Ibn Zuhr

Ibn Zuhr

Abū Merwān ’Abdal-Malik ibn Zuhr ( _ar. أبو مروان عبد الملك بن زهر) (also known as Ibn Zuhr, Avenzoar, Abumeron or Ibn-Zohr) (1091–1161) was an Arab Muslim physician, pharmacist, surgeon, parasitologist, Islamic scholar, and teacher.


Early life

He was born in Seville, and studied at the University of Córdoba. He belonged to the Banu Zuhr family, which produced five generations of physicians, including two female physicians who served the Almohad ruler Abu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Mansur. [ [http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/islamic_medical/islamic_13.html The Art as a Profession] , United States National Library of Medicine] Ibn Zuhr was also the teacher of Averroes. He began his medical practice and training under his father, Abu l-Ala Zuhr("d 1131").Bynum, WF & Bynum, Helen (2006) Dictionary of Medical Biography. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-31-332877-3.]

Flight from Seville

Around 1130, he fell out of favour of with the Almoravid ruler, Ali bin Yusuf bin Tashufin, and fled from Seville. He was however, apprehended and jailed in Marrakesh. Later in 1147 when the Almohad dynasty conquered Seville, he returned and devoted himself to medical practice and teaching. He died at Seville in 1161.


He is considered the father of experimental surgery, for introducing the experimental method into surgery, introducing the methods of human dissection and autopsy, inventing the surgical procedure of tracheotomy, performing the first parenteral nutrition of humans with a silver needle, discovering the cause of scabies and inflammation, discovering the existence of parasites, and refuting the theory of four humours.


Ibn Zuhr's most famous work is his "Al-Taisir", in which he introduced the experimental method into surgery,Rabie E. Abdel-Halim (2005), "Contributions of Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) to the progress of surgery: A study and translations from his book Al-Taisir", "Saudi Medical Journal 2005; Vol. 26 (9): 1333-1339".] for which he is considered the father of experimental surgery.Rabie E. Abdel-Halim (2006), "Contributions of Muhadhdhab Al-Deen Al-Baghdadi to the progress of medicine and urology", "Saudi Medical Journal" 27 (11): 1631-1641.] He was the first to employ animal testing in order to experiment with surgical procedures before applying them to human patients. He also performed the first dissections and postmortem autopsies on humans as well as animals.

He invented the surgical procedure of tracheotomy,A. I. Makki. "Needles & Pins", "AlShindagah" 68, January-February 2006.] as he was the first to give a correct description of the tracheotomy operation for suffocating patients. He perfected this surgical procedure through his experiments on a goat. He also performed postmortem autopsies on a sheep during his clinical trials on the treatment of ulcerating diseases of the lungs. He also wrote on the prophylaxis against urinary tract infections and described the importance of dietary management in maintaining the prophylaxis.

He established surgery as an independent field of medicine, by introducing a training course designed specifically for future surgeons, in order that they be qualified before being allowed to perform operations independently, and for defining the roles of a general practitioner and a surgeon in the treatment of a surgical condition.

"The Method of Preparing Medicines and Diet"

He performed the first parenteral nutrition of humans with a silver needle, and wrote a book on it entitled "The Method of Preparing Medicines and Diet".

Anatomy, Physiology, Etiology and Parasitology

During his medical experiments on anatomy and physiology, Ibn Zuhr was the first physician known to have carried out human dissection and postmortem autopsy. He proved that the skin disease scabies was caused by a parasite, which contradicted the erroneous theory of four humours supported by Hippocrates, Galen and Avicenna. The removal of the parasite from the patient's body did not involve purging, bleeding or any other traditional treatments associated with the four humours. [http://encyclopedia.farlex.com/Islamic+medicine Islamic medicine] , "Hutchinson Encyclopedia".] His works show that he was often highly critical of previous medical authorities, including Avicenna's "The Canon of Medicine". [Nahyan A. G. Fancy (2006), "Pulmonary Transit and Bodily Resurrection: The Interaction of Medicine, Philosophy and Religion in the Works of Ibn al-Nafīs (d. 1288)", "Electronic Theses and Dissertations", University of Notre Dame. [http://etd.nd.edu/ETD-db/theses/available/etd-11292006-152615] ]

He was one of the first physicians to reject the erroneous theory of four humours, which dates back to Hippocrates and Galen. Avenzoar also confirmed the presence of blood in the body.Prof. Dr. Mostafa Shehata, "The Ear, Nose and Throat in Islamic Medicine", "Journal of the International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine", 2003 (1): 2-5 [4] .]

Ibn Zuhr was also the first to provide a real scientific etiology for the inflammatory diseases of the ear, and the first to clearly discuss the causes of stridor. He also proved that the skin disease scabies was caused by a parasite.


In anesthesiology, modern anesthesia was developed in Islamic Spain by the Muslim anesthesiologists Ibn Zuhr and Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi. They were the first to utilize oral as well as inhalant anesthetics, and they performed hundreds of surgeries under inhalant anesthesia with the use of narcotic-soaked sponges which were placed over the face.Dr. Kasem Ajram (1992). "Miracle of Islamic Science", Appendix B. Knowledge House Publishers. ISBN 0911119434.] [Sigrid Hunke (1969), "Allah Sonne Uber Abendland, Unser Arabische Erbe", Second Edition, p. 279-280: quote|"The science of medicine has gained a great and extremely important discovery and that is the use of general anaesthetics for surgical operations, and how unique, efficient, and merciful for those who tried it the Muslim anaesthetic was. It was quite different from the drinks the Indians, Romans and Greeks were forcing their patients to have for relief of pain. There had been some allegations to credit this discovery to an Italian or to an Alexandrian, but the truth is and history proves that, the art of using the anaesthetic sponge is a pure Muslim technique, which was not known before. The sponge used to be dipped and left in a mixture prepared from cannabis, opium, hyoscyamus and a plant called Zoan." (cf. Prof. Dr. M. Taha Jasser, [http://www.islamset.com/hip/i_medcin/taha_jasser.html Anaesthesia in Islamic medicine and its influence on Western civilization] , Conference on Islamic Medicine)]

Neurology and Neuropharmacology

Ibn Zuhr gave the first accurate descriptions on neurological disorders, including meningitis, intracranial thrombophlebitis, and mediastinal tumours, and made contributions to modern neuropharmacology. [Martin-Araguz, A.; Bustamante-Martinez, C.; Fernandez-Armayor, Ajo V.; Moreno-Martinez, J. M. (2002). "Neuroscience in al-Andalus and its influence on medieval scholastic medicine", "Revista de neurología" 34 (9), p. 877-892.]

Pharmacopoeia and drug therapy

Ibn Zuhr wrote an early pharmacopoeia, which later became the first Arabic book to be printed with a movable type in 1491. [M. Krek (1979). "The Enigma of the First Arabic Book Printed from Movable Type", "Journal of Near Eastern Studies" 38 (3), p. 203-212.]

Ibn Zuhr (and other Muslim physicians such as al-Kindi, Ibn Sahl, Abulcasis, al-Biruni, Avicenna, Averroes, Ibn al-Baitar, Ibn Al-Jazzar and Ibn al-Nafis) developed drug therapy and medicinal drugs for the treatment of specific symptoms and diseases. His use of practical experience and careful observation was extensive.

ee also

*Islamic science
*Islamic medicine
*List of Arab scientists and scholars
*List of Muslim scientists



* [http://www.islamonline.com/cgi-bin/news_service/profile_story.asp?service_id=868 Islam Online]
* [http://www.moslem.at/islam/denker.html]
* [http://www.thehistorychannel.co.uk/site/encyclopedia/article_show/Avenzoar_or_Ibn_Zuhr_10911161_/m0097002.html?&searchtermold=human%20weapon&searchtermold=human%20weapon The History Channel on Ibn Zuhr]

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