Sultans of Science - Great Muslim medical minds
Al-Razi (860 - 932) was known as the father of paediatrics
The first of the great Muslim physicians was al-Razi, a Persian polymath and physician from Iran, who was best known for his 20-volume 'Comprehensive Book of Medicine'. This textbook, respected and frequently used in the Western World, presented insights from hundreds of his clinical cases and provided groundbreaking information on diseases like measles and smallpox. He was known as the father of paediatrics, and was the first physician to introduce urine analysis and stool tests.
Al-Zahrawi (963 - 1013) was known for laying the foundation to practical medicine and surgery
One of the greatest surgeons of the Islamic Golden Age was al-Zahrawi from Córdoba, Spain. He devoted his life and genius to the advancement of medicine. His best work, the Kitab al-tasrif, established the rules of practical medicine and served as a fundamental textbook for centuries to come. Al-Zahrawi revolutionized surgery by introducing new surgical procedures and over two hundred surgical instruments, many of which are still in use today.
His list of firsts includes the introduction of catgut for internal stitching, small catgut parcels for administering oral drugs, the use of soporific sponges as an early form of anesthesia, the use of pure alcohol as an antiseptic in wounds, the use of bone to replace lost teeth, the use of cotton to control bleeding, and the use of plaster casts for bone setting.
Ibn Sina (980 - 1037) was known for his prolific medical writings and the delayed splintage of bone fractures
Born in Afshana, now Uzbekistan, Ibn Sina was also known as Avicenna in the West. He was a world-renowned philosopher, physician and teacher. During his life he composed over 250 medical publications. He wrote the Canon, the most famous medical textbook ever written, and the most widely used medical book in both Muslim and European countries. It has recently been rated as one of the 50 most influential books ever written. The Canon was made up of five books and discussed the general principles and materials of medicine, general diseases and diseases related to particular parts of the body, traumatic injuries, like fractures and dislocations, and recipes for remedies.
In his writing on fractures, Ibn Sina noted that a fracture should not be splinted immediately, but rather on the fifth day. The discovery of ‘delayed splintage’ is generally attributed to a 19th century Western medical scientist, George Perkins.
Al-Mawsili (10th century) was known for his hollow needle used to remove cataracts
Al-Mawsili, an ophthalmologist from 10th century Iraq, designed a hollow needle to remove a cataract by suction, an operation that is still carried out today. He also wrote the Book of Choices in the Treatment of Eye Diseases, in which he discussed 48 diseases.
Ali ibn Isa (10th century) was the most famous Muslim opthalmologist
The most famous of all the Muslim ophthalmologists was Ali ibn Isa, also from 10th century Baghdad, Iraq. He wrote the Notebook of the Oculist, the most complete and authoritative textbook on ophthalmology for centuries, describing 130 eye diseases.
Ibn Zuhr (1091 - 1161) was known for experimental surgery, dissection and autopsy
Ibn Zuhr, born in Seville, Spain, came from a family of five generations of physicians. In his most famous work, Al-Taisir, he introduced the experimental method to surgery. He was the first physician to employ animal testing to experiment with surgical procedures before applying them to human patients, and he was one of the first to perform dissections and postmortem autopsies on humans and animals.
Ibn Nafis (1210 - 1288 CE) was known for his breakthrough description of pulmonary blood circulation
Ibn Nafis, a Muslim scholar born in Damascus, Syria, is recognized as one of the greatest physicians of his time for his breakthrough description of the functioning of the pulmonary blood circulation system from the heart to the lungs. The first European to describe the pulmonary circulation was William Harvey of England in 1628. It was only in 1957 that Ibn Nafis was accredited with the discovery. He also described the earliest concept of metabolism, and developed new systems of anatomy, physiology and psychology.