AL-MUFADDAL IBN MAJID IBN AL-BISHR
Also known by the name of Ibn al-Bishr al-Katib (the secretary), a famous Coptic physician who lived during the mid-thirteenth century. M. Steinschneider suggested that he was a Jew, and C. Brockelmann, following that example, gave Mufaddal the name of al-Isra’ili. In most manuscripts, however, he is simply called al- Qibti.
He authored a medical treatise, written in verse, totaling nearly 3,500 verses, called Naq‘ al-Ghalal/wa naf‘ al-‘alal (Treatise on How to Quench Thirst [for Medical Knowledge]). The work opens with various definitions, discusses different medicines, and ends with the subject of poisons.
We possess the autographed manuscript written by al-Mufaddal himself in A.H. 667/A.D. 1268/1269 (National Library, Paris, Arabe 2997, 137 sheets with 13 lines per page).
The text remains unedited, and for its identification we quote the incipit: “Al-hamdu li-llahi al-ladhi abda‘a-l-bashara naran wa-ma’an wa- hawa’an wa-madara!” which may be translated “Praise be to God who created man,/Fire, water, air and earth!”
Besides the autograph manuscript mentioned above, at least five others are known under his name.
- Brockelmann, C. Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, Vol. 1, pp. 492, 493; (no. 35); 2d ed., vol. 1, p. 649 (no. 35). Leiden, 1949. Supplement 1, p. 890 (no. 35). Leiden, 1936.
- Cheikho, L. “Catalogue raisonné des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Orientale de l’Université Saint-Joseph.” Mélanges de l’Université 8 (1922):419, no. 308.
- Sbath, P. Al-Fihris (Catalogue de manuscrits arabes), Vol. 1. pp. 63f., no. 516. Cairo, 1938.
- . “Manuscrits arabes d’auteurs coptes.” Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie copte 5 (1939):159-73, especially p. 168, no. 64.
- Slane, W. McGuckin baron de. Catalogue des manuscrits arabes de la Bibliothèque nationale, pp. 533, 534. Paris, 1883-1895.
- Steinschneider, M. Die arabische Literatur der Juden. Ein Beitrag zur Literaturgeschichte der Araber grossenteils aus handschriftlichen Quellen, p. 239. Frankfurt am Main, 1902; repr. Hildesheim, 1964.
KHALIL SAMIR, S.J