Al-Zahrawi Endowed Scholarship

To Our members, friends and supporters,

NAAMA San Diego Chapter established the Al-Zahrawi Endowed Scholarship. This scholarship will benefit students studying at any medical or dental school in San Diego County. The scholarship is awarded based on the availability of funds provided through the contributions from NAAMA members, other individuals and corporate partners.

Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas Al-Zahrawi also known in the West as Albucasis, was an Andalusian physician. He was born at Madinat al-Zahra near Cordoba in Islamic Spain in 936 CE and died in 1013 CE. Al Zahrawi established the basis of surgery in Cordoba Al-Andalus, where he worked as the court physician for the Caliph Al-Hakam II. He is considered as the greatest surgeon in the Arab and Islamic medical tradition. His comprehensive medical texts, combining Middle Eastern and Greco-Roman classical teachings, shaped European surgical procedures up until the Renaissance. He wrote a great medical treatise, the “Kitab al-Tasrif”, a 30-volume book of medicine and surgery. Al Zahrawi invented over 200 surgical instruments, many of which are still used today, including forceps, scalpel, surgical needle and retractor, specula and catgut sutures.

The time interval from the 9th to the 13th century remained known as the “Golden period of the Arab science”. One of the most important periods in the development of medicine at all, especially medieval medicine, is the so-called “Golden Age of Arabic Medicine”. In the history of medicine, Islamic medicine, also known as Arabic medicine, refers to the science of medicine developed in the Islamic Golden Age, and written in Arabic. The books of Arabic science that came about in this period are not only by Muslim authors. Arab civilization is the result of consecutive, persistent and continuous efforts of various nations, regardless of the religion, race and color of the skin, who lived and produced in the Arab region.

Developments in science and medicine were initially made through translating scientific works from other languages into Arabic. After this translation phase, scholars in the Arab and Islamic world went on to make important original scientific and technological advances. Islamic societies in this era were multiethnic and multireligious, and important contributions to science and medicine were made by scholars and physicians who were not Arabs or Muslims. For example, much of the work of translating texts into Arabic was done by Christians. Similarly, not all the great physicians of the Islamic era were Arabs; Al Razi and Ibn Sina were born in present-day Iran and Uzbekistan, respectively.

It is also important to emphasize that Arabic medicine and sciences are the pluralist spirit. The basic medical tradition was certainly Greek, but it was influenced by Islamic or Prophetic Medicine, and, to a lesser extent, by folk medicine. Islam in the development of Arabic medicine and sciences was, above all, a motivating factor. The belief that God creates a cure in nature for every existing disease has led to the development of pharmacognosy. The Qur’an as a moral code of the Muslims has evolved the development of professional ethics. Arab and Muslim physicians have put much emphasis on ethical principles in their practice. Most of Arab and Muslim physicians would allocate part of their books on medical ethics.

One of the important innovations in medical practice introduced in the Arab world was the development of hospitals. Before the Islamic era, medical care was largely provided by priests. Arab hospitals introduced many of the features that we see in modern hospitals—eg, qualified physicians, personal and institutional hygiene, medical records, and pharmacies. Hospitals were also institutions that, as well as treating patients, were centers for educating medical students, exchanging medical knowledge, and advancing medical practice. employing inspectors to inspect drugs and maintain quality control of drugs was carried out in that period.

The key to the progress of science is continuity in the comprehension of scientific phenomena, which is enabled by the knowledge of earlier achievements. Knowing the achievements of previous civilizations, the mind is preparing for new discoveries and progress. Until the early flowering of the human intellect came to the shores of the Mediterranean. Sumerian, Babylonian and Egyptian civilizations have paved the way for Greeks and Romans. When they began to collapse, there was a danger of breaking the continuity in understanding natural phenomena, but fortunately for the whole of humanity, the achievements had been collected by the Arabs in the 8th century. Brilliant writings from all fields of science cumulated on the Arab soil and then were translated and adopted by the living, excited and ingenious Arab minds that were adopted and strengthened and enriched with their own wisdom, opaque observations and experiments and passed on to the West.

Al-Zahrawi was fortunate in that he lived and prospered in Cordoba during the heydays of Arabic and Islamic culture and civilization. Owing to the perfect accord amongst Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—three of the medieval world’s greatest religions—arts, science, commerce, and medical sciences flourished immensely. Al-Zahrawi’s insights and innovations, gleaned during over 50 years in the practice of medicine, served as a bridge between the ancient and modern and advanced the knowledge from the past into an educated foundation for the future. Here is how the author expressed his credo in his book “Kitab al-Tasrif”

Whatever I know, I owe solely to my assiduous reading of books of the ancients, to my desire to understand them and to appropriate this science; then I have added the observation and experience of my whole life.

While we have different thought and ideas how to support our community. I believe this modest effort is the first brick for much larger structured program that attracts our youth into an educational as well cultural endeavor.  If we can have more people like you support this program it will succeed. It is a scholarship for our children…funded by YOU!

Please consider donating to the Al-Zahrawi Endowed Scholarship sponsored by NAAMA San Diego Chapter and help medical students who wish to uphold the ideals and heritage of an extraordinary Arabic physician and surgeon.  Your son or daughter may someday benefit!  Please help to keep the legacy going by making your gift today.

Donations to NAAMA are tax deductible. Tax ID 38-2911556

To make your gift online click the donate button.



Raed Al-Naser, M.D.

President-NAAMA San Diego Chapter