ALI IBN RABBAN AL-TABARI (838 - 870 C.E.)
Al-Tabari was the teacher of the distinguished physician
Zakariya al-Razi (Rhazes). Ali Ibn Rabban Al-Tabari
was born in 838 C.E. He was also known as Abu al-Hasan.
Al-Tabari is most famous for his world-renowned medical
treatise 'Firdous al-Hikmat.' Besides the medical science,
he was also an accomplished Philosopher, Mathematician
and Astronomer. He died in 870 C.E.
Ali Ibn Rabbans parents belonged to the city
of Marv (Tabristan). His father Sahl belonged to a respectable
family and his compatriots called him as Rattan
a high title of respect meaning my leader.
His father was a very successful and accomplished physician
and was known for his work in the art of calligraphy.
He was well learned in Astronomy, Philosophy, Mathematics
and Literature. His father wrote a scholarly commentary
on Batlemus's book Al-Mijasti, expounding some of the
finer points that were not understood well by previous
Ali Al-Tabari received education in Medical sciences
and calligraphy from his father Sahl. He attained competence
in these fields at an early age. In addition, he also
mastered Syriac and Greek languages.
Al-Tabaris world-renowned seven-volume treatise
Firdous al-Hikmat is the first Medical encyclopedia
that incorporates several branches of medical science.
This work was translated and published for the first
time in the twentieth century. Prior to this publication,
only five of his original manuscripts were found in
libraries of the West. Dr. M.Z. Siddiqui has recently
edited all volumes of Firdous al-Hikmat. In the Preface,
Dr. Siddiqui has provided very useful information regarding
this encyclopedia and Al-Tabari. Where necessary, he
has added explanatory notes to facilitate understanding
of this work. Firdous al-Hikmat was published later
also in the Western Europe. The seven volumes contain
Volume One: Kulliyat-e-Tibb. This volume discusses
contemporary knowledge of medical science.
Volume Two: Elucidation of the organs of the human
body, rules for keeping good health, and comprehensive
account of certain muscular diseases.
Volume Three: Discussion and prescription of diet for
good health and prevention of diseases.
Volume Four: Discussion of all diseases from head to
toe. This volume is most valuable of the seven volumes.
It is the largest volume and is nearly half the size
of the encyclopedia. Volume four is divided into twelve
1. General causes relating to eruption of diseases;
2. Diseases of the head and the brain;
3. Diseases relating to the eye, nose, ear, mouth and
4. Muscular diseases (paralysis and spasm);
5. Diseases of the regions of the chest, throat and
6. Diseases of the abdomen;
7. Diseases of the liver;
8. Diseases of gallbladder and spleen;
9. Intestinal diseases;
10. Different kinds of fever;
11. Miscellaneous diseases - includes a brief explanation
of organs of the body;
12. Examination of pulse and urine;
Volume Five: Flavor, taste and color.
Volume Six: Drugs and Poison.
Volume Seven: Miscellaneous topics on health care.
It includes a discussion of climate and astronomy, and
a brief review of Indian medicine.
Al-Tabari wrote Firdous al-Hikmat in Arabic and also
translated it into Syriac. He wrote two more works,
Deen-e-Doulat and Hifz al-Shehhat. The Oxford University
library has the latter manuscript.