Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi

The Medieval era in the history of the world shows little to write home about in terms of development and a flourishing society. However if viewed under the microscope of development of Islamic Science and understanding of Physiology; there are numerous bright spots among which Muhammad ibn Zakriya al-Razi is one of the brightest. He holds his own amongst the greatest surgeons and philosophers in the history of the Muslim world. Also know as Rhazes or Rasis, he was born in 865 AD in Al-Ray near Tehran. He was to breathe his last breath in the same city in 925 AD as a beacon of light for the doctors and surgeons for many generations to come.


Muhammad ibn Zakriya al-Razi was a prominent physician, scholar, alchemist, philosopher and a renowned chemist. Choosing medicine as his field, Al-Razi was amongst the first few exponents of experimental medicine. His monogram on the diseases in childrenearned him the title of “Father of Pediatrics.” He is also considered one of the pioneers of neurosurgery. Writing more than 100 books on medicine including; Arabian Medicine, he distinguished himself as the greatest Muslim physician and writer of his generation. To him is also accredited the title of being the first physician to distinguish between measles and small pox.


As an alchemist and a philosopher, his contributions to the respective fields are unprecedented. Al-Razi developed several laboratory instruments that are still in use today. He was able to perfect the method of distillation and extraction; using which he was the first to distill kerosene and petroleum: a method necessary for us to be able to run our cars on the fuel today. He was also instrumental in the study of sulfuric acid, a necessary ingredient in thousands of applications in the modern era. Al-Razi also richly contributed to the field of philosophy. He also tried classifying chemical substances and was the first to classify substances into vegetables, animals and minerals.
Exploring new avenues with the beam of knowledge, understanding and boldness, in the otherwise dark middle ages, Muhammad ibn Zakriya al-Razi was able to make tremendous contributions in various fields of science. The Encyclopedia of Islam says, “Rhazes remained up to the 17th century the indisputable authority of medicine.” George Sarton, attributed by many as the founder of history of science, said, “Rhazes was the greatest physician of Islam and the Medieval Ages.” Not only amongst the Muslim population, Zakriya al-Razi is remembered world over for his unprecedented and unequivocal contributions to the various fields of science. His contributions will be remembered and cherished by Muslims and non-Muslims alike for many generations to come.