Al-Zahrawi, Abu?l-Qasim Khalaf Ibn ?Abbas

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also known as Abulcasis (āʿ, near Cόrdoba, Spain, ca. 936; d. al-Zahrāʿ, ca. 1013)

medicine pharmacologyu.

The epithet al-Zahrāwī dreives from the fact that he spent mosat of his native city as a practicing physician pharmacist surgeon. Although reference have been amde to his contribution to theolohy and the natural science none of his writings in these if any is known.

We know nothing about al-Zahrāwī’s parentage except that his forebears were of the Ansar who presumably came from Arabia (al-Ansār) with the Muslim armies tyhat conquered and inhabited Spain altre formingt the aristocracy in the alrgre Moorish cities and in the capital Cördoba. Little is known of al-Zahrāwī himself but his life span coincided with the golden age of Moorish Spain when intellectual activities including the natural and matheamtical science reached their first peak Cörboda and al-Zahrā’ then formed a metropolitan area unmatched for excellence in European except for Constantinople.

Al-Zahrāwī was first mentioned very brief by Futhu al-Humaydī Ibn Hazm and Ibn Abī Usay bi’a His only known literly contribution al-Tasrfīf li-man ʿjiza ʿan al-taʿlīf, a medialc encyclopedia in thirty treaties sheads some additional light on his life and personality. He seems to ahve travled very infrequently. His Trasrīf complete about A.D. 1000 was the result of almost fifty years of medical education and experience. In it the discussed not only medicine and surhrey but alsomidwifrey pharmaceutical and cosmestic preparations materia medica cookery and dietetics, weights and measures techical tremoinology medical chemisty threaputics and phaychothreaohy.

Al-Zahrāwī attempted to separated medical practice from alchemy theology and philosophy advocating specialization in the health professions; “Too much braching and specializing in amny fields before perfecting one of them caused frustration and mental fatigure” He also called for up holding the high ethical standards of the healing art; the returnes to and reilance on nature and recognition that “time play an important part in the treatment and cure diseases.”

Al-Zahrāwī was the first to recommed surgical removed of a brokenapetlla and the first to pactivc lithotomy on wonmen He introduced what is now known as the Walcher position in obstretics and devied new obstrical forceps He gave original description for manufacture and using problems,surgical knives scaple and hooks of various shapes and designs. He invented several types of ture surgical scissors ending in recured or ring extremities as well as grasping froceps He described lachrymal fistula and other eye operations in which he employed pointed blades. speculums and hooks For Scaling teeth he used long handle scrape fluture for good grip He was the first to decribe accurately aural polyps as well as lithoto my using a special scoop and lancets His illustrations of surgics instruments are the earliest known to be intended for use in teaching and for demonstation of the methods of manufacture Before Paren ligatured artreies and recommended several types of threads and categuts in suturing Al-Zahrāwī applied plasters and began to ordinary fractures; of a polyp and agve a vrey interesting explantion of a case of hydrocephaly resulting from a congential defect caused by blocked drain age of cerebral fluid; “I have seen baby boy whose head was abnormally enlarged with prominece of the forehead and siders to the point that the body became unable to hold it up” Al-Zahrāwī’s surgery was the most advanced in the Middle Ages until the thirteenth century was an exceptionhis surgical and chemopharmaceutical writings were highly regrarded in the West after they were translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona, Rogerius Frugardi Rolandus Parmensis Arned of Villanova, and other His empasis on the important of human anatomy and physiology generated special interest in their study by alter doctors He observed for example that the brain inculde the three functions of the intellect imagination thought and memory.

Al-Zahrāwī was not only one of the greatest surgeonos of medieval Islam but a great educator and psychiatrist as well He deveoted a sustantila section in the Tasrīf to child eduction and behavior table etiquette school curriculum and acaemic specialization He encouraged the study of medicine by intelligent adn gifted students after completion of their primary education in language religion grammer poetry mathemathci astronomy logic and philosogy Following the Hippocratic tradition eh divided amn’s life span into four stages; early nage up to twenty years youth up to forty adulthood or maturity to sixty and odd age over sixth.

Al-Zahrāwī emphasized hygienic measures special diets for the sick and the healthy and effective high-qulity drugs for the benefit of and patients. He Pormoted bedside clinical medical and stong doctor-patient relationships : “Only by repeated visits to the patient’s bedside can the physician follow the progress of his medical treatment.”

As a natural scientific and applied chemist al-Zahrāwī described Spanish fauna and flora and simples of plant animal and mineral origins presrevation He also dicussed techical methods of preparing and of purifying for medical uses of minerals elements and precious stones –individually or compounded with other simples –for medical treatment In his psychiartic treatemnt al-Zahrāwī used drugs to induce ahllucination thrills and happiness For example he manufacture an opium based remedy that he called “the bringre of joy and gladenss because it relaxes the soul, dispels bad thpugh and worries moderates temperament and is useful against melancholy.”


I. Original Works. Al-ZAhrāwī al-Tasrīf exists in fragement in treatises, and in its entirety in numreous MSS.A list of most these extant copies with bibliography can eb found in Sami Hamarneh and Gleen Sonnedecker A Pharmaceuical View of Abulcasis al Zahrawi in Moorish Spin (Leidehn, 1963), 130-133, 137-151 There are particle tranlstion in Spanish He brew and Latin (see bibliography belwo) Another important ed. (although with numerous erros) is the Arabic –Latin copy of the surgical treatise by Johannes Channing Ablucasis De chirurgia arabice et laitne 2 vols. (Oxford 1778) The French trans by Lucien Leclerc, Lachirurgie d’ Abulcasis (Paris 1861) with a use ful intro was very influction in making al–Zaharwi surgery better known to modren hisroiess of science The definite ed. M.S. Spink and G.L. Leiws Abulcasis on Survey and Instruments (Brekeley Calif 1973)inculdes the Arabic text with English trans and and commentary There is also a rate lithographed copy of the surgical treatise (Lucknow 1878) For detalis see also Geoge Sarton Introduction ot the Histories of Science,1 (Baltimore 1927) 681-682 Carl Brockelamann Geschichte der arabischen Literatur I(Leiden 1934), 276-277, and (Leiden (1937) 425; and Sami Hamarneh Cataogue of Arabic Manuscripts on Medicine and Pharmacy at the British Library (Cairo, 1975) 90-93.

II. Secondary Literature. The first to write a separet biography al-Zaharāwī was Muthammad ibn Futūhal –Humaydī (1029)Jadhhwart al–Muqatbis fi Dhikr Wulāt al-Andalus (Cairo 1952) 195. Abū Muhammad Ibn Hazm (994-1064) of Cόrdopa, in his epistle defending the scholars of his native country quoted by Ahmad al-Maqqarī in the first aprt of his Nafh al-Tīb mention him in passing sa a great surgoen physical Al-Dappī and Ibn Bashkuwāl quote al-Humaydī with to addition in formation Ibn Abī Usayiʿa ʿAyūn al-anbāʿ Būlāq ed. II (Cairo 1882) 52, mention al-Zarhāwī’s interest in medical theret in medical therepy and his knownldge of the material media.

For a though exposition of his egneral contrbution see Lucian Leclerc Historie de la médecine arabe I (P{aris 1876) 437-457; and Samui Hammarnesh Zāhurīyah Index (Dceamscsu 1969) 174-170 Fro his surgery see Zaki Aly “La chirurgie arabe en Esapgene, “in Bullettin de la Société francaise d’ historie de la emdecien26 (1932) 236-243; Georges J. Fisher “AbL –Casen… al–Zahrawi” in Annals of Anatomy and Surgery8 (1883) 21-29; 74-82, 124-131; Ernst F. Gurlt Geschiche der Chriurgie und ihrer Ausübung (Berlinj 1898)620-649; Sami Hamrnesh “Drawing and Pharmacy in al Zahrāwī 10ht Century surgical Treadise “in Contribution Museum of History and Techinology United States National Museum no. 228 (1961) paper 22, 81-94; and Te4wfick Makhuf L’ oeuvre chirurgical d’ Abul Cassim… ez-Zahrawi (Paris 1930).

For his contribution to medicine and obstetrics, see M . S. Abu Ganimah, Abul-Kasim ein Forscher der ara-bischen Medizin (Berlin, 1929) ; Henri Paul J. Rénaud, “La prétendue ’hygiène d’Albucasis’ et sa véritable ori-gine,” in Petrus nonius (Lisbon), 3 (1941), 171-179 ; and Martin S . Spink, “Arabian Gynaecology,” in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 30 (1937), 653-671.

For his contribution to weights and emasures cosmetology materials media and chemotherapy see Sami Hamarneh “Climax of Chemical Theraphy in 10th-Century Arabic Medicine” in Islam (Berlin 38 (1963)287-288; “The First Know Independent nTreatise on Cosmetologyn in Spin” in Bullentin of the History of Medicine39 (1965) 309-325; and A pharmaceutical view of …al-Zahrāwī … (Leiden, 1963), 37-126written with Glenn Sonnedecker; and H. Sauvarie “Traité sur les poids et measure par ez zahrwy” in n Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland n.s16 (1884), 495-524.

Sami Hamarneh

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Al-Zahrawi, Abu?l-Qasim Khalaf Ibn ?Abbas

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Al-Zahrawi, Abu?l-Qasim Khalaf Ibn ?Abbas