Ibn Abi Usaibia
Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa Muʾaffaq al-Dīn Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad Ibn Al-Qāsim Ibn Khalīfa al-Khazrajī (Arabic: ابن أبي أصيبعة; 1203–1270), commonly referred to as Ibn Abi Usaibia, was a Syrian Arab physician of the 13th century CE. He created a history of medicine organized as histories of notable physicians, a book about 700 pages long.
Ibn Abi Usaibia was born at Damascus, a member of the Banu Khazraj tribe. The son of a physician, he studied medicine at Damascus and Cairo. In 1236 he was appointed physician to a new hospital in Cairo, but he surrendered the appointment the following year to take up a post given him by the ruler of Damascus in Salkhad near that city. He lived in Salkhad until his death. His only surviving work is Lives of the Physicians. In that work he mentions another of his works, but it has not survived.
Lives of the Physicians
The title in Arabic, Uyūn ul-Anbāʾ fī Ṭabaqāt al-Aṭibbā (Arabic: عيون الأنباء في طبقات الأطباء), is translatable loosely and expansively as "selected historical accounts of lives of physicians, organized in historical groups". The title is commonly translated into English as History of Physicians, Lives of the Physicians, or Classes of Physicians. The early chapters are almost wholly about the physicians of ancient Greece. The rest of the book is mostly about the physicians of medieval Islam. There are also chapters on Syriac and Indian physicians. A first version appeared in 1245–1246 and was dedicated to the Ayyubid physician and vizier Amīn al-Dawlah. A second and enlarged recension of the work was produced in the last years of the life of the author, and circulated in at least two different versions, as shown by the extant manuscripts.
This work has been published five times. The first edition was published by August Müller in Cairo in 1882, under the pseudonym Imrū l-Qays. The many typos and errors that marred this edition forced the editor to print a corrected version in Königsberg in 1884. Relying on Müller's work, Niẓār Riḍā published a non-critical edition of the text in Beirut in 1965, which was subsequently reworked by Qāsim Wahhāb for yet another edition issued in Beirut in 1997. ʿĀmir al-Najjār published his own critical edition (not based on Müller) in Cairo in 1996.
A team of scholars from the universities of Oxford and Warwick is currently working on a new critical edition and a full annotated English translation of the Uyūn al-Anbā.
An electronic version of the Arabic text can be consulted online at AlWaraq.net. A partial translation into English is at Tertullian.org.
- English translation of the Lives of the Physicians, translated by L. Kopf, 1954.
- Notes and comments on Ibn Abi Usaibia's work
- A Literary History of Medicine on the Oxford/Warwick Project and the new manuscripts of the work
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