Biography: Ibn Al-Baytar إبن البيطار

Abu Muhammad Dia' al-Din Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Al-Baytar al-Maliqial-Andalusi أبو محمد ضياء الدين عبد الله بن أحمد بن البيطار المالقي الأندلسي. (b. 575 A.H./1179 C.E. d. 646 A.H./1248 C.E.). He was a famed physician, herbalist, pharmacist, and botanist.

His name is spelled Ibn al-Baytar or Ibn al-Baitar, and refers to the profession of his father, being a veterinarian.

He was born in Benalmadena, near Malaga in the kingdom of Granada.

After studying on the reknown Ibn al-Rumeyya إبن الرومية in Seville for a while, he left his native Spain when he was about 24 years old, never returning to it.

He knew Greek and Syriac, and was able to study references written in those languages, as well as those that were written in Arabic, such as that of his teacher, Ibn al-Rumeyya, and al-Ghafiqi's الغافقي works.

He travelled widely in North Africa, Greece, Asia Minor, Persia, Iraq, Egypt, and Syria collecting and studying medicinal plants. He served the Ayubid rulers of the eastern Mediterranean, and lived between Egypt and Syria.

His knowledge was transferred to his students, among them Ibn Abi Usaybi'ah إبن أبي أصيبعة , chronicler of physicians and pharmacists, who not only praised his knowledge in Tabaqat al-Atiba' طبقات الأطباء but also his personal traits such as his manners and amicable personality.

He died in Damascus.

Works

His two most famous works were compendiums in drugs and medicines:

  • al-Mughni fi al-Adweya al-Mufrada المغني في الأدوية المفردة. (The Ultimate in Materia Medica)
  • al-Jami' li Mufradat al Adweya wa al-Aghtheya الجامع لمفردات الأدوية و الأغذية (The Complete [book] in Simple Medicaments and Nutritious items). This is an alphabetical guide for 1,400 simple pharmaceutical items from his own observations, as well as 260 sources that he quotes from Galen to Dioscorides of old, to al-Ghafiqi an his teacher Ibn al-Rumeyya. About 300 of those were new to science. Check a detailed description of the book in Arabic, and this manuscript page from it. More discussion of the book in this article.

He also wrote other works:

  • Mizan al-Tabib ميزان الطبيب (The Physician's Balance)
  • Al-Ibana wa al-I'lam 'ala ma fi al-Minhaj min al-Khalal wa al-Awham الإبانة والإعلام على ما في المنهاج من الخلل والأوهام. This is a critique of an earlier pharmaceutical work, منهاج البيان فيما يستعمله الإنسان Minhaj al-Bayan fi ma yasta'meluhu al-Insan by Abu Ali Yahya ibn Jazla al-Baghdadi (d. 493 A.H. / 1100 C.E.). It is interesting to note that Ibn Al-Baytar's teacher, Ibn al-Rumeyya, has also wrote a critique, al-Tanbih 'ala Aghlat al-Ghafiqi التنبيه على أغلاط الغافقي which exposes errors in al-Adweya al-Mufrada.
  • Al-Af'al al-Ghariba wa al-Khawas al-'Ajiba الأفعال الغريبة والخواص العجيبة

Of Interest

Ibn al-Baytar mentioned in al-Jami' how electricity from the electric ray can be used to treat headache and stomach aches. He observes that dead fish do not have this effect, and only live fish can do that. He also observes different species that he saw in Southern Spain's coast where he grew up (Torpedo nobiliana ?), and in Egypt (Torpedo torpedo?).

References

Contents: 

Comments

FIGURE OF IBN AL BAYTAR

We are an Official Lacemaker Association of Benalmadena city (Spain).
we want to prepare our shield with one drawn/figure/Monument of Ibn al Baytar.

Perhaps you could send us one or some to choose and to be the centre our stamp into our
communications/Meetings, etc.,

Thanks in advance for your help and sorry for my deficient English

Manolo Ramón
Asociación Encajeras de bolillos "Ibn al Baytar"
BENALMADENA COSTA - SPAIN

www.encajeras.es

ibn al baytar and argan oil,

hello from Germany,
may name is rachid hamama, i am a moroccan, born in morocco- agadir- live now in germany,
i have seen once a film abot ibn albaytar, he was the first one who descreib argab tree und argan oil.
cann aou send me waht he wrot about agan tree please, in any language you want. i prefer in arabic, but in german, french, englich.. important is to konow und to anderstand .
all the best

Rachid hamama