Monday, August 29, 2011

The great Islamic physician Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi

Modern medicine owes a great debt of gratitude to the great physicians who populated the medical world during the Islamic golden age. For while Europe languished in darkness, it was the Islamic physicians who systematically collected, archived, translated, studied and innovated upon the classical medical texts from the Greeks and Romans before them. It was this vast corpus of knowledge that eventually fueled the developments during the European renaissance.

One of the great physicians of this period was the Persian physician, Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, also known by the Latin form of his name Rhazes. Al-Razi was not just a physician, but also a great thinker, philosopher and rationalist. That he not only survived, but flourished during this period was a testament to how open minded and tolerant the Islamic society of those days were to non-conformist ideas.

He was known for a great many innovations and discoveries in medical practice. He identified for example, allergic asthma, and was the first to distinguish smallpox from measles (a great achievement considering the state of ignorance at that time of the microbial world). He was also the guy who pioneered the distillation of alcohol.

After his death, a compilation of his writings became a widely regarded classic of medical science and philosophy, The Virtuous Life (Kitab al-Hawi الحاوي).

Widely remembered as arguably one of the greatest physicians of that period, and possibly the Father of Paediatrics (having written the first ever treatise on Paediatrics,The Diseases of Children), he was not only a great mind, but also an ethical and compassionate physician.

"The doctor's aim is to do good, even to our enemies, so much more to our friends, and my profession forbids us to do harm to our kindred, as it is instituted for the benefit and welfare of the human race, and God imposed on physicians the oath not to compose mortiferous remedies."


Anonymous said...

whilst he was a significant figure in certain scientific fields, Muhammad ibn zakariya al-razi certainly wasn't a Muslim. He was a vocal critic of religion.

Check your facts...

gigamole said...

You are right. I never said he was a muslim, just that he was a philosopher who flourished during the Islamic civilization. That such a vocal critic was 'tolerated' during that time, is something noteworthy.

Anonymous said...

Al-Razi was not an "Islamic physician".

The Golden Age of Arabs had nothing to do with Islam.

Science is independent of religions.

Anonymous said...

muhammad ibn zakariya al-razi was a great guy and i am pretty sure he was muslim