ŠIRĀZI, Nur-al-Din Moḥammad ʿAbd-Allāh


ŠIRĀZI, Nur-al-Din Moḥammad ʿAbd-Allāh, Indo-Muslim physician and one of the main Persian authors of works on medical subjects in India in the 17th century. He was born in India, a descendent, most likely the son of ʿAyn-al-Molk Širāzi (d. 1595), a leading physician at the court of Jalāl-al-Din Akbar. His mother was the sister of the two prominent court scholars, namely, the historian Abu’l-Fażl ʿAllāmi and the court poet Abu’l-Fayż Fayżi (Ḥasani, V, p. 407). Nur-al-Din, too, received the title of ʿAyn al-Molk from Šāh Jahān (r. 1628-58), and later he held the post of divān-e boyutāt in Akbarābād under Awrangzēb (r. 1658-1707; Moḥammad-Kāẓem, p. 344). He also wrote on subjects other than medicine, including a treatise called Marāteb al-wojud on the mystical concept of “the unity of being” (waḥdat al-wojud) and collected the letters of Abu’l-Fażl (Roqaʿāt-e Šayḵ Abu’l-Fażl) and Fayżi (Laṭifa-ye fayyāżi). His Ṭebb-e dārā-šokuhi (com. 1646) seems to be the largest Persian medical work of encyclopaedic character composed in India, covering most medical topics as well as discussions of a few other non-medical scientific topics. Some manuscripts copies contain illustrations (cf. Speziale, pp. 925, 927).

The medical scene of Muslim India was characterized by the production of Persian works on Indian medicine, among which the Ṭebb-e dārā-šokuhi constitutes a main effort aiming to incorporate the Indian knowledge of medicine into a Persian medical encyclopaedia. The work was dedicated to prince Dārā Šokoh (d. 1659), who was known for his studies of the Indian traditions, while Nur-al-Din’s uncle, Fayżi, was the Persian translator of Bhāskara’s Lilāvatī, a Sanskrit text on arithmetic. Nur-al-Din dedicated to the physician and Mughal noble Amān-Allāh Khan the Qosṭās al-aṯebbāʾ (comp. 1630-31), an extensive dictionary of Arabic and Persian medical terms. But the medical work of his that reached the wider diffusion among Indian physicians is the Alfāẓ al-adwia (1628-29), which was dedicated to Šāh Jahān. Alfāẓ al-adwia is a compact dictionary of 1,441 drugs, including those of India. It has been copied several times and at least seven editions were printed in India in the second half of 19th century. Francis Gladwin published in 1793 an English translation, including the edition of names of drugs, at the recommendation of the hospital board of Fort William. Širāzi’s other medical treatises are Anis al-moʿālejin, a compendium on pathology and treatment, and Sabab-e setta-ye rašidi on hygiene.


ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy Ḥasani, Nozhat al-ḵawāṭer wa bahjat al-masāmeʿ wa’l-nawāẓer: motażammen ʿalā tarājem olamāʾ al-Hend wa aʿyānehā men al-qarn al-awwal ela’l-qarn al-sābeʿ, 3rd ed., 8 vols., Hyderabad, 1990.

D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey, Bombay etc., 1967, pp. 325, 381-82, 560.

Monši Moḥammad-Kāẓem b. Moḥammad-Amin, ʿĀlamgir-nāma, ed. Ḵādem Ḥosayn and ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy, Calcutta, 1868.

Aḥmad Monzawi, Fehrest-e nosḵahā-ye ḵaṭṭi-e fārsi, 5 vols. in 7, Tehran, 1969-74, I, p. 475.

Nur-al-Din Moḥammad Širāzi, Ṭebb-e dārā-šokuhi, Ms. Pers. 6226, Ketāb-ḵāna-ye Majles, Tehran; selections tr. by David Price as “Extracts from the Mualiját Dárá-Shekohí: Selected and Translated by Major David Price,” Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society III/1, 1832, pp. 32-56.

Idem, Alfāẓ al-adwia, Kanpur, 1881; tr. Francis Gladwin as Ulfáz Udwiyeh, or the Materia Medica, Calcutta, 1793.

Idem, Anis al-moʿālejin, Kanpur, 1895.

Fabrizio Speziale, “La medicina greco-araba in India,” Storia della scienza II, Rome, 2001, pp. 921-28.

March 20, 2009

(Fabrizio Speziale)

Originally Published: July 15, 2009

Last Updated: July 15, 2009