Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi : biography
- First refutation of al-Tammar’s disagreement with Misma’i concerning ‘Matter’.
- Second refutation of al-Tammar’s opinion of ‘the Atmosphere of subterranean habitations’.
- Following are authors as described by Razi in his writings:
- Al-Misma’i, a Mutakallim, who opposed ‘materialists’, counteracted Razi’s treatise.
- Jarir, a physician who had a theory about ‘The eating of black mulberries after consuming water-melon’.
- Al-Hasan ibn Mubarik al-Ummi, to whom Razi wrote two epistles with commentaries.
- Al-Kayyal, a Mutakallim: al-Razi wrote a book on about his Theory of the Imam.
- Mansur ibn Talhah, being the author of the book "Being", which was criticized by al-Razi.
- Muhammad ibn al-Laith al-Rasa’ili whose opposition against alchemists was disputed by al-Razi.
- Ahmad ibn al-Tayyib al-Sarakhasi (d. 286 AH/899 CE), was an older contemporary of al-Razi. Al-Razi disagreed with him on the question of ‘bitter taste’. He moreover opposed his teacher Ya’qub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi, regarding his writings, in which he discredited alchemists.
More names could be added to this list of all people opposed by al-Razi, specifically the Mu’tazilah and different Mutakallimin.
Contributions to medicine
Smallpox vs. measles
- "Smallpox appears when blood ‘boils’ and is infected, resulting in vapours being expelled. Thus juvenile blood (which looks like wet extracts appearing on the skin) is being transformed into richer blood, having the color of mature wine. At this stage, smallpox shows up essentially as ‘bubbles found in wine’ – (as blisters) – … this disease can also occur at other times – (meaning: not only during childhood) -. The best thing to do during this first stage is to keep away from it, otherwise this disease might turn into an epidemic."
This diagnosis is acknowledged by the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911), which states: "The most trustworthy statements as to the early existence of the disease are found in an account by the 9th-century Persian physician Rhazes, by whom its symptoms were clearly described, its pathology explained by a humoral or fermentation theory, and directions given for its treatment."
Razi’s book: al-Judari wa al-Hasbah (On Smallpox and Measles) was the first book describing smallpox and measles as distinct diseases. It was translated more than a dozen times into Latin and other European languages. Its lack of dogmatism and its Hippocratic reliance on clinical observation show Razi’s medical methods. For example:
"The eruption of smallpox is preceded by a continued fever, pain in the back, itching in the nose and nightmares during sleep. These are the more acute symptoms of its approach together with a noticeable pain in the back accompanied by fever and an itching felt by the patient all over his body. A swelling of the face appears, which comes and goes, and one notices an overall inflammatory color noticeable as a strong redness on both cheeks and around both eyes. One experiences a heaviness of the whole body and great restlessness, which expresses itself as a lot of stretching and yawning. There is a pain in the throat and chest and one finds it difficult to breathe and cough. Additional symptoms are: dryness of breath, thick spittle, hoarseness of the voice, pain and heaviness of the head, restlessness, nausea and anxiety. (Note the difference: restlessness, nausea and anxiety occur more frequently with ‘measles’ than with smallpox. At the other hand, pain in the back is more apparent with smallpox than with measles). Altogether one experiences heat over the whole body, one has an inflamed colon and one shows an overall shining redness, with a very pronounced redness of the gums."
Razi contributed in many ways to the early practice of pharmacy by compiling texts, in which he introduces the use of ‘mercurial ointments’ and his development of apparatus such as mortars, flasks, spatulas and phials, which were used in pharmacies until the early twentieth century .