4 Islamic Contributions to Modern Medicine
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4 Islamic Contributions to Modern Medicine

4 Islamic Contributions to Modern Medicine

1. Ibn al-Haytham

A Muslim Iraqi in the 11th century revolutionized the concepts of human vision. Previously, it was thought in Greek philosophy that the vision of the spirit was the purpose of the eye. At this experimental time, al-Haytham was able to identify the eye as an optical instrument used by the human body. During this period, more theoretical experiments were performed and the scientific process was being perfected, using known medical techniques from the Greeks and applying observation methods to the processes.

Ibn al-Haytham recorded his observations using pictures and detailed elaborate descriptions. He was able to convey his message due to the fact that his works were translated into Latin and spread throughout the western world. al-Haytham’s contribution regarding the anatomy and theories revolving around the human eye, changed the way doctors and medicine viewed optical health.

2. Ibn al-Nafis

An Arabic doctor born in Damascus, Ibn al-Nafis questioned the way that Galen (a greek) viewed the blood flow system in the human body. Through experimentation, Ibn al-Nafis was able to deduce that the former conclusions of Galen about blood flow from the heart were incorrect. Galen’s theories had gone without question for more than 1,000 years.

Galen stated that the blood went from the right ventricle through to the left without explaining the detailed process involved. Al-Nafis, using examining evidence, was the first recorded person to describe the blood flow process through the lungs and pulmonary area. This was a major breakthrough in anatomy and physiology to accurately describe the blood flow process. This contribution was not only accurate but also completely re-defined the blood flow process in western medicine.

3. Abu il-Qasim al-Zahrawi

al-Zahrawi was a Spanish muslim who introduced the concept of surgery as a scientific study. Previous to this, surgery was traditionally practiced by cuppers and barbers, who owned surgical like instruments. Fortunately, due to the research and innovation of al-Zahrawi, surgery is now a refined practice.

In the 10th century in the Andalusia, al-Zahrawi was able to give detailed descriptions on almost 200+ new objects and operation tools. He wrote extensive books on his tools and how he used them. He was one of the first recorded doctors to discuss his use of tools for a female pregnancy. His books were widely spread throughout the European continent and the western medical world. He recorded detailed pictures and added notes to his research of surgery and surgical instruments and because of this, al-Zahrawi helped surgery become the detailed science it is today.

4. Dissection

As grotesque as the idea may be, dissection has always been key in allowing advancements in the medical field to take place. The Arabic medical doctors especially helped to advance medicine by using observation and dissection, starting in the 10th century.

Dissection, or the cutting open and separation of pieces, has long been an important tool in medicine to identify different biological processes, problems and to learn more about the anatomy of both animal and human bodies. Islamic scientists and doctors have made a solid contribution where exploration of the human body is concerned, especially during earlier parts of the millenium.

Considering the fact that religion still dominated over a scientific way of thinking, and that the human body was considered as Allah’s greatest creation, the concept of dissection was understandably always highly debated. However, while not all doctors chose to use this method of scientific exploration, dissection was in fact tolerated at the time and it was this open mindedness and forward thinking of the Islamic culture that lead to such incredible advancements regarding the human body across the medical field.

For more information please refer to: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/176/10/1467.full/


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