Published October 08, 2023 by

Islamic Medicine History : Practices and Contributions

This millennium-long investigation of Islamic medicine's history examines its roots, evolution, major leaders, and long-term impact on healthcare. The story spans a millennium and ties together medical knowledge, cultural exchange, and scientific progress throughout the Islamic world.

The Origins of Islamic Medicine

Pre- Islamic Medical Traditions

The Arabian Peninsula, an area rich in pre-Islamic Arabia, was home to healing practises, surgical procedures, and herbal cures that were vital to Arab, Persian, and Byzantine medical knowledge before to the arrival of Islam.

The Role of Quran and Hadith

The Quran and Hadith, Islam's holy books, are the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad that have shaped Islamic medicine. These works, which serve as a foundation for ethical practise, promote the search of knowledge and healing.

Early Developments in Islamic Medicine

The Translation Movement

During the early Islamic period, the Islamic medical tradition developed, with experts recognising the importance of ancient Greek, Roman, Indian, and Persian books. The "House of Wisdom" in Baghdad, founded in the ninth century, translated Hippocrates' works into Arabic.

The Contributions of Al-Razi (Rhazes)

Al-Razi, a well-known Persian physician, made substantial contributions to Islamic medicine with his comprehensive medical encyclopaedia, the "Kitab al-Hawi." Rhazes, also known as Al-Razi, stressed observation and experimentation, providing the groundwork for empirical medicine and covering a wide range of medical topics.

The Works of Ibn Sina (Avicenna)

Ibn Sina, better known as Avicenna, was a major figure in Islamic medicine, best known for his works on anatomy and disease classification, which became the standard medical textbook in Europe and the Islamic world for centuries.

Surgery in Islamic Medicine 

The "Kitab al-Tasrif" by al-Zahrawi is an important treatise in Islamic medicine, outlining surgical techniques and instruments. His competence in cataract surgery, wound management, and oral surgery is well-known, emphasising Islamic physicians' pioneering contributions to the area of surgery. 

The Golden Age of Islamic Medicine

The Scholarly Legacy of Al-Qarawiyyin

The University of Al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, is recognised by UNESCO as the world's oldest continually operational degree-granting institution. It was founded in 859 CE and has a substantial Scholarly Legacy in terms of conserving and distributing medical information.

The Innovations of Al-Zahrawi (Albucasis)

Al-Zahrawi, a pioneering figure in Islamic dentistry, made substantial contributions to the field of surgery, offering unique instruments and techniques, demonstrating the subject's advanced level at the time.

The Legacy of Al-Biruni

Al-Biruni, a Central Asian polymath, had a tremendous impact on Islamic pharmacy through his contributions to pharmacology and drug classification, indicating his profound effect in a variety of domains.

The Impact of Islamic Medicine on Europe

The Transmission of Medical Knowledge to Europe

Medical knowledge was transmitted from Arabic to Latin, notably Avicenna's "Canon of Medicine," which had a huge impact on mediaeval European medicine, with European medical institutions using Arabic textbooks as foundational literature.

The Influence of Islamic Medicine in Renaissance Europe

In Europe, the Renaissance era saw a revival of interest in ancient knowledge, particularly medicine, with Islamic medical writings translated from Arabic into Latin influencing education and practise. Islamic medicine influenced figures such as Paracelsus.

The Decline and Revival of Islamic Medicine

Challenges to Islamic Medicine

Mongol invasions and political instability in the Islamic heartland resulted in a drop in Islamic medical achievements, forcing a movement of intellectual centres away from the Islamic heartland, thus reducing Islamic medicine's global influence.

Revival and Modern Developments

Islamic medicine has undergone a renaissance in the modern period, with experts combining ancient traditions into modern practise. Integrative medicine techniques, which are rooted in Islamic medical traditions, emphasise holistic health and well-being, transforming Islamic medicine.

Key Concepts in Islamic Medicine

Holistic Medicine

Islamic medicine takes a holistic approach, emphasising basic ideas like mizan, which emphasise the interdependence of body, mind, and spirit.

Moral and Ethical Considerations

The welfare of patients is prioritised by Islamic beliefs, which provide ethical practises that respect confidentiality and uphold beneficence and nonmaleficence.

Unani Medicine

Unani, an important branch of traditional medicine in South Asia, restores health and balance through Islamic teachings and herbal medicines.

Prophetic Medicine

The Hadith of Prophet Muhammad describes a branch of Islamic medicine known as tibb al-nabawi, which focuses on natural cures and nutrition.

Contemporary Islamic Medicine and Global Impact

Islamic Medicine in the Modern World

In the present period, mostly Muslim medical institutions incorporate Islamic medicine into their curricula, with research in areas such as herbal medicine and Islamic bioethics evolving and adapting to modern-day concerns.

Global Research and Influence 

Islamic medicine, a traditional practise that promotes holistic health and prevention, has a global reach. Integrative medicine, a synthesis of ancient therapeutic approaches, has gained acceptance in mainstream healthcare around the world.


The Arabian Peninsula's Islamic academics have had a tremendous impact on global medical knowledge, encouraging holistic health, ethical practise, and a devotion to knowledge. Their legacy lives on in modern medicine, emphasising the importance of cultural diversity in creating our understanding of health and healing.