An Arab named al-Ḥārith ibn Kaladah al-Thaqafī is said to have studied medicine at Gondeshapur in Persia. He is also reported to have held learned discussions with the Persian ruler Khusraw Anushirwan, who died in AD 579. This treatise is supposed to contain his discussions on medical questions which he had with the Persian ruler. The authenticity of this interchange, however, is doubtful.
For data regarding this enigmatic figure, see G.R. Hawking, 'The Development of the Biography of al-Harith ibn Kalada and the Relationship between Medicine and Islam', in The Islamic World from Classical to Modern Times: Essays in Honor of Bernard Lewis, ed. C.E. Bosworth, C. Issawi, et alii (Princeton, NJ: Darwin Press, 1989), pp. 127-40.
The treatise al-Risālah fī al-as’ilah al-ṭabī‘īyah al-Ḥārithīyah (The Essay on the Natural Questions of al-Ḥārith) concerns various questions regarding the natural world, and may be part of the Arabic versions of the genre known later in the Latin world as Problemata physica. For the latter, see Ullmann, Medizin, pp. 93-96.
The treatise is also known under the title al-Muhawarat fī al-tibb baynahu wa-bayna Nushirawan and is reproduced nearly in its entirey in the history of physicians written by Ibn Abi Usaybi'ah in the 13th century (see IAU, vol. 1, pp. 110-112).
Manuscript copies independent of the history by Ibn Abi Usaybi‘ah are rare. The NLM copy is a fragment, as is the copy in the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin (see Ahlwardt, Berlin, entry 6246, folios 31b-33b). A complete 17th-century copy is preserved at the University of Tokyo, Institute of Oriental Culture, Daiber Collection, MS. 113 folios 143v-146r; see Hans Daiber, Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts in the Daiber Collection II, Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, Tokyo: The Documentation Center for Asian Studies, University of Tokyo, 1996, p. 149 entry 219. See also, Sezgin, GAS III pp. 203-204.
A German translation by Hamed Wally was published in Drei Kapitel aus der Aeztegeschichte des Ibn Abi Osaibi'a, Diss. (Berlin, 1910), pp. 26-36.
al-Risālah fī al-as’ilah al-ṭabī‘īyah al-Ḥārithīyah (MS A 82, item 4)
A fragment of the treatise on questions regarding the natural world attributed to >al-Ḥārith ibn Kaladah al-Thaqafī, who was born before the advent of Islam. It is purported to be based on learned discussions he held with the Persian ruler Khusraw Anushirwan (who died in AD 579). The copy is undated and appears to be of the late 17th or early 18th century.
Arabic. 2 leaves (fols. 201b-202a). Dimensions 20.5 x 13.5; text area 15.5 x 8.7 cm; 21 lines per page. The title is taken from fol. 202a, line 15. In the title, the author is referred to as al-Ḥārith.
The copy is undated and unsigned. It is written on the same paper used for the rest of the volume, which contains two items copies in 1012 (= 1604) (MS A 82, item 1; MS A 82, item 3). It is likely that this item was added after the other items.
The text is written in a small naskh script tending toward ta‘liq and was transcribed by a very different hand than copied the rest of the volume. Black ink. There are no catchwords and no rubrications The marginal notes differ from those in the rest of the volume and are of more recent date.
The entire volume is written on the same type of paper. It is a glossy ivory paper with vertical laid lines, single chain lines and is watermarked (with initials NC and with small grapes). There is water damage across the top and at the corners.
The volume consists of 202 leaves. Fol. 87b has two later notes giving recipes. Fols. 88ab and 89a are blank. The entire volume is written on the same type of paper. Item 1 (fols. 1a-87a) is Najīb al-Dīn al-Samarqandī's Kitāb al-Aghdhiyah wa-al-ashribah (MS A 82, item 1); item 2 (fols. 89b-176b) is his Kitāb al-Qarābādhīn ‘alá tartīb al-‘ilal (MS A 82, item 2); item 3 (fols. 177b-201a) his Kitāb al-Aghdhiyat al-marḍá (MS A 82, item 3); and item 4 (fols. 201b-202a) is the al-Risālah fī al-as’ilah al-ṭabī‘īyah al-Ḥārithīyah here catalogued. Fol. 202b contains miscellaneous later therapeutic notes and recipes, in Arabic and Turkish.
The front cover is made of red leather over pasteboards. It has a blind-stamped central medallion, scalloped and with internal vegetal design. Blind quadrant lines and diagonals, decorated with S-stamps radiate from the central design. The wide frame is formed of blind fillets on either side of blind-tooled S-stamps. The spine and back cover are recent red leather replacements. There are modern paper pastedowns and endpapers.
There are owners' notes on fol. 1a (not dated).
The volume was purchased in 1941 by the Army Medical Library from A. S. Yahuda who acquired it in Damietta, Egypt. According to A.S. Yahuda's notes, he assigned to the manuscript the number ELS 1691 Med. 20 - a number also written in the volume.
Schullian/Sommer, Cat. in incun. & MSS. p. 324, entry A82 no. 4, where no author is given.
Hamarneh, "NLM", p. 99-100.
NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-127 no. 6.