Ammar al-Mawsili

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Abu al-Qasim Ammar ibn Ali al-Mawsili (Arabic: عمار الموصلي‎) was an important eleventh-century Arab Muslim ophthalmologist. Despite little being known about his life or education, he has been described as the most original of all Arab oculists.[1]

As his nisba indicates, Ammar was born in Mosul, and later moved to Egypt, where he settled during the reign of the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, to whom he wrote his only composition, Kitāb al-muntakhab fī ilm al-ayn (“The book of choice in ophthalmology”).

He is mostly known for the invention of a hypodermic syringe, which he used to remove cataracts, a major cause of blindness.[2]

Regarding his invention he wrote the following:

Then I constructed the hollow needle, but I did not operate with it on anybody at all, before I came to Tiberias. There came a man for an operation who told me: Do as you like with me, only I cannot lie on my back. Then I operated on him with the hollow needle and extracted the cataract; and he saw immediately and did not need to lie, but slept as he liked. Only I bandaged his eye for seven days. With this needle nobody preceded me. I have done many operations with it in Egypt.[3]

He was a contemporary of the famous oculist Ali ibn Isa.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ E., Mittwoch. "ʿAmmār al-Mawṣilī". Brill Online Encyclopedia. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  2. ^ An Uncommon History of Common Things. National Geographic Books. 2015. ISBN 9781426216169.
  3. ^ Finger, Stanley (1994), Origins of Neuroscience: A History of Explorations Into Brain Function, Oxford University Press, p. 70, ISBN 0-19-514694-8