History of Science & Medicine: Brief Introduction of Az-Zaharawi’s Contributions in Science

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Professor, Consultant Pathologist, American Board Certified Pathologist, Fellow College of American Pathologists. Areas of interest Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology, Cytology, Cancer, Ethics, Islam, Humanity

History of Science & Medicine: Brief Introduction of Az-Zaharawi’s Contributions in Science

Compiled by Iqra Butt

Department of Pathology, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Islamabad



History is full of description of great Muslim scientists and great patrons of sciences and research; however there is serious lack of awareness that keeps world not acknowledging their efforts and contributions to modern day sciences. Acknowledgment of their contributions will help nullifying the deliberate defamation of Islam and Muslims.

One of the great Muslim Scientists is Abū al-Qāsim Khalaf ibn al-‘Abbās al-Zahrāwī (936–1013), (Arabic: أبو القاسم خلف بن العباس الزهراوي‎‎), popularly known as Al-Zahrawi (الزهراوي), Latinized as Abulcasis (from Arabic Abū al-Qāsim), was an Arab Muslim physician and surgeon who lived in Al-Andalus. He is considered the greatest medieval surgeon to have appeared from the Islamic World, and has been described as the father of surgery. His greatest contribution to medicine is the Kitab at-Tasrif, a thirty-volume encyclopedia of medical practices.[2] 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.

Al-Zahrawi was born in the city Az-Zahra, northwest of Córdoba, Andalusia. The nisba (attributive title), Al-Ansari, suggests origin from the Medinian tribe of Al-Ansar. 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 Az-Zahra. A few details remain regarding his life, aside from his published work, due to the destruction of Az-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-Zahrawi’s death.


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