Abu al-Qasim

Abu al-Qasim

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Abu al-Qasim'
Start a new discussion about 'Abu al-Qasim'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas Al-Zahrawi (936–1013), also known in the West
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 as Abulcasis, was an Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 physician
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 who lived in Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

. He is considered the greatest medieval surgeon
Surgeon
In medicine, a surgeon is a specialist in surgery. Surgery is a broad category of invasive medical treatment that involves the cutting of a body, whether human or animal, for a specific reason such as the removal of diseased tissue or to repair a tear or breakage...

 to have appeared from the Islamic World, and has been described by some as the father of modern surgery
Father of modern surgery
Various individuals have advanced the surgical art and, as a result, have been called the father of modern surgery by various sources.-Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi:...

. His greatest contribution to medicine is the Kitab al-Tasrif
Al-Tasrif
The Kitab al-Tasrif was an Arabic encyclopedia on medicine and surgery, written near the year 1000 by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi...

, a thirty-volume encyclopedia of medical practices. His pioneering contributions to the field of surgical procedures and instruments had an enormous impact in the East and West well into the modern period, where some of his discoveries are still applied in medicine to this day.

He was the first physician to describe an ectopic pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy, or eccysis , is a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside the uterine cavity. With rare exceptions, ectopic pregnancies are not viable. Furthermore, they are dangerous for the parent, since internal haemorrhage is a life threatening complication...

, and the first physician to identify the hereditary nature of haemophilia
Haemophilia
Haemophilia is a group of hereditary genetic disorders that impair the body's ability to control blood clotting or coagulation, which is used to stop bleeding when a blood vessel is broken. Haemophilia A is the most common form of the disorder, present in about 1 in 5,000–10,000 male births...

.

Biography


Abū Al-Qāsim was born in the city of El-Zahra
Medina Azahara
Medina Azahara is the ruins of a vast, fortified Arab Muslim medieval palace-city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III al-Nasir, Ummayad Caliph of Córdoba, and located on the western outskirts of Córdoba, Spain. It was an Arab Muslim medieval town and the de-facto capital of al-Andalus, or Muslim Spain, as...

, six miles northwest of Córdoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

, Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

. He was descended from the Ansar
Ansar (Islam)
Ansar is an Islamic term that literally means "helpers" and denotes the Medinan citizens that helped Muhammad and the Muhajirun on the arrival to the city after the migration to Medina...

 Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 tribe who migrated from Hejaz
Hejaz
al-Hejaz, also Hijaz is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. Defined primarily by its western border on the Red Sea, it extends from Haql on the Gulf of Aqaba to Jizan. Its main city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina...

 modern day west Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

  and settled earlier in Spain.
He lived most of his life in Córdoba. It is also where he studied, taught and practiced medicine and surgery until shortly before his death in about 1013, two years after the sacking of El-Zahra.

Few details remain regarding his life, aside from his published work, due to the destruction of El-Zahra during later Castillian-Andalusian conflicts. His name first appears in the writings of Abu Muhammad bin Hazm (993 – 1064), who listed him among the greatest physicians of Moorish Spain. But we have the first detailed biography of al-Zahrawī from al-Ḥumaydī's Jadhwat al-Muqtabis (On Andalusian Savants), completed six decades after al-Zahrawī's death.

He was a contemporary of Andalusian
Andalusian people
The Andalusians are the people of the southern region in Spain approximated by what is now called Andalusia. They are generally not considered an ethnically distinct people because they lack two of the most important markers of distinctiveness: their own language and an awareness of a presumed...

 chemists such as Ibn al-Wafid
Ibn al-Wafid
Ali Ibn al-Husain Ibn al-Wafid , known in Latin Europe as Abenguefit, was a pharmacologist and physician from Toledo. He was the vizier of Al-Mamun of Toledo. His main work is Kitab al-adwiya al-mufrada...

, Maslamah Ibn Ahmad al-Majriti
Maslamah Ibn Ahmad al-Majriti
Maslama al-Majriti or Abu al-Qasim al-Qurtubi al-Majriti was a Muslim astronomer, chemist, mathematician, economist and Scholar in Islamic Spain...

 and Artephius
Artephius
Artephius or or was an independent Alchemist from Al-Andalus, he has been known as the author of numerous works of Alchemical texts, now extant only in Latin...

.

Works


Abū al-Qāsim was a court physician to the Andalusian
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

 caliph Al-Hakam II
Al-Hakam II
Al-Hakam II was the second Caliph of Cordoba, in Al-Andalus , and son of Abd-ar-rahman III . He ruled from 961 to 976....

. He devoted his entire life and genius to the advancement of medicine as a whole and surgery in particular. His best work was the Kitab al-Tasrif
Al-Tasrif
The Kitab al-Tasrif was an Arabic encyclopedia on medicine and surgery, written near the year 1000 by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi...

, discussed below.

Abū al-Qāsim specialized in curing disease by cauterization
Cauterization
The medical practice or technique of cauterization is the burning of part of a body to remove or close off a part of it in a process called cautery, which destroys some tissue, in an attempt to mitigate damage, remove an undesired growth, or minimize other potential medical harmful possibilities...

. He invented several devices used during surgery
Surgical instruments
A surgical instrument is a specially designed tool or device for performing specific actions of carrying out desired effects during a surgery or operation, such as modifying biological tissue, or to provide access for viewing it. Over time, many different kinds of surgical instruments and tools...

, for purposes such as inspection of the interior of the urethra
Urethra
In anatomy, the urethra is a tube that connects the urinary bladder to the genitals for the removal of fluids out of the body. In males, the urethra travels through the penis, and carries semen as well as urine...

, applying and removing foreign bodies from the throat
Throat
In vertebrate anatomy, the throat is the anterior part of the neck, in front of the vertebral column. It consists of the pharynx and larynx...

, inspection of the ear
Ear
The ear is the organ that detects sound. It not only receives sound, but also aids in balance and body position. The ear is part of the auditory system....

, etc. He is also credited to be the first to describe ectopic pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy, or eccysis , is a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside the uterine cavity. With rare exceptions, ectopic pregnancies are not viable. Furthermore, they are dangerous for the parent, since internal haemorrhage is a life threatening complication...

 in 963, in those days a fatal affliction.


Kitab al-Tasrif


Abū al-Qāsim's thirty-chapter medical treatise, Kitab al-Tasrif
Al-Tasrif
The Kitab al-Tasrif was an Arabic encyclopedia on medicine and surgery, written near the year 1000 by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi...

, completed in the year 1000, covered a broad range of medical topics, including dentistry
Dentistry
Dentistry is the branch of medicine that is involved in the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body. Dentistry is widely considered...

 and childbirth
Childbirth
Childbirth is the culmination of a human pregnancy or gestation period with the birth of one or more newborn infants from a woman's uterus...

, which contained data that had accumulated during a career that spanned almost 50 years of training, teaching and practice. In it he also wrote of the importance of a positive doctor-patient relationship
Doctor-patient relationship
The doctor-patient relationship is central to the practice of healthcare and is essential for the delivery of high-quality health care in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The doctor-patient relationship forms one of the foundations of contemporary medical ethics...

 and wrote affectionately of his students, whom he referred to as "my children". He also emphasized the importance of treating patients irrespective of their social status. He encouraged the close observation of individual cases in order to make the most accurate diagnosis and the best possible treatment.

Al-Tasrif
Al-Tasrif
The Kitab al-Tasrif was an Arabic encyclopedia on medicine and surgery, written near the year 1000 by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi...

 was later translated into Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 by Gerard of Cremona
Gerard of Cremona
Gerard of Cremona was an Italian translator of Arabic scientific works found in the abandoned Arab libraries of Toledo, Spain....

 in the 12th century, and illustrated. For perhaps five centuries during the Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, it was the primary source for Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an medical knowledge, and served as a reference for doctors and surgeons.

Not always properly credited, Abū Al-Qāsim's al-Tasrif
Al-Tasrif
The Kitab al-Tasrif was an Arabic encyclopedia on medicine and surgery, written near the year 1000 by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi...

 described both what would later became known as "Kocher's method" for treating a dislocated shoulder and "Walcher position" in obstetrics
Obstetrics
Obstetrics is the medical specialty dealing with the care of all women's reproductive tracts and their children during pregnancy , childbirth and the postnatal period...

. Al-Tasrif described how to ligature blood vessels almost 600 years before Ambroise Paré
Ambroise Paré
Ambroise Paré was a French surgeon. He was the great official royal surgeon for kings Henry II, Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III and is considered as one of the fathers of surgery and modern forensic pathology. He was a leader in surgical techniques and battlefield medicine, especially the...

, and was the first recorded book to document several dental devices and explain the hereditary nature of haemophilia
Haemophilia
Haemophilia is a group of hereditary genetic disorders that impair the body's ability to control blood clotting or coagulation, which is used to stop bleeding when a blood vessel is broken. Haemophilia A is the most common form of the disorder, present in about 1 in 5,000–10,000 male births...

. He was also the first to describe a surgical procedure for ligating the temporal artery for migraine, also almost 600 years before Pare recorded that he had ligated his own temporal artery for headache that conforms to current descriptions of migraine. Abū al-Qāsim was therefore the first to describe the migraine surgery
Migraine surgery
Migraine surgery is any surgical operation undertaken with the goal of reducing or preventing migraines. Innovative surgical techniques have been developed to help patients with migraine headaches. Migraines affect an estimated 10% of the worldwide population annually and cause significant loss of...

 procedure that is enjoying a revival in the 21st century, spearheaded by Elliot Shevel
Elliot Shevel
Elliot Shevel BDS, DipMFOS, MBBCh is a South African Maxillo-Facial and Oral Surgeon, best known for his contribution to understanding of the underlying processes involved in the pain of migraine. He is, inter alia, a tireless campaigner to have the work of Harold Wolff, which many migraine...

 a South African surgeon.

Abū al-Qāsim also described the use of forceps
Forceps
Forceps or forcipes are a handheld, hinged instrument used for grasping and holding objects. Forceps are used when fingers are too large to grasp small objects or when many objects need to be held at one time while the hands are used to perform a task. The term 'forceps' is used almost exclusively...

 in vaginal deliveries. He introduced over 200 surgical instruments
Surgical instruments
A surgical instrument is a specially designed tool or device for performing specific actions of carrying out desired effects during a surgery or operation, such as modifying biological tissue, or to provide access for viewing it. Over time, many different kinds of surgical instruments and tools...

. Many of these instruments were never used before by any previous surgeons. Hamidan, for example, listed at least twenty six innovative surgical instruments that Abulcasis introduced.

His use of catgut
Catgut
Catgut is a type of cord that is prepared from the natural fibre found in the walls of animal intestines. Usually sheep or goat intestines are used, but it is occasionally made from the intestines of cattle, hogs, horses, mules, or donkeys.-Etymology:...

 for internal stitching is still practised in modern surgery. The catgut appears to be the only natural substance capable of dissolving and is acceptable by the body. Abū al-Qāsim also invented the forceps for extracting a dead fetus
Fetus
A fetus is a developing mammal or other viviparous vertebrate after the embryonic stage and before birth.In humans, the fetal stage of prenatal development starts at the beginning of the 11th week in gestational age, which is the 9th week after fertilization.-Etymology and spelling variations:The...

, as illustrated in the Al-Tasrif
Al-Tasrif
The Kitab al-Tasrif was an Arabic encyclopedia on medicine and surgery, written near the year 1000 by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi...

.

Liber Servitoris


In pharmacy
Pharmacy
Pharmacy is the health profession that links the health sciences with the chemical sciences and it is charged with ensuring the safe and effective use of pharmaceutical drugs...

 and pharmacology
Pharmacology
Pharmacology is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action. More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function...

, Abū al-Qāsim al-Zahrawī pioneered the preparation of medicines by sublimation and distillation
Distillation
Distillation is a method of separating mixtures based on differences in volatilities of components in a boiling liquid mixture. Distillation is a unit operation, or a physical separation process, and not a chemical reaction....

. His Liber Servitoris is of particular interest, as it provides the reader with recipes and explains how to prepare the "simples" from which were compounded the complex drugs then generally used.

Reception


In the 14th century, the French surgeon Guy de Chauliac
Guy de Chauliac
Guy de Chauliac or Guigonis de Caulhaco was a French physician and surgeon who wrote a lengthy and influential treatise on surgery in Latin, titled Chirurgia Magna...

 quoted al-Tasrif
Al-Tasrif
The Kitab al-Tasrif was an Arabic encyclopedia on medicine and surgery, written near the year 1000 by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi...

 over 200 times. Pietro Argallata (d. 1453) described Abū al-Qāsim as "without doubt the chief of all surgeons". Abū al-Qāsim's influence continued for at least five centuries, extending into the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, evidenced by al-Tasrif
Al-Tasrif
The Kitab al-Tasrif was an Arabic encyclopedia on medicine and surgery, written near the year 1000 by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi...

s frequent reference by French surgeon Jacques Delechamps (1513–1588).

The street in Córdoba where he lived is named in his honor as "Calle Albucasis". On this street he lived in house no. 6, which is preserved today by the Spanish Tourist Board with a bronze plaque (awarded in January 1977) which reads: "This was the house where lived Abul-Qasim."

See also

  • Islamic medicine
    Islamic medicine
    In the history of medicine, Islamic medicine, Arabic medicine or Arabian medicine refers to medicine developed in the Islamic Golden Age, and written in Arabic, the lingua franca of Islamic civilization....

  • Islamic science
    Islamic science
    Science in the medieval Islamic world, also known as Islamic science or Arabic science, is the science developed and practised in the Islamic world during the Islamic Golden Age . During this time, Indian, Iranian and especially Greek knowledge was translated into Arabic...

  • List of Arab scientists and scholars
  • Islamic Golden Age
    Islamic Golden Age
    During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

  • Islamic scholars
  • Muslim inventions
  • Timeline of historic inventions
  • Avicenna
    Avicenna
    Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...


External links