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Catalogue: Pharmaceutics

Blue arrow pointing to the right Kitāb a-Munji fī al-ibb wa-al-tadāwī min unūf al-amrā wa-al-shakāwá   (MS A 46)
(Success in Medicine and in Therapy among the Categories of Diseases and Complaints)
كتاب منجح فى الطب والتداوى من صنوف الامراض والشكاوى
by Ibrāhīm ibn Abī Sa‘īd ibn Ibrāhīm al-‘Alā’ī (fl. 12th century)
ابراهيم ابن ابى سعيد ابن ابراهيم المغربى العلائى

This is a treatise on medicinal substances, usually written in the format of synoptic tables. The treatise was apparently composed for Dhu al-Qarnayn ibn Isma'il Danishmendid, a ruler in Anatolia (in Malatya and Elbistan) from 1151 to 1162 (547-557 H); see H.P.J. Renaud, "Une problème de bibliographie arabe: Le Taqwim al-Adwiya d'al-‘Ala’i", Hespéris, 1933, 16: 79-81.

It consists of a lengthy introduction followed by 28 chapters, one for each letter of the alphabet (in the order of the abjad-alphabet) and a final section giving alternative names for medicaments which were discussed in the previous chapters. Within each chapter (bab) the medicaments are listed that begin with the given letter, and, for each item, 16 categories of information are supplied: 1. the name, 2. quality, 3. type, 4. preferred state, 5. temperament, 6. strength, 7. its usefulness for parts of the head, 8. its usefulness for respiratory ailments, 9. its usefulness for the digestive organs, 10. its usefulness for the body as a whole, 11. its manner of production, 12. how much is to be used, 13. its harmful properties, 14. its antidote, 15. its substitute, and 16. the number assigned the medicament in the treatise (a total of 550). The last category is omitted in those copies which are not written in the form of tables.

For other copies, see Ullmann, Medizin, pp. 275-6; GAL-S, vol. 1, pp. 890-1 not. 17a and vol. 2, p.1032 no. 51; London, Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, Arabic MS 58 and Haddad Coll. MS 476 (Iskandar, "Wellcome", pp. 201-2); Phoenix, Arizona, Coll. of Sami Ibrahim Haddad, MS 35; Oxford, Bodleian Library, Oriental Collections, MS Hyde 35 completed on 17 Rabi‘ II 896 (= 27 February 1491) by an unnamed scribe; MS Marsh 173, item 1, on the first day of Muharram 1034 (= 14 October 1624), and MS Marsh 564 (undated).

Physical Description

Arabic. 140 leaves (fols. 1a-140b). Dimensions 22.8 x 15.4 (text area18.5 x 10.8) cm; 19 lines (varying in tables). The title is given in the text (fol. 24b line 9-10) and in the colophon (fol. 140b lines 3-4); a variant appears on the title page (fol. 1a): a-Munji fī al-adwiyah al-mufradah yusammi aydan a-Munji fī al-tadāwī min unūf al-amrā wa-al-shakāwá (translation: 'Success in simple medicaments also called Success in treatment among the categories of diseases and complaints'). The author's full name is given on fol. 24a, lines 10-13 and in the colophon (fol. 140b, lines 5-7) as Abū Sa‘īd ibn Ibrāhīm al-Maghribī the physician known as (al-mutatabbib al-ma‘ruf bi-) al-‘Alā’ī; in both places it is clearly written as ‘Alā’ī. On the title page (fol. 1a, apparently a later addition) the name is given again but with the last part written as ‘Aslāwī; the author is usually referred to as ‘Alā’ī. A later note on the title page states in Arabic that the author of this book was contemporary with the Amir Dhu al-Qarnayn (who ruled 1152-62).

The copy is undated and unsigned. The appearance of the paper, ink, and script suggests a dating of ca. 1800.

The text is written in a medium-large naskh, smaller in the tables, using a brown ink with maroon overlinings. It is written within thin frames of doubled maroon lines. There are catchwords. Beginning with fol. 29 the tables are numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals. Thirteen quires of varying lengths have been numbered.

The pale beige paper is matte-finished and has horizontal laid lines, single chain lines, and watermarks (initials). Dampness has affected the ink of the text and there is much bleed-through, with the writing on one side shows through to the reverse side. The edges of pages are decorated with red marbling.

The volume consists of 143 leaves. Fols. 141-143 are blank.


Binding of red leather with five stamped devices and tooled borders and frames on front and back covers and spine; pastedowns and endpapers contemporaneous with manuscript.


Purchased in 1941 by the Army Medical Library from A. S. Yahuda who acquired it in Fez, Morocco (ELS 1674 Med. 23).


Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS., entry A 46, p.312

NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-121 no. 3

Welcome Getting started Medieval Islam Catalogue Bio-bibliographies Glossary Abbreviations Credits About the Author Concordances A 1 - A 29 A 30 - A 59 A 60 - A 89 A 90 - A 92 P 1 - P 29 Authors, Translators & Commentators Copyists & Illustrators Owners & Patrons