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Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi

abd al-latif al-baghdadi, abd al-latif al-baghdadi quotes about life
Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi, short for Muwaffaq al-Din Muhammad Abd al-Latif ibn Yusuf al-Baghdadi Arabic: موفق الدين محمد عبد اللطيف بن يوسف البغدادي‎‎; 1162–1231, or Abdallatif al-Baghdadi Arabic: عبداللطيف البغدادي‎‎, born in Baghdad, Abbasid Caliphate modern Iraq, was a physician, historian, Egyptologist and traveler, and one of the most voluminous writers of the Near East in his time1


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Account of Egypt
    • 21 Archeology
    • 22 Egyptology
    • 23 Autopsy
    • 24 Translation
  • 3 Medical works
    • 31 Al-Mukhtarat fi al-Tibb
    • 32 Medicine from the Book and the Life of the Prophet
    • 33 Diabetes
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 References


Many details of Abd al-Latif's life are known from his autobiography As a young man, he studied grammar, law, tradition, medicine, alchemy and philosophy He focused his studies on ancient authors, in particular Aristotle, after first adopting Avicenna as his philosophical mentor at the suggestion of a wandering scholar from the Maghreb He travelled extensively and resided for a while in Mosul in 1189 where he studied the works of al-Suhrawardi before travelling on to Damascus 1190 and the camp of Saladin outside Acre 1191 It was at the latter location that he met Baha’ al-Din Ibn Shaddad and ‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani and acquired the qadi al-Fadil's patronage He went on to Cairo, where he met Abu'l-Qasim al-Shari'i, who introduced him to the works of al-Farabi, Alexander of Aphrodisias, and Themistius and according to al-Latif turned him away from Avicenna and alchemy23

He met Saladin himself in 1192 at Jerusalem, then went to Damascus again before returning to Cairo In later years he again journeyed to Jerusalem and to Damascus in 1207-8, and eventually made his way via Aleppo to Erzindjan, where he remained at the court of Ala’-al-Din Da’ud until the city was conquered by the Seljuk ruler Kayqubadh ‘Abd al-Latif returned to Baghdad in 1229, travelling back via Erzerum, Kamakh, Diwrigi and Malatiya He died in Baghdad two years later23

Account of Egyptedit

Abdallatif was undoubtedly a man of great knowledge and of an inquisitive and penetrating mind Of the numerous works mostly on medicine which Osaiba ascribes to him, one only, his graphic and detailed Account of Egypt in two parts, appears to be known in Europe4


Abd-al-Latif was well aware of the value of ancient monuments and praised Muslim rulers for preserving and protecting pre-Islamic artifacts and monuments He noted that the preservation of antiquities presented a number of benefits for Muslims:5

  • "monuments are useful historical evidence for chronologies;"
  • "they furnish evidence for Holy Scriptures, since the Qur'an mentions them and their people;"
  • "they are reminders of human endurance and fate;"
  • "they show, to a degree, the politics and history of ancestors, the richness of their sciences, and the genius of their thought"

While discussing the profession of treasure hunting, he notes that poorer treasure hunters were often sponsored by rich businessmen to go on archeological expeditions In some cases, an expedition could turn out to be fraud, with the treasure hunter disappearing with large amounts of money extracted from sponsors This fraudulent practice continues to the present day, with rich businessmen in Egypt still being deceived by local treasure hunters6


This work was one of the earliest works on Egyptology It contains a vivid description of a famine caused, during the author's residence in Egypt, by the Nile failing to overflow its banks4 He also wrote detailed descriptions on ancient Egyptian monuments7


Al-Baghdadi wrote that during the famine in Egypt in 597 AH 1200 AD, he had the opportunity to observe and examine a large number of skeletons This was one of the earliest examples of a postmortem autopsy, through which he discovered that Galen was incorrect regarding the formation of the bones of the lower jaw and sacrum8


The Arabic manuscript was discovered in 1665 by Edward Pococke the orientalist, and preserved in the Bodleian Library4 He then published the Arabic manuscript in the 1680s His son, Edward Pococke the Younger, translated the work into Latin, though he was only able to publish less than half of his work Thomas Hunt attempted to publish Pococke's complete translation in 1746, though his attempt was unsuccessful9 Pococke's complete Latin translation was eventually published by Joseph White of Oxford in 1800 The work was then translated into French, with valuable notes, by Silvestre de Sacy in 181010

Medical worksedit

Al-Mukhtarat fi al-Tibbedit

Al-Baghdadi's Mukhtarat fi al-Tibb was one of the earliest works on hirudotherapy He introduced a more modern use for medicinal leech, stating that leech could be used for cleaning the tissues after surgical operations He did, however, understand that there is a risk over using leech, and advised patients that leech need to be cleaned before being used and that the dirt or dust "clinging to a leech should be wiped off" before application He further writes that after the leech has sucked out the blood, salt should be "sprinkled on the affected part of the human body"11

Medicine from the Book and the Life of the Prophetedit

He wrote a book called Al-Tibb min al-Kitab wa-al-Sunna Medicine from the Book and the Life of the Prophet describing the Islamic medical practices from the time of Muhammad12


Al-Baghdadi was also the author of a major book dealing with diabetes12


  1. ^ Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 3
  2. ^ a b Leaman, Oliver 2015 The Biographical Encyclopedia of Islamic Philosophy Bloomsbury Academic p 44 ISBN 978-1-4725-6944-8 
  3. ^ a b Meri, Josef W 2005 Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia Psychology Press p 2 ISBN 978-0-415-96690-0 
  4. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed 1911 "Abdallatif" Encyclopædia Britannica 1 11th ed Cambridge University Press pp 30–31 
  5. ^ El Daly, Okasha 2004, Egyptology: The Missing Millennium : Ancient Egypt in Medieval Arabic Writings, Routledge, p 10, ISBN 1-84472-063-2 
  6. ^ El Daly, Okasha 2004, Egyptology: The Missing Millennium: Ancient Egypt in Medieval Arabic Writings, Routledge, p 36, ISBN 1-84472-063-2 
  7. ^ Dr Okasha El Daly 2005, Egyptology: The Missing Millennium: Ancient Egypt in Medieval Arabic Writings, UCL Press, ISBN 1-84472-063-2 cf Arabic Study of Ancient Egypt, Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation
  8. ^ Emilie Savage-Smith 1996, "Medicine", in Roshdi Rashed, ed, Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, Vol 3, p 903–962 951 Routledge, London and New York
  9. ^ G J Toomer 1996, Eastern Wisedome and Learning: The Study of Arabic in Seventeenth-Century England, pp 272-273, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-820291-1
  10. ^ G J Toomer 1996, Eastern Wisedome and Learning: The Study of Arabic in Seventeenth-Century England, p 275, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-820291-1
  11. ^ Nurdeen Deuraseh, "Ahadith of the Prophet on Healing in Three Things al-Shifa’ fi Thalatha: An Interpretational", Journal of the International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine, 2004 3: 14–20 18
  12. ^ a b The Prophet’s Medicine: Part One


  • Cecilia Martini Bonadeo, 'Abd al-Laṭif al-Bagdadi's Philosophical Journey: from Aristotle's "Metaphysics" to the "Metaphysical Science" , Brill, 2013, XII-378 p
  • Silvestre de Sacy, Relation de l'Egypt par Adb al-Latif, Paris, 1810 – French translation of the "Account of Egypt"

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