Abu al-Qasim Khalaf bin Abbas Al-Zahrawi (A.D.
936-1013), known to the West by his Latin name Albucasis, was born in Al
Zahra'a , six miles northwest of Cordoba in Andalusia.
He was simply the greatest Muslim surgeon, with European surgeons of his
time coming to regard him as a greater authority than even Galen, the
ancient world's acknowledged master. When reading Al Zahrawi's life history
and his writings, it is clear that he devoted his entire life and genius to
the development and enhancement of medicine as a whole and surgery in
He is best known for his early and original breakthroughs in surgery. What
is known about Al Zahrawi is contained in his only written work: At-Tasrif
liman 'Ajiza 'an at-Ta'lif (The Method of Medicine). At-Tasrif is a medical
encyclopedia compendium of 30 volumes compiled from medical data that Al-Zahrawi
accumulated in a medical career that spanned five decades of teaching and
medical practice. Although he traveled very little, he had wide experience
in treating accident victims and war casualties. Gherard of Cremona was the
first one to translate Al-Tasrif into Latin in the Middle Ages. The several
other editors in Europe followed him. The book contains numerous diagrams
and illustrations of surgical instruments, in use or developed by Al Zahrawi,
and comprised a part of the medical curriculum in European countries for
Al Zahrawi was described by Pietro Argallata (died 1423) as "without doubt
the chief of all surgeons". Jacques Delechamps (1513-1588), another French
surgeon, made extensive use of At-Tasrif in his elaborate commentary,
confirming the great prestige of Al Zahrawi throughout the Middle Ages and
up to the Renaissance.
Al Zahrawi invented several surgical instruments, of which three are
notable: An instrument for internal examination of the ear, an instrument
for internal inspection of the urethra, and instrument for applying or
removing foreign bodies from the throat. Al Zahrawi has specialized in
curing disease by cauterization and applied the technique to as many as 50
He was the first to detail the classic operation for cancer of the breast,
lithotrities for bladder stones, and techniques for removing thyroid cysts.
Also he was considered one of the early leading "plastic surgeon" as he
performed many plastic surgery procedures.
In his book Al-Tasrif, Al-Zahrawi discusses the preparation of various
medicines, in addition to a comprehensive account of surgical treatment in
specialized branches, whose modern counterparts are E.N.T., Ophthalmology,
etc. In connection with the preparation of medicines, he has also described
in detail the application of such techniques as sublimation and decantation.
Al Zahrawi was also an expert in dentistry, and his book contains sketches
of various instruments used thereof, in addition to a description of various
important dental operations. He discussed the problem of non-aligned or
deformed teeth and how to rectify these defects. He developed the technique
of preparing artificial teeth and of replacement of defective teeth by
these. In medicine, he was the first to describe in detail the unusual
There can be no doubt that Al Zahrawi influenced the field of medicine and
surgery very deeply and the principles he laid down were recognized as
authentic in medical science, especially surgery, and these continued to
influence the medical world for five centuries. According to Dr. Cambell
(History of Arab Medicine), Al Zahrawi's principles of medical science
surpassed those of Galen in the European medical curriculum.
Al Zahrawi was the physician of King Al-Hakam-II of Spain. After a long
medical career, full of rich and significant contributions, Al Zahrawi died
in 1013 C.E.
Syria like many other countries around the world
witnessed, during this period, the flood of refugees
from war troubled nations like Somalia, arrival of
people from Algeria during the brutal struggling between
the Mujahidun and the government, resettlement of the
Palestinians fleeing from sophisticated guns of the
Israelis as well as adventure of African migrants for