Abu Bakr Mohammad ibn Zakariya Razi, well-known as Razi, was born at Rey in 864 AD.
Initially, he was interested in music but went on to learn medicine, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry and philosophy from a student of Hunayn ibn Is’haq, who was well versed in ancient Greek, medicine and other subjects. He also studied under Ali ibn Rabban.
IBNA: The practical experience gained at the well-known Muqtadari Hospital helped him in his chosen profession of medicine, IranChamber reported.
Known in the West as Rhazes, he studied in Baghdad, Palestine, Egypt and Spain.
At an early age, he gained eminence as an expert in medicine and alchemy, such that patients and students flocked to him from distant parts of Asia.
Razi was first made in-charge of the first Royal Hospital at Rey, from where he soon moved to a similar position in Baghdad where he remained the head of its famous Muqtadari Hospital for along time.
He traveled to various cities, especially between Rey and Baghdad, but finally returned to Rey, where he died around 930 A.D. The vaccine institute near Tehran has been named after Razi.
Razi was a physician, alchemist and philosopher. In medicine, his significant contribution can only be compared to that of Ibn Sina or Avicenna.
Some of his works on medicine, e.g. Kitab Al-Mansoori, Al-Hawi, Kitab Al-Mulooki and Kitab Al-Jadari wa Al-Hasabah, earned him everlasting fame.
Kitab Al-Mansoori, which was translated into Latin in the 15th century AD, comprised ten volumes and dealt exhaustively with Greco-Arab medicine.
Some of its volumes were published separately in Europe. His Al-Jadari wa Al-Hasabah was the first treatise that drew clear comparisons between smallpox and chickenpox, and is largely based on Razi’s original contribution. It was translated into various European languages.
Al-Hawi was the largest medical encyclopedia composed. On each medical subject, it contained important information from Greek and Arab sources.
A special feature of his medical system was that he greatly favored treating diseases through correct and regulated food. This was combined with his emphasis on the influence of psychological factors on health.
He also tried remedies first on animals to evaluate their effects and side-effects. He was an expert surgeon and the first to use opium for anesthesia.
In addition to being a physician, he compounded medicines and, in his later years, embraced experimental and theoretical sciences. It seems possible that he developed his chemistry independently of Jabir ibn Hayyan.
Razi has presented in great detail several chemical reactions and also given full descriptions of and designs for about 20 instruments used in chemical investigations.
His description of chemical knowledge is in plain and plausible language. One of his books called Kitab Al-Asrar deals with the preparation of chemicals and their utilization.
Chemistry and Philosophy
Another one was translated into Latin under the name Liber Experimentorum. He went beyond his predecessors in dividing substances into plants, animals and minerals, thus in a way opening the way for inorganic and organic chemistry.
By and large, this classification of the three kingdoms still holds. As a chemist, he was the first to produce sulfuric acid with some other acids and he also prepared alcohol by fermenting sweet products.
His contribution as a philosopher is also well known. The basic elements in his philosophical system are the creator, spirit, matter, space and time. Razi discusses their characteristics in detail and his concepts of space and time as constituting a continuum are outstanding.
His philosophical views were, however, criticized by a number of other scholars of the era. He was a prolific author who has left monumental treatises on numerous subjects.
Razi has more than 200 outstanding scientific contributions to his credit, out of which about half deal with medicine and 21 concern alchemy.
The philosopher also wrote on physics, mathematics, astronomy and optics, but these writings could not be preserved.
A number of his books such as Jami-fil-Tib, Kitab Al-Mansoori and Al-Hawi have also been published in various European languages.
About 40 of his manuscripts are still extant in the museums and libraries of Iran, France, Britain and India.
His contribution has greatly influenced the development of science, in general, and medicine, in particular.
Iran commemorates his birth anniversary on Aug. 27 as Pharmacy Day.