Ibn Al-Tilmidh, Amin Al-Dawla Abu’l- ?asan Hibat Allah Ibn Sa?id

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(b. Baghdad, ca. 1073; d. Baghdad, 11 February 1165)

medicine, pharmacy, logic, education literature.

Ibn al-Tilmīdh’s maternal grandfather, Mu ʿtamad al-Malk Abu’l-Faraj Yahyā ibn al-Tilmīdh, was a physician. He made great efforts to secure a good education for his grandson, who assumed the patronymic Ibn al-Tilmīdh after the grandfather’s death. Upon completion of his medical education, Ibn al-Tilmīdh went to Persia, where he practiced for several years in the Khurāsān region. There, according to Zahīr al-Dīn al-Bayhaqī(1106–1170), he learned the Persian language. Being a Syriac Christian and vitally interested in his church, its liturgy, and its activities, he also mastered the Syriac (Aramaic) language. Yāqūt al-Hamawī(1179–1229) affirmed that Ibn al-Tilmīdh knew Greek as well.

Ibn al-Tilmīdh conducted a lively correspondence with dignitaries, high government officials, colleagues, friends, and members of his family. His letters, collected during his lifetime in a large volume entitled Tawqīʿāt wa-murāsalāt, include one of advice and admonition addressed to his son, who does not seem to have been very intelligent. He also wrote numerous short poems on general medicine, the value of learning, dietetics, mental health, friendship, clouds, hospitality, modesty, loneliness, romance, wine, fish, the balance, the astrolabe, armor, and shadows.

After his return to Baghdad, Ibn al-Tilmīdh served under several caliphs, especially al-Muqtafī(1136–1160), who appointed him court physician and chief of the ʿAdudī hospital, one of the most important institutions of its kind. He also was commissioned by the caliph to conduct licensing examinations for doctors, and he had the largest private medical school in Baghdad in his time. His fame as a medical educator attracted students from far and near.

Ibn al-Tilmīdh enjoyed an excellent reputation not only as an educator but also as a physician. His practice brought him wealth and prosperity, and he was very generous to his students and to the poor. He amassed a large library, most of which was dispersed after his death.

Ibn al-Tilmīdh wrote fourteen books, including pharmaceutical formularies and medical commentaries, some of which were cited by later Arab physicians for more than a century after his death. He was described as a highly respected man–gentle, eloquent, and very friendly–who died at an advanced age without loss of his mental faculties or dignified manners.


1. Original Works. Ibn al-Tilmīdh’s literary contributions can be classified in four categories:

1. Independent medical works such as Aqrābādhīn (a pharmaceutical formulary in 20 chs., compiled from several earlier compendiums); a shorter version, in 13 chs. for use in hospitals only; the (al-Amīniyya) fi’l-fasd, on phlebotomy, in 10 chs, (Lucknow, 1890); Quwa’l-ad-wiya al-mufrada (on the effects of simple drugs used in hospitals), arranged alphabetically, with descriptions, identifications, synonyms (in Syriac, Greek, and Persian), and therapeutic uses of each; and Mujarrabāt (on clinical cases that he treated and experimented upon), containing several medical recipes with descriptions of pharmacological effects. Several MSS of these works are extant in many libraries, including the British Museum; Bodleian; Forschungsbibliothek, Gotha; Egyptian National Library, Cairo; and Damascus National Library.

2. Commentaries and selections from Greek medical texts, such as Hippocratic writings and their interpretations by Galen: Aphorisms, Prognostic, and Substitution of Drugs.

3. Commentaries and abstracts of leading Arabic medical works; as Hunayn ibn Ishāq’s lsagoge (al-Masā’il); al-Rāzī’s Continens (al-Hāwī) Miskawayh’s On Wines and Waters (al-Ashriba); al-Masīhī’s Hundred Books on Medicine (al-Miʾa); Ibn Sīnā’s Canon (al-Qānūn); and Ibn Jazla’s Minhāj. Ibn al-Tilmīdh also wrote a commentary entitled Medicine of the Prophet(Tibb al-nabī), thereby becoming the first Christian physician to write on such traditional Muslim bookof medical aphorisms. Unfortunately, all these commentaries are lost, except for a few quotations and references preserved by later authors.

4. Collection of his epistles and poems, of which only fragments are still known; see Louis Cheikho, Almnachriq24 (1921), 251–258, 339–350, and Catalogue des manuscrits des auteurs chrétiens depuis l’Islam (Beirut, 1924), 6.

II. Secondary Literature. According to Zahīr al-Dīn al-Bayhaqī, Ta’rīkh al-hukamā’,, M. Kurd ‘Ali, ed. (Damascus, 1946), 144–146, the first to mention Ibn al-Tilmīdh was his contemporary, the historian al-‘Imād al-Isfahānī, in his Kharīdat al-Qasr More detailed biographies are given in Yāqūt al-Hamawī, Dictionary ofLearned Men, D. S. Margoliouth, ed., VII (London, 1931), 243–247: Abu’l-FarajIbn al-‘Ibri (Bar Hebraeus), Taʾ rīkh Mukhtasar (Beirut, 1958), 209–210; Ibn Khallikān, Wafayāt al-aʿyān, II (Cairo, 1892), 191–194; Ibn al-Qiftī.Taʾrīkh al-hukamāʾ. J. Lippert. ed. (Leipzig, 1903). 340–342; Ibn Abī Usaybiʿa. ʿUyūn al-anbā’. I (Cairo. 1882). 259–295: and Abū Muhammād ʿAbd Allāh al-Yāfi Mirʿ āt al-janān, III (Hyderabad, 1920), 344, based on the above sources.

More modern reference works, listed chronologically, are F. Wüstenfeld. Geschichte der arabischen Aerzte und Naturforscher (Göttingen, 1840), 97–98: Lucien Leclerc, Histoire de la Médecine arabe, II (Paris, 1876), 24–27; George Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, II (Baltimore, 1931), 234; Carl Brockclmann. Geschichte der arabischen Literutar, 2nd ed., I (Leiden, 1943), 642, and supp., I (Leiden, 1937), 891; S. Hamarneh, “The Climax of Medieval Arabic Professional Pharmacy,” in Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 42 (1968), 454–461; Origins of Pharmacy and Therapy in the Near East (Tokyo, 1973), 56–64, 87; and Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts on Medicine and Pharmacy at the British Library (Cairo, 1975), nos. or. 8293–8294.

Sami Hamarneh

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Ibn Al-Tilmidh, Amin Al-Dawla Abu’l- ?asan Hibat Allah Ibn Sa?id

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