AHRUN IBN A‘YAN AL-QASS

A and physician of Alexandria who, with OF AIGINA, was one of the last great physicians of the School of Alexandria. Contrary to the opinion of F. Sezgin, who thinks that Ahrun lived in the sixth century, he lived in the seventh century and at the beginning of the eighth century as can be deduced from a verse dated 720-721, composed by the poet al-Hakam ibn ‘Abdal.

Ahrun composed a thirty-volume medical anthology entitled Pandektés or Syntagma, which was translated into Syriac by Gosios in the thirteenth century, as stated by Bar Hebraeus (d. 1686). According to the ninth-century of medicine, Ibn Juljul, it would have been translated from Syriac into Arabic with the title al-Kunnash (Anthology) by the Jew Masarjawayh al-Basri at the beginning of the seventh century, but this is doubtful. The  and the Syriac translation have been lost. Approximately one hundred extracts survive in the medical encyclopedia of Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al-Razi (865-925), entitled al-Hawi (Continens in Latin). These extracts have been listed by Sezgin (1970) and Ullmann (1970). Al-Qifti (p. 324, ll. 17-18) states concerning the Ahrun anthology that it is “the best of the ancient medical anthologies.”

This work was well known to the medieval Arabic physicians. It is quoted by Yuhanna ibn Masawayh (777-857), ‘Ali ibn  Ibrahim ibn Bakhtishu‘ in the second half of the eleventh century, al-Ghafiqi in the twelfth century, al-Qalanisi in 1194, Maimonides (1139- 1204), Ibn al-Baytar (d. 1248), Najm al-Din Mahmud al-Shirazi (d. 1330), the Lisan al-Din Ibn al-Khatib (d. 1374), and others.

Apart from this magnum opus, al- five times quotes a Kitab al-Fa’iq, which is probably an extract of the foregoing. Another extract survives in Arabic with the title Kitab al-Adwiyah al-Qatilah (Book of Lethal Medicines) in the manuscript library of the Museum of Baghdad.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Dietrich, A. “Ahrun.” In Encyclopedie de l’Islam, 2nd ed., suppl. 1- 2, pp. 52-53. Leiden, 1980 (French edition).
  • Jamal al-Din . . . Ibn al-Qifti. Tarikh al-Hukama’, ed. Lippert. Leipzig, 1903.
  • Sezgin, F. des arabischen Schrifttums, Vol. 3, pp. 168- 70 (with bibliography). Leiden, 1970. Still in progress.
  • Ullmann, M. Die Medizin im Islam, pp. 87-89 (with bibliography). Leiden, 1970.

KHALIL SAMIR, S.J.