(i.e., al-Ketāb al-ḥāwi fi’l-ṭebb “Comprehensive book on medicine”), the title of a major Arabic work on medicine in twenty-five volumes by Abu Bakr Moḥammad.


ḤĀWI, AL- (i.e., al-Ketābal-ḥāwifi’l-ṭebb "Comprehensive book on medicine”), the title of a major Arabic work on medicine in twenty-five volumes by Abu Bakr Moḥammad b. Zakariyāʾ Rāzi (b. Rey [classical Rhagai, on the southern outskirts of modern Tehran], 1 Šaʿbān 251/28 August 865; d. 5 Šaʿbān 313/26 October 925; these dates on Biruni’s authority), physician, scientist, philosopher, and prolific author in medicine and ancillary subjects, alchemy, logic, and philosophy. It was translated into Latin in 1279 as Continens by Faraj b. Sālem (Farraguth) and presented to Charles of Anjou, king of Naples.

According to circumstantial but solid evidence, the multi-volume work al-Ḥāwi is the result of a posthumous compilation of Rāzi’s medical notes and commonplace books in the fields of pathology and therapy, materia medica and pharmacy, but excluding anatomy. The Buyid vizier Abu’l-Fażl b. al-ʿAmid (d. 961; see EBN ʿAMĪD) was credited with the initiative to have the book compiled; he is reported to have purchased Rāzi’s papers from a surviving sister of his who had them in her possession and to have had them transcribed and collected by a group of Rāzi’s students (Ebn Abi Oṣaybeʿa, I p. 314; II, 15 ff.). The author had never meant them to be published in their present state; instead, they constituted his reference library and were mainly to serve his long-term and, as he proudly proclaims in his al-Sira al-falsafiya (ed. Kraus, fol. 5a), unprecedented project of a large medical encyclopedia under the title al-JāmeʿColligens” (the nearly orthographical similarity of the titles al-Jāmeʿ and al-Ḥāwi has often led to confusion; see Iskandar, 1975, pp. 41-46). To judge by the sections of al-Jāmeʿ hitherto identified and the bibliographical accounts by Ebn al-Nadim and Ebn Abi Oṣaybeʿa, it may well have encompassed a number of thematically related, but independently titled monographs (cf. Iskandar, 1975, esp. p. 44). Conversely, the possibility that al-Ḥāwi contains some rather more finished and, as it were, publishable sections will have to be entertained as well, pending a thorough examination of all existing manuscripts (see below).

The range of Rāzi’s notes as gathered in al-Ḥāwi convincingly fulfils his requirement that a competent scholar should be thoroughly versed in existing scholarship. For him as a physician, this included the Greek, Sanskrit, Syriac, and early Islamic traditions, not ignoring unattributed hospital practice and “women” (al-nesāʾ; see Najmābādi, p. 127, n. 43) either, regardless of whether or not the he was in agreement; apparently he did not exclude a single source that he had ever had access to. Thus the names quoted run the gamut from the Hippocratic corpus (5th c. B.C.E.–1st cent. C.E.) to Paul of Aegina (fl. 630) and John of Alexandria (fl. 650) among the Greeks; from Caraka (fl. 2nd cent. C.E.) to Aštānkar (i.e., Aṣṭāńgahāṛdaya by Vāgbhaṭa, fl. 600) and Sindhisār (i.e., Siddhasāra by Ravigupta, fl. 650) among the Indians; from Sarjis of Raʿs-al-ʿAyn (Sergius of Rēš ʿAynā, d. 536) to Yuḥannā b. Sarābiun (Bar Serā-pyōn, fl. 873) among Syriac writers; and among Islamic authors from Tiāḏuq (fl. 700) to his own contemporaries, such as Ṯābet b. Qorra (d. 901), Yusof Sāḥer (fl. 905), and Qusṭā b. Luqā (d. 300/912). However, he did not rely on authority alone, but also noted his own, at times contrasting, clinical experience of cures and case histories.

The disposition of the material in al-Ḥāwi (here quoted from the Hyderabad edition) generally follows the traditional order: localized diseases and their therapy from the crown of the head to the sole of the feet (men al-qarn ela’l-qadam, vols. 1-10); worms, gout, etc. (vol. 11); external lesions and their treatment (vols. 12-13); fevers (vols. 14-16); acute diseases (vol. 17); crises (vol. 18); uroscopy, animal bites, etc., poisons (vol. 19); materia medica, pharmacy (vols. 20-22, partly subdivided); diatetics, dermatology (vol. 23). The most plausible assumption seems to be that the extant compilation was derived from a series of notebooks organized by subject; thus the (approximate) duplications of certain excerpts can be explained on the basis of repeated notations as required by the subject under review. Frequently, only one of these multiple occurrences agrees with the original text, which would indicate that it was (more or less) directly copied from the respective exemplar, whereas Rāzi jotted down the others from memory (Weisser, esp. pp. 281 ff.). As a rule, Rāzi took the opening quotation in each section from a pertinent work of Galen as the basis that he laid out for himself and future physicians. His attitude to Galen, perhaps best described as ambivalent rather than critical, has been much discussed throughout history from Rāzi’s lifetime on.

The ambivalence just alluded to is, on the one hand, articulated by the title of his treatise al-Šokuk ʿalā Jālinus “Doubts concerning Galen” and, on the other hand, by his well-nigh insurmountable reluctance to fault Galen for neglecting to discuss smallpox and measles adequately, let alone charging him with ignorance of a problem of such acute urgency; see his often praised but to date understudied monograph Fi’l-jadari wa’l-ḥaṣba "On smallpox and measles,” and the corresponding section in al-Ḥāwi (XVII:1, etc.; cf. Ullmann, p. 134; Richter-Bernburg, 1994, pp. 387 f.). At least in his more declaratory statements, though, Rāzi maintains that knowledge has the potential of infinite growth; provided that a scholar master the knowledge transmitted from preceding generations, he is equally capable of transcending and expanding it. Such temerity, running counter to the culturally dominant mentality, was castigated as a late-born, per se inferior student’s presumption vis-à-vis legimitate authority and violation of a quasi-tabu (Rāzi, Šokuk, pp. 111-14; Ullmann, pp. 68, 159). Consequently, his arguments were never debated on merit as a serious engagement of logical and scientific problems. Yet, the precise relationship in his own thought between received wisdom and well-considered personal experience still wants proper examination. Rāzi’s impact on later generations of medical scholars and writers (cf. Iskandar, 1967, pp. 29-32), is attested by a number of epitomes of al-Ḥāwi (cf. Ullmann, p. 130, n. 5). Within Persian medical literature, apparently the first author to draw specifically on al-Ḥāwi was Abu Bakr Aḵawayni Boḵāri (q.v.), a second generation student of Rāzi. Sayyed Esmāʿil Jorjāni made ample use of it as well (Richter-Bernburg, 1978, pp. 3 ff.), while most of the later gleanings from al-Ḥāwi can be presumed to have been done indirectly. Two noteworthy later works of self-professed indebtedness to al-Ḥāwi are the anonymous and undated compendium Mujaz-e kommi (Rieu, Persian Manuscripts II, p. 460) and Moḥammad Moʾ-men Tonokāboni’s Toḥfat al-moʾmenin (comp. 1090/1679), a large materia medica dedicated to the Safavid Shah Solaymān (Richter-Bernburg, 1978, index, qq.v.).

The immense volume of al-Ḥāwi could not but affect its manuscript transmission; thus notwithstanding the existence of numerous partial copies no complete set of its twenty-five volumes survives. Some of the extant copies still want proper identification (pace Iskandar, 1967, pp. 1-26, 104 f., pls. 8-9, MSS WMS. 123 and 160; at least the former can confidently be identified as the first section of al-Jāmiʿ al-kabir, since the disposition of the material is identical to that quoted by Ebn Abi Uṣaybeʿa, I, pp. 317–18, for al-Jāmiʿ). On the other hand, medicine historically being a relatively non-denominational discipline, interest in al-Ḥāwi transcended religious boundaries, as attested, for instance, by a copy in Hebrew characters and, in Europe, by its Latin translation in 1279 by Faraj b. Sālem, a Jewish physician from Girgenti (i.e., Agrigento, Sicily). It was first printed in one hefty folio volume in Brescia in 1468, with more editions to follow. The complete Arabic text was published in twenty-five volumes in Hyderabad, Deccan, over a period of eighteen years (1955-73). This edition, despite all its merits, unfortunately suffers from the lack of critical text editing. Thus even at the basic level of textual recension, enormous work remains to be done.



Rāzi’s works (as here pertinent). Ra-sāʾel falsafiya maʿa qeṭʿa bāqia men kotobeh al-mafquda/Abi Bakr Mohammadi filii Zachariae Raghensis (Razis) Opera philosophica fragmentaque quae supersunt, ed. Paul Kraus, Universitatis Fouadi I facultatis litterarum publicationum, fasc. 22, Cairo, 1939, pp. 97-111, repr. Beirut, 1973 (see belowfor al-Sira al-falsafiya).

Ketāb al-ḥāwi fi’l-ṭebb,23 parts in 25 vols., Hyderabad, Deccan, 1374-93/1955-73; tr. Faraj b. Sālem (Farraguth) as Continens, ed. Jacobus Britannicus Brixianus, as Liber el-Hauy.i: continentis in medicina quem composuit Bubikir Zacharie Errasis filius 2 vols., Brescia, 1486.

Fi’l-jadari w’-l-ḥaṣba, tr. William Alexander Greenhill as A Treatise on the Smallpox and Measles, London, 1848; tr. Karl Opitz, as Über die Pocken und Masern, Klassiker der Medizin 12, Leipzig, 1911.

Ketāb fi’l-šokuk ʿalā Jālinus, ed. Mahdi Mo-ḥaqqeq, Majmuʿa-ye andiša-ye eslāmi 1, Tehran, 1993.

Al-Sira al-falsafiya, ed. Paul Kraus, as “La Conduite du Philosophe: Traité d’éthique d’Abū Muḥammad [sic!] ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzi,” Orientalia, N.S. 5, 1935, pp. 300-334; in Paul Kraus, ed., Opera philosophica fragmentaque . . . (cited above); tr. Arthur J. Arberry as “Apologia pro vita sua,” in idem, Aspects of Islamic Civilization as Depicted in the Original Texts, London, 1964, pp. 120-30; tr. ʿAbbās Eqbāl with the author’s biography and the bibliography of his works by Mahdi Moḥaqqeq, Tehran, 1964.

Primary sources. Abu Rayḥān Biruni, Resāla fi fehrest kotob Moḥammad b. Zakariyāʾ al-Rāzi, ed. Paul Kraus as Epître de Bêrûnî contenant le répertoire des ouvrages de Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyâ al-Râzî, Paris, 1936, esp. pp. 1-11.

ʿAli b. Reżwān, al-Ketābal-nāfeʿ fi kayfiyat taʿlim ṣenāʿat al-ṭebb, ed. Kamāl Sāmarrāʾi, Baghdad, 1986. ʿAli b. Zayd Bayhaqi, Tatemmat Ṣewān al-ḥekma, ed. M. Šafiʿ, Lahore, 1351/1932, pp. 7 f., no. 5.

Ebn Abi Uṣaybeʿa, Ketāb ʿoyun al-anbāʾ fi Ṭabaqāt al-aṭebbāʾ, ed. August Müller, Cairo, 1882-84, I, esp. pp. 309-21.

Ebn Joljol, Ṭabaqāt al-aṭebbāʾ wa’l-ḥokamāʾ, ed.Foʾād Sayyed as Les générations des médecins et des sages, L’Institut français d’archéologie orientale du Caire, Textes et traductions d’auteurs orientaux 10, Cairo, 1955, esp. pp. 77-80.

Ebn al-Nadim, Ketāb al-fehrest, eds. G. Flügel et al., 2 vols., Leipzig, 1871-72, esp. I, pp. 299-302; tr. Bayard Dodge as The Fihrist of al-Nadim, Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies 81, 2 vols., New York and London, 1970, esp. II, pp. 701-9.

ʿAli b. Yusof Qefṭi, Ketāb eḵbār al-ʿolamāʾ be-aḵbār al-ḥokamāʾ, apud Moḥammd b. ʿAli Zawzani, Ketāb al-muntaḵabāt al-moltaqaṭāt, ed., Julius Lippert as Ibn al-Qefti’s Taʾriḵ al-hokamāʾ, Leipzig, 1903, esp. pp. 271-77.

General references. Albert Dietrich, Medicinalia Arabica: Studien über medizinische Handschriften in türkischen und syrischen Bibliotheken, Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, Abhandlungen, Phil.-Hist. Kl., 3rd ser. 66, Göttingen, 1966, esp. pp. 45-55.

Lenn E. Goodman, “al-Rāzī, Abū Bakr Muḥammad,” in EI2 VIII pp. 474-77.

Idem, “Muḥammad ibn Za-kariyyāʾ al-Rāzī,” in Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman, eds., History of Islamic Philosophy, Routledge History of World Philosophy 1, London and New York, 1996, pp. 198-215.

Albert Z. Iskandar, A Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London 1967, pp. 104 f., 244 f., and index.

Paul Kraus and Shlomo Pines, “al-Rāzī, Abū Bakr Muḥammad,” in EI1 III pp. 1134-36.

Maḥmud Najmābādi, Moʾallafāt wa moṣannafāt-e . . . Rāzi, Tehran, 1992.

Shlomo Pines, “al-Rāzī,” in Dictionary of Scientific Biography, New York, 1970-80, XI, pp. 323-26.

Fuad Sezgin, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, 7 vols., Leiden, 1967-79; III, pp. 274-94; V, p. 282; VI, pp. 187-88; VII, pp. 160, 271-72.

Moritz Steinschneider, Die hebräischen Übersetzungen des Mittelalters und die Juden als Dolmetscher, Berlin, 1893, repr. Graz, 1956, esp. pp. 726, 974.

Idem, in Serapeum: Zeitschrift fürBibliotekwissenschaft, Handschriftenkunde und ältere Litteratur 31, 1870, p. 308.

Manfred Ullmann, Die Medizin im Islam, Handbuch der Orientalistik I. Suppl.VI/1, Leiden, and Cologne, 1970, esp. pp. 128-36; tr. Jean Watt as Islamic Medicine, Islamic Surveys 2, Edinburgh, 1978, pp. 109, 112, 129, nos. 3-6, 14.

Studies. Aziz Pasha, “Al-Hawi (Liber Continens) Abi Beker Mohammad Ben Zakria al-Razi (Rhazes),” Bulletin of the Department of the History of Medicine, Osmania Medical College, Heyferabad, 1, 1963, pp. 163-87; 2, 1964, pp. 23-32.

Jennifer S. Bryson, “The Kitāb al-Ḥāwī of Rāzī (ca. 900 AD): Book One of the Ḥāwī on Brain, Nerve and Mental Disorders: Studies in the Transmission of Texts from Greek into Arabic into Latin,” Ph.D. diss., Yale Univiversity, 2000, University of Michigan Dissertation Services, Ann Arbor, 2001.

Ronald E. Emmerick, “Ravigupta’s Siddhasāra in Arabic,” in Hans R. Roemer and Albrecht Noth, eds., Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur des Vorderen Orients: Festschrift für Bertold Spuler zum siebzigsten Geburtstag, Leiden, 1981, pp. 28-31.

Karl-Dietrich Fischer and Ursula Weisser, “Das Vorwort zur lateinischen Übersetzung des Continens,” Medizinhistorisches Journal 21, 1986, pp. 211-41.

Albert Z. Iskandar, “The Medical Bibliography of Al-Rāzī,” in George F. Hourani, ed., Essays on Islamic Philosophy and Science, Albany, New York, 1975, pp. 41-46.

Idem, “Critical Studies in the Works of al-Rāzi and Ebn Sinā,” in Proceedings of the First International Conference on Islamic Medicine II, Kuwait, 1981, pp. 149-50.

M. Mayrhof, “Thirty-Three Clinical Observation by Rhazes (circa A.D. 900),” Isis 23, 1935, pp. 321-56.

Mohammed Muti Kanawati, “Ar-Razi: Drogenkunde und Toxikologie im “al-Kitab al-Hawi” (Liber continens) unter Berücksichtigung der Verfälschungs- und Qualitätskontrolle,” Ph.D. diss., Philipps Universität, Marburg an der Lahn, 1975.

Mahdi Muḥaqqeq, Filsuf-e Rey, Tehran, 1970.

Shlomo Pines, “Rāzī critique de Galien,” in Actes du VIIe Congrès International d’Histoire des Sciences, Jerusalem 1953, Collection des Travaux de l’Académie internationale d’Histoire des Sciences 8, Paris, 1954, pp. 480-87; repr. in idem, The Collected Works of Shlomo Pines II: Studies in Arabic Versions of Greek Texts and in Medieval Science, Jerusalem, Magnes, and Leiden, 1986, pp. 256-63.

Idem, “What Was Original in Arabic Science?” in Alistair Cameron Crombie, ed., Scientific Change: Historical Studies in the Intellectual, Social, and Technical Conditions for Scientific Discovery and Technical Invention from Antiquity to the Present, Symposium on the History of Science, University of Oxford, 1961, London, 1963, pp. 181-205; repr. in idem, The Collected Works . . . , pp. 329-53. Lutz Richter-Bernburg, Persian Medical Manuscripts at the University of California, Los Angeles: A Descriptive Catalogue, HumanaCivilitas 4, Malibu, Calif, 1978.

Idem, “Abū Bakr Muḥammad al-Rāzī’s (Rhazes) Medical Works,” Medicina nei Secoli Arte e Scienza 6, 1994, pp. 377-92.

Jutta, Schönfeld, “Zur Zahnheilkunde in ar-Rāzī’s Kitāb al-Ḥāwī,” Proceedings of the XXIIIrd International Congress for the History of Medicine, 2-9 September 1972, London, 1974, pp. 962-67.

Sarah Stroumsa, Freethinkers of Medieval Islam: Ibn al-Rāwandī, Abū Bakr al-Rāzī and Their Impact on Islamic Thought, Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Science, Texts and Studies 35, Leiden, 1999.

Owsei Temkin, “A Medieval Translation of Rhazes’ Clinical Observations,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 12, 1942, pp. 102-17.

Ursula Weisser, “Die Zitate aus Galens De methodo medendi im Ḥāwī des Rāzī,” in, Gerhard Endress, and Remke Kruk, eds., The Ancient Tradition in Christian and Islamic Hellenism: Studies on the Transmission of Greek Philosophy and Sciences, Dedicated to H. J. DrossaartLulofs on His Ninetieth Birthday, Leiden, 1997, pp. 279-318.

(Lutz Richter-Bernburg)

Originally Published: December 15, 2003

Last Updated: December 15, 2003

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