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Islamic Medicine and the cause of disease

Causes of Disease

At the time of Muhammad people in Arabia believed that evil spirits caused diseases. Through reading the works of Hippocrates and Galen they realised that this was not the case and adopted many of the theories suggested by these men such as the theory of the Four Humours.

Developments of Galen and Hippocrates theories

Rhazes said that it was vitally important to observe patients and make notes of all minor details. He was the first man to observe and record the differences between smallpox and measles.

Avicenna wrote the Canon of medicine (still used as a reference book today). This developed some of Galen’s ideas and was used with aspiring doctors in both Arabia and later in the West.


Albucasis said that surgeons should only perform surgery when they were sure of the cause of the pain. He was also insistent that the surgeons should plan what they intended to do prior to surgery. He also emphasis ed the need to ignore personal gain (surgeons could become very wealthy from performing pointless operations).


Islamic law prevented the dissection of bodies. Only Ibn an-Nafis made any real progress, stating that Galen was wrong to say that blood did not pass through the Septum.


Oriental and Islamic medicine - other pages in this section:

Oriental medicine: background, Disease, anatomy and surgery, Islamic medicine, Chinese medicine, Source based activities



Amazon Buyer Review:

This book is based on Greek medicine as understood and some what improved by Avicenna. Gain insight in to the holsitic energetics of health and disease by reading this book. Understand the role within the body of the Four Elements Earth, Water Air and Fire and the Four Humours Blood, Phlegm, Yellow Bile and Black Bile.

Review by Abdul Kareem

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