The Islamic Roots of Modern Pharmacology

Free Lance writer, Egypt

By the beginning of the 9th century, pharmacy was already a well established, independent profession with well regulated rules and laws.
Around the 8th century, one man took it upon himself to dig deeper into this amazing world of chemistry. A long forgotten historic figure, Khaled Ibn Yazeed came from the house of the Umayyad Caliphate. It was very unusual for a man in his social and economical stature to adopt such an unrecognized profession. However, his decision was a turning point in the history of chemistry.
Ibn Yazeed started his journey by translating Greek and Roman references in the field. He studied chemical reactions and started his pioneering experimentations in synthesizing drugs and remedies. Just as the Greeks and Romans had acquired their learning from ancient Egyptian and Sumerian breakthroughs, Ibn Yazeed set the foundation upon which chemistry and pharmacy could be studied which was later built upon by his successor Jabir Ibn Hayyan.
By the beginning of the 9th century, pharmacy was already a well established, independent profession with well regulated rules and laws. Pharmacists were knowledgeable about drug use, compounding, preparation, and dispensing, and things like dosage adjustment, drug interaction, and prevention of drug adulteration were some of the skills mastered during that period in history.
Kick-starting the International Year of Chemistry: Chemical Moment for Women Scientists
Ar-Razi: “The Persian Galen”
Will Jesus Come Back?
Al-Jahiz - the First Islamic Zoologist
Will Jesus Come Back?
Al-Khwarzimi: The Father of Algebra
Alhazen: Master of Optics
The Islamic Golden Era Astronomers: Aldebaran, Deneb, Rigel, Betelgeuse…

The field of pharmacy was further developed by the work of Muslim physicians. Being the most knowledgeable about body ailments and diseases, physicians were the most suited to develop and prescribe the cure.
Famous physicians like Al-Razi, Ibn Sina and Al-Kindi, contributed much in the advancement of this field of science. They combined their knowledge about medicine with herbal remedies, chemistry, and philosophy to develop an amazing body of work describing disease diagnosis, description of appropriate remedies, and the required dosages.
Al-Biruni’s book, ‘The Book of Pharmacology,’ Al-Zahrawy’s 30 volumes ‘Al-Tasrif’ (Dispensing), Al-Razi’s ‘Al-Hawi’ (The Comprehensive Book on Medicine), ‘The Secret in Chemistry’, Al-Mansur Muwaffaq’s ‘The Foundations of the True Properties of Remedies’ and Ibn al-Wafid’s work ‘The Book of Simple Drugs,’ were some of many outstanding references in pharmacology at the time. Upon the work of these great Muslim scientists modern-day Western pharmaceutical knowledge was later built which we all benefit from today.
The most important aspect of Muslims’ development to the pharmaceutical profession, though, was their honoring of the Islamic teachings. They believed in the Hadeeth that states, “God created the disease and the cure, and made a cure for every ailment; so seek healing but do not seek treatment with haram (unlawful means.)” (Abu-Dawood and al-Bayhaqi).
Consequently, Muslim pharmacists and physicians didn’t delve into any un-lawful (haram) treatments or quackery. They based their knowledge and studies on scientific experimentations and practical experiences. They honored the whole human being, body and soul, and sincerely and ethically pursued their mission in easing people’s pain and relieving their sufferings.

Leave a Reply


Recent Posts

Recent Comments


issues of america