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Catalogue: Medical Therapeutics

Blue arrow pointing to the right Kitāb Būr’ al-sā‘ah   (MS A 84, item 4)
(Cure in an Hour)
كتاب برؤ الساعة
by Abū Bakr Muammad ibn Zakarīyā’ al-Rāzī, (d. ca. 925/313)
ابو بكر محمد ابن زكرياء الرازى

This short essay by al-Rāzī concerns ailments that he claims can be cured within an hour's time. They include headache, toothache, earache, colic, itching, loss of feeling in numb extremities, and aching muscles. Judging from the large number of copies preserved today, this was a very popular therapeutic guide.

In addition to one copy of the original Arabic treatise, NLM also has an incomplete Persian translation of Kitab Būr’ al-sā‘ah by al-Rāzī (MS P 5.1, item 2).

NLM also has an anoymous poem (MS P 25, item 4) which is said to be a versification of Būr’ al-sā‘ah and is probably based upon the popular treatise by al-Rāzī. It has been catalogued separately with the medical poetry.

An edition of the Arabic text of Rāzī's treatise was printed by Pierre Guiges, "Bur' al-sa‘ah li-Muhammad ibn Zakariya’ al-Razi," al-Mashriq (1902) vol. 6, pp. 395-402, and a French translation was published by Pierre Guiges, "La guérison en une heure de Razès," Janus (1903) vol. 8, pp. 363-370 and 411-418. Both the Arabic edition and French translation were printed together in Pierre Guiges, La guérison en une heure par Razè's. Kitab Bur' as-sa‘a li-Muhammad Ibn Zakariji al-Rāzī (Beirut, 1904). The NLM copy was not used in this edition and translation.

For other copies, see GAL vol. 1, p. 234-5 (269) no. 9; GAL-S vol. 1, p. 417 no. 9; Sezgin, GAS III, pp. 284-5 no. 8; Ullmann, Medizin, p. 135; Iskandar "UCLA", pp. 39-40; Iskandar, "Wellcome, pp. 90-93.

Kitāb Būr’ al-sā‘ah   (MS A 84, item 4)


Folio 44b of MS A 84 which features the opening of al-Rāzi's Būr’ al-sā‘ah (Cure in an Hour). The beige lightly-glossed paper has single chain lines and watermarks. The text is written in a small compact naskh, with some ligatures, using black ink with headings in red and red overlinings.
MS A 84, fol. 44b

The opening of the treatise on Būr’ al-sā‘ah (Cure in an Hour) by Abū Bakr Muammad ibn Zakarīyā’ al-Rāzī, who died about 925/313. The copy was made in 1564/971.

Physical Description

Arabic. 3 leaves (fols. 44b-46a). Dimensions 20.8 x 14.5 (text area 14.2 x 7.5) cm; 23 lines per page. The title and author are given on fol. 44b, line 1.

The treatise was copied by the same copyist who transcribed the other four items in the volume. In the colophon to the first item (fol. 39a) it is stated that the transcription (naql) was completed at the beginning (fī ibtida') of the month of Sha‘ban 971 [= March 1564] by a scribe named Mas‘ūd ibn Mas‘ūd ibn ‘Alī known as (mulaqqab bi-) Kamāl al-Dīn al-Kirmānī.

An incomplete copy. The text is written in a small compact naskh, with some ligatures, using black ink with headings in red and red overlinings. There are catchwords. The leaves have been frame-ruled, and sometimes the final letters of a word at the end of a line are written at a distance outside the ruling line.

The beige lightly-glossed paper has single chain lines and watermarks. The paper is waterstained, and the edges have been trimmed from their orignal size.

The volume consists of 59 leaves. Item 1 (fols. 1a-39a) is a medical compendium by Mas‘ud ibn Muammad al-Sijzī (MS A 84, item 1); item 2 (fols. 39b-40b) a treatise on the pustules and the prognosis of death falsely attributed to Hippocrates (MS A 84, item 2); item 3 (fols. 41a-44a) a synopsis of a treatise by Galen (MS A 84, item 3); and item 4 (fols. 44b-46a) the treatise here catalogued. The fifth and final item (fols. 46a-59b) is an anonymous medical manual (MS A 84, item 5). All the items are copied by the same copyist.


The volume is bound in a modern library binding of brown leather over boards. Modern pastedowns and endpapers.


The volume was purchased in 1941 by the Army Medical Library from A.S. Yahuda (ELS No. 1708; Med. 19).


Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS, p. 325 entry A 84 item 2.

Hamarneh, "NLM", p. 88.

NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-17 no. 4

Blue arrow pointing to the right Kitab Būr’ al-sā‘ah   (MS P 5.1, item 2)
(Cure in an Hour)
كتاب برؤ الساعة

Several Persian translations of the popular Būr’ al-sā‘ah were made. NLM has an incomplete copy of an anonymous translation.

The beginning of this text corresponds to an anonymous translation in a manuscript preserved today in Bankipore (see Storey, PL II, 2 p. 198 entry d).

Physical Description

Persian. 1 (fol. 315a, line 14, to 315b, bottom). Dimensions 32.4 x 18 (text area 26.5 x 13) cm; 26 and 36 lines per page. The author is given as Muammad ibn Zakarīyā’ al-Rāzī on folio 315a, line 15. The title is not given, but the beginning of the text corresponds to another recorded copy (see Storey, PL II, 2, p. 198, entry d) and the general contents corresponds to that of Bur' al-sa‘ah.

This treatise was added later to a copy of a manuscript completed in the last ten days of the month of Dhu al-Qadah 1159 (= 4-14 November 1746).

The copy is incomplete. The text breaks off abruptly at the bottom of folio 315b, where there is a catchword.

The text is written in a small, casually written nasta‘liq script, using black ink. The text area has been frame-ruled, but the writing does not always adhere to the ruling. There is a catchword at the bottom of the leaf. The rest of the text is missing.

The beige, semi-glossy, brittle paper has horizontal sagging laid lines and chain lines in what appear to be groups of 3's, though they are not always visible; no watermarks were observed. The leaves have been trimmed from their original size. The paper is severely water-damaged at the top but less so along the sides, and it is also soiled through thumbing. The leaves towards the front and back of the volume have tears in them. There is evidence of several earlier attempt to repair tears and holes in the paper. The edges of several leaves have been recently repaired.

The volume consists of 315 leaves and one preliminary leaf. Folios 1b-315a line 13 (MS P 5.1, item 1) is a pharmacopoeia by Rustam Jurjānī. The lower half of fol. 315a and all of 315b (item 2) is the incomplete copy of a Persian translation of Būr’ al-sā‘ah by al-Rāzī here catalogued. Fol. 1a has recipes written in several different hands in a casual script; there is also the impression of an owner's square stamp, of which only the name ‘Alī can be detected. The preliminary leaf (of different, watermarked paper) is blank on one side with miscellaneous recipes, notes, and accounts on the other side, all added by later owners.


The volume is bound in brown leather over pasteboards. The spine (of lighter brown leather) is a replacement. There are brown leather doublures, much deteriorated. There are no endpapers.


The volume was purchased by the National Library of Medicine in May, 2001 from Pickering & Chatto.



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