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