Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari

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Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari (Persian: علی ابن سهل ربان طبری ‎) (c. 838 – c. 870 CE; also given as 810–855[1] or808-864[2] also 783-858[3]), was a Muslim hakim, scholar, physician and psychologist, who produced one of the first encyclopedia of medicine. He was a pioneer of pediatrics and the field of child development.[4][verification needed] His stature, however, was eclipsed by his more famous pupil, Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi ("Rhazes").


Ali came from a Persian[5] or Syriac[3] family of Merv but moved to Tabaristan (hence al-Tabari – "from Tabaristan"). Hossein Nasr states that he was a convert from Zoroastrianism,[5] however Sami K. Hamarneh states he was a convert from Christianity.[3] His father Sahl ibn Bishr was a state official, highly educated and well respected member of the Syriac community.[3]

The Abbassid caliph Al-Mu'tasim (833–842) took him into the service of the court, which he continued under Al-Mutawakkil (847–861). Ali ibn Sahl was fluent in Syriac and Greek, the two sources for the medical tradition of antiquity, and versed in fine calligraphy.

His works[edit]

  1. His Firdous al-Hikmah ("Paradise of Wisdom"), which he wrote in Arabic called also Al-Kunnash was a system of medicine in seven parts. He also translated it into Syriac, to give it wider usefulness.[citation needed] The information in Firdous al-Hikmah has never entered common circulation in the West because it was not edited until the 20th century, when Mohammed Zubair Siddiqui assembled an edition using the five surviving partial manuscripts. There is still no English translation. A German translation by Alfred Siggel of the chapters on Indian medicine was published in 1951.[6]
  2. Tuhfat al-Muluk ("The King's Present")
  3. a work on the proper use of food, drink, and medicines.
  4. Hafzh al-Sihhah ("The Proper Care of Health"), following Greek and Indian authorities.
  5. Kitab al-Ruqa ("Book of Magic or Amulets")
  6. Kitab fi al-hijamah ("Treatise on Cupping")
  7. Kitab fi Tartib al-'Ardhiyah ("Treatise on the Preparation of Food")

Firdous al-Hikmah[edit]

Firdous al-Hikmah is one of the oldest encyclopedias of Islamic medicine, based on Syriac translations of Greek sources (Hippocrates, Galen Dioscorides, and others).[7] It is divided into 7 sections and 30 parts, with 360 chapters in total. The appendix contains a review of Indian medicine based on Persian and Arabic translations of Indian medical works. It deals with pediatrics and child development in depth, as well as psychology and psychotherapy.[6] Unlike earlier physicians, however, al-Tabari emphasized strong ties between psychology and medicine, and the need of psychotherapy and counseling in the therapeutic treatment of patients.[citation needed] He wrote that patients frequently feel sick due to delusions or imagination, and that these can be treated through "wise counselling" by smart and witty physicians who could win the rapport and confidence of their patients, leading to a positive therapeutic outcome.[4][verification needed]


On the Quran he said: "When I was a Christian I used to say, as did an uncle of mine who was one of the learned and eloquent men, that eloquence is not one of the signs of prophethood because it is common to all the peoples; but when I discarded (blind) imitation and (old) customs and gave up adhering to (mere) habit and training and reflected upon the meanings of the Qur'an I came to know that what the followers of the Qur'an claimed for it was true. The fact is that I have not found any book, be it by an Arab or a Persian, an Indian or a Greek, right from the beginning of the world up to now, which contains at the same time praises of God, belief in the prophets and apostles, exhortations to good, everlasting deeds, command to do good and prohibition against doing evil, inspiration to the desire of paradise and to avoidance of hell-fire as this Qur'an does. So when a person brings to us a book of such qualities, which inspires such reverence and sweetness in the hearts and which has achieved such an overlasting success and he is (at the same time) an illiterate person who did never learnt the art of writing or rhetoric, that book is without any doubt one of the signs of his Prophethood."[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Prioreschi, Plinio (1 January 2001). A History of Medicine: Byzantine and Islamic medicine. Horatius Press. p. 223. ISBN 9781888456042. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "GREECE x. GREEK MEDICINE IN PERSIA – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Selin, Helaine (31 July 1997). Encyclopaedia of the history of science, technology, and medicine in non-western cultures. Springer. pp. 930–. ISBN 978-0-7923-4066-9. Retrieved 18 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Amber Haque (2004), "Psychology from Islamic Perspective: Contributions of Early Muslim Scholars and Challenges to Contemporary Muslim Psychologists", Journal of Religion and Health 43 (4): 357–377 [361]
  5. ^ a b Frye, Richard Nelson (27 June 1975). The Cambridge History of Iran: The period from the Arab invasion to the Saljuqs. Cambridge University Press. pp. 415–416. ISBN 978-0-521-20093-6. Retrieved 23 May 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Siggel, Alfred (1951). Die indischen Bücher aus dem Paradies der Weisheit über die Medizin des' Alī ibn Sahl Rabban al-Ṭabarī. Übersetzt und erläutert. Wiesbaden: Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur. 
  7. ^ The huge Sanskrit medical encyclopedias of Caraka, Bheḷa and Suśruta are, of course, many centuries earlier, but describe the ayurvedic medicine indigenous to South Asia.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Abdul Aleem, "I'jaz ul Qur'an", Islamic Culture, Op. Cit., pp. 222–223


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