Rhazes: The Old Physician, The Modern Doctor

“Put a piece of meat in various parts of town and see in which place it will get rotten more slowly, that would be the proper place for a hospital.” That was the extraordinarily wise and innovative advice of a famous Iranian physician, who at that time lived in Baghdad, to the people who were in search of the most suitable place for building a hospital.



This great physician is no one other than Muhammad Ibn Zakariya Razi, also known as Ar-Razi or Rhazes among European scholars, who for the first time in the history of medicine and chemistry, discovered a chemical substance, which served a great deal to these fields, called “alcohol.


Rhazes 's Life

He was born in 865 A.D in the city of Rey, located in Iran. Though his father tried so hard to make him follow his occupation which was gold smithery, he finally pursued his interest which was alchemy and chemistry at that time. 


Having spent many years of his life as an alchemist, he eventually found out that the only field worth learning and working in, was medicine. Moreover, as Al-Birooni [1] claimed, he lost his eyesight when he was occupied in alchemy and finding a cure for this disability became his motive in turning his direction to medicine.


Rhazes, Razi, scientist, chemist


To learn medicine thoroughly, he left his hometown for Baghdad where the most advanced hospitals were located. He studied and practiced medicine at the local hospital. After spending many years in Baghdad and gaining experience, he moved back to his beloved hometown, Rey.



There, he became the head of its local hospital. He is known to have been the first person who introduced the method of teaching medicine in its modern form used today in our hospitals. As compassionate and devoted as he was, he never stopped curing sick people, rich or poor and teaching medicine to the students of any background.


He died on the 15th of October in 925 A.D where he was born and spent most of his life, in the city of Rey.


Rhazes's Discoveries 


According to the Encyclopedia Britannica [2], he was the first physician who differentiated between measles and smallpox. Besides he is considered to be the father of pediatrics and a pioneer in ophthalmology- the study and treatment of eye disorders and diseases.



He also believed in treatment with proper diet rather than prescribing medicines to his patients. The translation of his most important works in medicine such as “Al-Hawi” [3] and “Al-Mansuri” [4] has long been taught in medical universities of European countries such as Germany and France. 


Razi, Rhazes, Muslim, chemist

He was a devoted Muslim who was profoundly influenced by the teachings of Islam. His idea about the importance of seeking knowledge with one’s full capacity is in close association with the idea of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when he said: “those who peruse knowledge, will be perused by heaven” [4] & [5].



The great Iranian Muslim physician, chemist, and philosopher, Muhammad Ibn Zakariya Razi, with his everlasting contributions in medicine and chemistry, did not remain limited to his time or geographical boundaries. He was the great physician of his time and is considered a respected and influential doctor of our age in all parts of the world.     



[1]. "ar-Razi." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.,   2014. Web. 19 Jun. 2014  


[3]. Mahmud Najm Abadi, The History of Medicine in Iran and World of Islam. Ed. Hossein Hatami. Vol. 2. Tehran: University of Shahid Beheshti.

[4]. Mottaqi Hindi, Kanz al-Aamal.

[5]. M. R. S. Muhammad, Mizan al Hekmah, vol. IV, Qum: Dar al-Hadith Institution, 1386. p.398.