wholly away from the next; let him be between desire and abstention."

"The movements of the planets lengthwise and widthwise determine the changes of natures and humors."

"The various conditions obtaining in different countries affect the humors, natures and habits and the quality of drugs and foods, so that a second-rate drug becomes fourth-rate and vice versa."

"When a physician is able to treat by diet without recourse to drugs he is a happy man."

"A thing agreed upon by the physicians, approved by analogy, but contradicted by experience, let it be your guide, and vice versa."

[There follows an example of his poetry.] —

Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī wrote the following books:

1) "Al-Hāwi" [the Collection], which is his best and most comprehensive medical work, as he had gathered in it everything he found separately [p.544] concerning maladies and their treatment in all the other books, from those of the ancients up to his contemporaries.

He quoted each source, all this despite the fact that he died before having had time to go over the proofs.

2) "The Demonstration," in two treatises, one of seventeen chapters, the other of twelve.

3) "Spiritual Medicine," known also as "Psychiatry," the aim of which is the treatment of the spirit's composition; twenty chapters.

4) A book proving that man was fashioned by a wise and capable creator, giving proofs from dissection and the functions of the members which show that the creation of Man could not have been by chance.

5) "The Fame of Nature," in which he intended to give an introduction to the natural sciences and an easy guide for the student to the understanding of the many various meanings in the books on that subject.

6) "Isagoge," an introduction to logic.

7) A selection of meanings from the "Categories."

8) A selection of meanings from the Peri Hermeneias."

9) A selection of meanings from the Analytics I to the end of the Allegorics.

10) "The Shape of the World," in which he aimed to clarify that the earth is round and situated at the middle of the celestial sphere, which has two poles on which it revolves; that the sun is bigger than the earth and the moon smaller than it, and so on.

11) A treatise on the cause of death of most animals from poisonous odors.

12) "On Those Who Claimed the Superiority of Geometry and Were Celebrated for It." in which he explains geometry's scope and uses and refutes those who overestimated its scope.

13) Seven researches on the discussion between himself and Saisan al-Manani, proving the wrongness of his statements and the worthlessness of his character.

14) "On Pleasure," aiming to clarify that it is included in comfort.  [p.545]

15) A treatise on the malady of which autumn is the cause and spring the remedy, although in both of them the sun is in the same tropic: dedicated to a scribe.

16) "On the Difference between a Warning Dream and the Other Kinds of Dreams."

17) "The Uncertainties and Contradictions in the Books of Galen."

18) "The Quality of Sight," explaining that it is not by rays which are emitted by the eye, and contradicting some statements in Euclid's "Optics."

19) A refutation of al-Nāshi' with regard to his ten questions, by which he aimed to attack the medical art."

20) "On Arthritis, Gout, and Sciatica," in 22 chapters.

21) Another small book on arthritis.

22) "The Twelve Books on the Art" (of medicine).

a. Didactical Introduction

b. Demonstrational Preface

c. Arguments

d. The regime

e. The prohibition

f. The elixir (10 chapters)

g. The nobility and virtue of the profession

h. The grading

i. The regimes

j. The proofs, marks and symbols

k. Love

1. Strength

23) A book on chemistry, which is closer to reality than to impossibility, a book which he entitled "The Confirmation."

24) "On Stones," clarifying what is therein.

25) "Secrets."

26) "The Secret of Secrets."  [p.546]

27) "The Direction."

28) "Epistle to the Elite."

29) "The Yellow Stone."

30) "Epistles to Kings."

31) A refutation of al-Kindī", who thought chemistry to be among the impossibilities.

32) A book proving that excessive diet and the rush to take drugs with a restriction on food are not conducive to health but cause sickness

33) A treatise explaining how ignorant physicians exaggerate their patients' condition by forbidding them to indulge their desires, and how many a man has fallen sick out of ignorance and conjecture.

34) "The Biography of Sages."

35) A treatise on the advantage of the mud-desert, dedicated to the judge Abū Hāzim.

3 6) A treatise on measles and scarlet fever, in fourteen chapters.

37). "On Stones in the Kidneys and Bladder."

38) A book for those who cannot reach a doctor, aiming to define the various maladies; here he discourses at length, mentioning one malady after the other, and how each can be treated by common drugs; this book is known as "The Medical Book of the Poor."

39) "The Drugs Found Everywhere," in which he mentions drugs which spare the skilled physician the need of any others, if he adds to them what is found in every house and kitchen.

40) A refutation of al-Jahiz's refutation of medicine.

41) On the contradictions in al-Jahiz's book "The Virtue of Theology" and his misunderstanding of the philosophers.

42) "The Classification and Intervention of Maladies," in which he describes the various maladies, their causes and treatment, and elucidates by means of classifications and interrelationships.

43) "The Mulūkī Medicine," on maladies and the way to treat each of them by foods, or when there is no other way, by drugs added to food so that the patient will not find them disagreeable. [p.547]

44) "On Hemiplegia."

45) "On Palsy."

46) "The Structure of the Eye."

47) "The Structure of the Liver."

48) "The Structure of the Female Organs [?]."

49) "The Structure of the Heart."

50) "The Structure of the Ear."

51) "The Structure of the Joints."

52) A pharmacopoeia.

53) A criticism and correction of the Mu`tazilah [free thinkers].

54) "On Bitter Cucumber."

55) "On Nourishment," being a compendium of all the mineral drugs

56) "On the Weights of Compound Drugs."

57) "On Special topics."

58) "The Great Book on Matter."

59) "The Reason for Which the Earth is Fixed in the Middle of the Celestial Sphere in Spite of its Revolving."

60) A book opposing Ibn al-Yamān's refutation of psychiatry.

61) A book on the fact that the world cannot be the loftiest thing we see.

62) A study on movement, which is not imaginary but real.

63) A treatise concerning the fact that the body has its own movement and that movement is a natural principle.

64) Ode on Logic.

65) Ode on Theology.

66) Ode on Greek Warnings.

67) "The Spheres and a Short Account of the Fates."

68) "The Reason that Nature Abhors Diet and Restrictions."

69) On broken bones and how the pain from them can be reduced by surgery and cold treatment.

70) A treatise on the motives which drive most people to seek the worst physicians rather than the best.  [p.548]

71) A treatise on the food's and fruits that should be given first and those which should be postponed.

72) A treatise on refutation of Ahmad ibn al-Tayyib al-Sarkhasī's refutation of Galen, concerning the bitter taste.

73) A refutation of al-Masma`ī the theologian, who refuted the materialists.

74) "On Periods, Which are Time, and on Emptiness and Fullness, which are Space."

7 5) A treatise clarifying the error of Jarīr the physician who forbade the Emir Ahmad ibn Ismā`ī1 to eat Syrian berries right after watermelon, and the reasons for his allowing it.

76) A criticism of the book of Anābū to Porphyry explaining the Aristotelian school of metaphysics.

77) "Metaphysics."

78) "Matter, Absolute and Partial."

79) An epistle to Abu al-Qāsim al-Balkhī, with additions and a response to his answer.

80) A book on metaphysics, following Plato.

81) A refutation of Abu al-Qāsim al-Balkhī's contradiction in the second essay of his book on metaphysics.

82) "Testing Gold and Silver and the Natural Scales."

83) "Validity in Philosophy."

84) "On Excusability of Those Who Play Chess."

85) "The Art of Playing Backgammon."

86) "The Tricks of Hunting."

87) "On the Fact that the World had a Wise Creator."

88) "On Sexual Intercourse," explaining the humors, its advantages and disadvantages.

89) A supplement to the above.

90) "Al-Mansurī," a book dedicated to the Emir Mansūr ibn Ishāq ibn Ismā`īl ibn Ahmad, the ruler of Khurāsān, in which he combines [p.549] conciseness plus the whole gamut of rules and witticisms and the main facts of medicine, its theory and practice; in ten essays:

a. Introduction to medicine, on the shape of the members and their functions

b. The humors of the body, their constitution and the mixtures prevalent in them, with many illustrations of physiognomy

c. The quality of foods and drugs

d. The preservation of health

e. Hair, skin and nails (on cosmetics)

f. The diet of travelers

g. Rules and generalizations of bone-setting, surgery and perforation

h. Poisons and venoms

i. Maladies that afflict the body from head to foot

j. Fevers and their consequences and is necessary to know in order to decide on the treatment.

91) A treatise supplementing the "al-Mansūrī," on natural phenomena.

92) A collection, known as "The Stronghold of Medicine," in which his aim was to collect everything which he could find in any medical book, old or new, and bring it under the same heading in one book. It is divided into twelve parts:

a. The preservation of health, the treatment of maladies, dislocations, surgery and drugs

b. The quality of foods and drugs and what has to be known for therapeutics

c. Compound medicines and what must be known about them, in the form of a Pharmacopoeia

d. Necessary data on the pulverization of drugs, their burning, melting, washing, extracting of their powers and preservation; how long each drug can be kept, etc.

e. The chemistry of medicine, describing the various drugs, their color, taste, odor, components, what is good and what is bad in this domain, etc. [p.550]

f. On permutation, mentioning a replacement for each food or drug when it is not available

g. Explanation of names, weights and measures which are used by druggists, and the names of members and maladies in Greek, Syriac, Persian, Hindu, and Arabic, in the form of books called "Shaqshamāhī"

h. Anatomy and the functions of the members

i. The natural factors in the art of medicine, aiming to show the natural causes of illnesses

j. Introduction to medicine; two essays — one on natural phenomena, the other on the origins of medicine

k. Collection of case histories, prescriptions, etc.

1. Data he found in Galen's books which are not mentioned by Hunayn or in Galen's Index.

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah notes that the above division is neither the one applied in "al-Hawī" nor a logical one, according to maladies, so that it is possible that these were drafts or works written by al-Rāzī, which were found posthumously in this order and were thought to be parts of one book. He says that he has never seen a complete copy of that book or met anybody who did.

93) "The Splendid Book of Medicine."

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah notes: This book was included among his works because it was attributed to him and became universally recognized as his. This is a fine book, in which the author exhausted known material on maladies, their treatment and drugs in the best and most thorough way. Most of it is taken from the "Book of Classification and Interrelationships" by al-Rāzī and the compendium of Ibn Serapion — anything taken from al-Rāzī starts with the words: "Said Muhammad . . . " Amīn al-Dawlah ibn al-Tilmīdh has a marginal note on this book, saying that it is by al-Rāzī and that the man mentioned by al-Rāzī frequently in this book as "Muhammad" is the physician known as al-Hasan, who served al-Muqtadir. He was a skillful physician in Baghdād, whose [p.551] house was the hearthplace of medicine. He had three brothers: one was an expert oculist known as Sulaymān, the second a physician, but not of the same rank as he, known as Harūn, and the third a chemist famous in his profession in Baghdād, the author of a wonderful compendium of his experiments, only it is hard to find, except in Baghdād itself.

94) A treatise on the state of the body when a part of it is cut off and cannot be reconnected until it is cured; when that part is small, it is reconnected by major surgery, although this cannot cure the body when the said part is much larger.

95) An epistle on water cooled by ice or without ice; on water that is boiled and then cooled by ice and snow.

96) A book on what makes a fresh fish dry up.

97) A book on the fact that there is no nonintoxicating drink which can fulfill all the functions of the intoxicating and praiseworthy drink in the body.

98) "On the Signs of an Ascending Dynasty."

99) "The Superiority of the Eye over the Rest of the Sense Organs."

100)  An epistle proving that the rising and setting of the sun and stars which we imagine is caused not by the revolutions of the earth but by those of the celestial sphere.

101) "On Logic," in which he mentions all the essentials in the expressions of Islamic theologians.

102) A refutation of those who imagine that the stars are not perfectly round, and the like.

103) On the fact that those who have no experience with demonstrations cannot grasp the fact that the earth is round and the people are around it.

104) An epistle in which he discusses the natural ground, is it mud or stone, inside the world of nature.

105) An explanation of the fact that combination requires two parts, etc.

106) A treatise on habit, explaining that it is natural.

107) A treatise on the advantage of constantly closing the eyes. [p.552]

108) On the reason that the eye contracts in the light and dilates in the dark.

109)  A treatise on why simple folk think ice is drying.

110) A treatise on the reason that ice burns and ulcerates.

111) "The Nourishment of the Sick."

112) A treatise on his correction of the philosophical difference between those who claim the eternal creation of bodies and their opponents.

113) On the minor illnesses, which are difficult to identify and treat, etc.

114) On why simple folk despise the expert physician.

115) An epistle on compound causes, the blamelessness of the physician, and the like.

116) An epistle on maladies which are fatal because of their severity and because of their unexpected occurrence, factors that prevent the physician from combating them, and his blamelessness in this respect.

117) On the fact that even the expert physician cannot cure all illnesses, for this would be an impossibility even for one with the skill of Hippocrates; but the physician deserves to be praised and thanked

and the art of medicine glorified and honored, even though the physician cannot do that [cure all illnesses] even after he has risen above his contemporaries.

118) An epistle on the fact that the professional known by his profession is not to be found in the best fields, and not only in medicine; on the reason that the ignorant physicians, the boors and the women in the towns sometimes have more success in the treatment of certain maladies than the learned physicians, and the excusability of the latter.

119) "The Testing of Medicine," in the form of a compendium.

120) "On the Fact That the Soul Is not a Body."

121) "The Seven Stars of Wisdom."

122) An epistle to al-Hasan ibn Ishāq ibn Muhārīs al-Qummī.

123) "On the Deceived Soul" (editor's note: Maybe on the smaller soul [p.553] or as in the Fihrist catalogue, a lesser book on the soul and a greater book on the soul. There is no doubt that the above title is wrong.)

124) "On the Greater Soul."

125) "On Why Abū Zayd al-Balkhī is Afflicted with Rheum Every Spring When He Smells Roses."

126) An epistle on the test of the physician: what his mental and physical makeup should be, his behavior and education.

127) An epistle on what can be criticized in the rules of the stars set by those natural philosophers who did not claim that the stars are living bodies, and what can be criticized in the opinion of those who claim them to be such.

128) On the reason for which, in the minds of certain people, sleep appears similar to rheum.

129) "Doubts as to Pericles."

130) A commentary on Plutarch's "Timaeon."

131) An epistle on why beasts and lions were created.

132) Supplements to his criticism of the materialists.

133) On the controversy between pagans and monotheists concerning the creation of the world, and that the latter is allowable on the part of both the monotheists and those who claim that the world is everlasting, on the grounds of the little that is known of the causes of action.

134) A criticism of Alī ibn Shahīd al-Balkhī's criticism of him concerning pleasure.

135) "On Mathematics."

136) A criticism on measuring the position of Imām [?].

137) On the test that it is not permissible to be either at a standstill or in separation.

138) A supplement to Plutarch's work.

139) A criticism on the "Book of Regime."

140) A summary of Galen's "The Road to Health." [p.554]

141) A summary of Galen's "Greater Book of the Pulse."

142) A summary of Galen's "Causes and Aims."

143) A summary of Galen's "Painful Members."

144) A criticism of the free-thinkers.

145) A criticism of al-Balkhī's criticism of the "Book of Metaphysics," and his refutation.

146) On the fact that it is possible to have quiescence and combination, but not a vowel and combination.

147) An epistle on the fact that the diameter of the square does not fit the side without geometrical calculations.

148) An expression of sympathy with the theologians who are advanced in philosophy, aiming to clarify the philosophical school in theology for the benefit of those who study it.

149) "On Preferable Behavior and the Behavior of People of the Perfect State."

150) "On the Necessity of Invocations and Prayers."

151) "On the Student of Metaphysics, his Goal and his Perseverance and Understanding as Means to Reach It."

152) An epistle on the phantom in metaphysics.

153) "On the Advantages of Different Foods and How to Avoid the Harmful in Them," in two essays; the first explains how to avoid the harmful effects of food in every season, condition and humor, the second (composed of two parts) the use of foods and the avoidance of indigestion and its injuries. This book was dedicated to the Emir Abū al-`Abbās Ahmad ibn Alī.

154) An epistle to Alī ibn Shahīd al-Balkhī, reaffirming the life to come. In it he criticizes those who deny the resurrection and reasserts it.

155) "The Reason for Which the Magnetic Stone Draws the Iron," containing a great deal about the vacuum.

156) "The Greater Book of the Soul."

157) "The Lesser Book of the Soul."

158) "The Rational Scales."  [p.555]

159) "On Intoxicating Drinks," in two essays.

160) "On Oxymel, its Advantages and Disadvantages."

161) "On Colic."

162) "On Acute Colic," known as "The Little Book on Colic."

163) "On Galen's Commentary to Hippocrates' 'Members'."

164) "Hatred, its Cure and Origins."

165) A refutation of Mansūr ibn Talhah's "Book of Existence."

166) A book presenting his intention to disclose his opinion on the vices of the saints.

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah comments: Only Allāh knows if in fact he composed this book. — It is probable that one of the wicked enemies of al-Rāzī wrote it and ascribed it to him. As for me, I have never met anybody who saw this book or heard al-Rāzī talking about it. For al-Rāzī is too lofty to handle such a subject or to write in such a manner. Even some of those who censure him or even brand him an atheist, like `Alī ibn Ridwān al-Misrī, call this book "The Book of al-Rāzī about the Fine Prophets."

167) "On the Influence of the Virtuous and Infallible Imām."

168) "On the Vomiting of the Feverish before Recovery."

169) "The Imām Who Is Injured in the Brain and Retains his Urine."

170) "The Best Students."

171) "The Conditions of Research."

172) "Opinions on Nature."

173) "The Error in the Aim of the Physician."

174) "Poems on Metaphysics."

175) "Description of the Measures of an Unsurpased Unguent."

176) A rendering of al-Jābir's al-'As' into verse.

177) An epistle on composition.

178) An epistle on the qualities of grammar.

179) An epistle on thirst and the increase in heat it causes.

180) "The Beauty of Music."  [p.556]

181) "The Imagination and Spiritual Movements."

182) "On the Use of Iron and Aloes-Wood."

183) "Credo."

184) "The Things Overlooked by the Philosophers."

185) "The Secret of Philosophy."

186) "The Functions of the Members."

187) "The Comprehensive Book of Medicine."

188) "On the Hadīth."

189) "Abridged Pharmacopoeia."

190) "On Health," explaining that there are two kinds of combination —the composition of opposing bodies and the composition of similar bodies, and that they are not the same.

191) An epistle to Abū al-Qāsim ibn Dulaf concerning philosophy.

192) An epistle to Alī ibn Wahbān, containing a chapter about the sun.

193) An epistle to Ibn Abū al-Sāj on philosophy.

194) An epistle to the preacher al-Atrūsh on philosophy.

195) "The Secrets of Secrets in Philosophy."

196) "The Secret of Medicine."

197) "On the Advantage of Phlebotomy Accompanying Vomiting the Harmful and Congesting Matter, and its Preferability to All Other Kinds of Relief," explaining that when it is required nothing whatever must stand in its way; a book dedicated to the Amir Abū Alī Ahmad ibn Ismā`īl ibn Ahmad.

198) "The Instruction," known as the "Book of Members."

199) A work on complete maladies, which the sages cannot explain and in which the physician is forced to persevere with the patient and use experiments in order to drive them away and understand them, and his perplexity concerning them.

200) A summary on the object of milk.

201)Report of a conversation carried on between him and al-Mas`ūdī concerning the creation of the world. [p.557]

202) "Introduction to Medicine."

203) A treatise on tastes.

204) A treatise on dandruff and leprosy.

205) "The Beauty of Books."

206) "On Immediate Recovery," dedicated to the vizier Abū al-Qāsim ibn `Abd Allāh."

207) "On Hemorrhoids and Splittings in the Posteriors."

208) A discourse on the differences between illnesses.

209) "On the Inflammation of the Udder and Bladder."

210) "The Medicine of the Poor."

211) An epistle to the vizier Abū al-Hasan All ibn `Isā ibn Dā'ud ibn al-Jarrāh al-Qinā'ī on the maladies which afflict the exterior of the body.

212) An epistle to his disciple Yūsuf ibn Ya`qūb on eye-medicines, their application and treatment, and the composition of such drugs.

213) "The Chemistry of Medicine."

214) "On the Substances of Bodies."

215) "Autobiography."

216) A treatise on rheum and cold, the stuffed-up head, and how to stop the cold from descending to the chest; the smells which clog up the nostrils and how to avoid inhaling them.

217) "The Permutation of Drugs Used in Medicine and Treatment, their Rules, and the Way to Use Them."

218) "Description of Hospitals."

219) An abridged treatise on foods.

220) A treatise being an answer to a question put to him — why does a man who restrains himself in sexual intercourse live long? Dedicated to the Emir Abū al- `Abbās Ahmad ibn Alī.

221) "On Why Eating Warms the Body of All Animals Except Man, Who after Eating Cools Down."

222) A treatise on entities. [p.558]

223) "The Hot Bath, its Advantages and Disadvantages."

224) "On Laxatives and Purgatives."

225) "On the Treatment of the Eye with the Iron."


Abū al-Hasan Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tabarī, from Tabaristān, was a distinguished and learned physician who served the Emir Rukn al-Dawlah. He wrote a compendium of many essays known as "The Treatment of Hippocrates," a very fine book in which he excellently summarized all the maladies and their treatment.


Abū Sulaymān al-Sijistānī. Abū Sulaymān Muhammad ibn Tābir ibn Bahrām from Sijistān was a logician distinguished in the philosophical sciences, which he studied profoundly. In Baghdād he met Yahyā ibn `Alī and studied with him. He was also well-versed in literature and poetry [a poem follows].

He wrote the following books:

1) An essay on the degrees of human strength and the qualities of the spiritual; precautions taken against the vicissitudes of this world.

2) A discourse on logic.

3) Several problems put to him and his answers to them.

4) Philosophical notes, jokes and anecdotes.

5) A treatise on the fact that the celestial bodies belong by their nature to the fifth degree, that they have souls, and that these souls are rational.


Abū al-Khayr al-Hasan ibn Sawār ibn Bābā ibn Bahnām, known as Ibn al-Khammār. Bahmam is a Persian expression which is made up of two words — Bah, good, and Nām, name — i.e., the name of good. This Abū al-Khayr was a Christian whose medical knowledge was broad and sound.

He was also an expert in the philosophical sciences, which he studied with Yahyā ibn `Adī, and the author of many fine works on medicine and other [p.559] disciplines. He was an adept translator and rendered many books from Syriac into Arabic. I have seen some of them in his own script, and found them worthy. Abū al-Khayr was the epitome of intelligence and virtue. He was born in Rabī I 331/November 942.

Abū al-Khattāb Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Abū Tālib in his "General Book on Medicine" mentioned Abū al-Khayr as still being alive in the year 330/941. In "The Solution to al-Rāzī's Doubts about Galen" Abū al-Hasan `Alī ibn Ridwān wrote thus: "In our generation there lived al-Hasan ibn Bābā, known as ibn al-Khammār, who reached such perfection in medicine that he was accepted by Mahmūd the king of the earth. This King Mahmūd was indeed great, but that person [Abū al-Khayr] was a philosopher of fine reasoning and vast knowledge. He knew how to treat scholars and the chiefs of the people, great men and kings.  His method was as follows. When somebody who behaved humbly and devotedly called him, he went on foot, saying: 'This walking is an atonement for my passing over to the people of immorality and tyranny'; but when he was called by the Sultan, he rode to him as a king or an important personage, with three hundred Turkish slaves accompanying him on fine horses, dressed in splendid attire. He paid his profession its due share of humility to the weak and arrogance with the powerful. This was also the way of Hippocrates, Galen, and the rest, for some of them were humble, chaste and modest, while others vaunted the virtues of their knowledge."

Abū al-Faraj ibn Hindū in his book "The Key to Medicine" mentioned that he had seen in Persia a group who was refuting the medical art. head of this opposing party was an enemy of his master Abū al-Khayr ibn al-Khammār the philosopher and urged the masses to do him harm. Once that leader was suffering from a headache and Abū al-Khayr was consulted He said: "He must place under his head the book in which he opposed medicine, so that God will cure him." But he would not treat him.

Abū al-Khayr wrote the following books:  [p.560]

1) A treatise on matter.

2) "The Agreement between Philosophy and Christianity," in three essays.

3) A commentary on the "Isagoge," with anatomical dissection.

4) The same, abbridged.

5) A treatise on friends and friendship.

6) "The Conduct of the Philosopher."

7) A treatise on the imaginary effects in the air, caused by vapors which are the halo, the rainbow and fog, written in the form of questions and answers.

8) A treatise on happiness.

9) An explanation of the ancients' opinion on the Creator, may He be glorified, and the beginnings with their causes.

10) "The Examination of Physicians," a treatise dedicated to the Emir Khwārizmshāh Abū al-`Abbās Ma'mūn ibn Ma'mūn.

11) "On the Creation of Man and the Composition of his Members," in four essays.

12) "The Rules of the Old Men," at the beginning of which he tells how Hunayn ibn Ishāq had composed this book in Syriac, gathering the necessary pieces of information from the books of Galen and Rufus on this subject and adding his own contributions in the form of questions and answers. Abū al-Khayr simplified and classified this book, eliminated the question and answer form, and compiled it in twenty-six chapters.

13) A commentary on the discussion about the form of fire which was carried on between Abū Zakariyyā Yahyā ibn `Adī and Abū Ishāq Ibrāhīm ibn Bakus, plus an explanation of the false opinion of Abū Sulaymān Muhammad ibn Tāhir on the forms of the elements.

14) A treatise on the illness known as the divine malady, which is epilepsy.

15) A classification of the "Isagoge" and "Categories" by Alimus the Alexandrian, based on al-Hasan ibn Sawār ibn Bābā's translation [p.561] from Syriac to Arabic, with a commentary by way of marginal notes.

I got this from the register written by al-Hasan ibn Sawār.


Abū al-Faraj ibn Hindū. The illustrious and virtuous scholar Abū al-Faraj Alī ibn al-Husayn ibn Hindū was among the most distinguished in philosophy, medicine and the literary arts, the author of superior prose and excellent poetry, famous books and celebrated attainments. He was also a skilled scribe, and served successfully in this capacity. He studied medicine under Shaikh Abū al-Khayr al-Hasan ibn Sawār ibn Bābā, known as Ibn al-Khammār, and was among his best students.

Abū Mansūr al-Tha`ālibī in his book "The Genius of the Times" described Abū al-Farj ibn Hindū as follows: "He had great success in the arts and sciences, his works were the essence of exquisite expression; he was unique in his poetry and unequaled in his choice of exceptional meanings. He composed pearls of verses by taming the eloquent expressions and drawing distant concepts closer. Those who heard or saw it said: 'Is this magic, or do you not understand?'

The same source cites many examples of his poetry [poems follow —extreme examples of affected eloquence, poems about movement and effort, about bachelorhood, patience, for and against young boys, about drinks and old men who stain themselves with them, a poem written about the lute, on anemones, on perfection, on complaining, in praise of joking and the return to writing poetry].

Abū al-Faraj ibn Hindū wrote the following:

1) A treatise called "The Key to Medicine," in ten chapters, dedicated to his brothers the scholars.

2) A treatise inspiring desire to become initiated in philosophy.

3) "Spiritual Expressions from the Greek Wisdom."

4) An anthology of his poetry.

5) A humorous epistle called "The Arbitration between the Adulterers and the Fornicators."   [p.562]


Al-Hasan al-Fasawī was a well-known physician from the town of Fasā in Persia, a distinguished medical practitioner and researcher. He served the Buwayhid dynasty, in particular King Bahā' al-Dawlah ibn `Adūd al-Dawlah, whom he accompanied on his travels and from whom he won great favors. When the Emir of the Emirs Abū Mansūr Buwayhi ibn Bāhā' al-Dawlah fell ill in Rajab of the year 398/March 1008 while staying with his father in Basrah, Bahā' al-Dawlah decided to leave that city and go to Tastur to hunt and make merry. He had great pity for this son of his and kept a close watch on him for fear he might get hurt, forbidding the soldiers to frequent him. The boy stayed with his father like one imprisoned, forbiden to indulge his desires. Now it happened that in Kajab on the eve of the day on which his father had intended to go hunting, this boy was afflicted with fever which weakened him considerably. The nobleman responsible for him said to Bahā' al-Dawlah: "The Emir of the Emirs has fever and it is not advisable to move him. My opinion is to leave him hero." —"No, let him be carried at once without any further talk.'' — "But if he is excited it will be the end of him, and he will refuse to stay behind for a long time." The King would not listen to the nobleman, but asked our physician al-Hasan al-Fasawī to go to his son and examine him, for he had confidence in him. The physician went and examined him, and then came back, saying: "It is right to leave him and postpone his departure." He then discreetly pointed out the graveness of his son's illness and explained its symptoms, so that the King despaired of his life. He then agreed to leave him behind. However, the boy's illness grew worse owing to complications, and he died on Sunday the 2nd of Sha`ban 398/ June 1008.


Abū Mansūr al-Hasan ibn Nūh al-Qamarī was the leading personage of his generation, celebrated as a fine physician who had praiseworthy methods and a thorough and wide knowledge of medical theory. He had, may God bless him, a good hand in treatment and was held in great esteem by the kings of his times. [p.563]

The Shaikh and Imam Shams al-Dīn `Abd al-Hamīd ibn `Isā from Khusroshah told me that the Grand Master Ibn Sīna had met this physician when he was very old. He used to attend his council and lessons and benefited from his medical knowledge.

Abū Mansūr al-Hasan ibn Nūh al-Qamarī wrote the following books:

1) "Wealth and Fate, a fine compendium in which he summarized all the maladies and their treatments in the most perfect and concise way.

2) A collection of citations from the works of those who practiced medicine, especially al-Rāzī.

3) "The Causes of Maladies."


Abū Sahl al-Masīhī. Abū Sahl `Isā Yahyā al-Masīhī al-Jurjānī was a distinguished physician excelling in both theory and practice. He was eloquent and a fine author, with a nice handwriting and a good knowledge of Arabic. I have seen his book "On the Manifestation of God's Wisdom in the Creation of Man" in his script, which is the essence of beauty and correctness, perfection and exactness. This book is his best and most useful, for in it he gathered the sayings of Galen and others concerning the functions of the members in the clearest and simplest language, with personal additions which prove his outstanding virtue and profound knowledge. In the introduction he says: "Only he who compares between our part and theirs can appreciate the superiority of our contribution. This comparison must be made with prudence and impartiality, for one who does not study a thing carefully is not entitled to judge it and one who is not impartial cannot decide what is preferable. The one entitled to real criticism is the impartial scholar, who studies carefully and thoroughly our contribution and that of the others; he will notice how we have corrected, improved and supplemented, simplified and reordered the material in a way which is better fitting to the whole discourse and to each part of it; how we have dropped what is not related to this branch of the sciences and how much we have added as our contribution of detailed and secret [p.564] meanings which were hidden from them, either for their subtlety or for their loftiness; how we have proved subsequent matters by former phenomena (as opposed to what they had done), so that everything will be clear with its fundamentals and causes, and will constitute a true argument."

I have heard the illustrious shaikh and leading physician Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī, may God bless him, say: "I cannot find among the early and late Christian physicians anyone who is better than Abū Sahl al-Masīhī in eloquence, good expression, and fine meaning." It is said that al-Masīhī was the teacher of Ibn Sīnā in medicine, and that only after that became distinguished and skilled in it, and also in the philosophical sciences, to the point where he composed books for al-Masīhī and called them after him.

`Ubayd Allāh ibn Jibrā'īl said that al-Masīhī lived in Khurāsān and was favored by its sultan. He died when he was forty years of age. One of his sayings is: "Taking a nap during the day after eating is better than taking a good medicine."

His books are the following:

1) "The Book of the Hundred in Medicine," which is his best and most famous work and which carries a marginal note by Amīn al-Dawlah ibn al-Tilmīdh saying: "One must rely upon this book, for it is trustworthy, has no repetitions, is clear in expression and gives choice treatments."

2) The Manifestations of God's Wisdom in the Creation of Man."

3) "The Natural Sciences."

4) "General Medicine," in two treatises.

5) A treatise on smallpox.

6) Summary of "al-Magisti."

7) "interpretation of Dreams."

8) "On Epidemics," dedicated to al-Malik al-`Ādil Khwārismshāh Abū al-`Abbās Ma'mūn ibn Ma'mūn.  [p.565]


IBN SĪNĀ (Avicenna)

Al-Shaikh al-Ra'īs ibn Sīnā, i.e., Abū Alī al-Husayn ibn `Abdallāh ibn al-Hasan ibn Alī ibn Sīnā. He is so well known that there is no need to introduce him, and his merits are so renowned that they need not be recorded. He himself related the circumstances of his life in such detail that there is no point in anyone else's repeating then; for this reason I shall restrict myself to presenting his own story and to reproducing the biography given by his friend Abū `Ubaid al-Jūzjānī. This is the gist of what al-Shaikh al-Ra'īs told about himself, as transmitted by Abū `Ubaid al-Jūzjānī:

Al-Shaikh al-Ra'īs said: "My father was a native of Balkh, but moved from that city to Bukhārā in the days of Nūh ibn Mansūr and, during the reign of that prince, was appointed governor of the village of Kharmaithan, a government estate in the Bukhārā region and a most excellent locality. Near it is another village, Afshana, where my father married my mother and settled down. In that village I, and later my brother, was born. Then we moved to Bukhārā itself. I became a teacher of the Qur'ān and of literature. At the age of ten, I had already mastered the whole of the Qur'ān and an abundance of literature, so that I was held in great esteem. My father was one of those who responded to the call of the Egyptian propagandists and became a member of the Isma`īli sect, where upon he heard orations on the soul and intelligence after the fashion they used to discourse upon these subjects. The same went for my brother. Quite often they conversed with each other, and I listened to, and [p.566] understood, what they were saying, but my soul could not agree with it. They tried to persuade me, discoursing upon philosophy, geometry and Indian calculus [arithmetic]. Then [my father] sent me to a vegetable dealer who was well-versed in Indian calculus, in order that I might learn from him.

Later, Abū `Abdallāh al-Nātilī, called the philosopher, came to Bukhara, and my father lodged him in our house in the hope that he would teach me. Prior to his arrival I had applied myself to the study of law, attending the lessons of Isma`īl the Ascetic. I was a very good debater, since I had become familiar with the customary ways of asking questions and raising objections to the answers. Thereafter I began to study [Porphyry's] "Isagoge" under the tuition of al-Nātilī, and when, upon my question, he told me the definition of a genus, saying it was a category comprising many different species. I began to verify this definition in a way he had never heard of. Full of admiration, he warned my father not to let me occupy myself with anything but science. Whatever problem he set me I solved better than he. I studied the rudiments of logic under his tuition, but as to its intricacies, he was not acquainted with them. I then started reading books by myself with the help of commentaries, until I achieved complete mastery of the art of logic.

The same procedure was applied to Euclid's Book [of Elements]. I studied the first five or six chapters under al-Nātilī and then undertook to solve [the problems of] the remaining parts by myself. Next I turned to the Almagest, and when I had finished the introductory parts and reached the chapter on geometry, al-Nātilī said to me: "Try to study and solve them by yourself and then report to me what you have found so that I may tell you what is right and what is wrong." He had not mastered the book and after I had worked out the solutions, [it became clear] how many [difficult] passages he had not understood until I expounded them to him. [p.567]

Later, al-Nātilī left me and went to Kurkānj, and I applied myself to the study of natural history and metaphysics, reading both original texts and commentaries. The gates of knowledge opened to me. I then felt an inclination for medicine and set myself to perusing books on this subject. Medicine is not one of the difficult sciences; no wonder, therefore that I had soon made such progress in it that distinguished physicians came to study under me. I also tended the sick and thus gained an indescribable amount of practical knowledge of methods of treatment. In addition, I continued studying law and participating in discussions on this subject. At that time I was [only] sixteen years old.

Thereafter I devoted a year and a half entirely to study and reading, revising [texts on] logic and all the branches of philosophy. During this period I never slept a whole night, nor did I use the daytime for anything but study. I kept some blank sheets before me, and whenever I came across a difficult problem, I set it down and then considered what conclusions might be drawn from it so that, in the end, the solution came to me. Whenever I was baffled by a problem and could not determine the answer, I repaired to the great mosque and humbly prayed to the Creator until the obscure became clear and the difficult easy. In the evening I returned home, placed a lamp in front of me and applied myself to reading and writing. When sleep threatened to overpower me or I felt weak, I drank a cup of sharāb in order that my strength might be restored and I might be able to go on reading. Whenever I actually did doze off, 1 would dream of the very problem which had been occupying my mind, so that I solved many questions while asleep. I persevered in this way until I had mastered all the sciences and knew as much of them as is within the power of man to know. Everything I learnt at that time is as fresh in my memory as if I had learnt it now, and I have added nothing.

So I mastered logic, the natural sciences and mathematics. Then I turned to metaphysics and read the "Book of Metaphysics," but I did not [p.568] understand it, and the purpose of the author remained obscure to me. I reread it forty times, so that I came to know it by heart, but I still did not understand it nor the aim it served. I despaired of myself and said: This is a book which is impossible to comprehend. One day, at the time of the afternoon prayer, I happened to pass through the booksellers' [quarter] when I saw in the hand of an auctioneer a volume that he was advertising and offering to me. I gruffly declined the offer, convinced that such a purchase would be of no advantage. Whereupon he said to me: "Buy it for it is cheap. I am selling it to you for three dirhams because its owner is in need of money." So I bought it and behold, it was a book by Abū Nasr al-Farabī on the purpose of the "Book of Metaphysics." I went home, hastened to read it, and presently understood the "Book of Metaphysics," because I remembered its contents. I was delighted and the next day spent a considerable amount in alms to the poor as a thanksgiving to God the Exalted.

At that time, Nūh ibn Mansūr was Sultan of Bukhara. He contracted a disease which the physicians vainly tried to cure. As my name was well known among the medical men by reason of my assiduous studies, they mentioned me to the Sultan and advised him to send for me. I came and joined them in attending the Sultan, and as a consequence, I entered his service.

One day, I asked his permission to enter the court library, examine it and read its store of medical books. He granted my request, and I entered a building of many rooms, each of which were piled high with bookshelves. In one room were books on the Arabic language and on poetry, in another [books on] jurisprudence, so on, each room containing books on a specific subject. I perused the catalogue of the ancients and picked out those books that I needed. I saw books the titles of which many had never heard of and which I had never seen before or did see afterward. I read those books, profited by their contents and came to know the position occupied by each author in his discipline.

When I was eighteen years of age, I was already familiar with all these sciences. At that time my memory was better able to absorb facts, but [p.569] my knowledge is now more mature. At any rate, it is the same knowledge, for nothing new has accrued to me since.

There lived in my neighborhood a man named Abū'l-Husayn al-`Arūdī. He asked me to write a compendium of science for him, which I did and which I named after him. It deals with all the sciences except mathematics. At the time I was twenty-one years old.

Another of my neighbors was a man named Abū Bakr al-Barqī, who was born in Khwārizm. He was a renowned jurist, devoting himself entirely to jurisprudence, Qur'anic exegesis and ascetic practices. But he felt an inclination for the sciences and asked me to write commentaries on certain books for him. I wrote for him "al-Hāsil wal-Mahsūl," comprising nearly twenty volumes, and also — in the field of ethics — a book entitled "Virtue and Sin." These two books are to be found only with him for he never lent them to anyone for copying.

Then my father died and life underwent frequent changes. After serving in the administration of the Sultan, I was obliged to leave Bukhārā and to proceed to Kurkānj, where Abū'l-Husayn al-Sahlī, a lover of the sciences, held the office of vizier. I was introduced to the Emir Alī ibn Ma`mūn, dressed in the garb of a jurist with the tailasān and the taht al-hanak. I was granted a monthly allowance sufficient for the maintenance of a person of my standing.

I was subsequently compelled to leave for Nasā and from there to move to one place after another: Bāward, Tūs, Shaqān, Samnīgān, Jājirm on the border of Khurāsān and Jurjān. In Jurjān, it had been my intention to visit the Emir Qābus, but it so happened that he had in the meantime been arrested and imprisoned in one of the citadels, where he died. I then went to Dihistān, where I fell seriously ill, whereupon I returned to Jurjān. There I struck up a friendship with Abū `Ubayd al-Jūzjānī and composed a poem about myself, which includes the following line of another poet: [p.570]

"Since I have become great, there is no place that can contain me;
And since my price is high, no one is able to buy me."

Abū `Ubayd al-Jūzjānī, the friend of al-Shaikh al-Ra'īd, says: "The forgoing is what the Shaikh told me in his own words. From here on [I report what] I have myself witnessed of the circumstances of his life:

There lived in Jurjān a man named Abū Muhammad al-Shīrazī, who loved the sciences. He bought a house in his neighborhood for the Shaikh and lodged him therein. I visited him every day to study the Almagest and to write down [texts on] logic from his dictation. He dictated to me his treatise on this subject, "al-Mukhtasar al-Aussat." For Abū Muhammad al-Shīrāzī he wrote the "K. al-Mabdā' wal-Ma`ād" and the "ād al-Kulīya." He wrote many other books in Jurjān, such as the beginning of his Qānūn, and abridgment of the Almagest and a great number of treatises. His other books were written in Ard al-Jabal.

Here is a list of his books:

1) "K. al-Majmū'" (one volume);

2) "al-Hāsil wal-Mahsūl" (20 volumes);

3) "al-Insāf" (20 volumes);

4) "Virtue and Sin" (2 volumes);

5) "al-Shifā" (18 volumes);

6) "al-Qānun" (14 volumes);

7) "al-Arsād al-Kullīya" (one volume);

8) "K. al-Najāh" (3 volumes);

9) "al-Hidāyā" (one volume);

10) "al-Ishārāt" (one volume);

11) "al-Mukhtasar al-Aussat" (one volume);

12) "al-`Alā'ī" (one volume);

13) "The Colic" (one volume);

14) "The Language of the Arabs" (10 volumes); [p.571]

15) "al-Adwiya al-Qalbiyya" (one volume);

16) "al -Mūjaz" (one volume);

17) "Ba`d al-Hikma al-Mashriqīyya" (one volume);

18) "Bayān Dhawāt al-Jihā" (one volume);

19) "The Book of Resurrection" (one volume);

20) "K. al-Mabdā'wal-Ma`ād" (one volume);

21) "K. al-Mubāhathāt" (one volume).

[From Jurjān] Ibn Sīnā proceeded to al-Rayy, where he entered the service of the Sayyida and her son Majd al-Dawlah. They already knew about him from letters of recommendation received at the time of his arrival. Majd al-Dawlah was suffering from melancholy at that time and Ibn Sīnā was able to cure him.

In al-Rayy, Ibn Sīnā wrote, the "Book of Resurrection." He stayed in that town until it was captured by Shams al-Dawlah after the murder of Hilāl ibn Badr ibn Hasnawaih and the rout of the Baghdādi army. Then certain events compelled him to go to Qazwin and thence to Hamadān, where he entered the service of Kadhbānwaih, assuming the management of the latter's estate.

Subsequently Shams al-Dawlah heard about him and had him come to his court because of a colic that had struck him. Ibn Sīnā treated him until God restored him to health; for this performance he was rewarded with numerous robes of honor. He returned home after spending forty days and nights at Shams al-Dawlah's court.

He became one of the companions of the Emir. When the latter set out for Quarmisin to wage war on `Anaz, the Shaikh accompanied him. After the Emir had been defeated and came back to Hamadān, Ibn Sīnā was asked to take up the office of vizier, and he did so. But the army became dissatisfied with him, fearing that he would act aginst their welfare. So they attacked his house, took him prisoner, seized all his property and bade the Emir kill him. Though [p.572] declining their request, the Emir nevertheless banished him from the country in order to preserve their goodwill. For forty days Ibn Sīnā hid in the house of the Shaikh Abū Sa'd ibn Dukhdūk. Thereafter the Emir Shams al-Dawlah had another attack of colic. He sent for Ibn Sīnā, who presented himself at court, and apologized to him profusely. Ibn Sīnā cured him and stayed on, esteemed and revered.

[Abū `Ubayd al-Jūzjānī said:] When I asked him to write a commentary on the books of Aristotle, he replied that he had no leisure to do so just then, adding, however: "If you will be satisfied with a book mentioning what seems to be true of those teachings, without entering into a discussion of its opponents and without refuting their arguments, I shall do it." I agreed, and he set about writing the chapter on natural history, being part of a book which he entitled "al-Shifa'."At that time he had already written the first book of the "Qānūn."

Every night, students would assemble at his home. I and another would read, alternately, portions of the "Shifa'" and the "Qānūn," and when we had finished, singers of various description appeared and a regular carousal took place. The lectures had to be given at night since in the daytime Ibn Sīnā was wholly taken up with the service of the Emir. In this way we continued for some time.

Then Shams al-Dawlah set out on his campaign against the Emir of Tārim. Near the latter place, he again had an attack of colic which caused him great suffering. In addition, he was afflicted with diseases resulting from his bad habits and from his refusal to heed the advice of the Shaikh. The soldiers, fearing he might die, turned back and made their way toward Hamadān, carrying him on a stretcher [?]. He died thus en route.

Therefore, Shams al-Dawlah' s son was recognized as ruler. He was requested to appoint the Shaikh his vizier, but refused. Ibn Sīnā therefore secretly wrote to `Alā' al-Dawlah, asking for  [p.573] employment and suggesting that he might go over to him. He hid in the house of Abū Ghalib al-`Attar. I asked him to complete the "K. al-Shifa'," and he called Abū Ghalib, requested paper and an inkstand, which were duly supplied, and then with his own hand, wrote the chapter headings on about twenty sheets (folded into] octavo size. He spent two days writing all the chapter headings from memory without recourse to a single book. He then put the sheets in front of him, took some paper, pondered each problem and wrote down its solution. Every day he filled fifty sheets, until he had completed the portions dealing with the natural sciences and metaphysics, except for the two chapters on zoology and botany. Then he started on the portion related to logic, but when he had written one sheet, Tāj al-Mulk denounced him for his correspondence with `Alā' al-Dawlah, of which he strongly disapproved, and insisted on his being arrested. One of his foes betrayed him; he was seized and confined in the citadel called Fardajan. There he composed a poem containing the following lines:

"That I have entered here is certain, as you see.
But there is every doubt as to my getting out again."

He had been in the citadel for four months when `Alā' al-Dawlah marched on Hamadān and captured it. Tāj al-Mulk was defeated and retreated to the very same citadel [in which Ibn Sīnā was imprisoned]. Later, `Ala' al-Dawlah withdrew from Hamadān, and Tāj al-Mulk and Shams al-Dawlah's son returned to the city, taking the Shaikh with them. He took up quarters at al-`Alawi's house, where he applied himself to writing the chapter on logic of the "K. al-Shifa." During his stay at the citadel he had written the "K. al-Hidāyāt," the "Risāla Hayy ibn Yaqzān" and the "Book of Colic." The "Adwiya Qalbiyya," was written shortly after his arrival at Hamadān. Since then, quite a long time had elapsed, during which Tāj al-Mulk had made him fine promises. [p.574]

Then the Shaikh conceived the idea of going to Isfahan. He departed, disguised as a sufi, accompanied by me, his brother and two servants. After many hardships, we reached Tabarān on the outskirts of Isfahan, where we were met by friends of the Shaikh and companions and courtiers of the Emir `Alā' al-Dawlah. The Shaikh was given special raiment and carriages and was lodged in the Kūnkanabd Quarter at `Abdallah ibn Bābī's house, which contained all the necessary utensils and furniture. He appeared at `Alā' al-Dawlah's court, and was received with the honor and esteem due to a person of his standing. The Emir ordered study sessions to be held in his presence every Friday eve, attended by a variety of scholars, including the Shaikh; it was found that no one matched the Shaikh in his knowledge of any of the sciences.

In Isfahan, he applied himself to completing the "K. al-Shifa'," finishing the chapters on logic and the Almagest. Previously he had epitomized Euclid's "Elements," "Arithmetic" and "Music." To each of the chapters dealing with mathematics he made additions as far as he thought necessary. To the Almagest he added ten paragraphs on the "changes of the aspect," and at the end of the book he inserted some remarks on astronomy which no one had made before. To the "Elements," he added similar figures, to the "Arithmetic" explanatory notes and to the "Music" certain matters which his predecessors had ignored. So the book known as "al-Shifa'" was completed, except for the two chapters on animals and plants; these two he wrote while en route to Sābur Khwāst with `Ala' al-Dawlah. The "K. al-Najāh" was likewise written while he was traveling. He was a devoted servant of `Alā' al-Dawlah and one of his companions. When `Alā' al-Dawlah marched on Hamadān, he traveled in his retinue.

One evening, it was mentioned in the presence of `Alā' al-Dawlah that the calendars drawn up on the basis of early observations, were faulty; whereupon the Emir ordered the Shaikh to undertake the [p.575] observation of the stars concerned, for which purpose he granted him as much money as was needed. The Shaikh set to work, instructing me to provide the necessary instruments and to engage technicians, until many of the problems had been solved. The defect in the earlier observations had been due to their being carried out in widely different places.

In Isfahan the Shaikh wrote the "Kitāb al-`Alā'ī." It is interesting to note that, during the twenty-five years I was his associate and servant, I never saw him read a newly acquired book right through; rather he picked out the difficulties raised in it and read what the author had to say about them, so as to arrive at a correct appreciation of his knowledge and understanding.

One day, the Shaikh was sitting before the Emir in the presence of Abū Mansūr al-Jiba'ī, when a lexicographical question came up for discussion. While the Shaikh was discoursing upon it to the best of his ability, Abū Mansūr turned to him saying: "You are a philosopher and a physician, but you have not studied lexicography to such an extent that your observations are acceptable." The Shaikh, peeved at this remark, devoted the next three years to a study of lexicographical works. [Among other things] he had Abū Mansūr al-Azharī's dictionary, "Tahdhīb al-Lughgha," sent to him from Khurasan. Eventually he attained such perfect knowledge of lexicography as is but rarely met with. He composed three poems in which he inserted a number of abstruse words, and wrote three epistles, one in the style of Ibn al-`Amīd, another in the style of al-Sabī, and the third in the style of al-Sāhib [i.e., Ibn `Abbād]. He had them bound in a worn cover and then asked the Emir to show the volume to Abū Mansūr al-Jiba'ī. While so doing, the Emir said: "I found this volume while hunting in the desert. It is now for you to examine it and tell me what it contains." Abū Mansūr inspected the volume, but much of its content was obscure to him. Then the [p.576] Shaikh said: "What you do not understand of this book is to be found in such and such a place in the dictionaries." And he mentioned to him a great number of dictionaries in which he had looked up those words. Abū Mansūr was no authority on lexicography, but he realized, that the epistles had been written by the Shaikh himself and that he had been induced to write them by the insult which had stung him that day; he now apologized to him. Thereafter, the Shaikh compiled a dictionary entitled "Lisān al-`Arab" (The Language of the Arabs), the like of which had never been written before. Yet he did not live to prepare the final version; indeed, he did not get beyond the first draft, and there was no one to do the editing.

In his medical practice, the Shaikh gained a great deal of experience which he intended to embody in the Qānūn. He put down the case-histories on loose sheets, which however, were lost, before the Qanūn was completed. One case was as follows. One day he had a headache, and he perceived that some substance was about to descend to his forehead, where it would doubtless have caused a swelling. He gave orders to fetch a large quantity of ice, pound it, wrap it in a cloth and cover his head with it. As a result, the place in question was strengthened, so that it was able to resist that substance, and the Shaikh was cured. Another case was this: A woman of Khwārizm, afflicted with tuberculosis, was ordered by him to take no medicine but sugared "jalanjabīn" [Maimonides 85: miel rosat]. When in the course of time, she had taken the quantity of one hundred mann, her health was restored.

In Jurjān the Shaikh wrote the "Smaller Compendium on Logic," which he later placed at the beginning of the "K. al-Najāh." A copy of it reached Shīrāz, and when a group of local scholars studied it, they were baffled by certain problems, which they wrote down on a sheet of paper. The Qādi of Shirāz was one of that group. He forwarded the sheet, by a mounted messenger leaving [for Jurjān], [p.577] to Abū 'l-Qāsim al-Kirmānī, a friend of Ibrāhīm ibn Bābā al-Dailāmī, who was preoccupied with the science of "al-tanāzur" [Ibn al-Qiftī: "al-bātin"]. He added a letter for the Shaikh [Ibn Sīnā] begging Abū 'l-Qāsim to submit the sheet to the latter and ask him to answer the questions inscribed on it. Abū 'l-Qāsim went to Ibn Sīnā's residence at dusk on a summer's day to deliver the letter and the sheet. Ibn Sīnā read the letter, returned it to Abū 'l-Qāsim but retained the sheet, which he began to study while the people [in the house] were talking. When Abū'l-Qāsim had left, the Shaikh ordered me to fetch some blank paper and cut it into sheets. I prepared five, each containing 10 quarto leaves of fir `aunī size. We then recited the evening prayer, candles were brought and the Shaikh ordered sherbet [?] to be served. Hie invited me and his brother to sit down and drink sherbet with him, and he began to prepare the answers to those questions. He wrote and drank until midnight, by which time sleep overtook me and his brother, and he asked us to leave. The following morning there came a knock at the door; it was the messenger of the Shaikh asking me to come to him. When I presented myself, he was on the prayer rug, with the five sheets lying before him. He said to me: "Take these and deliver them to the Shaikh Abū 'l-Qāsim al-Kirmānī. Tell him that I have hastened to prepare the answers in order that the messenger might not be delayed." When I brought them to Abū 'l-Qāsim, he was greatly astonished and despatched the messenger immediately. He published this episode, and it made a tremendous impression on the people.

For observation of the stars, Ibn Sīnā invented new instruments and wrote a treatise on them. I myself engaged in astronomical observation for eight years with the object of elucidating what Ptolemy had reported of his own observations, some of which I was able to verity.

After the Shaikh had written the "K. al-Insāf," his baggage was plundered by the soldiery the day Sultan Mas`ud entered Isfahan. [p.578] Among the things taken was the said book, which subsequently was not discovered.

The Shaikh was vigorous in every respect. Of his physical powers, sexual potency was the strongest and the best developed. He exercised it most freely, and not without effect upon his state of health. He so much relied on his robust constitution that he sometimes went too far. In the year in which `Alā' al-Dawlah fought Tāsh Farāsh at the gates of al-Karkh, he was afflicted with a colic, and being anxious to recover, since in the event of a defeat he might be unable to travel with his illness, he took eight clysters in one day; the result was ulceration and excoriation of a part of his intestine. He was forced to flee with `Alā' al-Dawlah, who hastened toward Idhaj. There he experienced the prostration which sometimes attends colic. He nevertheless continued taking clysters for the excoriation and the lingerings of the colic. One day, he ordered two dānaqs of parsley seed to be put in the mixture used for the clysters, intending thereby to stop the emission of wind from the anus, but the physician he had entrusted with the treatment put in five drachms of parsley seed (I do not know whether on purpose or by mistake, since I was not present); the result was that the excoriation increased owing to the pungency of those seeds. In Tūs he took mathrud to combat his prostration, but one of his servants put a large quantity of opium into it, served it up to him, and he ate it. The reason for this action was that the servants had embezzled a large sum of money from his treasury and wished him dead in order to escape punishment.

In his sick condition the Shaikh was transferred to Isfahan, where he resumed treating himself. He was so weak as to be unable to stand. Through further treatment he managed to walk and to appear at the court of `Alā' al-Dīn. But he did not take care of himself, being over-indulgent with regard to sexual intercourse. He never fully recovered and was subject to frequent relapses. [p.579]

When `Alā' al-Dawlah left for Hamadān, the Shaikh accompanied him. On the way, the illness recurred and lasted until he reached Hamadān. He knew that his strength was sapped and that it would not be sufficient to overcome the malady. He therefore refrained from treating himself, saying: "The manager who has been operating my body is no longer able to control it, and no treatment will avail now." He remained in this state for a while and was then transferred to the custody of God. He was 53 years old when he died in 428/1037. The year of his birth was 375/984. Here ends Abū `Ubayd's account of the life of al-Shaikh al-Ra'īs.

His tomb lies under the walls on the southern side of Hamadān. According to one report, his body was transferred to Isfahān and buried near the Kaunkanbad Gate.

When Ibn Sīnā died of the colic that afflicted him, one of his contemporaries wrote in a poem:

I saw Ibn Sīnā with men of distinction,
But in prison he met a most wretched death.
He could not with the "Shifā'" overcome the calamity befalling him
Nor was he rescued from death by the "Najāh."

[There follow a few brief remarks on the above lines. ]

Specimen of the Poetry of al-Shaikh al-Ra'īs

The following poem on the soul is one of the noblest and most sublime examples of his poetry:

It descended upon thee from the lofty station
— a dove, proud and inaccessible, [p.580]
Curtained from the eye of every knowing [creature].
Yet it itself is uncovered and never wore a veil.
It came to thee unwillingly, and it may perhaps
Be unwilling to abandon thee, although it complains of its sufferings.
It first resisted and would not become familiar, but when agreeing to the union
It grew accustomed to the wrecked ruin [the body].
Methinks that it forgot the memories of meetings in the protected ground
And those abodes which it left with regret.


Al-Ilākī,1 i. e., al-Sayyid Abū `Abdallāh Muhammad ibn Yūsuf Sharaf al-Dīn, a man of noble descent, a distinguished personality and an expert in the medical art and the philosophical sciences was a disciple of al-Shaikh al-Ra'īs (Ibn Sīnā). He made an abridgment of the"K. al-Qānūn," which he edited to perfection. His works also include the "Book of Causes and Symptoms."


Abū 'l-Raihān al-Bīrūnī,2 i.e., al-Ustādh Abū 'l-Raihān Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Bīrūnī; the last word is a toponymic adjective derived from Bīrūn, by the name of a town in Sind.

This personage applied himself to the philosophical sciences, gained distinction in astronomy and astrology [?] and acquired a fine knowledge of medicine. He was a contemporary of al-Shaikh al-Ra'īs (Ibn Sīnā), with whom he held scientific discussions and exchanged letters. I have seen [a manuscript of] the answers of al-Shaikh al-Ra'īs to questions put to him by Abū'l-Raihān al-Bīrūnī, containing useful bits of philosophy. Abū 'l-Raihān al-Birūnī lived in Khwārizm. [p.581]

He is the author of the following books:

1) "K. al-Jamāhīr fī 'l-Jawāhīr," on the different kinds of gems and related subjects; this he wrote for al-Malik al-Mu`azzam Shihāb al-Dawlah Abū 'l-Fath Maudūd ibn Mas`ūd ibn Mahmūd.

2) "K. al-Āthār al-Bāgiyya`can al-Qurūn al-Khāliyya" (The Traces Left from Past Centuries).

3) "K. al-Saidala," on medicine (materia medica); in it he gave an exhaustive account of the nature of different drugs, their names, the different opinions held about them by his predecessors and statements made in their regard by physicians and others. He arranged it in alphabetical order.

5) "K. Maqālīd al-Hai`a."

6) "K. Tastūh al-Kura."

7) "K. al-`Amal bil-Astrulab" (The Use of the Astrolabe).

8) "K. al-Qānūn al-Mas`ūdi; this was written for Mas`ūd ibn Mahmūd ibn Subuktukīn, following the precedent set by Ptolemy.

9) "īm," on astrology.

10) A treatise entitled "Correction of Errors Found in the Book "Dalā'il al-Qibla" (Hints as to the Direction to be Faced in Praying).

11) An epistle on Tahdhib al-Aqwāl.

12) A treatise on the use of the globular astrolabe (cf. above. No. 7).

13) "K. al-Azlāl" (On Shadows).

14) "K. al-Zīj al-mas`ūd" (an astronomical almanac); he wrote this for the Sultan Mas`ūd ibn Mahmūd, ruler of Ghazna.

15) "The Book of Ptolemy. . . "

Abū 'l-Raihān al-Bīrunī died in the fourth decade of the fifth century. [p.582]


Ibn Mandawaih al-Isfahānī. 3 Abū Alī Ahmad ibn `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Mandawaih was one of the most renowned physicians of Persia, in which country he served a number of rulers and dignitaries. Some of his medical achievements are famous and worthy of praise. He stemmed from one of the noble families of Isfahan. His father, `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Mandawaih, was a distinguished man of letters and extremely pious. He composed fine poetry, of which the following lines are a specimen:

Miserly people guard their wealth.
Upon my life! This world is worth nothing, as is death (as are desires)
And man is but a creature cherishing false hopes.

Another specimen:

Man's span of life is short,
Yet in this world he entertains long hopes.
Fast comes the time of his departure, but he does not know
Where his journey will end.

Abū Alī ibn Mandawaih is the author of the following works: 1) A number of epistles, including the well-known forty epistles on medicine which he addressed to fellow physicians and which are the following: i) To Ahmad ibn Sa`d, on the regimen of the body; ii) to `Abbād ibn `Abbās, on the regimen of the body; iii) to al- `Arid, on the regimen of the body; iv) to Abū 'l Qāsim Ahmad ibn `Alī ibn Bahr, on the regimen of the traveler; v) to Hamza ibn al-Hasan, on the composition of the coats of the eye; vi) to Abū 'l- Husayn al-Wārid, on the treatment of the . . . . [?] of the eye; vii) to `Abbād ibn `Abbās, on the digestion of food; viii) to [p.583] Ahmad  ibn Sa`d, on the characteristics of the stomach and the treatment indicated; ix) to a man stricken with dropsy, on the regimen of his body and the treatment of his disease; x) to Abū Ja`far Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, on colic; xi) to the same man, on the regimen of people affected with or predisposed to colic, to be applied in the days of their health, so that an attack may be prevented. with the help of God, the Exalted; xii) to Abū Muhammad ibn Abī Ja`far, on the regimen for a weakness of the kidneys, designed for patients who abhor clysters; xiii) to Abū 'l-Fadl, on the treatment of the bladder; xiv) to al-Ustādh al-Ra'īs, on the treatment of the fissures [?] of hemorrhoids; xv) on the factors of sexual potency; xvi) explaining why a rumbling is induced in the ear when fig-wood is kindled; xvii) to al-Waththay, on the treatment of aches in the knee; xviii) to Abū 'l-Hasan ibn Dalīl, on the treatment of itching in old men; xix) on the influence of beverages on the body; xx) to Hamza ibn al-Hasan, on the absence of nutritional properties in the water; xxii) describing wine, its effects, benefits and dangers; xxiii) to his son, or. cheese-water treatment of the pustules which appeared on his body when he was young; xxiv) on the pros and cons of "fuqqā'" [beer made from fruit]: xxv) to Abū 'l-Husayn Ahmad ibn Sa`īd, on "Khindīqūn" and "Fuqqa" and Abū 'l-Husayn's reply; xxvi) to one of his friends, on the tamarind; xxvii) to one of his friends, on camphor; xxviii) to Hamza ibn al-Hasan, on the soul and the spirit [pneuma] in the eyes of the Greeks; xxix) to the same man, justifying the fact that physicians, too, are prone to diseases; xxx) containing polemics against the book "Refutation of Medicine," which has been attributed to al-Jāhiz; xxxi) to Hamza ibn al-Hasan, attacking those who deny that the physician is in need of lexicographical knowledge; xxxii) to those in charge of curing the sick at the hospital of Isfahan; xxxiii) to Abū 'l-Hasan ibn Sa`īd, discussing the reports of the illness of Abū Hakim Ishāq ibn Yuhannā, a physician from Ahwāz; xxxiv) to Yūsuf ibn Yazdad, the Physician, [p.584] regarding his opposition to putting the juice of cotton-seeds into the substance used for clysters; xxxv) to Abū Muhammad `Abdallāh ibn Ishāq, the Physician, calumniating him for certain modes of treatment; xxxvi) to the same man, on the disease of the late Emir Shfrzīl ibn Rukn al-Dawlah; xxxvii) to the same man, on the use of sorghum for hot compresses; xxxviii) to Abū Muslim Muhammad ibn Bahr, on the language of Abū Muhammad, the Physician; xxxix) on the disease of al-Ahzal, Ahmad ibn Ishāq al Barhi, and on an error committed by Yūsuf ibn Istafan, the Physician; xl) on the pains suffered by children. 2) "A compendium." 3) "Introduction to Medicine." 4) "K. al-Jāmi`," a medical compendium comprising ten chapters. 5) "K. al-Mughīth" (aid), on medicine. 6) "K. al-Sharāb" (sherbet). 7) "The Book of Food and Drink." 8) "K.Nihāyat al-Ikhtisār" (Extreme Conciseness), on medicine. 9) "K. al-Kāfī" (The Sufficient One), on medicine, also known as the "Smaller Qānūn."


Ibn Abī Sādiq.4 Abū 'l-Qāsim `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Alī ibn Ahmad ibn Abī Sādiq al Naisābūrī was a distinguished physician, well versed in philosophy and an experienced medical practitioner. He devoured the books of Galen, especially the portions dealing with the mysteries of the medical art, and strenuously explored the theoretical foundations and practical application of medicine. He used elegant language and was an impressive speaker. His commentaries on the books of Galen are excellent and thoroughly done, an example being his commentary on Galen's "The Usefulness of the Limbs," which he took great pains in writing and excellently developed the themes of the original. At the beginning, he says: "I re-edited the book, explaining obscure passages, deleting superfluous matter, assembling dispersed items and adding material that I gleaned from Galen's [other] writings and [p.585] the works of other authorities in this field. I systematically arranged the subject matter of each chapter and appended to the end of it explanations of the anatomy of the organ whose medicinal applications are discussed. In this way, the gathering of information on the anatomy of any organ or on the [medicinal] use of any of its parts has been facilitated." He finished this book in the year 459/1068.

I have been told by a certain physician that Ibn Abī Sādiq was in touch with al-Shaikh al-Ra'īs ibn Sīnā and studied under him. I do not consider this report implausible. On the contrary, it may well be correct, for Ibn Abī Sadiq was Ibn Sīnā's contemporary and lived in Persia; moreover Ibn Sīnā's prestige was enormous, as was his knowledge and the number of his disciples. Also, he was older and higher placed than Ibn Abī Sādiq.

Ibn Abī Sādiq was the author of the following works: 1) A commentary on the "Book of Problems," a medical treatise by Hunayn ibn Ishāq. 2) An abridgment of his lengthy commentary on Hunayn's "Book of Problems." 3) A commentary on Hippocrates' "Aphorisms"; on [a manuscript of] this commentary, a note was found in his own handwriting, dated A. H. 460/1069, to the effect that so-and-so had studied it under his guidance. 4) A commentary on Hippocrates' "introduction to Knowledge. " 5) A commentary on Galen's "Uses of the Parts of Animals"; I have seen the original copy of this book in which the year of its completion was given as 459/1068; it bore a postscript in his own hand which read as follows: "Checked and found to be correct if God the Exalted, in Whom we trust, so wills." 6) Abū 'l-Asim wrote, with his own hand, treatise dispelling the doubts raised by al-Rāzi with regard to Galen's writings. 7) "K. al-Ta`rīkh" [Book of History; possibly a history of physicians]. [p.586]


Tahir ibn Ibrāhīm al-Shajarī. 5 Al-Shaikh Abū 'l-Hasan Tāhir ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Muhammad ibn Tāhir al-Shajarī was a distinguished physician and a student of the medical science, which he mastered completely in addition to its practical application. He wrote the following books: 1) "Elucidation of Therapeutic Procedure"; this was dedicated to the Qādr Abū 'l-Fadl Muhammad ibn Hamawaih. 2) A book explaining the process of urinating and the beating of the pulse. 3) The classification of Hippocrates' "Aphorisms."


Ibn Khaţīb al-Rayyī.6 The Imām Fakhr al-Dīn Abū `Abdallah Muhammad ibn `Umar ibn al-Husayn al-Rāzī was foremost among the later generations and chief among the more recent savants. His virtuosity has become widely known, and his writings and disciples have spread all over the world. When he was riding out, 300 disciples, jurists and others walked in his retinue. Khwārizmshāh came to visit him.

He showed an extremely strong propensity for all the religious and philosophical sciences, and possessed fine natural talents, a keen intellect and beautiful diction [in short], he was a man of great merit. He gave much thought to medicine and its problems and was also a man of letters, composing poems in Persian as well as in Arabic. His body was plump and squat, and he wore a huge beard. His voice was sonorous. He delivered sermons in his native town of al-Rayy and in other cities, discoursing from the pulpit upon various philosophical subject. People of different scientific interests and occupations came to him from all lands and all directions, and each of them found full satisfaction of his desires. [p.587]

The Imam Fakhr al-Dīn studied philosophy in Marāgha under Majd al-Dīn al-Jīlī, one of the greatest personalities of his time. He wrote excellent books. Qādī Shams al-Dīn al-Khuyī related to me the following saying of Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn: "By God, I very much regret that I have to give up study during meals, for time is precious." Muhyi al-Dīn, the Qādī of Marnad [?] told me as follows: "In Marnad, Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn attended the college where my father was a teacher. He studied law under him and afterwards took up philosophy by himself. He so distinguished himself that he outshone everyone. I met him at Hamadān and Harāt and studied under him. The atmosphere at his study circle was awe-inspiring; he behaved haughtily even in the presence of kings. During sessions, some of his older disciples, such as Zain al-Dīn al-Kashshī, al-Qutb al-Misrī and Shihāb al-Dīn al-Naisābūrī, sat next to him, followed by the remainder of his pupils and the other people in the order of their rank. When someone had spoken about a certain topic, he was interrogated by those veteran disciples, and if a difficult problem or abstruse theme were on the agenda, the Shaikh himself took part in the discussion and discoursed upon that item in a means so superb as to defy description.

Shams al-Dīn Muhammad Al-Waththār al-Mauilī told me: "I was in Harāt in the year six hundred .... [blank in original], when Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn, coming from Bāmyān, entered the city with great pomp and a large suite. On his arrival, he was received with great honor by the Sultan of Harāt, Husayn Kharmain, who later erected for him a pulpit with a prayer rug in the front part of the dais [iwan] at the local great mosque. He was to sit in this place on a memorable day, so that the masses could see him and listen to his words. On that day I was present with the others, standing by the side of Sharaf al-Dīn ibn `Unain, the poet, may God have mercy upon him. The place was filled with a large crowd. Shaikh Fakhr-al-Dīn was in [p.588] the front part of the dais, flanked on each side by some of his Turkish mamelukes leaning on their swords. Sultan Husayn Kharmain, the ruler of Harāt, approached and saluted him, and the Shaikh invited him to sit at his side. Sultan Mahmud, the son of Shihāb Dīn al-Ghaurī's sister and ruler of Fairuzkuh, also approached and saluted, and the Shaikh asked him to sit next to him on the other side. In a spirited discourse the Shaikh was eloquently holding forth on the soul when suddenly a dove appeared in the precincts of the mosque, pursued by a hawk that was on the point of capturing it. The dove circled round the mosque until exhausted, and then repaired to the dais where the Shaikh was, flew in between the two rows of soldiers and eventually alighted in front of the Shaikh, and so was rescued.

Sharaf al-Dīn ibn `Unain told me that inspired by this incident, he improvised a poem and immediately asked the Shaikh's permission to recite it. The Shaikh agreed, and the poet recited:

She [the dove] repaired to the Solomon of this age in her distress,
While death was looming from the wings of a ravisher.
Who told the dove that your place was an inviolable sanctuary,
And that you were a refuge for the panic-stricken."

Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn greatly enjoyed the poem. He called the poet over to him and asked him to sit by his side. After the meeting, he sent him a complete robe of honor and a large sum of money. He remained his benefactor forever.

Shams al-Dīn al-Waththār said: "Qudāmā recited only those two verses before Ibn Khatīb, but later added further lines to the poem." I have found the additional verses in his Divan. They read as follows: [p.589]

O son of the nobles who are well fed,
Who are secure while souls fly about
Among sharp swords and bleeding spears,
Who told the dove that your place was an inviolable sanctuary?
She came to you when death was close at hand,
And you bestowed upon her renewed life.
If she had been granted money, she would have come away
With a twofold present from your hands.
She repaired to the Solomon of this age in her distress,
While death was looming from the wings of a ravisher,
Greedy for meat, having long been denied food, so that his shadow
Sped in front of him with a trembling heart.

Say I: Sharaf al-Dīn ibn `Unain reports that he obtained about 30,000 dinars from Fakhr al-Dīn Khatīb al-Rayyī and through the reputation he acquired in Persia.

[Here follows another of his poems on Fakhr al-Dīn, sent to him from Naisābūr to Harāt:]

Najm al-Dīn ibn Sharaf al-Dīn Alī ibn Muhammad al-Asafzārī told me as follows: "Fakhr al-Dīn's father, the Shaikh and Imam Diyā' al-Dīn `Umar, was a native of al-Rayy. He studied jurisprudence, specializing in the controversies of the different schools of Muslim law and in its theoretical foundations, until he became a great authority and was almost without rival. He taught at al-Rayy; there at fixed times he also delivered sermons which, because of their interesting content and his great eloquence, were attended by a large number of people. He thus became famous both among the educated [p.590] and the common people of the region. He wrote a number of works — still extant — on the theoretical foundations of Muslim law and on exhortations. He left two sons; one the Imām Fakhr al-Dīn and the other, the elder, Rukn [al-Dīn]. The latter possessed certain knowledge of the controversies between the different schools of Muslim law, of [practical] jurisprudence and of the theory of Muslim law, but was thoughtless and unmethodical. He followed his brother everywhere and defamed both him and those who took heed of his writings and words. He would say: "Am I not older and more learned than he and better acquainted with the polemics of the schools and the theory of jurisprudence? Why, then, do the people shout 'Fakhr al-Dīn, Fakhr al-Dīn,' while I never hear them clamoring 'Rukn al-Dīn ?'" He may have written some books, as he claimed he did, presenting them with words: "This is better than anything by Fakhr al-Dīn." He slandered his brother, so that the people were astonished at him, and many called him names [?] and marked him. Whenever something of this nature came to the knowledge of the Imām Fakhr al-Dīn, it distressed him greatly. He did not like his brother being in such a situation, with no one listening to him. He always treated him kindly and repeatedly suggested that he take up residence at al-Rayy or elsewhere, where he would take care of him to the best of his ability. Yet whenever he made such a suggestion, his his brother became more intractable. This went on until Fakhr al-Dīn saw the Sultan Khwārizmshāh, told him about his brother and what he had to suffer through him, and asked that he be placed in a certain locality, which he would be forbidden to leave, and provided him with everything necessary for his upkeep. The Sultan thereupon placed Rukn al-Dīn in one of his castles and assigned to him a fief yielding a thousand dinars a year. He stayed there until his death.

The Imām Fakhr al-Dīn was the foremost scholar of his time in all the sciences. People came from everywhere to visit him. He also preached sermons at al-Rayy and maintained a large college. [p.591] No one was a better orator. He was not excessively fat. He had a broad chest, a massive head and a thick beard (although when he died in the prime of his life, this had already turned gray). He often spoke about death and even wished for it, begging God to have mercy upon him. He would say: "I have achieved all that is humanly possible in the sciences, but I have always wanted only one thing — to meet God and see His majestic countenance."

Fakhr al-Dīn left two sons. The elder, Diyā al-Dīn, acquired a certain knowledge of the sciences, while the younger, Shams al-Dīn, possessed extraordinary natural talents and an unusually bright intellect. The Imām Fakhr al-Dīn frequently alluded to his intelligence, saying: "If this son of mine survives, he will become more learned than I." His outstanding gifts revealed themselves already in his youth. When the Imām Fakhr al-Dīn died, his children remained in Harāt. The younger subsequently adopted the name of the father, Fakhr al-Dīn.

`Alā' al-Mulk al-`Alawī was appointed vizier by Sultan Khwārizmshāh. He was a distinguished personality, who possessed literary skill and composed poems in Arabic and Persian. He married the daughter of Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn. When Genghiz Khān, the king of the Tatars, had vanquished Khwārizmshāh and killed most of his soldiers, and Khwārizmshāh himself was missing, `Alā' al-Mulk went to Genghiz Khān and sought asylum with him. Genghiz Khān received him with honors and made him one of his courtiers. When the Tatars occupied Persia, destroyed its castles and cities and slaughtered all the citizens, sparing no one, `Alā' al-Mulk, perceiving that a part of the Tatar army was marching on Harāt to destroy the city and kill its inhabitants, asked Genghiz Khān to assure the protection of Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn ibn Khatīb al-Rayyī's children and to allow him to bring them honorably into his presence. Genghiz Khān granted his request and promised safe conduct for them. [p.592] When the soldiers were about to occupy Harāt, they announced that the children of Fakhr al-Dīn ibn al-Khatīb, having been granted protection, were to keep by themselves in one place, whereupon they would be spared. The house of Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn, which had been presented to him by its former owner, Sultan Khwārizmshān, was one of the largest, most beautiful and most richly decorated in Harāt. When Fakhr al-Dīn's children heard of the soldiers' announcement, they confidently remained in that house, but they were joined there by a multitude of relatives, dignitaries, local notables, lawyers and others, who thought they wouid be safe both because of their relationship or association with Fakhr al-Dīn's children and merely by their being in their house. The Tatars, after entering the town, struck down everyone in their path and when they reached the house of Fakhr al-Dīn, called upon his children to make themselves known. When they — i.e., Diyā al-Dīn, Shams al-Dīn and their sister — came forward, they led them aside, and then put to the sword all the other people in the house. They took the children of Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn from Harāt to Samarkand because the king of the Tatars, Genghiz Khan, was there at the time, and so was `Alā' al-Mulk. The chronicler ends saying: "And I do not know what became of them thereafter."

I say: Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn spent most of his life in al-Rayy, but he also visited Khwārizm, where he was taken ill, and subsequently died in Harāt. When his illness was at its climax, he had his disciple, Ibrāhīm ibn Abī Bakr ibn Alī al-Isfahānī, take down his last message; this was on Sunday, the 21st day of Muharram, 606/1209. He died at the Feast of Bairam (`Id al-Fitr), or the 1st day of Shawwāl of the year mentioned, and was transferred to the presence of his Lord. May Allāh, the Exalted, have mercy upon him.

Here is the text of his last words: "In the name of Allāh, the All-merciful! Thus says the servant who, hoping for the mercy of his Lord and trusting in the kindness of his Master, Muhammad ibn `Umar ibn al-Husayn al-Razī, is spending his last days in this world and is standing on the threshold of the hereafter, this being the time at which every cruel person becomes gentle, and every fugitive slave returns to his master: I laud God, the Exalted, with the praises uttered by his most sublime angels on the highest rung of their ladder and spoken by his greatest prophets in the most lucid moments of [p.593] their visions, nay I praise Him — for what has happened [?] and what may yet take place — with all the praise that His divinity and perfect gifts merit, whether I am conscious of them or not, for there is no affinity between dust and the majesty of the Lord of Lords. And I bless the angels close to Him, the prophets sent by Him and all the righteous servants of God. And I say: Be it known to you, my brethren in faith and companions in the quest for truth, that people say: When a man dies, his bond with mankind is severed."

Say I: Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn also composed numerous poems in Persian, as well as tetrastichs. He was the author of the following books:

1) The great commentary on the Qur'ān, entitled "Mafātīd al-Ghaib," in 12 volumes, [as written] in his minute handwriting, not including [a commentary on] the Fātiha, to which he devoted a special book entitled "Tāfsīr al-Fātiha," in one volume.

2) A commentary on "Sūrat al-Baqara," based on an independent, not the traditional, interpretation, in one volume.

3) A commentary on al-Ghazālī's "Wājīz" a compendium of Muslim law, which was not completed, comprising only two chapters, on religious observance and matrimony, respectively, while it was to have consisted of three volumes.

4) "K. al-Tarīqa al-`Ala`iyya," on the polemics [of the different schools of Muslim law], in four volumes.

5) "K. Lawāmi al-Bayyināt"; on the explanation of the names and attributes of God, the Exalted.

6) "ūl," on the theoretical foundations of Muslim law.

7) A book showing that the use of analogy is inadmissible [in Muslim law].

8) A commentary on al-Zamakhsharī's "K. al-Mufassal," on grammar: not completed.

9) A commentary on [Abū 'l-`Alā' al-Ma`arrī's collection of poems entitled "Siqt al-Zand"; not completed.

10) A commentary on "Nahj al-Balāgha" [a collection of sayings attributed to the Caliph Alī]; not completed.

11) "The Virtues of Muhammad's Companions."

12) "The Outstanding Traits of al-Shāfi`ī" [founder of the school of Muslim law named after him]. [p.594]

13) "K. Nikāyat al-`Uqūl, on the theory of Muslim law; in two volumes.

14) "K. al-Muhassal," in one volume.

15) "K. al-Matālib al-`Āliya," [sic] in three volumes, not completed; the last of his writings.

16) "Kitāb al-Arba`īna," on the principles of faith.

17) "K. al-Ma`ālim"; the last of his minor writings.

18) "K. Ta'sis al-Taqdīs", in one volume, written for the Sultan al-Malik al-`Adil Aba Bakr ibn Ayyūb, who rewarded him with one thousand dinars.

19) "The Book of Predestination and Free Will."

20) "Risālat al-Hudūth."

21) "K. Ta'jīz al-Falāsifa," in Persian.

22) "K. al-Barāhīn al-Baha`iyya," in Persian.

23) "K. al-Latā`if al-Ghiyāthiyya."

24) "K. Shifā` al-`Iyy wal-Khilāf."

25) "The Book of Creation and Resurrection."

26) "K. al-Khamsīna," on the principles of faith.

27) "K. `Umdat al-Nuzzār wa-Zīnat al-Afkār."

28) "The Book of Ethics."

29) "Al-Risāla al-Sāhibiyya."

30) "Al-Risāla al-Majdiyya."

31) "The Infallibility of the Prophets."

32) "K. al-Mulakhkhas."

33) "K. al-Mabāhith al-Mashrikiyya."

34) "K. al-Inārāt," a commentary on "al-Ishārāt."

35) "K. Lubāb al-Ishārāt" [an extract from "al-Ishārāt"].

36) A commentary on the "K. `Uyūn al-Hikma."

37) "Al-Risāla al-Kamāliyya," on the divine truths; he wrote this in Persian for Kamāl al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Mika'īl. I was able to ascertain that my teacher, the learned Imām Tāj al-Dīn Muhammad al-Urmawī, translated it into Arabic in Damascus in the year 625/1228.  [p.595]

38) "Risālat al-Jauhar al-Fard."

39) "K. al-Ri`āya."

40) A book on geomancy.

41) "K. Musādarāt of Euclid."

42) A book on Geometry.

43) The expectoration of one afflicted with a chest ailment.

44) A book in dispraise of this world.

45) "K. al-Ikhtiyārāt al-`Alā`yya."

46) "K. al-Ikhtiyārāt al-Samawiyya."

47) "K. Ihkām al-Ahkām."

48) "K. al-Mausūm fī 'l-Sirr al-Maktūm."

49) "ād al-Mūnika."

50) A treatise on the soul.

51) A treatise on prophecies.

52) "The Book of Religions and Sects."

53) Selections from the "Book of Dakāwshā."

54) "K. Mabāhith al-Wujūd."

55) "K. Nihāyat al- I`jāz," on the inimitability of the Qur'ānic style.

56) "K. Mabāhith al-Jadal."

57) "K. Mabāhith al-Hudūd."

58) "K. al-Āyāt al-Bayyināt."

59) A treatise pointing out the secret meanings of some of the suras of the Qur'ān.

60) "K. al-Jāmi` al-Kabīr not completed. This also became known as "The Greater Book of Medicine."

61) A book on the pulse, in one volume.

62) A commentary on the general part of the "Qānūn" [of Ibn Sīnā]; not completed. Dedicated to the physician [?] Thiqa al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahmān ibn `Abd al-Karīm al-Sarakhsī.

63) "The Book of Anatomy," from the head to the throat; not completed. [p.596]

64) The Book of Beverages."

65) "Problems of Medicine."

66) "K. al-Zubda."

67) "The Book of Physiognomy."


Al-Qutb al-Misrī.7 The Imam Qutb al-Dīn Ibrāhīm ibn 'Alī ibn Muhammad al-Sulamī originated from the Maghrib, but moved to Egypt, where he stayed for a while. Later he traveled to Persia and gained fame there. He studied under Fakhr al-Dīn ibn Khatib al-Rayyī and became one of his most distinguished disciples. His numerous books on medicine and philosophy include a commentary on the whole of the general part [Kulliyyāt] of Ibn Sīnā's Qānūn. In this work I have found that he gave preference to al-Masīhi and Ibn al-Khatīb over the Shaikh Abū Alī ibn Sīnā. These are his words: "al-Masīhī is more adept in the medical art than Shaikh Abū Alī, for my teachers preferred him to many who surpassed Abū Alī in this field. Al-Masīhī's diction is more lucid and intelligible than that of the Shaikh, who affected an extremely concise style, to no purpose. On the superiority he accorded to Ibn al-Khatīb over al-Shaikh al-Ra'īs, he said: "This is apparent from the utterances of these two great authorities, the latter of whom surpassed the former with regard to knowledge, practice, assurance and method."

Al-Qutb al-Misrī was killed in the city of Naisābūr when the Tatars occupied the Persian domains, killing their inhabitants.

Al-Qutb al-Misrī wrote a commentary on the general part of al-Shaikh al-Ra'īs ibn Sīnā's Qanūn. [p.597]


Al-Samau'al. 8 Al-Samau'al ibn Yahya ibn `Abbās al-Maghribī distinguished himself in the mathematical sciences and was adept in the art of medicine. Originating from the Maghrib, he settled in Baghdād for a time and then moved to Persia, where he stayed for the rest of his life. His father, too, possessed some knowledge of philosophy.

I have copied the following from [a manuscript in] the handwriting of Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-Latīf ibn Yūsuf al-Baghdādī: "This youth of Baghdād, al-Samau'al, was a Jew who embraced Islam. He died, while still young, in Marāgha. He surpassed all his contemporaries in arithmetic and reached a peak of proficiency in algebra. He lived in Diyār Bakr and Āzarbaijān.

In his algebraic treatises he opposed Ibn al-Khashshāb, the grammarian, who was his contemporary and had some knowledge of arithmetic and a certain degree of practice in algebra. My colleague, Jamāl al-Dīn ibn al-Qiftī said: This Samau'al, on arriving in the East, traveled to Azārbaijān, where he entered the service of the al-Bahlawān dynasty and their emirs. He lived in the city of al-Marāgha and there begot children, who like him applied themselves to medicine. He then moved to al-Mausil and Diyār Bakr, embraced Islam and became a true believer. He wrote a book in which he demonstrated the errors of the Jews, the untruth of their claims with regard to the Pentateuch and the fact of the latter's abrogation. The proofs he assembled are judiciously chosen.

He died in al-Mag'agha around the year 570/1174.

Al-Samau'al ibn Yahyā `Abbās al-Maghribī was the author of the following books:

1) "K. al-Mufīd al-Ausat," on medicine. He wrote this in Baghdad [p.598] in the year 564/1168 for the Vizier Mu'ayyad al-Dīn Abū Ismā'īl al-Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Alī.

2) An epistle to ibn Khuddūd on algebraic problems.

3) "The Eloquence of the Geometricians, which he dedicated to Najm al-Dīn Abū 'l-Fath Shāh Ghāzī Malikshāh, the son of Tughurilbeg; he completed it in the month of Safar of the year 570/1174.

4) "Refutation of the Jews."

5) "K. al-Qawāma, on the Indian calculus; he wrote it in the year 568/1172.

6) "The Book of the Right-angled Triangle," which he furnished with excellent descriptions [?] and graphic illustrations. He wrote this for a man from Aleppo called al-Sharīf.

7) "K. al-Minbar" . . . .

8) A book on sexual potency.


Badr al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Bahrām ibn Muhammad al-Qalānisī al-Samarqandī 9 was a man skilled in the medical art and interested in the theoretical aspect of the treatment of diseases. He wrote a book entitled "Aqrābādhīn," comprising 49 chapters which dealt exhaustively with compound drugs that were in general use. Most of its subject matter is derived from works that were considered highly reliable, such as the "Qānūn," the "Hāwī," the "Kamil," the "Mansurī," the "Dhaikhīra," and the "Kīfāya." He mentions that, in addition, he utilized sundry material from manuscripts of the learned Imām Qiwām al-Dīn Sa`īd al-Mihanī and of the Imām Sharaf al-Zamān al-Mābirsāmī. [p.599]


Najīb al-Dīn Abū Hāmid Muhammad ibn Alī ibn `Umar al-Samarqandī 10 was a physician of great merit and the author of  excellent books; he was killed with all the others who met their death in Harāt when the Tatars entered the city. He was a contemporary of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Razī ibn al-Khatīb.

The following books were written by him:

1) "The Nutrition of the Sick," divided into chapters according to the diet indicated for different diseases.

2) "The Book of Causes and Symptoms," compiled for his own use, deriving its subject matter from the "Qānūn" of Ibn Sīnā, the "Mu`ālajāt Buqrātiyya" and "Kāmil al-Sinā`a."

3) "The Greater Aqrābādhīn."

4) "The Smaller Aqrābādhīn."


Al-Sharīf Sharaf al-Dīn Ismā`īl 11 was a physician of high standing, a man of wide knowledge and a personage of note in the state. He was employed in the service of Sultan `Ala' al-Dīn Muhammad Khwārizmshāh, who esteemed him greatly and gave him a secure position. He received a thousand dinars a month from the Sultan. Amazing cures are reported of him. He died at a ripe age in the city of . . . . in the time of Khwārizmshāh. The following books were written by him:

1) "K. al-Dhakhīra al Khwārizmshāhiyya, a medical work in Persian, 12 volumes.

2) "K. al-Khāfī al-`Alā'i," a medical work in Persian, two small volumes.

3) "K. al-A`rād," a medical work in Persian, two small volumes.

4) "K. Yādkār," a medical work in Persian, one volume, dedicated to Khwārizmshāh.

[This page is unnumbered]


Ibn Abū Usaibi'ah


Translated from the Arabic by Dr. L. Kopf
with partial annotations by Dr. M. Plessner,
Institute of Asian and African Studies,
The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

Translated for the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland,
under the Special Foreign Currency Program, carried out under a
National Science Foundation Contract with the Israel Program for
Scientific Translations, Jerusalem, Israel


Volume IV — Manuscript
pages 600-946 plus annotations and footnotes



On the Classes of Physicians Who Originated in India

Kanka. A brilliant savant, one of the leading Indian philosophers, he had great medical insight and understood the effect of drugs, the qualities of natural phenomena and the properties of man-made things. He was also knowledgeable concerning the shape of the universe, the constellations and the movements of the planets. Abū Muashar ibn `Umar al-Balkhi, in his "Book of the Thousands," said: "Kanka is considered by Indian scholars of all ages the leading authority on the science of the stars." Some of Kanka's books are:

1) "Numudhar," on architectural construction.

2) The Secrets of Living Beings."

3) "The Greater Book of Marriage Contracts [?]."

4) "The Smaller Book of Marriage Contracts [?]."

5) "Book of Medicine," which goes according to the Kunnash.

6) "Book of Hallucinations."

7) "Book of Biology."


Sanjahal was among the finest indian medical experts and astrologers. One of his works is "The Great Book of Living Beings." After Sanjahal there arose in India a group of philosophers which held well-known theories in medicine and other disciplines: this group included Bakhar, Raha, Sakka, Dahar, Ankrazankel, Jabhar, Andi, and Jahri. Rules concerning astrology were also set down by these scholars. India has followed the precepts set [p.601] forth in their works and has propagated their teachings. A large number of their books have been translated into Arabic.

I have found that al-Razi borrowed from Indian sources in his "al-Hawi" [Continens] and other books. The works from which he drew include: "Charaka-samhita," a book translated from Persian into Arabic by `Abd Allāh ibn Alī, it having first been translated from Indian into Persian; the book "Susruta-samhita," which contains descriptions of diseases and their treatment and appropriate drugs. It has ten chapters which Yahyā ibn Khalfd ordered to be translated; the book "Badran," on the diagnostics of 404" diseases, but with no discussion of treatment; the book "Sandarshan" and its translation; the book "Surat al-Najah"; a book on topics on which India and Rome have differed concerning the "hot" and the "cold," the power of drugs, and the division [?] of the year; a book dividing possessions into ten types [?]; a book on "Asankar the Universal''; a book on the treatment of pregnant women in India; a short work on Indian drugs; a book "Nofshel, which deals with one hundred diseases and one hundred drugs; a book by Roussi the Indian, on the treatment of women: a book on sugar in India; a book by Rai the Indian on snakes and their poisons; a book of conjecture relative to diseases and maladies, by Abū Qubail the Indian.


Shanak. Another famous Indian physician, known for his therapeutics and experiments. Excelling in wisdom and knowledge, he was also a brilliant astrologer and an eloquent speaker, favored by kings. From among his sayings I quote one from his book "Muntahal al-Jawhar": "King, beware of the vicissitudes of time. Fear the hand of the ruler and the sufferings inflicted by fate. Know that a man always receives his deserts; therefore be on your guard against the hurdles of destiny and against what the days may bring, for they may thwart your plans. The fates have their hidden designs, so be prepared. Fortune is shifting, therefore beware of her sovereignty. She can play you false, so should you tremble before her. [p.602] Know that a man who does not treat his disease during his lifetime cannot hope for a remedy in a world where medicines do not exist. He who controls his senses shows his virtue and noble soul. He who cannot control himself, who is one, would not be able to control his senses, which are five; and if he cannot control his senses, which are few and humble, it would be hard for him to control his subjects, who are many and arrogant. Thus, the masses would run riot in the remote corners of his kingdom. "

Some of Shanak's books are:

1) "On Poisons," five articles, translated from Indian into Persian by Manka the Indian. The one to set it down in Persian was Abū Hatam al-Balkhi, who translated it for Yahyā ibn Khalīd ibn Balmak. It was then transcribed for al-Ma'amun by `Abbas ibn Sa`īd al-Jawhārī, his teacher, who supervised its reading to al-Ma'amun.

2) "On Veterinary Surgery."

3) "On Astrology."

4) "Muntahal al-Jawhar, written for a contemporary king, called Ibn Qanos the Indian.


Jowder. A wise dignitary, one of the outstanding scholars of his time, this man showed insight in medicine and philosophy. One of his books is "On Biology," which has been translated into Arabic.


Manka. A competent, resourceful physician, and a philosopher, held up as a model in India. He was well-versed in Indian and Persian, and it is he who translated Shanak's book on poisons. He lived during Harun al-Rashīd's caliphate. He traveled from India to Iraq, where he met and treated al-Rashīd.

I have read somewhere that Manka was among the group of Ishāq ibn Sulayman ibn Alī, the Hashemite. He translated from Indian into Persian and Arabic. [p.603]

In the book "Of Caliphates and Barmakids" I have read that al-Rashīd contracted a serious disease and was treated by physicians to no avail. Abū `Umar al-`Hjami said: "There is a physician in India called Manka who is a philosopher too. If the Emir of the Faithful were to send for him, maybe he would be inspired to find a cure. " Al-Rashīd sent a messenger to him with a gift to enable him to make the journey. Manka came and treated the Caliph successfully, and al-Rashīd showered him with money and gifts.

When Manka was passing by al-Khuld, he came upon a man who had spread his cloak out on the ground and was displaying many drugs on it. He asked him about one of the drugs, and received the answer that it was for the fever that recurs every second day, for the fever which recurs every fourth day, for backache, knee-ache, hemorrhoids, gas pains, aching joints, eye irritation, stomachache, headache, migraine, for distilling urine, and for ague — indeed, he did not omit a single malady for which he did not prescribe this drug. Manka said to his interpreter: "What does he say?" The man translated the above words, and Manka smiled, saying: "At any rate, the King of the Arabs is an ignorant man. If what this fellow says is true, why did the Caliph have to bring me from my country, estrange me from my people, and bear the expense of lodging and feeding me, while he could have found what he needed here under his very nose! And if it is not true, why does he not have him killed? The law endorses the killing of his like, because if he were put to death, it would be only one soul lost but many saved, whereas if he were left alive, his ignorance would kill a man a day — quite probably two, three, or four a day. This is a sin against religion and an evil committed against the kingdom."


Saleh ibn Bahlah, an outstanding savant, well-versed in medical treatment, was highly influential and did much to promote knowledge. He was in Iraq during Harun al-Rashīd's reign. [p.604]

Abū Hassan Yūsuf al-Haseb, known as Ibn al-Dayah, said that Ahmad ibn Rashīd al-Qatib, patron of Salam al-Abrash, related to him that his master had told him as follows: "One day, tables were set for al-Rashīd when Jibrā'īl ibn Bakhtishū` was absent. Abrash said to me that Abū Salma, meaning his master, said the Emir of the Faithful ordered him to ask Jibrā'īl to attend the meal as usual. He searched in every house where he might have been but could not find him. He reported this to the Emir, and while the latter was cursing, Jibrā'īl entered, and said to the Emir: 'It would have been more fitting if the Emir of the Faithful had occupied himself in weeping for his cousin, Ibrāhīm ibn Saleh, instead of cursing me.' Al-Rashīd asked what was wrong with Ibrāhīm, and Jibrā'īl told him that he had left him with enough breath left to recite the evening prayer. Al-Rashīd's grief was so intense that he began to weep. He ordered the tables to be removed, and his sorrow mounted until all present felt pity for him.

"Ja`afar ibn Yahyā said: 'O, Emir of the Faithful, Jibrā'īl's medicine is Roman medicine. And Saleh ibn Bahlah the Indian in his knowledge of the ways of the Indian people in medicine is like Jibrā'īl in his knowledge of the Roman methods. Maybe the Emir would care to summon him and send him to his cousin, so that we may learn from him what Jibrā'īl has told us.' The Caliph agreed and ordered Ja`afar to take him to the sick man and then bring him back. Ja`afar did so, and Saleh went to Ibrāhīm and examined his pulse. Then he went to Ja`afar, who asked him what he had found. He answered: 'I will tell only the Emir of the Faithful' Ja`afar did his best to persuade the Physician to give him some information, but without success. Ja`afar went to al-Rashīd, announcing Saleh's presence, and told him that the doctor had refused to divulge his diagnosis. Al-Rashīd ordered Saleh to be brought in to him. The physician entered and said: 'O, Emir of the Faithful, you are the Imam, the bestower of authority on rulers, [p.605] whatever you decree, no judge can revoke. You and all who are present are hereby witnesses to my statement that if Ibrāhīm ibn Saleh dies tonight, or of his present malady, all that belongs to Saleh ibn Bahiah may be taken from him. Every animal may be given to the needy, all his money should be donated to the poor, and all his wives shall be thrice divorced according to the laws of Islam.' Al-Rashīd said to him: 'Woe unto you, you have sworn about the unknown!' Saleh replied: 'No, Emir of the Faithful. The unknown is that of which no one has an inkling. I only say what is clear to me from reliable indications. Al-Rashīd appeared relieved by these words. He began to eat and drink. When it was time for the evening prayer, a note came from Baghdad, announcing the death of Ibrāhīm ibn Saleh. Al-Rashīd turned to Ja`afar and blamed him bitterly for having recommended Saleh ibn Bahiah. He cursed India and its physicians, exclaiming: Shame on me in the eyes of God that I was drinking while my cousin lay on his deathbed!' Then he ordered a bottle of wine and water to be brought, into which he put some salt. He drank and vomited all the food and drink that was in his stomach. He left for Ibrāhīm's house, where servants led him to a hall off which the dead man lay. To the right and left were two mattresses with comfortable chairs padded and cushioned. Al-Rashīd leaned on his sword and, standing, said: 'At the loss of a beloved kinsman one should not sit on more than mats. Remove all these mattresses and cushions!' The servants did so, and al-Rashīd sat on the mat. This became henceforth a custom among the Abbasids.

"Saleh ibn Bahiah came before al-Rashīd. No one spoke to him until the smell rose from the burning cinders. At that moment, Saleh shouted: 'Allāh, Allāh, O, Emir of the Faithful, if you order me to divorce my wife and take her, give her to someone else, who does not fulfill the religious requirements, so that I can be her legal husband [p.606] again. By Allāh, if you take my money away from me, while I have uttered no untruth, you will be burying your consin alive. For as Allāh is my witness, he is not dead. Allow me to go in and look at him.' He repeated these words over and over, until he was eventually granted permission.

"We began to hear the sound of a hand beating on a body. Then this stopped, and we heard: Allāh is great! Saleh emerged, repeating this phrase, and said: 'O, Emir of the Faithful, come with me and I will show you a miracle.' Al-Rashid, Masrour the Great, Abū Salem and I accompanied him. Saleh took Ibrāhīm's hand, produced a needle, and inserted it between the left thumbnail and the flesh. Then Ibrāhīm drew his hand to his body and Saleh said: 'O, Emir of the Faithful, does a corpse feel pain?' Al-Rashfd said: 'No,' and Saleh continued: 'If you wish him to speak to you now, he will do so.' The Caliph entreated that he speak, but Saleh objected: 'O Emir, I am afraid that if I treat him and he wakes up while he is dressed in a shroud, with the smell of preservative, he will die of shock, and then I will have no way of bringing him back to life. But if you order the shroud to be removed and that Ibrāhīm be taken to the washing room, cleansed and dressed in his everyday clothes, perfumed with his usual perfume, and brought back to his own bedchamber, I will treat him in your presence, and he will speak to you directly.

Ahmad says that Abū Salma went on to say: "Al-Rashīd entrusted me to follow Saleh's instructions. Then, the Caliph, Masrour, Abū Salem, Saleh and I went to where Ibrāhīm lay. Saleh asked for bellows from the cupboard and started to apply them close to the sick man's nose for twenty minutes. The body shuddered, and the patient sneezed and then sat up before al-Rashīd. Ibrāhīm kissed his hand, and al-Rashīd asked what had happened to him. Ibrāhīm told him that he had slept so soundly that he did not re member anything, but [p.607] he had dreamed that a dog was attacking him and that he had defended himself with his hand. It gave his left thumb such a bite that it woke him, and he now felt pain there. He indicated the thumb which Saleh had pricked with the needle."

Ibrāhīm lived on for many years. He married al-Abbassa, the daughter of al-Mahdi. He became the ruler of Egypt and Palestine. His death occurred in Egypt, where his tomb is to be found.[p.608]


On the Classes of Physicians Who Originated from or Took up Residence in the Maghrib 12

Ishāq ibn `Imrān, a renowned physician and scholar, was surnamed "Samm Sā`a" [i.e. instantly killing poison]. Sulaymān ibn Hasan — known as Ibn Juljul — said: "Ishāq ibn `Imrān was a Muslim of Baghdādi origin. He went to Ifriqiya during the reign of Ziyādat Allāh ibn al-Aghlab al-Tamīmī, who had invited him. Before Ishāq started on his journey, Ibn al-Aghlab, in fulfillment of conditions set by him, sent him a riding animal, one thousand dinars for his expenses and a written pledge, in his own hand, assuring him of permission to return to his homeland whenever he wanted to; this pledge, however, was dishonored. Through Ishāq, medicine was enhanced and philosopy inaugurated in the Maghrib. He was a skillful physician, an expert in the preparation of compound drugs and a competent diagnostician. In his knowledge and outstanding talents he resembled the ancients.

He settled in Qairawān for a time and wrote some books, including the following:

1) "Recreation of the Soul."

2) A book on melancholy, the like of which had never been written.

3) A book on bloodletting.

4) A book on the pulse.   [p.609]

A quarrel with Ziyādat Allāh ibn al-Aghlab led to an estrangement between the two, so that Ibn al-Aghlab eventually had him crucified. Ishāq had asked permission to return to Baghdād, but Ibn al-Aghlab had declined this request.

Ishāq was present at Ibn al-Aghlab's meals and would tell him: "Eat this and abstain from that." [This went on] until a Jewish youth from Spain came to the court of Ibn al-Aghlab, who made him his intimate friend and allowed him to be present at his meals. Whenever Ishāq said to Ibn al-Aghlab: "Leave this, do not eat it," the Israelite interjected: "He treats you hard."

Ibn al-Aghlab suffered from asthma. Once, when some suspicious-looking milk was served to him, Ishāq warned him not to drink it, but the Israelite encouraged him to do so. He followed the advice of the latter. At night, he had an attack of asthma so violent that he almost died. Ishāq was sent for and asked: "Do you know of any remedy? " He replied: "I dissuaded him but he would not listen to me; I have no remedy." Whereupon he was told: "Take these 500 mithkāl and treat him." But he declined until the sum was raised to 1,000 mithkāl. Having taken the money, he asked for some snow. When it was brought, he requested Ibn al-Aghlab to eat of it until he was full, and then made him vomit; whereupon all the milk, which the snow had caused to coagulate came out. Ishāq then said: "O Emir, it that milk had entered your bronchi and stuck to them, you would have choked to death, but I pressed it hard and forced it out before it reached the lungs." Said Ziyādat Allāh: "Ishāq has sold my life by auction; stop his allowance."

Thus deprived of his livelihood, Ishāq went to an empty lot in one of the public squares of Qairawān, where he equipped himself with a chair, and inkstand and some paper and began to write prescriptions every day for a fee. When someone said to Ziyādat Allāh: "You have made Ishāq rich!" he ordered him to be put in prison; [p.610] however, the people followed him there, and so he took him out at night and removed him to his residence, where he was treated by him to such stories and remonstrances as because of his despotic nature and feeble mind drove him to a fury; wherefore he had him bled on both arms at the same time, until he died from loss of blood. Thereafter he had him crucified and left in this condition for a long time, until birds nested in his entrails.

That night, he said to Ziyādat Allāh, among other things: "You are called Lord of the Arabs, but you are not their lord. A long time ago, I had you swallow a drug that will surely affect your mind." Ziyādat Allāh was a lunatic; he fell into melancholia and died.

Ishāq ibn `Imrān wrote the following books:

1) "The Book of Simple Drugs."

2) "The Book of the.Element and the Completion in Medicine."

3) A treatise on dropsy.

4) A concise treatise, addressed to Sa`īd ibn Taufīl the physician, indicating words that are uttered to cure illness and restore health; in it he intended to present some interesting medical items and wishes

5) "The Recreation of the Soul."

6) A book on melancholy.

7) A book on bloodletting

8) A book on the pulse.

9) A treatise on the causes, varieties and therapy of colic; this was an epistle dedicated to al-`Abbās, the majordomo of Ibrāhīm ibn al-Aghlab.

10) A book on urine, based on the teachings of Hippocrates, Galen and others.

11) A collection of Galen's sayings on drinking.

12) His collected discourses on drinking, based on the opinions of [p.611] Hippocrates and Galen, as laid down in the third chapter of "The Regimen of Acute Diseases," including what is stated  therein about wine.

13) A discourse on the white color of pus, the sediment of urine and the white color of sperm.


Ishāq ibn Sulaymān al-Isrā'īlī was an outstanding physician, a savant renowned for his skill and knowledge, an excellent writer and a man of far-reaching aspirations. He was surnamed Abū Ya`qūb but became generally knows by the name al-Isrā'īlī. A native of Egypt, where he started his career as an oculist, he later went to Qairawān, where he attached himself to Ishāq ibn `Imrān and became his pupil. He entered the service of the Imam Abū Muhammad `Ubayd Allāh ibn al-Mahdī, the ruler of Ifrīqiya, as a physician. In addition to having an excellent knowledge of medicine, he was well-versed in logic and a number of other disciplines. He lived for more than a hundred years, but never took a wife or begot offspring.

Asked whether he would be happy to have children, he said— "Not if I live to finish the 'Book of Fevers,'" meaning to say that the "Book of Fevers" would preserve his memory much more effectively than offspring would. He is also reported to have said: "I have written four books that are better able to perpetuate my memory than children, namely the 'Book of Fevers,' the 'Book of Food and Medicaments,' the 'Book of Urine' and the 'Book of Elements.' " He died around the year 320/932.

Here is what Ahmad ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Abī Khālid, known as Ibn al-Jazzār, says in his "History of the Dynasty," which deals with the commencement in the Maghrib, of the rule of the Imām Abū Muhammad `Ubayd Allāh al-Mahdī: Ishāq ibn Sulaymān, the physician, told me: On arriving from Egypt to visit Ziyādat Allāh ibn al-Aghlab, I learnt [p.612] that he was with his army at Laribus. He sent an escort to fetch me (he had previously sent me 500 dinars, which had enabled me to undertake the journey from Egypt). So I journeyed to him, and as soon as I arrived, I was admitted to his presence. I saluted him as is due to an Emir and paid homage to him as one should to a king, but I realized that his court lacked dignity and that the love of pleasantry was its dominant feature.

"Ibn Khanbash, known as al-Yūnānī [the Greek], opened the conversation with me by asking: 'Is it your opinion that salty things purge?' When I replied in the affirmative, he continued: 'And do you think that sweet things purge?' I said yes, and he said: 'So the sweet and salty are alike.' I retorted: 'Sweet things purge gently and pleasantly, and salty things purge vehemently.' But he persevered, trying to trip me up. Realizing this, I asked him: 'Do you think that you are a living being and that a dog is a living being?' When he said he did, I continued: 'So you are like a dog and a dog is like you.' Thereupon Ziyādat Allāh went into fits of laughter, and so I learnt that his love for pleasantry was greater than his love for serious thought."

Said Ishāq: "When Abū `Abdallāh, the missionary of al-Mahdī, came to Rakkada, he sought my acquaintance and made me his confidant. He had a stone in his kidneys, and I treated him with a medicine containing burnt scorpions. One day I was sitting with a group of men from [the tribe of] Kutāma, who questioned me about various diseases, but whatever I answered they did not grasp my meaning. So I said to them: 'You are [like] cattle and have nothing in common with humans except the name.' This incident was reported to Abū `Abdallāh, and when I [next] called on him he said: 'You treat our Muslim brethren from Kutāma improperly. By Allāh the Generous, were it not that you might plead ignorance of their merits and great knowledge of [religious] truth, I would surely cut off your head. I had to do with a man who took every day seriously and had no sense of humor.'" [p.613]

Ishāq ibn Sulaymān wrote the following books:

1) "The Book of Fevers," five chapters; no finer work on this subject can be found. I have copied the following statement on it from the handwriting of Abū 'l-Hasan Alī ibn Ridwān: "I, Alī ibn Ridwān, the physician, say that this book is a useful and excellent compendium. I have applied a great number of (the cures) indicated therein and found them unsurpassable. But aid and success come from Allāh."

2) "The Book of Simple Drugs and Food."

3) "The Book on Urine."

4) An abridged version of "The Book on Urine."

5) "The Book of Elements."

6) "The Book of General Definitions and Descriptions."

7) "The Garden of Wisdom," which deals with problems of metaphysics.

8) "An Introduction to Logic."

9) "An Introduction to the Art of Medicine."

10) A book on the pulse.

11) A book on theriac.

12) A book on wisdom, consisting of eleven chapters.


Ibn al-Jazzār. Abū Ja`far Ahmad ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Abī Khālid, known as Ibn al-Jazzār was a nature of Qairawān. He was a physician, as were his father and paternal uncle, Abū Bakr. He became acquainted with Ishāq ibn Sulaymān, attached himself to him and became his student. Ibn al-Jazzār was endowed with a good memory and a craving for knowledge. He studied medicine and other sciences and showed a fine grasp of them.

Sulaymān ibn Hasan, known as Ibn Juljul, says: "Ahmad ibn Abī Khālid adopted admirable rules as to appearance, behavior and deportment, and no one in Qairawān remembered him ever to have committed a faux pas or to have indulged in sensual pleasures. He attended funerals and wedding feasts, but never ate on such occasions. [p.614] He never went on horseback when calling on one of the dignitaries of Ifrrqiya or on its ruler, but only when visiting Abū Tālib, the paternal uncle of Ma`add, who was an old friend of his; he rode to his house on Fridays only. Every year he retired to a Sufī hospice [?] on the Mediterranean coast near Monastīr, a place of devotional seclusion, famous for its blessings and historical associations. There he would spend the hot summer days, subsequently returning to Ifrīqiya.

"Next to the outside door of his house he built a roofed lobby, in which he placed one of his servants, called Rashiq. The latter had before him all kinds of electuaries, liquid medicines and drugs. After examining the phials [of urine] in the morning, Ibn al-Jazzār told his patients to go to his servant and receive medicaments from him. [He did so) because he was too proud to take payment from anyone."

Ibn Juljul says: "A reliable informant told me the following about Ibn al-Jazzār: 'I was once in his vestibule, which was packed with people, when the nephew of the Qādi al-Nu`mān suddenly appeared. This was a youth who enjoyed great prestige in Ifrīqiya; the Qādi had him deputize for him whenever he was for some reason prevented from sitting in court.

He found no place to sit in the vestibule, except the one reserved for Abū Ja`far [Ibn al-Jazzār] himself. When Abū Ja`far appeared, the Qādī's nephew vacated the seat for him, but Abū Ja`far neither asked him to sit down again nor bade him welcome. The youth showed him a phial he had brought with him, which contained urine of his cousin, a son of al-Nu`mān and, still standing, received from him a detailed account of the findings. Then he rode away without being annoyed at the way he had been treated. He returned every day, bringing urine, until the patient was cured.' My informant continued: 'I was with ibn al-Jazzār when a messenger of al-Nu`mān, the Qadī, arrived with a letter in which he thanked him for the trouble he had taken in curing his son. The messenger also brought headgear and 300 mithkals. Ibn al-Jazzār read the letter and prepared a reply, [p.615] thanking al-Nu`mān in return, but accepted neither the money nor the headgear. I thereupon remarked to him: 'These are blessings that Allāh has bestowed upon you.' He replied: 'By Allāh, Ma`add's men shall never boast of having done me a favor!'"

Ahmad ibn al-Jazzār lived for more than eighty years and died, still in his prime, in Qairawān. In his estate were found 24,000 dinars and 25 hundredweight of medical and other books. He had intended to travel to Spain but had not carried out his plan. He lived during the reign of Ma`add.

Eulogizing Abū Ja`far Ahmad ibn al-Jazzār, with special reference to his book "Zād al-Musāfir" (Provisions for the Traveler), Kusahjim said:

O Abū Ja`far, you performed, both in life and in death,
Glorious deeds that will withstand the passage of time.
Seeing, in these parts, how around the Zād al-Musāfir
People crowd, scholars as well as students,
I became convinced that if, in its time, Yuhannā had been alive,
He would not have given his [book] "Perfection" that title,
I shall always praise the deeds of Ahmad, which will never cease
To be considered noble by the noble-minded.

Ibn al-Jazzār wrote the following books:

1) A book on the treatment of diseases, known as "Zād al-Musāfir," in two volumes.

2) A book on simple drugs, known as "al-I`timād."

3) A book on compound drugs, known as "al-Bughya."

4) "Means to Achieve Longevity"; it is, as far as I have been able to ascertain his most substantial medical work.

5) The Vizier Jamāl al-Dīn ibn al-Qiftī, reports that he saw in Qift a large medical work by Ibn al-Jazzār entitled "Provisions for Him Who Stays at Home" [a counterpart to "Provisions for the Traveler"], [p.616] comprising twenty volumes.

6) "Truthful Historical Information," a short biographical work containing the dates of the death of scholars of his time and a great deal of information about their lives.

7) An epistle on the soul and on the divergent opinions of the ancients with regard to this subject.

8) A book on the stomach, its diseases and their treatment.

9) "The Medicine of the Poor."

10) An epistle on interchangeable medicaments.

11) A book on how to distinguish diseases with a similar etiology but different symptoms.

12) An epistle on precautions against unnecessary bloodletting.

13) An epistle on coryza, its causes and treatment.

14) An epistle on sleeping and waking.

15) "Observations," a medical work.

16) A treatise on leprosy [elephantiasis], its causes and treatment.

17) "The Book"of Properties"

18) "Advice of the Pious Ones."

19) "The Book of Experiments."

20) A book describing the causes of the plague in Egypt, the measures to be taken to ward it off and the treatment of its manifestations.

21) An epistle on the contempt of death, addressed to one of his colleagues.

22) An epistle on the buttocks and pains affecting them.

23) "The Crowned One," on good manners.

24) "The Book on Sufficiency, on the preservation of health.

25) A treatise on hot baths.

26) "History of the Dynasty," dealing with the rise of al-Mahdī in the Maghrib.

27) "The Book of Aphorisms," on all sciences and rhetoric. [p.617]


Ibn al-Samīna. One of the physicians of Andalusia was Yahyā ibn Yahyā, known as Ibn al-Samīna, a native of Cordoba. The Qādī Sā`id ibn Ahmad ibn Sā`id says in [his book] "The Classes of Nations": "He was well versed in arithmetic, astrology and medicine, adept in the sciences and interested in various spheres of knowledge; he was a distinguished scholar of grammar, lexicography, metrics and poetics, Muslim law, Hadīth, history and dialectics. In Muslim theology he belonged to the Mu`tazilite trend. He traveled East, but returned to Spain and died there in the year 315/927."


Abū 'l-Qāsim Maslama ibn Ahmad, known as al-Majrītī [the Madritenian], a native of Cordoba, lived in the days of al-Hakam. The Qādī Sā`id says in "The Classes of Nations": "He was the foremost Andalusian mathematician of his time, had a better knowledge of astronomy than his predecessors, engaged in the observation of stars and ardently applied himself to the study of Ptolemy's "Almagest." He wrote a book on the improvement of what we call commercial arithmetic and another epitomizing that part of al-Battānī's 'Astronomical Tables,' which deals with the equation of planets. He revised the Astronomical Tables of Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, substituting the Arab era for the Persian and fixing the [?] of the planets to the beginning of the Islamic era. Though adding useful charts to al-Khwārizmī's work, he repeated that author's errors without comment. I called attention to this in my book on the rectification [of our knowledge] of the movements of the planets and on the errors of the astronomers."

Abū 'l-Qāsim Maslama ibn Ahmad died before the revolt of the year 398, leaving some outstanding disciples, such as no other scholar in Andalusia ever had; the most famous of these were Ibn al-Samh, Ibn al-Saffār, al-Zahrāwī, al-Kirmānī and Ibn Khaldūn.

He is the author of following works:

1) "The Book of Commercial Arithmetic";

2) An abridgment of the "Equation of Planets," which is a part of al-Battānī's "Astronomical Tables."


Ibn al-Samh. Abū 'l-Qāsim Asbagh ibn Muhammad ibn al-Samh, the Granadine geometrician, lived in the days of al-Hakam. The Qādī Sā`id says: [p.618] "Ibn al-Samh had a profound knowledge of arithmetic and geometry, was well-versed in astronomy and also applied himself to medicine. He wrote remarkable works, including the following:

1) "An Introduction to Geometry," being a commentary on Euclid's book.

2) "The Fruits of Numbers," known as "Al-Mu`āmalāt" [commercial calculus].

3) "The Nature of Numbers."

4) A large book on geometry, dealing with the aspects of this discipline that relate to the straight, the curved and the broken line.

5) Two books on the instrument called the astrolabe, one of them, divided into two chapters, on the manufacture of that instrument, the other, divided into 130 sections, on its use and the benefit to be derived from it.

6) "Astronomical Tables," drawn up according to one of the Indian systems, known as Sindhind — this is a large work in two parts, one containing the charts and the other the corresponding texts.

His pupil, Abū MarwānSulaymān ibn Muhammad ibn `Isā ibnal-Nāshi, the geometrician, told me that Ibn al-Samh died in the city of Granada, capital of the Emir Habbūsh ibn Māksan ibn Zirī ibn Manād al-Saphājī, on the night of Tuesday, the 18th of Rajab, in the year 426/1035 at the age of 56 solar years.


Ibn al-Saffār, i.e., Abū 'l-Qāsim Ahmad ibn `Abdallah ibn `Umar. He, too, had a profound knowledge of arithmetic, geometry and astronomy, and he established himself in Cordoba to teach these sciences. He wrote the following works:

1) "Shorter Astronomical Tables," according to the Sindhind system.

2) A book on the use of the astrolabe — concise, in beautiful language and easily intelligible.

He was a pupil of Abū 'l-Qāsim Maslama ibn Ahmad al-Majrītī. After the outbreak of the insurrection, he left Cordoba and settled in Dānia, capital of the Emir Mujāhib al-Amīrī, on the eastern littoral of Andalusia. There he died, may Allāh have mercy upon him. He had a brother, Muhammad, who won fame as a manufacturer of astrolabes, whose skill in this was unprecedented in Andalusia. [p.619]


Abū 'l-Hasan Alī ibn Sulaymān al-Zahrāwī was an expert in arithmetic and geometry and also concerned himself with medicine. Much of his mathematical knowledge was due to Abū 'l-Qāsim Maslama ibn Ahmad, known as al-Majrītī, to whom he attached himself for a time. He wrote an excellent book on commercial calculus, based on the demonstrative method and entitled "The Book of Principles."


Al-Kirmānī. Abū 'l-Hakam `Amr ibn `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Ahmad ibn Alī al-Kirmanī, a native of Cordoba, was an authority on arithmetic and geometry.

The Qādī Sā`id says: "Al-Kirmānī's disciple, al-Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn Hayy, the geometrician and astrologer, told me that he had never met anyone equaling his master in geometry — in the solution of its problems, the clarification of its difficulties or in the comprehensive knowledge of its parts. Al-Kirmānī traveled East as far as Harran in al-Jazīra [Mesopotamia], where he applied himself to the study of geometry and medicine. On his return to Andalusia, he settled in Saragossa, on the border of the then Muslim territory. He brought with him what were known as 'The Epistles of the Sincere Brethren,' which, to our knowledge, no one had introduced into Andalusia before. He also took up medicine, making valuable observations in this field and attaining remarkable skill in cauterization, amputation, incisions, ablations and other operations. But he was ignorant of astronomy and logic; this I was told by Abū 'l-Fadl Hasday ibn Yūsuf ibn Hasday the Israelite, who was well acquainted with him. In the speculative sciences he was so outstanding that there was no one in Andalusia to compete with him.

"Abū 'l-Hakim al-Kirmānī, may Allāh have mercy upon him died in Saragossa in the year 458/1066 at the age of 90 or slightly over." [p.620]


Ibn Khaldūn. Abū Muslim `Umar ibn Ahmad ibn Khaldūn al-Hadramī (i. e., of Hadramaut) belonged to a noble Sevillian family and was a disciple of Abū 'l-Qāsim Maslama ibn Ahmad. He was adept in the philosophical sciences and noted for his knowledge of geometry, astrology and medicine. As he always strove to improve his character and regulate his conduct, he has been compared to the [ancient] philosophers. He died in his native city in the year 449/1057. One of his most distinguished disciples was Aba Ja`far Ahmad ibn `Abdallāh, known as Ibn al-Saffār, the physician.


Abū Ja`far Ahmad ibn Khamīs ibn `Amir ibn Dumaih, a native of Toledo, studied geometry, astrology and medicine. He also had some knowledge of the science of [the Arabic] language and was well-versed in poetry. He was a contemporary of the Qādī Abū 'l-Walīd Hishām ibn Ahmad ibn Hishām.


Hamdīn ibn Ubba [Abbān]. Living in the days of the Emir Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Rahmān the Middle One, this was a skillful and experienced physician, a brother-in-law of the Banū Khālid. He possessed immovable and movable property in Cordoba. He rode only animals he had raised himself, ate nothing that had not grown in his fields, wore only clothes made from the flax of his farm and chose well his servants from among the home-born children of his slaves.


Jawād, the Christian Physician. Another contemporary of the Emir Muhammad. He invented an electuary that was named after him, and the "Medicament of the Monk." The liquid medicines and powders attributed to him and to Hamdīn and his sons are all of vegetal origin.


Khālid ibn Yazīd ibn Rūmān, the Christian, distinguished himself in medicine and contributed to its development. He lived in Cordoba, where he took up residence near St. Akhlaj's Church. His house was [p.621] known as the House of Ibn al-Satkhīrī, the poet. The practice of medicine brought him a fortune in both movable and immovable property. He practiced surgery and was knowledgeable about vegetal drugs. His townsmen greatly benefited by his activities. Nistās ibn Juraij, the Egyptian physician, addressed an epistle on urine to him. However, Khālid had a son named Yazīd, who did not possess the same talent for medicine as his father.


Ibn Malūka, the Christian. Ibn Malūka lived at the time of the Emir `Ubayd Allāh and at the beginning of the reign of the Emir `Abd al-Rahmān al-Nāsir. He practiced surgery and bloodletting. At the entrance to his house were thirty chairs for his waiting patients.


`Imrān ibn Abī `Amr was a physician of high moral caliber and the medical attendant of the Emir `Abd al-Rahmān, for whom he made up [a carminative from] aniseed. He was learned and keen-witted and left behind a compendium.


Muhammad ibn Fath Tamlūn, a freedman of `Imrān ibn Abī `Amr, was the most distinguished medical man of his time. He had no official position, and when once asked to enter the service of the prince, he declined on various pretexts and even applied to the prince himself, so that in the end he was excused. There was no one among the noblemen of his time who did not avail himself of his medical services.

Ibn Juljul says: "Abū 'l-Asbagh ibn Hayawaih told me as follows: 'I was with the Vizier `Abdallāh ibn Badr when his son Muhammad was stricken with boils all over his body. A group of physicians, including Tamlun stood before him but while his colleagues were all discussing the boils, Tamlūn kept silent. The Vizier asked him: What is your opinion, for I notice that you say nothing? He replied: I have an ointment that is effective against boils the very same day. The Vizier, trusting his words, ordered him to bring the ointment; he did so and [p.622] smeared it on the boils, which dried out overnight. On this account, the Vizier presented him with 50 dinars, while the other physicians left empty-handed. '"


Al-Harrānī came from the East in the days of the Emir Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Rahmān, possessed of remarkable medical experience. He became well known in Cordoba.

Ibn Juljul says: "I saw at Abū 'l-Asbagh al-Rāzī's home the following story, written in the hand of the Emir of the Faithful, al-Mustansir: "The said al-Harrānī first brought to Andalusia an electuary for stomach pains, one dose of which he would sell for 50 dinars. In this way he made a fortune. One day, five physicians, including Hamdīn and Jawād, joined hands, collected 50 dinars and bought a dose of the said medicament from al-Harrānī. Each of them took a fraction of it, sniffed at it, tasted it and noted down what he had perceived with his senses. Thereafter they assembled, agreed upon their findings and drew them up in writing. Then they went to see al-Harrānī and said to him: Allāh has let you profit from that medicament, which is your exclusive property, and we have bought one dose from you, examined it and came to such and such conclusions. If the results we arrived at are correct, it is all right; if not, let us share the knowledge of that medicament, for you have already drawn great profit from it. ' He perused their written account and then said: 'You have not left out any of the ingredients, but you are mistaken as to the proportions.' The medicament concerned is the one known as the "Great Helper." Al-Harrānī told them its composition, and since then it has become widely known in Andalusia. '" [p.623]

Ahmad and `Umar, the Sons of Yūnus ibn Ahmad al-Harrānī. These men traveled to the East in the year 330/941, during the reign of al-Nāsir, and stayed there for ten years. They came to Baghdad, where they studied the writings of Galen under the guidance of Thābit ibn Sinān ibn Thābit ibn Qurra the Sabiān and assisted Ibn Wasīf in the treatment of eye diseases. In the year 351 /962, during the reign of al-Mustansir bi-Allāh, they returned to Andalusia and, in that and the following year, took part in the military expeditions of al-Mustansir. Thereafter the Caliph attached them to his medical service, had them live in the City of al-Zahrā` and chose them, in preference to all other physicians of the time, as his personal attendants.

`Umar died of a tumor of the stomach — he had become so emaciated from it that he could not survive. So Ahmad alone remained as court physician. Al-Mustansir had him live at his palace in al-Zahrā`, showed him great favor and trusted him so much that he granted him access to his children and womenfolk. Ahmad was a mild-tempered person, endowed with a sound intellect, who perfectly understood the treatment of the diseases which he had studied in the East. He was al-Mustansir's favorite because the Caliph was a glutton and often suffered from indigestion owing to the huge quantities of food he consumed; Ahmad prepared strong pills [?] for him which did him much good, and so the physician was richly rewarded for his services.

Ahmad stammered and possessed a clumsy handwriting, being unable even to shape the letters correctly. He was an expert in simple drugs, manufactured liquid medicines and electuaries and cured any illness he came across.

Ibn Juljul says: "I saw him employ twelve Slav boys in concocting liquid medicines and preparing electuaries under his supervision. He asked permission of the Emir of the Faithful, al-Mustansir, to give some of his preparations to poor, sick persons who were in need of them; and he was granted that permission. Stories were [p.624] current in Cordoba about his remarkable successes in treating eye diseases. He used his knowledge to help friends and neighbors, the poor and the weak. Hishām al-Mu`ayyad bi-Allāh appointed him police inspector and market supervisor. He died of quartan fever and dysentery, leaving an estate worth more than one hundred thousand dinars."


Ishaq the Physician. This was the father of the Vizier Ibn Ishāq, a Christian by faith. He resided in Cordoba and was a skilled surgeon, of whom remarkable successes are reported. He surpassed all his contemporaries in practical experience. He lived during the reign of the Emir `Abdallah the Umayyad.


Yahyā ibn Ishaq, was a clever and learned physician, an expert in therapeutics, and a surgeon. He lived at the beginning of the reign of `Abd al-Rahmān al-Nāsir Li-Dīn Allāh, who appointed him vizier after he had held the post of governor in various provinces and districts. For a time he was prefect of Badajoz. He stood in high favor with al-Nāsir, who made him his confidant and permitted him to attend his wives and concubines. He wrote a medical work consisting of five books, based on the method of the Byzantines.

Yahyā converted to Islam, whereas his father Ishāq, as stated before, was a Christian.

Ibn Juljul says: "A trustworthy person told me the following story about Yahyā ibn Ishāq. He — my informant — had a young slave who had formerly belonged to the Chamberlain Mūsā or the Vizier `Abd al-Malik. That slave related the following to him: 'My master once sent me to the Vizier Yahyā ibn Ishāq to deliver a letter, and while I was sitting in front of his house, near the Nut Gate, a Beduin approached on a donkey, crying. He stopped at the entrance to the house and said entreatingly: Have mercy upon me and tell the Vizier of my arrival. [p.625] At that moment, the Vizier, who had heard the man crying, appeared with the reply to the letter in his hand. He said to the man: What ails you? and the man replied: I have a swelling in my urethra which has prevented me from urinating these many days; I will surely die. Yahyā asked to see the man's penis and, on looking at it, found it indeed to be swollen. He then said to a man who had come with the patient: Fetch me a smooth stone. When the man had brought such a stone, he said to him: Put it on your palm and place the penis on it. When the penis lay firmly on the stone, the Vizier clenched his fist and struck the penis so violently that the man fainted. Then the pus gushed forth, and before all of it had come out, the patient opened his eyes and voided urine. Yahyā then said to him: You may go now, for you have been cured. But you are a wicked man; you practiced sodomy with a beast and came upon a grain of barley which stuck to the opening of your urethra and caused the swelling. This grain came out with the pus. The man admitted having done as Yahyā said. This story points to the sound intuition and remarkable and unfailing sagacity on Yahyā's part.'"

Ibn Juljul continued: "There is an interesting report of a cure which Yahyā applied to al-Nāsir. When the Vizier was prefect of Badajoz, al-Nāsir was afflicted with earache. He underwent treatment, but the pains did not subside. So he sent for Yahyā. When the messenger arrived, Yahyā asked him why he had been sent, and he replied: 'The Emir of the Faithful is suffering from pain in his ears, and the physicians are at a loss what to do about it.' On his way to al-Nāsir, Yahyā stopped at a Christian monastery and inquired whether there was any savant there. He found an old man and asked him: ' Do you know of any well-tried medicine for earache?' The old monk replied: 'Blood of pigeons while still warm.' On reaching the residence of the Emir of the Faithful. Yahyā treated him with the warm blood of freshly slaughtered pigeons, and al-Nāsir was [p.626] restored to health. This episode shows Yahyā was endowed with a keen sense of research."

Yahyā ibn Ishāq wrote a major treatise on medicine.


Sulaymān Abū Bakr ibn Tāj, a noble-minded man, who lived during the reign of al-Nāsir, whom he served as a physician. He once cured al-Nāsir of ophthalmia in a day by means of a certain powder. Later he was asked the formula of that medicament, but declined to reveal it. He treated Shunaif, the postmaster, for asthma with a certain electuary; the patient recovered the same day, after the other physicians had been unable to cure him. For pain in the loins he used certain pills which he prepared himself and which acted immediately. He always kept the formulas of his medicines to himself. Many extraordinary medical feats are reported of him. He was also a distinguished man of letters, able to discourse and debate most agreeably. Toward the end of his life he was affected with ulcers of the urethra which he was unable to cure. When Allāh the Almighty, made him realise his helplessness, he cut off his penis. The Emir of the Faithful appointed him judge in Sidonia.


Ibn Umm al-Banīn, known as al-A`raf, was a native of Cordoba. He served the Emir of the Faithful, al-Nāsir, as a physician and was his table-companion. He had an extraordinary flair for matters medical, and astonishing feats are reported of him in this respect. But he was very conceited, so that al-Nāsir often found him unbearable; he nevertheless was forced to avail himself of his services because of his remarkable competence.


Sa`īd ibn `Abd Rabbih. Abū `Uthmān Sa`īd ibn `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Muhammad ibn `Abd Rabbih ibn Habīb ibn Muhammad ibn Sālim, a freedman of the Emir Hishām al-Rādī ibn `Abd al-Rahmān, was a [p.627] newcomer to Andalusia. Sa`īd was a nephew of Abū `Amr Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn `Abd Rabbih, the poet and author of the "K. al-`Iqd" [Book of the Necklace]. The latter died in the month of Jumādā I, of the year 328/940; he was born on the 10th of Ramadan of the year 246/861, Sa`īd ibn `Abd Rabbih was a distinguished physician and a fine poet. He composed a remarkable poem, in the rajaz meter, embodying a great deal of medical knowledge, thus proving his mastery of the science and deep insight into the teachings of the ancients. In addition, he possessed a good knowledge of astronomy, astrology and meteorology. For the treatment of fevers he would mix some . . . . [lacuna] with the cooling substance, a method that proved to be effective. He never served a prince as physician. He had the faculty of foretelling the future, which stemmed from his various spheres of knowledge.

Ibn Juljul says: "Sulaymān ibn Ayyūb, the jurist, told me as follows: 'I once had a fever which lingered a long time, and I came near to dying of it. One day Sa`īd, while going to see the governor of the city, Ahmad ibn `Isā, passed by my father, he approached him and greeted him as was due to a person of his rank and then consulted him about my illness. Sa`īd inquired of my father what treatment I had undergone, and on being informed, declared it to be foolish. He sent my father eighteen pills, of which I was to take one a day; I had not taken them all when the fever left me and I recovered completely.

Toward the end of his life Sa`īd became blind.

His poems include one which was composed under the following circumstances: 'When he had once been bled, he sent a message to his uncle, Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn `Abd Rabbih, the poet and man of letters, requesting him to come and cheer him up; but his uncle did not respond to the invitation, and so he wrote to him: [p.628]

Deprived of every comforter and companion,
I have chosen as my commensals Hippocrates and Galen.
I have taken their books as a remedy for my solitude,
They being a remedy for any ill that can be cured.
When I absorbed their instruction, I found
That it enlightens the mind and animates the body.

When the poem reached his uncle, he answered in verse, some of the lines reading as follows:

You have found out that Hippocrates and Galen
Neither eat nor cost the host anything;
Wherefore you made them your delight [?], to the exclusion of your kin.
And are satisfied with them as friends and companions.
Methinks that your stinginess will never leave you,
So that, in the end, you will keep company with the devil.

Toward the end of his life, Sa`īd ibn `Abd Rabbīh composed the following poem, stressing that his conduct had always been blameless and that he disdained the favor of kings:

After penetrating deeply into the study of traits
And long enjoying the favor of the Creator,
Shall I now, when about to behold His heavenly kingdom,
Be found asking sustenance of anyone but my Provider?
Human life is but a moment's pleasure,
It is as transient as a flash of lightning.
My soul is aware that its parting is near at hand.
That my guide is driving me hard toward death.
Even if I hid underground or fled from death
All over the world, it would still catch up with me. [p.629]

Sa`īd ibn `Abd Rabbih wrote the following works:

1) An antidotarium.

2) Comments and medical observations.

3) A poem, in the rajaz meter, concerned with medicine.


`Umar ibn Hafs ibn Bartaq was a distinguished physician and a pleasant-voiced reader of the Qur'ān. He traveled to Abū Ja`far ibn al-Jazzār in Qairawān, but stayed only six months with him. He first brought the book "Zād al-Musāfir" to Andalusia. In Andalusia he attained a high rank and served al-Nāsir as physician. Najm ibn Tarafa, the chief falconer, took him into his personal service, supported him and has freed him from want; `Umar shared all his material comforts, but he did not reach old age.


Asbagh ibn Yahyā. This man attained a high position by the skill with which he served al-Nāsir as physician. He prepared aniseed pills for him. He was a handsome, impressive-looking man and a distinguished personality, held in high esteem by important people.


Muhammad ibn Tamlīh was a dignified-looking, sober-minded man, well-acquainted with medicine, grammar, lexicography, poetry and literary and historical tradition. He was court physician to al-Nāsir when Ahmad ibn Ilyās al-Qā`id was chief physician [?]. Al-Nāsir appointed him redresser of grievances and qādī in Sidonia. He is the author of an attractively illustrated medical work.

He lived to see the beginning of the reign of al-Hakim al-Mustansir bi-Allāh, whose favor he enjoyed and whom he served as physician. The Qādī Sā`id says: "Al-Hakam appointed him to oversee the development work on the southern side of the Great Mosque of Cordoba; he took charge of it, and building operations were completed under his supervision. I have seen his name in gold letters inlaid in mosaic on the wall of the prayer niche of that mosque, where it is stated that construction was completed under his direction, by order of the [p.630] Caliph al-Hakam, in the year 358/968.

Muhammad ibn Tamlih wrote a book on medicine.


Abū 'l-Walid al-Kittānī, i.e. Abū 'l-Walīd Muhammad ibn al-Husayn, known as Ibn al-Kittānī, was a brilliant scholar and was at the same time endowed with a charming manner. He was beloved by high and low because he generously shared his knowledge and devotedly tended the sick. He did not covet riches and made no effort to accumulate them, being rather easy-going by nature. He was court physician to al-Nāsir and al-Mustansir and died of dropsy.


Abū `Abdallāh ibn al-Kittānī, i.e., Abū `Abdallāh Muhammad ibn al-Husayn, known as Ibn al-Kittānī, studied medicine under his paternal uncle, Muhammad ibn al-Husayn, and other physicians of like standing. He was physician to al-Mansūr ibn Abī `Āmir and his son al-Muzaffar. Later, at the beginning of the insurrection, he moved to Saragossa. He was a physician of great merit and possessed some knowledge of logic, astrology and a variety of philosophical disciplines.

Al-Qādī Sa`īd says: "The Vizier Abū 'l-Mutarrif `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Kabīr ibn Wāfid al-Lakhmī told me about him as follows: 'He had a keen intellect, an inquiring mind and a fine grasp. He was a true monotheist and a devout worshiper — he was also a very rich man. He died about the year 420/1029, almost eighty years old.'" Sa`īd continues: "I have read in one of his works that he studied logic under Muhammad ibn `Abdūn al-Jabalī and `Umar ibn Yūnus ibn Ahmad al-Harrānī; Ahmad ibn Hafsūn, the philosopher; Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Ibrāhīm, the judge and grammarian; Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Mas'ūd al-Bajjānī [sic]; Muhammad ibn Maimūn, known by the name of Marcus; Abū 'l-Qasim Faid ibn Najm; Sa`īd ibn Fathūn of Saragossa, known as al-Hammār (donkey-driver); Abū 'l-Hārith, the bishop, who was the disciple of the bishop and philosopher Rabī` ibn Zaid; Abū Mann al-Bajjānī; and Maslama ibn Ahmad al-Majrītī. [p.631]


Ahmad ibn Hakam ibn Hafsūn was a learned and gifted physician, endowed with a fine intellect and excellent powers of observation. He was well-versed in logic and had a certain knowledge of a number of other philosophical disciplines. He attached himself to the Hājib Ja`far, the Slav, and became friendly with his entourage. Ja`far, introduced him to al-Hakam al-Mustansir bi-Allāh, whom he served as physician until the death of the Hājib Ja`far. Then his name was struck from the register of physicians and he lived in obscurity until he died of dysentery.


Abū Bakr Ahmad ibn Jābir was a distinguished medical man and a gentle and modest person. He was physician to al-Mustansir bi-Allāh and saw the beginning of al-Mu`ayyad's reign. All the sons of al-Nāsir revered him and recognized his merits, as did the dignitaries of the realm. He was a highly intelligent, scholarly man, who copied many medical, encyclopedic and philosophical works with his own hand. He lived to a ripe old age.


Abū `Abd al-Malik al-Thaqafī was a competent physician, who also knew Euclid and the art of geodesy. He was medical attendant to al-Nāsir and al-Mustansir. He was lame. Remarkable medical feats are reported of him. Al-Mustansir or al-Nāsir made him administrator of the arsenal. Toward the end of his life he became blind as a result of cataract. He died of dropsy.


Hārūn ibn Mūsā al-Ashbūnī was a master of the medical art. He enjoyed great confidence and was famous for his surgical operations. Al-Nāsir and al-Mustansir availed themselves of his services.


Muhammad ibn `Abdūn al-Jabali al-`Udhrī traveled to the East in the year 347/979 and visited al-Basrah, but not Baghdād. He went to Fustāt in Egypt, where he headed the local hospital, perfected himself in medicine — mastering most of the theoretical foundations of [p.632] that science — and gained renown; he also applied himself diligently to a study of logic. His teacher in the latter discipline was Abū Sulaymān Muhammad ibn Tāhir ibn Bahrām  al-Sijistānī of Baghdād.

In the year 360/970 he returned to Andalusia, where he was physician to al-Mustansir bi-Allāh and al-Mu'ayyad bi-Allāh. Before he became a physician, he was a teacher of arithmetic and geometry. He wrote a fine book on geodesy [geometry? CF. Dozy]

Al-Qādī Sa`īd says: "Abū `Uthmān Sa`īd ibn Muhammad ibn al-Baghūnish of Toledo told me that, while studying in Cordoba, he found no one there equaling Muhammad ibn `Abdūn al-Jabalī in medicine, able to vie with him in the knowledge and experience of that art and the mastery of its intricacies.

Muhammad ibn `Abdūn wrote a book on geodesy.


`Abd al-Rahmān ibn Ishāq ibn al-Haitham, one of the most outstanding Andalusian physicians, was a native of Cordoba. He wrote the following works:

1) "The Book of Completeness and Perfection," on purgative and vomitive medicines.

2) "The Book of Scarcity [?] and Sufficiency [?]," on the errors committed by ibn al-Jazzār in [his book] "al-I`timad."

3) "The Book of Contentment with Peculiar Remedies," written for the Hājib and Governor Abū `Amir Muhammad ibn Abī `Āmir.

4) "The Book of Hot Winds [Poisons?]"


Ibn Juljul, i. e., Abū Dā'ūd Sulaymān ibn Hasan, known as Ibn Juljul, was a distinguished physician. An expert therapist, he displayed remarkable versatility in his profession. He lived in the days of Hishām al-Mu`ayyad bi-Allāh whom he served as physician. He was well acquainted with the properties of simple drugs.

He explained the names of the simple drugs occurring in the book of Dioscorides of Anazarba. At the beginning of his book on this subject he himself says: [p.633]

'Dioscorides book was translated from Greek into Arabic in Baghdād in the Abbasid era during the reign of Ja`far al-Mutawakkil, by Stephen, the son of Basil, the interpreter. Hunayn ibn Ishāq, the translator, corrected the text and approved it. Stephen translated into Arabic those Greek names for which he knew an Arabic equivalent, while leaving in the Greek original those for which he did not know an Arabic term, hoping that Allāh would later send someone equipped with the necessary knowledge to be able to translate them into Arabic, for nomenclature is but a matter of convention among the people of the country concerned, who agree to denote the different kinds of drugs as seems best to them — either by a derivative word or by any other means fixed by common consent. Stephen trusted that he would be succeeded by others who would know the drugs for which he did not know a name and would name them in accordance with the state of knowledge at their time, so that the names would become generally known.

"That book was circulated in Andalusia as translated by Stephen, containing the Arabic names which the translator knew and the original Greek names for which he knew no corresponding Arabic terms It was utilized as far as the terms employed were intelligible according to the usage prevalent in the East and in Andalusia. This state of affairs continued until al-Nāsir `Abd al-Rahmān became ruler of Andalusia. Romanus, Emperor of Constantinople, sent him a message — I think it was in the year 337/948 and presented him with gifts of great value, including the book of Dioscorides, with pictures of herbs in the marvellous Byzantine style and written in the Greek language. Romanus also sent the book of Orosius, the author of 'Tales,' which is an outstanding historical account of the Byzantines, containing stories about ancient kings and a great deal of useful information. Romanus wrote in his letter to al-Nāsir: 'Dioscorides' book cannot be utilized except with the help of a person who knows Greek well and is acquainted with the drugs concerned. [p.634] If there is someone in your country equipped with the necessary knowledge, you will, O king, derive great profit from the book. As to Orosius' work, you probably have in your country, among the Roman population, some people who read Latin, and if you submit the book to them they will translate it for you into Arabic.'

"At that time, no Andalusian Christian in Cordoba was able to read Greek. So the Greek original of Dioscorides' book remained in `Abd al Rahman al-Nāsir's library without being translated into Arabic. The people of Andalusia continued to use Stephen's translation, which had been brought from Baghdad.

"In his reply al-Nāsir asked the Emperor Romanus to send him a man who knew Greek and Latin and who might teach some of his slaves, who in turn would become translators. So the Emperor sent a monk named Nicholas, who arrived in Cordoba in the year 340/951. At that time, some physicians in Cordoba were engaged in painstaking research with a view to translating into Arabic the names of those drugs occurring in Dioscorides' book, which had not been understood. The one who most eagerly applied himself to this pursuit, with a view to ingratiating himself with King `Abd al-Rahmān al-Nāsir, was Hasday ibn Shaprut [sic], the Israelite. Nicholas the Monk, who became his favorite and close friend, explained to him those obscure names of drugs. Moreover, Nicholas was the first in Cordoba to prepare the theriac called al-Fārūq from purely vegetal ingredients [?]. The physicians who, at that time, tried to establish the meanings of the names used by Dioscorides and to identify the drugs themselves included Muhammad, known as al-Shajjār [the herbalist]; a man known as al-Basbāsī; Abū `Uthmān al-Hazzāz, surnamed al-Yābisī; Muhammad ibn Sa`īd, the physician; `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Ishāq ibn Haitham, and Abū `Abd Allāh al-Sikillī [the Sicilian], who spoke Greek and was acquainted with the drugs from personal observation. All these were contemporaries of Nicholas the Monk, and I saw them as well as Nicholas and became acquainted with them in the [p.635] days of al-Mustansir al-Hakam. At the beginning of the reign of this ruler, Nicholas died. Thanks to the efforts of those persons, it became possible, in Cordoba alone of the whole of Andalusia, to identify those drugs in a way precluding all doubt, resulting from direct knowledge of the drugs themselves. The correct pronunciation of the names was also established. There remained only a few drugs —about ten — of minor importance that could not be identified.

"I tried hard to ascertain the primary medicinal substance, the substance which is the basis of compound drugs. At last Allāh, in His mercy, granted me such insight that I hit on it. It was my intention to preserve what I feared might become obliterated and the benefit of which might be lost to mankind; for Allāh has created healing, spreading it in what the land brings forth in the animals that live on the earth — whether walking, swimming or creeping — and in the minerals hidden underground. In all these there is healing, divine grace and benevolence."

Ibn Juljul wrote the following books:

1) "Interpretation of the Names of Simple Drugs Occurring in the Book of Dioscorides"; he wrote it in Cordoba in the month of Rabi` II of the year 372/964, during the reign of Hishām ibn al-Hakam al-Mu`ayyad bi-Allāh.

2) A treatise on the drugs not mentioned in Dioscorides, both those used effectively in medicine and those not so used; as to the latter, he mentioned them in order that they might not be ignored, noting that Dioscorides omitted them either because he had no direct knowledge of them or because they were not used in his time by his fellow Physicians.

3) An epistle pointing out the errors committed by some physicians.

4) A book containing information about physicians and philosophers; he wrote it in the days of al-Mu`ayyad bi-Allāh. [p.636]


Abū al `Arab Yūsuf ibn Muhammad was one of the most profound and well informed persons in the medical profession. Said the judge Sa`īd: The Vizier Abū al Mutarrif ibn Wāfid and Abū — `Uthman Sa`īd ibn Muhammad ibn Baghūnish said that he had a comprehensive knowledge of the foundations and various branches of medicine in addition to excellent practical ability in its different domains." He added: "I have heard someone say that ever since the death of Muhammad ibn `Abdūn there has been no one to equal Abū-al -Arab in the practice and knowledge of the medical science. During the latter part of his life he succumbed to a passion for wine and was never found completely sober. This prevented people from taking advantage of his knowledge. He died just before his ninetieth year, after 430/1039."


Ibn al-Baghūnish, i.e., Abū `Uthmān Sa`īd ibn Muhammad ibn al-Baghūnish. Said the judge Sa`īd: "He was a native of Toledo, but set out for Cordoba to study there. Maslama ibn Ahmad taught him arithmetic and geometry, and Muhammad ibn `Abdūn al Jabalī, Sulayman ibn Juljul, ibn al-Shanā`a and others of the same caliber were his masters in medicine. He later returned to Toledo and attached himself to the Emir al-Zāfir Isma`īl ibn `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Isma`īl ibn `Āmir ibn Mutarrif ibn Dhū al-Nūn. He gained the latter's favor and held a public position in his government.

"I met him in Toledo later, at the beginning of the reign of al-Mamun [the Glorious] ibn Yahyā ibn al-Zāfir Isma'īl ibn Dhū 'l-Nūn, when he had abandoned the secular sciences and applied himself exclusively to the study of the Qur'ān, leading the life of a hermit. I found him an intelligent person, with a good reputation, perfect conduct and neatly dressed. He had in his possession many important books in the different branches of philosophy and medicine. I understood that he had studied first geometry and then logic, about which he knew a great deal; he subsequently abandoned all these and [p.637] occupied himself with the books of Galen, which he collected and studied critically, until he comprehended most of them.

"With all this he did not show any special talent in either diagnostics or treatment. He died during morning prayer on Tuesday the first of Rajah in the year 444 (27 October 1056). He once told me that he had been born in 369/979, thus making him seventy-five years old at his death."


Ibn Wāfid was the Vizier Abū al-Mutarrif `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Kabīr ibn Yahyūilm Wāfid ibn Mihnad al-Lakhmī, from one of the noblest and most ancient families in Andalusia. He devoted himself to the study of Galen and also read Aristotle and other philosophers.

The judge Sā`id said: "He specialized in the field of simple drugs until he had a more detailed and exact knowledge than any of his contemporaries. He composed a remarkably well ordered book on this subject in which he compiled the relevant information contained in Dioscorides and Galen. He organized his work in the best way possible. He told me it had taken him about twenty years to collect the material and put it in order, to verify the names and qualities of the medicaments, including details of their powers and strength, before he himself considered it satisfactorily and complete. He had a subtle conception and a sound technique in medicine, both of which were expressed in his belief that drugs should not be used when it is sufficient to have recourse to an alimentary regime or the like. If it was absolutely necessary to employ drugs, he did not use compound ones before trying the simples. If he was forced to use the compound drugs, he restricted himself to as small dosages as possible.

"His way of curing serious maladies and dread diseases by the simplest and gentlest treatments was renowned as extraordinary, and long remembered as miraculous. He lived in Toledo in the days of Ibn Dhū al-Nūn. He was born in Dhū al-Hijja 387/997 and was still alive in 460/1067." [p.638]

His books are:

1) "The Book of Simple Drugs."

2) "The Book of Assistance in Medicine."

3) "Medical Experiments."

4) "The Book of Penetrating Observation of Diseases."

5) "The Book of the Helpful [Medicaments for all Disease]."


Al-Rumailī, i.e., . . . . [blank in original], lived in Almeria during the days of Ibn Ma`am, who was known as Ibn Sumādih and whose scientific name was al-Mu`tasim bi-Allāh. Abū Yahyā al-Yasa` ibn Hazm ibn al-Yasa`, in his "Astonishing Book about the Beauties of the Occidentals," said that al-Rumaili enjoyed divine favor which helped him, raised his position, and accorded him influence. Only thus can we account for the gifts which made possible his progress and gave him eloquence of speech. As a result, his formulas were imitated by one and all and people competed in consulting him. Many tried to equal his greatness of character, which rejected the mundane pleasures of this world and lent his actions complete freedom. He often treated the humble folk, giving them what drugs and food he had, so that he was loved by all, far and near, to the point where he had only friends and well-wishers, until death took him. Among his books there is one entitled: "The Garden of Medicine."


Ibn al-Dhahabī, Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh ibn Muhammad al-Azdī, who is known as Ibn al-Dhahabī, was one of those who devoted themselves to the medical science and philosophy. He was interested in chemistry, in the study of which he spared no effort. He died in Valencia in Jumādā II, 456/1064. He wrote, among other works, a treatise proving that water has no nutritive value.


Ibn al-Nabbāsh, i.e., Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn `Abd Allāh ibn Hāmid al-Bajjanī, known as Ibn al-Nabbāsh, occupied himself intensely with medicine and had much practical skill. He possessed a solid foundation in the natural sciences and did original work [p.639] in the other philosophical disciplines. He lived in the region of Murcia.


Abū Ja`far ibn Khamīs of Toledo studied Galen's books from cover to cover and in this way became master of the medical sciences. He had a passion for mathematics, both theoretical and practical.


Abū al-Hasan `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Khalaf ibn `Asākir al-Dārimī devoted himself earnestly to Galen's books, studying many of them under the tutorship of Abū `Uthmān Sa`īd ibn Muhammad ibn al-Baghūnish. He also applied himself to geometry, logic, and other sciences. He was a man of exceeding refinement and extraordinary talent, and developed some original and striking cures. He had a special gift for paying attention to minute details and performing delicate operations.


Ibn al-Hayyāt, i.e., Abū Bakr Yahyā ibn Ahmad, known as Ibn al-Hayyāt. He was one of Abū al-Qāsim Maslama ibn Ahmad al-Majrītī's pupils in arithmetic and geometry, later showing a propensity for astrology, in which he excelled and for which he became famous. Among other princes, he served Sulaymān ibn Hakam ibn al-Nāsir-al-Dīn Allāh as astrologer during the civil war. The last one he served as astrologer was the Emir al-Mamun Yahyā ibn Isma`īl Dhu al-Nūn. In addition to this he devoted himself to medicine and was a painstaking practitioner, kind, wise, mild tempered and noble in his conduct. He died in Toledo in 447/1055, about eighty years of age.


Munajjim ibn al-Fawwāl was a Jew from Saragossa, an expert in the medical art. In addition he was well-versed in logic and other philosophical disciplines. Among his writings is the book "The Treasure of the Poor," in the form of questions and answers, in which he included examples of the rules of logic and the principles of physics. [p.640]


Marwān ibn Janāh, also a Jew, devoted himself to the science of logic. He had an extensive knowledge of  the Arabic and Hebrew languages, as well as a good grasp of the science of medicine. His books include a Summary, in which he explained the simple drugs and indicated their dosages.


Ishāq ibn Qustār, another Jew, served al-Muwaffaq Mugahid al-Amirī and his son Iqbāl al-Dawlah Alī. Ishāq was expert both in medicine and in logic, and was up-to-date in current philosophy. He was highly intelligent, had nice manners and was well-versed in the Hebrew language and Jewish Law, being a rabbi. He never married, and died in Toledo in 448/1056, seventy-five years of age.


Hasday ibn Ishāq took up medicine in the service of al-Hakam ibn `Abd al-Rahman al-Nāsir al-Dīn Allāh. He was a Jewish Rabbi, well-informed in religious law, and the first to show the Jews of Spain the gateway to their law, history, and other sciences. Previously they had been forced to have recourse to the Jews of Baghdād in order to obtain decisions about their religious law, their calendar, and the dates of their festivals. They used to receive from them calculations for several years, so as to know thereby the calendrical data. When Hasday became attached to al-Hakam and gained his highest favor, he made use of the latter's influence to obtain all the Jewish writings from the Orient that he wanted, so that the Spanish Jews learnt that of which they had been ignorant before, and easily obtained the information which up to then had cost them so much effort.


Abū al-Fadl Hasday ibn Yūsuf ibn Hasday lived in Saragossa, a descendant of one of the noble Jewish families of Andalusia, the issue of the Prophet Moses, blessed be his name. He studied the sciences in their proper order and gained a knowledge of their diverse systems; he was well-versed in the Arabic language as well as in its poetry and rhetoric. He excelled in arithmetic, [p.641] geometry, astronomy and music, practicing them all. He also mastered the science of logic, and did original work in its application. He also delved into the natural sciences and held views on medicine. In 458/1066 he was still alive and in his prime.


Abū Ja`far Yūsuf ibn Ahmad ibn Hasday was a remarkable physician, who devoted himself ardently to the study and comprehension of the books of Hippocrates and Galen. He traveled from Spain to the land of Egypt and became very famous there, distinguishing himself in the days of al-Amir bi-Ahkam Allāh, one of the caliphs of Egypt. He was an intimate friend of al-Mamun, i.e., Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Nūr al-Dawlah Abi Shujjā` al-Āmirī, as long as the latter was holding the reins of government. He exercised this power during three years and nine months, since al-Amir made him his vizier on the 5th of Dhu al-Hijja 515/1121. He was arrested on a Saturday night, the 11th of Ramadan 519/1125, in the palace after the evening prayer, and was subsequently put to death in the month of Rajāb 522/1128 and crucified on the outskirts of Cairo.

During his tenure of office, al-Ma`mūn was full of dignity and displayed a keen interest in the sciences. He ordered Yūsuf ibn Ahmad ibn Hasday to write a commentary on Hippocrates' books for him, these being the most important, works in the medical science, the most profitable and also the most difficult, and Ibn Hasday started working on this task. I have seen a commentary to Hippocrates' "Book of Oaths" written by him, in which he gave an excellent explanation and interpreted the subject matter superlatively. I have also come across a commentary by him to a part of Hippocrates' "Book of Aphorisms." He had strong ties of friendship with Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Yahyā, also known as Ibn Bajja, with whom he corresponded regularly from Cairo. Yūsuf ibn Ahmad ibn Hasday was addicted to drink and was fond of pleasantries and anecdotes. [p.642]

I was told about him, that when he was on the road from Alexandria to Cairo he made friends with a sūfī. They struck up a conversation and became attached to each other. As they were nearing Cairo, the sūfi asked him: "Where are you staying in Cairo, so that I can visit you?" He answered: I was thinking of going to the tavern to drink, so if you would like to see me there, that is up to you!" These words offended the sūfī, he disapproved of this attitude and retreated. A few days later, when Ibn Hasday was in the market, he suddenly caught sight of a group of people with a sūfī in their midst, being severely punished after a rumor had spread that he had been found drunk. When the sūfī approached ibn Hasday's place, he looked upon him and recognized him; Ibn Hasday said: "By Allāh, Your false devotion has killed you."

Ibn Hasday's book include the following:

1) The al-Mamuni's commentary to Hippocrates' "Book of Oaths," which is known to be in great demand by doctors. He dedicated this to al-Ma`mūn Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad al-`Amirī.

2) A commentary on the first chapter of Hippocrates' "Book of Aphorisms," being manuscript notes written on reaching Alexandria from Spain.

3) "Extracted Questions," which he drew and corrected from the commentary of `Ali ibn Ridwān on Galen's "Book Addressed to Glaucon."

4) An essay on the beginning of Hippocrates' "Short Book on Medicine,"

5) "Summary of Logic," with a commentary.


Ibn Samjūn. This was Abū Bakr Hāmid ibn Samjūn, an excellent physician, distinguished in the sphere of simple drugs, their strength and influence, about which he knew all there is to know. His book on this subject is renowned for its perfection. He devoted untiring effort in compiling it and recorded in it many of the ancients' views. [p.643] Abū Yahyā al-Yasa` ibn `Isā ibn Hazm ibn al-Yasa' said in his "Astonishing Book about the Beauties of the Occidentals" that Ibn Samjun composed this book during the days of al-Mans`ur al-H`agid Muhammad ibn Abī `Amir. The latter died in 392/1001.

Among his books are:

1) "The Simple Drugs."

2) A "Codex."


Al-Bakrī, i.e., Abū `Ubayd `Abd-Allāh ibn `Abd al-Azīz al-Bakrī, came from Murcia and was one of the greatest personalities of Andalusia, distinguished by his knowledge of simple medicines, their power, uses, names, descriptions and everything connected with them. His works include:

1) "The Principal Plants."

2) "The Gardens of Andalusia."


Al-Ghāfigī, i.e., Abū Ja`far Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn al-Sayyid al-Ghāfiqī, a famous Imam and a remarkable physician, who was considered one of the greatest in Andalusia. He was the best informed among his contemporaries on the matter of simple medicaments, their powers, uses, qualities, names, and principal examples. His book on them has no equal as regards perfection and substance, as he summed up all that had been mentioned by Dioscorides and the Great Galen, in an excellent and precise style. He also mentioned what their successors had said, and their innovations in the science of simple medicines, by quoting their contributions one by one. Thus he summarized all that had been stated by the savants on this subject, until it became an encyclopedia to which one could turn whenever one needed verification. [p.644]


Al-Sharīf Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Hasam, i.e., Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn `Abd Allāh ibn Idrīs al-Hasanī, known al-`Ali bi-Allāh. He was a distinguished scholar in the field of simple medicaments, their uses, origins and main representatives. He also wrote a book on simple medicines.


Khalaf ibn `Abbās al-Zahrāwī was a remarkable physician, an expert in simple and complex medicines, and an excellent practitioner. He wrote celebrated works on medicine, the best of which is his voluminous book known as "al-Zahrawi." His Writings also include "A Manual for Those who Cannot Prepare Medicines by Themselves," which is his best known and largest book, a complete survey of the subject.


Ibn Baklārish was a Jew, one of the greatest medical savants in Andalusia, who possessed vast experience and knowledge in the field of simple medicines. He served the dynasty of Banū Hūd as physician. Among his books is a "Synopsis of Simple Medicaments" with an index; this was composed in Almeria for al-Musta`īh bi-Allāh Abū Ja`far Ahmad ibn al-Mu`amin bi-Allāh ibn Hūd.


Abū al-Salt Umayya ibn `Abd al-Azīz ibn Abī al-Salt, from the city of Dania in East Andalusia, was one of the greatest savants in medicine and other sciences. He wrote famous books and left a renowned following. He attained an excellence in medicine unequaled by anyone and achieved a similar status in literature. He was unique in his knowledge of mathematics and was well informed on musical theory and practice, mastering the lute to perfection. He was very eloquent and a wonderful conversationalist; his poetry, was profound and brilliant. He left Andalusia for Egypt, staying a while in Cairo, and then returned to Spain. He arrived in Egypt around 510/1116. [p.645]

When he was in Alexandria he was imprisoned. The Shaikh Sadīd al-Dīn al-Mantiqī told me about this in Cairo in 632/1234. The reason for the arrest of Abū al-Salt was the following. A vessel loaded with copper had arrived in Alexandria and was wrecked close by. Nobody could think of a way of raising her because of her lying too deep, but Abū al-Salt pondered deeply on this matter until he hit upon a solution. He went to al-Afdal ibn Amīr al-Juyush, who was the governor of Alexandria, and informed him that he could raise the vessel from the sea bottom and refloat her with her load on condition that all the apparatus he might need for this would be made available to him. The governor, astonished by his plan and very happy about it, begged him to carry it out and supplied him with all the required instruments in addition to a sum of money. When everything was ready, Abū al-Salt loaded it all on a large vessel, similar to the one which had sunk. He attached silken hawsers to it and asked a group of expert sailors to dive and to tie the hawers firmly to the sunken ship. Previously he had built several engines to lift weights on ships, and now he showed the sailors how to operate them. While they were working, lo! The silken hawsers rose toward them little by little and were wound up on the drums between their hands, until the sunken ship appeared close to the surface. But at that moment the hawsers broke, and the vessel sank back to the bottom of the sea. Abū al-Salt had been very exact in his plan and in its realization but providence did not help him. The governor was angry with him because of the money wasted on the lost intruments, and unjustly ordered his arrest.

Abū al-Salt remained in prison for a period, until he was freed through the intervention of some of the city fathers who had pity on him. All this happened during the Caliphate of al-Amir bi-Ahkam Allāh and the Vizierate of al-Malik al-Afdal ibn Amīr al-Juyūsh. [p.646]

I have copied the following from the correspondence of the Shaikh Abū al-Qāsim Alī ibn Sulaymān, known as Ibn al-Sairafī, who reported: "I received a note from the Sahikh Abū al-Salt while he was in prison, and at the end of it there were two poems in honor of al-Afdal's court."

[Here he cites three parts of these poems and describes his overwhelming reaction to them, saying he will reread them many times and citing two verses approving his attitude, then he continues.]

"I understand that you had resigned yourself to fate's decrees and had put up with the obstacles laid in the path of your free conduct, having faith in the good sentiments of the governor, may God prolong his days and favors, and knowing the general opinion about his generosity and nobleness. Another person who was similarily purged from doubt by God, who safeguarded his intention and good faith and assured his optimism and innocence by His providence, had said:"

[Here he cites two verses, whose moral is: whatever the circumstances, do not despair!]

"As to what is implied in your letter to the point that this misfortune was intended to abolish your past sins and diminish your faults — why, God had exempted you from sins and faults, and this was rather a test of your innermost faith and patience, the way he tested the pious believers and saintly men. Allāh the Exalted will, by His noble providence, destine your fate to be smooth and upright. I have met a person who informed me that he had by many efforts obtained a favorable promise as to the governors generosity. He is now awaiting a good opportunity to be exploited in mentioning you to the governor, May God Almighty help and direct him in his deeds. As to the two poems you have sent me, I know of nothing superior to them, from beginning to end, nothing more apt to reach the heart [p.647] and ear, nothing more complete with ornament and beauty, nor with a more eloquent style, or with richer and better harmonized rhymes, considering the diversity and dissonance so prevalent in poetry. I found them more exquisite with each additional reading, and was delighted to think of the poem on liberation, which will follow those verses written in prison. May God the Omnipotent realize this hope of mine and precipitate my wish, for this would be my greatest happiness, if He so wishes."

Abū al-Salt, God bless him, died on a Monday, the beginning of Muharram 529/1134, in Mahdia, and was buried in Monastir. On his death bed he pronounced some verses, which he ordered to be engraved on his tomb. [They are cited here, their themes being sin, mercy, and eternity.]

When Abū al-Salt Umayya ibn `Abd al-Azīz set out once more for Andalusia, he received in Mahdia a letter from Dhafir al-Haddad from Alexandria, addressed to Abū al-Salt from Egypt, in which he recalled their friendship and their stay together in Alexandria.

[The poem on friendship, departure and hope is cited here in full. One interesting verse is: "My tears are forced out by a breath born between my clavicles and my ribs!"]

Abū al-Salt himself composed a poem in honor of Aba Tāhir Yahyā ibn Tamīm ibn Muizz ibn Badīs, in which he recalled the arrival of a Christian prince loaded with presents, who had asked for a cessation of hostilities in 505/1111.

[Here he quotes the glorifying poem.]

He also wrote a poem addressed to al-Afdal, telling about the army's march to Syria to combat the Crusaders, after its defeat in the place known as al-Hassa. In the meantime, a group of soldiers and other people decided to murder al-Afdal, but the latter discovered their plot and had them put to death. [p.648]

[A long and bloody poem follows about the omnipotence of the Muslim prince and his army, which are the glory of religion and mankind.]

[Then a short poem is cited, on the beauty of woman, and another, describing the Pleiades. Afterwards, there are a few verses concerning Birkat al-Habash [the Abbyssinian lake] in Egypt; several sentimental verses, and a longer love poem. A short description of a gray horse is followed by advice to the wise ruler, then comes a declaration of love to a blonde; after this an assortment of rhymed sayings about love and friendship; a joke about fools who are full of scholarly ambitions; some moral conclusions on happiness, poverty and fate. His poem about fleas must be quoted from: "They are . . . wiser than Hippocrates in distinguishing the blood vessels, discerning between the median vein of the arm and the basilic vein for inserting their small lancet, and they have a more expert hand than the adroit and prudent doctor's." He speaks about disappointment from friends, about the astrolabe ['the best and unparalleled thing which has ever accompanied the cultivated man in his comings and goings ...']; and the censer. There follows a love poem; a poem regretting the sale of his house to a negro; a love poem to a youth; verses about fate; about work and faith and visiting friends.]

He composed a poem about the physician Sha`bān:

O physician who annoys and importunes the world:
There are two months of the passing year against you,
You are Sha`bān, but you murder the people on Muharram. [p.649]

[He talks about a critical moment in his life; about renouncing this world; about these bad times; another love poem; a poem inspired after he had seen a handsome youth giving his place to a negro; about his talents and fortune.]

His books are the following:

1) "The Egyptian Epistle," in which he mentions what he saw in Egypt, the geography, and archeology of this land, the personnages he met there — physicians, astronomers, poets and other literary types. This epistle is addressed to Abū al-Tāhir Yahyā ibn Tamin ibn al-Muizz ibn Bādīs.

2) "The Book of Simple Medicines," arranged in order of the organs which have identical parts and the instrumental organs. This is superbly compiled.

3) A defense of Hunayn ibn Ishāq against ibn Ridwān and his treatment of Hunain's questions.

4) "The Garden of Literature."

5) "Contemporary Anecdotes," a poetic selection from the works of Andalusians, by birth and adoption.

6) The divan of his poetry.

7) An epistle on music.

8) A book on geometry.

9) An epistle about the use of the astrolabe.

10) "The Book of Strengthening Logic and Wisdom."


Ibn Bājja, i.e., Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Yahyā ibn al-Sa`igh, known as Ibn Bājja, from Andalusia. He was a guiding light in his time in the philosophical sciences, although his life was full of difficult moments, and the mob repeatedly threatened him with death, but Allāh rescued him. He distinguished himself in Arabic and literature, knew the Qur'ān by heart, and was considered one of the [p.650] best physicians. He was proficient in music and playing the lute.

At the beginning of his collection of Ibn Bājja's works, Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn `Abd-al-Azīz ibn al-Imām, said something to this effect: "This is a collection of Abū Bakr ibn al-Sā`igh's — God's mercy be on him! — known works on philosophy. By his penetrating mind and profound knowledge of these noble and delicate problems, he is a prodigy and an extraordinary phenemenon of his time; for philosophical books were circulating in Andalusia from the days of al-Hakam, may Allāh brighten his countenance, who ordered them to be brought from the Orient, along with other wonderful works composed there or translated from the ancients."

These books were read over and over but their readers did not fully understand them — they lapsed into error and haziness. This was the case with Ibn Hazm of Seville. Although he was one of the greatest savants of his time and best equipped to verify the results of his reasonings, Ibn Bājja was superior to him in acuteness of observation.

The study of the above sciences was undertaken by Ibn Hazm and his contemporary, Mālik ibn Wahaib of Seville, though all Mālik wrote on logic was a little about its preliminary concepts; he then abandoned this subject because of a blood feud and because of his tendency to verbosity. He turned to religious law, and reached almost top rank in it; however, his works on this subject are not remarkable for clarity, and no unpublished items were found after his death. As to Abū Bakr [Ibn Bājja], he distinguished himself by his strength of character; notwithstanding the difficulties of his life, he never ceased observing,analysing, and recording everything that impressed itself upon his kind. His achievements in logic and branches of the natural sciences attest to his perfect understanding of these two fields and to his mastery of details as well as of generalities. [p.651]

He wrote commentaries on geometry and astronomy, proving his excellence in these subjects, while nothing in his notes deals exclusively with theology, except portions of the "Letter of Farewell" and the treatise "The Union of Man with the Active Intellect." There are only sporadic allusions to theology in his writings, but they are of great value in showing his preference for that noble science, which is the goal of all science, and for which all other knowledge is but a preparation. It is inconceivable that a man like him, who applied himself to the preparatory studies until all the aspects of existence were fully clear to him, should have failed in this science, which is the ultimate subject of all learning, natural to every orthodox person endowed with the power to surpass his contemporaries in rising from obscurity to light. Such a person was Ibn Bājja, may Allāh give him peace!

The editor, Abū al-Hasan Alī, says: "We open our collection with 'On the Human Goal,' a very carefully written treatise, showing Ibn Bājja's above-mentioned knowledge of theology and the preparatory disciplines; he may have written previously on that subject, but no such writing has been found. It seems that after Abū Nasr al-Fārābī no one equaled him in the subjects in question. For if we compare his writings with those of Ibn Sīnā and al-Ghazālī, the two who best understood and wrote about those sciences in the East after al-Fārābī, his superiority and comprehension of Aristotle's books becomes evident. The three of them are undoubtedly the best interpreters of their predecessors in these subjects; their writings and opinions agree with those of preceding generations."

The above-quoted Abū al-Hasan `Alī ibn al-Imām of Granada was a fine writer, distinguished in the sciences, a close friend of [p.652] Ibn Bājja for a period, and his fellow student. He left the Māghrib and died in Cos. One of Ibn Bajjā's disciples was the judge Abū al-Walīd Muhammad ibn Rushd.

Ibn Bājja died young in the town of Fez and was buried there. The judge Abū Marwān of Seville told me that he had seen his tomb, which is next to that of Abū Bakr ibn al `Arabī a jurist and author of many books.

Examples of his sayings are: "That which one spends a long time studying one will not forget" and "Your good works are bound to be rewarded by God's blessings."

His books are:

1) A commentary on Aristotle's "Physics" ("Natural Harmony").

2) "Discourse on Certain Parts of Aristotle's Book of Meteors."

3) "Discourse on Certain Parts of Aristotle's Book of Existence."

4) "Discourse on the Last Essays of Aristotle's Book of Animals."

5) "Treatise on Certain Parts of Aristotle's Book of Plants."

6) A discourse in which the author discusses the nature of physical love and embarks on a demonstration of his viewpoint.

7) "Letter of Farewell."

8) Discourse which is a sequence to the "Letter of Farewell."

9) "Book on the Union of the Active Intellect with Men."

10) "Discourse on the Power of Intelligence."

11) "Chapters Including a Discourse on the Union of Intellect with Man."

12) Book on the Behavior of the Recluse."

13) "Book of the Soul."

14) Notes on al-Fārābī's "Book of Philosophy."

15) A few chapters on political science, the quality of urbanity and the condition of the recluse. [p.653]

16) Some fragments on geometry and astronomy.

17) Epistle written to ibn Bājja's friend Abū Ja`far Yāsuf ibn Ahmad ibn Hasday after his arrival in Egypt.

18) Scattered philosophical remarks. {Note to the online edition: the manuscript contains no item 19 qqq}

20) Answers to questions covering the geometrical systems of the geometrician ibn Sayyid.

21) Commentary on part of Galen's "Book of Simples."

22) "Two Experiments with the Medicaments of Ibn Wāfid," written in collaboration with Abū al-Hasan Sufiān.

23) Summary of al-Rāzī's book "al-Hāwī".

24) "Discourse on the Human Goal."

25) "Discourse on Things through Which One Can Understand the Active Intellect."

26) "Discourse on the Name and the Named."

27) "Discourse on Demonstration."

28) "Discourse on Principles."

29) "Discourse on the Thinking Mind and Its Nature; the Causes and Media of its Operation."

30) "Discourse on Temperament from a Medical Point of View."


Abū Marwān ibn Zuhr, i.e., Abū Marwān `Abd al-Malik, was the son of the jurist Muhammad ibn Marwān ibn Zuhr al-Iyādī of Seville. He was a distinguished medical man, an excellent practitioner, celebrated for his keen wit. His father, Muhammad, was one of the foremost jurists and experts in the Hadīth in Seville. The Judge Sā`id reports that Abū Marwān traveled to the East, visiting Kairuan and Cairo, where he practiced medicine for a lengthy period, then returned to Andalusia and stayed in Denia in the days of the ruler Mujāhid. When he arrived there, the prince treated him with great [p.654] distinction and asked him to remain with him, which he did. In Denia he achieved great wealth and the reputation of being a truly outstanding physician; his fame spread all over Andalusia.

He held extraordinary views on medicine, such as his disapproval of hot baths, which he considered dangerous to the body and destructive of the composition of the humors. Comments the judge: "This opinion runs counter to both ancient and modern views, and both gentle and simple folk can testify to its wrongness. In fact, if its temperature is suitably graded, a hot bath is an excellent practice, for it opens the pores, facilitates evacuation and refines the digested food which has thickened." Shortly before his death, Abū Marwān moved from Denia to Seville. He left a large fortune, including much urban and rural property in Seville and the vicinity.


Abū al-`Alā ibn Zuhr, i.e., Abū al-`Alā Zuhr ibn Abū Marwān `Abd al-Malik ibn Muhammad ibn Marwān. Noted for his keen wit and learning, he held some original views on therapeutics which show his medical genius and subtlety. There are anecdotes about his rare way of treating the sick, whose condition and pains he knew without questioning them, merely by looking at their urinal phials or feeling their pulse.

He lived in the days of al-Mulattimūn [the veiled ones], otherwise known as the Almoravids, under whom he achieved wealth, fame and high rank.

He practiced medicine while still very young, in the days of al-Mu`tadid bi-Allāh Abū `Amr `Ibad ibn `Ibād. He also devoted himself to literature, being the author of some well-written books. It was in his lifetime that Ibn Sīnā's "Qānun" first reached the Occident. [p.655] Ibn Jāmi` the Egyptian says in his book "Clarification of Some Obscure Points in the Qanūn," that a merchant brought a beautiful copy of the "Qanūn" from Iraq to Andalusia and gave it to Abū al-`Alā ibn Zuhr, who had never seen it, as a honorarium. After reading it, Abū al- `Alā scornfully threw it down, refused to incorporate it in his library, and cut off its margins to write prescriptions on them for his patients.

Abū Yahyā al-Yassa` ibn `Isā ibn Hazm ibn al-Yasa`, in his "Astonishing Book of the Beauties of the Occidentals," says that Abū al-`Alā ibn Zuhr became very famous for his learning despite his youth. He was forever reading the books of the ancients and visiting the masters to seek further knowledge. Chance made his life an easy one and fate was always kind to him, until he reached a standard of medicine unknown and undreamed of. His professional competance verged on the miraculous and he never made a mistake. He devoted himself to other disciplines as well, far surpassing other eminent experts. He was admired for his generosity and good nature, although he had a quick tongue and was somewhat hasty. But who is perfect and harmoniously developed in every way?

I have copied the following from a manuscript of Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Sālih al- `Abdī, an Occidental with interest in and opinions on medicine: "Abū al-`Inā the Egyptian, one of Abū al-`Alā's teachers and the reason for his leaving Baghdād (but this is another long story), said: 'I was informed about him by the Shaikh, the physician Abū al-Qāsim Hishām ibn `Isma`īl ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Sāhib al-Salāt, at his house in Seville, may God guard it.'"

One of Abū al-`Alā's disciples in medicine was `Abū `Āmir ibn Yannaq, the poet from Jativa. Abū al-`Alā ibn Zuhr died in 557/1161 and was buried in Seville, outside the Gate of Victory. [Here follow some specimens of Abū al-`Alā's poetry, about love and the beauties of India]. [p.656]

When he heard that the Supreme Judge of Seville, ibn Mandhur, had asked mockingly: "is it possible that Ibn Zuhr is ill?" — he said, "If Ibn Mandhur is surprised at my illness, I say: Anyone who walks may stumble. Galen was often ill and an eminent jurist may accept bribes."

Abū al-`Alā ibn Zuhr's books are:

1) "The Book of the Qualities [of Drugs]."

2) "The Book of Simples."

3) "The Book of the Disposal of Defamation by Proof," a refutation of Ibn Ridwān's answer to Hunayn ibn Ishāq in his book "Introduction to Medicine."

4) "The Book of the Solution of al-Rāzi's Doubts Concerning the Books of Galen."

5) "Experiments."

6) A treatise, being a refutation of Abū `Alī ibn Sīnā concerning certain points in his book on simple medicaments; dedicated to the author's son, Abū Marwān.

7) "Book of Medical Notes," written for the author's son, Abū Marwān.

8) A commentary on Ya`qūb ibn Ishāq al-Kindī's "Epistle on the Composition of Medicines" and similar writings.

9) "Experiments," collected after the author's death, by order of Alī ibn Yūsuf ibn Tāshfīn, in Marrakesh and other cities in Morocco and Andalusia and edited in the month of Jumāda II 626/1132.


Ibn Marwān ibn Abū al-`Alā ibn Zuhr, i.e., Abū Marwān `Abd al-Malik ibn Abū al-`Alā Zuhr ibn Abū Marwān Abd al-Malik ibn Muhammad ibn Zuhr, attained his father's standing in the medical science [p.657] as an expert in simple and compound medicines and a perfect practitioner. His fame blazed in Andalusia and other countries. Medical men studied his books since none of his contemporaries equaled him in the medical theory and practice. There are many anecdotes about how he diagnosed and treated maladies in a way never known before. He served the Almoravids, who showered favors and money upon him.

It was in his lifetime that al-Mahdī, i.e., Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn `Abd Allāh ibn Tūmart, entered Andalusia with `Abd al-Mu`min and made propaganda and prepared the ground for him, until his authority was widely recognized and his kingdom established. Al-Mahdī conquered the country and the people obeyed him; but this story of his way to power is well known. When `Abd al-Mu`min had become the sole ruler of the kingdom, under the title of Emir of the Faithful, and had taken possession of the treasuries of the Occident, he spent money lavishly, maintained justice and surrounded himself with scholars, whom he treated nobly and munificently. Abū Marwān `Abd al-Malik ibn Zuhr gave his services to him alone and was his sole medical attendant. `Abd al-Mu`min granted him more endowments and favors than he could ever have hoped for. Abū Marwān had great influence on him, he held a high rank and was more privileged than any of his contemporaries. He dedicated to `Abd al-Mu`min his book on theriac, the components of which he reduced from seventy to ten and then to seven, the seven-drug composition being known as "Theriac antula."

Abū al-Qāsim al-Ma`ājinī of Andalusia told me the following story: The Caliph `Abd al-Mu`min once needed a purgative, but he hated taking such drugs. Ibn Zuhr handled him adroitly. He watered a vine in his garden using water on which purgative power had been conferred by immersing or boiling purgative in it. The vine sucked [p.658] in the purgative power, and it was communicated to its grapes [sic], Ibn Zuhr then ordered the Caliph to go on a diet and brought him a bunch of grapes, which he commanded him to eat. The Caliph, who had a high opinion of his physician, did as he was told. When he had eaten some grapes in ibn Zuhr's presence, the latter said: "That will do, O Emir of the Faithful you have eaten ten grapes; this will suffice for ten evacuations." The Caliph asked what he meant, and Ibn Zuhr told him. The Caliph then evacuated as many times as Ibn Zuhr had said, and thereupon felt better.

Following this episode, Ibn Zuhr's position with the Caliph became even more exalted.

Shaikh Muhyī al-Dīn Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Alī ibn Muhammad ibn al-`Arabī al-Tā`ī al-Hātimī of Murcia told me that Abū Marwān `Abd al-Malik ibn Zuhr, on his way to the palace of the Emir of the Faithful in Seville, near the baths of Abū al-Khair and the house of Ibn Mu'mal, would pass by a man with a dangerous tumor and a swollen, yellowish body. This man would complain of his condition and ask the physician to attend him. One day, when he was complaining in this way, Abū Marwān stopped and examined him. Seeing near his head an old jar from which the man drank water, he said to him: "Break this jar, for it is the cause of your illness." The man refused, saying, "By Allāh, sir, this is my only possession." So Abū Marwān ordered one of his servants to break it, and when he did a frog appeared, grown during the time it had spent in the jar. Said the physician, "You are cured of your malady. Look at what you were drinking from! " And the man was indeed cured.

The Judge Abū Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn `Abd al-Mālik al-Lahmi al-Bājī told me that a trustworthy person had told him the following: There was in Seville a distinguished physician known as al-Fār, [p.659] author of an excellent book in two volumes on simple drugs. Abū Marwān ibn Zuhr used to eat large quantities of figs, for which he had a weakness, while al-Fār did not touch them at all or at most once a year. Al-Fār said to Abū Marwān: You are certain to contract a serious ulcer because of your ceaseless consumption of figs [an ulcer is called naghla in Andalusia, dubaila elsewhere]. Abū Marwān replied, "Your excessive abstention from figs, followed by sudden consumption thereof, will no doubt cause you spasms." Al-Fār indeed died of spasms, while Abū Marwān's death was caused by ulcer in his side. What remarkable prognoses! When Abū Marwān was afflicted with that malady, he treated himself for it; he composed special cataplasms and used medicines, all without much success. His son Abū Bakr would explain: "O my father, if only you had exchanged this medicine for that, if only you had added a little of this or used that . . . " but Abū Marān would reply: "My son, if God desires the deterioration of this body, I am not entitled to use any medicine but the one by which His will is done."

Among Abū Marwān's most outstanding disciples in medicine were Abū al-Husayn ibn Asdun, known as al-Masdum; Abū Bakr, the son of the jurist Abū al-Hasan, the Judge of Seville; Abū Muhammad of Sidonia; and the ascetic jurist Abū `Umrān ibn Abū `Umrān.

Abū Marwān `Abd al-Mālik ibn Abū al-Alā ibn Zuhr died in and was buried in Seville outside the Gate of Victory. His books are:

1) "The Simplification of Treatments and Regimens," written in honor of the Judge Abū al-Walīd Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd.

2) "The Book of Nutrition," dedicated to Abū Muhammad `Abd al-Mu`min ibn Alī. [p.660]

3) "The Book of Enlightenment, a memorandum to the author's son Abū Bakr on the subject of purgative drugs, and how to take them. Abū Marwān wrote this prior to his first journey, when his son, then still young, was to deputize for him.

4) A treatise on affections of the kidneys.

5) "Epistle to Some Sevillian Doctors on Leprosy and Dandruff."

6) Memorandum to the author's son Abū Bakr at the beginning of the latter's medical career.


Al Hafīd Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr (grandson of Abū al-`Alā). Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Abū Marwān ibn Abū al-`Ala ibn Zuhr was physician to the vizier and an outstanding man of letters. He was born and bred in Seville, where he distinguished himself in the sciences. He studied medicine under his father and subsequently practiced it. He was a man of average height, with a strong consitution and sturdy limbs. In old age he retained his healthy complexion and supple movements, showing no sign of weakness, except that he became deaf during his last years. He knew the Qur'ān by heart, observed the Hadīth and devoted himself to the study of Arabic language and literature. None of his contemporaries knew the language better than he, and he is said to have attained perfection in the study of both medicine and literature. He wrote excellent poetry; his Andalusian songs were considered the best of their kind. He was strict in religious belief and practice, of steadfast character, good, honest and outspoken. He was the best physician of his time, and his fame spread all over Andalusia and beyond.

The Judge Abū Marwān Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn `Abd al-Mālik al-Bājī of Seville told me that according to what he had heard from the Shaikh, vizier and physician Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr, the latter had [p.661] spent seven years in the company of his grandfather `Abd al-Mālik al-Bājī, studying with him; under his direction he had read Sahnūn's "Selection after the Māliki School" and the Musnad of Ibn Abū Shaiba.

The Judge also told me that Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr had been a very strong man, who could lift 150 Sevillian rotls [The Sevillian rotl is 16 uqiyyas and an uqiyya is 10 dirhams]. Abū Bakr played an excellent game of chess, and there was no physician like him in his time. He served two dynasties, since he lived in the days of the Almoravids, whom he attended with his father until their end, whereupon he served the Almohads, the house of `Abd al-Mu`min, in whose reign his father died; he served `Abd al-Mu`min, his son Abū Ya`qūb Yūsuf, the latter's son Abū Yūsuf, surnamed al-Mansūr, and Abū Yūsuf's son Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad al-Nāsir. Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr, may God bless him, died at the beginning of al-Nāsir's reign, in 596/1199, in Ma`rrākash, which he had come to visit, and was buried there in the place known as the Tombs of the Shaikhs. He was nearly sixty years of age.

The Judge adds that Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr had great powers of discernment, was an excellent practitioner and prescribed detailed regimes. This was well known. One day, his father, Abū Marwān ibn Zuhr, gave the Caliph `Abd al-Mu`min a purgative. When Abū Bakr, then still young, saw this, he said: "This simple drug must be changed for such and such." The Caliph did not take the other drug, but Abū Marwān's father, noticing this, said: "O Emir of the Faithful, he is right." He then changed the simple drug for the other, which was visibly effective. Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr wrote the "Theriac of Fifty," dedicated to al-Mansūr Abū Yūsuf Ya`qūb.

The Judge adds that a reliable person of the Banū al-Yanāqī, a friend of al-Hafīd Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr, who visited him frequently to [p.662] play chess, told the following story. One day he was playing chess with al-Hafīd in the latter's house when his host, noticing that he was not his usual cheerful self, asked him: "What is troubling you. You seem preoccupied with something; let me know it." The other replied, "I have betrothed my daughter to a man who is now demanding her, and I need 300 dinars." Said al-Hafīd: "Play and do not worry, for right now I have 300 dinars less five, which you will get." They played for a while, after which al-Hafīd called for the money and gave it to him. Some time later his friend came back and left 300 dinars less five with him. Said Ibn Zuhr: "What is this?" and the man replied: "I have sold some of my olives for 700 dinars, and here are 295 dinars in repayment of the sum you were kind enough to lend me; I now have 400 dinars left." Ibn Zuhr said:'"Take this money back and make a profit from it, for I did not give it to you in order to be repaid. The man refused, saying, "I am now, thank God, comfortably off, and have no need to borrow this or anything from anyone." After some further argument, Ibn Zuhr said: "Are you my friend or my enemy?" Said the man, "Of course I am your friend; I love you more than anyone else." Said Ibn Zuhr: "Friends share all their property; each takes whatever he needs out of the common fund." The man did not accept this view, so Ibn Zuhr concluded: "By Allāh, if you do not take this money back, I shall be your enemy and never speak to you again." The man thereupon took the money back, full of gratitude.

The Judge Abū Marwān al-Bājī reports that the Caliph al-Mansūr decided not to leave a single book on logic or philosophy in his kingdom and burnt many; he further insisted that nobody should study or possess any such book on pain of severe retribution. [p.663] When the Caliph launched his scheme, he placed al-Hafīd Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr in charge of it, but allowed him to keep whatever books on those subjects he himself had, on condition that he did not study them or show them to others. While Ibn Zuhr was carrying out his assignment, collecting books from scholars and others and destroying them, and punishing people who contravened the ban there was in Seville an important person who hated and envied him, and who was of spiteful disposition. That person wrote a complaint against Ibn Zuhr, saying that he was constantly occupied with philosophy and had many of the proscribed books in his house. He collected the signatures of many witnesses and sent his report to al-Mansūr, who was staying at Hisn al-Farah. This place, two miles from Seville, had such pure air that wheat kept fresh there for eighty years— and it was Ibn Zuhr who had advised al-Mansūr to build his castle in that place and stay there from time to time. When al-Mansūr had read the report, he ordered the man who had written it to be thrown in prison. This was done, and all the witnesses who had signed the document fled. Said al-Mansūr, "I have charged Ibn Zuhr with this mission, because he is above reproach; by Allāh, even if all the people of Andalusia were standing here to give evidence against him in accordance with this complaint, I would not be impressed, for I know the soundness of his faith and way of thinking."

Abū al-`Abbās Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad of Seville told me the following: "Two students came to al-Hafīd Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr to study medicine under his guidance. They stayed for a time, reading some books on medicine with him. One day, he noticed a small book on logic in the hand of one of them: they were coming in the company of Abū al-Husayn, known as al-Masdūm, with the intention of studying it. When Ibn Zuhr saw the book, he asked: "What is it? " He took it [p.664] and looked into it and, on finding it to be a book on logic, threw it into a corner and got up barefoot to hit them. They fled from him and he followed, running despite his unshod condition, cursing them vehemently. They ran on until he turned back, after covering a great distance. They kept away from him for many days, not daring to show their face, until they regained their confidence and came back. They excused themselves, saying that the book was not theirs, that they were not on their way to him, that they had mocked the youth interested in it in any way, that they had seen it in the hand of a youth and taken the book from him by force, whereupon it had remained with them until they entered the house. He pretended to accept their apologies, whereupon they continued to study medicine with him. After a while, he told them to learn the Qur'ān by heart, to devote themselves to the study of religious law, tradition and exegesis and to be strict in the observance of religious precepts. They carried out his order perfecting their knowledge of the aforesaid subjects and inuring themselves to the observance of religious precepts. One day, when they were at his house, he suddenly took out the book on logic which he had confiscated from them, and said: "Now you are qualified to read this book and other similar ones with me." Which they did, marveling at his mode of action — may God bless him — which proved his great wisdom and strength of character. The Judge Abū Marwān al-Bājī told me the next story. Abū Zaid `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Yūjān, the vizier of al-Mansur, was an enemy of Ibn Zuhr, jealous of his knowledge and prominent position. He conspired to poison him via one of his servants. That man put poison in some eggs he gave to al-Hafīd when his niece was with him. His sister and niece were experts in medicine, especially skilled in the treatment of women; they regularly visited al-Mansur's harem — at [p.665] first the mother and after her death the daughter — and were the only ones to attend the children of the Caliph and his family. After al-Hafīd and his niece had eaten the eggs, they both died, no treatment being of any avail. The Judge adds: "Abū Zaid `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Yūjān did not die a natural death, but was murdered by one of his relatives.

One of the most celebrated disciples of al-Hafīd Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr in the field of medicine was Abū Ja`far ibn al-Ghazzāl.

Muhīy al-Dīn `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-`Arabī al-Hātimī recited to me the following lines of poetry by al-Hafīd, which he had heard from al-Hafīd himself; they tell of his longing for his son. [Quotation. ]

The Judge Abū Marwān ibn al-Bājī recited to me the following verses, which Abū `Imrān ibn `Imrān, the ascetic from Mertola who lived in Seville, had heard from al-Hafīd himself at the end of his life. [A poem follows.] The Judge recited another verse, which he had heard from al-Hafīd himself [another poem].

The Shaikh Alam al-Dīn Qaisa ibn Abū al-Qāsim ibn `Abd al-Ghani ibn Musāfir al-Hanafī the geometrician recited to me these verses of al-Hafīd, which are marvelously original in style and full of word play. [An example is quoted. ]

Of the muwashshahāt [Andalusian songs] of al-Hafīd Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr, the following were recited to me by Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh, great-grandson of the physician Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh, the son of al-Hafīd. Abū `Abd Allāh's father was Abū Marwān Ahmad, the son of the Judge Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn `Abd al-Malik al-Bājī, who had married the daughter of Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh, the son of al-Hafīd. Their son was Abū Marwān Ahmad, who was murdered perfidiously by Ibn al-Ahmar, in 630/1233, at the age of [p.666] thirty-seven, after governing Seville for nine months. [Numerous specimens of his poetry are then quoted.]


Abū Muhammad ibn al-Hafīd. Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr, i.e., Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh ibn al-Hafīd Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Abū Marwān `Abd al-Malik ibn Abū al-`Alā Zuhr ibn Abū Marwān `Abd al-Malik ibn Muhammad ibn Marwān ibn Zuhr, was a man of exemplary conduct, generous, intelligent, of sound judgment, and with all that good-looking and careful of his attire. He concerned himself seriously with the science of medicine and the verification of its teachings. He studied under his father, who revealed to him many of the secrets of that science and its practical application. He read with his father Abū Hanlfa al-Dīnawarī's "Book of Plants" and came to know it perfectly. The Caliph Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad al-Nāsir ibn al-Mansūr Abū Ya`qūb respected him greatly, knowing the scope of his knowledge and the nobility of his family.

The Judge Abū Marwān al-Bājī told me as follows: When Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh ibn al-Hafīd went to Marrakesh, he spent about ten thousand dinars for travel expenses etc., but when he had met the Caliph al-Nāsir in al-Maldīn, after the latter's conquest of that city, he became his medical attendant in the customary way. Abū Muhammad ibn al-Hafīd said to the Caliph, "O Emir of the Faithful, I have, thank God, everything now as a result of your generosity to me and my forefathers. You gave my father such riches that I could not spend them all in a lifetime; but I have come to serve you as did my father and to sit in his place close to you, Emir of the Faithful. " Al-Nāsir respected him highly and gave him more gifts than are imaginable and whenever he was present, he sat in his father's place near the Caliph. The preacher and judge Abū Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Abū al-Hasan ibn Abū [p.667] Yūsuf Hajjāj sat by the Caliph's side; then came the noble Judge Abū `Abd Allāh al-Husaynī and then Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh ibn al-Hafīd Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr. At his side sat Abū Mūsā `Isā ibn `Abd al-`Azīz al-Jazālī, author of the famous Introduction to Grammar," known as "al-Jazūlīya." Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh ibn al Hafīd studied grammar under him.

Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh ibn al-Hafīd Abū Bakr was born in Seville in 577/1181 and died — may God have mercy upon him — by poison in 602/ 1205 in Sale, in the suburb known as Ribat al-Fath, and was buried there. He had been on his way to Marrakesh, but death took him en route. His remains were transferred from Sale to Seville and reinterred there close to the tombs of his ancestors outside the Gate of Victory. He died at the age of 25.

One of the most astonishing stories the Judge Abū Marwān al-Bājī told me concerning Abū Muhammad ibn al-Hafīd is the following: "One day I was in his house, and he said to me — 'Yesterday I saw my sister in a dream' (his sister was dead) 'and I heard myself exclaiming, 'By Allāh, O my sister, tell me how long I shall live.' She said: 'Two tabiyas and a half' [a tabiya — so called in Maghrib — is a plank used in construction; its length is ten spans]. Said I, 'I am talking to you seriously and you are mocking me!' Said she — 'By God I am not. What I have told you is serious, but you do not understand it. Is not the tabiya ten spans, and two tabiyas and a half twenty-five spans? You will live twenty-five years.'" The Judge Abū Marwān continued; "When he related this vision, I said — 'Do not worry, perhaps it was just a confused dream'"; then he added: "He died before the year was out at the age that had been foretold — twenty-five years, no more, no less." [p.668]

He left two sons, each an eminent personality and a member of a noble profession; the elder was called Abū Marwān `Abd al-Malik and the younger Abū al-`Alā Muhammad. The latter studied medicine and had a profound knowledge of Galen's books. Both brothers lived in Seville.


Abū Ja`far ibn Hārūn al-Tarjālī was one of the leading personalities in Seville, adept in the philosophical sciences, who studied Aristotle and other ancients. He was an upstanding physician, expert in the general and specialized aspects of the medical art, and an excellent practitioner with a remarkable technique. He served Abū Ya`qūb, the father of al-Mansūr. He was a disciple of the jurist Abū Bakr ibn al-`Arabī and studied the Hadīth for a time under his guidance. Abū Ja`far ibn Hārūn himself became a master of the Hadīth and the teacher of Abū al-Walid ibn Rushd in medicine and the different sciences. He was born in Trujillo, a frontier town of Andalusia, which al-Mansūr found deserted by its fleeing inhabitants and which was thereupon repopulated by Muslims. Abū Ja`far was also an expert ophthalmologist and left excellent writings on therapeutics.

The Judge Abū Marwān Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn `Abd al-Malik al-Lakhmī Bājī told me that his brother, the Judge Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Ahmad, as a boy was injured in the eye with a stick, and that the iris was so badly damaged that there was no hope for recovery. His father called Abū Ja`far ibn Hārūn and showed him his son's eye, saying; "I will pay you 300 dinars if you help him." Said the doctor, "By Allāh, I have no need of the money, but I will treat him so that he will recover, if God wills it." He treated the boy until he regained his eyesight. Ibn Hārūn was afflicted with a numbness and weakness of the limbs, so he remained in his house in Seville and treated his patients there. He died in Seville. [p.669]


Abū al-Walīd ibn Rusha. The Judge Abū al-Walīd Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Rushd was born and brought up in Cordoba. He was an outstanding personality, devoted to the sciences, and a unique scholar in the field of religious law and exegetics. He studied under the learned jurist Aba Muhammad ibn Rizq. He was also adept in medical science, an excellent writer and a remarkable thinker He wrote the "Book of General Principles" [of medicine], which is very well written. He was a friend of Abū Marwān ibn Zuhr, and when he compiled the aforementioned book, he asked his friend to write the "Book of Details" so that the two books might embrace the whole of the medical art. This is why, at the end of his book, Ibn Rusha says: "This book, concerned with the treatment of diseases in general, is written in the most precise and lucid manner we have been able to contrive. It now remains for us to write about the cure of the afflictions of the various parts of the body, though it is not absolutely necessary for us to do so because the subject matter is implicitly contained in the aforementioned 'General Principles,' and its presentation is thus in fact a repetition. We shall discuss the treatment of diseases member by member, in the manner commonly adopted by the authors of books on therapeutics, so as to add detailed information to the general conclusions. This is the best procedure, for it results in a maximum of detail. However, we shall defer this task until such time we shall have more leisure for it, as at present we are preoccupied with other important matters. Anyone who, having read this book without the other part would like to continue his study of therapeutics, had best turn to Abū Marwān ibn Zuhr's book called al-Taisīr,' which was written in our time and at our request and which we ourselves copied so that it might be published. This is the aforementioned 'Book of Details,' closely linked with my "Book of General [p.670] principles.' However, Ibn Zuhr, in the fashion of the authors of books on therapeutics, discusses the symptoms and causes of diseases along with their treatment. Whoever has read our book need not trouble with the former; it will be sufficient for him to study the treatment. To sum up, whoever has taken advantage of our 'Book of General Principles' is able to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong in the treatments described by the authors of books on therapeutics and in their explanations of the way to apply them."

The Judge Abū Marwān al-Bājī says that the Judge Abū al-Walīd ibn Rushd was of superior intelligence and sound judgment, modest in his outward appearance and possessing great strength of character. For a time he studied medicine and the different sciences under Abū Ja`far ibn Hārūn; he learnt from him a great deal about philosophy.

Ibn Rushd was a judge in Seville before he settled in Cordoba. He held a high position at al-Mansūr's court and was highly influential during his reign. Al-Mansūr's son, al-Nāsir, also esteemed him greatly. When al-Mansūr was in Cordoba on his way to attack Alfonso, in the year 591/1194, he sent for Ibn Rushd. When Ibn Rushd appeared before him, the Caliph did him the supreme honor of assigning him the place usually occupied by Abū Muhammad `Abd al-Wāhid, the son of the Shaikh Abū Hafs al-Hintātī, the companion of `Abd al-Mu`min, who was the third or fourth of the Ten [followers of Ibn Tumart].

Abū Muhammad `Abd al-Wāhid was al-Mansūr's son-in-law and was held in great esteem by him. The Caliph's daughter bore him a son called Alī, who is now the ruler of Africa. When al-Mansūr had Ibn Rushd sitting by his side, he conversed with him. Then Ibn Rushd went out, finding some of his disciples and many of his friends waiting to congratulate him on the reception accorded him by al-Mansūr. Said [p.671] Ibn Rushd: "By Allāh, this is not a matter for congratulation, for the Emir of the Faithful favored me at once much more than I had hoped for or wished for." There was a group of ibn Rushd who had spread a rumor that the Emir of the Faithful had ordered his death. When he came out safe and sound, he told one of his servants to go to his family and ask them to prepare a broth of kittens and young pigeons for when he should arrive; he wanted them to feel happy about his deliverance. But later al-Mansūr punished Ibn Rushd and ordered him to go and remain in Lucena, a town close to Cordoba and inhabited mainly by Jews. He also punished some other distinguished personalities, ordering them to stay in different places. He said that the reason for this punishment was what he called their devotion to philosophy and the science of the ancients. The members of the group were. Abū al-Walīd ibn Rushd, Abū Ja`far al-Dhahbī, the jurist Abū Allāh Muhammad ibn Ibrāhīm (the Judge of Biggaya), Abū al Rabī `al-Kafīf and Abū al-`Abbās (the learned poet al-Qurābī). They remained in disgrace for some time. A group of notables in Seville then gave witness in favor of Ibn Rushd, saying he was being punished unjustly, and al-Mansūr pardoned him and the rest of the group in 595/1198. The Caliph made Abū Ja`far al-Dhahabī head of the students and physicians and said he was like pure gold, the excellence of which is increased by fashioning.

The Judge Abū Marwān said: "What impressed al-Mansūr about Ibn Rushd was that whenever he came to al-Mansūr's court to discuss or examine some scholarly matters with him he would address the Caliph with the words — 'Listen, O my brother'; on the other hand, in his 'Book of Animals,' in which he mentions their habitats and describes each animal, he speaks of the giraffe, saying: 'I have seen the giraffe with the barbarian king,' by which he means al-Mansūr. When al-Mansūr heard this, he took it hard, and it was one of the reasons that he exiled Ibn Rushd. It is said that one reason that he [p.672] pardoned him was Ibn Rushd's explanation: I said "the king of the two continents" (malik al-barran), but the copyist wrote "the king of the Barbars" (malik al-barbar).

The Judge Abū al-Walīd ibn Rushd, may God have mercy upon him, died at a ripe old Marrakesh at the beginning of the year 595/ 1198, early in al-Nāsir's reign. He left a son, Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh who was an expert physician, and other sons who specialized in religious law and served as judges in different districts.

One of his sayings is: "He who studies anatomy increases his belief in God."

His books are:

1) "The Book of Achievement, in which he assembled the controversial opinions of savants who were the companions of the Prophet and of their followers, defended their attitudes and clarified the doubtful parts, which are the basis of the controversy.

2) "The Book of Introduction to Religious Law."

3) "The Book for Beginners in Jurisprudence."

4) "The Book of General Principles."

5) A commentary on the medical poem described to the Chief Shaikh Ibn Sīnā.

6) "A Book of Animals."

7) Summaries of Aristotle's books on the natural and metaphysical sciences.

8) "The Book of the Rudiments of Logic," to which a summary of Aristotle's book is appended.

9) A summary of Nicomachus' "Metaphysics."

10) A summary of Aristotle's "Metaphysics." 11) A summary of Aristotle's "Ethics."

12) A summary of Aristotle's "Book of Argumentation."

13) A summary of Aristotle's "Physics" ["Natural Harmony"].

14) A commentary on Aristotle's "De Caelo et Mundi." [p.673]

15) A commentary on Aristotle's "Book of the Soul."

16) A summary of Galen's "Book of Principles."

17) A summary of Galen's "Book of Temperaments."

18) A summary of Galen's "Book of Natural Forces."

19) A summary of Galen's "Book of Maladies and Accidents."

20) A summary of Galen's "Book of Acquaintance."

21) A summary of Galen's "Book of Fevers.

22) A summary of the beginning of Galen's "Book of Simple Drugs."

23) A summary of the second part of Galen's "The Stratagem of Healing."

24) "The Refutation of the Refutation," in which he answers al-Ghazālī's "Book of Refutation."

25) "The Method of Argumentation in the Science of Theological Literature."

26) A small book entitled "A Decisive Word on the Concord of Philosophy and Religion."

27) "Important Problems in Aristotle's 'Book of Argumentation.'"

28) A commentary on Aristotle's "Book of Syllogisms."

29) "A Treatise on the Intellect."

30) "A Treatise on Syllogism."

31) "The Book of Inquiry into the Question 'Is it Possible for Our Intellect, Called the Material One, to Conceive Images Distinct from It?' This is the subject which Aristotle promised to discuss in his 'Book of the Soul.'"

32) A treatise on "The Beliefs of the Peripatetics and the Muslim Theologians on the Mode of the World's Existence, in Which They Approach Agreement."

33) Aristotle's treatise on the views expressed in those of Abū Nāsir's books on logic which circulate among the public, Aristotle's views on the same subject and the measure of their discrepancies. [p.674]

34) A treatise on the union of the intellect and man.

35) Another treatise on the union of the intellect and man.

36) Debate between Abū Bakr ibn al-Tufail and Ibn Rushd on the latter's presentation of therapeutics in his "Book of General Principles."

37) An inquiry into the theological problems raised in Ibn Sīnā's "Book of Medicine."

38) "A Question Concerning Time."

39) A treatise entitled "A Refutation of Doubts Raised with Regard to the Philosophers and His Proof of the Existence of Primary Matter, and an Inquiry Showing that Aristotle's Demonstration is the Evident Truth."

40) A treatise entitled "A Refutation of Abū Alī ibn Sīnā's Classification of Beings as'Absolutely Possible', 'Possible by Itself,' 'Extrinsically Necessary' and 'Necessary by Itself.'"

41) "A Treatise on Temperaments."

42) "A Question Relating to the Agents of Fever."

43) "A Treatise on Putrifacient Fevers."

44) "Problems of Philosophy."

45) "A Treatise on the Movement of Celestial Spheres.

46) A book on the points on which Abū Nasir criticizes Aristotle's "Book of Argumentation," viz, its order, rules of demonstration and definitions.

47) "A treatise on Theriac."


Abū Muhammad ibn Rushd, that is Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh ibn Abū al-Walīd Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Rushd, a distinguished and well-informed physician, renowned as an excellent practitioner. [p.675]

Abū Muhammad ibn Rushd attended al-Nasir. His books include a treatise on the art of healing.


Abū al-Hajjāj Yūsuf ibn Mūrātīr, of East Andalusia. Muratīr is a village near Valencia. He was a distinguished, experienced physician and a man of admirable conduct and sound judgment. He was also a scholar of religious law, studying the Hadīth and the Mudawwana [codex of Malekite law]. Moreover, he was a man of letters and a poet, fond of a good joke and a great teller of anecdotes.

The Judge Abū Marwān al-Tsājī told me the following story: "We were in Tunis, accompanying al-Nasir, when there was a great scarcity of grain in our army camp and prices were very high. Abū al-Hajjāj ibn Mūrātīr composed a muwashshaha on al-Nāsir, in which he included a modification of a verse by al-Hafīd Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr from one of his Andalusian songs. Al-Nāsir rewarded him with ten measures of barley, which cost fifty dinars at the time."

Abū al-Hajjāj ibn Mūrātir was physician to al-Mansūr Abū Yūsuf Ya`qūb, and after the latter's death served his son al-Nāsir, i.e., Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Ya`qūb. Subsequently, he served al-Nāsir's son Abū Ya`qūb Yūsuf al-Mustansir ibn al-Nāsir. Abū al-Hajjāj ibn Mūrātīr lived long, held high office and wielded great influence under al-Mansūr. He participated in the sessions of the councilors and shaikhs to discuss questions related to the Arabic language etc. He died of podagra in Marrakesh during the reign of al-Mustansir.


Abū `Abd Allāh ibn Yazīd. He was Abū al-Hajjāj Yūsuf ibn Mūrātīr's nephew, a distinguished physician and a man of letters who wrote excellent poetry. [p.676]


Abū Marwān `Abd al- Malik ibn Qablāly was born and brought up in Granada. A good diagnostician and a fine practitioner, he was a court physician to al-Mansur and later to his son al-Nāsir. He died in Marakesh during the reign of al-Nāsir.


Abū Ishāq Ibrāhrīm al-Dānī devoted himself utterly to the medical science. A native of Pechina, he moved to the capital and was head physician of the hospital there. His two sons followed in his footsteps. The elder, Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad, fell in the battle of al-`Iqāb, having accompanied al-Nāsir to Andalusia.

Al-Dānī died in Marrakesh during the reign of al-Mustansir ibn al-Nāsir.


Abū Yahya ibn Qāsim of Seville was a distinguished physician, an expert in simple and compound drugs, which he had studied thoroughly. He was in charge of the Caliph al-Mansūr's stock of liquid drugs and electuaries and his son served Abū Ya`qub, al-Mansur's son. Abū Yahyā died in Marrakesh during the reign of al-Mustansir, leaving a son who succeeded him in charge of the Caliph's apothecary.


Abū al-Hakam ibn Ghalandū, born and brought up in Seville, was a man of letters and excellent poet, a distinguished physician and a man of exemplary conduct. He was physician to al-Mansūr, and achieved great influence and high office in his government. When al-Mansūr became Caliph in 580/1134, he took Abū al-Hakam with him. Ibn Ghalandū was the author of many books, written in two Andalusian scripts. He died in Marrakesh and was buried there.


Abū Ja`far Ahmad ibn Hassān, i.e., al-Hajjāj Abū Jā`afar Ahmad ibn Hassān, was born and brought up in Granada. He devoted himself to medicine and distinguished himself in both its theory and practice. [p.677] He was physician to al-Mansūr and made the Holy Pilgrimage in the company of Abū al-Husayn ibn Jubair of Granada, a man of letters and author of "An Itinerary," in which he mentions his friend. Abū Ja`far ibn Hassan died in Fez. His books include "The Regime of Health," dedicated to al-Mansūr.


Abū al `Ala ibn Ja`far Ahmad ibn Hassān of Granada was one of the most important personages in that city, a man of high intelligence and a genial disposition, eloquent and devoted to literature. He was a physician and a scribe, in which capacities he served al-Mustansir and won his favor. He was one of the best physicians in Seville, where he took up residence.


Abū Muhammad of Sidonia, born and raised in Seville, was an intelligent and open-minded man, well-versed in astronomy and philosophy, philosophy. He studied medicine under Abū Marwān `Abd al-Malik ibn Zuhr, and then practiced it, becoming famous both as a savant and a practitioner. He was al-Nāsir's physician and died in Seville during the reign of al-Mustansir.


Al-Masdūm, i.e., Abū al-Husayn ibn Asdūn, known as al-Masdūm, was a disciple of Abū Marwān `Abd al-Malik ibn Zuhr. He was religious and very charitable, devoted to medicine, of which he was a famous practitioner. He was also a man of letters and a poet. He was born and brought up in Seville and continued to live there, attending al-Mansūr when the latter occasionally called for his services. He died in Seville in 588/1192.


`Abd al-`Azīz ibn Maslama al-Bājī, known as Ibn al-Hafīd a native of Algarve, was one of the most remarkable personalities in Andalusia. [p.678] He was a distinguished physician, an outstanding man of letters and a writer of good poetry. He was al-Masdūm's disciple and served al-Mustansir, during whose reign he died in Marrakesh.


Abū Ja`far ibn al-Ghazzāl was a native of Canjayar in the Almeria region. He attached himself closely to al-Hafīd Abū Bakr ibn Zuhr in order to study medicine under him. He was taught by others also, until he knew this science thoroughly and was employed by al-Mansūr as his physician. He excelled in the composition of drugs and in his knowledge of simple drugs.

Al-Mansūr relied upon him in everything relating to compound medicines and electuaries and obtained them from him. Now, there came the day when the Caliph prohibited the use of wine and its importation into the capital, where nobody was allowed to keep it in his home. A little later, he said to Abū Ja`far ibn al-Ghazzāl; "I want you to collect all that is necessary for the great theriac and to prepare it for me." The physician collected the required ingredients, except wine, the basic one — wine — which he was unable to procure. He informed al-Mansūr accordingly, and the Caliph said: "Hunt high and low, perhaps someone has a drop in his house." Abū Ja`far asked everybody, but no wine was forthcoming. Said al-Mansūr, "By Allāh, my order to prepare the theriac was intended solely to make sure there was no wine left with anyone." Abū Ja`far ibn al-Ghazzāl died during the reign of al-Nāsir.


Abū Bakr, the son of the Judge Abū al-Hasan al-Zuhrī, that is, Abū Bakr, the son of the jurist, Judge Abū al-Hasan al-Zuhrī al-Qurashī. He was Judge of Seville, the city where he was born and brought up, a dignified man, good-natured and noble-hearted, who studied literature and was a distinguished scholar. He was a [p.679] remarkable physician, an expert practitioner, who served Abū Alī ibn `Abd al-Mū'min, the ruler of Seville. He attended and prescribed for people free of charge. At the beginning of his career he was fond of chess and played it a great deal with perfect skill, so that he became famous for it.

The Judge Abū Marwān al-Bājr told me the following: "I asked the Judge Abū Bakr ibn Abū al-Zuhrī why he had studied medicine, and he said: 'I used to play chess a great deal, and there was almost no one in Seville who played it as well as I, so people called me Abū Bakr al-Zuhrī al-Shatīanjī [the chess-player]. When I became aware of this, it annoyed me, and I said to myself that I must occupy myself with some other science, so that I may be known for it and be rid of the nickname 'chess-player'. I realized that even if I devoted all my life to law or the literary sciences, I would never become known for it, so I decided to study medicine under Abū Marwān `Abd al-Malik ibn Zuhr. I sat with him and wrote prescriptions for the sick who came for consultation. Eventually I became famous as a physician, and the hated sobriquet disappeared.'"

Abū Bakr ibn Abū al-Hasan al-Zuhrī lived eighty-five years. He died during the reign of al-Mustansir and was buried in Seville.


Abū `Abd Allāh al-Nadrūmī, i.e., Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Sahnūn, known as al-Nadrūmī from his hometown of Nadroma in the province of Tlemcen, was also known as al-Kūmī, after his tribe. He was a very worthy man, endowed with a superior intelligence. Born in Cordoba about 580/1184, he grew up there and then moved to Seville, where he studied medicine under the Judge Abū al-Walīd ibn Rushd. He also studied with Abū al-Hajjāj Yūsuf ibn Mūrātīr.

Al-Nadrūmī distinguished himself in Arabic language and literature and was well-acquainted with the Hadīth. He served al-Nāsir during the last years of his reign and afterwards his son al-Mustansir. He lived in Seville and also served Abū al-Najā Sālim ibn Hūd and his [p.680] brother Abū `Abd Allāh ibn Hūd, the ruler of Andalusia. His books include a summary of al-Ghazālī's "Book of the Chosen."


Abū Ja`far Ahmad ibn Sābiq, a native of Cordoba, was a remarkable personality, keen-witted and of sound judgment, a fine practitioner and well-known scholar. He was one of the medical disciples of the Judge Abū al-Walīd ibn Rushd and served as physician to al-Nāsir. He died during the reign of al-Mustansir.


Abū al-Halā, from Murcia, was known for his profound knowledge of medicine. After arriving at court, he served al-Mansūr as an envoy. He died in his native town.


Abū Ishāq ibn Tamlūs, from the island of Aleira in the Valencia region, was a remarkable physician and one of the leading personalities of his hometown. He served as physician to al-Nāsir and died in his native city.


Abū Ja`far al-Dahabī, i.e., Abū Ja`far Ahmad ibn Jurj, a distinguished physician, excelling in both medical theory and practice, served al-Mansūr as his physician, and then the latter's son al-Nāsir, whose literary discussion sessions he attended. He died in Tlemcen during al-Nāsir's expedition to North Africa, in the year 600/1203.


Abū al-Abbās ibn al-Rumīyya, i.e., Abū al `Abbās Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Mufarri the botanist, known as ibn al-Rumīyya, of Seville, was one of the leading scholars and most important personalities of that city. He had a profound knowledge of botany and drugs — their power, uses, qualities and places of occurrence. A benevolent and religious man he was thoroughly at home in the medical science, and enjoyed a wide reputation. He zealously studied the Hadīth under Ibn Hazm and others. [p.681]

In 613/1216, he went to Egypt and lived there, as well as in Syria and Iraq, for about two years. The people in these countries profited by his knowledge; he gave courses in the Hadīth. He came to encounter many plants that do not grow in the West and he studied each of them in situ.

When he reached Alexandria, the Sultan al-Malik al-Adi Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb, may God have mercy upon his soul, heard him mentioned as an outstanding botanist. Al-Malik was then in Cairo, so he had him come over from Alexandria and received him with signal honors. He offered him an appointment and an allowance and asked him to stay with him. Abū al-`Abbās refused, saying: "When I set out from my native city, it was to make the holy pilgrimage and, if God wills, return to my people." He nevertheless stayed with the Sultan for a time, collecting the drugs needed for the great theriac and preparing it. He then went to Hijāz and accomplished his pilgrimage, and afterwards returned to the West and lived in Seville. His books include:

1) A commentary on the names of simple drugs mentioned in Dioscurides' book.

2) A treatise on the composition of drugs.


Abū al-`Abbās al-Kanbanāri, i.e., al-`Abbās Ahmad ibn Abū Allāh Muhammad of Seville, one of the noblest personalities and best physicians in his city. At the beginning of his career, he studied medicine under `Abd al-`Azīz ibn Maslama al-Bājī, and afterwards under Abū al-Hajjāj Yūsuf ibn Mūrātīr in Marrakesh. He served Abū al-Najā ibn Hūd, the ruler of Seville, and later his brother Abū `Abd Allāh ibn Hūd.


Ibn al-A'samm, i.e., . . . [lacuna], one of the most renowned physicians of Seville, an excellent diagnostician and therapist. His [p.682] ability to diagnose diseases by means of [urine] phials, by general information about the patient's condition, by his own account of his troubles and by his past diet, all these were long remembered and the subject of anecdotes.

Abū `Abd Allāh of the Maghrib told me the following story: "I was at Ibn al-A'samm's house one day when a group of people appeared with a man riding a donkey, leaning over its side. When they came close, we perceived a reptile, its head in the man's throat, the remainder tied to his arm with a hempen string. Al-A'samm asked: 'What is the matter with this man?' They answered: 'He is in the habit of sleeping with his mouth open. One night, after drinking milk, he went to sleep, and this reptile came, licked his mouth and entered his throat. The man slept on, but when we came in, the reptile got frightened and glided further down his throat. We seized it and tied it with this string, lest it go right down his throat.' Ibn al-A'samm, on examining the man, found him half-dead with fright and said to him: 'Do not worry.' But to the people he said, 'You almost killed him.' He cut the string, and the reptile slid through the man's throat and settled in his stomach. Then he said, 'Now you will recover.' He ordered him not to move, took some drugs and aromatics and boiled them well in water, poured the water into a jug and made the man drink it hot. When he had drunk it, Ibn al-A'samm felt his stomach and eventually pronounced the reptile to be dead. He then made him drink different water, in which he had boiled other drugs, and said: 'This will dissolve the reptile by the action of digestion in the stomach.' He waited two hours, then made him drink still other water, in which he had boiled emetics. The man shivered and began to vomit. Ibn al-A'samm bound his eyes, and the man continued to vomit into a brass basin, until we found the reptile, reduced to pieces. Ibn al-A'samm ordered the man to vomit well, until his stomach would be cleared of all remains of the reptile. He then said to him, 'Be happy, because you are cured.' The man walked away safe and sound, after having been at death's door." [p.683]


Famous Egyptian Physicians


Balītīyan was a physician renowned in Egypt, a Christian well-versed in the teachings of Melekite Christianity. Ibn al-Bitrīq says in his book "Nazm al-Jauhar": "In the fourth year of the reign of al-Mansūr, the Abbasid caliph, Balītīyan, a physician, was made Patriarch of Alexandria. He lived forty-six years. In the days of Harūn al-Rashīd, when `Ubayd Allāh ibn al-Mahdī was Governor of Egypt, the latter presented al-Rashīd with a slave-girl from Northern Egypt. She was beautiful, and al-Rashīd loved her very much. One day, she became seriously ill, and the attending physicians were unable to help her. So al-Rashīd was told: 'Order `Ubayd Allāh, your governor in Egypt, to send one of the Egyptian physicians,' for they are better able to treat this girl than the Iraqi physicians. Al-Rashīd sent a message to `Ubayd Allāh ibn al-Mahdī, ordering him to choose one of the most skillful Egyptian physicians, so that he might cure the girl. `Ubayd Allāh called Balītīyān, the Patriarch of Alexandria, a medical expert, and told him about al-R ashīd's love for the girl and about her illness. Then he sent him to al-Rashīd. Balītīyān took with him some coarse Egyptian cake and little salted fish, and when he arrived in Baghdād and met the girl, he had her eat that cake and fish, whereupon she recovered. From that time on, these two foods were regularly brought from Egypt for the imperial larder. Al-Rashīd presented Balitiyān the patriarch with a great sum of [p.684] money and issued a decree ordering that every church occupied by the Jacobites, which they had seized by force be returned to him. Balītīyan returned to Egypt and recovered many churches from the Jacobites. He died in the year 186/799."


Ibrāhīm ibn `Isā was a distinguished physician, well known in his time. He struck up an association with Yūhannā ibn Māsawaihi in Baghdad and studied under him. The Emir Ahmad ibn Tulūn employed him as his medical attendant and held him in high esteem. He accompanied the Emir to Egypt, where he continued in his service.

Ibrāhīm ibn `Isā remained in Fustāt until his death, which occurred around the year 260/873.


Al-Hasan ibn Zairak was a physician in Egypt in the days of Ahmad ibn Tulūn, who was attended by him when staying in Egypt. On his travels, Ahmad was attended by Sa`īd ibn Taufīl. In the year 269/882 when Ibn Tūlūn, after proceeding to Damascus and thence to the frontier posts to restore peace, was passing through Antioch on his way back, he partook too heartily of buffalo milk, so that he contracted Asiatic cholera. Sa`īd ibn Tufīl's endeavors to cure him were of no avail, and Ibn Tūlun returned to Egypt carrying his ailment with him and angry with Sa`īd ibn Tufīl. On entering Fustat, he called al-Hasan ibn Zairak and complained to him about Sa`īd. Ibn Zairak belittled the Emir's ailment and told him that he was hopeful of his speedy recovery. The disease was to be overcome by rest, quiet, peace of mind, sensible behavior and the devoted care of al-Hasan ibn Zairak. But Ahmad ibn Tūlūn secretly consorted with women, as a result of which his ailment grew worse. He thereupon called the physicians and threatened them, but he concealed from them the fact that he had neglected his regimen by having sexual intercourse. He even asked one of his concubines to serve him a certain fish, for which he had a craving. She brought it to him secretly, and it had hardly [p.685] reached his stomach when he was attacked by incessant diarrhea. He called al-Hasan ibn Zairak and said to him: "I think that the medicine you gave me today was not the proper one." Ibn Zairak replied: "The Emir, may Allāh lend him support, should order all the physicians of Fustat to assemble at his residence each morning and decide unanimously what the Emir should take. I have administered nothing to you but medicines which were prepared by a person you trust and which are designed to strengthen the retentive powers of your stomach as well as your liver." Said Ahmad: "By Allāh, if you do not succeed in your treatment, I am determined to have your head cut off. You are merely experimenting on the sick, but can do no real good." Al-Hasan ibn Zairak left the Emir's presence trembling. He was a very old man. His liver became inflamed as a result of anxiety and fear and because, owing to his troubled state, he neither ate nor slept. A profuse diarrhea set in, he was overcome with chagrin, and eventually his mind became disturbed and he talked deliriously about Ahmad ibn Tulūn's ailment. He died the next day.


Sa`īd ibn Tufīl. Sa`īd ibn Taufīl, a Christian, was in the service of Ahmad ibn Tūlūn and became one of his physicians in ordinary. He accompanied the Emir on his travels and attended him when he was at home. Before Sa`īd's death, an estrangement occurred between the two which came about as follows: Ahmad ibn Tūlūn, as mentioned before, had gone to Syria and visited the border region to settle its disturbed affairs. On his return to Antioch, he was stricken with Asiatic cholera caused by buffalo- milk of which he had drunk too hastily and too much. He sent for his physician, Sa`īd, but was informed that he had gone to church. He fell into a rage, and when Sa`īd appeared he reproached him harshly for his lateness but disdained to tell him about his condition. The next night, he took a turn for the worse. He again sent for the physician, who came in a state of drunkenness. Ahmad said: "I have been ill [p.686] these two days, and you are drinking wine!" Sa`īd replied: "My master, you sent for me yesterday, when I was in church, as is my custom, and when I appeared, you told me nothing.'' Said Ahmad: "Would it not have been proper to ask about my condition?" Sa`īd replied: "My master, you are distrustful. I would never ask anyone of your entourage about anything relating to you, let alone yourself." Said Ahmad: "What should I do now?" Sa`īd replied: "Take no food, even though you desire it very much, tonight and tomorrow." Said Ahmad: "But, by Allāh, I am hungry, I shall not be able to bear it." Sa`īd reported: "This is an imaginary hunger caused by a coldness of the stomach."

At midnight Ahmad called for something to eat. He was served seasoned chicks and unseasoned balls of chicken and kid's meat, and after he had partaken of them, his diarrhea ceased. His servant Nasīm left the room and, meeting Sa`īd who was in the house, said to him: "The Emir has eaten such-and-such and as a result his evacuation has subsided." Said Sa`īd: "Allāh is the one to be called on for help. The Emir's expulsive power has weakened, since the food overcame it; but it will become abominably active again." And, by Allāh, the day was hardly dawning when Ahmad had evacuated more than ten times.

By the time he left Antioch, his ailment had grown steadily worse, but he was strong enough to bear it. As he approached Egypt, he found riding difficult, and so a carriage was manufactured for him, which was drawn by men and in which he was comfortable. But before reaching al-Faramā, he complained about its jolting, and therefore he continued his journey to Fustat by boat. A tent was pitched for him on deck, in which he took up quarters.

When ibn Tūlūn was in Old Cairo again he began to evince a dislike for Sa`īd the physician. He complained about him to Ishāq ibn Ibrāhīm his secretary and friend, and the latter said reproachfully to Sa`īd: "Woe unto you! You are skilled in your art and, unless you pride yourself on it unduly, you will not scorn to serve the Emir with [p.687] it. Although the Emir speaks pure Arabic, he has an alien nature. He does not understand the demands of medicine, so as to apply them to himself and submit to your guidance. Your abundant sagacity has already estranged him from you; be, then, friendly and kind to him, devote yourself to his service and keep an eye on his condition." Said Sa`īd: "By Allāh, my service to him would be that of a mouse to a cat or of a lamb to a wolf. I would rather be killed than associate with him." Ahmad ibn Tūlūn died of that illness.

Nasīm, the servant of Ahmad ibn Tūlūn says: "Sa`īd ibn Taufīl, the physician, was in the service of the Emir Ahmad ibn Tūlūn. One day, when Ahmad called for him, he was informed that Sa`īd had gone to inspect a farm which he intended to buy. Ahmad did not react until Sa`īd showed up, and then said to him: "O Sa`īd, think of your connection with me rather than of the estate you wish to buy and exploit; do not neglect it and take warning that you will precede me in death if I am to die in my bed; I shall not let you enjoy life after my death."

Nāsim says: "Sa`īd ibn Tufīl despaired of his life because Ahmad ibn Tūlūn refused to take his advice. Whenever Ahmad called him into his presence, there was with him someone whose opinion was preferred. Ahmad believed that Sa`īd had been negligent right from the start, and especially when the ailment first attacked him, so that he could not get rid of it."

In the "History of Physicians" I have read the following: "When Sa`īd ibn Tufīl first associated with Ahmad, he had a hireling of ugly appearance, called Hāshim, who, together with his father, worked with flax. He tended Sa`īd's mule and kept watch on it when Sa`īd entered the house of Ahmad ibn Tūlūn. Sa`īd occasionally had him pound drugs at his house when he took him home with him, and blow upon the fire over the concoctions. Sa`īd ibn Tufīl had a son of handsome appearance, endowed with intelligence and a sound [p.688] knowledge of medicine. At the beginning of their acquaintanceship, Ahmad ibn Tūlūn instructed Sa`īd to find a physician for his womenfolk, who would reside at the court during Sa`īd's absence. Said Sa`īd: 'I have a son whom I have taught and made proficient.' Said Ahmad: 'Present him to me.' When he was introduced, Ahmad, seeing a handsome youth, possessed of all good qualities, commented to Sa`īd: 'He is not suitable to serve the women; for them I need a person of great knowledge, but ugly appearance.' Sa`īd was reluctant to have a stranger attend the women, for fear that he might disagree and clash with him. He therefore took Hāshim, provided him with a dira'a [a loose outer garment] and slippers and appointed him to the women.''

The physician `Juraih ibn al-Tabbākh relates the following: "I met Sa`īd ibn Tufīl accompanied by `Umar ibn Sahir. `Umar asked Sa`īd: 'In what position did you install Hāshim?' Sa`īd replied: 'In the service of the women, for the Emir wanted a person of unprepossessing appearance.' Said `Umar: 'An ugly person with a sound education, fitting the post, could surely have been found among the sons of physicians. You have disgraced the profession, and, by Allāh, once he is well established, he will surely revert to his low-class habits.' Sa`īd laughed heartily at these words."

Hāshim acquired such high prestige among the women that they preferred him even to Sa`īd, for he prepared medicines which had a beneficial effect on them as regards fatness, pregnancy, the complexion and the growth of hair. When Ahmad ibn Tūlūn's ailment became very severe and the physicians assembled in his presence every morning, Mi'at Alī, the mother of Abū'l-Ashā'ir, said: "A large crowd of physicians has assembled, but Hāshim is not among them. By Allāh, O my Lord, none of them is his equal." Ahmad said to her: "Have him come to me secretly, so that I may talk to him." She secretly brought him to Ahmad after encouraging him to speak. When he appeared before Ahmad, he looked him in the face [p.689] and said: "The Emir has not been taken care of, which is why he is now in such a condition. May Allāh punish him who took it upon himself to treat him."

Said Ahmad: "What can be done, then, O blessed one?" And the reply came: "Take a small dose of such and such ingredients — and he enumerated nearly one hundred drugs; such medicines have a constipating effect at the time they are taken but later have injurious consequences in that they weaken the natural forces."

Ahmad took that medicine and abandoned that prepared by Sa`īd and the other physicians. Since it had a restraining effect, Ahmad was well satisfied and believed that he had been restored to health. He then said to Hashim: "Sa`īd has warned me against eating even one mouthful of `asīda [a thick paste made of flour and clarified butter], but I crave for it." Said Hāshim: "My lord, Sa`īd was mistaken; it is nutritious and will do you good." So Ahmad gave orders for it to be prepared, and it was served to him in a large bowl. He ate most of it, felt very happy at having satisfied his desire and lay down to sleep. The `asīda stuck to his intestine, and he fancied that his condition was improving.

All this happened without Sa`īd ibn Tufīl's knowledge. When Sa`īd appeared, Ahmad asked him: "What do you think of `asīda?" Sa`īd replied: "It weighs heavily upon the organs, while the organs of the Emir need something that will facilitate their action." Said Ahmad: "Stop talking nonsense! I ate it and, thank God, it has proved beneficial to me." Then fruit from Syria was brought and Ahmad asked Sa`īd's opinion about quinces. Sa`īd replied: "Suck them out on an empty stomach and an empty intestine; then they will be of benefit." When Sa`īd had left, Ahmad ate some quinces. They met with the `asīda and expelled it, so that the diarrhea set in again. Ahmad sent for Sa`īd and said: "You son of. . . ! You told me that quinces were good for me, and now my bowels have become loose again." Sa`īd went away in order to examine the excrement and on returning said: "The `asīda, which you praised and which you said I was mistaken in prohibiting, [p.690] remained in the bowels, which owing to their weakness were unable to transform or digest it until the quinces pushed it out. I did not allow you to eat the quinces, but advised you to suck them out." He then asked Ahmad how many he had eaten, and Ahmad said: "Two." Said Sa`īd: "You ate quinces to satisfy your hunger, not for medical reasons." Said Ahmad: "You son of a ... ! You have made sport of me while you are in perfect health and I am seriously ill." He then called for whips, dealt him two hundred strokes and had him led round on a camel with a herald calling out: "This is the punishment of him who was trusted and became a traitor." Saintly men plundered his house. He died two days later in Old Cairo. This was in the year 269/832, or, according to another report, in the year 279/892, the year in which, in the month of Dhū 'l-Qa`dah, Ibn Tulun died; and Allāh knows best."


Halāf al-Tūlūnī. Abū Alī Khalāf al-Tulunī, a freedman of the Caliph, devoted himself to the medical art and was well-acquainted with eye diseases and their treatment. He was the author of "K. al-Nihāya wal-Kifāya," on the structure of the eye, the treatment of its diseases and the appropriate drugs. In a copy of this book, I found a note in his own handwriting — the whole of the book is available in his hand — to the effect that he first conceived the work in the year 264/877 and completed it in the year 302/914.


Nastās ibn Jurayj 13 was a Christian, well versed in the medical art. He lived during the reign of Ihsīd ibn Tujj. He was the author of a compendium and also wrote on epistle to Yazīd ibn Rūmān, an Andalusian Christian, on urination. [p.691]


Ishāq ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Nastas. Abū Ya`qūb ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Nastas ibn Jurayj, a Christian, was a distinguished physician in the service of al-Hākim bi-Amr Allāh, who relied upon him in medical matters. He died in Cairo in the days of al-Hakim. After his death, al-Hakim appointed Abū 'l-Hasan Alī ibn Ridwān his physician. The latter served him a long time, and was eventually appointed head physician.


Al-Bālisī was a distinguished physician specializing in simple drugs and their effects. He wrote "K. al-Takmīl," on simple drugs, for Kafur al-Ikhshīdī.


Mūsā ibn El `Azār. 14 Al-Isrā`īlī [the Israelite] was famous for his skill in the medical art. He was in the service of al-Mu`izz li-Dīn Allāh, as was his son, the Physician Ishāq ibn Mūsā. The latter, held in high esteem by al-Mu`izz, managed all the affairs of his master while his father was still alive. He died on the 18th day of Safar in the year 363/973. Al-Mu`izz was much distressed by his death because of their close relationship and his efficiency. He appointed his brother Ismā'il ibn Mūsā and his son Ya`qūb ibn Ishāq to succeed him. All this happened during the lifetime of their father Mūsā. A brother of Ishāq, `Aun Allāh ibn Mūsā, a Muslim, died a day before him.

Mūsā ibn El`āzār was the author of the following works:

1) "Al-Mitāb al-Mu`izz," on cooked food; dedicated to al-Mu`izz.

2) A treatise on coughing.

3) The reply to a question put to him by one of those who investigated the true nature of the sciences and desired to reap their fruits.

1) "K. al-Akrabadhīn" [antidotarium]. [p.692]


Yūsuf al-Nasrānī [the Christian] was a physician well-versed in the medical art and distinguished in the sciences. Yahyā ibn Sa`īd ibn Yahyā says in his "K.Ta`rīkh al-Dhail": "In the fifth year of al-`Azīz's caliphate, Yūsuf the Physician was made Patriarch of Jerusalem, a post he filled for three years and eight months. He died in Old Cairo and was buried in the Church of St. Theodoros, along with other fathers."


Sa`īd ibn al-Bitrik. 15 A Christian, a native of Fustāt in Egypt, was a famous physician, foremost among his contemporaries in medical science and practice. He was also an expert in Christian doctrine and the various Christian denominations. He was born on Sunday, the 27th of Dhū 'l-Hijja, 263/876. In the first year of the caliphate of al-Qahir bi-Allāh Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Mu`tadid bi-Allāh, Sa`īd ibn al-Bitrik was appointed Patriarch of Alexandria and named Eutychius. This happened on the 22nd day of Safar in the year 321/934, when Sa`īd ibn al-Bitrik was about 60 years old. He occupied the patriarchal chair and exercised his spiritual power for seven years and six months. Grave dissension and perpetual strife prevailed between him and Shu`ba.

Sa`īd ibn al-Bitrik fell ill with diarrhea in Fostāt. Being knowledgeable in medicine, he realized that his illness was fatal. He returned to his Alexandrian sea, where he lived a few days more. He died on a Monday, the last day of Rajab in the year 328/941.

He wrote the following works:

1) A book on medical theory and practice.

2) A compendium.

3) The "Book of Controversy," between a Christian and an opponent of Christianity. [p.693]

4) "K. Nazm al-Gauhar," in three chapters. This was for his brother `Isā ibn al-Bitrik the Physician; mentioned in it were the fasting seasons, times of fast breaking, time-computation and feasts of the Christians, the chronology of the caliphs, ancient kings, and patriarchs and the circumstances of their lives, such as the age they attained, where they lived and the experiences they underwent while in office. This book was continued by a relative of Sa`īd ibn al-Bitrik, called Yahyā ibn Sa`īd ibn Yahyā, who entitled his work "Kitāb Ta`rīkh al-Dhail."


`Isa ibn al-Bitrik was a Christian physician, well versed in theoretical and practical medicine and a recognized expert in the specialia of therapy and general treatment. He resided in Old Cairo, where he exercised the medical profession until his death. He was a brother of the aforementioned Sa`īd ibn al-Bitrik.


A`yūn ibn A`yun was a physician of great renown for his remarkable cures, who lived in Egypt, in the days of al-`Azīz bi-Allāh. He died in the month of Dhū 'l-Qa`dah in the year 385/994.

He wrote a compendium and a book on eye diseases and their treatment.


Al-Tamīmī. 16 Abū `Abdallāh Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Sa`īd al-Tamīmī first lived in Jerusalem and its. vicinity. He was a mine of information on plants and their qualities. Moreover, he distinguished himself in practical medicine, being familiar with the intricacies of this art. He was very experienced in the preparation of electuaries and the application of simple drugs. He had a comprehensive knowledge of the different kinds of great theriac — called al-farūq — [p.694] and their preparation, and he manufactured great quantities of them most competently. He later moved to Egypt, where he remained until his death.

In Jerusalem, he met a savant of great merit, a monk called Anbā Zakharyā ibn Tawāba, who was conversant with specific aspects of the philosophical sciences and medicine. He lived in Jerusalem in the fourth century A. H. and studied the composition of drugs. Muhammad al-Tamīmī visited him regularly and received useful instruction and numerous formulas. He mentions him in his book "Māddat al-Baqā," under the entry "A medicinal powder for the convulsion caused by inflamed black bile." He says that he is transmitting this information in the name of Anba Zakaryā.

My colleague Jamāl al-Dīn ibn al-Qiftī al-Qādī al-Akram says in his book "Ihbār al-`Ulamā` bi-Ahbār al-Hukamā": "Sa`īd, the grandfather of Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Sa`īd al-Tamīmī, was a physician friendly with Ahmad ibn Abī Ya`qūb, a freed slave of the Abbasid family. Muhammad originated from Jerusalem. There and in other cities to which he traveled, he studied medicine and became very proficient in this science, for what he acquired of it he mastered most thoroughly. He eagerly studied the composition of drugs, and became very adept in preparing them. He delved deeply into this subject and dedicated himself to solving its mysteries. It was he who perfected the great theriac by adding certain simple drugs; this is a fact upon which all physicians are agreed. On the theriac he wrote a number of books, from small essays to large treatises. He was a favorite of al-Hasan ibn `Abd Allāh ibn Tujj, who had made himself master of al-Ramla and the neighboring coastal region. Al-Hasan liked both him and the simple and compound drugs with which he treated him. Al-Tamīmī prepared for him several electuaries medicinal perfumes and fumes against the plague, which he recorded in his writings." [p.695]

Al-Tamīmī lived to see the rise of the `Alid dynasty in Egypt. He became friendly with Ya`qūb ibn Killis, the vizier of al-Mu`izz and al-`Azīz, for whom he wrote a work of several volumes, entitled "Māddat al-Baqa, on the improvement of polluted air and precautions against infectious diseases. This was in Cairo during the reign of al-Mu`izz.

In Egypt, al-Tamīmī met some physicians with whom he entered into debates, he also associated with the court physicians — those who had come from the Maghrib, in the retinue of al-Mu`izz, as well as those who were natives of Egypt.

Muhammad al-Tamīmī related the following episode concerning his father: "My father — may Allāh be pleased with him — told me that he once became senselessly drunk. Finding himself in a tavern in this state, he fell from an elevated place to the ground. The proprietor of the tavern picked him up, took care of him and put him up in his own living quarters. Next morning, when my father got up, he felt pain and a weakness in several parts of his body, but was unaware of the cause. He rode home and worked until noon, after which he returned to the tavern and said to the proprietor: I feel pains in my body and an extreme weakness, neither of which I can explain.' Said the proprietor of the tavern: 'You should thank Allāh that you are still alive.' 'Why?' said my father. 'Don't you know what happened to you yesterday?' said the other. When my father replied that he did not, the man said: 'You were drunk and fell from a high place in the tavern.' My father wanted to know from what place he had fallen, and when he was shown it, he was so overcome by pain and emotion that he was unable to control himself. He began to shout and moan until a physician was called in who performed a bloodletting and bandaged his flabby joints. It took a long time until my father recovered and the pains left him."  [p.696]

I say: A similar story is the following: A merchant, on one of his business trips, found himself in the desert, with his caravan. He lay down to sleep in a house at which he had stopped on the way, while his companions were sitting round him. Suddenly a snake emerged from somewhere, came near his leg, bit it and slipped away. He woke up from the pain, clutched his leg and whimpered. One of his company said to him: "Nothing has happened but that you suddenly stretched out your leg when it was hurt by a thorn at the very spot where you feel the pain." He made as if to take out the thorn and said: "You need not worry any more." After that, his pains subsided, and they continued on their journey.

Some time later, having meanwhile been home, they again came to that place, and his companion said: "Do you know what really caused the pain that attacked you here?" When he replied that he did not, his companion continued: "A snake bit you in the leg; we saw it but did not tell you." The man was instantly seized with a violent pain in his leg, which spread within his body until it approached the heart. He fainted and his condition grew steadily worse, until he died. The reason was that fanciful thoughts and psychic processes exercise a strong influence upon the body; when the merchant realized the the harm done to him had been caused by a snake bite, his emotions were strongly affected, and the remainder of the poison which lingered in that place started to spread through his body, killing him when it reached the heart.

My colleague Jamāl al-Dīn [Ibn al-Qiftī] said: "When al-Tamīmī was in his native city of Jerusalem and devoted himself to the study of medicine, trying to master the composition of drugs, he wrote about, and actually prepared a theriac which he called the preserver of lives. He spoke about it as follows: 'This theriac, which I prepared in Jerusalem from the most excellent ingredients, is [p.697] concentrated, has a beneficial effect and counteracts the damage done by deadly poisons, those which are drunk as well as those which are injected into the body by animals such as vipers, winged-dragons and other snakes secreting lethal poison, yellow scorpions and others and the forty-four-footed animals. This theriac has also proved effective against the sting of venomous spiders (phalangia, tarantulas) and large lizards. It has not its like.'"

In his book "Māddat al-Baqā" al-Tamīmī enumerates the ingredients and describes the manner of compounding it. While in Cairo, he invented and prepared a kind of sweet which he called "key to joy" that is, "free from sorrow" or "that which gladdens the soul"; he prepared it for one of his friends in Cairo to whom he indicates the way of compounding it and the names of its ingredients. This took place in Cairo, but he calls that city by its former name, Fustāt, which was given to it in the days of `Amr ibn al- `As, when it was conquered by the Muslims. All this is mentioned in his book "Māddat al-Baqā."

Al-Tamīmī was still living in Cairo in the year 370/979. He is the author of the following works:

1) An epistle to his son, `Alī ibn Muhammad, on the manufacture of the thcriac "al-farūq." In it, he points out common errors with regard to the ingredients — indicating the shrubs from which they should be obtained and the times when they should be gathered — and discusses the manner of kneading the drug, its effects, and of trying it out.

2) Another book on theriac, an exhaustive account of how to perfect its composition and regulate its effects.

3) A compendium of theriac.

4) "K. Māddat al-Baqā, " on the improvement of polluted air and precautions against infectious diseases;

5) A treatise on ophthalmia [trachoma?], its various kinds, its [p.698] causes and its treatment.

6) "K. al-Fahs wal-Ihbār."


Sahlān. The physician Abū 'l-Hasan Sahlān ibn `Utmān ibn Qaisān was a native of Egypt and a Christian of the Melekite persuasion. He was in the service of the Egyptian caliphs. He won prestige during the reign of al-`Azīz, and continued to enjoy fame and favor and to acquire riches until he died in Cairo, during the reign of al-`Azīz bi-Allāh, on Saturday, the 25th day of Dhū 'l-Hijja of the year 380/989. On Sunday, after the midday prayer his body was taken to the Byzantine Church in the Qasr al-Sham quarter. His funeral cortege, which set out from his home and proceeded via Coppersmiths' Quarter, the Old Mosque and the Murabba`a, eventually reached the al-Gār bathhouse. It was headed by fifty men carrying lighted candles. A heavy cloth lay over his coffin. The metropolitan 'Ahū 'l-Sayyid and the court physician, Abū 'l-Fath Mansūr ibn Muqashshar, walked behind his bier, followed by other Christians. From the church his body was transferred, after the night had elapsed, to the al-Qusair Monastery, where he was buried beside his brother, Qaisān ibn `Uthmān ibn Qaisān.

Al- `Aziz did not seize his estate, nor did he allow anyone else to appropriate it, even though it was of a considerable size.


Abū 'l-Fath Mansūr ibn Sahlān ibn Muqashshar. 17 This famous Christian doctor was court physician to al-Hākim Bi-Amr Allāh and one of his favorites. Al-`Azīz, too, made use of his services; he honored him, so that he attained a high rank under the dynasty. He died during the reign of al-Hākim. After him, al-Hākim secured [p.699] the services of Ishāq ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Nastās, but the latter died some time later, still during the reign of al-Hākim.


`Ammar ibn Alī al-Mausilī was a famous oculist, experienced in the treatment of eye diseases and skilled in handling the scalpel. He settled in Egypt in the time of al-Hākim.

`Ammar ibn Alī wrote "K. al-Muntaab," on the eye, its diseases and their treatment with drugs and the scalpel. He dedicated the book to al-Hakim.


Al-Haqīr al-Nafi`.18 A native of Egypt, of the Jewish faith, a contemporary of al-Hākim, this was a surgeon and a good therapist. An interesting episode in his life was the following. He was making a living from the treatment of wounds, still wholly unknown, when it happened that al-Hākim's leg was afflicted with a wound which would not heal. Ibn Muqashshir, al-Hākim's physician and favorite and the other court physicians set about treating him, but their efforts only made things worse. Then the Jew was summoned into al-Hākim's presence. After inspecting the patient, he applied a dry medicament, which dried out the wound and healed it within three days, whereupon al-Hākim presented him with one thousand dinars and a robe of honor, named him al-Haqīr al-Nāfi [the humble one who brings great benefit] and made him one of his court physicians.


Abū Bishr, the Physician of al-`Azīmīya. Living in the days of al-Hākim, this man was famous throughout the country as a distinguished representative of the medical profession. [p.700]


Ibn Muqashshir 19 was a renowned physician and scholar, influential in the state and a favorite of al-Hākim, who turned to him in medical matters.

`Ubayd Allāh ibn Jibrā'īl said: "Ibn Muqashshir, the physician, was in the service of al-Hākim, with whom he attained a most elevated position, receiving from him numerous grants and valuable gifts. When Ibn Muqashshir fell ill, al-Hākim visited him personally, and when he died, he presented his survivors with a large sum of money."


Alī ibn Sulaymān was a distinguished physician who was also knowledgeable in philosophy and mathematics and peerless in the science of the stars. He lived in the days of al-`Azīz bi-Allāh and his son, al-Hākim, and on into the reign of al-Hakīm's son, al-Zāhir Li-I`zāz Dīn Allāh. He wrote the following books:

1) An abridgement of [al-Rāzī's] "al-Hawī," on medicine.

2) "The Book of Medical Cases, Experiments, Traditions, Anecdotes and Strange Medical Phenomena," excerpts from works of Hippocrates Galen and others; he wrote it as a private memorandum and an exercise. I have come across an autographed copy of this book, in four volumes. He records in it that he started the work in Cairo in the year 391/1001.

3) "The Book of Philosophic Annotations." I have found this, too, in his own handwriting; he records that he started writing it in Aleppo in the year 411/1021.

4) A treatise on the proposition that the divisibility of a body is unlimited, with an enumeration of doubts resulting from Aristotle's

"Treatise on Vision" and doubts with regard to comets. [p.701]


Ibn al-Haitham.  Abū Alī Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Haitham, a native of Basra, emigrated to Egypt, where he stayed for the rest of his life. He was generous, keen-witted and well-versed in various sciences. None of his contemporaries equaled or came near him in the knowledge of mathematics. He was always busy, wrote a great deal, cultivated ascetic habits and was always eager to learn new things. He abridged and annotated a great number of Aristotle's works, and abstracted many of Galen's medical writings. He was an expert in the theory, its rules and general aspects of medicine, but he did not practice it and had no experience in therapy. His works are full of useful information; he possessed a beautiful handwriting and considerable mastery of the Arabic language.

The following was related to me by Shaikh `Alam al-Dīn Qaisar ibn Abi 'l-Qāsim ibn `Abd al-Gānī ibn Musāfir al-Hanafī, the geometrician.

At the beginning of his career, Ibn al-Haitham was in government service in al-Basrah and the surrounding district. But because he aspired to meritorious attainments and to the study of philosophy, he strove to free himself from all occupations that prevented him from studying. He feigned mental illness and remained in this condition until he succeeded in being suspended from service. He then traveled to Egypt and took up residence at the al- Azhar Mosque in Cairo. Every year he copied Euclid and the "Almagest," sold the copies and lived off the proceeds. He kept up this way of life until he died, may Allāh have mercy upon him.

My colleague, Jamāl al-Dīn Abū 'l-Hasan ibn al-Qiftī, who also mentions Ibn al-Haitham, says about him as follows: When al-Hākim, the Fatimid ruler of Egypt, who himself had a strong bent for philosophy, heard about Ibn al-Haitham and his mastery of science, he eagerly wished to see him. His enthusiasm increased when he was [p.702] told that Ibn al-Haitham had said: "If I were in Egypt I would do something to the Nile that would make that river useful at all times, both during its rise and during its fall, for I have heard that it descends from an elevated place which lies within the borders of Egypt." Al-Hākim secretly sent him a great amount of money and prevailed upon him to come to him. So he traveled to Egypt, and when he arrived al-Hākim set out to receive him. They met in a village known as al-Handak [the ditch], on the outskirts of Cairo, the city built by al-Mu`izz. Al-Hākim gave orders to provide him with lodgings and to treat him hospitably and with respect. He stayed there until he had rested and was then asked to fulfill his promise with regard to the Nile. So he set out with a group of skilled building workers. These were to be employed on constructions he had in mind. But when he traveled the whole length of the country, and saw the extremely well planned and constructed monuments left by its former inhabitants, members of long-vanished nations, and the lovely shapes, geometrical forms and unsurpassable paintings they contained, he realized that his scheme was unworkable; for those who had lived before him in ancient times had not been without the knowledge he himself possessed, and if such a scheme had been possible, they would surely have carried it out. So his zeal was quenched and his ambition died. When he reached the locality known as al-Ganādil, south of the city of Assuan — this is the high place from which the waters of the Nile flow down — he was able to overlook the river, come into direct contact with it and examine it on both its banks. As a result, he became convinced that his plan could not be carried out and that he would have to admit his error in that he had promised more than he could fulfill. Disappointed and ashamed, he returned to al-Hākim and made apologies to him, which the latter seemed to accept. Al-Hākim then appointed him head of one of the [p.703] government offices, to which he reluctantly agreed, from sheer necessity. He soon realized that he had made a mistake in accepting the post, for al-Hākim was extremely capricious, shedding blood for no reason at all or on some flimsy, imaginary pretext. So he pondered on means of freeing himself and, finding no way out but to feign mental illness, began to act like a lunatic. When this became known, his property was confiscated and placed at the disposal of al-Hākim and his vicegerents. A guardian was appointed to look after him and his affairs, and he himself was chained and confined to a room in his house. This situation continued until he learnt that al-Hākim was dead. A short time later, he demonstrated that he was sane, returned to his former state, left his house, took lodgings at a qubba [pavilion] at the entrance to al-Azhar — one of the great mosques of Cairo — and there led the life of a humble ascetic. His belongings, confiscated by al-Hākim, were returned to him, and he applied himself to writing, copying and teaching. He had a flawless handwriting, which he exploited in copying a great number of mathematical works.

Yūsuf al-Fasī, the Israelite savant, told me in Aleppo as follows: "I heard that Ibn al-Haitham, apart from his other occupations, copied three books every year, namely Euclid's 'Elements,' the 'al-Mutawassitāt' and the 'Almagest.' He finished them in the course of the year, and whenever he started recopying them, somebody came and gave him 150 Egyptian dinars for his work. This came to be a fixed price, against which no bargaining was of any use. Ibn al-Haitham allotted that sum for his sustenance during one year. He continued to do so until he died in Cairo around the year 430/1039; and Allāh knows best."

Say I: I have copied the following from an autographed copy of one of Ibn al-Haitham's treatises on ancient sciences, which he finished writing at the end of 417/1027, corresponding to the 63rd lunar year of his life. "Since early youth, I have never ceased to meditate on the different [p.704] beliefs of people and on the fact that every group firmly adheres to the opinions once adopted. I was doubtful of all of them, holding the view that truth was one and that dissension about it was merely a matter of approach. After completing my study of the abstract sciences, I devoted myself entirely to the quest for the source of truth, striving to discover something by which wrong opinions might be refuted and the aberrations of the fantical sceptic eliminated. Thus I resolved to find the concept that brings man close to God, wins His benevolence and induces to fear and obey. Him. I found myself in the same position as Galen who, in the seventh

chapter of his 'Means of Attaining Health,' addresses his pupil as follows: 'I do not know how it came to pass, whether by marvelous accident, by divine inspiration, through madness or from any other cause, but since my youth, I have always despised the vulgar crowd and have strived to show respect for truth and acquire knowledge, I am firmly convinced that man can attain nothing better in this world, nothing more likely to bring him close to God, than those two things.' Therefore I undertook a thorough investigation of the various religious creeds, but from none of them did I derive any profit: none showed me the road to truth or the straight path which leads to the correct belief. So I realized that I would not attain truth except through notions based primarily on sensory perceptions and elaborated by rational considerations, and I found that only the method established by Aristotle with regard to logic, the natural sciences and metaphysics — which are the mainstays and very essence of philosophy."

[There follows a long list of his works with biographical data.] [p.705]


Al-Mubashshir bin Fātik, i.e., the Emir Mahmūd al-Dawlah Abū 'l Wafā' al-Mubashshir ibn Fātik al-Amirī, was one of the most eminent emirs and most distinguished scholars of Egypt. He was always busily occupied, loved learning and was fond of meeting scholars, debating with them and putting to use what he imbibed from them. One of those with whom he associated and from whom he learnt a great deal about astronomy and mathematics was Abū `Alī Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Haitham. He was also acquainted with Shaikh Abū 'l-Husayn, known as al-Āmidī under whom he studied many philosophical disciplines. Moreover, he applied himself to medicine, keeping company with the physician Abū 'l-Hasan Alī ibn Ridwān.

Al-Mubashshir ibn Fātik was the author of excellent works on logic and other philosophical disciplines, which have become renowned among specialists. He also engaged assiduously in copying books; I have seen numerous volumes in his handwriting, containing works by ancient authors. He acquired a huge number of books, many of which are still extant, but the color of their leaves has changed owing to immersion in water.

Shaikh Sadīd al-Dīn al-Mantiq told me in Cairo: "The Emir Ibn Fātik was eager to acquire knowledge and possessed a collection of books. On coming home, he spent most of his time with them, finding no better occupation than reading and writing and convinced that this was the most important pursuit. He had a wife of noble descent like him, of the family of one of the state dignitaries. After his death — may Allāh have mercy upon him — she betook herself with her maids to his library. She bore a grudge against the books, since her husband had devoted himself to them and neglected her. While bewailing him, she, together with her maids, threw the books [p.706] into a large water basin in the center of the building. Later the books were retrieved and this is why the many books of Ibn Fātik which have been preserved are in such a state."

I say: Among the pupils of al-Mubashshir ibn Fātik was Abū 'l-Hair Salāma ibn Rahmūn.

Ibn Fātik wrote the following books:

1) "K. al-Wasāya wal-Amtāl wal-Mūgaz min Muhkam al-Aqwāl."

2) "Choice Maxims and Best Sayings."

3) "The Book of the Beginning," on logic.

4) A book on medicine.


Ishaq ibn Yūnus was a physician well-versed both in medicine and the philosophical sciences. Besides being highly knowledgeable, he was a fine therapeutist. He studied philosophy under `Alī ibn al-Samh. His home was in Cairo.


Alī ibn Ridwān, i.e., Abū 'l-Hasan Alī Ridwān ibn Alī ibn Ja`far, was born and bred in Cairo, where he studied medicine. In his autobiography, he relates the following details of his studies and the circumstances of his life: "Since everyone should choose the profession most suitable for him, since medicine is next door to philosophy with regard to obeying God, glory and power are His, since my horoscope pointed to medicine as my calling and since a livelihood derived from a learned profession seemed more desirable to me than any other, I began to study medicine at the age of fifteen. But the best will be for me to tell you all about myself.

"I was born in Egypt, at a place situated 30° latitude and 55° longitude, under the sign of Aries according to the astronomical tables of Yahyā ibn Abī Mansūr. When I was six years old, I began to devote myself to study, and when I was ten, I moved to the capital and exerted myself to acquire knowledge. In my fifteenth year, I began to study medicine and philosophy, but I had no money for my [p.707] upkeep, so that I experienced great hardship with my studies. At one time, I earned my livelihood by astrological fortune-telling, at another by medical work and occasionally by teaching. This situation lasted until my thirty-second year. At that time, I became known as a physician, and what I then earned by practicing medicine was not only sufficient for my support but left me a surplus which I have retained until now, i.e., up to the end of my fifty-ninth year. With my extra income, I bought real estate in this city which, if Allāh decrees that she remain safe and if He allows me to attain old age, will ensure my subsistence. Since the age of thirty-two I have lived according to a plan, which I modified every year until I crystalized it in the shape in which I am applying it now, on the threshold of my sixtieth year. It provides, inter alia, that I so exert myself in performing my daily professional duties as to make up for the lack of health-preserving physical exercise. After resting from these exertions, I partake of such food as is calculated to keep me healthy. In performing my work, I always endeavor to be modest and kind, to help the troubled, raise the spirits of the worried and assist the needy. In doing all this, it is my aim to derive pleasure from work and beautiful experiences; in addition, of course, there is some material reward, which I spend in part for the well-being of my body and the upkeep of my home, in such a way as amounts neither to extravagance nor to stinginess, but always strikes a happy balance, as prescribed by common sense. In looking after my household, I repair and replace as is necessary; and I store in my house such commodities as food and drink, honey, olive-oil and firewood, and also clothing. The money left over after all these expenditures is spent on various kinds of charity and useful investments, such as gifts to relatives, friends and neighbors and the improvement of my house. The revenue yielded by my real estate is assigned to its repair and embellishment and similar investments when the occasion arises. [p.708] When I am faced with some new project, in commerce, building or any other field, and I find that it is very likely to succeed, I hasten to carry it out; but if its prospects are meager, I put it aside, awaiting further developments and making the necessary preparations.

"I take care that my dress conforms to that of people of distinction and that it is clean and fragrant. I refrain from offensive talk, saying only what is fitting. I avoid swearing and base thoughts and eschew self-conceit over-assertiveness. I am inaccessible to both covetousness and despair, and if a calamity takes me unaware, I put my trust in Allāh the Exalted, and face it, as befits a sound mind, without cowardice or rashness. When effecting any commercial transaction, I settle the account in due time, neither advancing money nor incurring debt, except when the need arises. When somebody asks me for a loan, I give it to him without asking anything in return.

"The hours of the day left after work I spend in worshiping Allāh, praised be He, I take delight in contemplating the kingdom of heaven and earth and glorifying its perfection. I meditate on Aristotle's treatise on 'Regimen' and vow to follow its instructions morning and evening. In my leisure time I review my doings and experiences of the preceding day, and what was good, pleasant or useful I rejoice about and what was bad, ugly or harmful I regret and resolve never to repeat.

"As to the things I take pleasure in, they are the invocation of Allāh, power and glory are His, and by contemplating the kingdom of heaven and earth. The ancients and savants have written a great number of books on that subject, of which I see fit to refer to the following: five books on literature, ten on religious law, the books of Hippocrates and Galen on medicine; some books on allied disciplines, such as Dioscorides' 'Book of Herbs,' the works of Rufus, Oribasius and Paulus, and al-Rāzī's "al-Hawi"; four books on agriculture and [p.709] pharmacology. As to the remaining books, I would either sell them at any price that is offered or store them in crates, although selling them would be preferable."

I say: This is all he mentions of his life. His birthplace was al-Jīza in Egypt, but he grew up in Cairo. His father was a baker. He assiduously applied himself to study, until he distinguished himself and became very famous. He entered the service of al-Hākim, who appointed him chief physician. His house was situated in the Qasr al-Sham quarter of Cairo and it is referred to by his name to the present day, although it was destroyed and only a few remnants of it can now be seen. At the time ibn Ridwān was in Egypt, there occurred a dearth and a severe outbreak of Jallā`, which killed off most of the population. I copied from the handwriting of al-Muhtār ibn al-Hasan ibn Butlān the statement that the dearth in Egypt occurred in the year 445/1054. Ibn Butlān says: "In the following year, the level of the Nile fell and, as a result, the dearth became still more oppressive. It brought in its train a severe outbreak of plague, which reached its peak in the year 447/1056. It is reported that the Sultan supplied shrouds for 80,000 people at his own expense and that he lost 800 army officers. [On the other hand] much money accrued to him from the estates [of those who had died without leaving heirs]."

Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad al-Mālikī, the copyist, told me: "Toward the end of his life, Ibn Ridwān became mentally deranged. This happened in the following way. During the dearth, he adopted an orphan girl and brought her up in his home. One day, he left her alone in the house, where he had valuable objects and about 20,000 gold dinars. She took everything and fled, and he never heard of her again, nor ever found out where she had gone. From that time on his mind went."

I say: Ibn Ridwān was strongly inclined to criticize his contemporaries — physicians and others — just as he did many of those [p.710] preceding him. Moreover, he was insolent in his criticism and reviled those with whom he entered into a dispute. The most striking instances of such behavior are to be seen in his refutations of Hunayn ibn Ishāq, Abū 'l-Faraj ibn al-Tayyib and Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakarya al-Rāzī.

Ibn Ridwān had no teacher in medicine to whom his skill might be ascribed. In this connection he wrote a book explaining that studying medicine from books was better than learning it from teachers. This and similar opinions were refuted by Ibn Butlān in a book containing a chapter on the reasons that a student who learns by oral instruction is preferable to one who learns from books, provided that each has the same potential. Ibn Butlān set forth a number of reasons. [A detailed but obscure list follows.]

Alī ibn Ridwān, may Allāh have mercy upon him, died in Cairo in the year 453/ 1062, under the caliphate of al-Mustansir bi-Allāh Abū Tamīm Ma`add ibn al-Zāhir Li-I`zaz Dīn Allāh ibn al-Hākim.

The following is one of Ali ibn Ridwān's sayings: "If a man has an occupation by which he exercises his limbs, enjoys the respect of men and earns his livelihood during part of the day, the most excellent thing he can do during the rest of his time is to worship the Lord; and the best way of worshiping Him is to contemplate the divine kingdom and glorify its ruler, praise be to Him. A person granted such a destiny, has been given the best of this world and of that which is to come; he is blessed and rewarded."

Here is another of his sayings, which I have copied from his handwriting: "According to Hippocrates, a physician should fulfill seven requirements: 1) he should be of perfect build, have sound limbs, be intelligent and perceptive, have a well-balanced mind, a good memory and excellent natural disposition; 2) he should wear decent clothes, smell agreeably and keep his body and apparel clean; 3) he should guard the secrets of his patients and not divulge anything [p.711] of their complaints; 4) his desire to cure the sick should be greater than his desire to obtain a fee and his willingness to attend the poor should be greater than his willingness to attend the rich; 5) he should be anxious to disseminate knowledge and contribute to human welfare; G) he should be modest, sincere and truthful, and should not covet the women and property he sees in the homes of his patients, let alone lay hands on them; 7) he should be careful of life and property, not prescribe, inadvertently, any deadly medicine and abstain from administering drugs which cause abortion; 8) he should treat his foe to the best of his ability, exactly as he would treat his friend."

He further said: "A master in the art of medicine is he who fulfills all those requirements after he has become proficient in the art; and a promising student of medicine is he who shows signs of a good natural disposition, a pure heart, an unbending will to study, intelligence, and a memory capable of retaining what he has learnt."

Further: "A perfect body is a healthy body, each organ of which is intact, that is to say, it performs its particular function, to perfection."

He continued: "You recognize defects by considering the external appearance of organs, the temperature, the temper and the feel of the skin and by checking the functioning of the internal and external organs; for instance, you call to a person from a distance, and from his reaction draw conclusions as to his sense of hearing; having him look at near and distant objects will enlighten you as to his eyesight; his tongue is tested by his speech; his strength by his ability to lift heavy objects, his grasp and retention of objects, and his gait; another test is, for instance, watching the patient walk toward and away from you and ordering him to lie on his back, stretch out his arms and raise his legs while pressing them close together; in this way you will diagnose the state of his intestine. The condition of his heart can be tested by his pulse and his temperament and the [p.712] condition of his liver by his urine and the state of his humors. You can test his mind by questioning him on various matters and his powers of apprehension and reflexes by ordering him to do several things. His desires can each be tested according to what stimulates and calms it. In this way should you proceed when examining each organ and trait of character.

"As to defects capable of being perceived through the senses, be not satisfied until you have actually perceived them. As to defects ascertainable by inferences, namely those recognized by specific symptoms, and as to those that can be established by interrogation, probe for them by asking questions until you have covered all of them and are able to tell whether there is an actual defect or a potential one or whether the patient is in fact in good health.

Here is one of Ibn Ridwān's maxims: "When summoned to a patient, first give him a medicine that is innocuous until you have diagnosed his illness; only then may you treat it. Diagnosing an illness means to find out, first, from which humor it has arisen, and secondly which organ it affects; having done so, you may proceed with treatment."

Alī ibn Ridwān wrote the following books:

1) A commentary on Galen's "Book of Differences"; he completed it on Thursday, the 28th of Dhū 'l-Hijja of the year 432/1041.

2) A commentary on Galen's "The Smaller Medical Compendium."

3) A commentary on Galen's "Smaller Book of the Pulse."

4) A commentary on Galen's "To Glaucon", on avoiding rashness in the treating of diseases; he expanded the first chapter in five chapters and the second chapter in two chapters.

5) A commentary on Galen's "Book of Elements."

6) A commentary on part of Galen's "Book of Tempers. (of the sixteen books of Galen, he wrote commentaries only on those I have mentioned).  [p.713]

7) "The Book of Principles," on medicine, in four chapters.

8) A compendium.

9) An epistle on the treatment of leprosy [elephantiasis].

10) "A Study of the Problems of Hunayn," in two chapters.

11) "The Useful Book," on the method of teaching the medical art, in three chapters.

12) A treatise showing that Galen did not err, as is claimed by some, in his propositions concerning milk.

13) A treatise on how to ward off bodily harm in Egypt.

14) A treatise on the circumstances of his life.

15) A treatise on barley and what can be made from it; dedicated to Abū Zakaryā Yahūd ibn Sa`āda, the physician.

16) Answers to questions put to him by Yahūd ibn Sa`ada concerning the milk of she-asses.

17) Medical notes.

18) Notes transmitted by him, on pharmacology.

19) A treatise on the method adopted by Hippocrates in teaching medicine.

20) A book showing that `Abd Allāh ibn al-Tayyib's main talent lay in the field of sophistry; in five chapters.

21) A book demonstrating that the individuals of each of the reproductive species have a primordial father from which they descend; according to the philosophical method.

22) A commentary on the treatise on scientific excellence by Pythagoras the Wise.

23) A treatise refuting the opinions of Ifrā`im and ibn Zar`a with regard to the existence of different religions.

24)  Extracts from Galen's commentaries on the works of Hippocrates.

25) "A Defense of Aristotle"; this is a work mediating between the views of Aristotle and those who opposed him with regard to physics; in 39 chapters. [p.714]

26) A commentary on Hippocrates' Law of Medicine."

27) A commentary on Hippocrates' Oath, which is known as "The Curriculum for Studying Medicine."

28) Notes on purgatives.

29) A book on the preparation of liquid medicines and electuaries.

30) Notes on al-Tamīmī's "Book of Foods and Drugs."

31) Notes on Poseidonius' book on beverages agreeable to the healthy.

32) Useful remarks he made on Philigrius' book on beverages beneficial and agreeable in time of sickness.

33) A treatise on sexual potency.

34) A treatise demonstrating that each organ derives its nourishment from the humor homogeneous with it.

35) A treatise on the method of counting the number of fevers.

36) A chapter of sayings about the forces of nature.

37) Answers to questions on the pulse which had been forwarded to him from Syria.

38) An epistle containing answers to questions on tumors which had been put to him by Shaikh Abū 'l-Tayyib Azhar ibn al-Nu`mān.

39) An epistle on the treatment of a youth affected by the ailment called elephantiasis.

40) A report by Abū 'l-`Askar al-Husayn ibn Ma`dan, the ruler of Mukran, about his hemiplegia of the left side, together with Ibn Ridwān's answer to him.

41) Useful notes on Galen's "Stratagem of Healing."

42) Useful notes on Galen's "Regimen of Health."

43) Useful notes on Galen's "Book of Plurality."

44) Useful notes on Galen's "Book of Phlebotomy."

45) Useful notes on Galen's "Book of Simple Drugs."

46) Useful notes on Galen's "Book of Aphorisms."

47) Useful notes on Galen's "Katagenos."

48) Useful notes on several books by Hippocrates and Galen on the humors.  [p.715]

49) A book solving al-Rāzī's doubts with regard to the books of Galen; in seven chapters.

50) A treatise on the preservation of health.

51) A treatise on the paroxysms of fever.

52) A treatise on heavy breathing, which indicates obstructed respiration.

53) An epistle to Abū Zakaryā Yahad ibn Sa`āda on the method employed by Galen in the "Smaller Art" in analyzing the definition.

54) A treatise in refutation of Ibn Butlān's treatise on chicks and other young birds.

55) A treatise on the mouse.

56) A treatise on baffling questions mentioned by Ibn Butlān.

57) A treatise propounding that what Ibn Butlān does not know is established truth and wisdom and what he does know is error and sophistry.

58) A treatise demonstrating that Ibn Butlān does not understand his own words, let alone those of others.

59) An epistle to the physicians of Fustāt and Cairo on Ibn Butlān, being a summary of Ibn Ridwān's main criticisms of him.

60) A book of problems raised between him and Ibn al-Haitham with regard to the galaxy and the place [?].

61) "Glosses on the Perfect in the Medical Art," of which only the first part is extant.

62) An epistle on the periodicity of diseases.

63) A treatise on how to attain happiness through medicine.

64) A treatise on the causes of fevers of the humors.

65) Answer to a report on the condition of a person stricken with hemiplegia of the left side [cf. No. 40 above].

66) A treatise on tumors.

67) A book on simple drugs, alphabetically arranged, in twelve chapters; only the first five chapters and part of the sixth are extant.

68) A treatise on the glory of medicine.  [p.716]

69) An epistle on generation and decay.

70) A treatise on the path to happiness, which is the way of life he chose for himself.

71) An epistle on the immortality of the soul.

72) A treatise on the merits of philosophy.

73) A treatise on the immortality of the soul according to Plato and — Aristotle.

74) Answers to problems of logic contained in the "K. al-Qiyās."

75) A treatise on the refutation of objections raised by Yahyā ibn `Adi, called "Mhrsāt."

76) A treatise on heat.

77) A treatise on the fundamentals of the prophecy of Muhammad, may Allāh bless him and give him peace, on the basis of the Torah and and philosophy.

78) A treatise demonstrating the existence of natural points and lines.

79) A treatise on the newness of the world.

80) A treatise on the devices of those practicing the art of fortune-telling with the aid of the stars and on the high positions held by these people.

81) A treatise on the mixture of what is and what must be.

82) A treatise on the lawful aquisition of property.

83) A treatise on the difference between a virtuous, a righteous and a morally defective person.

84) A treatise on politics in general. 85) An epistle on happiness.

86) A treatise in which Ibn Ridwān apologizes for having opposed the moderns.

87) A treatise on the monotheism of the philosophers and their worship of God.

88) A book in refutation of al-Rāzī with regard to metaphysics and determination of Allāh's messengers.  [p.717]

89) "The Application of Logic in the Sciences and the Arts"; in three chapters.

90) A small epistle on primary matter, written for Abū Sulaymān ibn Babshah.

91) A memoir entitled "Utmost Perfection and Ultimate Happiness," not completed.

92) Annotations to the usefulness of Plato's works ... on the nature of man.

93) Useful annotations to Porphyry's "Isagoge."

94) A revised version of al-Hābis book on the power of praise; only part of it is extant.

95) Remarks on the fact that the equator has the darkest nights by nature and that its substance [?] has the darkest nights by accident [?].

96) A book on what should be found in a physician's dispensary; in four chapters.

97) A treatise on the air of Egypt.

98) A treatise on the consistency of sugar.

99) A treatise pointing out the nonsense in the sayings of Ibn Butlān.

100) An epistle on counteracting the harmful effects of sweetmeats by hot things.


Ifrā'īm ibn al-Zaffān, i.e., Abū Katīr Ifrā`im ibn al-Hasan ibn Ishāq ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Ya`qūb, a Jew, was a famous Egyptian physician. He was in the service of the caliphs in whose time he lived, and received from them much money and many gifts. He studied medicine under Abū 'l-Hasan Alī ibn Ridwān, being one of his most distinguished disciples. In consequence of his eagerness to acquire books and have books copied, he eventually built up a large collection of medical and other works. He constantly employed copyists, whose upkeep he undertook, among them Muhammad ibn Sa`īd ibn Hishām al-Hagari, known as Ibn Malsaka. I have seen a number of books in the latter's handwriting, which he wrote for Ifrā`im and which were signed by the latter himself.  [p.718]

My father told me that a man from Iraq once came to Egypt in order to buy books and take them with him. He met Ifrā`im, who sold him 10,000 volumes from among the books in his possession. At that time, al-Afdal, the son of the commander-in-chief of the army, was governor [of Cairo). When he heard of the transaction, he wanted those books to remain in Egypt and so he sent to Ifrā`īm from his own treasury the amount of money which had been agreed upon, between Ifrā`īm and the Iraqi as the purchasing price. The books were transferred to al-Afdal's library and his honorific names were inscribed in them. This is why I have come across a great number of medical and other books bearing the name of Ifrā`īm and also the honorific names of al-Afdal. Ifrā`īm left more than 20,000 books and a great deal of money and valuables.

Ifrā`īm ibn al-Zaffān wrote the following works:

1) "Notes and Observations," which he assembled in the form of a compendium. I have seen this work in his own handwriting; it contains a complete list of diseases and an indication of their treatment.' At the beginning, he writes:"I, Ifrā`īm, have composed this book in order to safeguard those who treat diseases from error."

2) A medical memorandum on the proper condition of the body; he wrote it for Nasīr al-Dawlah Abū Alī al-Hasan ibn Abī Alī al-Hasan Ibn Hamdān when he intended to leave Cairo for Alexandria, al-Buhaira and the surrounding country.

3) A treatise proving by deduction that phlegm is produced in larger quantities in summer and blood and yellow bile in winter.


Salāma ibn Rahmūn, i.e., Abū 'l-Khair Salāma ibn Mubarak ibn Rahman ibn Mūsā, an Egyptian physician and a prominent personality in his country, was a Jew of whom remarkable achievements in the medical art are reported. He was familiar with Galen's works and tried to elucidate their obscure passages. He studied [p.719] medicine under Ifrā`īm, practiced it for a time under his supervision and also applied himself, with success, to logic and the other philosophical sciences, writing some works in this field. His teacher of logic was the Emir Abū 'l-Wafā` Mahmūd al-Dawlah al-Mubashshir ibn Fātik. When Abū 'l-Salt `Umayya ibn `Abd al-`Azīz ibn Abi al-Salt al-Andalūsī came to Egypt from the Maghrib, he became acquainted with Salāma ibn Rahmūn, and the two engaged in debates and controversies. In his "Egyptian Epistle" Ibn Abī al-Salt mentions Salāma among the Egyptian physicians he met and says about him: "The most congenial of those I met and the worthiest to be counted among the physicians was a Jew called Abū 'l-Khair Salāma ibn Rahman. He was acquainted with Abū 'l-Wafā al-Mubashshir ibn Fātik, studied logic under him, became an expert in it and surpassed his colleagues. He also associated with Abū Katīr ibn al-Zaffān, the pupil of Abū 'l-Hasan ibn Ridwān, and studied some of the works of Galen under him. Thereafter he started teaching all the books on logic, natural philosophy and astronomy. However, he explained things according to his fancy and expounded and summarized without due competence. He talked much and committed errors, was quick in answering and made mistakes. When I first met him, I tested his knowledge by asking him questions of such a kind as could be understood even by one who was a beginner in science. He answered them in a way that betrayed his shortcomings, reflected his incompetence and clearly showed his lack of imagination and understanding. With his great pretensions and poor comprehension of even the most elementary aspects of what he was dealing with, he could be compared to the man described by a poet:

He bares his thighs in order to plunge into the deep sea,
Yet the waves submerge him even on the shore.

Or as another poet puts it:

You made bold to encounter two hundred horsemen.
But a single one has driven you back.  [p.720]

There was in Cairo a physician from Antioch called Jurjis and nicknamed "the philosopher," who was, as is called in the West, Abū-l-Baidā'. Ibn Rahmūn would compose medical and philosophical tracts in the language of the common people which were absurd, meaningless and of no use at all. He sent them to persons who would thereupon request him to elucidate them. He would then explain them as he saw fit, on the spur of the moment, without due consideration. These tracts are quite ludicrous.

The said Jurjis composed about him the following lines, which are the best piece of satirical poetry I have ever read about an incompetent physician:

Despite Abū 'l-Khair's ignorance,
The learned are found light on his scales.
His poor patients, because of his bad luck,
Perish in a sea that has no shore.
Three enter all at a time:
Himself, the bier and the body-washer.

Another remarked:

Abū 'l-Khair in the treatment of patients,
Has a hand that never fails.
Everyone seeking his assistance
Is buried after two days.

Here is still another poem:

Abū 'l-Khair's craziness is craziness indeed,
Any craziness being in his eyes the acme of reason.
Seize him, chain him, tie him up securely,
For he who underrates a lunatic is not of sound mind.
At first, he harmed people by his talk alone,
But now he has begun to injure by both words and deeds.  [p.721]

Salāma ibn Rahmūn wrote the following works:

1) "The Order of the Universe."

2) A treatise on why rain is scarce in Egypt.

3) A treatise on why women become fat when past their youth.


Mubārak ibn Salāma ibn Rahmūn, i.e., Mubārak the son of Abū 'l-Khair Salāma ibn Mubārak, was born and bred in Cairo, and he, too, was a distinguished physician. He wrote a short treatise on carbuncles entitled "The Potsherd and the Piece of Pottery" [?].


Ibn al-`Ainzarbī, i.e., Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn Abū Nasr `Adnān ibn Nasr ibn Mansūr, a native of Anazarba, stayed for a time in Baghdad, where he applied himself to medicine and the philosophical sciences and became proficient in them, especially in astrology. Thereafter he left Baghdad and went to Egypt, where he married. He lived in Egypt until his death. In the service of the Egyptian Caliphs, he enjoyed their favor and attained high rank. He was one of the most outstanding masters of the medical art, endowed with remarkable foresight as to his treatments. In Egypt he wrote a large number of works on medicine, logic and other sciences. He had several disciples, who worked under his supervision and each of whom distinguished himself in the medical art. At the beginning of his career, he made a living by practicing astrology.

My father told me: "A grandson of Shaikh Abū Nasr `Adnān ibn al-`Ainzarbī informed me that his grandfather had gained fame in Egypt and came into contact with the caliphs in the following way: An envoy from Baghdad who had been acquainted with Ibn al-`Ainzarbī in that city and knew him as a person of wide learning, came to Egypt. While walking along a street in Cairo, he suddenly saw Ibn al-`Ainzarbī sitting there practicing fortune-telling for a living. He recognized him and greeted him, wondering why a man of such great learning, a first-rate expert in medicine, should be in such [p.722] a sorry condition. He kept the incident in mind and, on meeting the Vizier, mentioned Ibn al-`Ainzarbī in the course of the conversation, pointing out his great knowledge and experience in medicine, etc. He remarked that the people were unaware of his worth and that a person of his caliber should not be disregarded. The Vizier eagerly desired to meet ibn al-`Ainzarbī. He sent for him and, on listening to him, was much impressed and was convinced of his talents and eminence in science. He spoke about him to the Caliph, who awarded him such a stipend as befitted a man like him. Presents from court dignitaries now reached him continually."

I say: Ibn al-`Ainzarbī was well-versed in the Arabic language and had a beautiful handwriting. I have seen a number of books on medicine and other subjects written in his hand, which were extremely well produced — on the pattern established by the great calligraphers. He also engaged in writing poetry and left some fine verses. He died, may Allāh have mercy upon him, in Cairo in the year 54 8/1156, during the reign of al-Zāfir bi-Amr Allāh.

Ibn al-`Ainzarbī wrote the following works:

1) "K. al-Kāfī" [The Sufficient One], on medicine; he planned it in Cairo in the year 510/116 and completed it on the 26th day of Dhū al-Qa`dah of the year 547/1151.

2) A commentary on Galen's "Smaller Art."

3) "The Convincing Epistle," on logic; he compiled this from the writings of Abū Nasr al-Fārābī and al-Ra`īs ibn Sīnā.

4) "Medical Observations," in the form of a compendium, assembled and edited in Cairo by Zāfir ibn Tamīm after ibn al-`Ainzarbī's death.

5) An epistle on politics.

6) An epistle on why it is difficult to find a competent physician and why ignoramuses are numerous.

7) A treatise on stones [in the bladder?] and their treatment. [p.723]


Balmuzaffar ibn Mu`arraf, i.e., Balmuzaffar Nasr ibn Mahmūd ibn al Mu`arraf, was a wise and clever man, who applied himself assiduously to the philosophical sciences. He also studied medicine and literature and composed poems. He was a disciple of Ibn al-`Ainzarbī, to whom he attached himself for a time, studying under him many of the philosophical and other sciences. At the end of a copy of Alexander's commentary on Aristotle's "De Generatione et Corruptione," I have seen a note in Ibn al-`Ainzarbī's handwriting confirming that Balmuzaffar read it under him and studied it thoroughly; the copy was dated of Sa`bān of the year 534/ 1 130.

Balmuzaffar had a beautiful handwriting and a fine diction. He was keenly interested in alchemy and was eager to meet its adepts. With his own hand he copied a immense number of books on that subject, as well as numerous medical and philosophical books. He was most ardent to acquire books and study them.

Shaikh Sadīd al-Dīn al-Mantiqī told me that Balmuzaffar had in his house a large room whose shelves were crammed with books. In that room, he spent most of his time, writing, reading and copying. A noteworthy detail is that among the many thousands of books he possessed there was none that did not contain witticisms and anecdotes, relating to the respective branch of knowledge, inscribed on its cover. I have seen a great number of medical and philosophical works that formerly belonged to Abū 'l- Muzaffar and had his name inscribed on them, each bearing on it some interesting notes and sundry remarks pertinent to its contents.

Here are some samples of Balmuzaffar's poetry:

It is said that nature is the origin of existence.
Would that I knew what nature really is!
Whether a powerful being that has formed itself as it is,
Or whether incapable of this.  [p.724]

Another poem:

It is said that nature is what we know —
This is how we define it.
Now, they who do not know what was before it,
How can they presume to explore what is after it?

Balmuzaffar wrote the following works:

1) "Notes on Alchemy."

2) A book on astrology.

3) "Selected Passages on Medicine."


Al-Shaikh al-Sadīd al-Tibb, i.e., al-Qādī al-Ajall al-Sadīd Abū al-Mansūr `Abd Allāh ibn al-Shaikh al-Sadīd Abū al-Hasan `Alī. His honorific name was Sharaf al-Dīn, but his father's honorific name was so commonly applied to him that he was known by it and al-Shaikh al-Sadīd became, as it were his actual name. He was well-versed in the medical art, both in its theoretical foundations and in its practical application; he was an experienced therapeutist and a fine surgeon. He won great prestige in the service of the Egyptian caliphs and received from them such large sums of money and such precious gifts as far exceeded what accrued to any other physician of his time. The caliphs held him in high esteem and bestowed boundles favors on him. He lived long and was reckoned among the elite of the medical profession. His father, too, was a court physician to the Egyptian caliphs and gained fame under their reign.

Qādī Nafīs al-Dīn ibn al-Zubair, who had been acquainted with al-Shaikh al-Sadīd and had studied medicine under him, told me as follows: "Al-Shaikh al-Sadīd Ra`īs al-Tibb said to me: 'The first caliph to whom I was introduced and who bestowed his favor on me was al-`Amīr bi-Ahkām Allāh. It came to pass in this way. My father was a physician in his service; he had an established position [p.725] with him and enjoyed great prestige during his reign. I was a youth at the time. For a few dirhams my father gave me every day, I would sit daily at the entrance to our house and perform bloodlettings on a number of people, until I became quite experienced at the job. I also studied the rudiments of the medical art. One day, my father mentioned me to al-`Amīr and informed him of my abilities, noting especially that I knew how to perform bloodletting and had acquired much practice in it. So he sent for me and I went to him dressed in sumptuous clothes and riding a spirited mount decked with a sort of gold necklace and other ornaments. On reaching the palace in the company of my father, I alighted and walked up to where the Caliph was. After I had kissed the ground and paid homage to him, he said to me; pointing to a man who was standing in front of him: 'Bleed this slave,' I replied: 'At your service.' Then a silver salver was brought, and I bound the man's upper arm, the veins of which were prominent, bled him and bandaged the place. The Caliph, impressed by my performance, gave orders to present me with lavish gifts and sumptuous robes of honor. From that time, I visited the palace regularly and became attached to the Caliph's service. The Caliph granted me a monthly allowance, by which I was able to support myself as comfortably as I could have wished. In addition, presents and monetary awards were constantly showered on me.'"

As`ad al-Dīn `Abd al-`Aziz ibn Abi al-Hasan told me that al-Shaikh al-Sadīd had once earned 30,000 dinars in a single day by treating one of the Caliphs. Shaikh Nafīs al-Dīn ibn al-Zubair told me that when al-Shaikh al-Sadīd appeared before al-Hāfiz bi-Dīn Allāh, he earned, there and then about 50,000 dinars and even more, in addition to the gold and silver articles in the reception room, which were all given to him as presents. The caliph liked to do things in the grand manner, and was very generous.  [p.726]

Shaikh Rādī al-Dīn al-Rahbī told me as follows: "When al-Muhadhdhab ibn al-Naqqāsh, an excellent physician, came to Syria from Baghdad, he settled in Damascus for a time, but was unable to make a living there. Hearing of the munificence of the Egyptian caliphs and the favors they bestowed on those repairing to their court, especially scholars and professionals, he left for Egypt. On arriving there, he waited for a few days. He had heard of al-Shaikh al-Sadīd, the physician of the caliphs — of his merits, his comfortable life, and his virtues. So he went to his house, greeted him and told him what his occupation was. He said that the purpose of his coming was to visit him, entrust him with all his affairs and draw from the sea of his knowledge. He promised that whatever he received from the caliphs would be considered a favor from him and al-Shaikh al-Sadīd, placed to his credit all his life. Al-Shaikh al-Sadīd received him as befits such a person and honored him greatly. Then he asked him: 'How much would you like to be paid if you were to stay in Cairo?' Ibn al-Naqqāsh replied: 'O my lord, whatever you think fit and whatever you advise will suffice me.' 'Speak straight out,' said al-Shaikh al-Sadīd: 'By Allāh, if a monthly allowance of ten Egyptian dinars were granted me, I would consider it a great boon.' 'This sum will not ensure your proper upkeep. I shall instruct my manager to assign to you fifteen Egyptian dinars every month, a room in my neighborhood — fully furnished and equipped — in which you will live, and a beautiful slave girl who will be yours.' Al-Shaikh al-Sadīd then took a sumptuous robe of honor and had ibn al-Naqqāsh put it on; then ordered his servant to fetch a mule from among his best mounts, and presented him with it. Thus he said to him: 'The pay will reach you every month, and whatever you need, books or other things, will be supplied to you according to your wishes. But I ask you not to stop visiting me and associating with me; and you should not seek any favors from the Caliph and not frequent any of the state dignitaries.  [p.727] Ibn al-Naqqash agreed to these conditions, and nothing changed in his situation as long as he stayed in Cairo. Eventually he returned to Syria and lived in Damascus until his death."

I say: al-Shaikh al-Sadīd studied medicine under Abū Nasr `Adnān ibn al-Ainzarbī. He never ceased to enjoy the esteem of the caliphs, and the reputation he gained with them grew steadily, from the time of al-Amir bi-Ahkām Allāh to the last days of al-`Adīd bi-Allāh. As youth he was, with his father, in the service of al-Amir bi-Ahkām Allāh, i.e., Abū Alī al-Mansūr ibn Abi al-Qāsim Ahmad al-Musta`lī bi-Allāh ibn al-Mustansir. When al-Amīr fell in battle — at al-Jazīra, on Tuesday, the 4th of Dhū 'l-Qa`dah of the year 524/1129 after being Caliph for twenty eight years, nine months and a few days — al-Shaikh al-Sadīd entered the service of al-Hāfiz Li-Dīn Allāh, i.e., Abū 'l-Maimūn `Abd al-Masīd ibn al-Amīr Abū 'l-Qasim Muhammad ibn al-Imām al-Mustansir bi-Allāh, who was recognized as sovereign the very day al-Amīr fell in battle. He remained in al-Hāfiz li-Dīn Allāh's service until the latter's death, which took place on the 5th of Jumādā II in the year 540/1149. Thereafter he entered the service of al-Zāfir bi-Amr Allāh, i.e., Abū Mansūr Ismā`īl ibn al-Hafiz li-Dīn Allāh, who was recognized as sovereign on the night preceding the 5th of Jumādā II in the year 544/1149, upon his father's death. Al-Shaikh al-Sadīd remained in the service of al-Zāfir bi-Amr Allāh until the latter fell in battle on the 29th of Muharram of the year 549/1154. Thereafter he entered the service of al-Fā`iz bi-Nasr Allāh, i.e., Abū 'l-Qāsim `Isā ibn al-Zāfir bi-Amr Allāh, who was recognized as sovereign on the 30th of Muharram of the year 549. He remained in the service of al-Fā`iz Bi-Nasr Allāh until the latter died in the year five hundred and . . . [lacuna]. Thereafter he entered the service of al-`Ādid li-Dīn Allāh, i.e., Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh ibn al-Maulā Abū al-Hāssāji Yūsuf ibn al-Imām al-Hāfiz li-Dīn Allāh, with whom [p.728] he remained until the latter died on the 9th of Muharram, 567/1171, the last Egyptian caliph. Al-Shaikh al-Sadīd thus lived to see and serve five Egyptian caliphs, during whose reign he received valuable gifts and innumerable favors.

Thereafter, when al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb seized power in Cairo and made himself ruler of the country, al-Shaikh al-Sadīd lost the many favors, the lavish gifts and the generous monthly allowance for the rest of his stay in Cairo — until he went to Syria — although Salāh al-Dīn would avail himself of his medical services and follow his prescriptions and advice more faithfully than those of other physicians. He continued as head physician right up to his death.

In Cairo, al-Shaikh al-Sadīd resided near Zawīla Gate, in a house which was in a very good state of repair and profusely adorned. During the latter part of his life he was visited by a great mishap; his house caught fire and he lost a large quantity of furniture, household wares and other belongings. When part of the house had been destroyed, large earthenware vessels and casks filled with

Egyptian gold coins fell down and broke and, in the turmoil of the conflagration and destruction, the gold spilled in all directions, before the eyes of the people, some coins having been melted by the fire. The damage amounted to thousands of dinars.

Qādī Nafīs al-Dīn ibn al-Zubair told me that shortly before this event, al-Shaikh al-Sadīd had dreamt that the house in which he lived burnt down. Much perturbed he decided to move and actually began to build a new house near the old one. He urged the builders to make haste, and when only one room remained to be completed so that the might be able to move in, the old house caught fire. This happened on the 26th of Jumādā II in the year 579/1183. After his death the new house passed to Sāhib Safī al-Dīn ibn Sukr, the Vizier of al-Malik al-`Ādil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb. It is now named after Safī al-Dīn.  [p.729]

I have copied the following poem from the handwriting of Fahr al-Kutt'ab Hasan ibn Alī ibn Ibrāhīm al-Guwainī, the secretary. The composed for al-Shaikh al-Sadīd, of whom he was a close and loving friend, comforting him after the destruction of his house and the loss of his valuables. [The poem follows].


Ibn Jumai`, i.e., al-Shaikh al-Muwaffaq Shams al-Ri`āsa Abū al-`Ashāir Hibat Allāh ibn Zain ibn Hasan ibn Ifrā`īm Ya`qūb ibn Ismā`īl ibn Jumai`, the Israelite, was a famous physician and scholar and most distinguished personality. He concerned himself with various sciences and acquired a sound knowledge of them, making special efforts to master the medical art and becoming a good therapeutist. He was also an excellent writer.

He studied medicine under Shaikh al-Muwaffaq Abū Nasr `Adnān ibn al-`Ainzarbī, to whom he attached himself for a time. He was born and bred in Fustāt, served al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, gained great prestige during his reign and attained a high and influential position with him. Salāh al-Dīn fully trusted in his medical skill, and he prepared for him the theriac known as al-Fārūq.

Ibn Jumai` gave public lectures for those anxious to study medicine with him. He was a man of great ambition. Al-Shaikh al-Sadīd ibn Abī al-Bayān told me that he had studied medicine under ibn Jumai`; he also said that Ibn Jumai` was himself an assiduous student, who had gained supreme mastery of the theory of medicine and excelled in its practice.

I say: This opinion is confirmed by his works, which are excellently written and full of useful practical information.

He took a special interest in the Arabic language and made a point of verifying the exact meaning of words. He never gave a lecture without having al-Gauharī's dictionary, "al-Sihāh," at hand, and [p.730] whenever he came across a word whose meaning he was not sure of, he looked it up, relying on al-Gawhari's explanation. One day, I was at the house of al-Sāhib Jamāl al-Dīn Yahyā ibn Matrūh in Damascus. It was during the reign of al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb, the ruler of Egypt and Syria, and al-Sahib Jamāl al-Dīn, who wielded the sword and the pen with equal skill and who had 200 horsemen at his disposal served at that time as his vizier for the whole kingdom. In the course of our conversation he was good enough to remark: "No one before you has written a book comparable to yours on the classes of physicians. Do you mention in it our colleagues, the physicians of Egypt?" When I replied in the affirmative, he continued: "It would seem to me that you say that, among the earlier ones, there was none like Ibn Ridwān, and among the later ones, none like ibn Gūmai. "This is correct, O my lord," I replied.

A man from Egypt told me: "One day, when Ibn Jumai` was sitting in his shop [pharmacy?] near the Candle Market in Fustāt, a funeral procession passed by. After looking at it, he shouted to the kinsfolk of the dead, that their beloved was not dead and that if they interred him, they would be burying a living person. The people stood open-mouthed at this, astonished at his words, and refused to believe him. Then they said to one another: 'It will not harm us to check what he says. If he is right, so much the better; and if he is wrong, nothing will have changed.' So they called to him to approach and said to him: 'Prove what you have told us.' He instructed them to return home, remove the shrouds from the body and carry it into the bathroom. There he poured some hot water on it to warm it up, and treated it with aromatic substances, which had resulted in his sneezing. So the people were not able to note some sign of sensation in it; when it made some slight movements, Ibn Jumai` said: 'Rejoice at his return to life.' He then continued treating him until he recovered consiousness and felt well. This was the beginning of Ibn Jumai`'s fame as a [p.731] practitioner and scientist. It seemed as if he had performed a miracle. Later, he was asked how he had known that the body carried on a bier and covered with shrouds still had some life in it, and he replied: 'I looked at his feet and saw that they were turned upward, whereas the feet of those who are dead are stretched out flat. So I guessed that he was alive, and my guess proved correct.'"

I say: There lived in Cairo Ibn al-Munajjīm al-Misrī, a famous poet with a malicious tongue. He composed numerous satirical poems on Ibn Jumai`, one of which reads as follows:

Ibn Jumai`'s medical knowledge is tainted with stupidity.
Owing to which he misapplies the medical lore of the Messiah.
He could not diagnose the illness from the patient's urine
Contained in the phial, even if he rinsed his mouth with it.
The most astonishing thing is that he always takes
A fee from the next-of-kin for killing a patient.

Another poem of his:

Leave Ibn Jumai` alone with his falsehoods
And his pretensions of being skilled in medicine and geometry;
For he is nothing but a fool who had dropped from somewhere,
And when he settles in a place, he brings only disaster to it.

Still another:

Everything you claim is but lie and distortion.
You said that your father was Jumai` the Jew,
But Jumai` the Jew is not your father;
Rather, your father is [as wicked as] all the Jews together.

From the handwriting of Yūsuf ibn Hibat Allāh ibn Muslim, I have copied the following poem, in which he eulogizes al-Shaikh al-Muwaffaq ibn Jumai`: [The poem follows.]  [p.732]

Ibn Jumai` wrote the following works:

1) "A Guide to the Welfare of the Soul and Body," in four chapters.

2) "The Explanation of the Hidden Meaning," being a revision of the "Qānūn" (of Ibn Sīnā).

3) An epistle on Alexandria, the condition of its air, its water and the like, and the ways of life of its inhabitants.

4) An epistle to Qadī al-Mākin Abū'l-Qāsim Alī ibn al-Husayn on what he should do in a place where he does not find a physician.

5) A treatise on the lemon, the use of its juice as a beverage and its beneficial properties.

6) A treatise on rhubarb and its beneficial properties.

7) A treatise on humpbacks.

8) A treatise on the treatment of colic, entitled "The Epistle Dedicated to Saif on Royal Medicines.''


Abū'l-Bayān ibn al-Mudawwir. His honorific name was al-Sadīd. He was a Karaite Jew, well-versed in the medical science and skilled in its practice. Many professional observations and praiseworthy achievements are reported of him. He served the Egyptian caliphs during the latter part of their reign, and thereafter al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn, who followed his advice, submitted to his treatment and placed his trust in him. He received from him a generous salary and numerous gifts.

Abū al-Bayān ibn al-Mudawwir lived long. Toward the end of his life he became disabled due to old age and overexertion in the performing of his professional duties. So al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn granted him a monthly pension of 24 Egyptian dinars in order that he might be able to stay at home and be spared the burden of duty. Thus he remained on his pension for about twenty years. But while he was confined to his home, neither did he abstain from practicing medicine nor was his house free from students and patients who came to receive his prescriptions. But he did not make house visits, except to patients who were very close to him. In this respect I have [p.733] been told that when the Emir Ibn Munqid who had arrived from Yemen sticken with dropsy, invited him to come and cure him, he made excuses although the distance to be covered was small. He visited him only after al-Qādī al-Fādil had sent his manager, Ibn Sanā` al-Mulk, who entreated him to call on the patient. He prescribed for him the medicine generally administered in such cases.

Abū al-Bayān ibn al-Mudawwir lived 83 years. He died in Cairo in the year 580/1184. His disciples included Zain al-Hassāb. He wrote a book on his medical observations.


Abū al-Fadū`il ibn al-Nāqid honorifically named al-Muhadhdhab [i.e., Muhadhdhab al-Dīn], was a renowned physician and savant. He was a man of comprehensive knowledge and remarkable achievements and an excellent therapeutist. He was a Jew. He became known both as a general practitioner and an eye-doctor, but ophthalmology was his main concern. He made an excellent living and was so meticulous that, for the greater part of his time his students were busy studying under his guidance. When going out or visiting a patient, he would always ride. He died in Cairo in the year 584/1188. His soil, Abū al-Faraj, who was also a general practitioner and an eye-doctor, embraced Islam.

My father told me as follows: "There came to Abū-al-Fadā`il ibn al-Nāgid a Jewish friend who was in dire straits and asked for his support. Abū-al-Fadā`il had him sit near his house and said to him: 'Whatever I earn today shall be yours.' Then he rode away, making the tour of the sick and those in need of eye treatment. Upon his return, he took out a large number of tied-up paper bags from among hi ophthalmological equipment, and opened them one by one. Some contained one dinar or several several dinars, others Nāsirī or Sawād dirhams, the total value being about 300 Sawād dirhams. He gave the money to that man and said: 'By God, as regards all those [p.734] paper bags, I do not know who gave me gold coins and who gave me dirhams, or whether they were many or few. All I receive I put among my ophthalmological instruments. This suggests an abundant income.'"

Abu 'l-Fadā`il ibn al-Nāqid wrote a book on his medical observations.


Al-Ra'īs Hibat Allāh was an Israelite, a learned man and celebrated physician. He practiced his profession with remarkable success and was considered an excellent therapeutist. He lived toward the end of the dynasty of the Egyptian Caliphs, whom he served as physician. He received from them a generous salary and numerous gifts. After the fall of the dynasty, he continued until his death, to live on what they had bestowed on him. He died sometime in the eighties of the sixth century.


Al-Muwaffaq ibn Shū`a was an outstanding savant and celebrated physician. He was an Israelite. He gained fame by his professional skill and his excellent knowledge of general medicine, ophthalmology and surgery. He was gentle, amiable and fond of jesting, composed poems and played the gītara. He attended al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn when the latter stayed in Egypt, and stood high in his favor.

There was in Damascus a sūfī jurist, a friend of Muhammad ibn Yahyā, who lived in the sūfī hospice "al-Sumaisatī.'' He was known as al-Khaubashānī, and his honorific name was al-Najm [Najm al-Dīn]. He was acquainted with Najm al-Dīn Ayyub and with his brother, Asad al-Dīn. He was stolid, austere in his ways, inflexible as regards religion, and followed the law to the letter.

When Asad al-Dīn went to Egypt, al-Khaubshānī followed him and took up quarters in a mosque near the residence of the viziers, which is now known as the Mosque of al-Khaubshānī. Endowed with a sharp tongue he would defame and curse the inhabitants of the palace instead of praising God. Whenever he saw a dhimmī riding, he [p.735] sought to kill him, so that dhimmīs took care to avoid him. One day he saw Ibn Shū`a riding and threw a stone at him which hit his eye and knocked it out.

Ibn Shū`a died in Cairo in the year 579/1183. He composed poems, of which the following, about al-Najm when he knocked out his eye, was recited to me by Qādī Nafīs al-Dīn al-Zubair, who had heard it from the author himself:

Be not amazed if the eyes become tired
By looking at the rays of the sun; for this is a thing well known.
But wonder how my eye grew blind from looking
At a "star" [al-Najm] which is tiny and hardly visible.

Here is another of his poems, satirizing Ibn Jumai` the Jew, which was also recited to me by Nafīs al-Dīn, who had heard it from the author:

O Ibn Jumai`, by claiming to be a physician and a geometer,
You have uttered an obvious lie.
If you are learned in medicine, why did your abilities fail you
In curing an ailment deeply hidden within you?
For treating it, you need a doctor who cures
With a sharp knife, two spans long.
Even so, you might not be restored to health.
Answer, therefore, this question with understanding and thought
What is the geometrical figure that has a shape you like,
But that you want only if it is not a prism?

Another poem:

A meadow abundantly watered by the rains of spring
Has favored us with an embroidery which no hand can imitate.
Its sparkling yellow and its white are like
Gold and silver that are weighed in the scales of the wind.  [p.736]
The sweet fragrance of its hyacinths gives up the flowers' secrets
And the ring-doves in it lovingly voice their passion.


Abū 'l-Barakāt ibn al-Qudā`i, honorifically named al-Muwaffaq [i.e., Muwaffaq al-Dīn], was a skillful physician, who practiced his art in a praiseworthy manner and became renowned for his mastery of it. He also concerned himself with ophthalmology and surgery, and was considered a great specialist in these. In Egypt he served as physician to al-Malik al-`Azīz, the son of al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn. He died in Cairo in the year 598/1193.

Abū- 'l-Ma`alī ibn Tamām. Abū-'l-Ma`alī Tamām ibn Hibat Allāh Ibn Tamām, a Jew, was a man of wide learning, who gained esteem with the ruling dynasty and was considered an outstanding personality and an excellent therapeutist. He lived in Fustāt. Several of his children embraced Islam.

Abū-'l-Ma`ālī was physician to al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, gaining great prestige during his reign. Later,  he entered the service of Salāh al-Dīn's brother, al-Malik al-`Adil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb. He wrote two books: "Annotations," and "Medical Observations."

Al-Ra'is Mūsā. Al-Ra'īs Abū `Imrān Mūsā ibn Maimūn al-Qurtubī [a native of Cordoba], a Jew learned in the traditions of the Jews and one of their religious authorities and greatest scholars. In Egypt he was chief of the Jewish community. He was unique in his time in medical theory and practice, mastered many sciences and possessed an excellent knowledge of philosophy. Sultan al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn put his trust in him and availed himself of his medical services, as did his son, al-Malik al-Afdal `Alī.

It is reported that al-Ra'īs Mūsā embraced Islam when in the Maghrib, learnt the Qur'ān by heart and occupied himself with [p.737] Muslim law. On arriving in Egypt and settling in Fustāt, he returned to his former faith.

Qādī al-Sa`īd ibn Sana` al-Mulk composed the following poem in praise of al-Ra'is Mūsā.

I see that Galen's medicine is for the body alone,
While the medicine of Abū `Imrān is for both mind and body.
If he were to treat the world with his vast learning,
He would restore it from the disease of ignorance to knowledge.
If the full moon were to seek his medical advice,
Her claim to perfection would be justified.
On the day of her fullness, he would cure her of her spots,
And at the time of her greatest waning, he would restore her from infirmity.

Al-Ra'is ibn Mūsā wrote the following works:

1) An abridgement of the Sixteen Books of Galen.

2) A treatise on piles and their treatment.

3) A treatise on a regimen conducive to good health; he wrote this for al-Malik al-Afdal `Alī, the son of al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyub.

4) A treatise on poisons and how to avoid deadly drugs.

5) A book explaining the names of drugs.

6) A large work on the Jewish religion ("Mishne Torah," or "A Guide for the Perplexed").


Ibrāhīm, the son of al-Ra'is Mūsā. Abū 'l-Munā Ibrāhīm ibn al-Ra`īs Mūsā ibn Maimūn, grew up in Fustāt and became a famous physician, a learned medical scholar who excelled in therapy. He was in the service of al-Malik al-Kāmil Muhammad ibn Abī Bakr ibn Ayyub, and, from the palace, he would visit the hospital in Cairo and attend the inmates. I met him in Cairo in 631/1233 or 632/1234 when I was working as a physician at the same hospital. He was [p.738] an old man, tall and lean, with an engaging manner, pleasant-spoken, and an excellent physician. He died in Cairo in the year 63 — [lacuna] .


Abū 'l-Barakāt ibn Sha`yā, honorifically named al-Muwaffaq, was a famous master of the medical art, well-experienced and highly successful. He was a Karaite Jew. He died in Cairo at the age of 86. He left a son called Sa`īd al-Dawlah Abū 'l-Faqhr, who was also a physician, and lived in Cairo.


Al-As`ad al-Mahallī. As`ad al-Dīn Ya`qūb ibn Ishāq was a Jew from al-Mahalla, a town in one of the Egyptian provinces. He was a distinguished scholar of philosophy, delighting in the study of its intricacies. He gained fame as a physician, an expert in the application of drugs, and as a therapeutist. He lived in Cairo. At the beginning of the year 598/1193, he traveled to Damascus, where he stayed for a while. Drawn into lengthy disputes with one of the celebrated physicians of Damascus, he became so disgusted that he eventually returned to Egypt. He died in Cairo.

Here is an account of one of his remarkable cures: "A woman of my family became affected with an ailment, a derangement of her temper, which persisted and for which no treatment was of any avail. After al-As`ad had examined her, he said to my paternal uncle, who was his friend: "I have some pills which I prepared specially for this illness; she will be cured, if God wills, by taking one every morning with a draught of oxymel. He gave him the pills, and after she had taken them she recovered."

Al-As`ad al-Mahalir wrote the following works:

1) A treatise on medical principles.

2) "The Book of Purity," on the solution of doubts arising from images seen in mirrors.  [p.739]

3) A book on the climate and geographical position of Damascus, the differences between it and Cairo, the question which of the two has a more salubrious and equable climate, and some other medical questions; in three chapters.

4) Some medical medical questions and the answers; dedicated to Sadāqa ibn Mikhā ibn Sadāqa the Samaritan, a physician of Damascus.


Al-Shaikh al-Sadīd ibn Abī 'l-Bayān. Sadīd al-Dīn Abū 'l-Fadl Dā`ud ibn Abī 'l-Bayan Sulaimān ibn Abī 'l-Faraj Isrā`īl ibn Abī 'l-Tayyib Sulaimān ibn Mubārak, was a Karaite Israelite. He was born in Cairo in the year 556/1751. He was a venerable man with a thorough knowledge of medical theory and practice, and an expert on simple and compound drugs. When we both treated the sick at the Nāsirī Hospital in Cairo, I was able to appreciate his competence, which baffles description, as to the diagnosis and therapy of diseases, and his knowledge of what Galen said about them. Among the physicians of his time, he was the foremost expert in the preparation of drugs, knowing the exact quantifies and weights to be employed. When patients affected with various, even rare diseases came to consult him, he dictated on the spot prescriptions for compound drugs — pills, powders and liquids — according to what was needed. The drugs were always well compounded and highly effective.

His teacher of medicine was al-Ra'īs Hibat Allāh ibn Jumai`, the Jew, but he also studied under Abū 'l-Fadā'il ibn al-Nāqid. He was in the service of al-Malik al-`Adil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb. I have come across the following lines about him:

When a disease is difficult to fathom,
Ibn Bayān furnishes its explanation.
If you desire to be healthy.
Receive from him a guarantee of immunity. [p.740]

He lived more than eighty years. Toward the end of his life his eyesight became weak. He wrote the following works:

1) "Antidotarium," in 12 chapters; he chose the subject matter well and arranged it excellently, restricting himself to the compound drugs generally available in the hospitals and pharmacies of Egypt, Syria and Iraq. I read it under his supervision and corrected my copy with his help.

2) "Notes on Galen's Book of Causes and Symptoms."


Jamāl al-Dīn ibn Abī- 'l-Hawāfir. This was the chief and master Abū `Amr `Utmān ibn Hibat Allāh ibn Ahmad ibn `Aqil al-Qaisī, known as ibn Abi-al-Hawāfir, the most celebrated of physicians, the lord of savants, peerless in his time. He mastered the medical art, distinguishing himself in both its theory and practice, and also engaged in the study of literature, in which he took a keen interest. He composed a great number of poems, strictly adhering to the rules of prosody and using admirable metaphors. He was — may Allāh have mercy upon him — a most virtuous man of good Arab stock, who gained fame by his achievements and excellent character. He bestowed favors and lavished gifts upon high and low.

He was born and bred in Damascus, studied medicine under the Imām Muhadhdhab al-Dīn ibn al-Naqqāsh and Shaikh Radī al-Dīn al-Rahbī and served as a physician to al-Malik al-`Azīm `Utmān, the son of al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn, with whom he stayed in Egypt. Appointed chief of physicians by al-Malik al-`Azīz, he remained in his service and enjoyed his favors and numerous gifts until al-Malik al-`Azīz died — may Allāh have mercy upon him. He died in Cairo on the night of Sunday, the 20th of Muharram of the year 595/1198. Ibn Abī 'l-Hawāfir continued to reside in Egypt, entering the service of al-Malik al-Kāmil Muhammad ibn Abī Bakr ibn Ayyūb, with whom he abided for several years. He died in Cairo.  [p.741]

A friend of mine told me as follows: "One day, when Ibn Abī 'l-Hawāfir was riding out, he saw, in a certain part of the town, a vendor of boiled chick-peas sitting on a stone bench, while a Jewish eye-doctor was standing in front of him, holding in his hand the kohl container and the style for the collyrium and treating the eyes of this vendor. On seeing the doctor in that position, ibn Abī l-Hawāfir directed his mule toward him, hit him on the head with his whip and swore at him; then, while the eye-doctor walked along with him, he said: 'Even though you are low yourself, the profession has its honor. You should have sat down by his side, while treating his eyes, rather than stand before a simple vendor of chick-peas.' The other promised not to do it again and went away."

I say: Shaikh Jamāl al-Dīn ibn Abi 'l-Hawāfir had a number of disciples who distinguished themselves in the medical art. The most talented of these and the one who acquired the broadest knowledge was my learned paternal uncle, Rashīd al-Dīn `Alī ibn Khalīfa, may Allāh have mercy upon him.


Fath al-Dīn, the son of Jamāl al-Dīn ibn Abi 'l-Hawāfir was as clever, talented and learned as his father Jamāl al-Dīn. He was upright, accurate in his predictions, peerless in his knowledge of diseases and the determination of causes and symptoms, an excellent therapeutist, delicate in human relations, ambitious, virtuous, pure of speech and most charitable. He served as physician to al-Malik al-Kāmil Muhammad ibn Abī Bakr ibn Ayyub and, after the latter's death, to his son, al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn Ayyub. He died in Cairo during the reign of al-Malik al-Sālih.


S`ihāb al-Dīn ibn Fath al-Dīn was the dean of savants and chief of physicians, the foremost scholar of his time, who combined all laudable qualities and surpassed both the ancients and the moderns. He mastered the medical art both in theory and practice, defined its details and general rules, and was the most competent person of [p.742] his time in the preservation of health and treatment of disease. He followed the example of his fathers and outstripped his contemporaries by his soaring ambition and pride.

He inherited those noble qualities from his father and grandfather.
Just as the new spearhead is fitted onto the old shaft.

He lived in Egypt and was physician to al-Malik al-Zāhir Rukn al-Dīn Baibars al-Maliki al-Sālihi, ruler over Egypt and Syria.


Al-Qādī Nafīs al-Dīn Ibn al-Zubair, i.e., the learned Qadī Nafīs al-Dīn Abū 'l-Qāsim Hibat Allāh ibn Sadāqa ibn `Abd Allāh al-Kūlāmī, Kūlam being a place in India. On his mother's side, he descended from the celebrated poet ibn al-Zubair, who lived in Egypt and was the author of the following lines:

O camping-place, where, do you think, did the beloved ones go?
Did they after last meeting with us, turn to Najd or to Tihama?

Qādī Nafīs al-Dīn was born in 555/1160 or 556/1161. He studied medicine at first under ibn Shū`a and later under al-Shaikh al-Sadīd and became a skilled general practitioner; he also mastered ophthalmology and surgery, becoming known especially as an eye-doctor. Al-Malik al-Kāmil, the son of al-Malik al-`Adil, appointed him chief of the Egyptian physicians. He practiced ophthalmology at al-Nasirī Hospital, which was part of the palace of the Egyptian caliphs.

Qādī Nafīs al-Dīn ibn al-Zubair died in Cairo in the year 636/1238. His sons live in Cairo as renowned oculists, masters of both the theory and practice of their art.


Afdal al-Dīn al-Khūnjī, i.e., the learned imām, perfect leader, lord of scholars and savants, the greatest authority of his age, Afdal al-Dīn Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Nāmāwār al-Khūnjī. He was a keen student and acquired extensive knowledge of the sciences and religious disciplines. I met him in Cairo in the year 632/1234 and [p.743] found him to be a person who had attained maximum proficiency in all sciences. I studied under him some of the general passages of Ibn Sīnā's Qānun. Sometimes he was distrait because his mind and thoughts were constantly occupied with sciences. At the end of his career, he became Chief Qādī of Cairo and its suburbs. He died — may Allāh have mercy upon him — in Cairo on Wednesday, the 5th of Ramadan of the year 646/1268, and was buried in the al-Karafa Cemetery.

Shaikh `Izz al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Ganawī al-Darīr al-Irbilī eulogized him in the following poem:

The finest man in the world has with no one to take his place;
With the death of al-Khunjī excellence has faded away.
You were the great authority who came at last
And solved for us problems left by the ancients;
Who discovered things hidden
Through which questions became clear to the askers;
Who cleared the way to obstructing difficult issues,
Which, but for him, even the most daring would not have presumed to tackle.
If the seas were compared with the knowledge of this great savant,
His knowledge would appear like an ocean, and the seas like brooks.
Would that the arrows of fate had missed their mark
And inflicted these mortal wounds on another:
Did the bearer of his bier realize whom he was carrying?
Even his foes and victims loved him.
He died unique in his time and among his people,
A sea of knowledge that never had a shore.
Though they removed him from our sight, hiding him in the ground.
His knowledge is not concealed and his fame not extinct;
If the sun of nobility has dimmed with his passing,   [p.744]
His learning will not cease to serve the seekers of knowledge.
I did not know that the sun might set underground.
And that the moon might take up a station on earth,
Until I saw him descend to his grave;
Then I knew that the moon might be found in a tomb.

Afdal al-Dīn al-Khunjī wrote the following works:

1) A commentary on what al-Ra'īs ibn Sīnā said about the pulse.

2) A treatise on general and particular definitions.

3) "K. al-Jamal," on the science of logic.

4) "The Revelation of the Secrets," on logic.

5) A compendium of logic.

6) The paroxysms of fevers.


Abū Sulaymān Dā'ud ibn Abī 'l-Munā ibn Abī Fanā was a Christian physician in Egypt in the days of the Caliphs, with whom he stood in high favor. He excelled in medical theory and practice and distinguished himself in the sciences. He was a native of Jerusalem, but settled in Egypt. He possessed an extensive knowledge of astrology.

The savant Rashīd al-Dīn Abū Hulaiqa ibn al-Fāris [Al-Fāris being the son of the said Abu Sulaymān] told me that he had heard the following story about his grandfather, Abū Sulaymān Dā'ud, from the mouth of the Emir Majd al-Dīn, brother of the jurist `Isā, when Majd al-Dīn was talking to the Sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil in Shirmasāh during a visit he paid him after the death of al-Malik al `Ādil, when the Crusaders were besieging the fortress of Damietta.

The savant Abu Sulaymān lived in the days of the caliphs. He had five sons. When King Marī arrived in Egypt, he was much impressed by Abū Sulaymān's medical skill and asked the Caliph to give the doctor to him. So the Caliph transferred Abū Sulaymān and his five sons to Jerusalem. King Marī had a leprous son, for whom Abu Sulaymān prepared the theriac known as al-Farūq.  [p.745]

Subsequently Abū Sulaymān adopted a monastic way of life and left his eldest son, the savant al-Muhadhdhab Abū Sa`īd, in charge of his house and his other sons.

One day, the said King of the Crusaders arrested the jurist `Isā in Jerusalem. `Isā fell ill during his imprisonent and the King sent Abū Sulaymān to attend him. Abū Sulaymān found his patient in a cistern, fettered with iron chains. He returned to the King and said: "That man is used to a life of ease. Even if you gave him the elixir of life, he would not profit by it in his present condition." Said the King: "What am I to do with Him?" Abū Sulaymān replied: "The King should take him out of the cistern, remove his fetters and honor him; he needs no other treatment." Replied the King: "I fear that he might flee, and the taxes due from him amount to a large sum." Said Abū Sulaymān: "Give him into my custody, and I shall assume responsibility for him." The King answered: "Take him, and when his taxes arrive, you will receive a thousand dinars out of them." Abū Sulaymān went away, took `Isā from the cistern, removed his chains and assigned to him a place in his house. `Isā lived there for six months, during which time Abū Sulaymān tended him with the utmost care. When the taxes arrived, the King ordered the savant Abū Sa`īd (Abū Sulaymān's eldest son) to fetch `Isā, who appeared in the company of Abū Sulaymān. The taxes were in some bags in front of the king, who gave one of the bags to Abū Sulaymān, as he had promised. Taking the money, Abū Sulaymān asked: "O my lord, these thousand dinars — may I dispose of them as owners do with their property?" On receiving an affirmative reply, Abū Sulaymān gave the money to `Isā there and then, and said to him: "I understand that these taxes have been collected without leaving you anything: you may have even had to take a loan in order to pay them. So take from me these thousand dinars for your traveling expenses." `Isā accepted the money and betook himself to al-Malik al-Nāsir.

It happened that the said savant, Abū Sulaymān Dā'ud, read in the stars that al-Malik al-Nāsir would conquer Jerusalem on a [p.746] certain day of a certain month of a certain year and that he would enter the city through the al-Rahma Gate. One of Abū Sulaymān's five sons, namely al-Fāris Abū 'l-Khair, had been brought up with the King of Jerusalem's leprous son, who had taught him horsemanship, and when that prince was crowned king, al-Fāris entered his service as a knight. Unlike his four brothers, who were physicians, he became a soldier. Abū Sulaymān told this son of his to travel to al-Malik al-Nāsir as his messenger, and convey to him the good news that he would conquer Jerusalem at such-and-such a time. In compliance with this order, al-Fāris set out on his way to al-Malik al-Nāsir. He reached him in Gaza in the year 580/1184, at a time that people were paying him homage. So he went to the aforementioned jurist, who rejoiced to see him. In his company he visited al-Malik al-Nāsir and gave him his father's message. The Sultan, very pleased, bestowed upon him a splendid reward and gave him a yellow flag and an arrow of the same color, saying: "When Allāh enables me to do what you said, put this yellow flag and arrow upon your house, and the whole of the quarter in which you live will be spared, being protected by your house."

When the time came, it all happened as the said savant had predicted. `Isā, the jurist, entered al-Fāris' house in order to protect it, and in the whole of Jerusalem it was the only house, whose inhabitants were spared imprisonment, death and the levy of contributions. Al-Malik al-Nāsir doubled the income which Abū Sulaymān's sons had been receiving from the Europeans and sent out a decree to all his mainland and island possessions, exempting Abū Sulaymān's family from all the dues imposed upon the Christians. They have been exempt from them to this day.

Abū Sulaymān died after the following occurrence: al-Malik al-Nāsir called him to his presence, stood up before him and said: "You are a divinely blessed old man. You sent me good tidings, and everything you predicted came true. So beg something from me.  [p.747] Abū Sulaymān replied: "I beg that you may protect my children." Al-Malik al-Nāsir did so and later entrusted them to al-Malik al-`Adil, enjoining him to treat them hospitably and see to it that they were in his retinue and that of his sons. And so it was.

The conquest of Jerusalem by Sultan al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb took place on the 27th of Rajab in the year 583/1187.


Abū Sa`īd, the son of Abū Sulaymān. The savant Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Abū Sa`īd ibn Abī Sulaymān ibn Abī 'l-Munā ibn Abī Fanā studied medicine under his father and others and became well-versed in its theory and outstanding in its practice. He also held a high position in the state. Sultan al-Malik al-`Adil assigned him to the service of his son, al-Malik al-Mu`azzam, honored him greatly and ordered that, despite his perfect health, he should always be mounted when entering one of his four fortresses, namely al-Kirk, Ja`bar, al-Rūhā and Damascus, and so he did.

Abū Sa`īd ibn Abī Sulaymān served as physician to al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn and to al-Malik al-`Ādil. He moved to Egypt and remained there until his death, which occurred in the year 613/1216 and was buried in Dair al-Khadaq near Cairo.

Abū Shākir, the son of Abū Sulaymān. The savant Muwaffaq al-Dīn Abū Shākir ibn Abī Sulaymān Dā'ud mastered medical theory and practice and was a good therapeutist. He enjoyed great prestige with the ruling dynasty. After studying medicine under his brother Abū Sa`īd, he became himself a renowned physician. Sultan al-Malik al-`Adil assigned him to the service of his son, al-Malik al-Kāmil, where he remained, enjoying the latter's favor and high esteem, he amassed a fortune under his reign. Not only did he receive some country estates and other landed property from as fiefs, but the sovereign constantly showered lavish gifts on him. [p.748] Al-Malik al-`Adil, too, relied upon Abū Shākir for medical treatment, declaring him to be a fine therapeutist. Like his brother, Abū Shākir entered all the royal fortresses — al-Kirk, Ja`bar, al-Rūhā, Damascus and Cairo — mounted, despite his perfect health. How much he was honored is shown by the following occurrence when al-Malik al-Kāmil had taken up residence in the Cairo palace and lodged Abū Shākir in the same building while al-Malik al-`Adil resided in the mansion of the vizierate. One day, al-Malik al-Kāmil rode out on a mule on a relay and went as far as Bain al-Qasrain. There he changed mounts, sent the mule he had been riding to the quarters of Abū Shākir at the palace with instructions to mount it and leave the palace. He himself waited in Bain al-Qasrain until Abū Shākir joined him. Then he took him by the hand and proceeded with him to the mansion of the vizierate, talking all the while; and all the emirs walked in front of al-Malik al-Kāmil.

Al-`Adūd ibn Munqid composed the following lines on Abū Shākir:

That savant, Abū Shākir, has many who love and praise him.
With his splendid knowledge, he is Hippocrates' vicar in our time.

Abū Shākir ibn Abī Sulaymān died in the year 613/1216 and was buried in Dair al-Khandaq near Cairo.


Abū Nasr, the son of Abū Sulaymān, was a physician well-versed in the medical science and a good therapeutist. He died in al-Kirk.


Abū 'l-Fadl, the son of Abū Sulaymān, was a physician endowed with a remarkable knowledge of the medical art and highly proficient in clinical and medicinal treatment. He was the youngest of Abū Sulaymān's sons and attained a greater age than any of his brothers. He was born in 500/1164 and died in 644/1265, at the age of 84, He was court physician to al-Malik al-Mu`azzam while living in al-Kirk. Later he served al-Malik al-Kāmil in Egypt, where he died.  [p.749]


Rashīd al -Dīn Abū Hulaiqa, i.e., the venerable savant and scholar Rashīd al-Dīn Abū 'l-Wahsh ibn al-Fāris 'l-Khair ibn Abī Sulaymān Dā'ud ibn Abi 'l-Munā ibn Abī Fanā, known as Abū Hulaiqa. He was unequaled in his time in the medical art and the philosophical disciplines, familiar with sciences and letters, a good therapeutist, skillful in the application of medicines, gentle with the sick, anxious to do good, observant of the faith to which he adhered and eager to fulfill his religious duties. I met him several times and found him a person of such therapeutic skill, amiable behavior and perfect character as is beyond description. He studied medicine at first in Damascus, under his paternal uncle, Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Abū Sa`īd, and later in Egypt. He also studied with my teacher Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī, may Allāh have mercy upon him, and tirelessly strove to perfect himself in the sciences.

Born in the fortress of Ja`bar in the year 591/1194, he spent seven or eight years of his boyhood at al-Ruhā. His father had him wear the clothes of a soldier like himself. In al-Ruhā, he lived in a house called the house of ibn al-Za`farānī, near the Sha` Gate, adjacent to the residence of the Sultan. Once, when al-Malik al-Kāmil had entered the bath in that house, Rashīd al-Dīn's father, al-Fāris, gave the boy some fruit and rose-water and ordered him to take them to the Sultan. Rashīd al-Dīn did as told — when the Sultan came out of the bath, he delivered the gifts. The Sultan took them and went to the treasure-house, where he emptied the plates of the fruit and filled them with pieces of precious fabric, which he sent by his servant to Rashīd al-Dīn's father. He then took the boy — who was at that time about eight years old — by the hand and went with him to al-Malik al-`Adil. The latter, looking at the boy whom he had never seen before, noticed the resemblance and asked al-Malik al-Kāmil: "O Muhammad, is this the son of al-Fāris?" On receiving [p.750] an affirmative reply he said: "Give him to me." Al-Malik al-Kāmil lifted up the boy and placed him in front of his father, who took his hand and talked to him a long time. Then, turning to the boy's father, who was among those in attendance, he said: "This son of yours is a clever boy. Do not teach him the military craft. Soldiers we have many, but yours is an exceptionally gifted family, and I have derived much benefit from your medical skill. Send him to Damascus, to the savant Abū Sa`īd, that he may teach him medicine." Al-Fāris obeyed the order, fitted him out and sent him to Damascus, where the boy stayed a whole year, during which time he learnt Hippocrates' "Aphorisms" and "Prognostics." ["Tāqaddāmāt al-Ma`arifa"] by heart. In the year 599/1202 he went to Cairo and stayed there, serving as physician to al-Malik al-Kāmil, who held him in high esteem, honored him greatly and bestowed many favors and gifts upon him. He had a fief in Egypt, which had originally been given to his paternal uncle, Muwaffaq al-Dīn Abū Shākir: when the latter died, al-Malik al-Kāmil transferred it to Rashīd al-Dīn. It consisted of half of a locality named al-`Azīzīya or al-Kharba, in one of the Eastern provinces.

Rashīd al-Dīn continued in the service of al-Malik al-Kāmil, until the latter died, may Allāh have mercy upon him. Thereafter he served al-Malik al-Kāmil's son, al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb, until that ruler died, may Allāh have mercy upon him. Later he served al-Malik al-Sālih's son, al-Malik al-Mu`azzam Tūrānshāh, and when the latter was killed — may Allāh have mercy upon him —on Monday, the 27th of Muharram of the year 648/1250, and the Turkish dynasty rose to power, conquering lands and subduing kingdoms, he entered its service and was granted the same privileges as he had enjoyed before. The last ruler of that dynasty whom he served was al-Malik al-Zāhir Rukn al-Dīn Baibars al-Malik al-Sālihī, under whom he retained the same position and privileges as before. [p.751]

There are some interesting reports about Rashīd al-Dīn Abū Hulaiqa's medical activities and many stories showing him as different from other physicians. Here is one such story: A woman of the royal household in al-`Abbāsa once fell ill. Now the sovereign would have no one but Rashīd al-Dīn attend him and his beloved womenfolk and children. So Rashīd al-Dīn undertook to cure the sick woman, by himself. After treating her for a few days, some urgent business forced him to leave her and go to Cairo, where he stayed for eighteen days. On his return to al-`Abbāsa, he found that the other court physicians were attending the patient, and when he jointed them, they said: "This woman is going to die. We should inform the Sultan of her condition lest he be shocked by her sudden death." Said he: "In my opinion, she is not mortally ill. With the help of Allāh she will recover." One of the physicians — the most senior of them — retorted to the young Rashīd al-Dīn: "I am older than you, and have treated more patients. So agree that we send a message to the Sultan." But Rashīd al - Dīn refused, and when some of the physicians insisted that the Sultan be informed, he said: "If you think you must send that message, do it in your own name and leave me out of it." So the physicians wrote to the Sultan, announcing the woman's impending death. Thereupon the Sultan sent a messenger over with a carpenter, who was to made a coffin for her. When the messenger came to the door, accompanied by the carpenter, Rashīd al-Dīn asked him, while the other physicians were sitting about: "What is that carpenter doing here? "The messenger answered: "He is to make a coffin for your patient." Said Rashīd al-Dīn: "Will you put her in while she is still alive?" "No," said the messenger, "only when she is dead." Said Rashīd al-Dīn: "Go back with that carpenter and tell the Sultan in my name that the woman will not die of her present illness." The messenger returned to the Sultan and delivered the message. When night came, the Sultan summoned [p.752] Rashīd al-Dīn via a servant carrying a candle and a slip of paper, on which he had written in his own handwriting: "The son of al-Fāris is to appear before me." He used that name, because Rashīd al-Dīn was not yet called Abū Hulaiqa, which name was given him later by Sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil. It came about in this way: One day he was sitting at the door with the other physicians, when the Sultan ordered his servant to fetch the doctor. The servant asked which one he meant and he said: "Abū Hulaiqa." From that day on both Rashīd al-Dīn and his paternal uncle were known among the people by that name, until this epithet eventually became forgotten.

When Rashīd al-Dīn appeared before the Sultan, the latter asked him: "Was it you that forestalled the making of the coffin?" "Yes." "Why did you arrive at a different conclusion from all the other physicians?" — "Because I know exactly what her temper is like in time of illness, and they do not. There is nothing to fear for her from this disease." — "Go and treat her, and take good care of her." — So Rashīd al-Dīn treated her and she recovered. The Sultan then married her off, and she subsequently gave birth to a large number of children.

One of Rashīd al-Dīn's accomplishments was that he knew the beat of al-Malik al-Kāmil's pulse. One day, the Sultan hid behind a screen with the sick women who were to be treated. Rashīd al-Dīn felt their pulse and prescribed a medicine for each of them. When the Sultan's turn came, he recognized him by his pulse and said: "This is the pulse of my lord, the Sultan. Thank God, it is all right." The Sultan was greatly amazed, and his esteem for Rashīd al-Dīn rose still further.

Another incident involving him and the Sultan was as follows: The Sultan once ordered him to prepare a quantity of the theriac known as al-Fārūq, and he busied himself with this task a long time, working even at night, until he had determined all the ingredients in accordance with the instructions given by the masters of the [p.753] medical science, Hippocrates and Galen. Meanwhile, the Sultan became affected with a catarrh of the teeth, for which he was bled while at Birkat al-Fīl for recreation. Afterwards he went to the citadel, where the physician al-As`ad ibn Abi 'l-Hasan undertook his treatment, since Rashīd al-Dīn was busy preparing the theriac. Al-As`ad treated the Sultan for a while, but his condition became steadily worse. When he complained to al-As`ad about it, the latter said: "I have no choice but to bleed you." Said the Sultan: "Am I to be bled again only three days after the last time? Call Abū Hulaiqa!" When the latter presented himself, the Sultan complained to him about his condition and told him that al-As`ad had advised bloodletting. He asked Rashīd al-Dīn whether he should undergo this or take medicine. Said Rashīd al-Dīn: "O my lord, your body is pure, thank God, and your condition is not very serious." Said the Sultan: "How can you say 'not serious,' when I am wracked with pain? I neither sleep at night nor have peace by day." Said Rashīd al-Dīn: "My lord should rub his teeth with the theriac which his servant has brought in a little silver vessel and with God's help, he will see a miracle." Then Rashīd al-Dīn went away. He had hardly left when a message written by the Sultan himself reached him, reading as follows: "O physician, I did as you told me and all my pain vanished immediately." Rashīd al-Dīn received the message in the presence of al-As`ad, the physician who had treated the Sultan first. Al-As`ad said to him: "By Allāh, I am not good enough to treat kings. Only you are fit." Al-Malik al-Kāmil then went to his treasure house and sent Rashīd al-Dīn some precious robes of honor and a good quantity of gold.

Here is another story about Rashīd al-Dīn. After spending a long time preparing the theriac al-Farūq — as it was difficult to obtain the proper ingredients from distant countries — he prepared a less complicated theriac. The components of which are to be found [p.754] everywhere. In preparing it, his intention was not to ingratiate himself with the sovereign or to gain money or worldly fame, but to find favor with God by aiding all His creatures and showing mercy to all. So he freely dispensed it to the sick, bringing relief to the paralyzed and straightening crooked hands on the spot: it produced additional natural warmth in the sinews, strengthened them and dissolved the phlegm contained in them. The patients at once felt relief, and colic pains subsided immediately after evacuation.

Once, he passed by the keeper of the gate situated between the two walls of Cairo, a man named Alī, who was lying on his back unable to turn over from one side to the other. This man bewailed his condition to Rashid al-Dīn, who gave him a dose of the theriac and then ascended to the citadel to tend the sick. When he returned at three o'clock, the palsy-stricken man stood up, ran after him and blessed him. When he told him to sit down, the man said: 'I am tired of sitting. Let me enjoy myself!"

Yet another story: Al-Malik al-Kāmil had a muezzin named Amīn al-Dīn Ja`far, who was suffering from a stone which blocked the discharge of urine. The resulting pains were so violent that he thought he was dying. He sent a note to al-Malik al-Kāmil, informing him of his condition and asking permission to go home to be cured. When he got home, he had all the outstanding physicians of the age come to him. Each of them prescribed a medicine, which however, was of no avail. He then sent for Abū Hulaiqa. The latter gave him a dose of his theriac, which, as soon as it reached the stomach, exerted its power upon the stone and broke it up so that it came out with the urine, stained with the color of the medicament. The patient recovered immediately, returned to his post and called for the midday prayer. That day, the Sultan was encamped near Jīza on the outskirts of Cairo, and when he heard the voice of the muezzin, he sent for him. When Ja`far appeared, the Sultan said: "Why did [p.755] you send me a message yesterday saying that you were going to die? What is the matter with you?" Said the muezzin: "It would have been so but for my lord's servant, the physician Abū Hulaiqa, who gave me a theriac which cured me immediately. On the same day, a man crouched down to urinate when a viper bit his penis, killing him. On hearing of the incident, the Sultan pitied the man, for he was very compassionate to the people. He went to the Cairo citadel, stayed there overnight and got up early in the morning. Meanwhile Rashīd al-Dīn who had come to report for duty, was sitting in a circle of people near the palace gate, since the Sultan was away. He waited until the Sultan called out to him. "What is that theriac," asked the Sultan, "which you have prepared and which has become so famous among the people for its wonderful effect. You have never told me about it." Rashīd al-Dīn replied: "O my lord, your servant does nothing except for my lord. The reason for your servant's failing to inform my lord about it was your servant's desire to try it out; for it was he who invented it, and he wished to be sure that it was effective before bringing it to my lord's notice. Since my lord is already aware of its effectiveness, the purpose has been achieved.'' Said the Sultan: Fetch me as much as you have at your disposal. He left a servant sitting at the gate who was to wait for Rashīd al-Dīn's return, while he himself went back to his house, as if he had not gone up to the citadel that night, but had started out at that hour, only for this purpose. On returning home, Rashīd al-Dīn found only a small quantity of theriac, for the people, anxious to acquire it, had almost exhausted the stock. So he went to those of his colleagues to whom he had given some, and from them collected a quantity of eleven dirhams. Promising his colleagues that he would give them in return the theriac many times over, he put it in a small silver vessel, on which he wrote the indications and dosages, and took it to the waiting servant. The latter delivered it to the Sultan, [p.756] who always kept it with him; and whenever his teeth ached, he rubbed them with the theriac and felt instant relief, as mentioned before.

Another story about him and the Sultan: One of the Sultan's women was suffering from a disease which the physicians were unable to cure. She sent a message to Rashīd al-Dīn, saying: "I am sure that if the Sultan knew a better physician in Egypt, than you, he would not entrust himself and his children to your care, to the exclusion of all other physicians. It is not for lack of knowledge of your merits that you have not been called to cure me, but because little importance is attached to my person. The proof of your excellence is that when you are taken ill you cure yourself within a few days; likewise, when one of your children ails, you make him well within a day or two. The same is true of the other women here; you treat all of them, and your cure is always effective after a short time." Rashīd al-Dīn replied: "Not all diseases respond to treatment; if they did, no one would die." But she dismissed this objection, saying: "I realize that there is no physician in Egypt who can cure me. So I am going to advise the Sultan to call in some physicians from Damascus for me." The Sultan engaged two Christian physicians. When they arrived from Damascus, the Sultan was about to leave for Damiette. Asked which of the physicians were to accompany him and which were to stay behind, he said: "All the physicians will stay with that woman and attend her; only Rashīd al-Dīn will go with me." Since all these physicians had done their best to cure the woman and had not succeeded, the Sultan's decision was a convenient excuse for Rashīd al-Dīn. He quoted what Hippocrates had said in his "Prognostics."

So Rashīd al-Dīn accompanied the Sultan on his journey, and one month passed without his services being required. Then, in Damiette, the Sultan sent for him one night, and when he arrived [p.757] he found his patient feverish, displaying various inconsistent symptoms. He prepared a potion adapted to the different symptoms, took it to him at dawn, and before the sun had set, all his complaints had vanished. This made a very deep impression upon the Sultan, and he continued to take that potion until he arrived in Alexandria.

Once, on the first day of the fast of Ramadan, in Alexandria, Rashīd al-Dīn fell sick. The physicians on duty came to consult him about what to give the Sultan for his fastbreaking meal, and he said: "There is a potion which he has tried out and which he praises and always asks for. As long as he does not complain about anything new, which would preclude the use of that potion, give it to him, but if you observe any new symptom, apply whatever the circumstances require." The.physicians disregarded his advice, determined to change the Sultan's diet on their own initiative. When they had done so, the Sultan's temper became disturbed. He called the physicians and asked for Rashīd al-Dīn's formula, and then questioned them about it. The formula included seeds of wild chicory, which the physicians had left out. The Sultan said: "Why did you omit those seeds, which strengthen the liver, clean the blood vessels and prevent thirst?" One of the physicians replied: "By Allāh, your servants are not to be blamed for their omission. Al-As`ad ibn Abī 'l-Hasan reported a queer tradition implying that the seeds of wild chicory harm the spleen — I myself know nothing about it -and claimed that our lord was suffering from splenitis, and your servants acted according to his advice." Said the Sultan: "By Allāh, he is a liar. I have no pain in my spleen." He gave orders to restore the wild chicory seeds and then questioned the physicians about the usefulness of each of the other ingredients that they had left out. They were made to restore them, and the Sultan resumed bis habit of taking the potion, finding it always beneficial and praiseworthy.  [p.758]

Another story about Rashīd al-Dīn. One day, the Sultan asked him to prepare for him a sauce to be eaten with yakhnf [a kind of ragout] on journeys. The Sultan suggested that it strengthens the stomach, stimulates appetite and softens the stools. Rashīd al-Dīn thereupon prepared a sauce according to the following recipe: Take one part of parsley and half a part of both Ocumum basilicum and the pith of a juicy citron which has been steeped for some days in salt water and thereafter in fresh water, pound each of them separately in a stone mortar until it becomes like an ointment, mix the whole in the mortar, squeeze out some selected green lemons over it and pour as much salt on it as is necessary for seasoning. Then fill it into small pots, each holding the amount to be served at one time (fill the container quite full, for otherwise the contents will get musty): smear the containers with good olive oil and store them away. When the Sultan partook of the sauce, it pro-duced the desired effect and he praised it greatly.

On leaving for the country of the Byzantines, the Sultan asked Rashīd al-Dīn: "Will this sauce keep for a long time?" "No," said Rashid al-Dīn. Said the Sultan: "Will it not keep one month?" "Yes, said Rashīd al-Dīn, "if it is prepared in the way I indicated." Said the Sultan: "Prepare as much of it every month, as will suffice me during that month and send it to me at the new moon." Rashīd al-Dīn complied with this request. The Sultan never failed to use it when traveling and praised it loudly.

Here is an anecdote about Rāshid al-Dīn. A countrywoman came to him with her son, a sickly, emaciated youth. Describing her son's condition, she said that although she had labored hard to cure him he, was getting steadily weaker and leaner. She had come to Rashīd al-Dīn in the morning, before he rode out, and the air was cool. He looked at the youth, inspected him closely, felt his pulse and, while doing so, called out to his servant: "Bring me my gown [farajīyya]; [p.759] I want to put it on." When he spoke these words, the pulse of the youth quickened, and his color also changed. So the physician guessed that he was in love. When he felt his pulse a little later, it had calmed down. But when the servant appeared and said: "Here is the gown," he felt the pulse of the youth once more and noticed that is had quickened again. Then he said to the youth's mother: "Your son is in love, and the one he loves is called Farajīyya." The mother replied: "Yes, indeed, O my lord, he is in love with a girl by that name, and I am sick of reproaching him on her account." She was greatly astonished that he had found out the girl's name without any previous knowledge of the matter.

The author says: A similar incident is reported to Galen with regard to a woman in love. He was once called to a lady of high standing who had been ill for a long time. Surmising that she was in love, he paid frequent visits to her. One day troops on horseback were carrying out exercises on the drilling ground. Galen was feeling the pulse of the patient when one of those present reported on that event, noting that a certain soldier particularly distinguished himself by good horsemanship and excellent drill. When the woman heard that soldier's name, her pulse quickened, whereas when the physician felt it a little later, he noticed that it had resumed its former rate. Then Galen secretly requested that man to repeat his report, and when he did so and Galen again found that the woman's pulse quickened he became convinced that she was in love with that soldier. This incident points to profound knowledge and great perspicacity.

I say: All the members of Rashīd al-Dīn Abū Hulaiqa's family are best known in Egypt and Syria by the name of Banū Shākir, since the physician Abū Shākir was very famous. Those related to him became known as Banū Shākir even if they were not his sons.

When I met Rashīd al-Dīn Abū Hulaiqa, he had already heard that the famous physicians in his family were mentioned and their [p.760] learning and achievements described by me. He thanked me and was most kind. I thereupon recited to him the following impromptu poem:

How shall I not praise those whose merits
Are known in both East and West?
There shine on their account, in the sky of nobility,
Stars of good luck that never set.
They are men whose rank in learning among the people
You see transcending the high station of the planets.
How many books on medicine they have written, containing
Everything that arouses wonder and admiration.
My praise to the Banū Shākir has not ceased, whether far or near.
I perpetuate their generosity by writing these glowing lines.

As to why a ring was attached to al-Rashīd's ear, from which he received his sobriquet, it was as follows: None of the sons of his father survived but he. When his mother was pregnant with him, his father was advised to prepare a silver ring, the value of which he was to give as alms; and at the very hour the child was born, he was to have a jeweler in attendence who was to pierce the infant's ear and fasten the ring to it. He did so, and Allāh vouchsafed the child to live. His mother enjoined him never to remove the ring, and so it remained. When the boy married, he had several male children. Fearing they might die, as had been the case in his own generation, he remembered the matter of the ring and had one made for his eldest son, Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Abū Sa`īd, whom he named after his paternal uncle.

Here is one of the poems composed by Rashīd al-Dīn Abū Hulaiqa; he recited it to me: [p.761]

The beloved one has agreed to a rendez-vous on a night
When the watcher was negligent and fell asleep
In a meadow which, but for its transience, could have been compared
To the Garden of Eden with all its attributes.
My companion is like the shining moon.
My senses reeled within me.

[Another poem of his is then quoted. ]

Here is yet another of Rashīd al-Dīn's poems:

O my two companions, I find no sleep
Because I am in love; my heart is captured and chained
By love for a girl whose face outshines the full moon,
Especially through its contrast with her black hair.
I am confused by her, who equals the new moon in beauty,
How strange it is that the moon should lead astray instead of guiding!
She has teeth like a string of pearls,
And her speech is like pearls when scattered.

The following lines he composed in Damiette after receiving a letter from his father in Cairo, informing him of the latter's recovery from an illness:

The clouds of grace pour their rain upon me
Since the affliction you suffered from has ceased.
I am enveloped in delight since I have seen your writing.
How can I discharge my duty of thanksgiving?

Rashīd al-Dīn Abū Hulaiqa wrote the following works:

1) A treatise on the preservation of health.

2) A treatise explaining that spiritual enjoyment is more pleasurable than physical enjoyment; since the former is supplementary [to the [p.762] satisfaction of physical needs] while physical enjoyment is merely the result of the absence of pain, and if it exceeds a certain limit, it again causes pain.

3) A book on simple drugs he entitled "A Selection of One Thousand Drugs"; on diseases, their causes and symptoms and their treatment with simple and compound drugs the merits of which have been demonstrated by experience and which, when applied to a curable disease, have always proved effective. He collected his material from medical books written from the time of Adam to our time, arranging it carefully.

4) A treatise on the inevitability of death. The argument advanced in this treatise is that since the human body is continually disintegrating through its inner heat and the heat of the outside air, it is eventually destroyed by these two factors, after mentioning these, he quotes the following lines:

Either of the two is fatal to me,
How much more both of them combined.

These lines could nowhere have had a greater effect than where they appear, for they exactly fit the context and elucidate the intended meaning.


Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Abū Sa`īd Muhammad, a son of Abū Hulaiqa, the peerless scholar and most perfect of savants, was born in Cairo in the year 620/1223. He was named Muhammad when he embraced Islam in the days of al-Malik al-Zāhir Rukn al-Dīn Baibars al-Maliki ai-Sālihi. Endowed by Allāh with the most perfect intellect, exquisite manners, supreme acumen and vast knowledge, he mastered the medical art and acquainted himself with the philosophical sciences. He was incomparable in everything he undertook, and no one else possessed the excellent qualities which were combined in him. He [p.763] was soft-spoken and very generous, doing good for friends and relatives, both close and distant.

In the month of Shawwāl of the year 667/1270, when he was in al-Mansūr al-Zāhiri's camp, I received a letter from him, which revealed his utmost refinement, wide knowledge, penetrating insight, great affection and abundant goodwill. In that letter he informed me that he had found in Cairo, a copy of the book which I had written on the classes of physicians and that he had bought it and incorporated it in his library. He spoke of the book in glowing terms, which shows his generous character and noble disposition. The letter opened with these lines:

I am a man who loves you for your notable achievements,
Of which I have heard, the ear being able to love no less than the eye.

I answered him in writing, with a poem which I composed in the same meter and rhyme:

Your letter has reached me, beautifully written
And filled with thoughts which shine like the sun,
The letter of a man noble, generous and praiseworthy,
With a benign countenance, which radicates light.
He is the lord and master through whom East and West flourish in wisdom,
A savant encompassing all the sciences,
To whom no gate of noble action is closed,
A generous man, accumulating all kinds of accomplishments,
But scattering his money with an open hand.
When his qualities are mentioned at gatherings,
They fill the air as with the odor of musk.
He is first in the race for lofty goals,
And he who aspires to reach him is bound to fail.  [p.764]
When speaking, he outshines all others with his rhetoric.
And even a priest falls silent while he talks.
If Galen had lived in his time,
He would surely have said: this one can be trusted in medicine.
There is no one like him in preserving health
And no one as able as he in observing disease.
If I praise the merits of Muhammad,
Everyone will confirm my words.
But if I tried to enumerate his achievements,
I would fail though I were as eloquent as al-Farazdaq.
No wonder that, with regard to the sons of Hulaiqa,
I am bound by the ties of true friendship.
To their father I am obliged for many favors of long ago.
So my gratitude is due to them for ever —
To them, who all aspire to lofty aims, but especially
To him who said to me, while experiencing a great longing:
"I am a man who loves you for your notable achievements.
Of which I have heard, the ear being able to love as less then the eye."
May they continue to enjoy well-being and never-failing health,
As long as the great and lofty trees put forth leaves.

Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Sa`īd never ceased to study and to behave commandably in both word and deed. He studied medicine under his father, mastering its general and specific aspects and familiarizing himself with both its theory and practice. He served as physician to the Sultan al-Malik al-Zāhir Baibars al-Maliki al-Sālihī, who held him in high esteem and bestowed on him great favors, an honorable position and lavish gifts.

Muhadhdhab al-Dīn had two brothers, one of whom was Muwaffaq al-Dīn Abū 'l-Khair, who distinguished himself in ophthalmology and [p.765] was a man of great scholarship. Before reaching his twentieth year, he wrote a book on eye treatment for al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn. The younger brother, `Alam al-Dīn Abū Nasr was extremely gifted. He ranked among the savants and distinguished himself in medicine. He had wide knowledge and a powerful intellect.

Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Abī Hulaiqa wrote a book on medicine.


Rashīd al-Dīn Abū Sa`īd. The great savant and scholar, Abū Sa`īd ibn Muwaffaq al-Dīn Ya`qub, was a Christian from Jerusalem. He distinguished himself in medicine, being an expert in both its theory and practice. He had a keen intellect, an eloquent tongue and excellent diction. He studied Arabic philology under our teacher Taqī al-Dīn Haz`al ibn `Askar ibn Halīl, who had no rival in his time in the science of grammar. Later, Rashīd al-Dīn Abū Sa`īd studied medicine under my paternal uncle, Rashīd al-Dīn Alī ibn Khalīfa, when the latter was in the service of the Sultan al-Malik al-Mu`azzam.

Among my uncle's disciples, there was none like Abū Sa`īd; for he kept close company with his teacher, never leaving him either at home or on journeys. He stayed in Damascus with him, applying himself assiduously to his studies until he was thoroughly acquainted with all the books which are indispensable for learning the principles of the medical art. He then studied under his guidance a great many books by Galen and others, penetrating their meaning as deeply as is possible. He also studied under our teacher Muhadhdhab al-Dīn 1Abd al-Rahmān Alī. In the year 632/1234 he was appointed to the service of al-Malik al-Kāmil, with a monthly salary, and held this appointment for a time, residing in Cairo. Later he entered the service of al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb, the son of al-Malik al-Kāmil, with whom he stayed for about nine years. [p.766]

While in Damascus, al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn developed a gangrenous sore in the thigh, and the physician Rashīd al-Dīn Abū Hulaiqa began to treat him. After the illness had persisted a long time, the Sultan summoned Abū Sa`īd and complained to him of his condition. There was rivalry and strife between Rashīd alDīn Abū Hulaiqa and Rashīd al-Dīn Abū Sa`īd. When Abū Sa`īd maintained that Abū Hulaiqa's treatment was not the correct one, al-Malik al-Sālih threw an angry look at Abū Hulaiqa. Thereupon the latter stood up, went out and sat down at the gate of the Sultan's residence, while Abū Sa`īd stayed behind, intending to take up the treatment. Abū Sa`īd, in the presence of the Sultan, was stricken with hemiplegia and fell to the ground. The Sultan gave orders to carry him to his house, where he remained in that condition for four days and then died. His death occurred in Damascus in the last decade of the month of Ramadān in the year 646/ 1248.

Al-Malik al-Sālih returned to Egypt, and his illness became aggravated. He remained thus until he died, may Allāh have mercy upon him. He passed away on Monday, the 15th day of Sha`bān in the year 647/1249, after possessing enormous prestige and great power. When death came to him, when the destroyer of pleasures alighted at his house, he vanished as if he had never been. This is how fate deals with man, as I said in a poem:

Beware of fate as much as thou canst,
For it will strike even the noble, though it delay for a while.
Look how Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb who was
The lord of mankind and ruler of kingdoms,
Enjoyed good health until a disease afflicted him
And no device was of any avail.
Prospering in wordly affairs, he thought this would last forever,
When he met his death all of a sudden.  [p.767]
Indeed, he was the star of grandeur [najm al-`ulā - Najm al-Dīn],
But then, as is the way of stars, he set.

Rashīd al-Dīn Abū Sa`īd wrote the following works:

1) "The Essentials of Medicine"; dedicated to al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb, this is an outstanding book on medicine, describing selected curative treatments.

2) "Notes on the Continens of Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zahariyyā al-Rāzī," on medicine.


As`ad al Dīn ibn Abī al-Hasan, the peerless savant and scholar As`ad al-Dīn `Abd al-`Azīz ibn Abi 'l-Hasan Alī, was one of the most distinguished scholars and most notable men of learning. He had a keen intellect and took great interest in the sciences, mastered the art of medicine and acquainted himself with the philosophical disciplines; he was also an authority on religious law. He studied medicine in Egypt under Abū Zakarīyyā Yahyā al-Bayyāsā and served al-Malik al-Mas`ūd Aqsīs, the son of al-Malik al-Kāmil, with whom he stayed in Yemen for a time. He enjoyed high esteem and very gracious treatment on his part, and received a salary fixed by him of one hundred Egyptian dinars per month. He remained in the service of al-Malik al-Mas`ūd until the latter died, may Allāh have mercy upon him. Then al-Malik al-Kāmil bestowed upon him some fiefs in Egypt, the revenues of which he received annually, and ordered him to be included in his retinue.

As`ad al-Dīn was born in Egypt in the year 570/1174. His father was also a physician in Egypt. As`ad al-Dīn studied belles-lettres and poetry, and himself composed fine poems.

I first met him in Damascus at the beginning of the month of Rajab in the year 630/1232. He was a handsome old man with fine [p.768] gray hair, of perfect build, dark-complexioned, soft-spoken and endowed with great virtues. I met him again in Cairo, where he received me kindly and hospitably. He had been a friend of my father's for many years.

As`ad al-Dīn died in Cairo in the year 635/1237. He wrote a book entitled "Witty Sayings of Keen Minds Engaged in the Criticism of Physicians"; it was written for al-Malik al-Kāmil Muhammad ibn Abī Bakr ibn Ayyūb.

Diyā' al-Dīn ibn al-Baitār, i.e., the illustrious savant and scholar Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh ibn Amad al-Māligīs the botanist, known as Ibn al-Baitār, was the greatest authority of his age on plants, their identification, medicinal use, places of occurrence, and taxonomic names. He traveled to the land of the Greeks and the remotest parts of Asia Minor, where he encountered people engaged in botany. From them he derived the knowledge of many plants, which he observed in their natural habitats. In the Maghrib and elsewhere, he likewise came in contact with many outstanding botanists and again had the opportunity of observing and studying new plants. He knew Dioscurides' book so well that almost no one could compete with him in this respect. I found in him such an astonishing degree of knowledge and understanding of plants and of what Dioscurides and Galen had said about them.

I first met him in Damascus in the year 633/1235 and was able to observe his extraordinary sociability, perfect integrity, noble bearing, excellent character and magnanimity. In his company I inspected many plants in their habitats on the outskirts of Damascus. I also studied with him his commentary on the names of drugs occurring in the book of Dioscurides and was able to perceive his vast erudition and profound understanding. For the purpose of my studies with him, I had procured a number of books on simple drugs, such as those of [p.769] Dioscorides, Galen and Ghāfiqī, in addition to other, similarly important works on the subject. In his commentary, Ibn al-Baitār first mentions — according to what he had been able to verify in the country of the Byzantines — the Greek names used by Dioscorides in his book. He then notes briefly what Dioscorides had said regarding the makeup, properties and effects of the drugs, and also what Galen had written about their characterization, "temper," effects, etc. Moreover, he adduces some sayings of later authors, their differences of opinion and instances of error and ambiguity found with some of them in the description of the drugs. Together with Ibn Baitār, I constantly referred to the books I had procured, and found that he did not deviate in any respect from what they contained. Still more astounding, whenever he mentioned any drug, he always indicated in which chapter of the books by Dioscorides and Galen it was to be found, and even under which item it appeared among all the drugs mentioned in that chapter.

Ibn al-Baitār was in the service of al-Malik al-Kāmil Muhammad ibn Abī Bakr ibn Ayyūb, who relied upon him with regard to simple drugs and herbs and appointed him chief of all herbalists and horticulturālists in Egypt. He remained in al-Malik al-Kāmil's service until the latter died in Damascus, may Allāh have mercy upon him.

Then he went to Cairo and entered the service of al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb, the son of al-Malik al-Kāmil. He stood high in his favor and enjoyed great prestige during his reign. Diya' al-Dīn [Ibn al-Baitār], the herbalist died suddenly in Damascus in the month of Sha`bān of the year 646/1248, may Allāh have mercy upon him.

Diyā al-Dīn ibn al-Baitār wrote the following works:

1) "The Book of Elucidation and Information," on the shortcomings and errors contained in the book "al-Minhaj."

2) A commentary on the drugs mentioned in Dioscorides' book.

3) The Comprehensive Treatise," on simple drugs, in which he [p.770] mentions all the simple drugs, their names, classification, properties and beneficial effects, pointing out the well-tried ones and those about which doubts are entertained. There is no better or more important book on this subject. He wrote it for al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb, the son of al-Malik al-Kāmil.

4) "The Sufficient Treatise," on simple drugs; it is arranged according to the treatment of the affected organs.

5) "The Book of Astounding Effects and Amazing Properties."  [p.771]


On the Classes of Famous Syrian Physicians


Abū Nasr al-Farabī.20 Abū Nasr Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Uzalagh ibn Tarkhān was a native of Fārāb, a town in a Turkish district of Khurāsān. His father was an army officer. He was of Persian origin, lived in Baghdād for a time and then moved to Damascus, where he stayed for the rest of his life — may Allāh have mercy upon him. He was an accomplished philosopher and learned imām, who had mastered the philosophical disciplines and excelled in mathematics. He had a pure soul and a keen intellect, abstained from worldly pleasures and contented himself with what provided for his needs, leading the life of an ancient philosopher. He had a strong inclination for medicine and was acquainted with its general aspects, but he did not practice it; neither did he attempt to specialize.

Saif al-Dīn Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Abī al-Āmidī told me that al-Fārābī had at first been a watchman in an orchard in Damascus, but that despite this occupation, he had constantly applied himself to philosophy and to the thoughts of the ancients and the interpretation of their meaning. He was so poor that when staying up at night in order to read and write, he used his watchman's lamp as a light. He remained in this condition for some time. Then his affairs took a rapid turn for the better: his learning became known, his writings won fame, he acquired many pupils and became the greatest authority [p.772] of his age. The Emir Saif al-Dawlah Abū 'l-Hasan Alī ibn `Abd Allāh ibn Hamdān al-Taghlibī invited him to his court, honored him greatly, granted him a prominent position and revered him.

I have copied the following from the hand of one of my teachers: "Abū Nasr al-Fārābī traveled to Egypt in the year 338/949 under the caliphate of al-Radiyy, while staying with Saif al-Dawlah Alī ibn Hamdān. Saif al-Dawlah recited the prayer for him in the presence of fifteen men of his closest entourage.

It is reported that of all the presents offered him by Saif al-Dawlah he accepted only four silver dirhams daily, which he spent on the bare necessities of life. He attached no importance to elegant appearance, a grand residence or the acquisition of property.

It is affirmed that he subsisted exclusively on the cardiac fluid of young lambs and seasoned wine. There is a report that at the beginning of his career he was a judge, but that when he became aware of the existence of scientific knowledge, he renounced his occupation and devoted himself wholeheartedly to science. He felt no inclination for any worldly pursuit. It is said that he would leave his house at night, and go to the watchmen to read by the light of their lamps. In music he reached an unsurpassable standard in both theoretical knowledge and practical skill. It is reported that he devised a marvelous instrument with which he produced wonderful soul-stirring melodies.

According to one report, he was induced to study philosophy by the fact that a man deposited with him some of Aristotle's works, which, upon inspection, he found to his liking, so that he felt impelled to study them. He did not desist until he understood them thoroughly and became a full-fledged philosopher.

From a work of Abū Nasr al-Fārābī, I have copied the following statement on the meaning of the word "philosophy": "Philosophy" is a [p.773] Greek word which has entered Arabic. Its Greek form is "philosophia," and it means "love of wisdom," being composed of "philo" and "sophia"; the first word means "love" and the second "wisdom," "Philosopher" comes from "philosophy"; in Greek it is "philosophos" — many derivatives are formed in that language in this way — and it means "lover of wisdom." According to the conception of the Greeks, a "lover of wisdom" is one who makes wisdom the purpose of his life.

Concerning the spread of philosophy, Abū Nasr al-Fārābī made the following statement: "In the days of the Greek kings and after the death of Aristotle, philosophy spread in Alexandria until the last days of the 'woman' [Cleopatra]. When Aristotle died, the teaching of philosophy made no progress in Alexandria until the time of the thirteen kings, under whose reign twelve teachers of philosophy arose in succession; one of them was Andronicus. The last of these kings was the 'woman.' Augustus, the king of the Romans, vanquished and killed her and usurped her kingdom. When his rule had become firmly established, he inspected the libraries and supervised the output of books and found that they housed copies of the works of Aristotle, which had been written in the days of the author and at the time of Theophrastus. He also found that the teachers and philosophers had written books on the same subjects as Aristotle. He gave orders to copy those works which had been copied in the days of Aristotle and his disciples and to make them the basis of teaching while discarding the others. Placing Andronicus in charge of that scheme, he ordered him to make copies which he would take to Rome with him and others which he would leave at the Academy of Alexandria. He also ordered him to appoint a successor, who would take up teaching in Alexandria in his stead, and to come with him to Rome. From then on, philosophy was taught in two places. This state of affairs continued until the rise of Christianity, when the [p.774] teaching of philosophy was discontinued in Rome, whereas it continued in Alexandria until the king of the Christians raised the matter for discussion. The bishops assembled and considered what to maintain of that teaching and what to abolish. The arrived at the conclusion that everything should be taught from the books of logic to the last book of physics while everything coming after that should not be taught since they regarded it as a danger to Christianity, whereas what they permitted to be taught they regarded as a means to fortify their faith. From then on, all that could be taught openly of philosophy was the aforesaid while the remainder had to be studied clandestinely, until the rise of Islam long afterwards. Then the teaching of philosophy was transferred from Alexandria to Antioch, where it proceeded for a long time, until only one teacher remained. This man taught two men, who left the city, taking the books with them. One of these two was a native of Harrān and the other a native of Marw. The latter instructed two men, one of whom was Ibrāhīm al-Marwazī and the other Yuhanna ibn Hilān, while the Harrānian's disciples were Isrā`īl the bishop and Quwairī, who both went to Baghdad. Isrā`īl applied himself to religion, whereas Quwairī engaged in teaching philosophy. As to Yūhanna ibn Hīlān, he, too, devoted himself to religion. Ibrāhīm al-Marwazī went to Baghdād and settled there. His disciple was Mattā ibn Yunān. What was studied of philosophy at that time extended to the end of existing things."

Abū Nasr al-Fārābī says that he studied philosophy under Yuhannā ibn Hīlān up to the end of the "Book'of Syllogistic Demonstration." That part of philosophy which was not studied under Christian domination was called "what comes after the existing things" [metaphysics]. Later, when philosophy was the concern of Muslim scholars, metaphysics was studied: it became the habit of people to study philosophy, from physics onwards, to the limit of what a man was [p.775] able to master. This is why Abū Nasr says that he went on to the end of the "Book of Syllogistic Demonstration."

My paternal uncle, Rashīd al-Dīn Abū-al-Hasan `Alī ibn Khalīfa, told me that al-Fārābī died while staying with Saif al-Dawlah ibn Hamdān in the month of Rajab of the year 339/950. He had studied science under Yuhannā ibn Hīlān in Baghdād in the days of al-Muqtadir. A contemporary of his was Abū-al-Bishr Mattā ibn Yūnān. He was older than Abū Nasr, but Abū Nasr was cleverer and more eloquent. Abū-al-Bishr Mattā studied under Ibrāhīm al-Marwazī. He died during the caliphate of al-Rādī, between the years 323/934 and 329/939. Yuhannā ibn Hīlān and Ibrāhīm al-Marwazī had both studied under a man from Marw.

In his "Annotations" Shaikh Abū Sulaymān Muhammad ibn Tāhis ibn Bahrām al-Sijistānī, says that according to what he heard from Yahyā ibn `Adī, Mattā had studied the "Isagoge" with a Christian and the "Categories" and"Hermeneutics" with a man named Rūbīl. The "Book of Analogy" he had studied under Abū Yahyā al-Marwazī.

Qādī Sa`īd ibn Ahmad ibn Sa`īd, in his "Book of Information on the Classes of Nations," says that al-Fārābī studied logic under Yuhannā ibn Hīlān, who died in Baghdād in the days of al-Muqtadir. He surpassed all Muslim scholars in that art, in the probing of its depths, the elucidation of its obscurities, the exploration of its secrets and his ready understanding of it. He assembled the essentials of that art in books, accurately and lucidly written, pointing out what al-Kindī and others had neglected to analyze and elucidate and clearly setting forth the five methods of logic, describing the modes of their application and the use of analogy with regard to each of them. So his books on that subject turned out to be highly satisfactory and extremely erudite. In addition, he wrote an excellent and original book entitled "An Enumeration of the Sciences and a Definition of their Aims." Students of all sciences must have recourse to it and study it right from the start. He also wrote a book on the [p.776] aims of Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy, which testifies to his proficiency in philosophy and his accurate knowledge of the various scientific disciplines. It is the best guide to the speculative method and to procedures of investigations. He reveals in it the secrets and achievements of the sciences, one by one, and explains how to proceed, gradually, from one to another. He starts with the philosophy of Plato, explains the aim which Plato pursued by it and enumerates his writings in this field. He then goes on to the philosophy of Aristotle, introducing it with remarkable discourse, in which he. sets forth how he himself gradually comprehended Aristotle's philosophy. Then he describes the aims pursued by Aristotle in his writings on logic and physics, book by book, until, according to the copy at my disposal, he winds up with the beginning of metaphysics and the method of deriving proofs on it from physics. I know of no work more useful to the student of philosophy, for it explains the concepts common to all sciences and those specific to each of them. Only through that book can we understand the concepts of the categories and the premises underlying the various sciences.

In addition al-Farabī wrote two books on metaphysics and political science, the one entitled "al-Siyāsa al-Madanīya" [State Policy], the other "al-Sira al-Fādila"[al-Madīna al-Fādila = the virtuous state]. In these two works, he expounds, by the method of Aristotle, important parts of metaphysics concerning the six spiritual elements, the manner in which the bodily substances are derived from these elements, the arrangement of the elements and their links with natural philosophy. He also discusses in these works the categories of man and his psychical forces, distinguishes between revelation and philosophy and describes the various kinds of virtuous and non-virtuous states and the need of every state for royal guidance and prophetic laws. [p.777]

I say: According to the historians, al-Fārāhī would meet Abū Bakr ibn al-Sarrāj and learn grammar from him, while Ibn al-Sarrāj learnt logic from him. Al-Fārābī also composed poetry. When Abū Nasr was asked: "Whom do you regard as the greater scholar, yourself or Aristotle?", he replied: "If I had lived in his time, I should have been the foremost of his disciples." He is also reported to have said: "I have read Aristotle's 'Music' forty times, but I still feel the need to study it."

Here is a prayer composed by Abū Nasr al-Fārābī: O God, I pray you, whose existence is unconditional, the cause of all causes, who have been here from the very beginning and who will never cease to exist, that you preserve me from sinfulness, and make me place my hope in such works as will find favor with you. O God, bestow on me all virtues and grant me success in my affairs; make my endeavors and all my undertakings prosper, O God of the East and of the West, Lord of the Seven Stars . . . . . . . . . . . O God, clothe me in the garb of splendor and let me share the miracles of the prophets, the happiness of the rich, the wisdom of the savants and the humility of the God-fearing. O God, save me from the world of misery and perdition and make me one of the sincere and true, who will dwell in heaven with the righteous and the martyrs. You are God besides whom there is no other god, the cause of all things and the light of earth and heaven; grant me an emanation of the acting intellect. O Lord of Majesty and Favors, purify my soul with the light of wisdom and allot me the faculty of gratitude for all you have bestowed upon me. Make me see truth as it is and inspire me with the desire to follow it; make me see falsehood as it is and preserve me from believing and heeding it. Purge my soul from the slags of primeval matter. You are the first cause.

Abū Nasr al-Farabī wrote the following works:

1) A commentary on Ptolemy's "Almagest."  [p.778]

2) A commentary on Aristotle's "Book of Syllogistic Demonstration."

3) A commentary on Aristotle's "Book of Rhetoric."

4) A commentary on the second and eighth chapter of Aristotle's "Book of Dialectics."

5) A commentary on Aristotle's "Book of Sophistics."

6) A commentary on Aristotle's "Book of Analogy"; this is the large commentary.

7) A commentary on Aristotle's "Peri Hermeneias," in the form of annotations.

8) A commentary on Aristotle's "Book of Categories," in the form of annotations.

9) "The Large Compendium of Logic."

10) "The Small Compendium of Logic," according to the method of the Mutakallimūn.

11) "The Compendium," on analogy.

12) "An Introduction to Logic."

13) A commentary on Porphyry's "Isagoge," being lectures on the subject matter of that book.

14) "The Smaller Book of Analogy; this work has been found with a subtitle in his own handwriting: "Enumeration of the Judgments and Analogies, Which Are Generally Employed in All Analogical Sciences."

15) "The Conditions of Analogy."

16) "The Book of Syllogistic Demonstration."

17) "The Book of Dialectics."

18) "The Book of Passages Extracted from the Eighth Chapter," on dialectics.

19) "The Book of Passages That Lead into Error."

20) "The Acquisition of Premises."

21) A discourse on premises pertaining to the existential and the essential.  [p.779]

22) A discourse on the vacuum.

23) A preface to the "Book of Rhetoric."

24) A commentary on Aristotle's "Book of Physics" in the form of annotations.

25) A commentary on Aristotle's "De Caelo et Mundi," in the form of annotations.

26) A commentary on Aristotle's "Book of Meteorology" in the form of annotations.

27) A commentary on Alexander Aphrodites' "Discourse on the Soul" in the form of annotations.

28) A commentary on the introductory part of Aristotle's "Book of Ethics."

29) A book on laws.

30) "The Enumeration and Sequence of the Sciences."

31) "The Book of the Two Philosophies, That of Plato and That of Aristotle"; unfinished.

32) "The Virtuous State, the Barbarian State, the Sinful State, the Revolutionary State and the Anarchic State." He began to write this work in Baghdād, took it with him to Syria in 330/941, and completed and revised it in Damascus in 331/942. Thereafter he again went through the manuscript and provided chapter headings. Later, someone requested him to add subheadings to clarify the division of the subject matter. He did so in Cairo in the year 337/948, dividing the book into six subsections.

33) "Fundamental Thoughts about the Virtuous State."

34) "The Book of Words and Sounds."

35) "The Greater Book of Music"; dedicated to the vizier Abū Ja`far Muhammad ibn al-Qāsim al-Karhī.

3 6) A book on the classification of rhythm.

37) A discourse on modulation [?]; a supplement to the preceding work. [p.780]

38) A discourse on music.

39) A summary of philosophical aphorisms extracted from the works of the philosophers.

40) "The Book of Human Principles."

41) A refutation of Galen's interpretation of certain sayings of Aristotle that contradict their true meaning.

42) A refutation of Ibn al-Rāwandī concerning [his book?] "Method of Argumentation."

43) A refutation of Yahyā the Grammarian's objections to Aristotle's teachings.

44) A refutation of al-Rāzī, on metaphysics.

45) "The Book of the One and the Oneness."

46) A discourse on extent and measure.

47) A concise book on the intellect.

48) A lengthy book on the intellect.

49) A discourse on the meaning of the word "philosophy" [cf. above).

50) "The Existing Things Undergoing Change," a supplement.

51) "The Conditions of Syllogistic Demonstration."

52) A discourse on the explanation of obscurities contained in the introduction of the first and fifth chapter of Euclid's book.

53) A discourse on the agreement between the opinions of Hippocrates and Plato.

54) An epistle on the factors of happiness.

55) A discourse on that which is divisible and that which is not divisible.

56) A discourse on the word "philosophy," the reason for the spread of philosophy, the names of those excelling in it and those of them who were his teachers.

57) A discourse on the Ginns.

58) A discourse on substance. [p.781]

59) "The Book of Political Investigation."

60) "The Book of Politics, known also as "The Foundations of Existing Things."

61) A political discourse on nation and law.

62) A collection of sayings of the Prophet, may Allāh bless him and give him peace, relating to the art of logic.

63) A large work on rhetoric; in 20 volumes.

64) An epistle on military leadership.

65) A discourse on livelihoods and wars. 66) A book on meteorology.

67) A treatise on the correct manner of discussing astrology.

68) A book on minutes taken from assemblies.

69) A book on mechanical devices and laws.

70) A discourse on dreams.

71) A book on the art of secretaryship.

72) A commentary on Aristotle's "Book of Syllogistic Demonstration" [cf. above, No. 2]; in the form of annotations. He dictated it to Alī Ibrāhīm ibn `Adī, who was his pupil in Aleppo.

73) A discourse on metaphysics.

74) A commentary on difficult passages in Aristotle's "Book of Categories This has become known as "Marginal Notes."

75) A discourse on the different parts of animals.

76) A book summarizing the contents of all works on logic.

77) "Introduction to Logic."

78) "The Book of Mediation between Aristotle and Galen."

79) "The Purposes of the Categories." 80) A discourse on poetry and rhyme.

81) A commentary on Aristotle's "Peri Hermeneias", in the form of annotations.

82) Notes on the "Book of Analogy."

83) A book on the limited and the unlimited force.

84) A note on stars.

85) A book on what must be known prior to the study of philosophy.  [p.782]

86) Aphorisms collected from the sayings of the ancients.

87) A book on the aims pursued by Aristotle in each of his books.

88) "The Book of Measures" [concise].

89) "The Book of Correct Guidance."

90) A book on languages.

91) A book on political assemblies.

92) A discourse explaining that the movement of the spheres is perpetual.

93) A discourse on to what extent it befits the educator to reproach.

94) A discourse on the vital parts, etc.

95) A discourse on the necessary axioms of philosophy.

96) A treatise on the raison d'κtre of alchemy and the refutation of those denying its right to existence.

97) A treatise on the aims pursued by Aristotle in each chapter of his book in alphabetical order; this is an investigation of the purpose of his "Book of Metaphysics."

98) A book on the claims attributed to Aristotle with regard to philosophy, omitting their exposition and substantiation.

99) Notes on wisdom.

100) A discourse dictated to an inquirer who had asked the meaning of "self," "essence" and "nature."

101) Pithy Sayings on Political Science.

102) "Peri Hermeneias" by Aristotle.

103) "An Introduction to Imaginary Geometry" [concise].

104) "The Book of Essential Problems," according to Aristotle, comprising 160 problems.

105) Answers to questions he had been asked, comprising 23 questions.

106) "The Book of Classification of Simple Things Divided into Categories by Analogy."

107) A summary of Plato!s "Book of Laws."

108) A discourse he dictated after being asked what Aristotle had said [p.783] about hot things.

109) Notes on Aristotle's "Prior Analytics."

110) "The Prerequisites of Certain Knowledge."

111) An epistle on the nature of the soul.

112) "The Book of Physics."


`Isā al-Raqqī, known as al-Tiflisī, was a famous physician in his day. He possessed a thorough knowledge of the medical art and achieved marvelous cures. He was in the service of Saif al-Dawlah Ibn Hamdān. `Ubayd Allāh ibn Jibrā'īl said: "A person I trust told me: "When Saif al-Dawlah was taking his meals, twenty-four physicians were seated at his table, some of whom received a double salary because they occupied themselves with two sciences, and some received a triple salary because they occupied themselves with three sciences. Among them was cIsā al-Raqqī, who became known as al-Tiflisī. He was pious and wrote books on the Shi`ite creed [the Hamdānid dynasty was Shi`ite] and other subjects. He also translated from Syriac into Arabic. He received four salaries, one for his medical work, one as a translator and two for two other sciences."


Al-Yabrūdī, i.e., Abū 'l-Faraj Jūrjis ibn Yūhanna ibn Sahl ibn Ibrāhīm, a Jacobite Christian, excelled in the medical art, being well-versed both in its theoretical foundations and in its practical application. He was reckoned one of the most distinguished representatives of that art. He was very active and ardently fond of studying.

Sharat al-Dīn ibn `Unayn, may Allāh have mercy upon him, told me: Al-Yabrūdī never ceased working and was indefatigable. He was never seen without a book in front of him."

A Christian, al-Sanī al-Ba`lbakkī the physician, told me in Damascus: "Al-Yabrūdī was born and spent the first years of his life in Yabrūd, a large village near Saidanāyā, where many Christians live. In this village, al-Yabrūdī, like the other Christian [p.784] inhabitants, engaged in agriculture and other farmwork. He also collected wormwood in that part of the Damascus district which was nearest to his village, and took on the back of an animal to Damascus, where he sold it to people who burnt it in baker's ovens and elsewhere. Once, on passing through the Tuma Gate in Damascus with a load of wormwood, he saw a man whose nose was bleeding profusely being bled by an aged physician on the side of his body opposite the place from which the blood was flowing. He stopped and looked at the physician and, after a while, asked him: ' Why do you bleed this man, when more blood is flowing from his nose than should be extracted by venesection?' The physician said that he was doing so in order that the man's nose might cease to bleed, since he was drawing the blood to the side opposite the place from which it was flowing. The youngster retorted: Where I come from, when we wish to divert water from a flowing river, we dig a bed in a different direction, but not opposite the stream, whereupon the water stops flowing in the old bed and passes to the new one. This being so, why don't you bleed from the other side?' The physician did so, and the man's nose stopped bleeding. Seeing from al-Yabrūdī's remark that he had a good sense of observation, the physician said: 'If you apply yourself to the medical art, you will become a good physician.' Al-Yabrūdī took his words to heart and began to crave for knowledge. He visited that old man from time to time, and the latter instructed him on certain kinds of treatment. Then he left Yabrūd and the work he had been doing and took up quarters in Damascus in order to study medicine. He had already gained some insight into it, acquired the knowledge of scientific laws, undertaken the treatment of some patients and studied various diseases, their causes, symptoms and modes of treatment. He inquired who was the greatest authority of his time in medical knowledge. When told [p.785] that in Baghdād there lived Abū 'l-Faraj ibn al-Tayyib, the secretary of the catholicos, who was a versatile philosopher and a learned and experienced man in the medical art and other scientific disciplines, he equipped himself for the journey, took a bracelet belonging to his mother to pay for his expenses and set out for Baghdād. Using the bracelet to secure the necessities of life, he studied under Ibn al-Tayyib until he was proficient in medicine, did fine research in it and possessed extraordinary knowledge. He also studied logic and other philosophical disciplines. Thereafter he returned to Damascus and stayed there."

A similar story, but transmitted through different channels is presented here in the name of my learned teacher, Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Alī. He said: "Muwaffaq al-Dīn As`ad ibn Ilyās ibn al-Mitrān told me as follows: My father told me as follows: Abū 'l-Faraj ibn al-Hadīd told me as follows: Abū 'l-Karam the Physician told me as follows in the name of his father, Abū 'l-Ragā`, who had it from his grandfather: There lived in Damascus a bloodletter named Abū 'l-Khair, who was not numbered among the skillful. Once it happened that in bleeding a youg man he incised the artery. Being confused and stupid, he sought to stop the blood but was unable to do so. When people gathered round, a youth saw him and said — O my uncle, bleed him at the other arm. The physician accepted his advice and bled the other arm. Then the youth said — Bandage the first venesection. He did so, applying a plaster which he carried with him, and when the tightened it, the flow of blood stopped. He then closed the other venesection and the blood ceased altogether. The youth was presently seen driving a beast with a load of wormwood. The physician approached him and said: How did you know what to advise me to do? The youth said: At the time of watering the vineyard, I have observed that when a crack develops in an irrigation canal and water rushes through [p.786] it my father is unable to stop it up unless he makes another opening, thereby diminishing the water streaming toward the original crack; only then is he able to repair that crack. The surgeon thereupon made the youth desist from selling wormwood, took him under his care and taught him medicine. That youth became the celebrated physicians and man of learning al-Yabrūdī."

I say: al-Yabrudī maintained a correspondence with Ibn Ridwān in Cairo and other Egyptian physicians, asking them various medical questions and engaging in discussions of fine points with them. He copied a very great number of medical books with his own hand, especially the works of Galen and their commentaries and abridgments.

Al-Sanī al-Ba`lbakkr further told me: "al-Yabrūdī was once walking in Jairūn Market of Damascus when he heard a man make a bet that he would eat several rotls of boiled horsemeat of the kind sold in the markets. Watching him eat more than he could take and then drink a quantity of beer and ice-water, whereby his condition became worse, al-Yabrūdī realized that he would obviously faint and be close to death unless he was given assistance. He followed him to his house and waited to see how his condition would develop. Only a very short time had passed when his family broke out into screams and loud weeping, thinking him already dead. Al-Yabrūdī went in and said: 'I shall cure him. He is not in danger.' He took him to a bathhouse nearby, forcibly opened his jaws, somewhat poured down his throat some boiled water with an admixture of mild emetics and caused him to vomit gently. He then treated him and cautiously administered drugs until he woke up and was restored to health. The people greatly admired him for this achievement. The incident became widely known and established his fame." [p.787]

I say: This story indicates that al-Yabrudī, in watching the behavior of that man and observing his condition, intended both to study his symptoms and to rescue him if he could manage to treat him in time. A similar story is reported by Abū Ja`far Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Abī 'l-Ash`ath, may Allāh have mercy upon him, in his his book "Food and Nutrition" he says: "One day I saw a man who had made a bet to eat a stipulated quantity of carrots. I went to attend his performance in order to see what would happen to him, not — thank God — because of any predilection on my part for keeping company with people of that kind, nor because I was accustomed to do so, but in order to ascertain the outcome of overloading the stomach with food. He took his meal on top of a wall, intending to show off in front of those surrounding him and to jest with them. When he had eaten the greater part of his supply, I observed that the masticated carrots came back, being a sticky pulp soaked with spittle. His eyes protruded, his breath stopped, his face turned red, his jugular veins and the veins of his head swelled, and then his lace turned ashen. He retched more than he vomited. I fancied that his breath had stopped because the stomach was pressing the diaphragm toward the mouth and preventing it from expanding for the purpose of respiration. As to the fact that he turned red and his jugular and other veins swelled, I fancied that this was caused by the [blood?] rushing to his head, as happens to a person whose arm is bandaged for bleeding and whose blood seeks to go in the direction in which it has been prompted to go. As to the fact that his face subsequently turned ashen, I fancied that the cause was the bad temper of his heart. If he had not vomited as much as he did, if his stomach had continued to press on the diaphragm in such a way as to prevent him utterly from breathing, he would have died of suffocation, as we have seen in [p.788] the case of many who died from retching. As to the fact that he retched more than he vomited, I understood that the retching was caused by the violent disturbance of the stomach.

Ibn Abū al-Ash`ath says: "It should be noted that food, when, entering the stomach in a great quantity, causes it to stretch and the remainder of its folds to expand, as I observed in the case of a beast which I dissected live in the presence of the Emir al-Ghadnafr. One of those present believed its stomach to be small, and so I started to pour water into its mouth. We poured one jar after another, until we had used a total of forty liters. I then looked at the lining of the stomach and found that it had stretched until it was of equal extension as the external surface. After I had perforated the stomach and the water had come out, it shrank and the folds of the interior returned to their former condition, as did the pylorus. We praised God, not believing our eyes." Shaikh Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī told me a story by the following chain of transmission: Muwaffaq al-Dīn As`ad ibn Ilyās the Metropolitan's son; his father; his maternal uncle Abū al-Faraj ibn Hayān; Abū al-Karam the physician; his father; his grandfather. The latter said: 'One day, I was accompanying the Shaikh Abū al-Faraj al-Yabrūdī when a man stopped him and said, 'O Master, I was in the baths, as is my wont, and had my head shaved, and now I find my face all swollen and burning.' We examined his face and found that it was swelling and growing redder and redder. The physician ordered him to uncover his head and pour water on it from a pipe he had with him. It was in the middle of winter, and the cold was intense, but the physician stood there until the man had completed what he had ordered him to do. He then let him go, suggesting that the best thing for him would be a mild, fatless diet and cool sour con presses. He prevented all evil consequences." [p.789]

Al-Tartūshī, in his book "The Light of Kings," writes that a Syrian told him about a baker who was making bread in his oven in Damascus when a man passed by, selling apricots. The baker bought some and ate them with hot bread. When he had finished eating, he fainted, and by the time he was discovered he was dead. People clustered round him, brought some physicians and looked for signs of life, but, finding none, concluded that he must be dead. He was washed, shrouded and prayed for, and then carried out to the cemetery. While the mourners were on their way, at the gate of the city they met a skilled and learned physician called al-Yabrūdī. He heard the people discuss what had happened to the man, and asked them to tell the whole story. After he had heard it through, he said: "Put him down and let me examine him." They put him down, and he started moving him about, looking for such signs of life as were known to him. He then opened the man's mouth and poured some liquid down his throat or, according to another version, he gave him an enema, and lo! whatever was there was dislodged and expelled. The man opened his eyes, said something, and then went straight back to his shop.

Al-Yahrūdī died in Damascus in the year 4—/1—- and was buried in the Jacobite church there, near Thomas' Gate. In this connection, Shaikh Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Ra`hīm ibn Alī told me a story, by the following chain of transmission: Muwaffaq al Dīn As`ad ibn Ilyās the Metropolitan's son; his maternal uncle; the latter's father; `Abd Allāh ibn Rajā ibn Ya`qūb; ibn al-Kitānī, who was in charge of the Sultan's affairs in Damascus. The latter heard from Abū al-Faraj Jūrjis ibn Yūhanna that when al-Yabrūdī died, he left three hundred bezants, melted down into bullion, and live hundred pieces of silver, the smallest of which was valued at three hundred dirhams. Muwaffaq al-Dīn explains: "This is not much, for a person who is established in business, well-intentioned and [p.790] truth-loving, who acts justly and endeavors to be adept in his profession, has a right before God to his earnings. On the other hand, if a person is the opposite of the above, he lives as a pauper and dies in disgrace."

Al-Yabrūdī wrote a treatise proving that the body temperature of the chick is lower than that of the grown fowl and a refutation of Ibn al-Muwaffaqi's opinion as to problems of the pulse they had been discussing.


Jabir ibn Mansūr al-Sukkarī came from Mosul and was a devout Muslim. He was a most distinguished representative of the medical art. He lived at the time of Ahmad ibn Abū al-Asha`th and studied under him; later about the year 360/969 he studied for a while under Ibn Abū al-Asha`th's disciple Muhammad ibn Thawwāb. He won fame as a physician and attained a ripe old age, residing mostly in Mosul, whereas his son Zāfir settled in Syria.


Zāfir ibn Jābir al-Sukkarī. Abū-Hakim Zāfir ibn Jābir ibn Mansūr al Sukkarī, a Muslim, was distinguished in the art of medicine and well-versed in the philosophical sciences. He met Abū al-Faraj ibn al-Tayyib in Baghdād and studied under his guidance. He lived long, like his father. In 482/1089 he was still in Mosul, but afterwards he moved to Aleppo and stayed there for the rest of his days. His work in Aleppo was continued by a group of physicians whom he had trained. He wrote verses which include the following:

I acquired knowledge, little by little.
Until I realized I knew nothing at all:
How wonderful that my consciousness of being ignorant
Stems from my not being so: [p.791]

His books include a treatise on the fact that the living are dying, although the food they eat replaces what is washed in them.


Mawhūb ibn Zāfir. Abū al-Fadl Mawhūb ibn Zāfir ibn Jābir ibn Mansūr al-Sukkarī was a famous physician from Aleppo.


Abū al-Hakam. The wise and learned Shaikh Abū al-Hakam `Ubayd Allāh ibn al-Muzaffar ibn `Abd Allāh al-Bāhilī, of Murcia in Andalusia, was distinguished in the philosophical sciences, well-versed in medicine, interested in literature and famous for his poetry. He was a good conversationalist, had a sense of humor, and loved parties and entertainment. Many of his poems purport to be dirges for his contemporaries, but his intention in writing them was jocular. He took great pleasure in drinking and did so copiously. Being highly imaginative, he frequently improvised poetry, such as the verse:

O hunter of gifts, there's work for you;
Get up early and bring the drinks.

He was also a musician: he played the lute. His medical office was in Jīrūn, while his residence, a stone building, was in al-Labādīn. He wrote many eulogies for the Banū al-Sūfī, who were the rulers of Damascus during the reign of Mujīr al-Dīn Abaq ibn Muhammad ibn Būrī ibn Atābeg Tughtikīn.

Abū al-Hakam traveled to Baghdād and al-Basrah and then returned to Damascus, where he spent the rest of his life. He died — may God have mercy upon him — in Damascus during the last two hours of the night of Wednesday, the 6th of Dhu al-Qa`dah, 549/1154.

Abū al-Fadl ibn al-Mulahha wrote the following verses in a letter of thanks to Abū al-Hakam: [p.792]

If Allāh rewards a man for his deeds, may he requite the beneficient brother, the physician Abū al-Hakam,
The distinguished, unique philosopher, whom Arabs and non-Arabs alike revere as a sage.
Who is the savior of his patients; had Hippocrates seen him, he would have bowed to him.
He snatched me from the jaws of fate when I was afflicted with multiple pains and injuries.
He exerted his skill upon me, relieved my pain, and restored me to health.
He still instructs me in everything I do, by virtuous advice derived from noble predecessors.
His thoughts brighten our lives as if they were suns driving out the dark night.
He looked after me as if he were my father or mother when my family had lost hope.
He took the load off my back. He attended me, keeping watch while I slept.
His treatment was applied to my body without pause. But for him, the illness would have overpowered me.
I regained my health after it had been lost. May Allāh bless him most bountifully.

Abū al-Hakam would write satirical poems about a group of contemporary poets who disparaged him. Al-`Arqala Abū al-Nadā Hasan ibn Numair of Kalb wrote the following epigram concerning Abū al-Hakam:

We have a physician who is a defective poet, may Allāh rid us of him;
He never visits a patient in the morning without having to compose a dirge at night. [p.793]

He wrote another poem about Abū al-Hakam . . . . . . . . . .

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah explains: In this satirical poem, al-`Arqala describes Abū al-Hakam as having inverted eyelids for the following reason. He once left the house of Zain al-Malik Abū al-Tālib ibn al Khayyāt at night in a drunken state, fell down and cleft his face. In the morning, people came to visit him, asking how it had happened; so he wrote a poem and placed it near his head, and whenever someone came up, he gave it to him to read . . . . . . . . . .

He then took a mirror and saw the wound which remained under his eyelid from his fall, and recited the following verses . . . . . . . .

He wrote the following poems . . . . . . . .

I received his Diwān from Shaikh Shams al-Dīn Abū al-Fadl al-Mitwā` the oculist, who received it from the physician Amīn al-Dīn Abū Zakariyyā Yahyā al-Bayāsī, who in turn received it from Abū al-Majd, who heard it from his father, Abū al-Hakam himself. A poem praising the chief Mu`ayyid al-Dīn Abū al-Fawāris ibn al-Sūfī: . . . . . . . . . .

A poem praising the chief Jamāl al-Dawlah Abū al-Ghanā`im, the brother of the foregoing . . . . . . . . . .

A poem praising `Izz al-Dawlah, another brother of Mu`ayyid al-Dīn . . . . . . . . . .

A poem in short meter, particularly revealing of his talent, entitled "The Shame of the House." In it he describes the losses and debts incurred by a person who thows a party for his fellow drinkers . . . . . . . . . .

A poem written in al-Basrah in the year 521/1127 . . . . . . . . . .

Verses on drinking wine, on life and death, parting and love, a riddle concerning `Abd al-Karīm, a riddle concerning the word Shaftar, which was the nickname of the poet Abū al-Ma`ālī al-Sulamī . . . . . . . . . .  [p.794]

A satirical dirge for the Jewish physician al-Mufashkal . . . . . . . . . .

A satirical dirge for the writer Nusair of Aleppo: [Nusair was also interested in poetry, medicine and astronomy;] . . . . . . . . . .

Satirical poems about Malik al-Najāt, the poet Aba al-Wahsh and `Ilyān, known as al-`Ukkāz of Aleppo: . . . . . . . . . .

I have an old friend whom I visit; my hand hurts from shaking it at him in remonstration.
If I were asked to describe him, I would say: "This is a man who will develop a stone in his bladder before all his faults can be enumerated. [This involves an untranslatable pun. ]
Al-`Ukkāz complained to me about his illness, but found no relief with me,
For the malady of desire baffles anyone who tries to cure it.
When I treat a man who has a fever, I compose a poem for him, and if he likes it, he overcomes his malady.
Tell the people who believe in my treatment that drink mixed with poetry
Is a cure for all scorched intestines, which are soothed by it at once.

[Verses about courage, secrecy, . . . . . . . . . . a poem entitled "The Virtuous"]:

Oh, those people who admire me, regarding my treatment as unique;
When they rely on me as a physician, I flee from their dwellings as if they were places of evil.

He also wrote: [p.795]

When a woman is over fifty, try not to see her;
Leave the old hag alone and look for a younger one instead.

He composed the following poem when he was approaching death, in Dhu al-Qa`dah, 549/1154 . . . . . . . . . . and the following on the Tuesday before he died, telling his son Abū al-Majd to recite it after his death . . . . . . . . . .

He wrote a book of poems entitled "The Road to Humility."


Abū al-Majd ibn Abū al-Hakam. Afdal al-Dawlah Abū al-Majd Muhammad ibn Abū al-Hakam `Ubayd Allāh ibn al-Muzaffar ibn `Abd Allāh al-Bāhilī was a famous physician and an outstanding geometer and astronomer. He was also an expert musician, sang well and played the lute, the flute and other musical instruments. Moreover, he built an organ and mastered it excellently. His medical education was directed by his father, among others. He distinguished himself in both the theory and practice of medicine. He lived during the reign of the Sultan al-Malik al-`Ādil Nūr al-Dīn Mahmūd ibn Zanjī — may God have mercy upon him — who honored and favored him, aware of his great knowledge and virtue. When al-Malik-al-Adre established the great hospital, he made him its medical director and granted him a salary and allowance. Ābū al-Majd would visit the hospital and treat its inmates.

Shams al-Dīn Abū al-Fadl ibn Abū al-Faraj the oculist, known as "The Obedient," may God have mercy upon him, told me that he had seen Abū al-Majd ibn Abū al-Hakam in the hospital, making the rounds rounds of the patients' beds, asking about their condition and checking on their treatment. The inspectors and overseers ot the wards accompanied him and promptly carried out everything he wrote down concerning each patient, his medicines and treatment. When he had finished, he would go to the castle and [p.796] examine any indisposed state dignitaries; then he would go and sit in the great hall of the hospital, which was fully carpeted, and read medical books; for Nūr al-Dīn, God bless him, had acquired a large number of reference works for the hospital, which were kept in closets in that hall. A group of physicians would join him there to discuss professional matters. He also instructed his students there. Thus he worked, debated and read for about three hours, after which he went home.

Abū al-Majd ibn Abū al-Hakam died in Damascus in 5—/11—.


Ibn al-Budhūkh; Abū Ja`far `Umar ibn Alī ibn al-Dubhūkh al-Qala`ī, of the Maghrib was a distinguished physician, an expert in simple and compound drugs, well-versed in diagnosing diseases and prescribing their treatment.

He spent many years in Damascus and had a perfume shop in al-Labādīn, where he treated or prescribed for whoever came to him. He prepared many compound drugs, using different kinds of unguents, globules of perfume, powders, and the like. These he sold and thereby benefited the people. He studied medical books to find out what the ancients had said concerning the nature and cure of diseases. He annotated Ibn Sīnā's "Qanun." He was also interested in religious traditions and wrote poetry. There are many poems by him in short meter, but most of them are of little value. He lived long, but eventually became disabled and could not go to his shop unless he was carried there on a litter. In his last years he was blinded by cataracts as a result of his habit of drinking a great deal of milk in order to preserve the moisture of his body. He died in Damascus in the year 575/1179-80.

The following is a sample of his poetry, the finest portion of a long poem on the subject of death and resurrection: . . . . . . . . . . [p.797]

In praise of the books of Galen he wrote:

I admire the books of Galen, who combined the wisdom of Hippocrates and the ancients,
Like Dioscorides, whose teachings are accepted by all physicians
Since Hippocrates and those who came after him, medicine has spread like a light in the dark;
Medical thought following the pattern set by them, shines and shows the light of health in the darkness of malady,
You should consult no others in curing the sick, for their existence is worth nothing.
Those ancients achieved perfection; they need not be supplemented by others
Except in the sphere of drugs, the benefits of which are innumerable and of which Arabs and Persians know as many
As there are stars in the sky or plants on earth — they can no more be counted than the grains of sand or the hills;
For every day you see the impossible being accomplished by experiment, miracle and intelligence.

Ibn al-Budhūkh wrote a commentary on Hippocrates' "Book of Maladies," a poem in short meter which is a commentary on Hippocrates' "introduction to Medicine," a poem in short meter which is a commentary on "The Lions' Treasure, Unique of its Kind," and marginal notes on the Ibn Sīnā's "Qānun."


`Hakīm al-Zamān `Abd al-Mun`im al-Jilyāni. `Hakīm al-Zamān Abū al-Fadl `Abd al-Mun`im ibn Hasān al-Ghasānī al-Jilyānī of Andalusia was the leading figure of his generation in both general medicine and ophthalmology. He was also outstanding in literature and poetry and composed many eulogies. He came from Andalusia [p.798] to Syria and lived in Damascus to the end of his days. He reached a very great age. He had a doctor's office in al-Labādin. Al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb honored and favored him, in return for which he wrote many eulogies praising his ruler. He also wrote books dedicated to him, for which he received numerous benefits and tokens of appreciation. Hakīm al-Zamān `Abd al-Mun`im concerned himself also with chemistry. He died in Damascus in the year 600/1200, leaving a son, `Abd al-Mu'min ibn `Abd al-Mun`im. The latter was an oculist and a poet, he, too, wrote many eulogies. He was oculist to al-Malik al-Ashraf, Abū al-Fath Mūsa ibn al-Malik al-`Ādil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb, and died in Edessa in the year 62-/122-.

The following is a specimen of the poetry of Hakim al-Zamān `Abd al-Mun`im al Jilyānī which I have copied from his manuscript. I also heard it from my father, who obtained it through the above-mentioned physician, `Abd al-Mu'min. It is a eulogy to al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Abū al-Muzaffar Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb and was sent to him from Damascus to his camp, al-Mansūr, on the outskirts of Acre, when he was besieging the Franks who were storming the city. It was brought before Salāh al-Dīn in the month of Safar, 587/February 1191. This poem is entitled "The Precious Gem." [The very long poem follows.]

He also wrote the following:

He recovered from his illness after revealing to me the symptoms he had previously kept hidden;
For if a doctor knows what ails his patient, he will undoubtedly bring him relief.
How many hide their condition, covering up their illness perversely!
When love takes a man prisoner and he is lost in its abundant charms, blinded by its glowing light.  [p.799]
That man, possessed by his desire, if he has no one with whom to take refuge, will stay in its grip.

In another poem he says:

I exerted myself studying medicine, so that I might not be in need of gifts from princes.
I was right to immunize myself by studying;
A man must secure his livelihood, but he should do it the right way:
Come close to the mighty by humility, but avoid submission to them.

He also wrote:

O you, who hate an ointment, you will see that it is better than to preserve modesty;
In forty days it serves the body better than anything else, but
A rebel will not recover unless he overcomes his passion.

Hakim al-Zamān `Abd al-Mun`im al-Jilyānī wrote several books, in both verse and prose, which are comprised in ten collections.

1) A dīwān of the sciences and philosophy, in which he records all the explanations of obscure points, all the truths acquired by experience and all the efficient methods; in verse.

2) A dīwān of the desirable things, up to the upper sphere; in verse.

3) A dīwān of the ways of behavior; in prose, summarizing the self-evident judgments of the different schools of philosophy.

4) "The book of the Miracles of Divine Inspiration," a collection of philosophical sayings in prose about strange passages from the blessed Qur'ān and the Hadīth of the Prophet, may the loftiest prayers and peace be his portion.

5) "The book of the Liberation of Thought," being a collection of separate philosophical utterances concerning simple and compound objects, force and movement. [p.800]

6) "The Book of the Secrets of Rhetoric and the Qualities of the Good Speaker."

7) "A dīwān of the gospels and holy sayings; partly in verse, partly illustrated and partly in prose, being a description of the wars and conquests of Salāh al-Dīn Abū al-Muzaffar Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, the conqueror of Jerusalem in the year 583/1 187.

8) A dīwān of different kinds of poetry: erotic, amatory, double-rhymed, quadruple-rhymed etc., in verse.

9) A dīwān of allegories, enigmas, symbols, riddles, epithets, auguries and goals; in verse.

10) A dīwān of correspondence and lectures concerning many subjects and different kinds of exhortations, addresses and invocations.

11) "The Plain of Praise, the Garden of Memorable and Glorious Deeds," describing the virtues of al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb; written in 569/1172.

12) Notes on medicine.

13) "The Qualities of Compound Drugs."


Abū al-Fadl ibn Abū al-Waqqār. The honorable, learned Shaikh Abū al-Fadl Ismā`īl ibn Abū al-Waqqār originated from al-Ma`arra and took up residence in Damascus. He traveled to Baghdād, where he studied under the most prominent physicians and met a number of savants to whom he attached himself, he then returned to Damascus. He was outstanding in both medical theory and practice, very beneficent, of excellent character and behavior — a real sage. He served the Sultan al-Malik al-Adil Nūr al-Dīn Mahmūd ibn Zankī, who depended on him as a physician and kept him by his side wherever he went. He favored him greatly and presented him with many gifts. Abū al-Fadl died while in Aleppo with al-Malik in the first decade of Rabī`u al-Awwal 554/March 1159.


Muhadhdhab al-Dīn al-Naqqāsh. The Shaikh and learned Imām, Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Abū `Abd Allāh `Isā ibn Hibat Allāh al-Naggāsh [p.801] was born and bred in Baghdad. He was well-versed in Arabic language and literature and spoke Persian as well. He studied medicine for a while under the honorable Amīn al-Dawla Hibat Allāh ibn Sa`īd ibn al-Tilmīdh. He devoted himself also to the Hadīth, which he studied in Baghdād under Abū al-Qāsim `Umar ibn al-Husayn. The Judge `Umar ibn . . . . . . . [?] of Quraysh transmitted some Hadīth in his name in his great collection. Abū `Abd Allāh `Isā ibn Hibat Allāh ibn al-Naqqāsh was a textile merchant.

In his "Book of Pearls" `Imād al-Dīn Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Hāmid, the Scribe of Isfahān, reproduces a poem which Muhadhdhab al-Dīn dedicated to his father . . . . . . . .

He met Abū `Abd Allāh ibn al-Naqqāsh in Baghdād, where the latter died on the 20th of Jumāda al-Ākkira, 544/1149, after visiting Isfahan. Another poem by Abū `Abd Allāh al-Naqqāsh, concerning himself, has been preserved in manuscript by al-Sam`ānī . . . . . . . .

This poem is followed by another . . . . . . . .

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah continues: When Muhadhdhab al-Dīn ibn al-Naqqāsh arrived in Damascus, he settled there and practiced medicine. He was unique in this field in his generation, and convened a general conference of those practicing that profession. Once he went to Egypt and stayed in Cairo for a while, but afterwards he returned to Damascus and remained there until his death. He served as physician to al-Malik al-`Ādil Nūr al-Dīn Mahmūd ibn Zanki. He was moreover interested in rhetoric, composing a great number of speeches which he dedicated to Nūr al-Dīn, in whose esteem he ranked high. He wrote missives to the inhabitants of the other provinces. For many years he worked in the great hospital which was founded in Damascus by al-Malik al- `Ādil.

The Emir Mu'ayyid al-Dawlah Abū al-Muzaffar Usāma ibn Munqid wrote to Muhadhdhab al-Dīn ibn al-Naqqāsh, asking directions as to an ointment with balm-tree extract: [p.802]

My riding-companions, who consult al-Muhadhdhab in all matters of science, philosophy and rhetoric,
Complain to him of the weakening effect of old age.
They desire balm-tree extract to strengthen their stride.
This is the wish of those who are past eighty and cannot stand up
They want more life in their old age, though death is the destiny of man.

The physician sent what was asked of him. He remained in the service of Nūr al-Dīn until the latter's death. Nūr al-Dīn died in the month of Shawwal, 569/1173, in Damascus. When al-Malik al-Nāsir Salah al-Dīn became ruler of Damascus, Muhadhdhab al-Dīn served him and was greatly favored by him. Muhadhdhab al-Dīn was a kindly man. He preferred solitude and did not marry nor leave any children. He died, may God have mercy upon him, in Damascus on Saturday, the 12th of Muharram, 574/1173, and was buried there on Mount Qāsiyun.


Abū Zakariyā Yahyā al-Bayāsī. Amīn al-Dīn Abū Zakariyā Yahyā ibn Ismā`īl al-Bayāsī, of Andalusia, was a distinguished physician and noted savant, who was thoroughly adept in the medical art and outstanding in the mathematical sciences. On arriving in Egypt from the Maghrib, he stayed in Cairo for a while and then left for Damascus and took up residence there. He studied under Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn `Isā, known as ibn al-Naqqāsh al-Baghdādī. He copied and studied the Sixteen Books of Galen, as well as many other works on medicine and other subjects. An expert carpenter, he made many tools for Ibn al-Naqqāsh. He was a good lute-player, built an organ and attempted to play it, and also had music students. He served al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn as physician and stayed with him for a while in al-Baikār. Later, he asked to be dismissed in order to go to Damascus. Al-Malik al-Nāsir granted him an [p.803] allowance, and he stayed in Damascus, practicing medicine until he died, may God have mercy upon him.


Sukra of Aleppo was a minor Jewish Shaikh in Aleppo, a skilled medical practitioner and well-acquainted with drugs. The Shaikh Safī al-Dīn Halīl ibn Abū al-Fādil ibn Mansūr of Tanūkh, the scribe of Laodicea, told me the following: When al-Malik al-`Ādil was in Aleppo, he had a maiden in the castle there of whom he was very fond. Once, that maiden became seriously ill. The Sultan had to go to Damscus, but his heart remained with her. He kept asking about her, but her illness persisted even though some of the best physicians were attending her. Then the physician Sukra was summoned to examine her. He found that she had a poor appetite, was moody and made no attempt to get up from her bed. He came several times with the other physicians, and then asked the servant permission to enter alone. This having been granted, he went in and said to her: "O mistress, I can give you a treatment which, God willing, will cure you speedily, so that you will need nothing else." She agreed to be treated and he said: "I want you to answer all my questions and hide nothing from me." She again agreed, and he made her swear to it. Then he asked: "Where do you come from?" — "I am from `Alān." — "The `Alānis in their homeland are Christians. Tell me, what did you eat mostly at home?" — "Cow's meat." — "And what wine did you usually drink?"

Such and such." — "Rejoice, for you are cured!" He went home, bought a calf, slaughtered it and cooked part of it. He then brought a plate with a piece of meat roasted in milk and garlic, with a thin sheet of bread over it, and placed it in front of her, saying: "Eat!" She felt her appetite whetted, dipped the meat in the milk and garlic sauce and ate her fill. When she had finished, he took a small [p.804] vessel from his pocket, saying: "This is a drink which will do you good — take it!" She drank and felt sleep come upon her, whereupon he wrapped her in a warm fur mantle; she then perspired heavily and later awoke in good health. He repeated this treatment on the following two days, until the cure was complete. In recognition of his services, she gave him a trayful of jewels, whereupon he said: "I nevertheless want you to write to the Sultan about the nature of your illness, and that you were cured by me." She promised to do so and wrote the letter, stressing how grateful she was to the physician; she maintained that she had been about to die and been saved by the only person who proved able to cure her, despite several attempts by other physicians. She then asked the Sultan to reward Sukra. After taking note of the contents of the letter, the Sultan sent for him, rewarded him and said: "We are grateful to you for your treatment." The physician replied: "O master, she was indeed on the brink of death, but Allāh the Omnipresent granted her health through me, so that she might live the rest of her allotted days." Pleased with this answer, the Sultan said: "Ask whatever you wish, and I shall give it to you." He replied, "O master, give me ten acres of land, five in the village of Sam` and five in the village of `Indān." The Sultan answered: "I shall give it to you with full rights of purchase and sale, so that it will remain yours forever." He wrote an order to this effect and moreover gave Sukra a robe of honor. Sukra went back to Aleppo, where he accumulated great wealth. His fortune lasted so that his children also benefited by it.


`Afīf ibn Sukra. `Afīf ibn `Abd al-Qāhir ibn Sukra was a Jew of Aleppo, adept in the medical art, celebrated both for his therapy and theoretical knowledge. Most of his sons and relatives also practiced medicine and lived in Aleppo. In 584/1188 he wrote a treatise on colic, dedicated to al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn. [p.805]


Ibn al-Salāh. The Shaikh and learned Imām Najm al-Dīn Abū al-Futūh Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Sūrī, known as Ibn al-Salāh, had both profound and detailed knowledge in the philosophical sciences. He was eloquent, expressed himself clearly and wrote wittily. He was also a distinguished physician. Ibn al-Salāh was a Persian, originating from Hamadān, and lived in Baghdad. Hisam al-Dīn Tumurtāsh ibn al-Ghāzī ibn Urtuq had him come to him, and honored him greatly, and he stayed with this ruler for a while. He then traveled to Damascus and lived there until his death — may God have mercy upon him — which occurred on a Sunday night in the year 540/1145 . . . . . . . . . . He was buried in the tombs of the Sufīs, near the River Banyas, outside Damascus.

I have copied the following from a manuscript of the Shaikh, the physician Amīn al-Dīn Abū Zakariyā Yahyā ibn Ismā`il al-Bayāsī, may God have mercy upon him: The shaikh, the learned imām and philosopher Abū al-Futū`h ibn al-Salāh, arrived in Damascus from Baghdad and stayed with the learned Shaikh, the physician Abū al-Fadl Ismaīl ibn Abū al-Waqqār. Ibn al-Salah wished to obtain some Baghdādi shoes and asked for a man who could make some good ones. A man named Sa`dān the Shoemaker was pointed out to him, and he ordered shoes from him. When they were ready, Ibn al-Salāh found them too narrow, too long, and of bad workmanship, so that he repeatedly decried him, his work and those who bought from him. Shaikh Abū al-Hakam, the physician of the Maghrib, on hearing about this episode, composed the following jocular poem, in which he used many logical, philosophical and geometrical terms . . . . . . . . . . [The long poem follows.]

Ibn al-Salāh, wrote a treatise on the fourth form — ascribed to Galen — of valid syllogisms and a compendium of philosophy.


Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī. The learned and virtuous Imām Abū Hafs `Umar ibn . . . . [lacuna] was unique in his wide knowledge [p.806] of the philosophical sciences. He was an expert lawyer, a great sage of truly orthodox views, and an eloquent stylist. Whoever debated with him was defeated by his arguments; whatever subject was explored by him was enhanced by his achievements. But his knowledge was greater that his prudence. The Shaikh Sadīd al-Dīn Mahmūd ibn `Amr told me that Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī frequently visited his Shaikh, Fakhr al-Dīn al Māridīnī, and was friendly with him. Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn used to say to Sadīd al-Dīn, "How gifted, how brilliant this youth is! I have never found anyone like him in my generation; but I fear that the combined effect of his great rashness and passion and his bad memory will bring about his downfall." Sadīd al-Dīn continues: "When Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī left us, going from the east to Syria, he came to Aleppo, where he carried on discussions with its lawyers, none of whom could compete with him. Wherefore they hated him bitterly. The Sultan al-Malik al-Zāhir Ghāzī ibn al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyub summoned him, as well as the most notable scholars, lawyers and theologians, in order that they might hold a philosophical debate before him. They held a long debate, in which Shihāb al-Dīn's superiority was indisputable, his knowledge dazzling. His performance pleased al-Malik al-Zāhir, who favored him and in time made him his intimate friend. This only added to the hatred of those people, so they prepared records of his alleged atheism and sent them to Damascus, to al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn, saying: 'If this man stays, he will corrupt the faith of al-Malik al-Zāhir; if he is exiled, he will corrupt any region in which he settles.' They added many other remarks of this kind. Salāh al-Dīn sent his son al-Malik al Zāhir in Aleppo a letter in the handwriting of the Judge al-Fādil, asking him to verify the above allegations and saying. 'This al-Shihāb al-Suhrawardī [p.807] must be killed, for he can neither be banished nor be allowed to stay.' When Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī heard this, he realized that he was doomed; he asked to be left in a secluded place and be denied food and drink until he met Allāh the Glorious. This was done late in the year 586/1190 in the fortress of Aleppo, when he was about thirty-six years old." The Shaikh Sadīd al-Dīn Mahmud ibn `Umar concludes; "When our master, Fakhr al-Dīn of Māridīn, heard of his death, he said to us: 'Did I not tell you so, was I not worried about him?'"

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah continues: "It is said that Sihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī was adept in natural magic and performed well authenticated miracles in this field. The physician Ibrāhīm ibn Abū al-Fadl ibn Sadaqa told me that he once met him outside the Gate of Escape and they went in the direction of the Great Plain, accompanied by a group of students and others. The conversation turned to that science, its wonders and the Shaikh's knowledge of it. He listened as he walked along, and then exclaimed: 'How beautiful Damascus is and how beautiful this place!' We looked and saw in the east high whitewashed walls, close to each other and apparently of fine construction. There was an enclosure with large windows, in which could be seen women of unequaled beauty. Singing voices were heard, intertwining trees arose before us, and broad rivers were flowing. We had not known this place before and were greatly astonished, everybody was delighted at the view." The physician Ibrāhīm goes on: "We continued to see it for a while, but then it vanished and we again saw what we had been accustomed to see there for a long time. When I saw that wonderful sight, I felt as in a trance; my perceptive faculty was not the same as usual."

Some Persian sages told me that when they were once in al-Qābān, on their way from Damascus, in the company of the Shaikh Shihāb al-Dīn, they met a flock of sheep tended by a Turk. They said to the [p.808] Shaikh: "O master, we would like one of these sheep to eat." He said: "I have ten dirhams, take them and buy a sheep." So we bought a sheep from him. As we went on, we were overtaken by the Turk's friend, who said: "Give back that sheep and take a smaller one, that man didn't know what he was selling you. The sheep you bought is worth the two Persian camels you have, much more than what he took from you as its price." We bargained with him until the Shaikh noticed it and said: "Take the sheep and go; I shall stay here and settle things with him." We went on and he stayed, talking and arguing with the man. After we had walked a little further he left him and followed us. The Turk went after him shouting, but he paid no attention to him and did not say a word. The Turk finally reached him, in great anger, seized his left hand and cried: "Where are you going, leaving me behind?" Suddently the Shaikh's arm came off his shoulder; it was left in the Turk's hand with blood flowing. The Turk almost fainted with astonishment, threw the arm down and ran away. The Shaikh returned, picked up the arm with his right hand and rejoined us. The Turk kept looking back at us until he disappeared. When the Shaikh reached us, there was nothing in his right hand but his handkerchief." 

Safi al-Dīn Hālīl ibn Abū al-Fadl the Scribe told me the following in the name of the Shaikh Diyā' al-Dīn ibn Saqrar, may God have mercy upon him. In the year 579/1183, the Shaikh Shihāb al-Dīn `Umar al-Suhrawardī came to Aleppo and stayed at Halāwiyah College. Its rector in those days was the illustrious head of the Hanafiya school, Iftikhār al-Dīn, may God bless him. When Shihāb al-Dīn attended a lesson and argued with the lawyers, he wore a weasel-skin mantle and carried a ewer and a shepherd's wooden stall. No one knew him, but when he argued and distinguished himself among the lawyers, Iftikhār al-Dīn, recognizing his merit, took a coarse robe, a tunic, a long outer garment and a vest, [p.809] handed them to his son and said: "Go up to that beggar and tell him, 'My father sends you his regards and says that you are a learned person. He asks you to attend his lesson with the other lawyers and sends you these things to wear when you come.'" When the son come to Shihāb al-Dīn and gave him his father's message, Shihāb al-Dīn fell silent for a while, and then said: "O my son, put these clothes down and please do me a favor." He brought out a ruby-coloured hyacinth stone as big as a chicken's egg the like of which in size and color nobody had possessed before, and said: "Go to the market and auction off this stone, but whatever be the bid, do not sell it without first letting me know." Iftikhār al-Dīn's son went to the market and sat with the auctioneer to sell the stone. The price went up to twenty-five thousand dirhams. The auctioneer took the stone to al-Malik al-Zāhir Ghāzī ibn Salāh al-Dīn, then the ruler of Aleppo, and said: "Twenty-five thousand dirhams were bid for this stone." Al-Malik al-Zahir marveled at its size and color, found it most beautiful and bid thirty thousand dirhams for it. The auctioneer said: "Wait until I have informed Iftikhār al-Dīn's son of this bid." He went back to the market, returned the stone to Iftikhār al Dīn's son and said: "Go and consult your father about this offer," thinking the stone belonged to Iftikhār al-Dīn. When Iftikhār al-Dīn's son informed Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī of the price offered for the stone, the latter looked stern, then took the stone, placed it on a boulder, and smashed it with another boulder, saying to Iftikhār al-Dīn's son: "Take, O my son, these clothes, go back to your father, kiss his hand for me, and say: 'Had I desired clothes, I would not have destroyed the stone." Iftikhār al-Dīn's son went to his father and told him the whole story, which left Iftikhār al-Dīn perplexed. As for al-Malik al-Zāhir, he sought out the auctioneer and demanded the stone of him. The [p.810] auctioneer said: "O master, it was taken back by the person who brought it, the son of the illustrious Iftikhār al-Dīn, the Rector of al-Halāwiya."

The Sultan rode to the university, sat in the great hall and called for Iftikhār al-Dīn, saying: "I want that stone." The rector told him that it belonged to a poor man who was staying with him. The Sultan thought this over and said — "O Iftikhār al-Dīn, if my conjecture is right, that man is Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrwardī." He than rose, found Shihāb al-Dīn, took him to his castle and raised him to a lofty status. Shihāb al-Dīn would argue with the lawyers of all schools and defeat them all; then he began to slight the people of Aleppo and talk to them haughtily, until they became violently hostile to him, decided upon his death, and brought it about. It is said that al-Malik al-Zāhir sent an assassin to him, and afterwards took revenge upon those who had decided to kill him. He seized and imprisoned some of them, humiliated them and confiscated great sums of money from them.

Sadīd al-Dīn Mahmūd ibn `Omar, known as ibn Ruqaīqa, told me the following: "The Shaikh Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī dressed poorly, paid no attention to his appearance, and cared nothing for the affairs of this world. We were once strolling together in the Mosque of Mayā-Fāriqūn, he wearing a frayed, short upper gown, a kerchief round his head, and leather boots, when a friend of mine saw me, came over to me and said: 'How can you keep company with such a crazy wretch?' I hushed him, saying that this was the master of our generation, Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī. My friend withdrew in extreme bewilderment."

An inhabitant of Aleppo told me that when Shihāb al-Dīn, may God have mercy upon him, died and was buried on the outskirts of the city, an ancient poem was inscribed on his tomb . . . . . . . . [p.811]

Among his sayings is a prayer to God: "O mainstay of existence, unending source of all good, abode of blessings and goal of all desires, author of light and ruler of everything; giver of life in both worlds, extend to us your light, teach us how to please you, inspire us by your guidance and purify us from the stain of sin, save us from the darkness of our nature to witness your light, see your sights, be near your worshipers and the inhabitants of your kingdom; join us with those who enjoy your favor — the angels, the just, the prophets and the apostles."

A specimen of the poetry of Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī is . . . . . . . . [tinged with Sūfism]. He recited a poem when he was dying, offering himself up to death . . . . . . . . . .

His books are:

1) "Diplomatic and Political Comments."

2) "The `Imādiyya Notes," dedicated to `Imād al-Dīn Abū Bakr ibn Qara-Arslān ibn Dā'ūd ibn Urtuq, the ruler of Hirt-Birt.

3) "Evidence."

4) "The Opposites, a supplement to the "Book of Comments."

5) "The Palaces of Light."

6) "Ascents."

7) "Conversations."

8) The Art of Dyeing Cloth."


Shams al-Dīn. The distinguished imām, perfect savant and eminent judge Shams al-Dīn, "the Advocate of Islām," the master of the learned and wise, Abū al-`Abbās Ahmad ibn al-Khalīl ibn Sa`ādah ibn Ja`far ibn `Isā, of the city of Khiwā, was unique among his generation in the philosophical sciences and a prodigy of religious jurisprudence. He was acquainted with the principles of medicine and the other branches of science. He was brilliant and yet humble, of handsome appearance, [p.812] noble-minded and kind. He was, may God bless him, zealous in prayer, fasting and the reading of the Qur'ān. When he arrived in Syria during the reign of the Sultan al-Malik al-Mu`azzam `Isā ibn al-Malik al `Adil, the latter sent for him, heard him speak and found him foremost in his generation in all the sciences. Al-Malik al-Mu`azzam was himself adept in religious law. He favored Shams al-Dīn and treated him generously, granting him a salary and privileges. He esteemed him so much that he installed him in Damascus, placing a dwelling at his disposal. A group of students studied under him. I would visit him and study Ibn Sahlān's "Demonstration" with him. He was eloquent, having a clear and beautiful diction and a fine character. His master was the Imam Fakhr al-Dīn, son of the preacher of al-Rayy, with whom he studied until al-Malik al-Mu`azzam made him Chief Justice of Damascus. Despite his high station, he remained very modest; he was soft-spoken, went to the mosque on foot and attended all the prayers punctually. His literary works are outstanding. He lived and taught at `Adiliyyah University until his premature death, may God have mercy upon him, of hectic fever. He died in Damascus on the 7th of Sha`bān, 637/1239.

His books are:

1) A supplement to the Qur'ān commentary by the son of the preacher of al-Rayy.

2) A book on grammar.

3) "The Science of Genealogy."

4) A book on the philosophical symbolism of the honorific name of the Sultan al-Malik al-Mu`azzam, dedicated to al-Malik al-Mu`azzam `Isā ibn Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb. [p.813]


Rafī` al-Dīn al-Jīlī. The venerable judge and learned Imām, Rafī` al-Dīn Abū Hāmid `Abd al`Azīz ibn `Abd al-Wahib ibn Isma`īl ibn `Abd al-Hādī al-Jīlī originated from Fīlmān but acquired his reputation in al-Gilān. He was pre-eminent in the philosophical sciences, the principles of religion, religious jurisprudence, the natural sciences and medicine. He lived in Damascus and was a lecturer in law at `Adrāwīyya University, inside the Gate of Victory. He held seminars for his students in the different branches of sciences and medicine. I studied some philosophy with him. He was eloquent, very wise, and read abundantly. For a short time he served as a judge in Ba`albekk. He was a close friend of the governor, Amīn al-Dawlal, and when the Sultan al-Malik al-Sālih Imād al-Dīn Isma`īl became ruler of Damascus and the Chief Justice Shams al-Dīn of Chiva died — may God have mercy upon him — Amīn al-Dawlah suggested that Rafī` al-Dīn should replace the latter. So the Sultan made him Chief Justice of Damascus. His prestige increased, he became wealthy, and continued in this condition for some time. But many people complained of ways he had committed and vehemently denounced his conduct. Things came to such a pass that he was seized and done to death — may God have mercy upon him — during the reign of al-Malik al-Sālih Isma`īl. Following a quarrel between him and the Vizier Amīn al-Dawlah, he was sent with an escort of vizierial officers to a place near Ba`albekk, where there was a yawning abyss known as the Cave of Afqa. There people were told to pinion his arms behind his back and after doing so push him into the abyss. One of those present told me that when he was pushed, he was smashed by the fall, but it seems that his clothes caught on the side of the cave's lower part. The people stayed there for about three days, listening to his groaning, which became weaker and weaker, until it stopped and they were sure that he was dead; then they went away. [p.814]

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah adds: "It is curious to note that the Judge Rafī` al-Dīn went over a copy of this book in my presence, in which I did not mention him." He read as far as the passage concerning Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī and was much impressed by it He said, "You have mentioned him, but omitted others better than he," meaning himself. He added: Shihāb al-Dīn's story is indeed woeful, but he died after attending his goal; may the Omnipotent grant me to die like him; praise be to God, who determines the fate of his creatures according to his will." The Judge Rafī` al-Dīn died in the month of Dhū al-Hijja, 641/1243. When he became Chief Justice of Damascus in 638/1240, the following poem was composed in his honour . . . . . . . .

Rafī` al-Dīn al Jīlī wrote the following books:

1) An exposition of remarks and notes, dedicated to al-Malik al-Muzaffar Tajiyy al-Dīn `Umar ibn al-Malik al-Amjad-Anjad Bahrām ibn Farah Shāh ibn Shāhīnshāh ibn Ayyub.

2) Summary of the general principles of Ibn Sīnā's Qānun.

3) A collection of traditions originating from the Prophet, may Allāh give him peace, which have been authoritatively transmitted.


Shams al-Dīn of Khosrushāh. The honorable Shams al-Dīn `Abd al-Hamīd ibn `Isā came from Khosrushāh, an estate near Tibrīz. He was an eminent scholar and physician, a model to mankind and glory to Islam. He distinguished himself in the philosophical sciences, was well-versed in the principles of medicine and possessed a perfect knowledge of the religious sciences. He studied untiringly and constantly added virtue to merit. He was one of the best pupils of the master Fakhr al-Dīn ibn al-Habil of al-Ray. Upon his arrival in Syria, he served the Sultan al-Malik al-Nasir Salāh al-Dīn Dā'ud ibn al-Malik al-Mu`azzam, staying with him at al-Karak, where he [p.815] was held in high honor and received numerous favors and gifts. He then went to Damascus and lived there until his death — may God bless him — in the month of Shawwāl, 652/1254. He was buried on Mount Qasiyūn. When he arrived in Damascus and I met him, I found an old man of pleasant bearing, eloquent, wise and very learned. I was visiting him one day when a Persian lawyer brought him a book written in minute characters, one eighth the size of Baghdādi script, arranged according to the Mu`tazilah system. After examining it, Shams al-Dīn kissed it and placed it on his head. Upon my question, he said: "This is the script of our master, the Imam Fakhr al-Dīn ibn al-Hatib of al-Rayy, may Allāh have mercy upon him." I esteemed him all the more for the respect he showed toward his master.

When Shams al-Dīn of Khosrushāh died, may God have mercy upon him, the Shaikh `Izz al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Gahawī al-Darīr al-Arbalī composed a eulogy in his honor . . . . . . . . . .

The Commaander Najm al-Dīn al-Labūdf also composed a eulogy on him. . . . . . . . . . .

Shams al-Dīn wrote the following books:

1) A summary of the "Instruction in Jurisprudence according to the Safi`ite School" by Abū Ishāq of Sīrāz.

2) A summary of Master Ibn Sīnā's "Book of Medicine."

3) A supplement to the "Book of Clear Signs" by Ibn Khatīb al-Ray, completing the second chapter; the "Book of Clear Signs" he used is not the famous abridged edition in ten chapters.


Saif al-Dīn al-Āmidī. The venerable Imām and perfect scholar, Saif al-Dīn Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Abū Alī Muhammad ibn Sālim al-Amidī, of Taghlib, was unique in his generation as regards virtue and supreme in his knowledge of the philosophical sciences, the [p.816] different schools of theology and the principles of medicine. He was of light complexion, eloquent in speech and penmanship. He served al-Malik al-Mansūr Nāsir al-Dīn Abū al Ma`ālī Muhammad ibn al-Malik al-Muzaffar Taqiyy al-Dīn `Umar ibn Sāhinsāh ibn Ayyūb, the Governor of Hamāt, for two years and received generous allowances from him, being one of his most honored favorites. He served that ruler until the latter's death in the year 617/1220, when he went to Damascus. When he arrived there, al-Malik al-Mu`azzam Sharaf al-Dīn ibn al-Malik al-`Ādil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb gave him numerous benefices, honored him greatly and placed him in charge of education. When he came to the university and gave a lesson to the lawyers there, everyone was astonished at his excellent discourse on debate and research. Nobody equaled him in any of the sciences, but he seldom taught in the philosophic sciences.

I was vouchsafed to his "Treasures of Symbols" under him only because of the great friendship that had bound him and my father.

When I first met him, I had come to his house with my father; it faced a paved coutyard near Ādiliyyah University in Damascus. After greeted him we sat down, being welcomed with amiable words. He looked at us and said: "I have never seen a father and son more like each other." The Commander Fakhr al-Qudāt ibn Yasāqah recited to me the following poem about himself, which he wrote after al-Imād ibn al-Salmāsī had interceded for him with Saif al-Dīn al-Āmidī in order that the latter might accept him as a student . . . . . . . . . .

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah continues: "This poem contains a play on the word saif [sword] in the manner of the poet Abū Tamām."

Saif al-Dīn stayed in Damascus until his death — may God have mercy upon him — on the 4th of Safar, 631/1232. Here is a sample of his poetry, a piece which he wrote about himself and which I obtained from his son, Jamāl al-Dīn Muhammad, who heard it from his father . . . . . . . . [the poem follows]. [p.817]

Saif al-Dīn al-Amidī wrote the following books:

1) "The Minute Truths."

2) "The Treasures of Symbols."

3) "The Pure Hearts."

4) "Primary Concepts on the Principles of Religion."

5) "The Essence of the Desirable in Theology."

6) "Solving the Enigmas in the Commentary on the Exhortations," dedicated to al-Malik al-Mansūr, Governor of Hamāt, the son of Tagiy al-Dīn.

7) "The Essence of Hope in Polemics."

8) Commentary on "About Polemics" by Shihāb al-Dīn, known as al-Sharīf al-Marāghy.

9) "The Goal of the Follower on the Paths of Ritual."

10) An explanation of the meanings of expressions used by sages and theologians.

11) "A Unique Guide to all."

12) "An Interpretation of Disagreement."

13) "The Blame Attached to Disagreement."

14) "The Small Appendix."

15) "The Large Appendix."

16) "The Substance of Pure Gold; A Profession of Faith."

17) "A Memorandum to al-Malik al-`Azīz ibn Salāh al-Dīn."

18) "A Reply to Questions Concerning Principles of Religion."

19) "The Charnel-Houses of Characters.


Muwaffaq al-Dīn ibn al-Mūtrān. The physician, Imām, scholar and virtuous person, Muwaffaq al-Dīn Abū Nasr As`ad ibn Abū al-Fath Ibyas, the son of Jinjis the Bishop, was a leading philosopher, a unique expert in theology, kind and generous, the master of his generation in the theory and practice of medicine, peerless in the knowledge and application of its principles, a gentle and efficient therapeutist. He was adept in the philosophical sciences, devoted [p.818] to the literary arts; he studied grammar, language and literature successfully under the Shaikh and Imām Taj al-Dīn Abū al-Yaman Zaid ibn al-Hasan al-Qindī. Muwaffaq al-Dīn ibn al-Mutrān was born and brought up in Damascus. His father was also a very competent physician, who roamed the world in quest of virtue. He traveled to Byzantium to acquaint himself thoroughly with the principles and different schools of thought of Christianity, in which he believed. Later he went to Iraq and met Amīn al-Dawlah ibn al-Tilmīdh, under whom he studied medicine for a while, reading many text books, until he required a reputation as a physician. Afterwards he returned to Damascus and practiced medicine there to the end of his days.

Muwaffaq al-Dīn ibn al-Mūtrān was keen-witted, eloquent and erudite. His works prove his excellence in medicine and other sciences. He studied medicine under Muhadhdhab al-Dīn ibn alNaqqāsh. He was a handsome man, particular about his dress, which he liked to be costly. He was physician to al-Malik al-Nasir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb and was highly favored by that ruler, who made him his chamberlain and chief of his household, a post for which he paid him extremely well. Salāh al-Dīn, may God have mercy upon him, was of noble character and very generous to those who served him and to everyone who asked his assistance, so much so that when he died, his treasury was found empty. He esteemed ibn al-Mutrān highly and took him with him wherever he went, until he spoilt him by the abundance of his favors and gifts. Ibn al-Mutrān became conceited, thinking himself even above kings. Salāh al-Dīn was aware of this feature in him, but pardoned it as he respected him for his learning. Ibn al-Mutrān converted to Islam during Salāh al-Dīn's reign.

Someone who knew ibn al-Mutrān — his self-love and familiarity with Salāh al-Dīn — told me that he once accompanied the Sultan [p.819] on one of his campaigns. During a campaign, Salāh al-Dīn would live in a red hut, with a red antechamber and passageway. One day, Salāh al-Dīn was riding about when he suddently saw a red tent with a red passageway and privy. He contemplated it for a while and then asked whose it was. When told that it belonged to the physician, Ibn al-Mutrān, he said, "By Allāh, I thought it was a product of Ibn al-Mutran's vanity." He laughed, but then added: "If a messenger passes by, he will think it belongs to a king; this being so, he must change at least the privy." He ordered it to be destroyed. This was done, and Ibn al-Mutrān took it very hard; he kept to himself for a couple of days and did not offer his usual services. The Sultan, seeking to propitiate him, gave him some money.

In this connection, the same source told me another anecdote.  There was in the service of Salāh al-Dīn a physician called Abū al-Karaj the Christian. .He served the Sultan for a long time and had access to his private apartments. One day he told the Sultan that his daughters needed dowries and asked his help in the matter. Salāh al-Dīn ordered him to make a list of everything required and hand it to him. Abū al-Faraj listed jewels, fabrics, tools, etc. to the value of about thirty thousand dirhams. When Salāh al-Dīn had read the list, he ordered his treasurer to buy Abū al-Faraj everything included in it. When Ibn al-Mutrān heard of this episode, he curtailed his services and Salāh al-Dīn noticed that he did not look well. He guessed the reason and ordered his treasurer to work out the total price of what he had bought for Abū al-Faraj the Physician and then pay ibn al-Mutrān a similar sum. This was done.

Abū al-Zāhir Ismā`īl, who knew Ibn al-Mutrān intimately, told me that the self-admiration and arrogance which characterized Ibn al-Mutrān were entirely absent in his student days. He used to see [p.820] Ibn al-Mutrān during the time that the latter was studying grammar at the mosque. Ibn al-Mutrān would come there after his service at the Sultan's palace, with a numerous retinue of horsemen, Turkish slaves and others; but when he approached the mosque, he dismounted took the books he was studying in his hand or under his arm, let none of the servants accompany him and continued on foot, with the books, to the group of the Shaikh under where he was studying; he greeted the Shaikh and sat among the group, intelligent and quiet, until he finished his lesson and returned to his previous company.

The governor and honorable judge, Jamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Yūsuf ibn Ibrāhīm al-Qiftī, said that the physician, Muwaffaq al-Dīn As`ad ibn al-Mutrān, a Christian, became a good Muslim after his conversion. Al-Malik al-Nasir Salāh al-Dīn, may Allāh sanctify his soul, married him to one of his palace favorites, named Jawzah. Jawzah was a servant of Honadhātūn, daughter of Mu`in al-Dīn and wife of Salāh al-Dīn. She was her chief stewardess and favorite maidservant, so he gave her a great deal of jewelry and other precious articles, as well as monetary and other benefits. After her marriage to Ibn al-Mutrān, she put his affairs in order, took care of his business, beautified his dress, and improved both his appearance and his character. He thus became a famous man and acquired great wealth by treating the state dignitaries when they were ill; they vied with each other in rewarding his services. His position with the Sultan was so exalted that he was almost a vizier.

He made a point of attracting people who specialized in medicine and philosophy, in order to advance them and help them earn a living. The above-mentioned informant told me that the lawyer Ismā`īl ibn Sālim ibn al-Banā-al-Qiftī, the preacher of `Idāb, related to him as follows.

When the Sultan had conquered the coastal region, I traveled from `Idab to visit Jerusalem. On arriving in Syria, after leaving the arid [p.821] `Idāb I saw wooded hillsides and desired to settle there; but I did not know how to make a living. I turned to the pious `Abd al-Rahīm and asked him for a letter to the Sultan, recommending me for the post of preacher in the fortress of Kerak. He wrote such a letter full of kindness, which is included in the collection of his correspondence. I took it to Damascus, where the Sultan was staying, but was instructed to show it to Ibn al-Mutrān. I went to the latter's house, which I entered with his permission, and found him to be of pleasant appearance and temper, an amenable listener and talker. His house struck me as the essence of beauty as to construction and furnishings, with water springing from pipes in his pool, which were of pure gold and excellent workmanship. The slave named `Umar, who served as his chamberlain, was extremely handsome. There were carpets and rugs and exquisite fragrances that filled me with a sense of awe. I told him what I had come for, and he responded generously to my request." The Governor Jamāl al-Dīn concluded; "I saw his wife and the son of his chamberlain `Umar in Aleppo after the year 600/1203. They were comfortably off, living under the protection of al-Malik al-Zāhir, may God prosper his reign, on allowances that had been awarded to them. She died after a while, and I have not heard of the son of `Umar since.

The Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn ibn al-Būrī, the Christian scribe, told me that when al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb had conquered al-Kerak, the Christian physician Muwallaq al-Dīn Ya`qūb ibn Siqlāb, then a young man, came to Damascus. On his head he wore a shawl with a narrow band round it, and he was clad in a long-sleeved tight-fitting blue gown, the garb of the Frankish physicians. He went to Muwaffaq al-Dīn ibn al-Mūtrān and began to cultivate him, hoping to benefit thereby. Muwaffaq al-Dīn told him: "This dress you are wearing will bring you no luck in medicine among the Muslims in this country. You should adopt the usual attire [p.822] of the local physicians." He brought a wide `itābiyya robe and an attractive sleeveless bodice and told him to put them on. Then he said: "There is a great prince here named Maimūn al-Qasrī, who is ill and who is attended by me. Come with me and attend him yourself." When they arrived, Ibn al-Mutrān told the prince: "This is a skilled physician in whom I have complete confidence. Let him serve and treat you at all times and stay with you until you recover, God willing." The prince agreed, and the physician Ya`qūb stayed with him day and night until he got well, for which he was rewarded with five hundred dinars. Upon receiving it, the physician went to Ibn al-Mutrān and said: "O master, that man has rewarded me, and I am bringing you the money." Said Ibn al-Mutrān, "Keep it, for I only intended to benefit you." He kept it and blessed him.

The physician `Izz al-Dīn Abū Ishāq Ibrāhīm ibn Muhammad ibn al-Sawaidī told me the following story: Once Ibn al-Mūtrān was sitting at the door of his house, when a distinguished-looking young man, dressed as a soldier, came up to him and handed him a piece of paper on which were written twelve lines of poetry praising him. After reading them, Ibn al-Mutrān asked him if he was a poet. The youth replied: "I am not, but I come of a good family. I have fallen on evil days and have been given these short lines of verse in order to come here and place my fate in your hands so that you may direct me in the way your lofty mind sees fit." The physician entered his house and called to the youth to come in too. He offered him food, which he accepted, and then said to him: "`Izz al-Dīn Farihshāh, the Governor of Sarhad, has become stricken with a frequently recurring malady. I am thinking of sending you to attend him; he will pay you well. Said the youth: "But master, whence shall I obtain the necessary medical knowledge and skill?" — "Do not worry, I shall write out for you a schedule of treatment which you will follow to the letter." The youth pledged obedience, and on his way out was approached by a [p.823] servant who gave him a bundle of clothes and a horse and bridle. The servant told him to put on the clothes, mount the horse and prepare himself to go to Sarhad. Said the youth: "But I have nowhere to leave the horse for the night." — "Leave it with us, and go tomorrow morning, with God's help." On the morrow, the youth came to Ibn al-Mutrān's house and received a letter of recommendation to `Izz al-Dīn Farihshāh, the Governor of Sarhad, in ibn al-Mutrān's own hand, an expose of the method of treatment, and two hundred dirhams for traveling expenses. The youth rode to Sarhad and treated the Governor according to instructions, until he recovered and went to the hot baths. He honored the youth with an exquisite robe, gave him a mule and a saddle, a great quantity of gold and a thousand Egyptian dinars, and then asked him to remain in his service. The youth replied: "I cannot, O master, until I have consulted my shaikh, the physician Muwaffaq al-Dīn ibn al-Mutrān." "Who is this Muwaffaq al-Dīn?" — "Why, he is only my brother's servant: You must not leave Sarhad." Upon being further pressed, he said: "I must go to my house, and then I will come back." He went home, fetched the honorary robe, the money and the rest, and said: "This is what you have given me. Take it back and let me go, for by Allāh, I know nothing about medicine — I only met the physician ibn al-Mutrān." And he told him the whole story. `Izz al-Dīn said: "Do not worry, you do not have to be a physician. Do you know how to play backgammon and chess?" — "Of course" — for the youth was cultured and refined. `Izz al-Dīn thereupon declared: "I shall make you my chamberlain and allot you lands which will bring you twenty-two thousand dirhams yearly." The youth replied: "l promise you absolute obedience, O master; only ask leave to go to Damascus and see the physician Muwaffaq al-Dīn, so that I may kiss his hand and thank him for the service he has done to me." He was given leave, went to see Muwaffaq al-Dīn, kissed his hand and thanked him warmly. [p.824] He then produced the gifts he had received, and said: "All this I have received, take it." Muwaffaq al-Dīn refused, saying: "I only intended to benefit you, keep everything and may Allāh's blessing go with it." The youth told him what had happened to `Izz al-Dīn and what post had been assigned to him. He remained in `Izz al-Dīn's service, and all his good fortune was due to the kindness of the physician Muwaffaq al-Dīn ibn al-Mutrān.

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah continues: "Muwaffaq al-Dīn ibn al-Mutrān was a great collector of books, so that, when he died, about ten thousand medical and other works were found in his library, besides those he had copied. He was much concerned with copying and correcting books, and there were three copyists in his permanent service, who received a salary and gifts from him. One of them was Jamāl al-Dīn, known as ibn al-Jamāla, who wrote a neat well-proportioned hand. Ibn al-Mutrān copied many books himself; I have seen several such copies, and found them to be unsurpassable as to script, correctness and expressiveness. He read a great deal — in fact, most of the time. The majority of the books in his possession contain his corrections and notes in his handwriting. Many small books and individual medical essays were found in his library combined into single volumes; they had been accurately and neatly copied, in half one-eighth of Baghdādi script, some of them in his own hand. There were a great many of these small collections. He never left his house without a book in his pocket, which he would read at the gate of the Sultan's palace or wherever else he happened to be. After his death, all his books were sold, for he left no children."

The physician `Imrān al-Isrā'ili told me that he had attended the sale of Ibn al-Mutrān's books and those small collections split up into many thousands of different items, most of them copied by Ibn al-Jamāla. The Judge al-Fādil asked to see them, so a small box of such separate items was delivered to him. He looked at them, [p.825] then sent them back, and they fetched three thousand dirhams at the auction. The physician `Imrān bought most of them. He told me that he had reached an agreement with the heirs concerning the sale to the effect that they should sell each collection for one dirham. He bought those collections at that price by the number.

Ibn Usaybi`ah continues: "Ibn al-Mutrān was very virtuous, of noble character, kind toward his disciples, to whom he gave books and other gifts. When one of them began to practice medicine, he gave him an honorary robe and showed a constant interest in him. His best student was the Shaikh Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī, may God have mercy upon him, who studied with him for a long time and accompanied him during the campaign in which Salāh al-Dīn conquered the coastal region. Shaikh Muhadhdhab al-Dīn told me the following story about Ibn al-Mutrān's therapeutical proficiency: "Asad al-Dīn Shirkūh, the Governor of Homs, once sent for Ibn al-Mutrān. He went to see him with me. When we were on our way, a man afflicted with elephantiasis approached us. His illness was so grave that his face was disfigured and his complexion ruined. He asked Ibn al-Mutrān what drugs he should take, but the physician, visibly moved by the man's appearance, said: 'Eat viper's meat.' The man repeated his question, and Ibn al-Mutrān said again: 'Eat viper's meat, and you will recover.' We went on to Homs, where Ibn al-Mutrān looked after the patient for whose sake he had come, until he recovered. Then we returned. When we were on our way, a perfectly healthy clear-complexioned youth greeted us. He kissed Ibn al-Mutrān's hand, but the latter did not recognize him, and asked who he was. The youth introduced himself as the person who had complained to him of his illness. After following his advice, he had recovered without need of any other remedy. We marveled at the completeness of his recovery. He then took his leave and departed." [p.826]

The same informant told me that he once accompanied Ibn al-Mutrān to the great hospital built by Nūr al-Dīn ibn Zanghī, where he attended the patients. Among them was one who suffered so badly from ascites that he almost burst with it. At that time, Ibn Hamdān al-Jarā'ihī, a skillful therapeutist, was also at the hospital. They decided to lance the swelling. When the right place was lanced, yellow pus came out, while Ibn al-Mutrān watched the man's pulse. When he realized that patient could eject no more matter, he ordered the place to be compressed and the patient laid on his bed, without the bandage being changed. The man felt considerable relief. His wife was there with him, and ibn al-Mutrān told her not to let her husband undo the bandage or change it in any way until he returned to examine it the following day. We went away, and when night came the man said to his wife: "I am well now, there is nothing wrong with me; those physicians only want to prolong my illness. Undo the bandage so that the rest of the pus may come out and I can go back to my work." She refused, but he repeated his request several times, not knowing that they had postponed the extraction of the rest of the pus as a precautionary measure in order to preserve his strength. When she undid the bandage, all the pus came out, his strength ebbed away and he died.

Another story from the same source is the following: In the hospital, Muhadhdhab al-Dīn and Ibn al-Mutrān saw a man one of whose arms was paralyzed, as was the leg on the opposite side. Ibn al-Mutrān cured him speedily; he applied local treatment until he recovered completely. Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah continues: "Muwaffaq al-Dīn `As`ad ibn Illyā, the bishop's son, had two brothers, who were also physicians. One of them was Hibbat Allāh ibn Ilyās, the other . . . . . . Ibn Ilyās. Muwaffaq-al-Dīn died in Damascus in Rabī` I; 587/1191. From a manuscript of the poet `Abd al-Razzāq ibn Ahmad al `Āmirī I have [p.827] copied a eulogy in honor of Ibn al-Mutrān, written after his conversion to Islam, on the 3rd of Ramadān, 585/1189. . . . . . . . "

Muwaffaq al-Dīn wrote the following books:

1) "The Orchard of the Physicians and Garden of the Wise," in which he attempted to collect all the anecdotes, curiosities and apt definitions that he had read or heard from his masters. He did not finish this book; all I found of it were two parts, written by the hand of our master, the physician Muhadhdhab al-Dīn. The first had been proofread by Ibn al-Mutrān and bore his handwriting, but as for the second, Muhadhdhab al-Dīn told me that Ibn al-Mutrān died before proofreading it.

2) "The Nasiriyya Treatise on the Preservation of Health." The author certainly achieved his aim of concise and effective presentation. The book is named after the Sultan al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb. I have found a copy of the first part written by Jamāl al-Dīn, known as Ibn al-Jamāla, who was Ibn al-Mutrān's scribe. This part has also been translated.

3) "The Najmiyyah Treatise on Regimens." It seems to have been dedicated to Salāh al-Dīn's father Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb. Najm al-Dīn died before having received it, so it was named after his son.

4) Summary of "The Book of Attacks of Fever," ascribed to the Chaldeans, edited by Abū Bakr Ahmad ibn Alī ibn Wahsīyyāh. Ibn al-Mutrān finished his work in Rajab, 581/1185.

5) "A Philosophical Enigma."

6) "The Schools of Medicine."

7) Simple Drugs," an unfinished book, which attempts to deal separately with each of all the drugs.

8) "Instruction in Royal Medicine."

9) I was told by a relative of his that he left many drafts of medical and other books, as well as miscellaneous notes. His sisters took [p.828] those drafts and they perished in their possession. The relative also told me that he had seen how one of the sisters, wishing to put a linking to a box, glued some of Ibn al-Mutrān's manuscripts to its inside.


Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Ahmad ibn al-Hājib was a celebrated physician, learned in the medical art, well-versed in the exact sciences and interested in literature and grammar. He was born and bred in Damascus, and spent a long time studying medicine under Muhadhdhab al-Dīn ibn al-Naqqāsh. He then traveled to Mosul with the physician Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-`Azīz to study with the master Sharaf al-Dīn of Tūs, who was unique in his generation in the fields of philosophy, the exact sciences and others. They found that he had returned to Tūs, so they went to the latter place and stayed there for a while. Ibn al-Hājib then journeyed to Irbil, where the astronomer Fakhr al-Dīn ibn al-Dahhān was staying. He studied under his direction. He acquainted himself thoroughly with the astronomical tables prepared by ibn al-Dahhān, copied them with his own hand and then returned to Damascus.

Ibn al-Dahhān was an astronomer from Baghdād, who was known as Abū Shagā` and nicknamed "the little fox," He lived in Mosul for twenty years and then went to Damascus and was honorably received by Salāh al-Dīn, al-Fādil and a group of notables there, earning thirty dinars per month. He was devoutly religious, would fast and mortify his flesh, and pray in seclusion for four months and more at the Mosque of Damascus. The closet in al-Kalasa was made for him. He wrote many books, including the following: the famous "Astronomical Tables," a neat and sound piece of work; "The Pulpit of Religious Obligations," a very celebrated book: "Ten Volumes of Rare Traditions"; a book on the disagreement of foods with the body, arranged as an almanac of health. He studied incessantly and wrote [p.829] a great deal of poetry. He went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, but died in Baghdad on his way back, after being absent from that city for for more than forty years, and was buried beside his parents' tomb. Muhadhdhab al-Dīn ibn al-Hājib studied assiduously, loved the sciences and was an authority on geometry. Before achieving fame as a physician, he worked with the clocks at the Mosque of Damascus. Afterwards he distinguished himself in medicine and became one of the leaders of the profession. He worked at the great hospital founded by al-Malik al-Ādil Nūr al-Dīn ibn Zanghi and subsequently served Taqiyy al-Dīn `Umar, the Governor of Hamāt, until the latter's death. He then went back to Damascus and from there traveled to Egypt, where he served al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn ibn Ayyūb as a physician, and stayed in his service until that Sultan's death. Thereafter he went to al-Malik al-Mansūr ibn Taqiyy al-Dīn, the Governor of Hamāt, and stayed about two years. He died of dropsy in Hamāt.


Al-Sharīf the Oculist, i.e., the illustrious Burhān al-Dīn Abū al-Fadl Sulaymān, originated from Egypt and settled in Syria. He was of noble descent, well-mannered, of a gentle disposition and excellent character. He was an expert oculist, very learned and skillful, and moreover well-versed in the literary arts, outstanding in Arabic studies, a distinguished prose writer and excellent poet. He was oculist to the Sultan al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, who esteemed him greatly and bestowed on him a high rank and generous emoluments. He continued in this important position, right up to his death.

The material connected with him includes a satirical verse that I heard from the Shaikh Najīb al-Dīn Abū al-Fath Allāh ibn al-Muzaffar ibn `Uqail al-Saibānī, who knew it by heart. He heard it from its author, the Judge `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī: [p.830]

A man treated me with collyrium and I was relieved,
Both as regards my eye and my pocket.

The judge also said:

He treated the Banū al-`Abbās until he
Drove darkness from their eyes with his collyrium.


Al-Sharif Abū al-Fadl sent Sharaf al-Dīn ibn `Unayn a colt when he was in Egypt. Sharaf al-Dīn found it to be weak and lean, and so he wrote to al-Sharīf in a jocular vein . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Abū Mansūr the Christian was a famous physician, a learned and skillful therapist. He served al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb for two years.


Abū al-Najm the Christian. Abū al-Najm ibn Abū Ghālib ibn Fahd ibn Mansūr ibn Wahb ibn Qais ibn Mālik was a famous physician in his day. He was well-acquainted with the medical science and was a good therapist. He was a kindly man. He also taught medicine and was counted among the best of his generation. Abū al-Fath ibn Mihnā the Christian told me that Abū al-Najm's father was a farmer in the village of Shafā in the Hawrān and known as al-`yār. When his son Abū al-Najm was a child, a physician from Damascus took him to his home, and when he grew up, he taught him medicine. Abū al-Najm served al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, who favored him and enhanced his position. He served that Sultan for a while, visiting his palace and attending his family with other physicians. He died in Damascus in 599/1202/3, leaving a son, Amīn al -Dawlah Abū al-Fath ibn Abū al-Najm, who was also a physician. He wrote a compendium of medicine, dealing with both theory and practice. [p.831]


Abū al-Faraj the Christian was an excellent and prominent physician, well-versed in medical theory and practice. He served al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, who honored and favored him. He also served al-Malik al-Afdal Nūr al-Dīn Alī ibn Salāh al-Dīn and stayed with him at Sumaisāt. Abū al-Faraj's sons were also physicians; they lived in Sumaisāt and attended al-Afdal's son.


Fakhr al-Dīn, the Watchmaker's Son. Ridwān ibn Muhammad ibn Alī ibn Rustum, a watchmaker of Khurasān, was born and brought up in Damascus. His father Muhammad moved from Khurasān to Syria, settled in Damascus and died there. He was unique among his generation in the field of chronometry and astronomy. It was he who made the clock at the Gate of the Mosque in Damascus. This was during the reign of al-Malik al-`Ādil Nūr al-Dīn Mahmūd ibn Zankī, from whom Fakhr al-Dīn received many gifts, an allowance and a salary for determining the time. He held this office until his death, may God have mercy upon him. He had two sons, one of whom was Bahā' al-Dīn Abū al-Hasan Alī, the best poet of his generation, whose Dīwān has remained famous. He died in Cairo. The other son was Fakhr al-Dīn Ridwān, who was an excellent physician and a distinguished literary figure as well. He studied medicine for a while under Shaikh Radiyy al-Dīn al-Rahbi. Keen-witted and sensible, he devoted himself with thoroughness to every subject he took up. He studied medicine also under Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn of Māridīn. When Fakhr al-Dīn arrived in Damascus, he was an expert calligrapher, and also composed poetry. He had a good knowledge of logic and the philosophical sciences, and studied literature with Shaikh Taj al-Dīn al-Kindī in Damascus. He served al-Malik al-Fā'iz ibn al-Malik al-`Adil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb as vizier, and al-Malik al-Mu`azzam `Isā ibn al-Malik al-`Adil as physician and vizier. He was the latter's night-time companion and played the lute for him. He cherished and [p.832] upheld the medical tradition of the honorable Shaikh Ibn Sīnā. He died of jaundice in Damascus, may God have mercy upon him. He wrote the following verses . . . . . . . . . . and several books including a supplement to Ibn Sīnā's "Book on Colic"; marginal notes to Ibn Sīnā's al-Qānūn; selected poems; etc.


Shams al-Dīn ibn al-Labūdī. The physician, imam and great scholar, Shams al-Dīn Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wāhid ibn al-Labūdī, was in his time peerless in the philosophical sciences and in medicine. He traveled from Syria to Persia, where he studied philosophy under Najib al-Dīn As`ad al-Hamdānī and medicine under one of the greatest savants, who had received his education from a disciple of Ibn Sahlān, through the intermediary of the illustrious Muhammad al-Ilāqī. Shams al-Dīn was very ambitious, of a supremely pleasant disposition, exceedingly intelligent and highly dedicated. He distinguished himself in the sciences, had a profound knowledge of philosophy and medicine, was adept in research and skillful in debate. He was considered a leading scholar, and had an academy where he taught medicine and the sciences. He served al-Malik al-Zāhir Ghiyāt al-Dīn Ghāzī ibn al-Malik al-Nasir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb and stayed with him in Aleppo. This ruler relied on him as his physician, and kept him in his service until his death, which occurred, may God have mercy upon him, in Jumāda II, 613/1216. After the ruler's death, Shams al-Dīn settled in Damascus, teaching medicine and working at the great al-Nūrī Hospital until he died — may God have mercy upon him — in Damascus on the 4th of Dhū al-Qa`dah, 621/1224, at the age of fifty-one.

One of his sayings is: Everything started at a loss becomes profitable when you invest an effort in it. His books are:

1) "A Considered Opinion on the Knowledge of Judgment and Fate."

2) A Commentary on the Summary of Ibn al-Khātīb. [p.833]

3) "Epistle on Arthritis."

4) A commentary on Hunayn ibn Ishāq's "Book of Problems."


Al-Sahib Najm al-Dīn ibn al-Labūdī. The illustrious physician and scholar, al-Sāhib Najm al-Dīn Abū Zakariyyā Yahyā, the son of the leading physician Shams al-Dīn Muhammad ibn `Abdān ibn `Abd al-Wāhid, was unique in the medical art, a wonder in philosophy, keen-witted, most eloquent, devoted to the sciences and well-versed in the literary disciplines. He surpassed the ancients in philosophy and Sahbān Wā'il in rhetoric. He composed astonishing poetry and eloquent epistles. Even Labīd did not reach the standard of his poetry, and `Abd al-Hamīd did not equal him in correspondence. "When I saw people inferior to him, I realized that fate was against them."

Najm al-Dīn was born in Aleppo in 607/ 1210. When his father went to Damascus, he took this son, then only a child, along with him. Najm al-Dīn's merits and high-flown ambition were apparent already in his youth. He studied medicine under Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm Alī. He later continued his studies and distinguished himself in the sciences until he became an outstanding savant. He served al-Malik al-Mansūr Ibrāhīm ibn al-Malik al-Mujāhib ibn Asad al-Dīn Sirkūh ibn Jadī, the Governor of Homs, and therefore took up residence in that city. This potentate placed the utmost confidence in his medical art and raised him higher and higher, until he made him vizier and chief judge. When al-Malik al-Mansūr died — may God have mercy upon him — in 643/1245, after subduing the Khawārizms, Najm al-Dīn joined al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb ibn al-Malik al-Kāmil in Egypt. The ruler honored him greatly, lavished gifts on him and placed him in charge of the Dīwān in Alexandria, allotting him three thousand dirhams [p.834] monthly. Najm al-Dīn stayed there for a while and then returned to Syria and became Dīwān Minister for the whole of the Syrian province.

His epistles include a note which describes the task of the servant — may Allāh prolong his blessings for writing so expertly and reward him generously for surpassing all his predecessors. In this epistle, he explains the servant's duty of obedience and the purpose of the State's existence (may Allāh make the State eternal). Whatever the master commands, the servant must do, knowing that opportunity passes like the clouds, so that no delay is permissible. The master knows the order in which things must be done, and the servant is like an arrow which the master aims or a sword which he unsheathes, God helps those who are prompt and speedy and soon shows them signs of success and victory. But, one must beware of decay and neglect, for these spell ruin. God is our support in time of need, when we ask him to fulfill our desires; and our wish is that he encourage the servant to serve our Lord the Sultan in a way that will add glory to his name, whether such service be commanded in writing, by word, or by gesture.

The following is a sample of his poetry, about al-Khalīl, may God's blessing be upon him, which he recited to me himself when about to commence his service on his return from Egypt. He declaimed it standing at the al-Sirdab Gate in Dhū al-Qa`dah, 661/1261 . . . . . . . . . .

He wrote another poem about al-Khalīl on his return from Egypt in Jumādā II, 664/1264, which he also recited to me at the same place . . . . . . . . . . 

He saw al-Khalīl, may God's blessings be upon him, when he was between waking and sleep, just after he had successfully concluded an affair, and said . . . . . . . . . .

The following was written in Jerusalem, on the way back from Egypt, in the middle of Jumāda I, 666/ 1266. [Two short poems, stressing that one must always hope for the best.] [p.835]

He wrote a poem to al-Malik al-Nāsir Yūsuf ibn Muhammad [concerning the author's departure from Egypt.)

[Another short poem and a couplet.]

His books are:

1) A summary of the general principles of Ibn Sīnā's "Qānūn."

2) A summary of Hunayn ibn Ishāq's "Book of Problems."

3) A summary of Ibn Sīnā's "Remarks and Notes."

4) A summary of Ibn Sīnā's "Principles of Philosophy."

5) A summary of Ibn Khatib al-Rayyī's "Summary."

6) A summary of "The Upholders of the Two Principles."

7) A summary of Euclid's book.

8) A summary of Euclid's "Axioms."

9) "Enlightenment and Philosophy."

10) "Philosophical Horizons."

11) "Sacred Paths in the Philosophical Sciences."

12) "All That Is Required in the Case of Arthritis."

13) "The Essence of What Is Required in Euclid and the Calculation of Averages."

14) "A Detailed Study of Most Medical Questions," in the form of lawyers' debates.

15) A treatise on barshi`ta, a compound drug.

16) A discussion of weak points in the book by Muwaffaq `Abd al-Latīf. Najm al-Dīn wrote this when he was 13 years old.

17) "The Essence of the Art of Judgment."

18) A well-founded epistle on al-Matrizī's "introduction."

19) "Blazing Lights Illuminating Evident Signs."

20) "The Pleasures of the Inquirer into the Other Argument."

21) "The Perfect Epistle on Algebra and Multiplication."

22) "The Mansūriyya Epistle on Even Numbers." [p.836]

23) Summary of al-Shāhī's "Astronomical Tables."

24) "Circular Astronomical Tables," founded on experimental observations.


Zain al-Dīn al-Hāfizī. The illustrious imām and distinguished scholar, Zain al-Dīn Sulaymān ibn al-Mu'ayyad Alī, the son the preacher of `Aqrabā', studied medicine under Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī, may God have mercy upon him. He was well-versed in its theory and practice and thoroughly acquainted with both its generalia and specialia. He was physician to al-Malik al-Hāfiz Nūr al-Dīn Arslān Shāh ibn Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb, then governor of the fortress of Ja`bar. He stayed there in his service and became prominent. This ruler honored him greatly, gave him a high position in his state and relied on him in all matters. Zain al-Dīn was interested in literature and poetry and also in calligraphy. He was, moreover adept in military matters and had free access to his master's sons, who favored him and allowed him considerable influence in their states. When al-Malik al-Hāfiz died, the fortress of Ja`bar was transferred to al-Malil al-Nāsir Yūsuf ibn Muhammad ibn Ghāzī, the Governor of Aleppo, by way of an exchange of letters, in which Zain al-Dīn took part. Zain al-Dīn then moved to Aleppo and gained considerable influence over al-Malik al-Nasir, with whom he held a high position. He married his daughter, and thus acquired great wealth. When al-Malik al-Nāsir conquered Damascus, Zain al-Dīn accompanied him there and became one of the leading figures in his state. He devoted himself to military and governmental matters as well as to medicine. With this in mind I composed the following lines about him: 

Zain al-Dīn holds every fine position; his rank is supreme in the heavens of praise: [p.837]
A prince endowed with universal knowledge, whose intellect and experience are peerless;
As a physician he presides over councils, as a warrior he defeats squadrons,
In time of peace he revives many who rely on his skill,
In time of war he annihilates many with his sword.

He stayed in Damascus with al-Malik al-Nāsīr until Tatar messengers came to the latter from the East, demanding that he hand over his kingdom or come to terms by paying tribute, etc. Zain al-Dīn al-Hāfizr was sent as a messenger to Khāqān Hūlāgu, the Tatar king, and the other Tatar rulers. They treated him well and gave him money, until he became like one of them and mixed freely with them, He went back and forth as a messenger many times, encouraging the Tatars to attack the State, and warning al-Malik al-Nāsir that they were powerful, extremely dangerous, and their organization excellent. He described their great armies and disparaged al-Malik al-Nāsir and his armies. But al-Malik al-Nāsir was bold and determined to fight. The Tatars appeared before Aleppo, with Hulāgū at their head, besieged the city for about a month, and finally conquered it. They killed the men, took the women and children captive, plundered the city's wealth and destroyed the fortress and other buildings. Al-Malik al-Nāsir Yūsuf fled from Damascus to Egypt, intending to conquer the land, but the Egyptian armies, with al-Malik al-Muzaffar Saif al-Dīn Qutuz at their head, defeated him so utterly that his armies were routed and his kingdom came to an end. The Tatars gained possession of Damascus by treaty and installed there a governor friendly to them. Zain al-Dīn remained there also. He was made a prince, and a group of soldiers always accompanied him, so that he became nicknamed "King Zain al-Dīn." [p.838] When al-Malik al-Muzaffar Qutuz, the ruler of Egypt, arrived with the armies of Islam and inflicted upon the Tatars the famous crucial defeat at Wadī Kanan, killing huge numbers of them, their governor in Damascus and his relatives fled, and Zain al-Dīn al-Hāfizī went with them, for fear of losing his life at the hands of the Muslims. Syria returned to its former state, praise be to God, and after al-Malik al-Muzaffar Qutuz, may God have mercy upon him, it was ruled by al-Malik al-Zāhir Rukn al-Dīn Baibars, who became Sultan of both Egypt and Syria, may Allāh make his rule eternal.


Abū al-Fadl ibn `Abd al-Karīm the Geometer. Mu'ayyad al-Dīn Abū al-Fadl Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Karīm ibn `Abd al-Rahmān al-Hāritī was born and brought up in Damascus. He was known as "the Geometer" because of his profound knowledge of geometry, for which he was famous before devoting himself to medicine. At first, he was a carpenter and stone-cutter, and earned his living by carpentry. He was much sought after, and most of the doors of the great hospital built by al-Malik al-`Adil Nūr al-Dīn ibn Zankī, may God have mercy upon him, are his handiwork. I heard this from Sadīd al-Dīn ibn Ruqaiqa, who heard it from Abū al-Fadl himself.

Shams al-Dīn ibn al-Mitwā', the oculist, was a great friend of his. He told me in his name that his acquaintance with the sciences come about in this way. He wanted to know Euclid in order to improve his carpentry, perfect its details and increase his output. In those days he worked at the Mosque of Matūn, below the little spring just west of Damascus. Each morning before going to work, he learnt a passage of Euclid's book by heart. Moreover, he solved some problems from it on the way and after work, until he had studied the whole book, understood it thoroughly and was familiar with it. He then studied the Almagest and solved the problems [p.839] contained therein, and finally he devoted himself entirely to geometry and became very proficient in it.

Ibn Aba Usaybi`ah continues: Abū al-Fadl concerned himself also with astronomy and drew up astronomical tables. At that time, al-Sharaf of Tūs, a man matchless in his generation in geometry and the exact sciences, arrived in Damascus. Abū al-Fadl met him, studied under him and learnt a great deal from him. He studied medicine under Abū al-Majd Muhammad ibn Abū al-Hakam, staying with him for a long period. He also copied many philosophical and medical books. I have found a copy of Galen's "Sixteen Books," with Abū al-Majd's notes on them which Abū al-Fadl made after studying that work with the latter. It was Abū al-Fadl who repaired the clocks of the Mosque of Damascus. He supervised and maintained them, for which he received a regular salary. He was given another salary for his work as a physician at the great hospital, which work he carried on for many years, in fact, until his death. He was a good physician, a quick and skilled therapeutist. He traveled to Egypt in 572-3/1176-7 and gained some knowledge of the Alexandrian tradition from Rashīd al-Dīn Abū al-Tanā' Hamād ibn Hibat Allāh ibn Hamād ibn al-Findoul al-Harānī and Abū Tahr Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Salafī al-Isfahānī. He also studied literature and grammar and wrote poetry marked by pleasant rhythm. He died of diarrhea in Damascus in 599/1201, may God have mercy upon him, around the age of seventy. The following is a specimen of his poetry, copied by me from his manuscript of the "Treatise on the Vision of the New Moon," which he wrote in honor of the Judge Muhyi al-Dīn, the son of the Judge Zaki al-Dīn . . . . . . . . . .  [the poem follows.]

Abū al-Fadl ibn `Abd al -Karīm the Geometer wrote the following books: [p.840]

1) An epistle on the symbol of accuracy.

2) "Treatise on the Vision of the New Moon."

3) A summary of the "Great Book of Songs" by Abū al-Faraj of Isfahan. He copied this work with his own hand, in ten volumes, which he deposited at the Mosque of Damascus in addition to the books contained in the closet of Ibn `Urwa.

4) "On Wars and Diplomacy."

5) "Simple Drugs," in the order of the Hebrew alphabet.


Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-`Azīz. The shaikh and learned imam, Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-`Azīz ibn `Abd al-Jabbār ibn Abū Muhammad al-Sulamī was pious and benevolent, a lover of beauty, a perfect man and a genuine Arab, who cared for the sick, especially the poverty-stricken, whom he visited and treated and then sent money for their expenses and provided whatever food and drugs were needed. He was loved by all.

He at first studied at Aminiyyah University, which was near the Damascus Mosque. Later he went on to study medicine under Ilyās ibn al-Mutrān until be became an expert in both its theory and practice, one of the most distinguished masters of the art, an authority whose example everyone followed. He maintained a consulting office for his medical students, and served as physician at the Great Hospital founded by al-Malik al-Ādil Nūr al-Dīn. He then attended al-Malik al-Ādil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb for many years and received from him gifts and favors, a high position and a generous salary. He stayed in his service until he died of colic in Damascus — may God have mercy upon him — on Friday the 20th of Dhū al-Qa`dah, 604/1207. He was buried on Mount Qāsiyūn. As he was born in 55-/115-, he was about sixty years old when he died. [p.841]


Sa`d al-Dīn ibn `Abd al-`Azīz. The glorious physician and learned imām, Sa`d al-Dīn Abū Ishāq Ibrāhīm ibn `Abd al-`Azīz ibn `Abd al-Jabbār ibn Abū Muhammad al-Sulamī, resembled his father in character, knowledge and skill. He was very religious, adept in the different branches of law and theology. When he was in Damascus, he would pray in seclusion at the mosque during the whole of Ramadan, not talking to anybody. He was placed in charge of the construction of Hanbaliyya University, in the flour market in Damascus, during the reign of al-Malik al-Asraf Mūsā ibn al-Malik al-`Adil, after the Caliph of Baghdād, the Imām al-Mustansir bi-Allāh, had ordered it to be built. Sa`d al-Dīn was unique in his day in the field of medicine. He was thoroughly familiar with its general principles and its different specialized branches, but even so continued to study it whatever the circumstances. Born in Damascus at the beginning of Muharram, 583/1187, he became a physician at the Great Hospital founded by al-Malik al- `Adil. He then served al-Malik al-Ashraf Abū al-Fath Mūsā ibn Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb, staying with him in the East and receiving many gifts from him, in addition to a large salary and an important official position. He was still in al-Malik al-Ashraf's service when the latter came to Damascus and the city was handed over to him by his nephew, al-Malik al-Nāsir Dā'ūd ibn al-Malik al-Mu`azzam, in Sha`bān, 626/1229. He accompanied the Sultan to Damascus and settled there. Later the Sultan made him chief physician, in which post he continued until the Sultan passed away — may God have mercy upon him — in the citadel of Damascus in the early hours of the morning of Thursday, the 11th of Muharram, 635/1237. Damascus was conquered by al-Malik al-Kāmil Muhammad ibn Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb in the first ten days of Jumāda I, 635/1237. That ruler asked Sa`d al-Dīn to continue in office and ordered all the benefits [p.842] accorded him by his brother, al-Malik al-Ashraf, to be reconfirmed. Sa`ad al-Dīn served him for a very short while, for al-Malik al-Kāmil died — may God have mercy upon him — in the early evening of Thursday, the 22nd of Rajab, 635/1237. Sa'd al-Dīn remained in Damascus, maintaining a general consulting office for all his medical students, until he died in Jumāda II, 644/1246. Al-Sarif al-Bakrī wrote a verse in Sa`d al-Dīn's honor . . . . . . . . . .


Radiyy al-Dīn of Rahbī. The learned imam, Radiyy al-Dīn Abū al-Hajjāj Yūsuf ibn Haidara ibn al-Hasan al-Rahbī was a prominent physician. He was extolled both by the elite and the common people and honored by kings and others. He was wise and generous, truthful and honest, a lover of goodness and the good. He exerted himself tirelessly in visiting the sick, feeling compassion toward them. He was pure of speech, and there was no-one who could say that he had ever harmed or offended anybody. His father was from al-Hahbah; he too, was a good physician and an even better oculist. Kadiyy al-Dīn was born and bred in Jazīrat ibn `Umar, and then lived for a while at Nisivī and al-Rahba. He traveled to Baghdad and other places, practicing medicine and becoming expert in it. In Egypt he met the Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn, known as Ibn Jumai` the Egyptian, and studied under him. He arrived with his father in Damascus in 555/1160, during the reign of the Sultan al-Malik al-`Adil Nūr al-Dīn Mahmūd ibn Zanghī. When they had been there tor several years, his father died and was buried on Mount Qāsiyun. Radiyy al-Dīn remained in Damascus, keeping office for the treatment of the sick; he wrote many books there. After a time, while continuing on the same occupation, he studied under Muhadhdhab al-Dīn ibn al-Naqqash the Physician, through whom he became so well known [p.843] that he met al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb. This ruler was pleased with him, allotted him a fixed monthly salary of thirty dinars and attached him to the citadel and the hospital. He remained in this position during the whole reign of Salāh al-Dīn but refused to concede to the ruler's request that he attend him on journeys. When Salāh al-Dīn died — may God have mercy upon him — in Damascus during the first watch of the night of Wednesday, the 27th of Safar 589/1193, and the kingdom passed from his sons to his brother, al-Malik al `Ādil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb, the later ordered Radiyy al- Dīn to serve him as long as his health permitted, but he refused. He asked to be posted to Damascus, and al-Malik al-'Ādil granted his request and reconfirmed all the emoluments drawn by him in the days of Salāh al-Dīn. He continued his former activities until the death of al-Malik al-`Ādil. That ruler was succeeded by al-Malik al-Mu`assam `Isā ibn al-Malik al-`Ādil, who employed him as a visiting physician at the hospital for fifteen dinars. He continued to work there up to his death, may God bless him. He taught medicine to many students, many of whom became prominent. These in turn instructed others, becoming leading masters of the art. If one were to review the physicians of Syria, one would find that all of them studied under either al-Rahbī himself or his disciples. Among his students at the beginning of his career was the Shaikh Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī, who afterwards studied under Ibn al-Mūtrān.

The Shaikh Radiyy al-Dīn told me himself that those who had studied with him had all later helped and benefited the people. He named many who were prominent in the medical profession, some already dead. He made it a rule never to teach any medical principle to Christians or Jews or to persons who were not worthy of it, for he hold the profession in high honor and esteem. He told me that all his life he had never taught Jews or Christians, except two — [p.844] `Imran al-`Isrā'īlī and Ibrāhīm ibn Khalaf the Samaritan — and these only out of compassion after they had begged and pleaded with him, giving reasons that he could not disregard. Indeed, both became distinguished physicians.

There is no doubt that some teachers bring good luck to those who study with their help, just as some books in the different sciences prove valuable while others do not. I myself studied a medical book with him in 622-3/1225-6, especially its practical part (by Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Razī and others), and indeed benefited a great deal by it.

Al-Rahbī loved his profession and was devoted to it, at the same time taking care to preserve his health and good humor. Alī Sahib Jamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Yūsuf ibn Ibrāhīm al-Qiftī told me in the name of al-Rahbī himself that he followed the ordinary rules of health at all times. I have heard that he employed the best cooks and taught them the rules which seemed most beneficial to him, so that they might apply them to the food he wished to eat. When the cooking was successfully completed, the cook would inform al-Rahbī and he would inquire which of his friends would be his table companions. When they arrived, the cook would ask whether he might serve the food, but he would tell her to wait until their appetite was ready, when they would call her and order her to serve quickly. Only then would he eat. One day, one of his friends asked him the reason for this habit. He answered: "Eating with appetite is essential for preserving health, for when the members of the body want compensation for what they have spent, they ask it of the stomach, and the stomach in turn summons it from the outside." — "What is the advantage?" — "It helps a man to attain his natural life-span." — "But you have lived to an age which is little short of that, so why go to all this trouble?" — "In order that [p.845] during this brief period I may stay above ground — breathing the air and drinking water — instead of underground because of a faulty diet." He continued to follow these principles until his time came.

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah continues: I have had an experience similar to that mentioned above, concerning the fact that one should not eat except with an appetite. One day, I was studying with him a passage in al-Rāzī on the order of taking food. Al-Rāzī says that a man should eat twice on one day and then once on the following day. Al-Rahbī commented: "Do not follow this principle, but eat whenever you have a real appetite, no matter if it is once or twice, day or night; for it is eating with a true appetite that benefits the body, while the opposite is harmful." He acted accordingly, and also followed other principles all his life, without a single deviation. For instance, Saturday was the day on which he would go to the garden to rest, the day of leisure; Thursday was the day on which he took a hot bath; on Fridays he used to visit all the chiefs and notables he had to see; furthermore, he always insisted that he would not climb a ladder, or even go near one, describing the ladder as "the saw which cuts off life."

One of the best anecdotes in this connection is the one he told my father: "Since I bought the house in which I live, more than twenty-five years ago, I do not remember going up to the attic. I have never been up there, since I looked over the house previous to buying it."

As to his efficiency as a therapeutist, al-Sāhib Safiyy al-Dīn Ibrāhīm ibn Marzūq, the vizier of al-Malik al-Ashraf ibn al-Malik al-`Ādil, told me the following: Al-Sāhib Saiyy al-Dīn ibn Shukr, the vizier of al-Malik al-`Ādil, always ate poultry, never mutton. One day, he complained to al-Rahbī about his pale complexion, for which physicians had unsuccessfully treated him with liquid and other medicines. Al-Rahbī went out and presently returned with a piece [p.846] of chicken breast and a piece of red mutton, 'saying: "You are accustomed to eat fowl but the blood produced by it in the body is not of the same redness as that produced by the meat of sheep, just at the color of this meat differs greatly from that of poultry. You should give up fowl and keep to mutton. This will cure you without further treatment." The vizier followed al-Rahbī's advice for a while, whereupon his color returned and the balance of his humors was restored.

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah adds: "This treatment I recommend to everybody interested in a revigorating and healthy diet. The vizier, a man of perfect build, had a robust constitution and good digestion, only that the blood he obtained from fowl's meat was too weak; he needed richer and coarser food. When he went over to mutton, he produced blood sufficiently strong for the requirements of his body, so that his humors became balanced and his color normal."

Shaikh Radiyy al-Dīn al-Rahbī was born in Jumādā I, 534/1139, in Jazfrat ibn `Umar. His last illness broke out on the Feast of Sacrifice in the year 630/1232. He died, may God have mercy upon him, on the morning of Sunday, the 10th of Muharram, 631/1233, in Damascus, and he was buried on Mount Qāsiyūn. He lived about a hundred years without any noticeable deterioration in his hearing or sight; only in his last years did he suffer from loss of memory in respect of recent experiences, but as for things he had known for a long time, he remembered them well. He had two sons; the elder was Sharaf al-Dīn Abū al-Hasan Alī, the younger Jamāl al-Dīn `Uthmān. A member of his family who was with him during his last illness told me that in his final moments he kept his right hand on the pulse in his left wrist until he felt his strength ebbing; he then clapped his hands, straightened his cap and waited for death, which came soon. [p.847]

Al-Rahbī wrote the following books:

1) An improved edition of ibn al-Tayyib's commentary on Hippocrates' "Book of Members."

2) A summary of Hunayn's "Book of Problems" which he never finished.


Sharaf al-Dīn ibn al-Rahbī. The distinguished physician and learned imām, Sharaf al-Dīn Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Yūsuf ibn Haidara ibn al-Hasan al-Rahbī, unique in his generation, was born in Damascus in the year 583/1187. He followed in his father's footsteps, just as he resembled him in appearance, character and behavior. He applied himself to the study of books, while his soul was forever seeking to acquire virtue. He thoroughly mastered medicine both in its general principles and its details. He wrote books on medicine, and annotated medical works written by others. He studied medicine with his father and with Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-Latīf ibn Yūsuf, of Baghdād, under whose direction he copied many scientific books, especially the works of Muwaffaq al-Dīn himself. He also studied literature with Shaikh 'Alam al-Dīn al-Sakhāwī and other scholars, until his knowledge could not be bettered. He was also a skilled poet, but most of all liked to study the books of the ancients. He was pure and dignified and did not like to have recourse to kings and notables. He worked for a while at the Great Hospital founded by al-Malik al-`Adil Nūr al-Dīn ibn Zankī. When our master Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī, may God have mercy upon him, turned his house in Damascus into a medical school, and benefited the Muslims by his teaching there, he appointed Sharaf al-Dīn ibn al-Rahbī to be professor there in view of his extraordinary knowledge and insight. He taught there for a while and then died, may God have mercy upon him, in Damascus, and was buried on [p.848] Mount Qāsiyūn. He died of pleurisy on the night of Thursday, the 11th of Muharram, 667/1267. The physician Badr al Dīn, the son of the judge of Ba`albekk, and Shams al-Dīn al-Kutubī, known as al-Khawātīmī, told me that months before he fell ill and died Sharaf al-Dīh had told visitors and students that he would die soon, at the conjunction of the two stars; he had asked them to tell this to the people so that they might know the measure of his knowledge of life and death.

The following are specimens of his poetry which I heard from him personally . . . . . . . . . . [a long poem and two short ones about the meaning of death.]

This poem, he recited to me when al-Malik al-Kāmil Muhammad ibn Abī Bakr ibn Ayyūb died in Damascus in 635/1237 . . . . . . . . . .

The next poem he recited to me after the death of his brother, the physician Jamāl al-Dīn `Uthmān in 658/ 1258 . . . . . . . . . .

He used to dye his hair with henna, upon which I remarked, "If you left your beard white, it would be more becoming''; he thus recited extempore . . . . . . . . . .

The next is an extract from a letter he wrote to me from Damascus when I was in Sarhad, staying with the local governor, Prince `Izz al-Dīn Aibak al-Mu`azzamī . . . . . . . . . .

I wrote a reply and sent it to him . . . . . . . . . . [Three short poems.]

Sharaf al-Dīn ibn al-Rahbī wrote the following books:

1) "The Nature of Man," a description of the parts of the body and their use, an unsurpassable work.

2) Marginal notes to Ibn Sīnā's "Qānūn."

3) Marginal notes to Ibn Abū Sādiq's commentary on Hunnayn's "Book of Problems." [p.849]


Jamāl al-Dīn ibn al-Rahbī. The prominent physician and distinguished scholar Jamāl al-Dīn `Uthmān ibn Yūsuf ibn Haidara al-Rahbī, was born and brought up in Damascus. He studied medicine with his father and others and acquired vast knowledge. He was a skillful therapeutist and was competent in prescribing drugs. He served for years at the Great Hospital founded by al-Malik al-`Ādil Nūr al-Dīn ibn Zankī. He was fond of business and devoted himself to it, traveling from time to time to Egypt to import goods from there. When the Tatars arrived in Syria in 657/ 1258, he went to Egypt and settled there. He then fell ill and died in Cairo on the 20th of Rabī` II, 658/1259.


`Abd al-Latif al-Baghdādi, i.e., Muwaffak al-Dīn `Abd al-Latif al-Baghdādi. The Shaikh and illustrious Imām Muwaffak al-Dīn Abū Muhammad `Abd al-Latīf ibn Yūsuf ibn Muhammad ibn Alī  ibn Abī Sa`d, known as Ibn al-Labbād [The son of the feltmaker]. His family hailed from Mosul, but he himself was born in Baghdād. He became renowned for his knowledge of various sciences and his scholarship. He had a pleasant diction and wrote copiously, his special field being Arabic grammar and lexicology. He was also well-versed in Muslim theology and in medicine. While in Damascus, he devoted much of his time to the medical art and became renowned for his mastery of its theory. Numerous students and even physicians frequented him to study under his guidance. In his youth, his father had urged him to take lessons in the Hadith with a number of scholars, including Abū 'l-Fath Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Bāqī, known as Ibn al-Battī, Abū Zar`ah Tāhir ibn  Muhammad al-Maqdisī [of Jerusalem], Abū 'l-Kasim Yahyā ibn Thābit al-Wakīl and others.

Shaikh Muwaffak al-Dīn's father, Yūsuf, was himself a student of the Hadīth, a brilliant scholar in Qur'ānic subjects, including the [p.850] variant readings, and an excellent authority on Shi`ite tenets, on the differences between the various schools of Muhammadan law and on the theoretical foundations of both Muslim theology and law. In addition, he had some knowledge of the speculative sciences (in contradistinction to the religious disciplines, which are largely dependent upon tradition). Shaikh Muwaffak al-Dīn's paternal uncle, Sulaimān, was an excellent jurist.

Shaikh Muwaffak al-Dīn `Abd al-Latīf was a highly industrious person. He never let a moment pass without reading, writing or copying. I have seen countless books written in his hand, for he used to make several copies of his own works and copied numerous books of earlier authors. He was a friend of my grandfather's, and the two men kept close company when they lived in Egypt.

Both my father and my paternal uncle studied belles-lettres under him. My uncle also studied Aristotle with him, for Shaikh Muwaffak was greatly interested in his works and was anxious to understand them.

When he had moved from Egypt to Damascus and was staying there for a time, the townspeople derived much benefit from his learning. I saw him when he lived in Damascus, on the occasion of my last visit to the city. He was a lean old man of medium height, a pleasant conversationalist with a beautiful diction; still, his written word was even more impressive than his speech. However, his conceit sometimes led him to go beyond the bound of good taste in his utterances. He used to deride his learned contemporaries and also many savants of earlier generations. He very often disparaged the Persian scholars and their writings, especially the Grand Master Ibn Sīnā and others of like standing.

From a copy of his autobiography, written by his own hand, I quote the following: [p.851]

"I was born in the year 557 in a house belonging to my grandfather in al-Fālūdhaj Road. While receiving my education from Shaikh Abū al-Najīb, I knew neither leisure nor amusement. Most of my time was devoted to lessons in the Hadīth. After I had received authorizations from professors in Baghdād, Khurāsān, Syria and Egypt, my father said to me one day: 'I have had you study with all the luminaries of Baghdād, and now you are, as regards knowledge of the Hadīth, on a par with the old shaikhs.' At the same time, I  had also studied calligraphy and learnt the Qur'ān [Tha`lab's] Fasīh, the Maqāmas [of al-Harīrī|], the poetry of al-Mutanabbī and others, a compendium of jurisprudence and a compendium of grammar all by heart. When I reached puberty, my father took me to Kamāl al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahmān al -Anbārī, who was at that time the greatest scholar in Baghdād. A friendship of long standing connected him with my father — from their student days at al-Nizamīyyah College. When I studied the Introduction to the Fasīh, with him, he uttered a long discourse of which I understood nothing but which the pupils round him admired very much. Then he said: 'I loathe teaching boys. Take him to my pupil al-Wajīh al-Wāsitī, that he may study under him. When he is older, he may study with me.' Al-Wajīh was the tutor of a son of Ra`īs al-Ru`asa`. He was blind, but a rich and virtuous man. He received me cordially and started teaching me from dawn till sunset with great devotion. I attended his study circle in the Zafariyya Mosque, where he told me to read up on the commentaries, and talked to me about them. Eventually, I would read my lesson, and he would grant me the privilege of explaining it. Then we would leave the mosque. On the way, he would talk to me, and when we reached his house, he would take out the books that he was studying, and I would listen to him read his lesson and learn it by heart with him. Thereafter we would go to see Shaikh Kamal al-Dīn, and he would say his lesson [p.852] and explain it while I listened. In this way I made so much progress that I eventually surpassed him in both knowledge and understanding. The greater part of the night I spent in learning by heart and repeating. We continued thus for some time. While I frequented teachers and teachers of teachers, my knowledge increased and improved continually, my grasp was enhanced, and my mind became more acute and balanced. The first work I studied thoroughly was "al-Luma`" I mastered it within eight months, hearing every day a commentary on the bulk of it read by some of my fellow-students and, on returning home, reading myself the "Commentary of the Eighty," the commentaries of al-Sharīf `Umar ibn Hamza and ibn Burhān and any other commentary on that work which I could lay my hands on. Later I expounded them to other students who were among my closest friends and eventually I was able to discourse upon each chapter of the work at such length that I might have filled several copybooks without exhausting my knowledge. I then thoroughly studied Ibn Qutaibas' "Adab al-Kātib," the first half in several months and [the other half, entitled] Taqwīm al-Lisān in fourteen days, for it comprised fourteen quires. Afterwards I studied two works by the same author, "Mushkil al-Qur'ān," both in a very short time. Next I turned to Abū Alī al-Fārisi's "al-Idāh," which took me many months to digest. I constantly read the commentaries on it and scrutinized the work itself in the most painstaking way, until I acquired complete mastery of it and became fully acquainted with the remarks of the commentators. As to the "Takmila," I studied it in a few days, a quire a day. I used to read both extensive works and compendia, devoting myself, for example, to al-Mubarrad's "Muqtadab" and Ibn Durustawaihi's book. At the same time, I never neglected my lectures on the Hadith and my law studies under my teacher Ibn Fudlān in Dar al-Dhahab, a college built by Fakhr al-Dawlah ibn al-Muttalib. [p.853]

"Shaikh Kamal al-Dīn wrote 130 works, most of them on grammar and some on law, on the principles of Muslim law and theology, on mysticism and on ascetism. I mastered most of his writings through lectures, reading and self-tuition. He had begun to write two large works, one on lexicology and the other on law, but was not fortunate enought to be able to complete them. Under his guidance I studied part of Sibawaihi's "Kitāb" and devoted myself to "al-Muqtadab," which I came to master thoroughly.

"After the death of the Shaikh, I occupied myself entirely with Sibawaihi's "Kitāb" and its commentary by al-Sirafi. Later, I studied a great number of works under ibn `Ubaida al-Karkhī, among others the "K. al-'Usūl" of Ibn al-Sarraj, a copy of which was found in the waqf [endowment] established by Ibn al-Khashshāb in the al-Ma'munīyyah Hospice. I also studied with him two works of al-Khatīb al-Tibrīzī, one on the law of inheritance and the other on prosody. Al-Tibrīzī was one of the outstanding disciples of Ibn al-Shajarī. As for Ibn al-Khashshāb, I happened to listen to a lecture of his on al-Zajjaj's [Qur'anic commentary entitled] "Ma`āni" [al-Qur'ān], while he was teaching Shuhda the secretary, the daughter of al-Ibrī. I also heard from him the following hadīth: 'Those who have mercy will be treated mercifully by the Merciful. Show mercy to those on earth, and you will be shown mercy by Him who is in heaven.'"

Muwaffaq al-Dīn al-Baghdādī further reports that among the teachers from whom he derived great benefit — as he expressly states — was the son of 'Amīn al-Dawlah ibn al Tilmīdh. He speaks ot him at length and in glowing terms, obviously on account of his strong bias in favor of the Iraqis; for the son of Amīn al-Dawlah was not in the least worthy of such praise.

Muwaffaq al-Dīn proceeds to say: "There came to Baghdād a man from the Maghrib, tall, dressed in the garb of a mystic, of impressive bearing, with an eloquent tongue and a pleasing appearance; [p.854] he had an air of piety and the look of an itinerant dervish. All who saw him were impressed by his exterior even before getting to know him. His name was Ibn Tātilī and he claimed descent from the veil-wearers. He had left the Maghrib when `Abd al-Mu`min made himself master of that region. When he had settled in Baghdād, a number of great scholars and notables frequented him, among them al-Radī al-Qazwini and Shaikh al-Shuyukh ibn Sakina. I, too, was one of those who cultivated his acquaintance. He taught me the elements of arithmetic and the "Introduction to Grammar" by Ibn Babshādh. He had a wonderful way of teaching, and all who came to see him thought him a great authority. Actually, he possessed only superficial knowledge. But he had thoroughly acquainted himself with works on alchemy, talismans and similar subjects. He had studied all the works of Jābir and Ibn Wahshiyyah. With his appearance, his speech and his imposing manner he charmed all hearts. My own he filled with a passion for all the sciences. When he came in contact with the `Imām al-Nāsir li-Dīn Allāh, he inspired the latter's admiration.

After he had left, I devoted myself to study with the greatest zeal, shunning both sleep and amusement. I applied myself eagerly to the works of al-Ghazzālī, such as "al-Maqasid," "al-Mi`yar," "al-Mizān" and "Mihakk al-Nazzār," and later turned to the works of ibn Sīnā, from the minor ones to the weighty volumes. I learned the "Kitāb al-Nagā"by heart; I copied and pondered the "Shifā." I also studied the "Kitab al-Tahsīl" by Bahmanyār, Ibn Sīnā's disciple. In addition, I copied and studied many of the works of Jābir ibn Hayyan al-Sufi and Ibn Wahshiyyah and engaged in the futile art of misleading experiments [of alchemy]. The author who led me further astray was Ibn Sīnā by his greatest philosophical work, which he did not complete. [p.855]

"In the year 585/1189, when no one was left in Baghdād apt to capture my heart, arouse my admiration and solve the problems I encountered, I moved to Mosul; but there, too, I found no satisfaction of my desires. Al-Kamāl ibn Yūnus, it is true, was good in mathematics and law, but amateurish in the other philosophical disciplines. His mind and time were absorbed by his interest in alchemy and the exercise of this art, with the result that he despised all others. I came in contact with many people, and a number of positions were offered to me, out of which I chose a post at the College of Ibn Muhājir and the Hadīth School attached to it.

"I stayed in Mosul for one year, kept busy all the time, by day and night. The people of the town asserted that they had never seen anyone so erudite, quick-witted and self-possessed as I. I heard people make much of the philosopher Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardi, whom they believed to surpass both the Ancients and the Moderns and whose writings they ranked above those of his predecessors. I had long intended to find out the truth, until the opportunity at last presented itself. I borrowed some of al-Suhrawardi's writings from ibn Yūnus, who himself held them in high esteem. On perusing "al-Talwihāt," "al-Lamha" and "al-Ma`ārij," I came to the conclusion that my contemporaries were ignorant. I found a great number of annotations, which, though I was not satisfied with them, were better than the sayings of that fool. He introduced single letters into the text, with the intention of making people of his kind believe they were divine secrets.

"On entering Damascus I found a great number of eminent scholars from Baghdād and elsewhere, who had been attracted by Salāh al-Dīn's liberality; they included Jamāl al-Dīn `Abd al -Latīf, the son of Shaikh Abū 'l-Najīb, the surviving members of Ra`is al-Ru`asa's family, ibn Talha the secretary, the household of ibn Juhair, the vizier ibn al-`Attār al-Maqtūl and the vizier Ibn Hubaira. I used [p.856] to meet al-Kindī, the grammarian of Baghdād, and had many discussions with him. He was a handsome old man, sagacious, wealthy, and a favorite of the Sultan. However, he was very conceited and rude. In the arguments we had, Allāh, the Most High, let me gain the upper hand of him on many occasions. Later, I used to avoid him, and this caused him greater mortification than people had to endure from him.

"In Damascus I wrote a great number of works, among them the large [dictionary of the Hadith] "Gharīb al-Hadīth," in which I combined the contents of three works with the same title by Abū `Ubaid al-Qāsim ibn Sallām, Ibn Qutaibah and al-Khattābī. I had already begun to compose it in Mosul. I also made an epitome of it, which I entitled "al-Mujarrad." In addition, I wrote the "Kitāb al-Wādihāl," on syntactical problems in the Fatihah [the first Sura of the Qur'ān], filling about twenty quires, the Kitab al-'Alif wal-Lām" [on the definite article], "K.Rubba" [on the use of the word "rubba" in grammar], and a book on "essence" and "essential attributes" — terms frequently used by the theologians; with the latter I intended to refute the opinions of al-Kindī.

In Damascus I met Shaikh `Abd Allāh ibn Tātilī, who resided in the western tunnel of the mosque. Hordes of pupils used to gather round him. People were divided into two factions with regard to him. His opponents included the preacher al-Dawlaī, a notable personality who enjoyed great prestige and respect. Ibn Tātili eventually committed a serious blunder, by which he helped his foes against himself. Embarking upon the study of alchemy and philosophy, he brought himself into disrepute. When I met him, he questioned me concerning various pursuits that I held to be mean and useless but which he considered important and worthwhile. On exploring his character and finding that he did not come up to my expectations, I formed a negative opinion of him and his way of life. Arguing with him on scholarly subjects, I discovered that he [p.857] possessed but meager knowledge. One day I said to him: 'If the time you have wasted on alchemy had been devoted to some of the religious or secular disciplines, you would now be unique in your age and would have gained lifelong respect. This is the elixir (of happiness], — not what you are striving to attain. Contemplating his condition, I took warning from his sorry fate. Happy the man who learns from the experience of others. I withdrew from him — but not completely.

"He later sought out Salāh al-Dīn on the outskirts of Acre and complained to him about al-Dawlaī. He returned sick and was admitted to hospital, where he died. His books were taken by al-Mu`tamid, head of the Damascus police, who had a passion for alchemy.

"Afterwards I traveled to Jerusalem and then visited Salāh al-Dīn on the outskirts of Acre. There I met Bahā' al-Dīn ibn Shaddād, then military judge, who had already heard of me in Mosul. He received me cordially and most hospitably. At his suggestion, we went to see the secretary `Imād al-Dīn, whose tent was next to Bahā' al-Dīn's. I found him writing a letter to the High Divan, in Thulth-Script, without first making a draft. He told me the letter was to go to my town.

"After conversing with me on certain theological problems, he suggested that we see al-Qādī al-Fādil. When we entered his room, I saw a lean old man of extremely spiritual appearance [literally who was nothing but head and heart]. He was writing and at the same time dictating to two scribes, while his face and lips went into all kinds of contortions owing to the great difficulty he had in articulating. He seemed to be writing with all his limbs. He asked me some syntactical questions with regard to two Qur'anic passages and numerous other questions, and all the time he never stopped writing and dictating. At last he said to me: 'Return to [p.858] Damascus, and you will be granted a stipend.' When I replied that I intended to go to Egypt, he said: 'The Sultan is greatly concerned about the capture of Acre by the Franks and about the murder of the Muslims in the town.' Still I insisted that I had to go to Egypt. He thereupon made out a little paper for me, addressed to his representative in Egypt.

"When I arrived in Cairo, his representative, Ibn Sanā' al-Mulk, came to call on me. He was an old man who enjoyed high prestige and great authority. He lodged me in a house which had been put in good repair and furnished me with money and provisions. He then went to the state dignitaries and informed them that I was the guest of al-Qādī al-Fādil, whereupon gifts and presents were showered upon me from all sides. Every ten days or so a memorandum from al-Qādī al-Fādil concerning state affairs arrived at the Egyptian government office; it always contained a passage reaffirming the recommendation to take care of me.

"I used togive public lectures in the mosque of the chamberlain Lu'lu', may Allāh have mercy upon him. It had been my desire to meet three persons in Egypt: Yāsīn, the magician, the Chief Mūsā ibn Māimūn, the Jew, and Abū 'l-Qāsim al-Shāri`ī; all of them came to call on me. Yāsīn was an imposter, a liar and a juggler. He attested to al-Shājānīs competence in alchemy, and al-Shāgānī attested to Yāsīn's ability in magic. Al-Shaqani asserted that Yāsīn could perform miracles which even Moses, the sou of Amrām, would have been unable to perform, that he could produce gold coins whenever he wanted and in any quantity and any mintage he desired, and that he could turn the waters of the Nile into a tent, under which he and his colleagues would be able to sit. Nevertheless, he was destitute.

"When Mūsā came to visit me, I found him a man of noble character, even though not perfect, since he was very keen on leadership and on serving the rulers of this world. He wrote a book [p.859] on medicine, the subject matter of which he assembled from the SixteenBooks of Galen and from five other works. He imposed upon himself the rule not to change a word [of his sources] except certain conjunctions. But he merely transmitted excerpts of his choice. He also wrote a book for the Jews, entitled "Guide" [to the Perplexed], and pronounced a curse upon those who would copy it in other than Hebrew characters. On seeing a copy of it I found it to be an inferior book, which instead of strengthening the foundations of religious law and belief as its author believed, in fact undermined them.

"One day, when I was at the mosque, surrounded by a large crowd, there appeared an old man in shabby clothes but with a radiant look and dignified bearing. Those present paid him reverence and offered him a place of honor. I was just finishing my lecture, and when the meeting broke up, the Imam of the mosque approached me and said: 'Do you know that old man? He is Abū 'l-Qāsim al-Shari`ī.' I immediately went over to embrace him and said: It is you that I have been looking for. I took him to my house, where we ate a meal and talked. I found him to be a person pleasing to both my heart and eye. His behavior was that of a scholar and a wise man, and his appearance did not belie this. He was content with few worldly delights and did not become obsessed with any of them, so as not to be distracted from the quest for knowledge. From that day on he came to see me often. I discovered that he was well acquainted with the works of the ancients and also with those of Abū Nasr al-Fārābi. I set no great store by any of these, for I believed that the whole of wisdom had been encompassed by Ibn Sīnā and was embodied in his writings. When we engaged in discussion, I displayed superior dialectics and rhetoric, while he surpassed me in marshalling proofs and in lucidity of presentation. Still, his arguments did not dispel my prejudices. He then provided me, one by one, with the works of Abū Nasr, [p.860] Alexander and Themistius. In this way, he wore down my resistance, until I accepted his views, though not without reluctance. About that time the news was spreading that Salāh al-Dīn had concluded an armistice with the Franks and had re-entered Jerusalem. It therefore became incumbent upon me to visit him. So I took as many of the books of the ancients as I could carry and set out for Jerusalem. There I saw the mighty ruler, the object of admiration and love, near and yet so far, easy of access and ready to grant requests. His entourage endeavored to emulate him, vying with each other in doing good, as Allāh, the Most High, says [Qur'ān, XV, 47): We have removed any malice that may have been in their breast.

"On the first night after my arrival I attended a large gathering of scholars who discussed various sciences while Salāh al-Dīn listened attentively. He also took part in the discussion, taking up the subject of building walls and digging trenches. As he was well-versed in the matter, he was able to put forward a number of interesting suggestions. At that time, he was concerned with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and digging its trenches. He himself took part in the carrying stones on his shoulders, and all the people, the poor and the rich, the weak and the strong, followed his example, even `Imād al-Dīn the secretary and al-Qādi al-Fādil. Salāh al-Dīn would set out for work on horseback before dawn, stay until noon and then return to his residence, where he took a meal and a rest. In the afternoon, he again rode to work and returned only when the torches were lit. He spent most of the night planning the work of the next day.

"Salāh al-Dīn awarded me a monthly allowance of thirty dinars, to be paid by the administration of the Great Mosque in Damascus, and as his sons too, granted me payments as well, I had a fixed monthly income of one hundred dinars. [p.861]

"On my return to Damascus, I assiduously applied myself to study and to public teaching at the Great Mosque. The more I delved into the works of the ancients, the more I came to like them and dislike the works of Ibn Sīnā. I began to realize that alchemy was a futile occupation. I found out under what circumstances it had been initiated, who had been its originator, and the fact that he had made false claims in pursuit of certain objectives. Thus I freed myself of two very serious errors, for which I owe double thanks to Allāh, praise be to him; for many people have been ruined by the works of Ibn Sīnā and by alchemy.

"After Salāh al-Dīn had moved to Damascus, he went out one day to bid the pilgrims' caravan farewell. On his return, he became feverish. He was bled by someone who had no experience at all, whereupon his strength ebbed and he died after being ill for less than fourteen days. The people mourned him as if he had been a prophet. I have not heard of so much grief having been displayed at the passing of any other king; for he was beloved by all, the righteous and the wicked, Muslims and nonbelievers.

"His sons and courtiers dispersed in all directions, although most of them went to Egypt on account of the fertility of that country and the liberality of its king.

"Damascus was ruled by al-Malik al-`Afdal, Salāh al-Dīn's eldest son. I remained there until al-Malik al-`Azīz came with the Egyptian army and laid siege to his brother. But al-Malik al-`Azīz achieved nothing. Receiving an attack of colic, he retreated to Marj al-Safr, and when he had recovered, I set out to meet him. He permitted me to join him on his way back and granted me a pension from the treasury, more than sufficient to meet my needs. I became closely attached to Shaikh Abū 'l-Qāsim, who used to visit me morning and evening until his death. Once when he was seriously ill, suffering from his head to his flanks, I advised him to take medicine, but he retorted with two lines of poetry:  [p.862]

I am not going to chase away the birds from a tree.
The bitter fruits of which I know from long experience.

"And when I enquired about his pains, he again replied with a line:

No wound can inflict pain on a dead body.

"It was my habit at that time to give public lectures at the al-Azhar Mosque from early morning until about the fourth hour or noon. My lectures were attended by students of medicine and others. Toward evening, I returned to the mosque, when my audience was of a different makeup. At night, I used to study for myself. In this manner I continued until the death of al-Malik al-`Azīz. He had been a noble and courageous young man, modest and never unwilling to grant a request. In spite of his youth and vigor, he showed perfect restraint in both monetary and sexual matters."

The author says: Thereafter Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn stayed on in Cairo for a time, receiving stipends and grants from the sons of Salāh al-Dīn. Egypt was then visited by a dearth and an epidemic such as had never been borne before. On these events Muwaffaq al-Dīn wrote a book, in which he described most startling happenings that he had either seen himself or heard from eye witnesses. This book he entitled "The Book of Information and Consideration, on Things Seen and Events Witnessed in the Land of Egypt."

Later, when the Sultan al-Malik al-`Ādil Saif al-Dīn Abū Bakr ibn Ayyub made himself master of Egypt, the greater part of Syria and the East, and the sons of his brother al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al Dīn dispersed having been deprived of their possessions. Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn moved to Jerusalem, where he stayed for a time. There, at al-Aksa Mosque he gave frequent lectures on various sciences and wrote numerous books. Later, in the year 604/1207 he went to Damascus, where he lodged at the al-`Aziziyya College and took up teaching and study. He had many pupils, who studied [p.863] various sciences with him. In Damascus he distinguished himself in the medical art and wrote copiously in this field. He now became known for his medical lore, whereas previously his fame had rested on his knowledge of grammar.

After staying in Damascus for a time, where the people profited greatly by his learning, he traveled to Aleppo and thence to Asia Minor, where he stayed for many years. He was in the service of `Alā' al-Dīn Da'ūd ibn Bahrām, the ruler of Erzanjān, at whose court he established himself in a very honorable position and from whom he received a generous salary and many favors. To him he dedicated a good many works. `Alā' al-Dīn was a man of high aspirations, modest and noble-hearted. He had studied several sciences. Muwaffaq al-Dīn remained in his service until the ruler of Erzerum, the Sultan Kayqbādh ibn Kaykhsarū ibn Qalaj Arslān conquered his kingdom. `Alā' al-Dīn was taken prisoner and was never heard of again.

Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn Abd al-Latīf continues: "On the seventeenth day of Dhū-al-Qa`dah of the year 625/1228, I set out for Erzerum, and on the eleventh day of Safar of the year 626/1229, I returned to Erzanjan. In the middle of Rabī` I, I went to Kamākh, which I left for Dabarkī [?] in the month of Jumada I. In the month of Rajab I moved from there to Melitene. At the end of Ramadan, I left for Aleppo. After performing the rites of `Id al-Fitr in al-Bahnasā, I entered Aleppo on Friday, the 9th of Shawwāl. I found the city's prosperity, amenities and welfare greatly enhanced by the excellent administration of the Atabeg Shihāb al-Dīn. The whole population was united in their love of him, because he ruled his subjects justly."

Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn settled in Aleppo, where he engaged in teaching and wrote many works. In Shihāb al-Dīn Tughril al-Khādim, the Atabeg of Aleppo, he found an excellent patron, so that he could [p.864] devote himself to teaching medicine and other subjects. He would repair to the Great Mosque of Aleppo to lecture on the Hadīth and teach the Arabic language. He was always busy, giving much of his time to copying and writing. While he was in Aleppo I meant to go and visit him, but this plan did not materialize. His books and letters reached us constantly, and he even sent me some of his works written by his own hand.

This is the text of a letter I wrote to him when he was in Aleppo. . . . . . . . . . .

In the first letter that Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-Latīf sent to my father he wrote with reference to me: "The son of the son is more beloved than the son himself. So this Muwaffaq al-Dīn [honorific name of Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah], being the son of my son, is dearer to me than any other man. Since his earliest youth, his excellence has been evident to me." He extolled me still further and then continued: "If I were able to come to him, so that he might become my pupil, I would do it." Indeed, it had been his intention to come to Damascus and stay there, but later he conceived the idea of first making the pilgrimage and, traveling via Baghdād, of presenting some of his writings to the Caliph al-Mustansir bi-Allāh. After reaching Baghdād he fell ill and died, may Allāh have mercy upon him, on Sunday, the 12th of Muharram in the year 629/1232. He was buried in al-Wardiyya [Cemetery] near his father's grave. This happened after he had been absent from Baghdād for forty-five years. Allāh, the Most High, led him back to this town, where he met his death.

Of the sayings of Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-Latīf al-Baghdādī, I quote the following from an autograph copy: [p.865]

It befits you to call yourself to account every night when you go to sleep, to consider what good deeds you have performed that day and to thank God for them, and to consider what evil deeds you have committed and to ask God's forgiveness and not do them again. You should also make plans for doing good the next day and ask God to help you.

I exhort you not to derive knowledge (merely) from books, even though you may believe in the power of your understanding. In every science you strive to acquire you ought to have recourse to teachers, and even though a teacher's knowledge deficient, accept from him what he has to offer until you find a better solution. You should honor and revere your teacher, and if you are able to reward him with some of your worldly possessions, do so; if not, reward him with your praise. When studying a book, make every effort to learn it by heart and assimilate its contents. Imagine that the book is not there — you will then not be dependent on it and not regret its absence. When applying yourself to one book, beware of studying another at the same time, but devote to the first the time you intended to spend on a second. Also beware of studying two sciences at the time — devote to each science one year, two years, or whatever time God wills. When you have had enough of one science, you may proceed to another, but do not believe that once you have mastered a science, you have done enough; you have to cultivate it that it may grow and not diminish, and this is done by repetition and thinking. A beginner's task is to learn, memorize and debate with fellow students, while a scholar's duty is to devote himself to teaching and writing. When teaching or discussing a science, do not mingle it with another one, for each science is self-sufficient and autonomous. By having recourse to another science when dealing with a particular one you merely admit that your knowledge of the latter is imperfect. It is like falling back on a [p.866] foreign language when you have difficulty in expressing yourself in your own or lack complete fluency in it.

A man ought to read historical books, the biographies of famous men and writings on the fate of nations, for in this way, despite the shortness of life, he becomes, as it were, a contemporary of peoples of bygone days, communes with them and knows their good and bad sides.

Your way of life should be similar to that of the first generation of Islam. Read the biography of the Prophet, may Allāh bless him and give him peace, acquaint yourself with his doings and the circumstances of his life, follow his example and do your utmost to emulate him. If you get to know his habits as to food, drink, dress, sleep, waking, sickness, medical treatment, amusement and use of perfumes and his attitude toward the Lord, his wives, his friends and his foes, and if you adopt only a small portion of all this, you will be among the happiest of men.

You should be suspicious of yourself and not conceited. You should submit your opinion of scholars and their writings to a critical scrutiny, proceeding with caution, without haste or bias, for bias is a pitfall and rashness a stumbling block. He who has never rubbed his forehead against the doors of scholars cannot boast of being steeped in learning. He who has never been abashed by scholars will not be revered by man, and he who has never been blamed by them has never been properly admonished. Whoever does not endure the pain of study will never experience the pleasure of knowledge. He who does not toil will never reap fruit.

When you interrupt your studying and thinking, exert your tongue in speaking Allāh's name and proclaiming His glory, especially before going to sleep; for then the meaning of the words will be absorbed by your innermost being, your mind will assimilate it and you will dwell upon it in your sleep. [p.867]

When you feel pleasure or joy about anything in this world, remember death, the transience of life and the many kinds of affliction, and when you are grieved by something, say: Verily we are Allāh's, and to Him do we return [Sura II, 156]; and when you have been thoughtless, ask Allāh's forgiveness.

Always keep death before your mind's eye and make knowledge and fear of God your provision for the world to come. If you should intend to disobey Allāh, choose a place where you cannot be seen; but take warning that men are the eyes of God that watch every human being; a man discloses his good deeds even if he performs them in secret, and his evil doings even if he conceals them. His inward being is laid bare before God, and God discloses it to His servants. You should see to it, therefore, that your hidden qualities are better than your visible ones, and your inner thoughts sounder than your manifest ones.

Do not be grieved if you are not lucky in wordly affairs; if you were, you would thereby be distracted from attaining scientific knowledge, for a rich man seldom engages deeply in science, unless he is a man of high aspirations or become rich when he had already acquired science. Still, I do not claim that wordly success eludes the student of science; rather, it is he who pays no attention to mundane affairs, since his ambition is directed elsewhere, so that he has no time to think of accumulating riches.

Wealth is attained by ambition and careful thought of the means by which to attain it. If these means are neglected, it will not come of itself. Moreover, the student of science disdains mean occupations and base ways of gaining profit, as he does all kinds of commerce. He would not demean himself before the lords of this world by petitioning at their gates.

A friend of mine composed these lines: [p.868]

Whoever exerts himself in the quest of knowledge is spared
By the dignity of knowledge, the meanness of material gains.

All the ways of gaining wordly possessions require utter devotion, special skill and much expenditure of time. A person applying himself to science can afford nothing of this. He can only wait for wealth to come to him without any effort on his part, seeking him out without his seeking it, as he does other things. This seems to be unjust. But when a man has become proficient in science and has gained fame through it, he is sought after from all quarters and many posts are offered to him. At this juncture, wealth approaches him humbly, and he takes it without having to debase himself or to betray his honor and faith. You should know that science diffuses a pleasant fragrance, which draws attention to him who possesses it, and it also spreads light and radiance, which illuminate him and make him known; just as it is the case with a musk-vendor, whose place is never mistaken and whose merchandise is readily recognised, or with a man walking in the dark of night and holding a torch. Moreover, the savant is always beloved, wherever he stays. Everyone he meets is well-disposed toward him, delights in his company, appreciates his presence and enjoys his proximity.

Let it be known to you that sciences may dry up at one time and spring forth at another, just like plants and water sources. They may also move from one nation to another and from one region to another.

I have also copied from his handwritings the following sayings of of his:

Your diction should, for the most part, possess the following qualities. It should be concise and should clearly express some important or interesting ideas. It may, however, contain some ambiguities and a greater or smaller number of allusions. It [p.869] should not be dull like the speech of common people. Raise it above their level, but not too far.

Beware of prattle, of idle talk, but beware also of keeping silent where the need arises, or you are called upon, to defend a right, to win someone's friendship or to extol a merit. Beware of laughing while you speak, and of excessive chatter and distorted speech; speak coherently and composedly, so as to suggest that you keep in reserve more than you express and that your words are the result of careful consideration.

Beware of being gruff in addressing people or rude in debate, for this will destroy the persuasive power of your words, nullify their usefulness and take away their charm; moreover, it will cause resentment and wipe out friendship: the speaker will be disliked and the listener will prefer his silence to his speech, people will be roused to oppose him and tongues will be loosened to vilify and disparage him.

Do not exalt yourself so much as to be loathed, and do not lower yourself so much as to be despised and looked upon with contempt.

Always speak seriously and answer deliberately, not in a mechanical, stereotyped way.

Give up childish habits and cease to be guided by your instincts. Your talk should, as a rule, be of sacred things, never without a quotation of a religious tradition, a Qur'ānic passage, a saying of a savant, an unusual line of poetry or a well-known proverb.

Avoid slandering people, defaming kings, being harsh to a companion and displaying bad temper.

Learn by heart all you can of proverbial lines of poetry, remarkable sayings of savants and interesting expressions.

This is one of his prayers, may Allāh have mercy upon him . . . . . . . . . .  [p.870]

Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-Latīf al-Baghdādī wrote the following works:

1) A dictionary of difficult words in the Hadīth, the subject matter for which he assembled from works bearing the same title — by Abū `Ubayd al-Qāsim ibn Sullām, Ibn Qutaiba and al-Khattābī.

2) A abridgment of the former.

3) "K. al-Wādiha," on syntactical problems in the Fātiha [first Sura of the Qur'ān].

4) "K. al-Alif wal-Lām" [on the definite article].

5) A problem of the Qur'ānic saying: "If a man stretches out his hand, he can hardly see it."

6) "A Grammatical Problem."

7) A collection of grammatical problems and annotations.

8) On the use of the word "rubba."

9) A commentary on [Ka`b ibn Zuhair's ode] "Bānat Su`ād [Su`ād has departed].

10) A supplement to [Tha`lab's] "Fasīh."

11) A treatise on the terms "essence" and "essential qualities," commonly employed by the theologians.

12) A commentary on the first chapters of [al-Zamakhsharī's] "al-Mufassal."

13) "Five Grammatical Problems."

14) A commentary on Ibn Babshadh's "Introduction," which he entitled "al-Luma` al-Kāmiliya."

15) A commentary on Ibn Nubāta's "Sermons."

16) A commentary on the chain of transmission of the Hadīth. 17 ) A commentary on seventy hadīths.

18) A commentary on forty good hadīths.

19) A refutation of ibn Khatīb al-Rayy [— Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī] with regard to his commentary on the 112th Sura of the Qur'ān [al-Ikhlās].

20) A book disclosing the injustice done to Qudāmā [Ibn Ja`far]. [p.871]

21) A commentary on Qudāma's "Criticism of Poetry."

22) Hadīths excerpted from compilations combining (the subject matter of) the two Sahīhs [of al-Bughārī and Muslim].

23) A book on the Hadīth entitled "al-Liwā' al-`Azīz bi-Smi 'l-Malik al-`Azīz.

24) "The Rules of Rhetoric"; written in Aleppo in the year 625/1228.

25) "Marginal Notes on Ibn Jinnī's "al-Khasā'is" [on distinctive features of the Arabic language].

26) An equitable treatment of Ibn Barrī and Ibn al-Khashshāb regarding their opinions on al-Harīrī's "Maqamas" and Ibn Barrī's defense of al-Harīrī.

27) A question concerning the formula of divorce: [the man says in the month of Ramadān to the wife] "You are dismissed."

28) A commentary on the saying of the Prophet, peace be on him: "The merciful will be treated with mercy by the Most Merciful (cf. above, No. 16)."

29) A book of grammar entitled "Kabasat al-`Ajlān."

30) An abridgment of al-`Askari's "Book of the Two Arts" [poetry and prose].

31) An abridgment of Ibn Rashfq's "al-`Umda" [on poetics].

32) A treatise on Wafq.

33) A book on Indian calculus entitled "K. al-Jalī."

34) An abridgment of the "Book of Plants" by Abū Hanīfa al-Dinawarī.

35) A similar book on the same subject.

36) An abridgment of al-Tamīmī's "Substance of Survival" [on medical knowledge transmitted from the Prophet of Islām; Hajjī Khalīfa II, 1574].

37) A book of aphorisms, being the "Bulghat al-Hakīm," in seven discourses; he completed it in the month of Ramadān, 608/1211. [p.872]

38) A commentary on Hippocrates' "Aphorisms."

39) A commentary on Hippocrates' "Prognostics."

40) An abridgment of Galen's commentary on Hippocrates' "Book of Acute Diseases."

41) An abridgment of Aristotle's "Historia Animalium."

42) A revision of the questions which puzzled Aristotle.

43) A similar book on the same subject.

44) An abridgment of Galen's "Uses of the Parts" [of animals].

45) An abridgment of the "Book on the Opinions of Hippocrates and WPlato."

46) An abridgment of the "Book on the Embryo."

47) An abridgment of the "Book on the Voice."

48) An abridgment of the "Book on the Sperm."

49) An abridgment of the "Book on the Organs of Respiration."

50) An abridgment of the "Book on the Muscles."

51) An abridgment of al-Jāhiz's "Book of Animals."

52) A book on the organs of respiration and their functioning, in six discourses.

53) A treatise on the classification of fevers, the conditions under which each of them persists and how they arise.

54) "The Book of Selection," being an abstract of "The Acute Diseases."

55) An abridgment of the "Book of Fevers" by al-Isrā'īlī.

56) An abridgment of the "Book of Urine" by al-Isrā'īlī.

57) An abridgment of the "Book of the Pulse" by al-Isra'īlī.

58) "The Larger Book of Egyptian History."

59) "The Smaller Book of Egyptian History," in two discourses, entitled "The Book of Information and Consideration, on Things Seen and Events Witnessed in the Land of Egypt" [cf. above]; he finished writing it in Jerusalem on the 10th of Sha`bān, 603/1206.  [p.873]

60) A historical book containing his autobiography, written for his son Sharaf al-Dīn Yūsuf.

61) A treatise on thirst.

62) A treatise on water.

63) A treatise enumerating the aims of authors in writing books and the benefit and harm resulting therefrom.

64) A treatise on the meaning of substance and accident.

65) A concise treatise on the soul.

66) A treatise on compensatory movements.

67) A treatise on habits.

68) A word on godship.

69) A treatise comprising eleven chapters on the nature of drugs and food, their classification and preparation.

70) A treatise on novices in the medical art.

71) A treatise on curing diseases by allopathy.

72) A treatise on diabetes and the drugs effective against it.

73) A treatise on rhubarb; he revised it in Aleppo in Jumādā II, 617/ 1220, after having written it in Egypt in 595/1199.

74) A treatise on the saqanqūr [a kind of lizard].

75) A treatise on wheat.

76) A treatise on wine and the vine.

77) A small treatise on crises.

78) A epistle to a practical geometrician of note, sent from Aleppo.

79) An abridgment of Ibn Wāfid's "Book of Simple Drugs."

80) An abridgment of Ibn Samajūn's "Book of Simple Drugs."

81) A large work on simple drugs.

82) A compendium on fevers.

83) A treatise on temperament.

84) "The Book of the Self-Sufficiency of Anatomy."

85) A refutation of Ibn al-Khatīb regarding his commentary on a portion of the general part of [Ibn Sīnā's] Qānūn; this work he dedicated and sent to my paternal uncle, Rashīd al-Dīn Alī ibn Khalīfa, may Allāh have mercy upon him, he wrote it in Aleppo before setting out for Asia Minor.  [p.874]

86) A critical examination of Ibn Jumai's marginal notes on the Qānūn.

87) A treatise critisizing Alī ibn Ridwān, the Egyptian, for his book on the differences of opinion between Galen and Aristotle.

88) A treatise on the senses.

89) A treatise on the terms kalimah [word] and kalām [sentence].

90) "The Book of the Seven."

91) "A Present for the Hopeful."

92) A treatise refuting Jews and Christians.

93-94) Two other treatises refuting Jews and Christians.

95) A treatise on the classification of authors.

96) The book entitled "`Alā'ī Wisdom," containing fine passages on metaphysics, he wrote it for `Ala' al-Dīn [whence its title] Dā'ud ibn Bahrām, ruler of Erzanjān.

97) A treatise on logic, being a kind of introduction.

98) Marginal notes to al-Fārāb's "Book of Demonstration."

99) "The Book of Theriac."

100) Aphorisms excerpted from the sayings of savants.

101) A solution of some of the doubts entertained by al-Rāzi with regard to the works of Galen.

102) "The Ladder to Human Perfection," in eight chapters.

103) A treatise on the scales of compound drugs, in the quantitative respect.

104) A treatise on the balance between drugs and diseases, in the qualitative respect.

105) A treatise on how to determine the dosages of drugs.

106) A treatise on the same subject, also including the elimination of uncertainties entertained by some scholars.[p.875]

107) A critical examination of the same subject, including the answers to three questions.

108) A sixth treatise, abridged.

109) A treatise concerning the weights of medicinal drugs used in compounds.

110) A discourse on the same subject.

111) A treatise on respiration, sounds and speech.

112) A treatise summarizing the sayings of Galen on the preservation of health.

113) Excerpts from Dioscorides' book on the descriptions of herbs.

114) More excerpts on the uses of herbs.

115) A treatise on warfare, which he wrote for one of the kings of his time in 623/1226. A copy of the work which I found was entitled "A Treatise on Pragmatic Politics."

116) A book on the principles of politics entitled "al-`Umda."

117) A treatise containing the answer to a question he was asked about the killing of animals, whether it is admissible from a natural and rational point of view, as it is according to religious law.

118-119) Two treatise on the model state.

120) A treatise on harmful sciences.

121) An epistle on the possible, in two chapters.

122) A treatise on the species and the genus, being the answer to a question he was asked in Damascus in 604/1207.

123) "The Four Aphorisms," on logic.

124) A rectification of Platonic sayings.

125) "Sententious Sayings in Prose."

126) Isagoge.

127) A book on being content whatever happens.

128) A Treatise on the Finite and the Infinite.

129) A book on logic, physics and metaphysics, entitled "Ta`rīth al-Fitan." [p.876]

130) A treatise on the use of logic; sent to me from Asia Minor.

131) A treatise on the definition of medicine.

132) A treatise on novices in the medical art (cf. above).

133) A treatise on the nine parts of logic; a large volume

134) A treatise on analogy.

135) A book on analogy in fifty quires; he later added to it the "Introduction," the "Categories," the "Hermeneutics" and the "Demonstration," so that it came to comprise four volumes.

136) A treatise containing the answer to a question concerning the paths to happiness.

137) The Naturalia, from Music to the end of the Book of Senses and Sensations in three volumes.

138) "The Book of Physics," in two volumes.

139) Another book on Naturalia, from Music to the Book of the Soul.

140) "The Book on the Wonderful."

141) Marginal notes on al-Fārābī's "Eight," on logic.

142) A commentary on the demonstrative figures in al-Fārābī's Eight.

143) A treatise declaring the falseness of the fourth figure.

114) A treatise refuting Ibn Sīnā's belief that there exist conditional analogies which produce results.

145) A treatise on interconnected analogies.

146) A treatise refuting conditional analogies claimed by Ibn Sīnā.

147) A treatise on the same topic.

14 8) Two pieces of advice to physicians and savants.

149) "On the Controversy between the Philosopher and the Alchemist."

150) An epistle on minerals and the futility of alchemy.

151) A treatise on the senses.

152) An admonition to the savants.

153) An abridgment of ibn Abī-al-Ash`ath's "Book of Animals."

154) An abridgment of ibn Abī al-Ash`cath's "Book of Colic." [p.877]

155) A treatise on vertigo.

156) A treatise on hypochondria.

157) A treatise in refutation of Ibn al-Haitham's theory of space.

158) An outline of metaphysics.

159) A tract on the palm tree, he wrote the first draft in Egypt in 599/1202 and revised it in Erzanjān in Rajāb, 625/ 1228.

160) A treatise on languages and on how they originate.

161) A treatise on poetry.

162) A treatise on analogies.

163) A treatise on predestination.

164) A treatise on metaphysics.

165) "The Large Comprehensive Book," on logic, physics and metaphysics, in about ten volumes; it took him more than twenty years to complete.

166) "The Amazing Book on the History of Animals."

167) "The Crowned," on the qualities of our Prophet, may Allāh bless him and give him peace. [In the introduction) he says: "I started writing the first quire of it in Damascus in 627/1230 and completed the whole in four months, in Aleppo, in A.H. 628/1231. It comprises a hundred quires.

168) "The Book of the Eight," on logic; this is the middle commentary.


Al-Isrā'īlī, Yūsuf. Abū 'l Hajjāj Yūsuf al-Isrā'īlī, hailed from the Maghrib, being a native of Fez, but moved to Egypt. He was preeminent in medicine, geometry and astrology. In Egypt he studied medicine under the Chief Mūsā ibn Maimūn of Cordoba. Later he went to Syria and settled in Aleppo, where he entered the service of al-Malik al-Zāhir Ghāzī, the son of al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb. Al-Malik al-Zāhir fully relied upon him in medical matters. Yūsuf was also in the service of the Amīr Fāris al-Dīn Maimūn al-Qasrī. He stayed on in Aleppo teaching medicine until his death. [p.878]

He wrote an epistle on the sequence in which fine and coarse foods should be taken and a commentary on Hippocrates' "Aphorisms."


Al'-Ismā'īlī, `Imrān ibn Sadaga. `Imrān al-Isrā'īlī, the physician Auhad al-Dīn `Imrān ibn Sadaqa, was born in Damascus in 561/1175.

His father was also a renowned physician. Studying medicine under the guidance of Shaikh Radī al-Dīn al-Rahbī, `Imrān attained distinction in both the theory and practice of that art and became one of the greatest medical authorities. He gained great prestige with kings, who fully relied upon him as to medicinal and clinical treatment and rewarded him with countless monetary and other remunerations. He acquired more books on medicine and other subjects than hardly anyone else. But he never attached himself to the personal service of a king or accompanied him on his travels. Yet whenever a king fell ill or someone had difficulty in calling on him, he treated him devotedly until the cure was complete. Al-Malik al-Adil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyub tried hard to engage him for his own personal service, but he failed, as did other kings.

I have it on the authority of the Amir Sārim al-Dīn al-Tabnīnī, may Allāh have mercy upon him, that during his stay in al-Kirk, al-Malik al-Nāsir Dā`ūd, son of al-Malik al-Mu`azzam at that time ruler of the town, suffered from an indisposition of his temperament. After he had called the physician `Imrān from Damascus to attend him, the latter stayed with him a short while, during which he treated him so well that he recovered. Thereupon Dā'ud presented the physician with a robe of honor and a large amount of money. Moreover, he offered him a monthly salary of 1,500 dirhams if he would enter his service and even agreed to advance him the sum of 27,000 dirhams, being his salary for eighteen months. But `Imrān declined. [p.879]

The Sultan al-Malik al-`Ādil bestowed upon `Imrān numerous presents, in addition to a high monthly salary and special grants. At that time, `Imrān stayed in Damascus and regularly attended the members of the Sultan's household in the citadel. The same was the case in the reign of al-Malik al-Mu`azzam, who likewise assigned him a monthly salary and a special grant. He regularly visited the Great Hospital to treat the inmates. At that time, my teacher Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Alī — may Allāh have mercy upon him — also worked at that hospital, and the cooperation of the two yielded most gratifying results and proved very beneficial to the patients. At that time I was training under their guidance, in the practical application of medicine, and so I was able to witness `Imrān's amazing feats of therapy and diagnosis. One day, for example, a hemiplegic was brought to the hospital, and the physicians insisted that he should be given certain decoctions and other medicines which they were wont to prescribe. When `Imrān saw him, he put him on a diet for that day and later ordered him to be bled. After the bloodletting, he treated him until he was completely restored to health. I also observed many times how he prescribed to patients certain drinks and dishes in accordance with their desires but still in keeping with the requirements of treatment, and they proved beneficial. This is a very important aspect of therapy. I also saw him treat many chronic sufferers who had become weary of life and of whom the physicians despaired of curing. They recovered through strange drugs he prescribed and wonderful cures he knew. I have reported some examples in my book "Experiences and Morals." `Imrān died in Homs in the month of Jumādā I, 637/1240, after responding to the call of the ruler of that city to come and attend him. [p.880]


Muwaffaq al-Dīn Ya`qub ibn Siqlāb, a Christian, was unequaled in his time in the knowledge, understanding and correct interpretation of the works of Galen. Owing to his zeal for medicine, his ardent desire to read and study the above works, his outstanding talent and great intelligence, the entire contents of Galen's writings were always at his fingertips. Thus, whatever he would say concerning medicine — its various divisions, multifaceted topics and fine details — he always quoted in the name of Galen and whenever he was asked a question concerning a medical problem, whether difficult or relatively simple, he invariably replied by "Galen says" and adduced pertinent passages from his works, word for word. For this he was greatly admired. Sometimes, when quoting Galen, he even indicated the page of the respective chapter where the passage was to be found, referring to the copy in his possession, for he had read it so many times that he had known it by heart.

On one occasion I had the opportunity of observing his vast knowledge. At the start of my medical studies, I read something of Hippocrates under his guidance, in order to memorize it and receive explanations. At that time, we were staying in al-Mu`azzam's military encampment, where my father too, was employed in the service of al-Malik al-Mu`azzam, may Allāh have mercy upon him. On that occasion, I was able to observe that Muwaffaq al Dīn contrived to give such lucid explanations and interpret the subject matter so thoroughly and in such clear and concise language as no one else would have been able to do. Thereafter he gave the gist of what he had said, so that he left nothing of the sayings of Hippocrates that he had not explained in the best way possible. In addition, he mentioned what Galen in his commentary had said with regard to the chapter in question, quoting it fluently from beginning to end. When looking up the passage in the original, I found that Muwaffaq al-Dīn had recited the whole text without omitting anything, and in many [p.881] instances had even repeated the very words used by Galen, without adding or leaving out a single one. This is a feat such as he alone, of all his contemporaries, could boast of.

During his stay in Damascus, Muwaffaq al-Dīn frequently met the Shaikh Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī, in the place assigned to the physicians at the Sultan's residence, and the two would discuss various medical topics. Shaikh Muhadhdhab al-Dīn had a better diction, was brighter and a more skilled debator, which Ya`qub was more deliberate, expressed himself more lucidly and had more traditional texts at his command; for he was, so to speak, in the position of an interpreter who could always draw on what Galen had said about medicine in his various books.

As to the therapeutics of the physician Ya`qub, they were unsurpassable. He first determined the nature of the disease in a most thorough manner and then began treatment according to the rules laid down by Galen, yet using his own discretion with regard to what should be applied in each specific case. He took great pains in his examinations and made every effort to consider all the symptoms. Whenever he examined a patient, he questioned him minutely about each of his symptoms and complaints, and never overlooked any symptom likely to help him in diagnosing the disease, so that his treatment was always excellent. Al-Malik al Mu`azzam praised him for this quality. Describing his character, he said: "If it were the only merit of the physician Ya`qub that he takes the utmost care in diagnosing diseases, so as to treat them correctly, without any doubt as to their nature [it would be enough].

Ya`qub mastered the Greak language and expertly translated from it into Arabic. He had in his possession some of Galen's works in the Greek original, such as "Strategem of Healing," "Maladies" and Symptoms," and others, which he constantly read and studied. [p.882]

He was born in Jerusalem and lived there for many years. In that city he maintained close contact with a philosopher, a monk of the al-Siq Monastery, who was an expert naturalist, had mastered geometry and arithmetic and was well versed in astrology and the observation of stars. He made correct prognoses and gave amazing forewarnings. Ya`qūb told me a great deal about his knowledge of philosophy, his ingenuity and his sagacity.

In Jerusalem Ya`qūb also met Shaikh Abū Mansūr al-Nasrānī, a physician, under whom he studied. He assisted him in his medical practice and profited greatly thereby.

Ya`qūb was a most clever, sensible and even-tempered person. While he was in the personal service of al-Malik al-Mu`azzam `Isā ibn Abī Bakr ibn Ayyūb, the latter placed so much faith in him that he asked his advice not only in medical matters but in other affairs as well, and when he followed it, he was always satisfied with the outcome. He wanted to appoint Ya`qūb to a post in the administration of his realm, but the latter declined, preferring to devote himself entirely to medicine.

Ya`qūb suffered from gout in both legs and was sometimes in so much pain that he was hardly able to move. Al-Malik al-Mu`azzam, therefore, when taking him along on his travels, had him laid on a stretcher and took good care of him. He honored him greatly, allotted him a considerable monthly salary and bestowed on him many favors. One day he asked him: "Why don't you cure that ailment in your legs?" Ya`qūb replied: "When wood has become worm-eaten, there is no way to cure it."

Ya`qūb remained in the service of al-Malik al-Mu`azzam until the latter's death. The Sultan died, may Allāh have mercy upon him, in Damascus at three o'clock on Friday, the last day of Dhū-al-Da`da, 624/1227, He was succeeded by his son, al-Malik al-Nāsir Dā'ud. [p.883]

When Ya`qūb called on al-Malik al-Nāsir, he mentioned — after saluting him — his service of many years and remarked that he had grown old and feeble. He then recited the following lines by Ibn Munkidh, may Allāh have mercy upon him:

I came to you when the garments of youth were still fresh,
How should I leave you whom they have become worn out?
I can claim the respect due to a guest, to a protege of long standing
And to one who came to you when the tribesmen were still youths.

Upon hearing this, al-Malik al-Nāsir treated him very kindly, gave him money and apparel and ordered that he should continue to receive all he had been granted by al-Malik al-Mu`azzam, without having to report for duty. He lived a little longer, and then died in Damascus on the Christian Easter, i.e., in the month of Rabī` II, in the year 625/1228.


Sadīd al-Dīn Abū Mansūr. The illustrious and learned physician Abū Mansūr, son of the physician Muwaffaq al-Dīn Ya`qūb ibn Siqlāb, was an outstanding physician and scholar, an expert in the theory and practice of medicine, both general and specialized. He studied under his father and others. In al-Kirk he also studied a great number of the philosophical sciences under the Imām Shams al-Dīn al-Uhashrūshāhī. When in the service of al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Dā'ūd, son of the al-Malik al-Mu`azzam `Isā ibn Abī Bakr ibn Ayyūb, he stayed with him in al-Kirk and won his esteem and confidence in medical matters. He later moved to Damascus, where he died.


Rashīd al-Dīn al-Sūri. Abū 'l-Mansūr ibn Abī al-Fadl ibn Alī al-Surī had a comprehensive knowledge of general medicine and was [p.884] well acquainted with the obvious and hidden advantages of this art. No one had his knowledge of simple drugs, their nature, different names and descriptions, specific properties and effects.

He was born in 573/1177 in the city of Tyre, He grew up there, but later left his hometown. Studying medicine under Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-`Azīz and Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-Latīf ibn Yūsuf al-Baghdādī, he distinguished himself in this art. For some years he resided in Jerusalem, where he practiced in the local hospital and became friendly with Shaikh Abū-al-`Abbās al-Jayyānī. The latter was an outstanding authority on simple drugs, a versatile scholar and a pious and charitable man. From his friendship with him Rashīd al-Dīn was enriched. He learnt from him most of the things he knew and made himself so well acquainted with the specific properties of many simple drugs that he surpassed most experts in this field and all those who sought to be experts. Endowed with shining virtues, unparalleled real, remarkable learning and extraordinary courage, he put his newly acquired knowledge to good use.

In 612/1215, Rashīd al-Dīn entered the medical service of al-Malik al-`Adil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb, and when the latter set out for Egypt, he accompanied him from Jerusalem and remained in his service until al-Malik al-`Adil died, may Allāh have mercy upon him. Thereafter he entered the service of al-Malik al-`Adil's son, al-Malik al-Mu`azzam `Isā ibn Abī Bakr, enjoying his full confidence and gaining great prestige during his reign. By his side, he took part in a number of summer campaigns against the Franks, when they were besieging the fortress of Damiette. He remained in his service until his death.

Al-Malik al-Mu`azzam was succeeded by his son, al-Malik al-Nāsir Da'ud, who continued to pay Rashīd al-Dīn his monthly salary. In consideration of his previous service, he appointed him chief [p.885] physician. Rashīd al-Dīn remained in al-Malik al-Nāsir's service until the latter set out for al-Kirk. He then settled in Damascus, where he established a study circle for medicine, which was patronised by many who were eager to study the subject under his guidance. He also drew up a prescription for the great theriac, the ingredients of which he compounded judiciously, so that it was highly effective. He had already prepared it in abundance in the days of al-Malik al-Mu`azzam.

Rashīd al-Dīn ibn al-Surī died, may Allāh have mercy upon him, in Damascus on Sunday the 1st of Rajab 639/1242. He presented me with one of his works containing medical advice and recommendations. On that occasion, I wrote him the following letter, beginning with a poem [the poem follows.]

Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Abū Nasr Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Khidr, of Aleppo, recited to me the following poem, in which he praised the physician Rashīd al-Dīn ibn al-Sūrī and thanked him for a favor he had bestowed upon him . . . . . . . . . .

Rashīd al-Dīn al-Surī wrote the following works:

1) "The Book of Simple Drugs." He started writing it in the days of al-Malik al-Mu`azzam, whose name he used in its title. He gave in it a full account of all simples, including some which he himself had discovered and tried out and which had not been mentioned by his predecessors. He secured the cooperation of a painter, who had at his disposal all kinds and shades of color. He made it his habit to visit places grown with plants, such as Mount Lebanon, each of which was distinguished by a specific flora. After inspecting the plants, he showed them to the painter, who, after contemplating their color and examining their leaves, branches and roots, reproduced their likeness accordingly and to the best of his ability. Moreover, Rashīd al-Dīn employed a very useful method of representing plants. He showed them to the painter at three stages: [p.886] sprouting and tender; full-grown and seeding; and withering and drying up. The artist then painted them at these stages, and so the user of the book, seeing them in all the conditions in which he was liable to encounter them in nature, was in a position to obtain more perfect knowledge and clearer notions.

2) A criticism of al Tāj al-Bulghārī's "Book of Simple Drugs."

3) Annotations and medical advice and recommendations, dedicated to me [see above].


Sadīd al-Dīn ibn Raqīqa. Abū 'l-Thanā`, Mahmūd ibn `Umar ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Shuja` al-Shaibānī al-Hānawī, known as ibn Raqīqa was a man endowed with an excellent character and perfect virtues. Having familiarized himself with the medical teachings of the Ancients, scattered over a great number of writings, he surpassed all his fellow physicians and healers. Moreover, he possessed a beautiful diction, a rhetorical style and a gift for composing marvelous poems, many lines of which became proverbial. As to the Rajaz meter [used for didactic poems], I never saw in his time any physician more dexterous than he in using it. He could take any medical work and put it into Rajaz meter in a trice, without omitting anything of its contents and retaining beautiful language. He frequented Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn ibn `Abd al-Salām al-Māridīnī and was closely associated with him, studying medicine and other sciences under his guidance. He was also familiar with ophthalmology and surgery and, in treating eye diseases, performed many operations with the iron. In addition, he extracted cataracts from the eyes of many patients, who, thanks to his skill, regained their eyesight. The instrument he used was hollow and curved, so that, after the incision, it was better able to draw out the water and the operation became more effective.  [p.887]

Ibn Raqīqa also concerned himself with astrology and studied the "Mechanical Contrivances of the Sons of Mūsā [Ibn Shākir], from which he learnt to make amazing things. In addition, he possessed a sound knowledge of grammar and lexicology. He had a learned brother, named Mu`īn al-Dīn, who was the greatest authority of his time on the Arabic language — his main pursuit — but who also composed numerous poems.

Ibn Raqīqa, moreover, heard lectures on the Hadīth. Of the traditions he transmitted, I heard the following from his mouth: [there follows the chain of tradition, leading back to `Aisha, the Prophet's wife, and then the hadīth itself, which consists of lines of poetry. The report fills one page of the Arabic text.]

I have it from Sadīd al-Dīn ibn Raqīqa himself that he was born in 564/1168 in the city of Hīnī, where he also grew up. When Fakhr al-Dīn al-Māridīnī was staying in Hīnī, the ruler of the town, Nūr al-Dīn ibn Jamāl al-Dīn ibn Artaq, contracted an eye disease. Shaikh Fakhr al-Dīn treated him for a number of days, but then had to leave and therefore advised Nūr al-Dīn ibn Artaq to have himself treated by Sadīd al-Dīn ibn Raqīqa. The latter cured him within a short time. When he had completely recovered, he allotted to Sadīd al-Dīn a monthly salary and a grant in consideration of his services. Sadīd al-Dīn, as he told me himself, was at that time not yet twenty years old. He remained in Nur al-Dīn's service for some time.

Later he entered the service of the ruler of Hamāt, al-Malik al-Mansūr Muhammad ibn Taqī al-Dīn `Amr, with whom he stayed for a time. Thereafter he went to Khalāt which was then ruled by al-Malik al-Auhad Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb, son of al-Malik al-`Ādil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb, and entered the service of [p.888] Salāh al-Dīn ibn Yāghībsān. The latter's sister who had been married to al-Malik al-Auhad, also availed herself of Sadīd al-Dīn's medical care, and treated him with great kindness. He stayed in Khalāt until the death of al-Malik al-Auhad. The latter died of rheumatism in Manāz on Saturday, the 18th of Rabī` I, 609/1212. Sadīd al-Dīn had been treating him together with Sadaqa the Samaritan.

Later, Sadīd al-Dīn entered the service of al-Malik al-Ashraf Abū 'l-Fath Mūsā, the son of Malik al-`Ādil. After staying in Māyūfāriqīn for a number of years, he arrived at the court of al-Malik al-Ashraf in Damascus, on the 3rd of Jumada II, 632/1235 and was kindly received and greatly honored. Al-Malik al-Ashraf ordered him to attend the Sultan's household in the citadel and to treat the patients at the Hospital established by al-Malik al-`Ādil Nūr al-Dīn ibn Zengī. He allotted him a monthly salary and a grant. At the same time, Sadīd al-Dīn received similar payments for treating the patients at that hospital. We were close friends for a time, and what I was able to observe of his perfect character, noble mind, great scholarships and excellent performance in diagnosing and treating diseases is beyond all description. He continued to stay in Damascus, occupying himself with medicine, until he died — may Allāh have mercy upon him — in 635/1238. As to myself, I had already moved to Sarkhad in the month of Rabī` I, 634/1237 in order to enter the service of its ruler, the `Amīr `Izz al-Dīn al-M`uazzami.

[Here follow about eight and a half pages of ibn Raqīqa's poetry, including the following medical recommendations]:

Beware of filling yourself with food — keep away from it;
Do not take a meal before having digested the previous one.
Also avoid over-indulging in sexual intercourse,
For it is, for him who practices it frequently, a cause of illness
Do not drink water immediately after eating,
Then you will be saved from great damage, [p.889]
Nor on an empty stomach nor when hungry.
But only after eating a little food.
Always drink but little water, for this is beneficial
Even to him who is burning with thirst.
Watch your digestion — this is very important —
And undergo a purgative cure every year.
As to venesection, refrain from it
Unless a patient has soft stools and observes a diet.
Do not move about immediately after eating,
But only after having digested,
In order to prevent the chyme from descending all of a sudden,
In which case it will stick to the ducts and pores.
Likewise, do not rest too long,
For this produces all kinds of unhealthy humors in your body
Drink as little water as possible after taking exercise
And abstain from drinking [strong] wine,
But temper your cup in the right measure,
So as to keep your bodily heat constant.
Avoid drunkeness like the plague,
For it is the habit of low people.
If you refrain from indulging your desires,
If you keep yourself in check,
You will attain eternal life in the Abode of Peace.

Sadīd al-Dīn ibn Raqīqa wrote the following works:

1) "The Precious Treasures Hidden in Problems." This is a poetical rendering of Hunayn's "Problems," a summary of Ibn Sīnā's Qānūn and other texts indispensible to medicine, with a commentary. The author also wrote useful marginal notes to it.

2) "The Removal of Uncertainty on the Drugs Promoting Sexual Potency." [p.890]

3) The Shāhī Pearl, being a poem on sexual potency. He wrote it in Māyūfarīq, in 615/1218, for al-Malik al-Ashraf Shāh Armen Mūsā, the son of al-Malik al-`Adil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb. As he informed me, he wrote it in two days. It comprises . . . . . . lines. He also wrote an exhaustive commentary on it, expounding each item lucidly.

4) "The Code of the Savants and the Paradise of the Companions."

5) "The Desired Goal," on the dietetics of food and drink.

6) A treatise on fevers, in the form of questions and answers.

7) A poem, in the Rajaz meter, on bloodletting.


Sadaka the Samaritan. Sadaka ibn Manja ibn Sadaka the Samaritan was a great medical authority. He was very industrious, fond of study and research. Knowledgeable and keen-witted he was also at home in philosophy, whose mysteries he fathomed. In addition to teaching medicine, he was a writer of mediocre poems, in which he often inserted philosophical sayings, but mostly he composed distichs. He also wrote philosophical and medical works. He spent a good many years in the service of al-Malik al-Ashraf Mūsā, son of al-Malik al-`Ādil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb, with whom he stayed in the East until his death. Al-Malik al-Ashraf held him in high esteem and honored him greatly. Relying on him in all medical matters he allotted him a generous allowance and constant favors. Sadaqa died in the city of Harrān a few years after 620/1223. He left a large fortune, but no children.

The following are some of his sayings, which I have copied from his own manuscripts:

"Fasting denies the body its nourishment, guards the senses against error and the limbs from sin; it is the overall remedy against anything which interferes with the worship of Allāh."

"Know that all acts of worship are open except fasting, which can be seen by Allāh alone; for it is an inner act of pure perseverance. Fasting has three degrees: the general fast, which consists [p.891] in ignoring the stomach and dismissing the instincts; the special fast, which consists in keeping the ear, eye, tongue and the other organs from sin; the extra-special fast, consisting in the soul's abstinence from worldly cares and thoughts of the body its concentration solely on Allāh, glory be to him."

"The body's secretions that are unchangeable and indurable —tears, sweat, spittle and mucus — are pure; while the durable and changeable secretions, — urine and excrement — are impure."

"Know that the word vizier [wazir] is derived from the expression 'to carry a burden' [wizr] for those whom he is serving; but the bearing of this burden would be impossible if the vizier [carrier] were not perfect in his nature and qualities. As for his person, he should cut a fine figure and be of pleasing appearance, with well-proportioned limbs and sound senses: as for his character, he should be magnanimous and zealous, intelligent and intuitive, with true nobility, simple generosity, good education — a man of the world. When he is this kind of man, he is the best prop of the state, for he would keep the ruler from ruin, raise him from meanness, and paves the way for him; he would serve as an instrument for the fulfillment of each purpose, like a wall guarding the state from every danger, like a falcon pursuing food for its master. But not everyone who is thus qualified can serve every ruler, for he must also be known for his devotion to his master, his love for his benefactor, his preference for the one who has raised his position."

"The patience of the chaste is graceful."

[There follows a collection of his poetry].

He also wrote:

You, who inherited from father and grandfather
The stamp of medicine and dignity,
"You who are the guarantor for the return of every soul [p.892]
Which aspires to leave the body,
"I swear, if medicine could cure Time,
We would exist without Death."

[more poetry follows.]

Sadaqa al-Sāmirī wrote the following books:

1) A commentary on the Old Testament.

2) "The Soul."

3) "Notes on Medicine," in which he notes diseases and their symptoms

4) An unfinished commentary on Hippocrates' "Book of Members."

5) A treatise on the names of simple drugs.

6) A treatise in answer to medical questions put to him by the Jew al-As'ad al-Mahaly.

7) A treatise on monotheism, entitled "The Treasure of Success."

8) "On Religious Belief."


Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Abī Sa`īd. The Shaikh and Imām, Master and Vizier Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Abī Sa`īd ibn Khalaf al-Sāmirī mastered the science of medicine, distinguished himself in the philosophical sciences, devoted himself to the literary arts and attained the supreme degree of virtue. He was most benevolent, full of generosity, noble-hearted and sensible. He studied medicine with the physician Ibrāhīm al-Samiri, known as "the Sun of physicians, " who served al-Malik al-Nasir Saladin Yūsuf. Muhadhdhab al-Dīn also studied with the Shaikh Isma'īl ibn Abī al-Waqqār the physician, and Muhadhadhab al-Dīn ibn al-Naqqāsh. He studied literature under Tag al-Dīn al-Kindī Abū al-Yaman. In medicine he was celebrated, for his therapeutics. The following story may serve as an illustration.

Sitt al-Shām, the sister of al-Malik al-Adil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb, was afflicted with dysentery of the liver, which caused her strong hemorrhages every day. The physicians were treating her with the usual remedies against this disease, such as potions, etc. When [p.893] Muhadhdhab al-Dīn came and took her pulse he said to the assembly: "O sirs, as long as she has some strength left, give her camphor, to rectify the acute disorder that is the reason for her present condition." He ordered imperial camphor to be brought and administered to her together with roasted seeds and a potion concocted from pomegranates and sandal-wood. Her hemorrhage lessened and her liver became less inflamed. He administered this potion again the next day and her condition improved further. This way he treated her gently until she took a turn for the better and finally eventually recovered completely.

A companion of Ibn Shukr, the Vizier of al-Malik al-`Adil, told me the following story. Once our Vizier suffered from pain in his back, due to the cold. Some physicians who came to attend him treated him by correcting his diet, in addition to applying a little castoreum boiled and mixed with olive-oil; others suggested anointment with cotula and mastic. Muhadhdhab al-Dīn said: "For his good, instead of all these, he should be given something which has both value and a pleasant smell." This utterance aroused the wonder of the Vizier. Muhadhdhab al-Dīn said: "For his good, instead of all these, he should be given something which has both value and a pleasant smell." This utterance aroused the wonder of the Vizier. Muhadhdhab al-Dīn then ordered perfume composed of musk and ambergris and clear oil brought to him, which he dissolved over the fire, and anointed the painful area. The patient was greatly relieved.

Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Yūsuf served `Izzal- Dīn Farrukhshāh ibn Shāhinshāh ibn Ayyūb as physician when this ruler died, mercy be upon him, in Jumādā, I, 578/1182-3, he became the medical attendant of his son, al-Malik al-Amjad Mazd al-Dīn Bahrām-shāh ibn `Isā al-Dīn Farrukhshāh, staying with him in Ba`albekk. During this ruler's lifetime, Muhadhdhab al-Dīn's rank was greatly elevated; he received much money and many favors from his master, who used to consult him in his affairs and rely on him in his enterprises, for our shaikh was a man of sound intelligence, vast knowledge and great talent. The ruler, finding his views sound and his aims praiseworthy, finally made him his Vizier. Muhadhdhab al-Dīn dedicated [p.894] himself to his post; his power increased and his importance grew, until he became the actual director of all government affairs, all of which were carried out according to his commands and prohibitions.

This was the subject of the poem composed about him by the Shaikh Shihab al-Dīn Fityan:

Al-Malik al-Amjad whose virtue
was celebrated by all kings,
Relied on al-Sāmirī to the same extent
as the latter relied on speed [in treatment]

These two strophes were recited to me by Shams al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Shihāb al-Dīn Fityān, who told me that he had heard them from his father.

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah continues: The Shaikh Muhadhadhab al-Dīn's position remained the same as to power and importance, until the complaints voiced by his own family and his Samaritan relatives grew too frequent; for a group of them had come up to him in Ba`albekk from Damascus. He had given them positions everywhere, but they spead only oppression, waste and corruption, without anybody being able to protest, because of the great awe inspired by the Vizier Muhadhdhab al-Dīn al-Sāmirī. In short, when al-Malik al-Amjad realized their abuse of money and corruption and when he was accused by the rulers of delivering his kingdom to the Samaritans, he finally arrested Muhadhdhab al-Dīn al-Sāmirī and all the Samaritans who held government posts and extracted enormous sums of money from them.

The Vizier remained in prison until he had nothing left of any value. He was then released and went to Damascus. I have seen him in his house, after coming from Ba`albekk, for I came with my father to pay him a visit. I found a fine old man, eloquent and refined in [p.895] speech. He died on a Thursday, at the beginning of Safar 624/ 1227, in Damascus.

[A sample of his poetry follows.]

Muhadhdhab al-Dīn Yūsuf wrote a commentary on the Pentateuch.


The Master Amīn al-Dawla. The Master and Vizier, perfect in theory and practice, the respected chief, head of viziers, best of physicians, Imām of the learned, Amīn al-Dawlah Abū al-Hasan ibn Ghazāl ibn Abī Sa`īd, was a Samaritan who converted to Islam under the name Kamal al-Dīn. Muhadhadhab al-Dīn al-Sāmirī was his paternal uncle. This Amīn al-Dawlah was a man of unsurpassed intelligence, supreme knowledge, all-embracing benevolence, high aspirations and never-failing dignity. In the science of medicine he attained exhaustive knowledge, knowing full well its benefits, and mastering its principles and different branches, to the point where he had few peers, for even the experts and specialists could not rival his achievements.

He first served al-Malik al-Amjad Majd al-Dīn Bahrām Shāh ibn `Izz-al-Dīn Farrukhshāh ibn Ayyūb, who relied on him in all medical matters and entrusted him with all the affairs of his government. He stayed with al-Malik al-Amjad until the latter's death, may Allāh have mercy upon him, which occurred in his palace in Damascus, on Tuesday evening, the 11th of Shawāl, 628/1230. Thereafter he dispensed independently of the Vizirate under the rule of al-Malik al-Sālih `Imād al-Dīn Abū al-Fidā' Isma`īl ibn al-Malik al Adil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb. In this capacity he governed the kingdom in the best way possible, directed its affairs with the utmost statesmanship, strengthened the foundations of the realm, erected and bolstered noble edifices, renovated the educational establishments for students and academicians and built up for himself a fame that had not been equaled by any of the ancients. [p.896]

He remained in the service of al-Malik al-Sālih Isma`īl, enjoying extensive powers, absolute obedience, and high importance, until al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn Ayyub ibn al-Malik al-Kāmil conquered Damascus and appointed the Emir Mu`in al-Dīn ibn Shaikh al-Shuiūkh his delegate there. When he took the city, he gave al-Malik al-Salih Isma`īl Ba`albek, where he moved with his family and possessions, in the year 643/1245-6. During his Vizierate, Amin al-Dawlah set his mind to collecting money, which he indeed gathered for his master al-Malik al-Sālih Isma`īl in great sums, by the expropriation of many of the citizens of Damascus, with the help of the city's Chief Justice, Rafī` al-Dīn al-Jīlī, and his following. When the Emir Mu`īn al-Dīn ibn Shaikh al-Shuykh, the Sultan's delegate in Damascus, the Damascene Vizier Jamāl al-Dīn ibn al-Matrūh and the notables of the realm became aware of the sums amassed by Amin al-Dawlah, they decided to arrest and dispossess him. With this in mind, they prepared a trap: inviting him to their assembly, they welcomed him by standing up and giving him a great oration, so that he felt quite secure, then they came forth with an ultimatum — "Either you stay in Damascus with nothing but what you have right now, or you can go and join your master in Ba`albekk." He answered: In the name of God, indeed I shall to to join my master and stay with him." Leaving them thus, he gathered all his money, treasures, revenues and all his possessions down to the furniture, locked his house, loaded the whole on a few mules and took off to Ba`albekk. When he was just outside Damascus he was arrested; all he had with him was seized and taken away and he was threwn into prison. This took place on Friday, the 2nd of Rajab, 643/1245. He was then sent under guard to Egypt and imprisoned in the fortress of Cairo, together with other companions of al-Malik al-Sālih Isma`īl.

Several years passed and then al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb died in Egypt in the year 647/1249. Al-Malik al-Nāsir Yūsuf [p.897] ibn Muhammad left Aleppo and conquered Damascus on Sunday, the 8th of Rabi` II, 648/1250. He took with him al-Malik al-Sālih Isma`īl and the other Syrian rulers and went to Egygt in order to conquer the land. The Egyptian armies came to meet him. (Egypt at that time was ruled by al-Malik al-Mu`izz `Izz al-Dīn Aibak the Turcoman, who came to power after the death of his master al-Malik al-Sālih Najm-al-Dīn Ayyub.) The two armies engaged in a battle in which the Egyptian side was first defeated, and then the Syrian troops were totally crushed. Al-Malik al-Sālih Isma`īl and a great many of the [Syrian] kings and princes were captured and imprisoned in Egypt. Later, some of them were set free, but al-Malik al-Sālih Isma`īl was not heard of thereafter and it was rumored that he was hanged.

The Emir Saif al-Dīn al-Mushadd Alī ibn `Umar, may he be blessed, told me the following. When the Vizier Amin al-Dawlah heard in the fort of Cairo the news coming from Bilbeis announcing the defeat of the Egyptian army by the Syrian Troops, he said to the fort commander: "Let us free in the fort until the [Syrian] kings come, and then you will see how well we shall treat you." He was tempted and let them out. In that part of the prison there were three of al-Malik al-Sālih Isma`īl's companions, namely his Vizier Amin al-Dawlah, his Major domo Nasir al-Dīn ibn Yaghmūr and an Emir Kurd called Saif al-Dīn. "My friends," said the Kurd, "do not hurry; wait in your places until we find out the truth of the matter. For the arrival of our master will surely free us and restore us to our former positions, shower favors upon us and save us. But if this news be false, we shall be found still in our places, which will be better for us." Not accepting this, the Vizier Amīn al-Dawlah and Nāsir al-Dīn Yaghmūr went out, giving out orders around the fort, commanding and prohibiting. When the outcome of the battle proved to be contrary to what they had hoped, `Izz al-Dīn al-Turcomani [p.898] ascended the fort and ordered Nasir al-Dīn ibn Yaghmūr to be killed and the Vizier to be hanged, and both orders were executed promptly. A witness to the strangling told me that the Vizier was clad in a green prisoner's gown, and his feet shod in boots of a type which he had never before seen on a hanged man. As to their companion the Kurd, he was set free with honors and favors.

Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah continues. The most curious anecdote concerning astrology, relevant to these events, was told to be my the Emir Nāsir al-Dīn Zikri, known as ibn `Alīma, who was companion to al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb. When Amin al-Dawlah was arrested by my master, he sent for an expert, an Egyptian astrologer, whose judgment was almost infallible, to inquire about his future and whether he would be released from prison. When this man received the message, he examined the ascendance of the sun at that moment, the respective degrees of the rising star, the twelve zodiac components and the star centers, wrote it all down under the horoscope and drew his conclusion accordingly: "The man," he said, "will be released from prison and leave it happy and gay: he will be favored by fortune and given a powerful post in Egypt, with a group of people obeying all his orders," Amīn al-Dawlah received the response joyfully. When he was informed of the victorious approach of the kings, he set out certain that he would remain a vizier in Egypt. Thus the astrologer's prediction of his release, future happiness and obedience to all his orders came true that day; but Amīn al-Dawlah did not suspect what was awaiting him, for Allāh, the glorious and omnipotent, was already engineering his predestined fate, written in the hidden Book.

The master Amīn al-Dawlah had a virtuous soul and took a keen interest in collecting books. He purchased many magnificent editions of various scientific works and always kept copyists in his service. Once he desired a copy of "The History of Damascus" by al-Hafiz ibn al-`Asākir, comprising eighty volumes in petite script. Considering it too long to be done by just one copyist, he divided the book [p.899] equally among ten. They finished the work in about two years and the whole book came into his possession; this shows his extreme ambition.

When he, may God bless him, was still in Damascus, enjoying full powers as a vizier, in the days of al-Malik al-Salih Isma`īl, he was an intimate friend of my father's. One day he said to him: "O, Sadīd al-Dīn, I have heard that your son has composed an unrivaled book about the classes of physicians, for which highly important work many of my own physicians praise him greatly in my presence. I have in my library more than twenty thousand volumes, but none in his special branch, and so I would like you to write to him, asking for a copy of this book." I was at the time in Sarkhad, staying with its governor, the Emir `Izz al-Dīn Aibak al-Mu`azzamī and taking his orders. Upon receiving my father's letter, I went to Damascus, carrying with me the rough copies of my book. There I called for the illustrious copyist Shams al-Dīn Muhammad al-Hussaini, who used to do a great deal of work for us and whose handwriting was perfectly proportioned and his mastery of Arabic excellent. I gave him a room in our house, where he copied the book quickly, putting it into four parts, according to the division of Rubu` the Bagdadian. Having had them bound, I composed a penegyrical poem to the master Amīn al-Dawlah and sent him all this with the Chief Justice of Damascus, Rafī` al-Dīn al-Jīlī, who was one of my professors with whom I was on good terms and with whom I studied a part of Ibn Sīnā's "Book of Notes and Remarks." When Amīn al-Dawlah received my book and poem through the judge he was greatly surprised and extremely happy. He sent me back with the judge a large sum of money, honorary robes and many thanks, saying: "I should like you to notify me of every new book you write." Here is the poem I have composed in his honor, at the beginning of the year 643/1245. . . [p.900]

I have copied the following strophes from a manuscript by the Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn Hibat Allāh Abū al-Qasim ibn `Abd al-Wahhāb ibn Muhammad ibn All the scribe, known as Ibn al-Nahhās, written to the master Amīn al-Dawlah, in which he asked him for a manuscript promised him by al-Malik al-Amjad, in 627/ 1227. . .

The following is part of a poem written in honor of the master Amin al-Dawla, as recited to me by the author himself, Sharf al-Dīn Isma`īl ibn `Abd Allāh ibn `Umar the scribe, known as "the son of the Yemenite judge":

"Destiny altered my life, my pure happiness clouded over;
The tyrant Time turned my sweet life into bitter;
My love went away without looking back, while my heart yearned for the departed,
I wished to be cured from that disease, burning like fire within me, and you did cure me;
It was said to me: "When a disease is serious, a cure is rare and a helper much needed";
[I answered:] How can we complain of our aches and pains while the doctor is our Vizier?
Indeed I shall turn to him, our Vizier and master, do not worry, for his benevolence is great;
When a disease is fatal, nothing can cure it but an expert physician,
A chief, a master, a skillful doctor, a noble scholar, a great Vizier,
A gentle savior, a merciful author, bountiful, affectionate, honorable and selfless.

An example of Amīn al-Dawlah's own poetry was included in his letter to Burhān al-Dīn, the Vizier of the Emir `Izz al-Dīn al-Mu`azzamī, in which he sent him his condolences on the death of his father, Sharf al-Dīn `Umar. . . . [p.901]

The master Amīn al-Dawlah wrote "The Clear Path to Medicine," one of the best books written on the science of medicine. He gathered into its five parts all of medicine's universal and particular laws.

The first book deals with matters of nature, the three states of the body, the different kinds of disease; the symptoms of the moderate, natural and healthy humors of the main organs and the surrounding areas; also other matters, highly valuable and worthy of being mentioned in this context; then follows a discussion on the pulse, urine, excrement, delirum.

The second book deals with simple drugs and their power.

The third book discusses the compound drugs and their uses.

The fourth book describes the regimen of the healthy and the treatment of manifest diseases, their causes and symptoms and what can be done by surgical means concerning the diseased organs and other parts of the body. Here he also treats the subject of proper clothing and behavior during the samum [very hot and dry weather].

The fifth book is concerned with internal diseases, their causes, symptoms and treatment, and also the surgery that can be employed in these cases.


Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī was our shaikh, the chief of ministers, the learned and worthy Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī ibn Hāmid, known as al-Dikhwār. He was — may Allāh have mercy upon him — unique among his generation, peerless in his time, the most learned scholar of his epoch, the apogee of medical skill and knowledge, both general and specialized. No one matched him in diligence or learning. He tired himself out with work, straining his mind in order to gain knowledge, until he surpassed all contemporary physicians and won more remuneration and honor from kings than any doctor had ever before. He was born in Damascus and brought up there by his father, Alī ibn Hamid, a famous oculist, whose other [p.902] son, Hamid ibn Alī, took up the same profession. At first, Muhadhadhab al-Dīn was also an oculist, but at the same time he worked as a copyist. His calligraphy was outstanding. He transcribed many books, of which I have seen a hundred or more, dealing with medicine and other sciences. He worked for the Shaikh Tāj al-Dīn al-Kindī Abū al-Yamān, but constantly endeavored to increase his knowledge by reading and memorizing — a habit he kept up until old age.

At the beginning of his medical career, he was introduced to al-Malkī's teachings by the Shaikh Radī al-Dīn al-Rahbī — may Allāh have mercy upon him — and then became a close associate of Muwaffaq al-Dīn ibn al-Mutrān, for whom he worked and from whom he learnt the art of medicine. He continued to seek out his company and study his books until he became expert. Afterwards Fakhr al-Dīn al-Madīnī, who came to Damascus in the year 579/1189, instructed him to part of Ibn Sīnā's `Qānūn," which Fakhr al-Dīn knew and comprehended thoroughly.

Muhadhdhab al-Dīn worked as a physician to al-Malik al-`Adil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb. This was because at the beginning of his career he was interested in eye diseases and wished to gain practice in their treatment. He worked as an oculist in the Great Hospital established by al-Malik al-`Ādil Nūr al-Dīn Mahmūd ibn Zankī. Later, when he worked with al-Mutrān and had become noted for his medical skill, Safī al-Dīn ibn Shakr, the vizier of al-Malik al-`Ādil ibn Ayūb, granted him an allowance, by means of which he was able to practice work and at the same time increase his knowledge and proficiency. He was tireless in the service of the vizier, and the latter, knowing Muhadhadhab's professional merits, preferred him to all others. In the month of Shawwal, 604/1207, al-Malik al-`Ādil said to Ibn Shakr: "We want another doctor besides Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-`Azīz for attending the troops. This work is not congenial to [p.903] `Abd al-`Azīz, so do as he requests." Said ibn Shakr: "We have here an excellent physician, named Muhadhdhab al-Dikhwār, who is fit for our master's service." Then he ordered him to comply. When Muhadhdhab al-Dīn appeared before the vizier, the latter said to him: "I have recommended you to the Sultan, and you are paid a month for your services." But Muhadhdhab al-Dīn said: "My lord: The Doctor Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-`Azīz earns about a hundred dinars monthly.

I know my status, and I will not serve without a decent wage. Then he took leave of the vizier and refused the post. But his companions made him regret his refusal, his lost chance to be engaged by the vizier. For his salary at the hospital was very low.

About that time, Muwaffaq `Abd al-`Azīz was stricken with severe colitis, which grew worse and eventually caused his death. When the news of his passing reached al-Malik al-`Adil, the latter said to the vizier: "You once recommended to us a doctor by the name of Muhadhdhab. Appoint him in place of Muwaffad `Abd al-`Aziz. "So Muhadhdhab got all his posts, and he remained in the service of al-Malik al-`Ādil from then on. He rose steadily in al-Malik al-`Ādil's esteem, and his status was enhanced, until he became his companion, associate and adviser. At the beginning of his service, al-Malik put his knowledge to some unusual tests, and the results strengthened his opinion of him and his reliance upon him.

About that time, al-Malik al-`Ādil fell ill. He was attended by the best doctors. Muhadhdhab advised bloodletting but the other physicians present did not agree. He said: "By Allāh! If we let blood from him, he will bleed without our being able to staunch it." But they were still obstinate. Very soon the Sultan began to bleed heavily. When he was well again, he realized that Muhadhdhab outshone all the others. [p.904]

Another story has it that one day, when he was standing at the palace gate with some court physicians, a servant came out with a vial containing the urine of one of the concubines and reported that she was in pain. When the doctors had inspected the vial, they ventured a diagnosis. But Muhadhdhab examined it closely and said: "The pain she complains of does not cause this color," suspecting it to be induced by Lawsonia with which she had anointed herself. The servant told him that his finding was correct, marvelled at him and reported the incident to al-Malik al-`Ādil; this increased the latter's confidence in Muhadhdhab.

One of the best anecdotes about Shaikh Muhadhdhab al-Dīn, and one that illustrates his savoir-faire and loyalty, is the following which was told my by my father. Once, al-Malik al-`Ādil was very angry with the chief judge, Muhyī al-Dīn ibn Zakī al-Dīn, of Damascus. He ordered him to be detained in the fortress, demanded from him the sum of 10,000 Egyptian dinars and pressed for payment. Muhyī al-Dīn was to remain in prison until the amount was settled. He paid some of the money, but was unable to raise the balance. Al-Malik al-`Ādil was inexorable, saying: "He must pay the rest, otherwise I shall deal very harshly with him." The judge was in dire straits. He sold all his possessions — his household effects, and even his books. Then he wrote letters to the Sultan, using the good offices of many leading personalities, such as al-Shamīs, the court teacher, and Shams al-Khawāss the vizier, asking for the remission of part of the amount or to be allowed to pay in installments. But the Sultan remained adamant, and as a result, the judge was so worried that he hardly ate or slept and thus almost killed himself. At this point, his old friend Muhadhdhab al-Dīn paid him a visit. The judge told Muhadhdhab al-Dīn his troubles, begging him to do what he could. After some consideration, al-Muhadhdhab said: "I shall do something for you. I hope that, God willing, it will be of use." Then he departed. [p.905]

Seriat al-Malik al-`Adil, the mother of al-Malik al-Sālih ibn al-Malik, was unwell at that time. She was of Turkish origin, an intelligent, pious and good woman, very kind and generous. When the Doctor Muhadhdhab al-Dīn came to see her in the harem, he acquainted her with the case of the judge, his troubles and the unjust treatment meted out to him — i.e., that he was being asked to do the impossible — and requested that she intervene: perhaps the Sultan could show mercy to him and remit part of the debt or let him pay it in installments. The chief eunuch supported Muhadhdhab request. But Seriat said: "How can I do anything for the judge, or even mention him to the Sultan? I cannot, because he will ask: 'What makes you speak about the judge, and how is it that you know him?' If we were, say, a doctor who visits us from time to time, or a merchant who sells us cloth, it would be possible for me to talk and intervene; but as it is, I can do nothing." When Muhadhdhab heard this, he said: "My lady! You have an only son, whom you wish happiness and a long life. Now, you can obtain this for him from Allāh by doing something without actually intervening with the Sultan at all." Said she: "And what is that?" Said he: "When the Sultan and you sleep together, tell him you have dreamt that the judge is being treated unjustly"; and he told her what to say. She thereupon said, "It can be done."

One night, when she was well again and the Sultan was sleeping with her, as the night was ending, she pretended to be frightened, clutched at her heart and kept shivering and crying. The Sultan, who loved her dearly, noticed it and said: "What is the matter with you?" But she did not reply. He then ordered some apple juice to be brought and had her drink some, sprinkled her face with rose water and said: "Will you not tell me what has happened to you, why you are so upset?" She said: "O Master, I have had a dream which almost frightened to death. I dreamt that it was Doomsday and saw a large crowd of [p.906] people. In one place, where there was a great fire, people were saying: "This had been prepared for al-Malik al-`Ādil because of the injustice he did to the judge." Then she said: "Have you ever done anything to the judge?" And he, who did not doubt her story, became troubled, rose early, called his servants and said to them: "Go to the judge and make him happy: give him my regards, ask him to forgive me and tell him that all he has paid will be returned to him. As for me, I will ask nothing of him." So they went to him. The judge was very pleased with their announcement, blessed the Sultan and forgave him. In the same morning the Sultan ordered that he be given a suit of clothes and a mule. He restored him to his office and ordered that all the books and other possessions he had sold be redeemed from the purchasers for the same amount as they had paid. Thus relief was brought to the judge after anguish, by minimum effort and the subtlest of tactics.

In the year 610/1213, when he was in the east, al-Malik al-`Ādil became very ill, and Muhadhdhab al-Dīn treated him until he was cured. During that illness, the king paid the physician 7,000 Egyptian dinars. In addition, the king's children, some eastern kings and others sent him gold, suits of clothes, mule carts, gold neckbands and other items.

A similar event occurred in the year 612/1215, when al-Malik al-Ādil went to Egypt and stayed in Cairo. At that time, a dreadful cholera epidemic killed many people. Among those stricken was al-Malik al-Kāmil ibn al-Malik al-`Ādil, who was the Governor of Egypt. Muhadhdhab al-Dīn treated him most solicitously until he became well again. This time, Muhadhdhab al-Dīn received 12,000 dinars' worth of gold, besides many suits of clothes and other splendid gifts, including fourteen mules carrying golden rings and a great deal of satin and other kinds of cloth. [p.907]

About that time, the Sultan appointed Muhadhdhab al-Dīn chief physician of Egypt and Syria. I was then with my father, who was also in the service of al-Malik al-`Ādil. Muhadhdhab al-Dīn was in charge of ophthalmological matters; it was he who decided who was qualified to treat eye diseases.

In the year 614/1217, having learnt of Christian maneuvers near the coast, al-Malik al-`Ādil went to Syria and stayed at Marj al-Sughr. While he was in a place called Manzilat al-Ālekīn, he fell ill and died, may Allāh have mercy upon him. He died in the second hour of Friday, the 7th day of Jumādā al-Ākhira, in the year 615/1218.

When al-Malik al-Mu`azzam had established his rule over Syria, he wished to employ several of those who had served his father, al-Malik al-`Ādil, among them the physician Rashīd al-Dīn ibn al-Surī, who refused. As for Muhadhdhab al-Dīn, he gave him a salary and ordered him to live in Damascus, where he was to treat patients at the Great Hospital established by al-Malik al-`Adil Nūr al-Dīn ibn Zankī.

When Muhadhdhab al-Dīn was in Damascus, he began to teach medicine, and many of the best physicians joined him, besides others that studied under him. I, too, stayed in Damascus to learn from him (but I had first worked under him at the military camp where my father and he served the great Sultan). I would visit him as one of a group of students, and I began to study Galen. He was well-versed in the works of this author and others. He admired Galen very much, and whenever someone mentioned anything he had written concerning diseases and their therapy or the fundamentals of the medical science, he would say: "That is medicine."

He was quick-witted, a clear thinker and a good conversationalist. I accompanied him on his rounds at the hospital, thus gaining personal experience. At that time, his associate was the eminent physician `Amrān. Later, their collaboration became less fruitful. [p.908]

Muhadhdhab al-Dīn was a supremely able medical savant and practitioner, the exponent of the most effective cures known in his day. Hence he eventually gained the reputation of a wizard.


My uncle, Rashid al-Dīn `Ālī ibn Khalīfa. Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Khalīfa ibn Yūnus ibn Abū al-Qāsim ibn Khalīfa, from [the tribe of] Kazraj, the offspring of Saīd ibn `Ibāda, was born in Aleppo in 579/1183. My father was born before him, in 575/1179, in Cairo the unconquerable. They both grew up in that city, where they also practiced. My gradfather, may he be blessed, was an ambitious man who greatly admired virtue and scholarship and was well-versed in the different sciences. He was known as Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah. He used to be in the service of al-Malik al-Nāsir Salahatom Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb and his children, and moved to Egypt when that ruler conquered the land. Among my grandfather's Damascene acquaintances and friends were Jamāl al-Dīn ibn Abū al-Hawāfir the physician and Shihāb al-Dīn Aba al-Hajjāj Yūsuf the oculist, for my grandfather was born and raised in Damascus, where he also spent many years of his life. By the time he met the two aforesaid gentlement in Egypt, my grandfather was already raising my father and uncle. He intended to teach them both medicine, in consideration of the nobleness of this profession and the demand for physicians, knowing that he who mastered its principles would be honored and favored in this world and attain the highest rank in the hereafter.

So he attached my father and uncle to these two Shaikhs, in order that they might reap from their knowledge. My father was entrusted to Abū al-Hajjaj Yūsuf, in order to study ophthalmology and learn its practice. Abū al-Hajjāj was then serving as an oculist in a hospital in Cairo, not the one situated in the fort, but one located in the market district of lower Cairo. My grandfather used to live just by it, so it was easy for my father to frequent Aba al-Hajjāj Yūsuf constantly and [p.909] study from him until he mastered his field. He also studied with other notable master-physicians who lived at that time in Egypt, such as the master Mūsā al-Qurtabī, the author of famous works, and others like him. As for my uncle, he was attached to Jamāl al-Dīn ibn Abī al-Hawāfir and studied general medicine under him.

My uncle first started his studies with Taqī the Teacher. His full name was Abū al-Taqī Sālih ibn Ahmad ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Hasan ibn Sulaymān from the tribe of Quraish, the Jerusalemite. This Taqī was adept in many sciences, had a fine way of teaching in school and a celebrated system which no one else could follow. After my uncle, may he be blessed, had learned the Qu'rān by heart and perfected his mathematics, all under Taqī, he started to study medicine thoroughly under the direction of Jamāl al-Dīn ibn Abī al-Hawāfir, who was then chief physician of Egypt, under the rule of al-Malik al-`Azīz `Otmān, the son of al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn. He studied with him parts of Galen's Sixteen Books, memorizing the whole of the first ones in the shortest time possible. He then joined the physicians in their consultations and their rounds of the patients in the hospital, learning the different maladies

and the appropriate prescriptions. (There was a group of very notable physicians at the hospital.) At the same time he studied ophthalmology with the judge Nafīs al-Dīn ibn al-Zubair, who was then head of the department in the hospital, and started to practice it. He also joined him in initiating a surgical department.

The Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-Latīf ibn Yūsuf the Baghdadian, an intimate friend of my grandfather's was staying in Cairo at the time. My uncle studied a little Arabic and philosophy with him and they used to discuss Aristotle's books, debating the difficult points. My uncle also used to meet and study with Sadīd al-Dīn the Logician, who was a great scholar in the philosophical sciences. Before that, he had studied astronomy under Abū Muhammad ibn al-Ja`dī, an expert [p.910] astronomer who was celebrated for his judgments. This shaikh lived at the time of the Egyptian caliphs and was considered a favorite of theirs; his father was one of the chief emirs of their state.

The art of music my uncle studied under the guidance of Ibn al-Daigūr the Egyptian and Safī al-Dīn Abū Alī ibn al-Tabbān. He also knew the elite in this field, such as al-Bahā; the great composer, Shihāb al-Dīn al-Naqjūnī, Shujā` al-Dīn ibn al-Hasan the Baghdadian and their equals, from which he learnt many Arabic and other melodies. From his youth, my uncle devoted all his leisure to study, work and the betterment of his soul.

My grandfather moved back to Syria in 597/1200, when my uncle was about twenty years old. He immediately took up practicing medicine and improving his knowledge of it. Shaikh Radī` al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Haidara from Rahba, an old friend of my grandfather's, was then staying in Damascus. When he heard of my uncle, saw him at work and realized his virtues, he was happily surprised. My uncle constantly visited his court, studied and discussed medical matters with him. He worked in the hospital built by al-Malik al-`Adil Nūr al-Dīn ibn Zankī, together with other physicians who were there at the time, such as Muwaffaq al-Dīn ibn al-Sirī and Shaikh Muhadhadhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn `Alī. Meanwhile he also studied philosophy under Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn Abd al-Latīf ibn Yūsuf the Baghdadian, for he too had returned to Syria. There was in Damascus a group of men celebrated for their literary achievements and knowledge of Arabic, such as Zain al-Dīn ibn Mu`tā, with whom my uncle studied and practiced, and Tāj al-Dīn Zaid ibn al-Hasan al-Kindī Abū al-Yaman, who was an old and intimate friend of my grandfather's since the days of `Izz al-Dīn Farrukhshāh. My uncle studied with him too and practiced his Arabic. [p.911]

Before my uncle was twenty-five years old, he had already mastered all these sciences, becoming an exemplary shaikh in medicine and having his own disciples. He was also writing poems and responsa, spoke Persian, knowing all its rules and even composing poetry in it, and knew Turkish as well. On Friday the 15th of Ramadān, 605/1208, the Sultan al-Malik al-Mu`azzam `Isā ibn al-Malik al-`Ādil Abū Bakr ibn Āyyūb called for him. Having conversed with him, he honored and favored him and asked him to stay in his service, but difficulties arose because of the Sultan's frequent travels. Some time later, al-Malik al-Amjad Magd al-Dīn Bahrām Shah ibn `Izz al-Dīn Farrūkhshāh ibn Sāhinshāh ibn `Ayyūb, the governor of Ba`albekk, heard of him and sent for him and my grandfather, whom he had known since his father's time. When they both arrived, he welcomed them, treated them most generously and allotted them a good salary, expenses and a high rank. In consequence, my uncle's position with him became so favorable that he hardly left him at all. The governor then became aware of my uncle's mastery of arithmetic and asked him to be his teacher in this field. In obedience to this order, my uncle instructed the governor thoroughly in this science and even compiled for his use a textbook comprising four treatises. Al-Malik al- 'Amjad himself, may Allāh bless him, was a virtuous man who showed keen respect to the learned; he wrote fine poetry, including a famous authology.

In the year 609/1212, a dear servant of the Sultan al-Malik al-`Ādil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb, called Sulaita, became afflicted with an eye disease. His condition was so bad that his sight was diminished and his case considered hopeless. All the best physicians and oculists tried to treat him, but none could cure him; so they decided unanimously that he would be blind, as no treatment had any effect whatsoever. When my father saw this man and examined his eyes, he said; "I will treat this man's eyes and he will see with both of them, if God so wishes." He started to treat him, and his condition steadily improved, until his recovery was complete. He returned [p.912] to his former self and was able to ride a horse again, so that everyone was astonished and regarded the cure as an unrivaled miracle. In consequence, al-Malik al- Ādil's generosity and consideration toward my father increased greatly, and he paid him the utmost honor by presenting him with precious robes, etc.

Even before this event, my father quite frequently, used to visit the Sultan's palace in the fort of Damascus, treating those who were afflicted with serious eye diseases and curing them in the shortest time conceivable. This also came to the knowledge of al-Malik al-`Ādil, who said; "Such a man should accompany me wherever I go!" and asked him to join his service. My father requested to be excused and given permission to stay in Damascus, but this was not granted. The Sultan granted him a salary and expenses, and my father enrolled in his service on the 15th of Dhū al-Hijja 609/1212. He was a favorite of his and of all his sons and successors, who relied upon him in all medical matters and treated him with great generosity and perfect deference. He remained in service until the death of al-Malik al-`Ādil, may he be blessed, when he was asked to continue in his post by the son and successor in Damascus, al-Malik al-Mu`azzam. The latter treated him with the same honor and esteem, or even more, as his father had done. My father served him from the beginning of Safar 616/1219 until he died, may Allāh have mercy upon him, and then was asked by his son, al-Malik al-Nāsir Da'ūd, to stay in his service too, promising him all the rights he had enjoyed formerly. My father remained until al-Malik al-Nāsir had to leave for Karak, at which point my father chose to stay in Damascus.

He started frequenting the Sultan's palace in the fort, attending all the descendants of al-Malik al-`Ādil who succeeded him in Damascus and others as well. All revered him highly, relied upon him in all medical matters and allotted him a generous salary and expenses. He also used to frequent the Great Hospital named after [p.913] Nur al-Dīn, where he was also remunerated. People used to come to him from every quarter, having heard of his rapid cures. The many maladies which were wont to be cured by the iron he treated thus to perfection. For other diseases habitually treated by drugs he indeed applied drugs, saving the afflicted from the use of the iron. This method was praised by Galen in his book "The Test of the Virtuous Physician," saying: "Whenever you see a physician administering drugs in the case of maladies which are usually treated with the iron, know that he is learned, experienced and skilled." He adds: "You should also praise the physician whom you see using drugs exclusively against those eye diseases for which others usually employ the scalpel, i.e., cataract, scabies, cold, water, opacity, growth, stye, excess or loss of flesh in the interior angle of the eye; you should also praise the physician whom you see promptly extract from the eye a collection of matter, by lowering the layer called "the grape-like" back to its place after it has become very swollen, until it is healed again, or perform any other ophthalmological operation which is similar to the above, without having recourse to the iron." So much for Galen's remarks.

I have indeed witnessed many such cases in my father's treatments and also many eye diseases which were considered hopeless but which he succeeded in curing. This was celebrated in a poem written by one of his grateful patients, namely Shams al-Ārab, i.e., Abū Muhammad Abd al-Aziz ibn al-Nafīs ibn Hibat Allāh ibn Wahbān al-Sulamī, the Baghdadian:

Sadīd al-Dīn has such a power in medicine, that he always saves the eyes from mote;
How often has he banished darkness and guarded the sight from all harm;
An oculist cannot treat mankind unless he is as skillful as this;
O savior of our generation! How many are those to whom you have given sight after being blind; [p.914]
Your science is the cure to every malady, your words the balm of every spirit;
My gratitude is so great, I wish I could express the least of my thanks, O beloved!

My father remained in service in the fort of Damascus and frequented the al-Nurī Hospital until he died, may he be blessed, during the night of Thursday, the 22nd of Rabī` II, 649/1251. He was buried outside the Gate of Paradise, on the way to Mount Qāsiyūn. He died during the reign of al-Malik al-Nāsir Yūsuf ibn Muhammad, the ruler of Damascus. As for my uncle, he was staying with al-Malik al-Amjad in Ba`albekk when al-Malik al-Mu`azzam came there to help him fight his adversaries. When they met together, my uncle would keep them company. Now during those days, there was nobody who knew music and the art of the lute better than him, neither was there anyone with a sweeter voice, so that he touched the souls of his listeners in the same fashion as Abū Nasr al-Fārābī, according to what was said. Al-Malik al-Mu`azzam was greatly impressed by him and engaged him in his service, which post he took up on the 1st of Jumiādā I, 610/1213, receiving a fine salary and expenses.

Al-Malik al-Mu`azzam showered on my uncle constant favors and presents; he hardly left him and relied on him for anything medical. The same can be said for al-Malik al-Kāmil Muhammad and al-Malik al-Ashraf, who both had absolute confidence in him. Whenever one of them came to visit his brother al -Malik al-Mu`azzam, my uncle would keep them constant company and obtain many presents from both rulers. I know of one occasion, when al-Malik al-Kāmil came to visit his brother al-Malik al-Mu`azzam; they were sitting in audience in the company of my uncle; that same night, al-Malik al-Kāmil gave my uncle a splendid robe of honor and five hundred Egyptian dinars. [p.915]

When al-Malik al-Mu`azzam was in Damascus, he appointed my uncle military scribe, insisting on his acceptance of the post. My uncle could do nothing but obey this order, sat on the Divan and received the privates and officers. After a while in his secretarial post, he realized that all his time was spent in correspondence and calculations, with no leisure left for himself to devote to intellectual and other pursuits. He thus asked the Sultan to be released, using the mediation of several of his intimates, until he was finally granted his request.

In the year 611/1214 al-Malik al-Mu`azzam made the pilgrimage [to Mecca] and my uncle went with him. He stayed in his service until the expedition of `Amta, in the middle of Shaban, 614/1217. The Franks having advanced, the great Sultan al-Malik al-`Ādil and his son al-Malik al-Mu`azzam fell into disagreement as to the route which should be followed. My uncle joined the company of al-Malik al-`Ādil, who went in the direction of Damascus, while al-Malik al-Mu`azzam turned toward Nablus. Later, my uncle left Damascus In the company of al-Malik al-Nāsir Dā'ud ibn al-Malik al-Mu`azzam, but arriving at `Iglun, he [al-Malik al-Mu`azzam] ordered his son to come back, and they all returned to Damascus. My uncle then fell ill; his affliction continued for the rest of the year, and he found that traveling was injurious to him; in fact, by nature he was inclined to solitude and the peaceful study of books.

On the 5th of Muharram, 615/1218 he was summoned by al-Malik al-`Ādil Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb, who had heard of his achievements and perfect conduct. He assigned him the post of chief physician in the two hospitals of Damascus built by al-Malik al-`Ādil Nūr al-Dīn Mahmud ibn Zengī. From then on, he used to frequent these two hospitals and the fort, enjoying a salary and expenses. He was also paid as the personal physician of Sitt al-Sī'am, the sister of al-Malik al-`Adil, whom he would attend at her palace. [p.916]

Having settled in Damascus, he established a public school where he could teach medicine. He had many disciples, all of them later to be distinguished members of the profession. At that time he used to meet with `Alam al-Dīn Qaisar ibn Abū al-Qāsim ibn `Abd al-Gānī, who was unique in his generation for his knowledge of the mathematical sciences. My uncle studied astronomy under him and became an expert in no time. One day, when `Alam al-Dīh was at my uncle's house teaching him some astronomical figures, he said to him in my presence: "O, Rashid al-Dīn, by Allāh, what you have learnt in about one month would take others five years of effort to master."

While in Damascus, my uncle also used to frequent the illustrious and learned Imām, the Shaikh of shaikhs, Sadr al-Din ibn Hamawaihi. This person initiated him to Sufism on the 20th of Ramadān, 615/1218. The following is the text of the inscription attached to his sufi garment, in which he was clad on that day: "In the name of Allāh the Merciful and Compassionate; the illustrious Mollah, noble and learned Imām, Shaikh of shaikhs, Sadr al-Dīn, the living proof of Islam and standard of monotheism, Abū al-Hasan Muhammad, the son of the illustrious Imam and noble scholar, Shaikh of shaikhs Imad al-Dīn Abū Hafs `Umar ibn Abd al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Hamawaih, may God maintain his support forever, herewith endows kindly his devotee `Alī ibn Halīfa ibn Yonus from the tribe of Chazrag the Damascene, may Allāh make him succeed in his devotions, with the Sufi garment."

While dressing him in it, the shaikh told my uncle that he had received that robe from his above-mentioned father, may he be blessed, and that his father had gotten it from his father, the shaikh of Islam Mu`īn al-Dīn Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Hamawaihi, may Allāh bless him. He was given it by the prophet Elijah, may he rest in peace, who in turn received it from the Apostle of God himself, may Allāh bless him and give him peace. The shaikh added that his grandfather was connected to the Prophet also by another chain of celebrated sufīs, that is: Shaikh Abū Ali al-Farandi al-Tūsī, the shaikh of his generation [p.917] Abū al-Qāsim al-Karākānī, the master and Imām Abū `Uthmān al-Magribi; the shaikh of the community `Abd `Amru al-Zagāgī; the chief ofthe congregation al-Jūnaid ibn Muhammad; his maternal uncle Sarī al-Saqatī; Ma`rūf al-Karh. Alī ibn Mūsā al-Rida, may he be blessed (this Ma`rūf accompanied Alī ibn Mūsā, served him and was instructed by him); Mūsā ibn Ja`far al-Kāzim; Ja`far ibn Muhammad al-Sadīq; Muhammad ibn `Alī al-Bāqir; Alī ibn al-Husain Zain al-`Ābidīn; al-Husain ibn `Alī; `Alī al-Bāqir; Alī ibn al-Husayn Zain al-`Ābidīn; al-Husayn ibn Ali al-Bāqir: Alī Talib, may he be blessed; Alī, may Allāh honor his countenance, was directly connected with the master of the apostles and Imām of the pious believers, our prophet Muhammad, may the best prayers and and wishes rest upon him. According to yet another version, the tradition goes from Ma`rūf through Da'ūd al-Tā'i, Habīb al-`Agamī, Hasan al-Basrī the leader of the followers, to Alī, may he be blessed, and then to the Prophet, may Allāh bless him and give him peace.

The endowment of my uncle with such a robe brought upon him all of God's incumbent blessings, as it did upon all those who had been honored by it. This event took place on the 20th of Ramadān, 615/ 1218 in Damascus the well-protected. The robe was thrown on the aforesaid, may Allāh lead him to success, accompanied by the above-quoted lines, written by the hand of the Mollah Sadr al-Dīn, the Shaikh of shaikhs, Ibn Hamawaih Abū al-Hasan ibn `Umar ibn Abū al-Hasan ibn Muhammad, who wrote them during the month of Ramadān, 615/ 1218, praising God and praying for his apostle, asking pardon for his sins.

In the year 616/1219 my uncle received a message from al-Malik al-Sālih `Ismā`īl ibn al-Malik al-`Ādil, in his own handwriting, asking him to come to the town of Bosrā and treat his mother and other sick persons who were staying with him; afterward he could return to Damascus. Indeed a great epidemic was raging in Bosrā [p.918] at the time, My uncle went to Bosrā, cured the sultan's mother in the shortest time possible and was presented with gold and honorary robes. While in Bosrā, he was stricken with an acute fever, which grew steadily worse, even after his return to Damascus. He was treated there by the best physicians, but his term had come. He died, may Allāh have mercy upon him, in the second hour of Monday, the 17th of Shaban, 616/1219, at the age of 38. He was buried near his father and brother outside the Gate of Paradise.

The following are some of his aphorisms, as I heard them from him, may his soul rest in peace:

1. "The commandment of the early morning is to face the new day, in which you are capable of doing all manner of things, with the resolution to perform the finest deeds, such as would lead you to the highest of ranks; you have to do good, for it will bring you closer to God and endear you to mem, beware of evil, for it will estrange you from God and make people hate you. Do what would give you credit in the soul-reckoning at the end of the day; do not let the evil part of your nature overpower the good that is in you. A noble man is not he who retains his natural purity by the absence of obstacles, but rather he who retains it in spite of obstacles; the best way to shun these obstacles is to retreat into seclusion from the world.

Follow the prophets' testaments and emulate the deeds of the wise.

Speak the truth, for a lie belittles a man in his own eyes even more than in the eyes of others.

Be patient and you will be thanked and honored, for hatred brings anguish and leads to enmity and evil, just as envy does.

Avoid evil men and you will spare yourself their harm;

Avoid the rulers of this world and you will spare yourself the company of evil men, [p.919]

Accept from this world only what is essential for your physical needs.

Know that this your day is a piece of your life gone forever, so spend it on something which might benefit you later; after having satisfied the needs of your body, dedicate the rest of your day to the perfection of your soul. Do unto people as you would like them to do unto you. Beware of anger and of haste to take revenge on an angry man or to be affected by him; for in most cases it would lead to repentence; you should be patient, for patience is the mainstay of all wisdom."

2. "The commandment of the early night is to face this coming night in which you have no pressing physical duty to fulfill, with the resolution to work on the improvement of your soul, by studying the sciences, by meditating on the knowledge of truth; as long as you can stay awake, do this; when you feel yourself falling asleep, fix your soul to the subject of your concern, so that your dreams may also be of the same nature. Do what would give you credit in the soul-reckoning of the following morning.

Endeavor to be a better person tomorrow than you were yesterday.

Beware of being entrained by your nature to ponder on what you have seen during the day of the conditions of worldly people, for by this you will waste your time, open for yourself the gates of deception, trickery and guile in order to achieve worldly matters, corrupt your soul and spoil your position, drawing away from truths and acquiring those shameful characteristics which are so difficult to cast off. Know that these [worldly matters] are transient and useless accidents, that the needs of man are indeed very few.

Think only of the things which might be useful to you and prepare yourself to meet Allāh, for the knowledge of when you will die is [p.920] concealed from you, although your wish to stay alive another day is stronger than your fear to die this same night; so you should be reconciled to persevere in those things which might benefit you after your departure. Dixi."

3. "Respect the shaikhs, even though they may not answer your questions, for their silence might be broken later; perhaps it was due to weariness, or to the fact that it was none of your business, or to their knowledge of your incapability of understanding the answer; keep in mind that the benefit you might derive from them is incomparably greater than any particular answer."

4. "First of all, study the general sayings of the famous; after having mastered these, you can go on to study the particular sayings of each person as contained in their book."

5. Consider the sayings of each person objectively, without love or hatred; then weigh them according to the rules and examine them by experiment, if possible; only then can you accept the truth in them. In case this is too difficult for you, enlist someone's aid, for each mind has a special capacity for interpreting certain meanings."

6. "If you are pushed forth by virtuous people, go forth, for if you do not, you will lag behind."

7. "Always seek the truth, for in this way you will acquire knowledge for yourself and love from other men."

8. "Take care that your individual deeds correspond to the general rule you keep in your mind; this way your knowledge will be sound, your experience beneficial, the development of your intellect certain, and the advantages you reap from contact with people enhanced."

9. "Study first the sayings of those whose intention was to instruct: having mastered, that science, consolidate it by studying the sayings of those who love truth and refute error; when your [p.921] knowledge becomes so well-based and certain that it cannot be destroyed by doubt, it will not hurt you if, from time to time, you leaf through the books of skeptics and controversialists; for their purpose is to show off their power in their claims, no matter whether they really know them or not, whether their claims are true or false.'

10. "When practicing as a physician, fear Allāh and try to act according to what you know for sure; when you cannot, endeavor to come as close to this as possible."

11. "Having reached the rank of master, do not ever turn away the worthy, namely an intelligent, pure and good, naturally wise person, but do turn away all others."

12. "When you know of many remedies to a single disease, choose the best one for every stage of it."

13. "Maladies have their own life-spans, and remedies need the help of Fate; medicine is largely mere conjecture and suppositions, which sometimes contain a grain of truth; success here is the reward of good measure and experimentation, not of sophistry and excess; the purpose of medicine is the preservation of health when it is good and its recovery when it has been lost; these two [achievements] are the mark of a sound mind and refined thinking, and by them you can distinguish between the master and the ignorant, the praiseworthy scholar and the idler, the one who acts according to good measure and experiment and the one seeking only wealth and high rank."

14. "Knowledge is long and difficult to gain; he who tries desperately to snatch it quickly and succinctly, ignoring the essential factors of long life, subtle thought, human cooperation and perfection, will only confound his thoughts and breed havoc in his mind."

15. "Observe the activity of nature when unhindered by any obstacles and follow her example in your own deeds." [p.922]

16. "How wonderful patience is, were it not paid for by time!"

17. "Whenever I await something, its fulfillment seems too far off and its value too paltry."

18. "You look forward to good, but think of it little."

19. "Evil is in our nature and is capable of ignoring the fear of the other world, as well as the fear of the sword."

20. "Good is perfected only by destruction."

21. "Those who pursue their own interests are four times as many as those who feel for God's other creatures."

22. "If you want to be mistreated by people, guard yourself from them; if you do not want to be mistreated by people, mistreat them yourself; as to the middle road — do not wish it."

23. "Departure is the best time of life."

24. "Seclusion is the best way of life."

25. "Solitude is outcome of wisdom."

26. "Evil men are always looking for somebody with whom they can pass their days in idle talk, amusement and vanity; when they are left alone, they are constantly grieved because of the evil rooted in their souls. The opposite is true of good folk, for they are satisfied with themselves."

27. "The root of every trouble is the love of this world."

28. "How long do people neglect their real interests because of their involvement in the affairs of this world, and then they are gone!"

29. "I wonder how a man, not knowing the time of his death and being open to either happiness or misfortune at any given moment, can put his confidence in this world and ignore his most important concern."

30. "How many people delight in their hopes without even starting to fulfill them!"

31. "Hopes are the dreams of the wakeful." [p.923]

32. "There are too many things to be done at any one moment, and therefore you should choose the most important of them.

33. "What would you think of him, who neglects his tasks at their appropriate time, hoping for other occasions to arise and deferring them constantly, until he dies still hoping?"

34. "As long as you are in a position to take care of your body and exercise your soul, keeping them both in good order without languor or waste — you should not change your position; for you have a good motive and should stick to it as far as you can. Many a man who has changed his position for another that seemed better to him left it later, finding it worse."

35. "Do not envy the happy man, for the opposite of happy is miserable."

36. "If each of two enemies were to attain his purpose by the other, they would both be happy and victorious; therefore we were ordered, when seeking to achieve important goals, to put together all our individual wills and form one great cause, which will be aided by heavenly succor."

37. "Beware of regarding people as your brothers; beware of the arrows of [their] will, for they smite."

38. "Beware of injuring the religious doctors, for they are men of God."

39. "When a man of true knowledge is mistreated, God will swiftly come to his aid, uncover his oppressor and destroy him."

40. "God has his beloved ones, whom he guards with his eye that is always watchful; these are the savants."

41. "The savants are the truly happy."

42. According to the term as used by the mob, the happy people in this world are those who never hand out favors; but these are really the evil ones." [p.924]

43. "A man might hit upon a word of wisdom on one occasion and on another seek it in himself, but without success."

44. "Whoever associates with fools in spite of their ignorance and is dragged into their doings by his love of this world should blame only himself when he is infected with their evil."

45. "First fix your scales, then weigh."

46. "When you come to possess a material mind, then you are a true man, in absolute terms."

47. "Trust your knowledge when no objection can impair it."

48. "How wonderful is unanimous opinion!"

49. "How wonderful is analogous opinion!"

50. "A reasonable action is not done according to the absolute good, but rather according to its author's intentions."

51. "How wonderful is the opinion which arises between a truth-speaking adviser and an honest and clever man, who asks for his advice! "

52. "Put your confidence only in a man who believes firmly in the subject of his hopes and fears and is certain of the exclusive truth of his belief. As for him who unsure of his belief or does not believe in anything at all, do not place your confidence in him, nor take him as your companion. When the believer who is certain of his truth is not a member of your community, beware of him also, for he might consider you impious with regard to his belief, regard you as an enemy and treat you with hostility."

53. "Trust your religion more then its representatives."

54. "The reason for practicing the precepts of religion is to gain the certainty of true belief; the practice of the precepts of religion is in itself a proof of the certainty of true belief; he who practices these precepts may indeed do so just by imitation of others, without knowing anything else, but he could also do so out of real devotion; now, the signs showing that his acts are indeed the consequence of [p.925] the certainty of true belief are the traces of divine inspiration in his faith, the piety of his everyday conduct and his relationships with the other creatures of God, which spring entirely from his own soul."

55. "Freedom is the best of life."

56. "Humility is the gate to freedom."

57. "Whoever is able to live contentedly in accordance with his needs and instead sells his soul to another, spurred by the desire for the luxuries of life, is the stupidest of fools."

58. "How few are the needs of man, were he impartial toward himself!

59. "Avoid the company of worldly-minded men, for in case you find them, they will enslave you, and in case you lose them, you will be sorry."

60. "When annoyed, prefer the company of someone who will not divert you too much from your mood."

61. "The loss of a friend is a portent of a journey."

62. "When a wise man is hurt by you or imagines himself to have been hurt by you, you will benefit both by his apology, in case you have done nothing and are indeed innocent, and by his forgiveness, in case you have really hurt him. On the other hand, when you notice that a rancorous man imagines himself to have been hurt by you, robbed of his benefit or contradicted, beware of him, for he will constantly think of ways to injure you."

63. "Friends are like one soul in different bodies."

64. "A physician treats the human body not as being a human body categorically speaking, but as being related to his own; this relationship is one of the noblest, so that the one concerned with it should also be a noble man."

65. "Money is a magnet for the souls of fools and knowledge is a magnet for the souls of the wise." [p.926]

66. "I have seen fools admiring the wealthy, although they know for sure that they will not give them any part of their wealth, except as the price for goods or payment for labor, the same as they get from the poor."

67. "The best savant is he whose knowledge is proportionate to his mind."

68. "If it is possible to live apart from people with the minimum of needs, this is the best situation."

69. "If you are the kind of person who is stingy with money and spends it only on the most important things, you should better do just this with regard to your time."

70. "Wisdom is in reliance upon God the Omnipotent."

71. "A man comes to know his own defects by learning the defects of others."

72. "Having attached fine virtues to your soul, you are paying it the utmost honor; for if you are not susceptible to anger, for example while all other people are susceptible to it, you become the finest man in this respect."

73. "The more perfect a thing is, the more pleasure it gives; the more defective a thing is, the more pain it causes.".

74. "Read much of the biographies of sages and emulate them as far as you can in your generation."

75. "Make your soul stronger than your body."

76. "Improve the quality of your food and reduce its quantity."

77. "Give your body enough food to maintain its strength; beware of surpassing it, but increase the nourishment of your soul."

78. "The nourishment of the soul is gradual study; you should start with small and easy portions and proceed slowly, until the soul grows stronger and used to difficulties; when it becomes thus skilled, it will crave for more and everything will be easy for it." [p.927]

79. "A strong stomach digests any kind of food which enters it and a virtuous soul accepts any kind of knowledge which reaches it."

80. "As long as you cannot bear solitude you are compelled to live with people."

81. "Associate people in what gives them pleasure, but do not forsake the nearness of God."

82. "A man wrote to his shaikh complaining of difficulties in his affairs. His shaikh wrote back saying; "You will never be saved from what you hate if you do not give up many a thing you love, and you will not reach the object of your love unless you learn to bear many a thing you hate. Dixi."

83. "Be thankful both to him who does good and to him who does no evil; forgive people their deeds and do not censure them; for every creature has its own particular nature."

84. "You should approve of the same things in others as you do in yourself and disapprove of the same things in them as you do in yourself."

85. "Do not overlook any of your deeds of devotion to God the Omnipotent."

86. "Obey God truly and people will obey you."

87. "There is nothing more valuable than sincere intention."

88. "Take from everything that which may guide you toward the goal at which it is aimed."

89. "Do not trust anything you get by chance."

90. "Submit yourself to men, and especially to the ulemas and shaikhs [religious doctors and spiritual masters], and do not despise anybody; for the scholar frequently conceals his knowledge in order to select his spiritual heir, just as the farmer selects his land."

91. "In every science, study the sayings of its first masters." [p.928]

92. "Study intensively the divine books of revelation, for they contain all wisdom."

93. "Associate much with the shaikhs, for you will always benefit either from their knowledge or from their way of life."

94. "If you observe the virtuous both in movement and at rest, you will find there much wisdom."

95. "I have observed that the most important thing for most people is that which brings them money."

96. "How often do people hear prophetic and wise commandments, but use only those which bring them monetary profit."

97. "How strong is man's inclination to bodily pleasures!"

98. "At any given moment do not neglect to think of the future."

99. "Whoever does, not think of the future comes face to face with it unprepared."

100. "Humility is at the root of everything good and noble."

101. "A man can attain everything he desires through humility."

102. "The humble is aided in the fulfillment of his goals."

103. "Aim at the extreme degree of human perfection, for if you are unable to attain it, you will attain the degree which is in your power. If you aim only at the degree of perfection next to yours, hoping to proceed from it to the following, you will most probably end by taking it easy and being satisfied with less than you deserve."

104. "Beware of neglecting any of the physical labors of devotion, for they are the most pleasant auxiliary on the way to spiritual devotion."

105. "Oneness is sufficient honor, for God the Omnipotent is one."

106. "The purer oneness is, the nobler it is, for absolutely no plurality of facets can mix with the oneness of God the Omnipotent."

107. "Have recourse to God the Omnipotent, rely on him and put your trust in him alone, and he will guard you, supply you with all your needs and will not disappoint any of your hopes." [p.929]

108. "Consider yourself a part of your community, and its members — your brothers: do not rely on governments, for the communities are the more enduring of the two."

109. "Accustom your soul to the good, both in thought and in deed, and you will be rewarded with good both by God the Omnipotent and by men, both here and now and in the hereafter."

110. "Do not desire solitude as long as you still have the least desire."

111. "If the weak were to stop at the end of his possibilities, he would be spared many a danger."

112. "I wish I knew how to excuse myself for the things I know and have not done; I hope Allāh the Omnipotent will forgive me."

[There follow samples of his poetry, as told to the author.]

My uncle Rāshid al-Dīn Alī al-Halīfa wrote the following books:

1) A useful abridgment of the science of mathematics; four treatises, dedicated to al-Malik al Amjad the ruler of Ba`albekk, presented in Safar, 608/1211, while they were encamped on the mountain.

2) "On Mensuration."

3) "On Medicine"; a book dedicated to al-Malik al-Mu`ayyad Najm al-Dīn Mas`ūd ibn al-Malik al-Nāsir Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb; in it he summarizes the general rules of medicine and mentioned different maladies with their causes and remedies.

4) "On Popular Medicine"; dedicated to one of his disciples, in which he mentions all the maladies which occur frequently and their treatment by remedies which are easily accessible and known to all.

5) A treatise on the relationship and parallelism of the pulse to muscular rhythms.

6) A treatise on the genesis of mountains; dedicated to al Malik al-Amjad.

7) "On the Elements."

8) "Notes and Experiments in Medicine." [p.930]


Badr al-Dīn, the son of the Judge of Ba`albekk. The illustrious physician and accomplished scholar Badr al-Dīn al -Muzaffar, the son of the judge and learned Imām Magd al-Dīn Abd al-Rahmān ibn Ibrāhīm was the son of the Judge of Ba`albekk. He grew up in Damascus, where he studied medicine. An indescribable amount of precious knowledge, extreme intelligence and manly valor was. imbued into his soul by God the Omnipotent. He studied medicine under our master the physician Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī, may he be blessed, and within the shortest possible time reached to perfection in both its theoretical and practical aspects. He was highly ambitious in his work and his soul contained all virtues I found him to study with a conscientiousness unmatched by any of the other students, for he never ceased to increase his knowledge, improve his scholarship and deepen his understanding. He knew many medical books and philosophical works by heart. The following story, to which I myself was a witness, may serve as proof of his high ambition and fine character. The shaikh Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm Alī had composed a treatise on vomiting. Each of his disciples studied it with him but Badr al-Dīn learnt it by heart and recited it from memory, without referring to the text, from beginning to end. For this the shaikh esteemed him highly. Our physician was attached to this shaikh, assiduously reading and studying under his guidance.

In the year 622/1225, when Shaikh Muhadhdhab al-Dīn traveled to the East in order to join the service of al-Malik al-Ashraf Mūsā ibn al-Malik al-`Ādil, he was accompanied by Badr al-Dīn, who continued to study with him. Later, Badr al-Dīn worked at the hospital of al-Raqqa and composed a fine treatise on the weather, conditions and predominant characteristics of this locality. He stayed in al-Raqqa for many years and studied philosophy under Zain al-Dīn the blind, may he be blessed, who was a master in the [p.931] philosophical sciences. He then returned to Damascus, When al-Malik al-Gawwād Muzaffar al-Dīn Yūnus ibn Shams al-Dīn Mamdūd ibn al-Malik al-`Ādil conquered Damascus in the year 635/1237, he called Badr al-Dīn to his service. The latter became a favorite, enjoying an important position in the government. The Sultan relied upon him in all medical matters and appointed him chief of all the physicians, oculists and surgeons, to which effect he gave him a written certificate in the month of Safar 637/1239.

Badr al-Dīn revived the long-forgotten virtues of medicine and instilled new life into its neglected merits by his continuous desire for doing good and his ceaseless concern for the general weal. The achievement which I now relate is the one I find the most beneficial, having the most long-lasting effect and gaining him the highest deserved reward: He expended all his efforts to buy many houses adjacent to the Great Hospital built and provided for [by mortmains] by al-Malik al-`Adil Nūr al-Dīn Mahmud ibn Zenkī, may Allāh bless him; he worked hard for this and paid for it with his own money, until he annexed these houses to the hospital and incorporated them into it. He enlarged small rooms in order that they might serve as wards for the sick, reconstructed them in the best way, plastered them and installed running water in them, so that the hospital was improved by this most noble deed.

Still he did not give up teaching medicine and also served as a physician in the fort of Damascus, at the "happy palace," treating the royal family of al-Malik al-Sālih Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb ibn al-Malik al-Kāmil and others who took refuge there, frequenting the hospital from time to time and practicing there as well. This ruler also gave him a written certificate, appointing him head physician, in the year 645/1247. Badr al-Dīn also attended several of his successors in Damascus, enjoying a permanent salary, a stable rank, an important position and the highest favors, while he went on visiting the fort and the hospital, increasing his knowledge in his leisure time. [p.932]

The following story may illustrate his high ambition and nobility of soul. He devoted himself to the science of religious law, spending much of his time in a room in the madrassa named Qiligiya, which was built by the Emir Saif al-Dīn ibn Qilig, may he be blessed, which was adjacent to his house. He studied books on jurisprudence and the literary arts, learnt the Qur'ān by heart to perfection and came to know its commentaries and modes of reading so well that he was considered an authority in the field. His master was the shaikh and Imām Shihāb al-Dīn Abū Shama, may Allāh bless him. Badr al-Dīn's sole interest lay in worship and religion and in being of assistance to other muslims.

The fame of his nobility, generosity and kindness was continuously reaching my ears, until one of his works, a book entitled "The Soul-Cheerer" fell into my hands. I then wrote to him concerning the epistle "The Pious Bequest of a Mamluk," written by our master the physician and learned Imam Badr al-Dīn, may God strengthen his happiness and prolong his leadership, and contained in his unrivaled book in his concise style, called "The Soul-Cheerer, the originator of joy and happiness." In this book he surpassed former scholars, preceded all other physicians and philosophers, liberated anguished hearts and became the unquestionable leader in his lofty rank, with nobody to vie for his perfection and mastership. He is our lord, the shaikh of our times and the example of our generation. May God render his life full of happiness and fill the earth with his writings, so that many will be able to benefit by them!

In the same epistle I included the following verses, addressed to him extemporaneously:

The rising sun was almost eclipsed by the radiance of Badr al-Dīn,
A virtuous physician, a noble scholar, both in heart and soul. [p.933]
The most learned of men in the medical art, the science of feeling the pulse,
An expert in curing, not by guesswork, but by sound knowledge;
From Hippocrates and "the old master," from the Greeks and Persians [he got his art];
How many are those whom he has restored to health, saving them from the contrary!
His opinion is loftier than that of Qais and his style more perfect than that of Quss;
Indeed he presented my heart with his book "The Soul-Cheerer,"
A book which leads us into the world of holiness,
The light of its import shines in the darkness of my soul.
How beautiful is the flower of the handwriting in the paper-garden!
When the eye falls upon its first thoughts, it is refreshed;
How much comfort and delight I have received from it!
I have accepted its contents with kisses and learning,
And shall gather its fruit, sweeter than that of the sweetest fruit tree.

I included the following verses in another epistle . . . . . . . . . .

May God prolong the life of his majesty the illustrious master, the learned scholar, the honorable leader, the standard of our generation and unique one of our times, the full moon of religion [Badr al-Dīn], the support of kings and sultans, an intimate friend of the Emir of the Faithful and the guardian of his virtues. May God accord him, in both this world and the next, the fulfillment of all his desires; may he cast down all his envious enemies; may happiness reside always in his home and may tongues never cease singing his praise in harmony. The mamluk [Ibn Abū Usaybi`ah uses this term here in reference to himself] ends [his [p.934] epistle] by expressing his great longing to serve Badr al-Dīn. Had he the eloquence of the master shaikh together with Galen's prosy style, he still would have been unable to describe the depth of his yearnings and the magnitude of his suffering because of the separation. He prays to God the Omnipotent to facilitate their prompt meeting and make it good and beneficial. When your obedient servant heard of your appointment as chief of all the physicians, which was a sign of God's favor to them and their salvation from all pain, he rejoiced and reached the summit of his desires, realizing that God has indeed looked upon his people with a benevolent eye and gathered them under his generous protection. [By this appointment] the profession was raised in importance, its light spread, its fame grew together with its great favor, fortune and radiant splendor. Because of him, our generation is ennobled by medicine more than other generations and the status of science is the contrary to what was described by Ibn al-Hatīb in his book "Commentary on the Universals." Glory be to God for his all-embracing favors and perfect kindness! But our master is the first to be appointed chief of the profession and leader of the other masters and scholars.

And it could not be so good, were it not for him;
And he could not be so successful, were it not for it.

[Even after his appointment] the signs of glory continued to shine through all his deeds and the marks of superiority proved his virtues and nobility. May God the Omnipotent aid him in his new post and help him in everything he does now and in the future, if he so wishes!"

The following verses are part of a poem which I addressed to him in the year 645/1247:

I wrote with unreined passion, with an extreme delight that grew constantly with the passing of time; [p.935]
With unceasing longings for him who keeps attracting my thoughts and is the subject of all my good wishes:
He is the master Badr al-Dīn, the noble and praiseworthy, in the apogee of height, unique in his generation;
A physician who masters all that Hippocrates had said before, and knows all that Galen said later;
Who is versed in the discussions of the "old master" which sound, when read by him, like pearls;
Indeed when these pearls of speech come from the sea of his learning, it is no wonder, for pearls do come from the sea;
When he quotes others, his words are like magic, but all sweet things come from magic;
When he treats a sick man and aids the poor, both his nobility and virtues are shown in the recovery and benevolence.

The mamluk kisses the hand of the illustrious master and scholarly physician, the noble chief and unrivaled leader, the hand of Badr al-Dīn, may God prolong its strength and generosity, may he double its favors to the good folk who deserve them and prostrate its grudging enemies by the duration of its happiness. May it remain in grace and perpetual favor, as long as the days pass into years, as long as the heart pulsates in the arteries. May God accord the master our best wishes as long as he still feels the breath of life in him; may he well reward him as long as his noble roots still expand and branch out; may he make his praise a continuously fragrant perfume in the gardens of praise; may he adorn his countenance with the perpetually shining and brilliant fame of his benevolence; may he fulfill all our master's passions and desires, which cannot be fathomed by words or put down on paper.

As to the mamlūk, he relies on the master's vast knowledge, sincere love and friendliness and his boundless devotion to his followers and [p.936] companions. The mamluk has received the epistle of the mamlūk's father with the good news, which filled his heart with joy and his soul with delight. Now he knows of the master's appointment as chief of all other physicians and of his protection over them by his good care and benevolent treatment. His father had described in his epistle the master's favors and generosity toward him, his kindness and nobility of spirit which are inherent in him and for which he is celebrated. Our master, who knows best the ways of honor and the fact that evil men consider the virtues as vices, should be helped by God to remain forever doing good, excelling in virtues, reaching the highest ranks, being happy and guarded against all misfortune.

This is my prayer, which I could have spared myself, for what I have asked God concerning you is already done.

Our master, may the high ranks be beautified by him and the elevated positions become even nobler by his fine opinions, has already surpassed by his virtues and nobility all those who are famous for their merits, has distinguished himself among all his contemporaries for his dignified conduct and good influence. He is the the perfect example to other physicians and to all his friends and loves ones.

When men divided happiness among themselves, I got the biggest share;
The mamluk again kisses the hand of his master for his favors, and offers his services and full obedience.

Badr al-Dīn the son of the Judge of Ba`albekk wrote the following books:

1) An exhaustive treatise on the weather of al-Raqqa.

2) "The Soul-Cheerer," in which he gives a full account of all the different kinds of heart ailments and their remedies; this is a very [p.937] useful book, dedicated to the Emir Saif al-Dīn al-Mushidd Abū al-Hasan `Alī ibn `Umar ibn Qizil, may Allāh have mercy upon him.

3) "Medical Anecdotes," in which he includes many useful facts taken from the books by Galen and others.


Shams al-Dīn Muhammad "the Universal." The illustrious physician and unique scholar Abū `Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Abū al-Mahāsin was the son of a Spaniard who lived in North Africa and later settled in Damascus where he remained until his death, may he be blessed. The physician Shams al-Dīn Muhammad grew up in Damascus and studied medicine under our master the physician Muhadhadhab al-Dīn `Abd al Rahīm ibn Alī, may Allāh bless him. He devpted himself to his master assiduously and came to master all those things from the books of the ancients which one must know and which are studied by all medical students. The physician Shams al-Dīn was so far in his studies, that he memorized all of the first book of the Qānūn, which contains the universals. He acquired a perfect knowledge and understanding of them, and was therefore nicknamed "the Universal."

In addition he studied many practical books and started exercising his profession, well-equipped with understanding and knowledge, but never failing to continue his studies during all his leisure time and ever increasing his knowledge under all circumstances. His appearance was pleasing and his conversation quite witty. He served as physician to al-Malik al-Ashraf Mūsā ibn al-Malik al-`Adil in Damascus, until this ruler died, may he be blessed. He then practiced in the Great Hospital built by al-Malik al-`Ādil Nūr al-Dīn Zenkī, may he be blessed, for a long while, visiting it frequently and treating the inmates.


Muwaffaq al-Dīn `Abd al-Salām united in himself medical skill, the philosophical sciences, a praiseworthy character and sound [p.938] opinion, perfect virtue and all-embracing kindness. He was a native of Hamāt, but moved to Damascus, where he studied under our master the physician Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī and others. Having distinguished himself in medicine, he traveled to Aleppo, where he increased his knowledge. He served al-Malik al-Nāsir Yūsuf ibn Muhammad ibn Ghāzī, the ruler of Aleppo, until the latter conquered Damascus. Our physician accompanied him there, being greatly relied upon and receiving many favors. I have written the following poem to express my nostalgia for Damascus, in which I described the city and praise the physician Muwaffaq al-Dīn [. . . ]

When the Tatars turned in the direction of Damascus and its people heard of their movements, the physician Muwaffaq al-Dīn went to Egypt, where he lived for a long period. Later he served al-Malik al-Mansūr, the ruler of Hamāt, staying with him there. He was highly privileged, enjoyed an elevated position and received boundless favors and respect.


Muwaffaq al-Dīn al-Minfāh. The physician and unique scholar Abū al-Fadl As`ad ibn Hilwān was a native of al-Ma`arra. He studied medicine and became a distinguished practitioner. He served al-Malik al-Asraf Mūsā ibn Abū Bakr ibn Ayyūb in the East, staying in his service for many years until their separation. He died in Hamāt in the year 642/1244-5.


Najm al-Dīn ibn al-Minfāh. The illustrious physician and noble scholar Abū al-Abbas Ahmad ibn Abū al-Fadl As`ad ibn Hilwān —known as the "daughter of Dahin al-Luz" [the one anointed with almond-oil] — was born in Damascus in the year 593/1196. He was swarthy and skinny; keen-witted, highly intelligent and eloquent, accomplished to the point where nobody could match him in research nor equal him in discussion. He studied under our master the [p.939] physician Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī, until he perfected himself in the medical science.

He was also distinguished in the philosophical sciences and well-versed in logic. His writings are witty and well composed, as he was also a literary master. He wrote epistles and poetry as well, knew how to play the lute, and had a fine handwriting. He was physician to al-Malik al-Mas`ūd, the ruler of `Aamid and became his favorite and his vizier. [But] later this ruler was to avenge himself on him, expropriating him completely. The physician then went to Damascus and settled there. Many came to study medicine under him and he became a distinguished citizen. The governor Jamāl al-Dīn ibn Matrūh wrote him the following poem in answer to his letter [on praising his handwriting] ....

Najm al-Dīn, may he be blessed, was, because of his sharp temperament, an impatient man in his attitude and speech. A group of people envied him his superiority and devised ways to harm him. One day he recited the following allegorical poem to me [ . . . . . . ]

In his old age he served al-Malik al-Ashraf ibn al-Malik al-Mansūr the ruler of Homs in Tell Bāshir. He remained in his service for a short period and died, may he be blessed, on the 13th of the Dhu al-Qa`da, 652/1254. His half brother by his mother the judge Shihāb al-Dīn the son of a dancer, told me that he had died of poison.

His books are:

1) "The Minute Analysis of the General and the Different," in which he mentions all illnesses, their similarities and differences in most cases.

2) "The Disclosure of Secrets in Abundant Treasures," notes on what he gained from his experiments et al.

3) A commentary on prophetic traditions dealing with medical matters. [p.940]

4) "The Neglected Things in the 'Book of Universals'. "

5) "Introduction to Medicine."

6) "On Causes and Accidents."

7) "Guidelines Concerning Simple Drugs."


Ibn al-Suwaidi. The illustrious physician and peerless scholar Abū Ishāq Ibrāhīm ibn Muhammad `Izz al Dīn ibn al-Suwaidi was a descendant of Sa`d ibn Ma`ād from the tribe of Aws. He was born in the year 600/1203 in Damascus, where he grew up to become the standard of his times and singularity of his generation. He united in himself all the virtues, an extreme generosity, noble ancestry and perfect manliness, boundless kindness and constant amiability. He studied medicine until he mastered it utterly and reached a degree of knowledge unattained by any other master. He was well-versed in both its generalia and specialia, and used to meet with the best physicians and greatest philosophers, from whom he learnt medical usages and philosophical secrets. Among them was our master the physician Muhadhdhab al-Dīn `Abd al-Rahīm ibn Alī.

He also studied literature, in which he reached perfection, and Arabic. He was accomplished in all the literary arts and his poetry was unmatched by either the ancients or his contemporaries. It contained eloquent phrases and truthful meanings, clever puns and excellent parallels. Indeed he united in himself all the different sciences, and was equally masterful in poetry and prose. He was the quickest of men in composing poetry extempore and the most gifted in declaiming it. I witnessed him several times recite a poem he had composed on the spur of the moment, rich in various meanings, which nobody else could do, for this art was his specialty.

His father, may he be blessed, was a merchant from al-Suwaidā' in the Horān, a man of good character, fine origins, gentle speech and noble deeds. He was a friend of my father's, and the [p.941] ties between them were solid, intimate and praiseworthy. I also used to study with `Izz al Dīn in the same school, our master being Abū Bakr al-Saqalī, may he be blessed. Our old friendship remained the same in spite of the passing of time, and even grew steadily with it. The physician `Izz al-Dīn is indeed the most illustrious among all others with respect to his knowledge and memory, treatment and conversation, successful cures and precise methods. He is still practicing in the `Nurī hospital, according the sick their heart's desires by banishing their maladies and bestowing upon them the finest gift in the form of their recovered health. He also used to frequent the hospital at the Postage Gate as well as in the fort of Damascus and was, in addition, the instructor of the Dahwāryīa. He received salaries from all of these four posts.

`Izz al-Dīn copied in his own handwriting many medical books and works in other sciences — some of them in the script of Ibn al-Bawwāb and others in the script of the Kufi school of Mawlid. Both his scripts were clearer than the brilliant stars and brighter than splendid jewels, finer than luxuriant gardens and more radiant than the rising sun. He told me that he had copied three versions of the Ibn Sīnā's Qānūn. In the year 632/1234 a merchant from Persia arrived in Damascus with a copy of Ibn Abū Sādiq's commentary to Galen's book "The Benefits of the Members." This copy was a correct one, taken from the author's manuscript, which had not been available in Syria previously. My father acquired it, on which occasion `Izz al-Dīn ibn al-Suwaidī wrote him a poem praising him, from which I recall the following lines:

Be praised, for you are the owner of noble and sublime things of the commentary on the book "The Benefits of the Members";
The lending of rare books is still a habit among the learned and virtuous. [p.942]

So my father sent him the book, which was in two volumes. He made a copy of it, in the most beautiful handwriting and with the finest accuracy.

The following are samples of his poetry, as he himself recited to me:

[Concerning his worries, i.e., having to dye his hair black. . . . ]

[Concerning my book on the history of physicians, known as "Important Information Concerning the Classes of Physicians"] . . . .

[A riddle on the name Alī] . . . .

[Two other small poems] . . . . 

His books are:

1) "The Brilliant Book of Jewels."

2) "The Guiding Advice and Sufficient Treasures of Medicine."


`Imad al-Dīn al-Danīsrī. The learned physician and supreme literary man Imad al-Dīn Abū Abd Allāh Muhammad, the son of the judge and preacher Taqi al-Dīn Abbas ibn Ahmad ibn `Ubayd al-Rab`ī, was like his father, a man of virtuous soul and perfect manliness, complete magnanimity and all-embracing generosity, great intelligence and outstanding knowledge. He was born in the year 605/1208 in the city of Danīsr, where he grew up and studied the medical profession. He distinguished himself in this science and mastered all its import, being capable of maintaining existing health and restoring it when lost. I first met him in Damascus in Dhū al-Qa`adah, 667/1258, finding him a man of firm character, resolute nature, manners sweeter than the breeze and words gentler than the air of paradise.

He declaimed to me some of his poetry, excellent in meaning and sublime in purpose, containing different puns and precious parallels, eloquent phrases and truthful imports. As to medicine, he distingushed himself more than any of the ancients or his contemporaries, while [p.943] in literature he was unrivaled by any poet or prose-writer. In addition to all this he was the leader of his generation and standard of his times in the science of religious law, according to the school of the Shafi`ite Imam. He had traveled from Danīsr to Egypt and then returned to Syria and settled in Damascus, where he served the families descending from al-Malik al-Nāsir Yūsuf in the fort of the city. He also frequented the Nurī Great Hospital in Damascus.

The following are examples of his poetry, as he recited to me [mostly love poems addressed to boys] . . . . 

His books are:

1) "The Guiding Treatise on the Grades of Simple Drugs."

2) A general pharmacopoeia in verse.

3) "On the Mithridaticus."

4) "An Introduction to the Study of Hippocrates," a poem in short meter.

5) An anthology of his poetry.


Muwaffaq al-Dīn Ya`qūb, the Samaritan. The illustrious physician and unrivaled scholar, the leader of his generation and standard of his times, Abū Yūsuf Ya`qub ibn Jana`im, was born and bred in Damascus. He distinguished himself in the science of medicine, but was also well-versed in all the philosophical sciences. His medical knowledge was perfect in both theory and practice, as he had mastered all its generalia and specialia; he was praised for his treatment and thanked for his conversation, which was noble among the notables and distinguished at all other times. He was a sound prop concerning the restoration and maintenance of health.

A large group of physicians used to study under him and many students benefited from his knowledge. His writings have an eloquent turn of phrase and are truthful in meaning, sound in composition and of great significance. [p.944]

Muwuffuq ul-Dīn Ya`qūb al Sāmīrī wrote the following books:

1) A commentary on the universal contained in Ibn Sīnā's "Qānūn," In which he summarizes all Ibn Khatīb al-Ray's sayings on this subject in his commentary on the universal, al-Qutb al-Misrī's in his commentary on them, and also the sayings of others. His edition points out the contradictions In the respective utterances and is well composed and eloquently styled.

2) "The Solution of Najm al-Dīn ibn al-Minfah's Doubts Concerning the Universals."

3) "Introduction to the Sciences of Logic, Physics and Metaphysics."

He died in Ramadan, 681/1282.


Abū al-Karaj ibn al-Qaff. The illustrious physician and scholar Abū al-Faraj, the son of the peerless and learned Shaikh Muwaffaq al-Dīn Ya`qūb ibn Ishaq ibn al-Qaff, a Christian from Karak, was born in Karak on Saturday the 13th of Dhū al-Qa`dah, 630/1232. His father, Muwaffaq al-Dīn, was a friend of mine, who kept our relationship intimate and strong throughout his life. Being with him was a sweet and precious experience and enjoying his friendship more joyful than the happiest wedding. He was the light of his generation and the most intelligent of his contemporaries. He was the best at memorizing poetry and an authority in history and biographies. He distinguished himself in the knowledge of Arabic and was outstanding in the literary arts, uniting in himself all the principles and different styles of writing and reaching the utmost in unusual meaning and excellent form. His well-proportioned handwriting was a pleasure to the eye, unmatched by any other copyist anywhere in the world.

During the reign of al-Malik al-Nāsir Yūsuf ibn Muhammad he was a scribe in Sarkhad, working in the post office. His son Abū al-Faraj showed signs of intelligence from his youth, and these were indeed verified when he grew up. He was a good listener and a rare talker, [p.945] had a broad mind and loved to hear the biographies of the learned. His father had the intention of teaching him medicine, and asked me to be his master. He attached himself to me until he memorized the first textbooks, such as Hunayn's "Problems," Hippocrates' "Aphorisms," the introduction to his study, etc. Abū al-Faraj came to know their import, understood the principles of their composition, and then continued to study under my guidance the ways of treatment contained in the books of Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakarīyya al-Rāzī. Having studied them, he came to know the kinds of maladies and the major causes of diseases, mastered diagnostics and therapeutics and was familiar with different remedies. I taught him the principles and details of all these, their secrets and consequences.

His father then moved to well-guarded Damascus, where he served in the supreme Divan. His son accompanied him there and studied, with a group of notables, the natural sciences and the philosophical arts under the master Shams al-Dīn `Abd al-Hamīd al-Khosrushāhī and `Izz al-Dīn al-Hasan al-Ghanawī al-Darīr. He continued his medical studies with the physician Najm al-Dīn ibn al-Mīnfāh and Muwaffaq al-Dīn Ya`qūb, the Samaritan. He also studied Euclid's book with the master Mu`ayyad al-Dīn al-Aradi, understanding it so perfectly that he solved all its difficulties.

Abū al-Faraj ibn al-Qaff served as physician in the fort of `Aglūn, where he stayed for several years. He then returned to Damascus and served in its unconquerable fort, treating the sick there and being praised for his work and thanked for all his deeds. His books are:

1) "The Medical Cures."

2) "Commentary on the Universals Contained in Ibn Sīnā's Qānun," in six volumes.

3) "Commentary on the 'Aphorisms,'" in two parts.

4) A treatise on the preservation of health. [p.946]

5) "The Pillar of Surgery," twenty treatises.

6) Treatise on theory and practice, mentioning all that is necessary for the surgeon exclusively.

7) "The Quintessence of the Purpose," in one volume.

8) "Marginal Notes on the Third Book of the Qānūn"; not extant.

9) A commentary on the "Remarks"; a rough draft, unfinished.

10) "North African Researches"; unfinished.

He died in Jumāda I, 685/1286. And Allāh knows best.


These all appeared at the foot of the pages of the manuscripts.  Abbreviations:

GAL = Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur; I2 = vol. 1, 2nd ed.; S I = GAL supplement vol 1; S II = GAL supplement vol. 2.; I.Q. = Ibn al-Qiftī. Tarīkh al-Hukamā' (History of Philosophers).

1. ^ * [GAL I2, 638: S I, 887; not in I. Q.] 

2. ^ [GAL I2; 626; S I, 870; not in I. Q. (όbers. Weidemann, Beitr. 28, 117/18, Mitt. z.Gesch. d. Med. 313/21).]

3. ^ * [GAL S I, 423; I. Q. , 438 (differing version). ]

4. ^ * [GAL I2 638; S I, 886; not in I. Q.]

5. ^ * [Gal I2, 640; S I, 888; not in I. Q. ]

6. ^ ** [GAL I2, 666; S I, 920; I. Q. 291.]

7. ^ * [GAL S I, 824 below; not in I. Q.]

8. ^ * [GAL I2 643; S I, 892; I.Q. 209.]

9. ^ * [GAL I2, 644; S I, 893; not in I. Q. ]

10. ^ * [GAL I2, 646; SI, 895; not in I. Q.]

11. ^ ** [Not in GAL, I. Q. ]

12. ^ * [The countries of Western Islam.]

13. ^ * [I.Q.337]

14. ^ * [I.Q.320.]

15. ^ * [GAL I2, 154; S I, 228; not in I. Q. ]

16. ^ * [GAL I2, 272; S I, 422; I. Q. 105.]

17. ^ * [I. Q. 334]

18. ^ * [I. Q. 178]

19. ^ * [I. Q. 438]

20. ^ * [I.Q. 277; GAL S II 375. ]

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