The course that we give here has the title Islamic Medicine.
It is the account of a medical system which was introduced into Arab countries in the ninth century a.d. and was practiced throughout the Middle Ages and right up to modern times. This system is also widely known under the term 'Arabian Medicine'. But many doctors, among them some of the most outstanding like ar-Razi (Rhazes), al-Majiisi (Haly Abbas) and Ibn-Sina (Avicenna), were Persians, not Arabs. To be sure, they wrote their scientific works chiefly in Arabic. On the other hand, there were many doctors who were Christians, like Hunayn ibn-Is'haq, or Jews, like Maimonides. But their religious allegiance is in this context just as less relevant as their ethnic origins. All these scholars lived within the sphere of Islamic culture and have helped in a most enduring way to shape this culture and to give it its particular stamp. So when we talk of 'Islamic Medicine', we are including Islam as a cultural force; we are looking at a culture which has absorbed many different currents within itself and integrated and developed them.
'Islamic medicine' did not grow on Arab soil, rather it grew in the caliphates. Rather it is the medicine of later Greek antiquity, following Galen, which was formulated in the Arabic language in the South and West of the Mediterranean from the ninth century a.d. The crossing of the language barrier has left the contents almost completely unchanged. Medicine, along with philosophy, mathematics, astronomy and astrology, not to mention zoology and alchemy (chemistry), geography and technology, belongs to those disciplines which have Hellenized the Arab-Islamic world. The Hellenization which then took place was one of the great universal historical movements, whose effects are felt to this day. In the field of medicine, the historical traditions has preserved for us a vast number of sources but by far the largest part of these sources has not yet been edited nor appreciated. Even today we return to the epic two-volume work "Histoire de la Medecine Arabe" by Lucien Leclerc (Paris, 1876). Leclerc aimed at writing the complete history of Arabic medicine so as to show its origins, its character, its institutions, its development and its decay.
Islamic medicine preserved, systematized and developed the medical knowledge of classical antiquity, including the major traditions of Hippocrates, Galen and Dioscorides. During the post-classical era, Islamic medicine was the most advanced in the world, integrating concepts of ancient Greek, Roman and Persian medicine as well as the ancient Indian tradition of Ayurveda, while making numerous advances and innovations. Islamic medicine, along with knowledge of classical medicine, was later adopted in the medieval medicine of Western Europe, after European physicians became familiar with Islamic medical authors during the Renaissance of the 12th century.
Medieval Islamic physicians largely retained their authority until the rise of medicine as a part of the natural sciences, beginning with the Age of Enlightenment, nearly six hundred years after their textbooks were opened by many people. Aspects of their writings remain of interest to physicians even today.This is a short, synoptic course, comprising 7 audio lectures, written Lessons and supplements. 25 clock hours.