How Medieval Muslim Scientists Revolutionised Medicine

Statue of Avicenna - Ibn Sina in turkey, honour to great physician
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In Islam, knowledge is one of the most cherished attributes of a believer. The first five verses of Islam are about reading and knowledge, they go thus:

“Read in the name of your Lord Who created. He created man from a clot. Read and your Lord is the Most Honorable. Who taught by the pen. Taught man what he knew not.” (Qur’an 96:1-5).

If there was any generation of Muslims that took the pursuit of knowledge very seriously, it will be those of the 8th to 13th centuries C.E. Also called the Golden Age of Islam, this was a period of immense contribution to all fields of intellectual endeavours by Muslim scientists. Medicine happens to be one area where they had very remarkable contributions.

During this period, Islamic medicine blossomed and recorded unbelievably sophisticated developments. These advancements were so revolutionary that they redefined the practice and education of medicine all over Europe. These Muslim scholars employed a unique and brilliant approach to their pursuit of knowledge. They compiled and did extensive elaboration on the knowledge that they gathered from far and wide while adding their understanding and experience to the field of study.

At this stage, it will only be good to mention these outstanding Muslim scientists who changed the face of medicine forever. There is the legendary Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al-Razi (also known as Rhazes or Al-Razi) who was the first person to make use of the humoral theory to classify contagious disease but that was not all. He also wrote an advanced book on measles and smallpox in which he detailed all the clinical manifestations of the diseases. He is generally considered to be one of the most original and greatest of all the early Muslim physicians.

Besides, there was Ibn Zuhr (also known as Avenzoar) and in his era, there was no better surgeon. He is known for steadfast contributions to surgery and as a pioneer in this field, he was the first to conduct an experimental tracheotomy using a goat as a subject. Tracheotomy is now a standard procedure in medicine, saving the lives of millions.

Another early Muslim scientist who must be mentioned is Ibn Sina (well known as Avicenna). This genius of a scholar wrote a groundbreaking medical encyclopaedia titled The Canon of Medicine. This volume was so good and detailed that it was in use as the approved medical text in many medical schools for about 700 years.

There are also others like Abu al-Qasim al Zahrawi al-Ansari (who is better known as Albucasis or Al-Zahrawi). He has been called the father of surgery and one of his lasting works is the Kitab al-Tasrif, which is an encyclopedia of thirty volumes on the practices of medicine. The book was used all over Europe for half a millennium. He specifically used instructions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) while doing his works.

There are a lot more early Muslim scientists who also changed one aspect of medicine or the other. What their stories tell us is that as long as Muslims adhere to the commandment of Allah (SWT) and pursue knowledge for the benefit of humanity with the fear of Almighty Allah (SWT), success will be ours. May Allah (SWT) make our affairs easy always, aameen.