ABU HULAYQAH (Rashid al-Din Abu al-Wahsh ibn al-Faris)
Rashid al-Din Abu al-Wahsh ibn al-Faris Abi al-Khayr ibn Abi Sulayman Dawud ibn Abi al-Muna ibn Abi Fana Abu Hulayqah; 1195-1277, physician. He spent his first seven or eight years in Edessa. One day his father introduced him to al-‘Adil (r. 1200-1218) and to his son al-Kamil. The latter persuaded Rashid al-Din’s father to send the boy to Damascus to study medicine instead of carrying out his original intention of training him for a military career. He spent a year in Damascus, during which time he learned the Aphorisms and the Prognostics of Hippocrates. He went to Egypt in 1203 to work for al-Kamil (1218-1238), and after his death, for his son al-Malik al-Salih Najm al-Din Ayyub (1240-1249) and subsequently for Najm al-Din’s son al-Mu‘azzam Turan Shah (1249-1250).
After al-Mu‘azzam’s death in 1250, Rashid al-Din worked as a physician for al-Malik al-Zahir Baybars (1260-1277). Toward the end of his life, Rashid al-Din retired to a monastery, where he died in 1277.
Ibn Abi Usaybi‘ah, his contemporary, met him several times and speaks of his great skill in all branches of the medical art, of his qualities of compassion and piety, and of several outstanding cures that he effected through his treatment. He manufactured a remedy inherited from the Greeks and held in great esteem throughout the Arab period as an antidote to poisons and the bite of venomous beasts or reptiles. This medicine was considered so effective that the sultan ordered that he should be provided with his own supply.
Rashid al-Din composed poetry as well as medical works. The manuscript of his Maqalah fi al-Ayarijat (Treatise on Hieras) was found in 1944 in Cairo, together with the manuscript of a work on melancholia.
- Ibn Abi Usaybi‘ah. ‘Uyun al-Anba’ fi Tabaqat al-Atibba, pp. 590-98 Beirut, 1965.
- Sbath, P. Al-Fihris, 2 vols. Cairo, 1938-1939.
- Sbath, P., and C. D. Avierinos, eds. and trans. Deux traités médicaux. Textes arabes et études islamiques 10. Cairo, 1953.
- Ullman, M. Die Medizin im Islam. Leiden, 1970.