Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 89
  • Published: July 18, 2003
Read full document
Text Preview
The well-known writer George Sarton says in his Introduction to the History of Science that "Rhazes was the greatest physician of Islam and the Medieval Ages." And the Encyclopedia of Islam remarks that "Rhazes remained up to the 17th century the indisputable authority of medicine." The Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO), May 1970, pays tribute to him by stating: "His writings on smallpox and measles show originality and accuracy, and his essay on infectious diseases was the first scientific treatise on the subject."

Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Zakariya Al-Razi was born at the Persian city of Ray near modern Tehran, Iran in c. 864 AD. It is said that early in his life Al-Razi was interested in singing and music besides other professions. Because of his eagerness for knowledge, he became more interested in the study of alchemy and chemistry, philosophy, logic, mathematics and physics. But it was the field of medicine that he spent most of his life, practicing it, studying and writing about it. Due to his fame in medicine he was appointed head of the physicians of the Ray Hospital, and later put in charge of the Baghdad main Hospital during the reign of the Adhud-Daulah.

Al-Razi was an iconoclastic cosmologist, who denied that any man had privileged access to intelligence, whether by nature or from nature. Al-Razi, who, though a theist, rejects prophecy on the ground that reason is sufficient to distinguish between good and evil and also that reason alone can enable us to know Allah. He also denies the miraculousness of the Koran and preferred scientific books to all sacred books.

Al-Razi is considered to have been the greatest physician of the Islamic world. With reference to his Greek predecessors, Al-Razi viewed himself as the Islamic version of Socrates in Philosophy, and Hippocrates in medicine.

Al-Razi was a prolific author, who has left monumental treatises on numerous subjects. He has more than two hundred outstanding scientific contributions to his credit, out of which about half deal with medicine and twenty-one on Alchemy. He also wrote on physics, mathematics, astronomy and optics, but these writings could not be preserved. A number of his other books, including Jami-fi-al-Tib, Maqalah fi al-Hasat fi Kuli wa al-Mathana, Kitab al-Qalb, Kitab-al-Mafasil, Kitab-al-'Ilaj al-Ghoraba, Bar al-Sa'ah, and al-Taqseem wa al-Takhsir, have been published in various European languages. About 40 of his manuscripts are still extant in the museums and libraries of Iran, Paris, Britain, and Rampur (India). His contribution has greatly influenced the development of science, in general, and medicine in particular.

The greatest medical work of Al-Razi (Rhazes), and perhaps the most extensive ever written by a medical man, is al-Hawi, i.e., the "Comprehensive Book," which includes indeed Greek, Syrian, and early Arabic medical knowledge in their entirety. Throughout his life Al-Razi must have collected extracts from all the books available to him on medicine. In his last years, he combined these with his medical experience into an enormous twenty volume medical encyclopedia. Al-Hawi was the largest medical encyclopedia composed by then. It was translated into Latin under the auspices of Charles I of Anjou by the Sicilian Jewish physician, Faraj ibn Salim (Farragut) in 1279 and was repeatedly printed from 1488 onwards. Al-Hawi was known as 'Continens' in its Latin translation. "By 1542 there had appeared five editions of this vast and costly work, besides many more of various parts of it. Its influence on European medicine was thus very considerable." (Arnold, T. Pg. 323-5).

Throughout his works he added his own considered judgement and his own medical experience as commentary. His contributions lie mainly in the field of ophthalmology, obstetrics, and gynecology, but he also dealt with diseases like stones in the kidney and bladder. Al-Razi wrote a monograph on children's diseases - probably the first in the...
tracking img