Banu-Zuhr Family in Al-Andulus: Six Physicians and Two Women Doctors; Their Scholarship Status

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Banu-Zuhr Family in Al-Andulus: Six Physicians and Two Women Doctors; Their Scholarship Status
Kathem K. AL-RUBIAY*
*DHM, DTMH, MSc. PhD., Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, University of Basrah, Basrah, Iraq Po. Box. 289


It is clear that Arab culture had a great effect on sciences including medicine and pharmacy ,not only in areas where Islam had spread but in all other areas in the world . The Arabic physicians and pharmacists had their original ideas and opinions based on science, knowledge and experience. This vital role was in both eastern and western Islamic countries. In Andulus, for example, Arab physicians had left rich heritage that cannot be ignored in the modern medicine. In 4th AH / 10thAD century Banu Zuhr family had appeared in Andulus .It was famous in a variety of sciences especially in medicine ,philosophy , poet and belles letters (adab) .

The Banu zahrs wrote many treatises ,essays (Makala) .letters(Risala) and books(Kitab) in the period from the beginning of 4th to the end of 6th A H century . They contained many details about human diseases with their signs, symptoms, methods of treatment and preparation of medicines. Their unique achievements in medicine had a great influence .

Keywords : Medieval Islam's Medicine, Islamic Spain physician. Medicine in Andulus . Banu Zuhr .
Islamic Medical heritage in south of Spain (Al-Andalus)

When the civilization of Greece and Rome had gone into eclipse during the Middle Ages .Many of the greatest physicians practiced medicine in Baghdad during the 'Abbasid period (1,2). Muslims entered southern Spain which they called al-Andalus . In the first century of Islamic rule in Spain, culture was largely derived from Baghdad . But then, during the reign of 'Abd al-Rahman III (A.D.912-961) .The scientists of Islamic Spain began to make their own contributions to medicine and to European and Western civilization (3,4 ).

Famous physicians appeared in Andalus some of them studied the Greek medical works which was translated at the famous House of Wisdom (Dar Al-Hakmah) in Baghdad . Among them Ibn al-Nafis, who discovered the pulmonary circulation of blood. Ibn Shuhayd, who recommended simple drugs to be used only if a patient did not respond to diet . Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, the most famous surgeon of the Middle Ages and his book (Tasrif ) that was translated into Latin, became the leading medical text in European universities. Ibn Zuhr, known as Avenzoar, was the first to describe pericardial abscesses and tracheotomy . Ibn Rushd wrote an important book on medical theories and principles. Ibn al-Khatib, a historian, a poet, and a statesman, wrote an important book on the theory of contagion . In medical ethics and hygiene as well .Ibn Hazm, insisted that moral qualities were mandatory in a physician. A doctor, he wrote, should be kind, understanding, friendly, and able to endure insults and adverse criticism. Furthermore, he went on, a doctor should keep his hair and fingernails short, wear clean clothes, and behave with dignity. Ibn al-Baytar, the most famous Andalusian botanist, wrote a book called (Simple Drugs and Food ). Ibn al-'Awwam listed hundreds of species of plants and gives precise instructions regarding their cultivation and uses(5 -7 ).
Origin of the Banu Zuhr family

Banu Zuhr belong to Arabic tribes called (Iyad) and their surname was (Iyadi) .Iyad tribes came from Arabian Desert , then dispersed in Iraq . Group of them especially Zuhr Iyadi went to and setteled in the East Desert in Andulus at the beginning of the 4th AH / 10th AD century at Djafu Shatiba (Jativa) . During their time the Islamic Arabian culture was grown up especially in Andulus (8,9 ) . Ibn Zuhr was the nickname of the family and Zuhr Al-Iyadi was the highest grand father of it . He was the father of Marwan ,who was the father of Abu Bakr Muhammad , a famous jurist consult and died at Talabira (Talavera ) in 422/ 1030-1( 10,11 ).

Banu-Zuhr physicians
The family name had become famous during the fifth and the sixth AH (the twelfth and thirteenth) centuries and had given six successive generations of physicians and two doctor women, the sister of Abu Baker Muhammad ( Al-Hafid ) and her daughter they have good knowledge in women diseases (1,12) . Ibn Khalikan said that the members of this family had reached high ranks in the entourages of princes and were ''al ulama (scholars) ,ruasa( chiefs), hukama (wise men) '' and wiziers (ministers) (9).
1- Abu Marwan 'Abd Al Malik B.zuhr
Abu Marwan 'Abd Al Malik B. Muhammad B. Marwan B. Zuhr Al-Iyadi had came from Seville.His own interests were in the study of the different types of sciences especially Islamic sciences ( Kur'an and fikh ) following his father's steps (12,13). Ibn Khallikan , stated that he had first went to East , as far as Bagdad then stopped in the way back in Egypt and at Kayrawan ,where he spent along time studying medicine(9 ). Ibn al Abbar, said that Abu Marwan had became a famous and excellent physician. Upon returning to Spain, he settled at Daniya (Denia), where he was welcomed by Mudjahid , who was reigning there at that time and his fame had spread to all the provinces in the peninsula( 8). Ibn Abi Usayabi'a related that he held un­orthodox opinions ( ara' shadhdha) in medicine.For instance he forbade hot baths (hammam) because they had a poisonous action (ya'fin al-adjsam) and beacause they interfered with the composition of the humours (1,13 ) . He died at Denia, according to Ibn al Abbar and Ibn Khallikan at Seville,in about 470 AH/1078 AD (8,9) .But his name had remained because he was considered the founder of a famous medical school in Andulus and his grandson (Hafid )had mentioned this point (14) .
2- Abu 'L-'ALA ' Zuhr B.Zuhr
Abu 'L-'ALA ' Zuhr B. 'Abd Al-Malik B. Muhammad , generally known by the mediaeval western scholars by his nickname (kunya) :Aboali, Abuleli, Ebilule, or followed by Zuhr: Abulelizor, Albuleizor (12,13). He was Born in Sevi!!e, he went to Cordova to learn in the Great Mosque under the supervision of Abu 'Ali al Gassani who advised him to study the science of "hadith' (al-hadith al-musalsal fi ' l-akhdh bi ' l-yad). with Abu Bakr ibn Mufawwaz and Abu Dja'far ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz. He had received a thorough education (8,9).

Abu 'l-'Ala' was also distinguished in belles lettres (adab) like al-Hariri, the author of the Mak'am'at ,but he had a predilection for medicine (3) . While he was still quite young, during the reign of al-Mu'tadid, the "Abbadid ruler of Seville (433-60 AH / 1042-68 AD) he had learned this art from his father (1) . Al-Mu'tamid Ibn 'Abbad gave him patronage .He was also supported by Almoravid Yusuf b. Tashfin the master of the country in 484 AH /1091AD (8,13).

Abu 'l-'Ala^ died at Cordova in 525 AH/1130 AD, from a naghla, " a senile wart turned malignant". Ibn Abi Usaybia mentioned that this was the name given in Spain to a dubayla ) . Abu 'I-'Ala' was buried in Seville (1,9).

In general his books , essay , letters which were written to his son ,who became later a famous physician ,or discussions of some opinions of other doctors which means that Abu Ala had wide knowledge (1,14). But Ibn Abi Usaybi'a mentioned nine books and treatises (articles )only ,two of them are devoted to medical observations (mudiarrabat) . Some of this writing are :

1- (K. al- Khaw'ass ) The book about the prop­erties of drugs .It had many names G.Sarton called it (Khaw'ass aI-Adwiya ,Broklmann called it "Majeriat al- Khaw'ass ) .for this book there are many copies in libraries (Tunnis ,No ,2867/4; Vinnea ,No 1460 ; Alskerial ,No 844 ; Camberidge ,Podelliat No 626 ; Wistberge ,No 1220 , and also in Wimborre ,India ) (13-14).

2-( K. aI-Adwiya al-mufrada ) the book of simple medicaments (8).

3- (K. al-Id'ah bi-shawahid al-iftid'ah ) the libel against Ibn Ridwan (d. 460/1068) and his refutation of the "Book of introduction to medicine" of Hunayn b- Ish'ak (1,3).

4 (K. Hall shuk'ak al-Razi 'ala kutub Djalinus ) "Solution of the doubts of al-Razi concerning the books of Galen (1).

5-"Treatise refuting Avicenna" on some passages in his "Book of simple medicaments" (Makala fi ' l-radd 'a/a Abi 'Ali Ibn Sina' ) (1).

6- Risala of Ya'kub b. Ishak al-Kindi on the composition of medicaments "(Makala fi bastihi li-risalat…al-Kindi fi tarkib al-adwiya ) (1).

7-. (mudiarrabat) was a book of medical observations about drugs writings during his life. Its copies in Paris No 1960 National library .Its name means a group of drugs , that Abu Ala used and proved their effect and benefit in treatment .(1,14)

8- (mudiarrabat) ,Ali Bin Tashfin collected it from different parts after death of Abu Ala .it differs from that written during his life (14).

9- (K. al-Nukat al-tibbiyya ) , The book of delicate medical questions" which G. Colin considered to indicate the work which he had edited under the title of Tadhkira (1)

10-( ) ;it is a brief treatise, written for his son abu Marwan, in which each nukta (point)is introduced by tadhakkar (a reminder ) . It consisted of clinical observations and practical points and his experience in diagnosis and treatment diseases through his life .It was translated to French by Gabril Colin in 1911.A copy is in Paris ,No.1960 and in Askerbal in Aspania No 839 .The reason why is called Tadhkira ( Reminder ),because it consist of many chapter each started with word Tadhkir (remember ) and was ended with (I complete Tadhkira ) asking his son .

11- (K.Jham'a Asrar Al-tibb )found in national library in Rabbat (14)

12- (K.Jamaa Al-Fowaad Al-Mauntakhabah min Al-Khauas Al-Majirabah ),in Istanbul No. 2068 (14)

13- (K.Mastahalat ),mean introductions but no copy available.(15)

14- (K.Najaa Al-Najaa ) no copy available. .(15)

15-Essay ,for kidny diseases (13)

16- (K. Tarar) no copy available .(8)

Ibn Abi Usiybi'a said Abu 'l-'Ala' as a physician , had a wide knowledge , he diagnosed the state of his patients merely by examining the urine and taking the pulse (1,9). He probably did so in order to emphasize his great experience. In fact, if this report is true, it should be pointed out that Abu 'l-'Ala' was wrong to abandon the method which had become part of Arab medical practice and consisted of finding out about the patient's conditions under which he lived. Also he reported that Abu 'l-'Ala' used for his treatment some "extraordinary" medicines (nawadir ) which mean either that they were rare or that they were wonderfully efficacious (3,14).

Qanaon of Avicenna was introduced in the West during Abu 'l-'Ala' life when a merchant came from 'Iraq'' offered him a copy .G Colin pointed out ,that though he might not have agree with Avicenna on every point, yet he did not consider him entirely worthless, since he took the trouble to refute his book on simple medicaments (1,9). Abu 'l-'Ala' ,like other Arab physicians, depended on the Galinos In the field of medicine basing on that humours(Alkhalat ) theory which said that the world is consisted of four elements (water, earth, air and fire ) and stating that for each one there are characteristics (water is wet , Air is dry , earth is cold , fire is hot ) .Mixing these elements resulted in four humours (Alkhalat ) in the body ( Blood , Balkham ,Alsafrah and saoda ) .He showed the errors of attempting to restore the equilibrium of the humours by administration the remedy in great doses and thus setting off a reaction in the opposite direction .In this book he also mentioned the responsibility of a doctor toward the patient and his feelings especially during giving poisonous drugs and the dangers for these drugs (12 ).
3- Abu Marwan 'Abd al-Malik B. Zuhr
Abu Marwan 'Abd al-Malik B.Abi 'L-'Ala' Zuhr , is usually referred to under the name of 'Abu Marwan Ibn Zuhr (the Abu Marwan Avenzar of the mediaeval west ) , He was born in Seville. His biographers did not give his date of birth but, from various indication ,G. Colin placed it in about 484-7 AH / I092-5 AD (1,16) . He died at Seville in 557 AH / 1161AD. He was one of the greatest physicians, clinicians and parasitologists of the Middle Ages. Some historians had declared him as the greatest among the Muslim physicians since Al-Razi (Rhazes) of Baghdad. Some called him as the greatest physician since Galen (1-4).

Abu Marwan learned medicine from his father , Abu 'L-'ALA and had received also a solid literary and judicial education (13). He did not seem to had traveled to the East ,but he certainly went to North Africa. He was in the service of the " Almoravid dynasty and received wealth and favours from its rulers . In 535 AH /1140 AD ,he was in prison at Marrakush, which was in the power of Ibrahm's brother, 'Ali b. Yusuf b. Tashfin . The reason for this disgrace is not known, but Abu Marwan, in his Taysir, refers to this ruler as "Ali the wretch". During the Almohad period , 'Abd al-Mu'min took him into his personal service and "had confidence in him in medical matters" and he was appointed wizier "minister"( 12,13). Ibn Rushd became his friend ( but was not his student ) and it seems that they studied some subjects together and collaborated to a certain extent. Abu Marwan died from naghla , the same disease as his father (12).

According to Ibn Abi Usaybi'a , Abu Marwan wrote six works (1);

1- K.Taysir fi 'l-muddwaiwa'' l-tudbir ( ''practical manual of treatments and diets '' ) ,at the request of Ibn Rushd (Averroes (1,13)

2- Aghdhiya ("Book of foods");(1,3)

3- K. ul Zina ("Book of embellishment ", written for his son Abu Bakr ) (1)

4- K.Makala fi ' ital al-kuta ("Treatise on diseases of kidney ") (1)

5- Risala fi' Illatay at baraswa ' l-bahak (letter to a doctor in Seville on white leprosy ,or vitiligo , and pityriasis ).(1)

6- I ktisad fi islah al-anfus wa 'l- adjsadd K.Al-Aktasad , he wrote for Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf b. Tashfin rule .This book was consisted of seven essays but G.Sarton said they were 15 chapters and were concerned with concerning the reformation of souls and the bodies. They considered the enumeration of the three souls : the rational in the brain; the animal in the heart; the natural in the liver .The two last are normally subordinated to the first . It contained a lot of information about beautician, cosmetic art and a major part for psychiatry and psychopathic disorders. He also mentioned time for feeding ,sleeping ,bathing and sport benefits . Found in National library in Paris ,No.2959;Askerbal liberary ,No.834.(1,3,13).

Of these six works K. al-Iktisad , which dates from 515/1121; the Taysir, written between 1121 and 1162; and the "Book of foods" (between 1130 and 1162).( 1).

To this list we can add the'(K.aTadhkura , for his son Abu Baker . G.Colin thinks that Ibn Abi Usaybia must have attributed this work to Abu Marwan in error , which was really for Abu ' I-'Ala ; K.Masbah Al-Shaffah ; K.Asharabah wa Majin lima yahdath fi Al Abdan; Dissertation for Hony better than sugar; AlKannon Al-Maktathib; Short Kattab Helat Al-Mabriaa li Galinos )(14,15)}

Abu Marwan, As a physician ,is one of medieval Islamic famous thinkers and the greatest medical clini­cians and practical man, he disliked medical speculation ;for that reason, he opposed the teaching of the Persian physician Avicenna. He belonged, in many aspects, to the Dogmatists or Rational School, rather than to the Empirics (1,13). Abu Marwan stresses the value of experiment . His observations lead him to some original views: a description of mediastinal tumors ((al-awram allati tahduthu fi ' L-ghisha ' alladhi yaksim al-sadr ) , pericardial abscesses (awram ghisha' al- kalb ), which he was the first to describe . Also inter­esting he wrote on in intestinal erosions (sahdi) , paralysis of the pharynx and inflammation of the middle ear. He was one of the first to recommend tracheotomy, and artificial feeding via the esophagus or the rectum (16). He described the agent of the scabies (sarcoptes scabiei), and he was among the first, though not actually the first , to do so as been pointed out by G. Sartoon, he was preceded in this by Ahmad al- Tabari (second half of the 4th AH / 10th AD )(2-4). Ibn Abi Usaybi'a related Several anecdotes to illustrate Abu Marwan's skill and perspicacity . He succeeded in admin­istering a purgative to Abd al-Mumin, who was averse to this treatment, by making him eat some grapes picked from a vine which had watered with water mixed with purgative drugs .Another anecdote when he cured a man who had an enormous belly and had intestinal trouble by pointing out that he drank water from a ewer of doubtful cleanliness; he broke the ewer and there was seen to emerge from it a frog which had slid in and grown fat there and was the cause of the ill­ness (1). Ibn Rushd wrote in his Colliget that for anyone wishing to study the treatises on therapeutics (kananish), the best of all was to study the Taysir .

4- Abu Bakr' Muhammad B.Zuhr
Abu Bakr 'Muhammad B.'Abd al- Malik b. Zuhr al-Hafid ("the grandson"), born in Seville in 504/1110-11 (or 507), d. 595 / 1198-9 ( 1,8).He learned the Kur'an by heart, and studied traditions and Arabic language and literature. He had read with 'Abd al-Malik al-Badii the Mudawwana, of Sahnun on the doctrine of Malik and the Musuad , of Ibn Abi Shayba. He received his medical education from his father , Abu Marwan and became a distinguished physician . He was also a poet, famous for his (muwashshahat ) (16) . Ibn Abi Usaybi'a described him as a man of physical moral and intellectual accomplishments (1). The caliph Ya'kub al-Mansur who summoned him to Africa as his personal physician. When this ruler' decided to have all books of logic and philosophy destroyed, he allowed Abu Bakr to retain the works which were his own personal property. But Ibn Abi Usaybi'a, mentioned an anecdote which may be sum­marized that Abu Bakr had discovered two of his students possessed a book of logic; he was angry and confiscated the book. But later, when he had completed the medical education of the two students, he directed them to study carefully the religious sciences, and it was only after this that he returned to them their book of logic, with remark : "Now you are equipped to read this book and others like it" (1).The wizier Abu Zayd 'Abd al-Rahman b. Yudian, a jealous and spiteful man, had him poisoned. Ibn Abi Usaybi'a and Ibn Khallikan have preserved a number of his poems, for which he had been as famous as for his medical skill. He wrote a treatise on (ophthal­mology ; Eithah fi Altaab ; Herbal medicin ; Idwah Al-Marakabah ) (1,9).

5- Abu Muhammad 'Abd Allah B.Zuhr.
Abu Muhammad 'Abd Allah B. al-Hafid, was born at Seville in 577/1181-2, and died poisoned at Sale in 602/1205-6, at the age of twenty-five like his father, Abu Bakr. His body was later taken to Seville and buried beside his ancestors at the Gate of Victory. He had learned medicine from his father and he also had been initiated into the secrets of medical practice. Also with his father, he had studied the Kitab al-Nabat of Abu Hanifa al-Dinawari. He was attached to the service of caliph al-Nasir b. al-Mansur. On his death, he left two sons, who both lived at Seville and one of them became a physician (12,14).
6- Abu 'l-'Ala' Muhammad B.Zuhr
Abu 'l-'Ala' Muhammad, The younger, Abu 'l-'Ala' Muhammad, studied the works of Galen and became a famous physician . The above 5th and 6th physicians have no books mentioned by the historians (12,14).
Beside the above famous physicians in the Banu zuhr family two women had appeared a sister of Abu Baker Muhammad ( Al-Hafid ) and her daughter who died , poisoned in the same way of Al-Hafid. They had good knowledge in women dieases and labour art (3,14).

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3-Al-Samarrae K. A concise history of Arabic medicine .Baghdad ,Ministry of Education and information , Vol. 2,1985 .

4-Amin A. Khairallah. Outline of Arabic contribution to medicine and allied sciences. American Press, Beirut 1946.

5- Guthrie DA .History of medicine .London Edinburgh ,Thomas Nelson & Sons LTD.1945,p84-96.

6- Garrison FH .An Introduction to the history of medicine .4th ed. .Philadelphia and London ,W.B. Sauders Co,1967.

7-Campbell D . Arabian medicine and its influence in the Middle Ages . London 2 Vol. , 1926.

8- Ibn al-Abbar, "Kitab al-Takmila li-kitab al-sila .. Codera Bulletin 2 Vols. Madrid 1886.

9- Ibn Khallikan, "Wafayat al-a' yan , Ahsan Abbas . Beirut, 8 Vols. .Dar Al Thakafah 1968-1972 .

10-Ibn Dahiah Al- Kalabi. Al- Mattrib fi Ash'aar Ahil-Al-Magrib ed by Ibrahim Al-Ibiarey .Cario, Education Ministry ,1954.

11 -Saad al-Andalusi . Tabakat al- Ammam .Beirut ,1912.

12-Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol 3,Leiden,London .EJ Brill, Luzacand Co. 1971,P.976-979 .

13-Ibn Zuhr,Kitab al-Taysir fi Al-mudawat Wal-Tadbir ,ed. by Michel al-Khoury .Damascus :dar al-Fiker , 1983 .

14- Abbas K.H . Banu Zuhr in Andalus ,their scholarly role and their social and political status. Basra University ,Iraq , MSc thesis in Islamic history .1988.

15- Al-Manjid S.A. New references in the history of Arabian medicine .Journal of manuscripts Arabian ,Vol.5 No. 2 ,1959 ,p259 .

16-Encyclopaedia Britannica . Chicago, Toronto, London ,Helen Helen Hemingway Benton,1975,p .274 .

5- El-Rooby A. Lectures in the History of Arabian medicine .Al-Raith Dar Al- Marikh ,1988.

18-Browne E. Arabian medicine . ed By Daawod Salman Ali . Baghdad ,Al A'ni Press,1964.

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