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What Biruni’s Kitâbü’s-Saydana Fi’t-Tıbb Makes Us Think

What Biruni’s Kitâbü’s-Saydana Fi’t-Tıbb Makes Us Think

What Biruni’s Kitâbü’s-Saydana Fi’t-Tıbb Makes Us Think

Today, when science or medicine is mentioned in everyone’s mind, the West and their laboratories come to mind. This is actually an indication that we have been mentally surrendered. However, those who laid the foundations of medicine were many Eastern Muslim scholars. The most well-known of these scholars is Ibn Sina. As I explained in my first book, “A Dream of Natural Medicine”, the works of Ibn Sina were taught as basic medical books in the West for more than 400 years. In fact, Al-Kanun fi’t-Tıb (The Law in Medicine – Canon Medicinae) became such a fundamental work in the field of European medical education that anyone who did not read this work and did not take lessons was not even allowed to practice medicine. This work was translated into Latin and Hebrew in the 1200s. According to the records of the University of Montpellier, France, the basic medical textbook until the mid-1600s was Hatta El-Kanun fi’t-Tıb.

What makes his work El-Kanun fi’t-Tıb special is that Avicenna wrote the recipes of 760 drugs along with the diseases they would be used in the treatment of, and went further and wrote down the dosages, formulas and usage methods of the drugs he recorded as a pharmacopoeia. Al-Kanun fi’t-Tıb is considered the first pharmacopoeia in history. In addition, the contagion of infectious diseases and the idea of quarantine against contagion were written for the first time in the work. Ibn Sina, who conducted medical experiments, is also the pioneer of evidence-based medicine and experimental medicine. He wrote many examples on these subjects in his work.

According to Ibn Sina, it is not possible to restore or improve health without determining and knowing the causes of both health and disease. In other words, while categorizing diseases, Avicenna developed treatment methods by taking into account the condition of the body and the individual in which the diseases spread. Today, modern medicine has a very different treatment method than prescribing the same medicine for every patient. In addition, 1000 years ago, Ibn Sina discussed in depth the effects of the climate and environment in which people live on health.

Ibn Sina is a great medical scholar, but Biruni, who is at least as valuable a scientist as him, is not well known even though he lived in the same period as Ibn Sina. During his time, administrators gave great importance to those who wanted to engage in science. Unlike today, you did not have to know someone or have money to study and become a student of science. If you had a talent, it was discovered and your future was wide open. Biruni, whose intelligence and aptitude for science were noticed at a young age, was invited to the palace of the Kingdom of Khwarezmah by the rulers of the time and took lessons from the greatest teachers in the palace of that period. Biruni, who worked in the field of astronomy after completing his education, was only 17 years old when he wrote down his inferences in this field, which are difficult to overcome even today. Biruni, whose fame spread throughout the country in the following years, made magnificent observations in the field of the moon and lunar eclipses and recorded these observations. The book El-Kanun el-Masudi, which he wrote in 1030, is among the top five most important astronomy works written to date, and considering the technology of that period, perhaps he wrote his most important work. Islamic scholars do not specialize in just one field. They want to be the best in one field, but it is their habit to do research and study in many fields. Although Biruni was a giant in the field of astronomy, he wrote such information in the fields of geography and geology in his book Tahdid Finally al-Emakin that he was far ahead of his time.

However, Biruni was not satisfied with this. He wrote Kitâbü’s-Saydana Fi’tTıbb at the age of 80, as if he wanted to pay his debt to humanity and give the zakat of his knowledge. This work is a medical book and a masterpiece in itself. While the recipes and usage methods of many herbal medicines are explained in detail in his work, he also reserved a special place for the recipes of animal and mineral medicines. As if foreseeing centuries later, Biruni included not only one language in his book, but also included drug names in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hindi, Greek and Latin. He also elaborated on which diseases and how the medicines described would cure them. The work, which has been translated recently, is also a gem in terms of grammar. Since many words used were forgotten, it led to research and these words were reintroduced into our culture. Not content with this, Biruni did not neglect to write down the measurements and order to be used while preparing the compositions and mixtures of the drugs to be used in the treatment. While giving the first and important examples of pharmacy in his book, Biruni set an example for his successors. He also wrote the equivalents of the medicines he gave in his book in other languages. Moreover, by recording why and for what purposes some substances were used in different cultures, he perhaps pioneered many natural medicines that were discovered later. Even just imagining these shows that a team has written a work of quality that will require years of work. But more importantly, Biruni wrote such a flawless work at the age of 80, even though he was not a doctor. He wrote the mentioned work as a dictionary, not as a prose text.

The fact that Biruni wrote such a work at the age of 80 shows me, as a natural medicine specialist, that Biruni gave great importance to natural medicine. If Biruni, a giant in the field of astronomy, left a legacy of drug prescriptions that would be the pioneer of natural medicine treatments, this must have a meaning. I don’t know if Biruni predicted that the West, which is conquering space with astronomy today, would condemn us to endless prescriptions in the field of health. However, as a natural medicine specialist, Biruni, who has a special place in the common heritage of humanity, retaught that healing is hidden in nature and natural medicine therapies. While I wish mercy on Biruni, I feel a special gratitude to him for making me determined to be a means of healing with natural medicine therapies as long as I live.

I would like to end my article by quoting from Ibn Sina.

When all or each of the organs are healthy, they reinforce each other in finding their perfection or fulfill their duty alone to ensure that the person’s life continues in an orderly manner. This is a very obvious point when each organ and the composition they form are considered. Thus, it becomes clear that when healthy, organs do not interfere with each other’s functions. In addition, what enables a person to perform actions specific to him, such as reasoning, having sincere intentions, resisting destructive forces, or using the powers given to him, can only be capable of such things if he has the characteristics of overcoming and resisting.
Quoted from page 55 of Ibn Sina’s work titled “10 Evidences Concerning Happiness and the Human Soul is a Jewel”.

Sources: Tümer, Günay (1992). “Bîrûnî”, Encyclopedia of Islam, vol. 6, Istanbul.

Wassenberg 29.09.2022

Natural Medicine Specialist / E. Hülya GİEBEL