Friday, July 25, 2014

A00035 - Ibn al-Jazzar, Author of Zad al-Mussafir, a Medical Treatise

Ahmed Ben Jaafar Ben Brahim Ibn al-Jazzar al-Qayrawani (c. 895 – c. 979) (Arabic: أبو جعفر أحمد بن أبي خالد بن الجزار القيرواني‎), was an influential 10th-century Muslim physician who became famous for his writings on Islamic medicine. He was born in Qayrawan in modern-day Tunisia. He was known in Europe by the Latinized name Algizar.

We know the biography of Ibn al-Jazzar only by an Andalusian physician Ibn Joljol and he only knew it by his student Ibn Bariq, who went to Qayrawan, Tunisia to learn medicine. The writers of Tabakates or "classes of famous men" generally considered writing only for Faquih, the benefactors and the saints. Thus, the information we have about Ibn  al-Jazzar is second hand.

Ahmed Ben Jaafar Ben Brahim Ibn al-Jazzar was born in Qayrawan around 895, and died around 979. He had learned the Qu'ran at kuttab in his youth, and grammar, theology, fiqh and history at the mosque Okba Ibn Nafaa. Ibn al-Jazzar learned medicine from his father and his uncle that were physicians, and from Ishaq Ibn Suleiman (Isaac Ben Salomon), a physician in Qayrawan.

In the time of Ibn al-Jazzar, medical training was provided by the doctors themselves at home. This was the case with the education of Ibn al-Jazzar. He said himself in the conclusion of his book Zad al-Mussafir, he would be available at home for his students at the end of his daily consultations.

At that time, the medical teaching was oral. After all, paper was not widely spread in the ninth century, and scrolls were rare and expensive. Ibn Al Jazzar had a library rich of 25 quintals, as it seems. This figure seems exaggerated. The quintal at the time amounted to 50 kg according to some and 25 kg according to others. These books were not all about medicine, but also of other disciplines.

Ibn al-Jazzar wrote a number of books. They deal with grammar, history, jurisprudence, prosody, etc. Many of these books, quoted by different authors are lost. The most important book of Ibn al-Jazzar is Zad al-Mussafir (The Viaticum). Translated into Latin, Greek and Hebrew, it was copied, recopied, and printed in France and Italy in the sixteenth century. It was adopted and popularized in Europe as a book for a classical education in medicine.

Zad al-Mussafir is a medicine handbook from head to feet, designed for clinical teaching.  In the text, the author names the disease, lists the known symptoms, gives the treatment and sometimes indicates the prognosis. He often cites in reference the names of foreign authors, as if to give importance to his subject, or for intellectual integrity to justify the loans.

One can not speak of Ibn al-Jazzar without mentioning the translator of his books: Constantine the African. Constantine translated Zad al-Mussafir, the Guide for the Traveller Going to Distant Countries (or Traveller's Provision)into Viaticum peregrinantis.  Viaticum peregrinantis became a medieval bestseller.  Viaticum peregrinantis was translated into Greek and Hebrew as Zedat ha-derachim, which helped propel the treatise to international bestseller and most read status.

Just as travellers today seek advice on how to handle all kinds of ailments on the road, travellers in medieval times also needed a reference book to see them through the bad times.  Not only for travellers, Viaticum peregrinantis was a systematic and comprehensive medical work accepted into the so-called Articella or Ars medicinae, a compendium of medical textbooks widely used in medical schools and universities at Salerno, Montpellier, Bologna, Paris and Oxford.  It contained remarkable descriptions of smallpox and measles.    

The major work Ibn al-Jazzar was Zād al-Musāffir.  However, he also had some books on geriatric medicine and the health of the elderly (Kitāb Ṭibb al-Mashāyikh) or (Ṭibb al-Mashāyikh wa-ḥifẓ ṣiḥḥatihim).  Additionally, a book on sleep disorders and another one on forgetfulness and how to strengthen memory (Kitāb al-Nisyān wa-Ṭuruq Taqwiyat al-Dhākira) and a Treatise on causes of mortality (Risāla fī Asbāb al-Wafāh).

Ibn al-Jazzar also had other books on pediatrics, fevers, sexual disorders, medicine of the poor, therapeutics, stomach disorders, leprosy, separate drugs, compound drugs, and this is in addition to his books in other areas of science, e.g., history, animals and literature.

Ibn al-Jazzar died around 979 leaving 24,000 dinars and twenty-five quintars (about 2500 pounds) of books on medicine and other subjects.  The legacy of Ibn al-Jazzar also included a treatise on women's diseases and their treatment.  According to Ibn al-Jazzar, menstruation played a central role in maintaining women's health as well as in causing women's diseases.  Such writings earned Ibn al-Jazzar immense fame and made him very influential in medieval western Europe. 

A00028 - Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi

Qasmi, Ahmed Nadeem
Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi  (Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi) (Urdu: احمد ندیم قاسمی) (November 20, 1916 – July 10, 2006) was a legendary Urdu language Pakistani poet, journalist, literary critic, dramatist and short story author. With some 50 books of poetry, fiction, criticism, journalism and art to his credit, Qasmi was a major figure in contemporary Urdu literature. His poetry stood out among his contemporaries' work for its unflinching humanism, and Qasmi's Urdu afsana (short story) work is considered by some second only to Prem Chand in its masterful depiction of rural culture. He also published and edited the prestigious literary journal Funoon for almost half a century, grooming generations of new writers.

Born as Ahmad Shah Awan on November 20, 1916 in the village Anga of Khushab District in British India. A graduate of the University of the Punjab, Lahore, Qasmi started his career as a government clerk, which he eventually left to pursue journalism. He became an active member of the Progressive Writers Movement, for a time holding the position of secretary, and was consequently arrested many times during the 1950s through the 1970s.

In his long career as a writer and 
editor, Qasmi had the distinction of editing several prominent literary journals, including Phool, Tehzeeb-i-Niswaan, Adab-i-Lateef, Savera, Naqoosh, and his own brainchild, Funoon. He also served as the editor of the prestigious (now defunct) Urdu daily Imroze. For several decades Qasmi contributed weekly columns to national newspapers; a classic example was "Rawan Dawan" in Daily Jang, which focused on current issues.

In 1948, Qasmi was selected as the secretary general of the Anjuman-e-Taraqqi Pasand Musannifeen (Progressive Writers Movement) for Punjab. In 1949, he was elected the secretary-general of the organization for Pakistan, a position he held for six successive years.

In 1962, Qasmi started his own journal Funoon. The legendary friendship and support of Khadija Mastoor and Hajira Masroor and his support to a host of other writers from Ahmed Faraz and Saqi Farooqi to Najib Ahmed and others is linked to Funoon. The renowned Urdu writers Amjad Islam Amjad, Ata ul Haq Qasmi, Munnoo Bhai and Nazeer Naji proudly claim Qasmi’s patronage. Perhaps his most well known protege was Parveen Shakir, who considered Qasmi her mentor and called him Ammu (father). Her first bestseller, Khushboo, was dedicated to Qasmi.

In 1974, Qasmi was appointed secretary-general of Majlis-Taraqee-Adab - a Board of Advancement of Literature established by the government of West Pakistan in 1958.

Qasmi was a recipient of Pride of Performance (1968) and the Pakistan Academy of Letters’ lifetime achievement award, as well as the country’s highest civil honor, Sitara-i-Imtiaz (1980), for literature.

Published collections of his best-known work include poetry volumes Jalal-o-Jamal, Shola-i-Gul and Kisht-i-Wafa, and short story collections Chopaal, Sannata, and Kapaas ka Phool.

Following an illness, Qasmi died on the July 10, 2006 of complications from asthma at Punjab Institute of Cardiology in Lahore. He was survived by a daughter Dr. Naheed Qasmi and a son Nauman Qasmi.

Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi see Qasmi, Ahmed Nadeem

Friday, July 11, 2014

A00027 - Ibn al-Hajj, Moroccan Scholar and Theologian

Moḥammed ibn Hajj al-Abdari al-Fassi (or Mohammed Ibn Mohammed ibn Mohammed Abu Abdallah Ibn al-Hajj al-Abdari al-Maliki al-Fassi; Arabic: إبن الحاج العبدري الفسي‎) was a Moroccan Maliki fiqh scholar and theologian writer. Originally from Fes, he would finish his life in Egypt where he died in 1336. He is most remembered for his famous book "al-Madkhal".

Ibn al-Hajj studied under many scholars of high standing in various cities and provinces, including Tunis, Al-Qairawan, Alexandria, Cairo, in addition to Madinah and Makkah. 

Ibn al-Hajj al-Abdari wrote Madkhal Ash-Shara Ash-Shareef Ala Al-Mathahib (Introduction to Islamic Jurisprudence According to Schools of Thought). The book was published in 4 volumes of over 300 pages each and addresses many different subjects. In the first volume, Ibn al-Hajj includes 22 chapters, each addressing one question where practice is at variance with Islamic teachings. He scrutinizes the practice and points out the proper way to follow. Thus, there are chapters on intention, pursuing knowledge, prayer, the position of a mosque as a place of education, offering prayers at home, the behavior of scholars during scholarly debate, etc. The second volume has 62 chapters with a similar number of questions, including the Prophet’s birthday, the position of Madinah, the manners to be followed by students, women’s behavior, etc. The whole book is written in this way, without any particular thread for the arrangement of its chapters and questions. It is not a book on fiqh in the usual sense, nor is it a book of education and its methods, or a book of hadith or Qur’anic commentary, but it includes something of all these disciplines. Ibn al-Hajj's views are very much influenced by al-Ghazali's Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din.  Ibn al-Hajj spent much of his life in Tunis and Egypt and, for some time, taught at the university of Fes, Al-Qarawiyyin.  He was buried in Qarafa (Egypt).

Ibn al-Hajj is noted for what he said about the developing concept of schools.  He said: "The schools should be in the bazaar or a busy street, not in a secluded place. ... It is a place for teaching, not an eating house, so the boys should not bring food or money. ... In the organization, a teacher must have a deputy to set the class in their places, also visitors according to their rank, to awaken the sleepers, to warn those who do what they ought not or omit what they ought to do, and bid them listen to the instruction. In class, conversation, laughing and jokes are forbidden."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A00026 - Joko Widodo, Indonesian Politician

Widodo, Joko
Joko Widodo (b. June 21, 1961) is an Indonesian politician who became the governor of Jakarta. He was often better known by his nickname Jokowi. He was previously the mayor of Surakarta (often also known as Solo in Indonesia). He was nominated by his party, the Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle (PDI-P), to run in the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election with Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (often known as Ahok) as his running mate. He was elected governor of Jakarta on September 20, 2012 after a second round runoff election in which he defeated the incumbent governor Fauzi Bowo.  Jokowi's win was widely seen as reflecting popular voter support for "new" or "clean" leaders rather than the "old" style of politics in Indonesia, even though Jokowi was over 50 years old at the time.  
Jokowi's popularity rose sharply after his election to the high-profile position of governor of Jakarta in 2012. During 2013 and early 2014, he was seen as a potential PDI-P candidate for the Indonesian presidential election in 2014.