Islam and Pharmacy

About the Author: Saira Akbar is one the students of Hajvery University, Lahore, Pakistan. She is studying in Pharm. D.

Islam and Pharmacy

The origin of Islamic study can be traced back to the time of Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H), and a significant number of hadiths concerning medicines are attributed to Him.

Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H) appears to be first recorded as directly stating that there is always a cause and cure for every disease, according to several hadiths attributed to Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H), such as:
“There is no disease that ALLAH has created, except that He also has created its treatment.”
“Make use of treatment, for ALLAH has not made a disease for it, without appointing a remedy for it, with the exception of one disease, name was old age.”
“For every disease, ALLAH has given a cure.”
“The one, who sent down the disease, sent down the remedy.”

[hana-code-insert name=’StumbleUpon’ /][hana-code-insert name=’Reddit’ /]The belief that there is a cure for every disease encouraged early Muslim to engage in medical research and seek out cures for diseases known to them. Muslim physicians soon began making many of their own significant advances and contributions to medicines, including the fields of allergology, anatomy, bacteriology, botany, dentistry, etiology, immunology, microbiology, ophthalmology, pathology, pediatrics, physiology, psychology, pulsology, surgery, therapy, urology, zoology and pharmaceutical sciences such as pharmacy and pharmacology.

The emergence of professional pharmacy in medieval Islam as a separate entity from medicine has followed almost the same pattern of development as that which modeled other branches of the health field during this period. But difficulty arose from the fact that there was no clear governmental legislation to prohibit the pharmacist from diagnosing and giving medical treatment to his customers or to restrict the physician from compounding and dispensing drugs to his patients. They prohibited not only in rural areas but also in cities, prevented pharmacy from attaining professional status. Nevertheless, in larger hospitals and centers close to governmental supervision retail pharmacists as well as those in hospital and government service enjoyed recognition and prestige.

The seventh century saw the institution and the expansion of the Arabic empire and the wide spread of the new faith, Islam, as the spiritual force behind it. In the early 8th century, Arabic military power reached its climax under the Umayyad dynasty in Damascus. Then the Abbasids took over (750-1258), and the centre of activity moved from Syria to Iraq, where a new era of cultural progress shortly started.
The first drugstore was opened by Muslim pharmacists in Baghdad in 754, during the Abbasid Caliphate, which is also known as the “Islamic Golden Age”.

Pharmacology took roots in Islam during the 9th century. In the beginning, medicines and chemistry was kept separate from pharmacy; the 9th century was the time, when pharmacists were first recognized. There were not only simply stores – where one can buy medicines and drugs – pharmacists in those stores had also been skilled and knowledgeable in compounding, preserving and storing the different types of drugs.

Abu al Qasim al –Zahrawi (Abulcasis), regarded as the father of modern surgery, contributed greatly to the discipline of medical surgery with Kitab al-tasrif. Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi pioneered the preparation of medicines by sublimations and distillation.

Avicenna (Ibn Sina) is regarded as “father of modern medicines.” His medical encyclopedia, the Canon of Medicine, remained a standard text book in Europe for centuries. He also introduced the clinical pharmacology and the separations of medicines from pharmacology which was important to the development of the pharmaceutical sciences.

Al –Beruni wrote one of the most valuable Islamic works on pharmacology entitled ‘Kitab al-Saydalah’ where he gave detailed knowledge of the properties of drugs and outlined the roles of pharmacy and duties of pharmacists.

Ibn Al-Thahabi was famous for writing the first known alphabetical encyclopedia of medicines.

AL –Kandi was a renowned 9th century Arab doctor, who wrote many books on the subject of medicines. His most important work in the field was De Gradibus (Latinized name of the book), in which he demonstrated the application of mathematics, particularly in the field of pharmacology.

Other medical contributions first introduced by Muslims including the distinction between pharmacy and medicines. There is an endless river of their contributions in medicine world.

Further Reading:

Browne E.G. “Arabian Medicine”, M. Sirajud- din and Sons, Publishers, Lahore

Garrison F.H., “History of Medicine”. 4th edition, W.B.Saunders Co.,Philadelphia.