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Balīnās was a name given in Arabic to two different figures, the mathematician Apollonius of Perge (fl. ca 200 BC) and Apollonius of Tyana in Cappadocia (1st century AD). In an alchemical context it is the latter figure that is intended, though there are many contradictions in the sources regarding Apollonius of Tyana. His name is associated with various magical, alchemical, and talismanic writings.

For this enigmatic figure, see Ullmann, Natur, pp. 378-81 and 405; Sezgin, GAS IV, pp. 77-91; and M. Plessner, 'Balīnās' in EI (2nd ed.), vol. 1, pp. 94-5. For Arabic alchemical writings attributed to Balīnās, see Syed Nomanul Haq, Names, Natures and Things: The Alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan and his Kitab al-Ahjar (Book of Stones), [Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 158], Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1994, pp. 203-6. See also, pseudo-Apollonius of Tyana, Kitab sirr al-khalliqa wa-san'at al-tabi‘a, Ursula Weisser (Aleppo, 1979).


see Yuannā ibn Bukhtīshū

al-Bistamī, ‘Abd al-Ramān ibn Muammad ibn ‘Alī ibn Amad (d. 1454/858)

Born in Antioch, educated in Cairo, ‘Abd al-Ramān al-Bistamī went to Bursa in Turkey where he was in the service of Sultan Murad II, to whom he dedicated several writings. Al-Bistamī was a mystic, belonging to the Hurufi order of dervishes, and a writer of occult literature. He was particularly interested in the mystical significance of the letters of the alphabet, and he composed a number of writings on various occult subjects, as well as on history and geography.

For his life and writings, see M. Smith, ‘al-Bistamī, ‘Abd al-Ramān' in EI (2nd ed.), vol. 1, p. 1248; GAL , vol. 2, pp. 231-2 (300-1); GAL-S, vol. 2, pp. 323-4; and Ullmann, Natur, p. 242.


see Yuannā ibn Bukhtīshū

al-Būnī, Abū al-‘Abbās Amad ibn ‘Alī ibn Yūsuf (d. 1225/622)

His Shams al-ma‘arif ('The Illumination of Knowledge') was the most widely read medieval Isamic treatise on talismans, magic squares, and all manner of occult practices. Virtually nothing is known of his life, though he is said to have died in Cairo in 1225/622. Of his numerous writings, the Shams al-ma‘arif was the most influential.

For his writings, see Ullmann, Natur, pp. 390-1; GAL, vol. 1, pp 497-8 (655-6); GAL-S, vol. 1, p. 910; and F. Maddison and E. Savage-Smith, Science, Tools & Magic [Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, 12] (Oxford: Oxford University Press and London: Azimuth Edition, 1997), pp. 64-9.

al-Būnī al-Tamīmī, Amad ibn Qāsim ibn Muammad Sāsī (d. 1691/1103)
احمد ابن قاسم ابن محمد ساسى البونى التميمى

Born in 1594/1003 in Būna in North Africa, al-Būnī al-Tamīmī lived to be almost 100 years old. He was a writer on occult and magical practices, and several of his treatises are preserved today.

For his writings and what little is known of his life, see GAL-S, vol. 2, p. 715.


Constantine the African (d. 1087)

Constantine the African translated into Latin some of the major Arabic medical treatises that were written before the middle of the 11th century, including the encyclopedia by ‘Alī ibn al-‘Abbās al-Majūsī and the treatise on forgetfulness by Ibn al-Jazzār. Little reliable information is available regarding the life of Constantine the African. He appears to have been born in Tunis at the beginning of the 11th century and studied medicine there, after which he settled in Italy, converted to Christianity, and became a monk at the Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino, which he died in 1087.

For his life and translations, see Constantine the African and ‘Alī ibn al-‘Abbās al-Magūsī: The Pantegni and Related Texts, ed. by Charles Burnett and Danielle Jacquart (Leiden: Brill, 1994).

Croll, Oswald (d. 1609)

Oswald Croll was professor of medicine at the University of Marburg and was one of the great propagandists for the chemical approach to medicine. Many consider him responsible for gaining official recognition for the medicinal value of many of the chemicals advocated by the followers of Paracelsus. Croll's Latin treatise Basilica chymica (or 'Royal Chemistry') was published in Frankfurt in the year of his death, 1609, and it became immensely popular and the standard introduction to chemical medicine (often termed iatrochemistry). It set out the methods of preparation of the chemicals as well as the contents of compound remedies in far greater detail and organization than could be found in the vague and abstruse writings of Paracelsus himself or of many of his subsequent enthusiasts. The second half of the 'Royal Chemistry' was translated into Arabic by Ibn Sallūm.

For Croll's life and writing, see Gerald Schröder, 'Crollius, Oswald' in DSB, vol. 3, pp. 471-2; Allen G. Debus, The Chemical Philosophy: Paracelsian Science and Medicine in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (New York: Science History Publications, 1977), vol. 1, pp. 117-126; and Owen Hannaway, The Chemists and the Word: TheDidactic Origins of Chemistry (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975).


Damanhūrī, Amad ibn ‘Abd al-Mun‘im (d. 1778/1192)
احمد ابن عبد المنعم الدمنهورى

Amad al-Damanhūrī was an encyclopedist who worked in Cairo and died on 4 August 1778 (10 Rajab 1192). In addition to an autobiography, he is known to have composed a large number of treatises including several on medical topics. Amongst his preserved writings are two medical treatises: a treatise on anatomy (al-Qawl al-arī fī ‘ilm al-tashrī, "The true word about the science of anatomy") in a unique copy now at NLM (MS A 54) and a treatise on haemorrhoids (al-Kalam al-yasir fī ‘ilaj al-maq‘adah wa-al-buwasir, "A small discourse on the treatment of the buttocks and haemorrhoids") in a unique copy now in Leiden. A poem on metaphysics is also preserved today in Berlin.

For his life and works, see GAL-S vol. II, p. 498. For his treatise on haemorrhoids, see J.J. Witkam, Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts in the Library of the University of Leiden and Other Collections in the Netherlands (Bibliotheca Universitatis Leidensis, Codicus Manuscripti XXI). fasc. 3 (Leiden: Brill, 1985), p. 288 (MS. Or. 14.183). For his metaphysical poem, see Ahlwardt, Berlin, entry 5147.

al-Damīrī, Muammad ibn Mūsá (d. 1405/808)
محمد ابن موسى الدميرى

Born in Cairo in 1341/742, al-Damīrī began his working life as a tailor, but then decided to become a theologian. He eventually established an excellent reputation for competence in Muslim jurisprudence, Qur'anic exegesis, Arabic philology, and belles letters. He taught at a number of locations in Cairo, including al-Azhar, and he died there in 1408/808. He was known far and wide for his zoological compendium, ayāt al-ayawān (The Life of Animals), in which he gathered all available philological, medical, proverbial, folkloric, and divinatory material relating to animals. The National Library of Medicine has an important copy of this compendium-one that was transcribed before the author's death.

For his life and writings, see L. Kopf, 'al-Damiri' in EI (2nd ed.) , vol. 2, pp. 107-8; Ullmann, Natur, pp. 39-40; and J.D. Somogyi, 'Ad-Damīrī's ayāt al-ayawān: An Arabic Zoological Lexicon', Osiris, vol. 9 (1950), pp. 33-43; J.D. Somogyi, 'Medicine in ad-Damiri's ayāt al-ayawān', Journal of Semitic Studies,, vol. 2 (1957), pp. 62-91; J.D. Somogyi, 'Magic in ad-Damīrī's ayāt Al-ayawān', Journal of Semitic Studies, vol. 3 (1958), pp. 265-287; and J.D. Somogyi, 'The Interpretation of Dreams in ad-Damīrī's ayāt al-ayawān', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1940, pp. 1-20.

Dā’ūd ibn Abū al-Faraj (dates uncertain)
ابو الفرج

Dā’ūd ibn Abū al-Faraj, occasionally written simply as Dā’ūd al-hakim ('Dā’ūd the doctor'), is sometimes given as the author of a treatise on Prophetic medicine. This particular treatise, however, appears to have been actually composed by the historian and legal scholar al-Dhahabī, who died in 1348/748. This same treatise has also been incorrectly attributed to another legal scholar, al-Suyūī, who died in 1505/911. For a discussion this confusion regarding the author of the treatise on Prophetic medicine, see NLM MS A 79 and MS A 32.

Dā’ūd ibn Abū al-Faraj is otherwise unrecorded, and no further information is available on when or where he might have live.

al-Dhahabī, Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muammad ibn Amad ibn ‘Uthmān (d. 1348/748)
ابو عبد الله محمد ابن احمد ابن عثمان الذهبى

Al-Dhahabī was born in Damascus in 1274/673 and spent most of his life in Syria. He became an important historian, theologian, and adherent of the Shafi‘i school of jurisprudence, famous for studying day and night, even after he became blind in 1342 (or possibly as early as 1340). He had a number of students and has left a considerable body of writings. His best-known writing was his History of Islam (Ta'rīkh al-Islam), which begins with a genealogy of the Prophet Muhammad and ends with the year 1300/700. Other, shorter, historical and lexicographical treatises are preserved, and he apparently also composed a treatise on Prophetic medicine which is preserved today in several copies, including two now at NLM.

For his life and compositions, see M. Ben Cheneb and J. de Somogyi, 'Dhahabī' in EI (2nd ed.), vol. 2, pp. 214-6.

al-Dimashqī, Shams al-Dīn, Muammad ibn Abī Tālib al-Anārī al-ūfī (d. 1327/727)
شمس الدين محمد ابن ابى طالب الدمشقى الانصارى الصوفى

Al-Dimashqī was a versatile scholar and imam in Rabwah, a village near Damascus in Syria. He is probably best known for his cosmological writings concerned with 'wonders of the world', but his Arabic treatise on physiognomy was also very popular, however, judging from the large number of preserved copies, of which NLM has one copy.

For his life and writings, see D. M. Dunlop, 'Dimashki' in EI (2nd ed.), vol. 2, p. 291; L. Richter-Bernburg, 'al-Dimashqī, Shams al-Dīn' in Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, ed. by Julie Scott Meisami and Paul Starkey (London: Routledge, 1998), vol. 1, pp. 194-5; and Ullmann, Natur, p. 34 and 130. See also Toufic Fahd, La divination arabe: etudes religieuses, sociologiques et folkloriques sur le milieu natif de l'Islam (Strasbourg: Université de Strasbourg, Faculté des Letters et Sciences Humaines, 1966), pp. 386-7.

Dioscorides (fl. c. AD 65)

Dioscorides of Anazarbus, according to tradition, studied botany in Tarsus in Asia Minor. Around the year A.D. 65 he composed in Greek a treatise on medicinal substances that was to have a profound influence in the history of medicine. The treatise became the basis of subsequent treatises on materia medica for centuries. The treatise consisted of five books, to which two books (on poisonous plants and animals) was later added and falsely attributed to Dioscorides. Several Arabic versions were made, and many of the preserved manuscript copies are richly illustrated with paintings of plants and other medical substances. Occasionally, especially in 13th-century Baghdad, manuscripts were made which included paintings of physicians preparing the medicinals.

John M. Riddle, Dioscorides on Pharmacy and Medicine (Austin, University of Texas Press, 1985); John Riddle, "Dioscorides" in Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum, ed. Paul O. Kristeller, vol. 4 (Washington: Catholic University Press, 1980), pp. 1-143; and Ullmann, Medizin, pp. 257-263. For a study of the Arabic illustrated copies, see Ernst J. Grube, "Materialien zum Dioskurides Arabicus", in Aus der Welt der islamischen Kunst: Festschrift für Ernst Kühnel (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1959), pp. 163-194. See also M.M. Sadek, The Arabic Materia Medica of Dioscorides (Quebec 1983).


see Dioscorides

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