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Abu Marwan Ibn Zuhr- Master Physician
8/12/2004 2:14:00 PM GMT
Ibn Zuhr, known in the West as Avenzoar, was one of the most prominent physicians, clinicians and parasitologist of the Middle Ages.


Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik Ibn Zuhr was born at Seville in 1091/c. 1094 C.E. After he finished his education and specializing in medicine, he joined the service of Almoravides (Al-Murabatun), but after their defeat by the Al-Mohades (Al-Muwahadun), he served under 'Abd al-Mu'min, the first Muwahid ruler. Ibn Zuhr died in Seville in 1161/c. 1162 C.E. As confirmed by George Sarton, Ibn Zuhr was not a Jew, but a Muslim.

Ibn Zuhr limited his work only in Medicine, contrary to the prevailing practice of Muslim scientists who used to have many contributions in different fields. However, by focusing his interest and effort in one field he made original and long-lasting contributions. He highlighted the significance of observation and experiment in his work. Dr. Neuberger in History of Medicine said about him:

"Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) was proficient in the art of dissecting dead human bodies and knew anatomy in detail. His operative technique was superb."


Ibn Zuhr was the first to test different medicines on animals before using them with humans. Also, he was the first to describe in detail scabies, the itch mite, and is thus regarded as the first parasitologist. Also he was the first to give a detailed description of the operation of tracheotomy and practiced direct feeding through the gullet in those cases where normal feeding was not possible. Moreover Ibn Zuhr provided clinical descriptions of intestinal phthisis, inflammation of the middle ear, peri carditis, and mediastinal tumors among others.

Ibn Zuhr’s contribution was included in the monumental works written by him; out of these, however, only three are extant. Kitab al-Taisir fi al-Mudawat wa al-Tadbir (Book of Simplification concerning Therapeutics and Diet), is the most significant work of Ibn Zuhr. It highlights several of Ibn Zuhr's original contributions. The book gives in detail pathological conditions, followed by therapy. His Kitab al-Iqtisad fi Islah al-Anfus wa al-Ajsad (Book of the Middle Course concerning the Reformation of Souls and the Bodies) gives a summary of diseases, therapeutics and hygiene written specially for the benefit of the layman. Kitab al-Aghthiya (Book on Foodstuffs) describes different types of food and drugs and their impact on health.

Ibn Zuhr's influence on the development of medical science was felt for several centuries throughout the world.
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