Some Pharmaceutical Recipes for the Treatment of the Bubonic Pest Contained into the Kitab Al-Tahsil of Ibn Khatima (d.1369)
By Luisa Maria Arvide Cambra
Advances in Pharmacology and Pharmacy, Vol.1:2 (2013)
Abstract: This paper is a study of fragments of the work entitled in Arabic Tahsil gharad al-qasid fi-tafsil al-marad al-wafid, which was written in the 14th century by the well known Spanish physician Ibn Khatima and which refers to the epidemics of the pest, the terrible pandemic that struck humanity in the 14th century and devastated Asia, Africa and Europe at that time. The article includes an Introduction about the author and the medical and pharmaceutical significance of the work, as well as a section containing the English translation of a few pages of Part VI, according to the Arabic manuscript 1785 from the Library of El Escorial, relating to the treatment of disease, that contain interesting remedies and recipes from the pharmaceutical and the medical points of view.
Abu Dja‘far Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Khatima Al-Ansari, known as Ibn Khatima, is one of the most important intellectuals of the Medieval Moorish Spain. He wrote works in different fields, such as literature (poetry), history and medicine, and his major work in the sphere of medicine is entitled Tahsil gharad al-qasid fi-tafsil al-marad al-wafid (Achieving the goal of clarifying the disease of the pest), which is collected in three Arabic manuscripts: a) no.1785 from the Library of El Escorial in Spain, the most complete of them; b) no.6369 from Deutsche Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, in Germany, very close to the manuscript of the Escorial but more fragmented than it; and c) no.CCLXVIII from National Library of Madrid, in Spain, which is a literal copy of the manuscript of El Escorial.
The work is divided into ten questions or parts. The six first refer to medical topics: causes, symptoms and treatment to combat the plague; and the four remaining are of religious nature and deal about what Islam says about the epidemics and the plagues.The pandemic of the 14th century that according to Ibn Khatima originated in China soon spread throughout the world and caused millions of dead.