Ibn Zuhr

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Ibn Zuhr ابن زهر
Avenzoar (c. 1906) - Veloso Salgado.png
Born 1094
Seville, Almoravid dynasty, now Province of Seville, Spain
Died 1162 (aged 68)
Seville, Almoravid dynasty, now Province of Seville, Spain
Residence Al-Andalus
Academic background
  • Abu al-'Ala' (father)
  • Galen
Academic work
Era Medieval Islamic civilization
Notable works Kitab al-Taisir fi al-Mudawat wa al-Tadbir
Influenced Averroes, Maimonides, Pietro d'Abano, Guy de Chauliac

Ibn Zuhr (Arabic: ابن زهر‎; 1094–1162), traditionally known by his Latinized name of Avenzoar, was an Arab physician, surgeon, and poet. He was born at Seville in medieval Andalusia (present-day Spain), was a contemporary of Averroes and Ibn Tufail, and was the most well-regarded physician of his era.[1] He was particularly known for his emphasis on a more rational, empiric basis of medicine. His major work, Al-Taysīr fil-Mudāwāt wal-Tadbīr ("Book of Simplification Concerning Therapeutics and Diet"), was translated into Latin and Hebrew and was influential to the progress of surgery. He also improved surgical and medical knowledge by keying out several diseases and their treatments.

Ibn Zuhr performed the first experimental tracheotomy on a goat.[2] He is thought to have made the earliest description of bezoar stones as medicinal items.[3]



His full name is Abū-Marwān ʻAbd al-Malik ibn Abī al-ʻAlāʼ Ibn Zuhr (أبو مروان عبد الملك بن أبي العلاء بن زهر). His name was Latinized as Avenzoar, Abumeron, Abhomeron, Alomehón or Abhomjeron.

Early life

He was born in Seville and belonged to the Banu Zuhr family (of Arab origin), which produced six consecutive generations of physicians, and included jurists, poets, viziers or courtiers, and midwives who served under rulers of Al-Andalus.[4][5] He studied medicine with his father, Abu'l-Ala Zuhr (d.1131)[6] at an early age.

According to Leo Africanus, ibn Zuhr heard Averroes lecture, and learned physic from him. He was a great admirer of Galen, and in his writings he protests emphatically against quackery and the superstitious remedies of astrologers.[7]

Exile and return to Seville

He fell out of favour of with the Almoravid ruler, 'Ali bin Yusuf bin Tashufin, and fled from Seville. He was however, apprehended and jailed in Marrakesh in 1140. Later in 1147 when the Almohad dynasty conquered Seville, he returned and devoted himself to medical practice. He died in Seville in 1162.


Ibn Zuhr wrote three major books:[8]

  • Kitab al-iqtisad fi Islah Al-Anfus WA al-Ajsad, written in his youth.
  • Kitab al-aghdhiya, on foods and regimen of health, written in exile in Morocco.
  • Kitab al-taysir, his magnum opus and written at the request of his colleague Averroes.


Ibn Zuhr presented an accurate description of the esophageal and stomach cancers, as well as other lesions.[9][10]

Animal testing

Ibn Zuhr introduced animal testing as an experimental method of testing surgical procedures before applying them to human patients.[11]

Identification of Scabies.

He is the first to record evidence of the Scabies mite, which contributed to the scientific advancement of microbiology.[12]


The Jewish physician-philosopher Maimonides admired Ibn Zuhr,[13] describing him as "unique in his age and one of the great sages". He frequently quoted him in his medical texts.[14] He performed medical procedures on animals before doing them on humans to know if they would work. Both his daughter and granddaughter also became physicians, specializing in obstetrics. This was 700 years prior to the first female physicians graduating in the United States.[15]


  • He was depicted on a 1968 stamp from Syria.[16]

See also


  1. ^ Azar 2008, p. 1.
  2. ^ Missori, Paolo; Brunetto, Giacoma M.; Domenicucci, Maurizio (7 February 2012). "Origin of the Cannula for Tracheotomy During the Middle Ages and Renaissance". World Journal of Surgery. 36 (4): 928–934. doi:10.1007/s00268-012-1435-1. 
  3. ^ Byrne, Joseph P. Encyclopedia of the Black Death. ABC-CLIO. p. 33. ISBN 1598842536. 
  4. ^ Azar 2008, p. 1.
  5. ^ The Art as a Profession, United States National Library of Medicine
  6. ^ Arvide Cambra, L.M. (2015), "Abu l-'Ala' Zuhr, The Quack of Al-Andalus", International Journal of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education (IJHSSE), vol. 2, no. 10, pp. 99-102.
  7. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Avenzoar". Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 54. 
  8. ^ Azar 2008, p. 3.
  9. ^ Tweel, Jan G.; Taylor, Clive R. (25 May 2010). "A brief history of pathology". Virchows Archiv. 457 (1): 3–10. doi:10.1007/s00428-010-0934-4. PMC 2895866Freely accessible. PMID 20499087. 
  10. ^ "2 Early concepts of cancer", 2000, Cancer and metastasis reviews, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 205-205.
  11. ^ Hajar, Rachel (1 January 2011). "Animal testing and medicine". Heart Views. 12 (1): 42. doi:10.4103/1995-705X.81548. PMC 3123518Freely accessible. PMID 21731811. 
  12. ^ Microbiology in islam http://www.diwanalarab.com/spip.php?article34512
  13. ^ Kraemer, Joel L. (2010). Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization's Greatest Minds. Random House of Canada. p. 91. ISBN 0385512007. 
  14. ^ Azar 2008, p. 2.
  15. ^ "Ibn Zuhr and the Progress of Surgery | Muslim Heritage". muslimheritage.com. Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  16. ^ Shulman, S.T., M.D. 2002, "Otitis media: Old problem, new problem", Pediatric annals, vol. 31, no. 12, pp. 767-768.


  • Azar, Henry (2008). The Sage of Seville: Ibn Zuhr, His Time, and His Medical Legacy. Cairo: American University in Cairo. ISBN 9774161556.  Azar, Henry A. (2008). The Sage of Seville: Ibn Zuhr, His Time, and His Medical Legacy. American Univ in Cairo Press. ISBN 9789774161551. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  • Millán, Cristina Álvarez (2005). "Ibn Zuhr". In Glick, Thomas F.; Livesey, Steven John; Wallis, Faith. Medieval Science, Technology, and Medicine: An Encyclopedia. Routledge encyclopedias of the Middle Ages ; v. 11. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415969301. 

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