ʿABDALLĀH B. ʿĪSĀ B. BAḴTAVAYH, ABU’L-ḤOSAYN, medical author of the early 5th/11th century, of Vāseṭī background. His own name as well as his father’s name suggest that he may have been a convert to Islam, for ʿAbdallāh is a name typical of a neophyte. His father and grandfather, to judge from their Syro-Persian names, appear to have belonged to the indigenous Christian—probably Nestorian—Aramaic speaking population of Mesopotamia.

ʿĪsā b. Baḵtavayh is reported to have been a physician, and ʿAbdallāh’s son may also have taken up this profession. In 420/1029 ʿAbdallāh composed for his son what appears to be his major work, Ketāb al-moqaddamāt, also known as Kanz al-aṭebbāʾ. The book was available to Ebn Abī Oṣaybeʿa, who twice quotes from it and, in all likelihood, derives from it his information on the date and circumstances of its composition. Ketāb al-moqaddamāt was probably a kind of primer for a young man ready to step out into the life of the medical profession. To judge by the quotations in Ebn Abī Oṣaybeʿa, e.g., of a process of making ice using saltpeter, the loss of the book is to be deplored. In addition to this work, Ebn Abī Oṣaybeʿa mentions two treatises on more specialized subjects: Ketāb al-qaṣd elā maʿrefat al-faṣd, on bloodletting, and Ketāb al-zohd fi’l-ṭebb, of which one would like to know whether it dealt with asceticism as a therapeutic measure or as a moral attitude on the part of the physician.


Ebn Abī Oṣaybeʿa, ʿOyūn al-anbāʿ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭebbāʾ, ed. August Müller, Cairo and Königsberg, 1882-84, I, pp. 82, 209, 253.

Sezgin, GAS III, p. 335.

Edmund O. von Lippmann, Abhandlungen und Vorlesungen zur Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften I, Leipzig, 1906, pp. 122-24.

(L. Richter-Bernburg)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 15, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, p. 181

Cite this entry:

L. Richter-Bernburg, “Abdallab B. Isa,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, p. 181; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abdallah-b-isa-b-baktavayh-medical-author-early-11th-century (accessed on 17 January 2014.