Biography of Ali Bin Rabban Al-Tabari

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This accomplished Hakim was the tutor of the unparalleled physician Zaksriya al-Razi. Luck favoured the disciple more than the teacher in terms of celebrity. As compared to Razi people know very little about histeacher Ali. Ali Bin Rabban’s surname was Abu al-Hasan, the full name being Abu al-Hasan Ali Bin Sahl Rabban al-Tabari. Born in 838 C.E. his father Sahl hailed from a respectable Jew family. The nobility and sympathy inherent in his very nature soon endeared him to his countrymen so much so that they used to call him Rabban which implies “my leader”.

Professionally Sahl was an extremely successful physician. He had command over the art of calligraphy too. Besides he had a deep insight into the disciplines of Astronomy, Philosophy, Mathematics and Literature. Some complicated articles of Batlemus’s book al-Mijasti came to be resolved by way of Sahl’s scholarly expertise, translators preceding him had failed to solve the mystery. Ali received his education in thedisciplines of Medical science and calligraphy from his able father Sahl and attained perfection in these fields. He had also mastered Syriac and Greeklanguages to a high degree of proficiency. Ali hailed from a Israelite family. Since he had embraced Islam, he is classified amongst Muslim Scholars. This family belonged to Tabristan’s famous city Marv.

The fame acquired by Ali Bin Rabban did not simply account for the reason that a physician of the stature of Zaksriya al-Razi was amongst his disciple. In fact the main cause behind his exalta- tion lies in his world-renowned treatise Firdous al-Hikmat.

Spread over seven parts, Firdous al-Hikmat is the first ever Medical encyclopaedia which incorporates all the branches of medical science in its folds. This work has been published in this century (20th century) only. Prior to this publication only five of his manuscripts were to be found scattered in libraries the world over. Dr. Mohammed Zubair Siddiqui compared and edited the manuscripts. In his preface he has provided extremely useful information regarding the book and the author and, wherever felt necessary, explanatory notes have been written to facilitate publication of this work on modern publishing standards.

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