Born In: Córdoba, Spain
Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas al Zahrawi, better known as Al-Zahrawi, was an illustrious medieval Arab Muslim physician and surgeon who lived and practiced during the golden era of Islamic Civilization. His best claim to fame is the ‘Kitab-al-Tasrif’—a compilation of 30 tomes dedicated to medical practices. Together with Ibn Sina and Al-Razi, Zahrawi is regarded as one of the most accomplished Arab Muslim medical practitioners of the ‘Middle Ages’ and is also looked upon as the ‘Father of Modern Surgery’. Al-Zahrawi was the Archiater (the chief physician) in the court of the Spanish Caliph ‘Abd Ar-Rahman III an-Nasir. His magnum-opus on medicine and surgery, ‘Kitab al-Tasrif’, despite heavily borrowing from ‘Epitomae’ by ‘Paul of Aegina’—a 7th century Byzantine general practitioner—and incorporating Greco-Roman traditional as well as Middle Eastern wisdom, also detailed personal observations. For instance, Al-Zahrawi’s detailed description of hemophilia was the earliest known account on the medical condition. The medical compendium runs to more than 1500 pages with distinct sections dedicated to ‘surgery’, medicine, ‘ophthalmology’, and ‘orthopedics. The encyclopedia contains illustrative descriptions of about 200 surgical instruments, and taxonomy of 325 diseases complete with symptomatology and healing procedures. ‘Kitab al-Tasrif’ was the first medical tome to devote 300 pages exclusively to surgery, including surgical dentistry and dermatology. So, it is hardly surprising that Zahrawi’s groundbreaking encyclopedia highly stimulated contemporary Oriental and Occidental scholars to delve into Islamic medical literature.