Muhammad ibn Zakariyā Rāzī (Mohammad-e Zakariā-ye Rāzi: Persian: محمد زکریای رازی), known as Rhazes or Rasis after medieval Latinists, (August 26, 865, Rey – 925, Rey) was a Persian physician, alchemist and chemist, philosopher, and scholar. He is recognised as a polymath, and Biographies of Razi, based on his writings, describe him as “perhaps the greatest clinician of all times.” Numerous “firsts” in medical research, clinical care, and chemistry are attributed to him, including being the first to differentiate smallpox from measles, and the discovery of numerous compounds and chemicals including alcohol and kerosene, among others. Edward Granville Browne considers him as “probably the greatest and most original of all the physicians, and one of the most prolific as an author”.
Although Razi (or Rhazes) was a Persian living in Iran, his work was published in both Persian and Arabic languages, as such was the case for most Persian scientists during this era. Such multi-lingual publications in Persia were analogous to the later usage of the Latin language for scientific publications in Europe in the following centuries.
Razi made fundamental and enduring contributions to the fields of medicine, alchemy, music, and philosophy, recorded in over 200 books and articles in various fields of science. He was well-versed in Persian, Greek and Indian medical knowledge and made numerous advances in medicine through own observations and discoveries.
Educated in music, mathematics, philosophy, and metaphysics, he chose medicine as his professional field. As a physician, he was an early proponent of experimental medicine and has been described as the father of pediatrics. He was also a pioneer of neurosurgery and ophthalmology. He was among the first to use Humoralism to distinguish one contagious disease from another. In particular, Razi was the first physician to distinguish smallpox and measles through his clinical characterization of the two diseases.
As an alchemist, Razi is known for his study of sulfuric acid and for his discovery of ethanol and its refinement to use in medicine. He became chief physician of Rey and Baghdad hospitals. Razi invented what today is known as rubbing alcohol.
Razi was a rationalist and very confident in the power of ratiocination; he was widely regarded by his contemporaries and biographers as liberal, free of prejudice, and bold in expressing his ideas. He traveled extensively, mostly in Persia. As a teacher in medicine, he attracted students of all disciplines and was said to be compassionate and devoted to the service of his patients, whether rich or poor.
So a top-notch chap. And this is what he had to say about the Qu’ran…
“As for the Koran, it is but an assorted mixture of “absurd and inconsistent fables,” which has ridiculously been judged inimitable, when, in fact, its language, style, and its much vaunted “eloquence” are far from being faultless. Custom, tradition, and intellectual laziness lead men to follow their religious leaders blindly. Religions have been the sole cause of the bloody wars that have ravaged mankind. Religions have also been resolutely hostile to philosophical speculation and to scientific research. The so-called holy scriptures are worthless and have done more harm than good, whereas the “writings of the ancients like Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, and Hippocrates have rendered much greater service to humanity.”
What about prophets…
“The prophets – these billy goats with long beards, cannot claim any intellectual or spiritual superiority. These billy goats pretend to come with a message from God, all the while exhausting themselves in spouting their lies, and imposing on the masses blind obedience to the “words of the master.” The miracles of the prophets are impostures, based on trickery, or the stories regarding them are lies. The falseness of what all the prophets say is evident in the fact that they contradict one another: one affirms what the other denies, and yet each claims to be the sole depository of the truth; thus the New Testament contradicts the Torah, the Koran, the New Testament.”
The Muslim world did science (sort of – I would argue that science only really starts with the Newtonian synthesis) but not because of Islam. One final quote…
“How can anyone think philosophically while listening to old wives’ tales founded on contradictions, which obdurate ignorance, and dogmatism?”
This dead Persian must be rolling in his grave at the antics of The Supreme Dinnerjacket.