According to historical evidence, we can find that Islamic doctors were far more advanced in science and medicine than Europe during the middle ages. The medieval Muslim doctors were greatly influenced by many people such as the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), philosophers such as Hippocrates and Galen, as well as Indian physicians. All of these people were thought to be renaissance men in the West. Furthermore, they were considered “Polymaths”, possessing great knowledge in arts, science, calligraphy etc. Let’s read more to learn about the discoveries and innovations regarding medicine in Islam.
Following the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) departed from Makkah to Madinah in the year 622 AD. This marked the start of the Islamic calendar. Nearly 2 centuries later the Caliphs or Khalifas who were the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s worthy successors had moved their domain towards South Asia and Europe. Moreover, Arabian medicine started to spread with the message of Islam but Arabian rulers were keen on gaining the wisdom of other countries as well. By doing so, they sought to know more about philosophy, technology, and medicine. Thereby, they lay claim to knowledge which was called “ the science of the ancients.”
Ibn Sina (980 – 1037)
Ibn Sina, also known as Avicenna in the west, was arguably the most famous Islamic physician of all time. He wrote an encyclopedia called “The Canon of Medicine” which was the primary book of medicine in Europe for 600 years. His beliefs in observation and experimentation got him the success he deserved. Furthermore, it was these traits that helped him discover that tuberculosis was a contagious disease. Additionally, he also discovered meningitis, making him the first physician to do so.
Al-Razi was also known as Rhazes in the west, whose fame was only less than Ibn Sina. He made many medical discoveries such as the fact that smallpox and measles were different diseases. He also opened a hospital in the city of Baghdad where he was the first person to record his patients’ symptoms and case histories. Furthermore, he wrote many famous medicines books, the most famous of them being the “Al-Hawi”.
Al Tabari (838-879)
Al Tabari also wrote an encyclopedia on medicines called “Firdous -e- Hikmat” or “Paradise of Wisdom”. However, it did not receive the praise it deserved as it had not been translated until the 21st century. It has every known cure for every known disease during his time.
Ibn al-Nafis (1213 – 1288)
Ibn al-Nafis was born in Damascus and worked at hospitals in Cairo. He is most well-known for his discoveries of how the circulatory system operates. He believed that blood was transferred to the lungs using pores. This theory was confirmed 400 years later. Furthermore, he was also the first person to define anatomy as its own study.
All in all, these Muslim physicians and scientists lay the foundations of medical studies being conducted to this day. Their discoveries, philosophies and medical achievements were leap years ahead of their time. Therefore, calling them doctors would be an understatement, since these famous physicians were more like medical gurus of their time.