History: Islamic medical science

Al-Razi in "Kitab Hasbbbati wa Judariy" showed the differences between
measles and small-pox. As a result, the Muslims in Turkey began vaccination
for small-pox in 1679 AD. The Europeans gained this knowledge in the 18th
century through Lady Montague, who was the wife of the British Ambassador in
Turkey - and then the Europeans began vaccinations.

Ala al-Din al-Qurashi of Damascus explained the theory of the circulation of
the blood, 300 years before Sir William Harvey.

Al-Jurjani in "Dhakhira-i-Khawarazm-shalh" described the differences between
exophthalmos and goitre, 600 years before Dr. Parry (1825 AD)

Abu Hasan, the physician of Adud al Dawla, was the first who introduced the
process of bleeding as a treatment for cerebral haemorrhage, which is often
due to high blood pressure.

Serefeddin Oglu was the first who tested a theriaca by giving it to a
chicken, before giving it to a patient.

Abu Qasim al Zahrawi (10th century AD) explained that the injury on the
medulla or spinal cord causes paralysis.

Burhan al-Din  in "Sharh al Asbab" was the first to state that blood
contains sugar.

Ibn Khatima (1369 AD) was the first to observe that mankind is surrounded by
minute bodies which enter the human body i.e. aware of the theory of germs.

Ibn al-Khatib was the first who explained the existence of contiguity in

Muslim physicians were the first to use a stomach tube to perform gastric
lavage in cases of poisoning i.e. familiar with bthe principles of
opotherapy; centuries before the concept was attributed to Dr Sequard.

Baha al-Dawla recorded whooping cough for the firsttime in 1507 AD,
Europeans discovered it centuries later.

al-Tabari was the first person who declared tuberculosis as ifiltration and
explaied that it affects not only the lugs but other organs as well.

Najbul Di al-Samarqandi discovered what was latere terms as Brights disease,
centuries before Dr. Bright discovered it.

al-Hasan al-Qamari in "Ghina wa Muna" discovered the cause and effects of
ghonorrhoea, centuries before it was documented by the Europeans.

Abu Wasim al Zanrawi (10th cetury AD) invented several surgical instruments
which he illustrated in his book "al-Tasrif"

Serefeddin Oglu (15th century AD) not only used al-Tasrif but he supplemeted
the text with illustrations of operations which he conducted.

Ibn Zuhr (11th century AD) in "Kitab al Taysir" gave a full description of
the operation of tracheotomy.

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) was the first man who suggested the treatment of
lachrymal fitsula and introduced a medical probe for the channel.

al-Razi was the first man to introduce the use of alcohol for medical

The muslims were the first to use anaesthesia for unconciousness in surgical
operations. For major operations they used to keep the patient unconcious,
in some cases, upto seven days.

al-Razi was the first man to give an account of the operation for the
extraction of cataract and describe the pupil reflex of light.

al-Ashab explained in the chapter relating to the cataract the full
description of eye diseases.

Baha al-Dawla records that the operation of peritoneal cavity and used the
method of Trocar and Canula for the special drainage was done by Muslims.
Later this method was adopted by Fowler and Potin.

Abu Qasim al Zahrawi in "Kitab al Tasrif" was the first who described the
Walcher's position. He invented the method of cranioclasty for the delivery
of the dead foetus.

A book in the library of Edinburgh University, "al-Atharu l Baqiya"
illustrates a Muslimphysician perorminbg the caeserian section.

Jurji Zaydan in "Tarikh al Tamaddun al Islami (Vol III)" has a chapter which
describes the Muslims to be the first to use cauterization agents in
surgery, the treatment for epedemic jaundice, the conditions of
tuberculosis, small quantiies ofopium as a treatment of mania, the method of
lithotomy.... and Qusta bin Luqa's book on sudden death was of great value.

Muslims were the first to find the pharmacology of rhubarb, camphor and

Muslims were the first who practised the use of hyoscyamus in medicine.

al-Razi invented the mercury ointment.

Ibn al-Baytar in "al Mufradat" described the effects of 1,400 herbs.

Sabur ibn Sahl was the first man who initiated pharmacopoeia (a standard
e.g. you can only say a drug contains 500g of paracetamol if it has between
499.9 and 500.1 - this standardisation of process revolutionised the

Muslims were the first to explain perculation, sublimation, distillation,
crystallization, and melting.

Muslims were the first to prepare composition such as Nitric Acid, Sulphuric
Acid, Nitro Hydroxide Acid, Ferri Sulphas, Liquor Amonia, Mercury Chlorides,
Mercury Oxide and Potassium Nitrate.

"Kitab al Adwiya" a book on Dioscorides is an authority on the research
activities of Muslim schientists. It was first translated by Stephen ibn
Basil during the rule of reign of al-Mutawakkil with a revision by Hunayn
ibn Ishaq.

Ibn Zuhr of Spain was one who supported the position of defensive powers,
i.e. that the real physician was the natural defensive power of the body and
a physicia's duty was to render assistance to it.

In "Tabaqat al-Atibba" al-Razi is cited to have said that for an individual
to reach the status of doctor he had to first be fully familiar with the old
and new medical literature, but also, he had to have worked as a student in
a hospital. Without these two qualities an individual would not be given the
status of doctor. This methodology was later adopted by hospitals in Italy
and France.

Ibrahim ibn Baks was a regular lecturer in Adud al-Dawla's hospital. The
pupils of al-Razi visited the patients in the hospital of Ray. There existed
a Sicentific Association which had been formed in the hospital of
Mayyafariqin to discuss the conditions ad diseases of the patients. Zahid
al-Ulama was the irector of that association. As a result, clinical
observations were started. The recording of the coditions of patients and
the curing methods was regularly done. Al-Hawi and Kitab al-Fakhir by
al-Razi and Kitab al Fusul al Muhimma contain a full description of such
cliical observations and treatments.

[Ref: Professor H Nayyar Wasiti in Muslim Cotribution to Science, ch 15
'Muslim contribution to Medicine', p 191-203, abridged]

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