By: Peter E. Pormann, Emilie Savage-Smith
The medical tradition that developed in the lands of Islam during the medieval period (c. 650--1500) has, like few others, influenced the fates and fortunes of countless human beings. It is the story of contact and cultural exchange across countries and creeds, affecting caliphs, kings, courtiers, courtesans, and the common crowd.
In addition to being fascinating in its own right, it formed the roots from which modern Western medicine arose. Contrary to the stereotypical picture, medieval Islamic medicine was not simply a conduit for Greek ideas, but was a locus for innovation and change. The book is organised around five topics: the emergence of medieval Islamic medicine and its intense cross-pollination with other cultures, the theoretical medical framework, the function of physicians within the larger society, the medical care as seen through preserved case histories, and the role of magic and devout religious invocations in scholarly as well as everyday medicine.
A concluding chapter on the 'afterlife' concerns the impact of medieval Islamic medicine upon the European medical tradition and its continued practice today. The aim of this book is not to compress the entire history of medieval Islamic medicine into a single small volume. Rather, it presents an overview, highlighted with particular examples.