Edited by Dr. Shahid
The JIMA believes not only in the revivalism
and fine establishment of the tenets of the Islamic faith within the
individual and within Muslim society but also in restoration, review,
research and compilation of the knowledge of the brilliant past of
Islamic Medicine. We have proposed to several Islamic countries to
open a department of Islamic Medicine in their medical schools as
well as to establish an Institute of Islamic Medicine for gathering
extent works of great Hakims of the past, to translate them, to do
clinical and laboratory research on their empirical findings and their
To this end, we have obtained permission first to publish in parts
the translation by Martin Levey of Adab al-Tabib of Al-Ruhawi's "Practical
ethics of the physicians" which was printed by the American Philosophical
Society as the Transactions of APS, vol. 57, part 3, 1967, Philadelphia.
Who was Ruhawi?
Ishaq Ibn Ali Al-Ruhawi must have
written his deontological treatise, Adab al-Tabib in the 9th century.
After al-Rubawi, to complete the picture, one should mention two
of the greatest physician-philosophers of the Islamic World, al-Farabi
(d. 950 A.D.) AND IBN SINA (B. 980 A.D.). Al- Ruhawi was probably
from Ruha, a city of northwest Iraq. Earlier, it had been called
Edessa, a well known center of Nestorian learning at one time. He
was a Christian who embraced Islam and had written two works on
Al-Ruhawi's Adab al-Tabib is found as a unique copy in the Suleymaniye
Kitabhane #1658. It comprises 112 folios, seventeen lines per page
and is written in a good Nashki hand. The dedication is to the Sultan
In previous publications the first chapter and part of chapter 11
of Ruhawi's Adab Al-Tabib were presented. JIMA will continue to
publish pertinent sections and chapters of this great work of the
second IsIamic Century . (9th century A.D.).
Statement on Edible
(Ruhawi's Adab al-Tabib translated by Martin Levey)
Since what we have mentioned in regard to the five senses is useful
for systematic improvement, a word is in order on the natural matters
as an example and for guidance,. We mentioned the natural matters
of air, exercise, and rest. It is necessary to follow up with a
statement on edible matter, by the way, with brevity and with mention
of useful factors which will encourage and urge one to study science
in its occurrences and its books.
I say that edible matter may be called food as a synonym since food
is sometimes made of it. Real foods are substances which are distinguished
from edible matter by the first, second, and third cooking, and
their superfluities, which are not eaten, are thrown away. Those
substances remain which are suited to become a part of the one who
eats [them], and takes the place of what was lost by him since they
make a quantitative excess. In this way, he is not dissolved away
and does not perish.
The situation is such that you will find that edible things have
different tastes and qualities, and accordingly affect the body
in various ways. Thus, it is necessary to know their composition
and functions. I mean also that one should also understand the body
and its natural complexion; together with this it is indispensable
for you to know the natural or acquired complexion of its stomach.
Our excellent teacher Galen encourages and leads us to this in his
book On Nutrition. He said, "It is necessary that one be careful
to know these matters. You find that foods sometimes are slow to
swell up and sometimes quick. This depends on the reaction of the
stomach at the beginning or by the substances in that which was
eaten and drunk. Because some of them are moist, some dry, some
viscous, some quickly separating and falling apart, some pungent
and acrid, some sour or bitter or sweet or salty, and sometimes
these properties are found in drugs, therefore properties of foods
are considered as easy remedies."' It is essential that the physician
take Galen completely at his word to the full extent of this science
for the preservation of life is of great importance.
Galen said that the science of the properties of foods is close
to being one of the most useful of medical sciences. While there
is not always need to employ the other [sciences] for bodily health,
the need for food is always present, both in times of health and
illness, for life does not go on without it.
It is not necessary, 0 physician, that you imitate any writer in
regard to the properties of foods, their states, and their functions
in the body. Some have written volumes on the basis of experience
but this experience is insufficient when applied to an actual case.
You may, however, find some similar factors which are common but
it is not sound to judge by these merely. An example of this is
that you find several things which cause diuresis or facilitate
an abundant flow, and so on. You find that some are cold and some
hot. In teaching this, Galen quoted the scholar and physician before
him called Theophilus. It is this, Galen said that Theophilus stated
that men are not wise who believe that a single property like taste
or heat or smell when found in two things will make them all alike.
Aside from this common factor, there may be many different properties.
One must not, therefore, treat all substances which empty the belly,
or cause diuresis, or have any other common property, as being alike
in all their properties. This is so because that (substance] may
be hot or cold or salty and not every sweet or salty thing has the
same strength in taste. But one may consider that the resultant
action of a substance comes from its total make-up. Whoever grasps
this principle will make no mistake and will not lose the truth.
It is not convenient for you to hold back anything of a food or
drug because of its effect on one sense, and so believing that it
possesses only this effect. Sometimes you find that what seems very
apparent is one thing but its actual effect is another. Examples
are the lentil and cabbage which act oppositely [to their effect
on the sense of smell]. They empty some bellies and fill others;
they do this since in their creation they are made up of two different
substances having two different properties in composition and complexion.
Galen said, "As to the reason why the lentil' empties and softens
the belly of some people, and does not restrict and block it, I
add that I explained this in the book On Simple Drugs. It is that
many kinds [of drugs] which are considered to be simple and single
are compounded, at the beginning of their creation, of different
substances with opposite properties instead of what we compound
with our skill. In them, there are different activities. You find
these in many foods like the lentil, cabbage, and all sea animals
which have a skin with a sharp taste; each one of them is composed
[of substances] with opposite properties. Thus, their body is hard
and slow to swell, the belly is under control and may be emptied.
The explanation for this is what when they are cooked, their soup
empties the belly but its hard body keeps the belly under control.
People, however, disagree about this.
When considering foods, the conditions in the stomach [should be
recognized]. You may find that a flame heat dominates it. This may
be so because of the complexion brought about in creation or yellow
bile which pours into it because it has been deviated from its source
on its way to the intestines. In this case the stomach digests some
foods which are thick like beef, etc., and the thin ones like the
meat of chicken and partridge spoil in it. It is not necessary to
examine and experiment with the foods to prohibit some since some
are quickly land some are slowly digested, according to the conditions
in the stomach. Since this stomach condition is far from normal,
it is not correct to make a judgment on the foods in it.
It is necessary to examine once more the question of foods. Some
edibles which are in abundance resemble body matter. These are wheat,
barley, rice, and similar grains; also there are palatable foods
as animal meats which may be quickly cooked and digested. All of
these and what is similar to them feed man when they are well prepared;
they are good nutritionally.
As to the edibles which do not resemble the body of the eater, when
they are together with non-nutritional matter [they] may make one
ill if he does not know how to use them. These edibles have excessive
sourness, are excessively salty, excessively sweet, and an excessively
styptic acridity may predominate. These are more like drugs. Between
the extremes of these edibles and their opposites, there are many
which, when well prepared, will nourish the eater and not injure
There are also those which, because of moderation in taste, are
often employed to improve bodies. It improves the health of old
people, especially those whose complexion is cold, in whom phlegm
predominates, in periods of cold and in cold countries. Understand
this, and compare with it the rest of the edibles which have obvious
and different tastes. When you recognize good food, then beware
of an excess or deficiency but favor moderation. This is better.
Hippocrates had a saying that every excess is an enemy of nature,
and a deficiency is lacking in trustworthiness. When one exceeds
the natural amount, Hippocrates stated that there is no bearing
or appetite or any other favourable thing. Hippocrates also said
that when excessive food is ingested, it is superfluous and causes
illness with its coldness.' He stated that it is important that
one predetermine the amount of food for the body with regard to
the state of the season in which one is. There are two seasons,
summer and autumn, when the body cannot endure excessive food. In
regard to the seasons of winter and spring, it may take much food.
Hippocrates pointed this out in a statement when he declared that
the most difficult period for the body to take care of food is in
summer and autumn; the easiest time is in winter and spring. Galen
explained and commented upon this by saying that bodies begin to
be cold in the autumn, to come together to be thick, and then in
winter to loosen and to be light. Galen said also that in winter
and spring, the belly is hottest and sleep is longer, Because of
these two reasons, more food is necessary since more natural bodily
heat is required then. Thus, more food is essential. Evidence of
this comes from the aged.
It is also indispensable to know the time of the meal and the small
snacks. I mean that it is necessary to eat during the day and night,
and [it is necessary] to know the time between meals. The eater
must know this and also the speed of his digestion, and also how
long it takes his stomach to be emptied of the last meal and of
spoiled mixtures and excesses. Hippocrates summed this up when he
stated in On Epidemics, in the sixth discourse, when he arranged
for the food after exercise and before sleep. He said, "Weariness,
food, sleep, and coition must be aU organized by a natural arrangement."
He meant that one must predetermine intentionally the quantity of
exertion of each one by the eater. Hippocrates said that the body
which is not clean, whenever it ingests food, makes its advances
In some edibles like vegetables, there is very little nutriment;
in some there is much as in animal meats and hard grains. Some are
in between these like the meat of lamb, chicken, partridge, the
yolk of eggs, etc. For this reason, it is necessary to know the
science of this to use what is valuable according to the need. [Another
reason] is that the spoilation of some edibles is rapid since they
change so quickly; some are slow to spoil since they are resistant.
Thus, it is incumbent upon the physician to know the arrangements
of food according to this and according to the condition of the
stomach. It is often convenient to present the quickly changing
foods first before those which ripen slowly in order to facilitate
the penetration of a hard one so that it not be spoiled were it
to precede the quick one. To eat melon, apricot, and others first
before bread and other edibles is better. For this reason, one must
be careful what he cats after the meal so as not to spoil the food,
mixtures, and the stomach. Do not neglect, in view of what i have
presented, to take account of age, heat, the countries, habits,
occupations, and conditions since the science of an these is necessarily
indispensable for everyone who wishes to nourish his body properly.
Carry on by these and compare them.
Statement on Beverages
As to drinks, know them in regard
to their properties and actions to employ the useful and to beware
of what is harmful. One cannot know their temperaments and qualities.
Since water is the earliest known (of drinks) and the most honourable
in temperament, quali6es, and usefulness one should know its properties
in regard to bodily change. Under normal circumstances, there are
none. It is substance without colour, without taste, and without
smell but it is cold and moist. Its body was created without form,
and without connection among its parts except that which is united
when it is in a container. It is not nutritious unless one considers
its use in the cooking of food and its penetration into parts of
As to the water which is contrary to that here mentioned, its matter
has mixed with other matter possessing other attributes like sulphur
and borax waters, etc. Waters like these have different tastes and
properties. Owing to the fact that they vary in taste, smell and
weight, for this reason, they affect the body in different ways.
The physician must know the properties of waters and their differences.
Otherwise, if the question of water is neglected, great harm will
come to the body; this is because it is essential for life and its
need is continuous.
So far as internal harm to the body is concerned, then, there are
the matter [of water], the matter of the air, the factor of the
seasons when they change, and the effect of the winds generally
in [some] countries. Therefore, Hippocrates said that he, who wants
to study medicine the straightforward way, must do this that I describe.
It is, first, that you must consider the times of the year and what
can be done since they are not alike. They are very different not
only in themselves but compared also to others. Then, attention
must be paid to the hot and cold winds, especially those common
to all people and those peculiar to each country. It is also necessary
to consider the properties of waters since they may not only differ
in taste and weight but also be different in [other] properties.
When we reflect on the results of Hippocrates' advice, we understand
that water is important, when suitable, for the preservation of
health; it is harmful if not suitable. No one can be more discriminating
in acquiring this [knowledge] than were the ancients. The most efficient
in this was Hippocrates so listen to his teaching and hold on to
it in order to attain your wish in the art of medicine.
Hippocrates said, "I want to inform you of the other waters and
which of them are more effective in bringing good health. I shall
describe what it is necessary to derive from evil and salty waters
since the kind of waters is very important in aiding health.
There are waters which are stagnant, tainted and are at the bottom.
These are warm, odorous, and thick in summer for they do not flow.
They are used since rainwater does reach them. They tend toward
a dirty colour and are bitter. In winter, they are covered with
ice, and are turbid with the water coming from snow and hail. These
waters are the most apt to cause phlegm, hoarseness, and a large,
hard spleen in the one who always drinks them.
He said that these waters are bad for all things. Further, those
waters which issue forth from rocky places are harsh like those
which come from earth where there are hot waters, or where copper,
silver, gold, sulphur, alum, or borax are produced. It is because
these are produced form a hot shaft and it is impossible that good
waters come from this earth. They are harsh, cause difficulty in
urination, and prevent excretion.
He said that the best waters flow from lofty and high places, from
mountains which have soil. These waters, whose sources are deeper,
are palatable, pure, have little redness, are hot in winter and
cold in summer. Superior waters, he said, are those whose sources
are opposite to the rising locations of the sun; those after them
(in superiority] have their sources between where the summer sun
rises and sets. The third best are the waters [whose source is]
between where the winter sun sets and where the summer sun sets.
The worst waters arise opposite to the north. The waters are very
bad in the times of the southern winds but; better in the times
of the northern winds. He said that it is necessary to use these
waters knowing this. As to the healthy and strong person, it is
not essential that the discriminate among the waters; he drinks
what is available. He praised rainwater as the lightest purest,
most palatable, and finest of waters. This is because when the sun
raises the water, it carries off the thinnest and lightest. Consider
the use of the saltpan where the salty part of the water remains
because of its thickness and heaviness, becoming saltier. The sun
carries off the finer water; since it is light it raises it. It
is raised from palatable waters, from sea water, from all bodies,
and from the bodies of men continuously [especially] that which
is the thinnest and lightest of the moisture.
Thus, when a man walks or sits in the sun and puts on his clothes
then that part of his body exposed to the sun does not seem to perspire
since the sun always carries away the perspiration by evaporating
it. That part of his body which is covered with clothes or anything
else perspires because the sun causes the sweat to come out. The
covering keeps and preserve it. When this man moves into the shade,
all his body is so since the rays of the sun do not fall upon him.
For this reason, rainwater may be putrid and have a bad odor since
it comes from many different kinds of moisture and is mixed with
them. As a result, it is the first of waters to stink.
Then, after Hippocrates demonstrated how rainwater comes about,
he said, "This water may be the best of waters but it needs to be
cleansed by boiling." Then he said, "If this is not done, then it
develops a bad odour and it causes the drinker to be hoarse, to
cough, and to have trouble with the voice." Then said Hippocrates,
"As to the water from snow and ice, it is all bad since when water
is once frozen, it will not get back to its original properties
but that which is pure, light, and palatable is expressed. The sediment
and what is close to being a solid remains."
I have mentioned these quotations from Hippocrates to show the pressing
need of water and to encourage you to study this science in the
books of Hippocrates and Galen.
I shall now return to the value of taking hot water baths. The value
of this bathing is different for the sick and for those who are
well. For healthy people, it is good to bathe in potable, cold water,
or for some in water with salt or borax, and for some with other
tastes, hot and non-hot water. These waters may be good for some
sick people but not for all, for people of certain ages but not
for all, in some but not all countries, and depending on certain
In this, there may be much error; it is necessary to be aware of
it and to study it. Strive to know the good from the bad waters
by the method described by Hippocrates. These methods are these.
Make your decision according to the lightness of the water. its
ability to become quickly cold or hot. Hippocrates said about this,
"The water which warms quickly and becomes cold quickly is the lightest
of waters." In the fifth section of his book, he said, "The lightness
of its weight is so in comparison with any other, and is seen in
the rapidity of its drying with what was kneaded with it, and in
the quickness of cooking what is cooked [in it]."
Statement on Sleeping
and Being Awake
The physician takes care of the matter
of sleeping and waking and knows the function of each in healthy
and sick bodies. Thus, he should be able, according to bodies of
animals, to predetermine the state of a sufficient and suitable
amount [of sleep] for the preservation of health and treatment of
the ill. This is because sleep is a natural thing without which
man cannot retain his health; there must be a definite time for
it in the natural order.
The excellent Hippocrates explains it in the sixth discourse of
the book On Epidemics. He said, "Weariness, eating, sleeping, and
coition all must be done plainfully. " Galen interpreted "plainfully"
as meaning the limitation of their quantities for every man, as
[the amount of] sleep is found naturally for different ages of man.
We say that it is the kindness of the exalted God who created sleep
and rest for the animal's body in order to return to it a replacement
for that which was lost from it during waking. This is because during
waking the natural heat expands to the outside of the body and to
other regions, and spreads with it the blood which helped it form.
It is spread in the body so that the animal moves by the power of
[this] heat to its activities and to obtain food for survival.
Whenever it moves, moisture is lost little by little to cause dryness.
If it keeps on moving and the waking is not interrupted, then the
dryness becomes excessive to its body so that it will die. For this
reason, the exalted God made the times of sleeping between the times
of waking. This is so that the heat is gathered during sleep inside
the body and cold is outside; the organism of the animal relax,
its senses abate, its actions stop, and heat begins in the digestion
of food, in improvement of fluids to aid the organs. The latter
exert an attractive power and are moistened in this way. This is
the opposite of losing [moisture]. With sleep, also strengthening
are the retentive faculty, the altering power, and the evacuating
strength. Due to the soundness of these four powers and the efficiency
of their activities, the body is healthy and its functions are proper.
in addition to strengthening nature, sleep weakens the physical
powers; the senses and faculty of reason are weak during it due
to their abdication of these functions.
If this is so, then the physician must know the amount of sleep
and work for each man for everyone has a natural quantity which
he requires according to his complexion, his habits, his activities,
his food, his age, season, and the state of the air. If one of them
[i.e. sleeping and wakefulness] is not in its properly natural quantitative
state and time, then it indicates divergence from bodily health.
For this reason, Hippocrates said, "If sleep and sleeplessness are
excessive, then the necessary amount is a bad sing." When the physician
sees this, then he knows that this immoderate condition indicates
disease in the brain. This is because sleep is a special state of
the brain and occurs when it is cold and moderately moise. If these
are excessive then they cause cold brain disease. For this reason,
Galen said that sleeplessness comes from coldness of the most important
sentient, the brain. When this coldness is strong and mixed with
moisture, then the disease called lasir'as" occurs which is cold
vertigo. When dryness is also with it, the disease is called catalepsy
which is called jumud. Sleeplessness is also because of the heat
of the most important sentient but this heat may be either from
a particular, bad complexion or from black bile.
Hippocrates said that when sleep causes pain in any disease, it
is a sign of death. When sleep is useful, it is not a sign of death.
Hippocrates said also that when sleep quiets the confusion of the
mind, it is a good sign. Make your decision on sleep and wakefulness
according to what we have considered of their conditions and according
to what the ancients said about them.
Know that when sleep follows constipation of what should be evacuated
or when waking follows evacuation of what was confined, then both
are dependent on the difference in the states of the mixtures in
the body. When one sleeps and he has unripe food and nutriment which
is unabsorbed, it ripens it, improves absorption, heats, and moistens.
If it finds the body clean and nutriment is needed, it strengthens
the heat and drives moisture off. For this reason, it substitutes
for the small amount of substance, the coldness of the body. When
[one sleeps] and [has eaten] moderate food, the normal heat is strengthened
and is very useful. When during sleep there is much material, it
is difficult to ripen it; then sleep is harmful. This is also so
in the be-inning of abscesses in intermittent-nittent fevers. For
this reason, physicians order no sleep at the beginning of an abscess.
Make use of sleep and waking according to these laws. Some ancients
said that in sleep there is a similarity to death. This is because
perception by the senses and discrimination by them stop; it is
not possible to notice anything perceptible with them. For this
reason, it is necessary for students of science and for those who
seek the virtues that they not show zeal for sleep but zeal for
seeking the realities of science and the virtues during their lives.
Otherwise, their waking is sleeping and their life is death.
Statement on Psychic Events
It is necessary fox the physician
also to know what psychic events are, how many there are, and from
where each kind stems. If he does not know these, then he cannot
preserve them in their natural condition and drive away the non-natural.
It is said that you should know that man has a power by which he
distinguishes and thinks, a power by which he is angry and enraged,
and thirdly, a power by which he desires and lusts for pleasures.
Man completes his actions and work by these three powers. The ancients
called them the deteriorating powers; they recognized that characters
and physical events are different for each of these three kinds
of power of the soul.
Also he must know what the ancients mean with their word "event".
Galen explained it; I shall relate what he said. Galen wrote that
as long as the soul of man remains in its state, this is its state
- as rest and quiet. If its state changes, then we can imagine that
change as a movement which belongs to it. Some movement is very
translational and some is otherwise. We call the movement which
is very translational an action, and the movement which is [done]
by something other than itself an event. An example of this is that
if a man takes a thing and conveys it from its place to another
place, then the movement of the hand is an action of that man and
his hand, but the movement of the thing is an event of the thing.
This is the relation of the action and event for movement in space.
As to the movement in change, as when the body of a man is heated
by a fire or the warmth of the sun, this heat is an event to the
body, and the heat [of the fire or sun] is the action of the things
which heat. When the exalted God created the matter of man's body
from these powers and their actions in whatever amount, it was then
necessary that these quantities be natural for that particular man.
If any of it is lacking or is excessive, then it is not natural.
The natural one indicates possession of a healthy power for a certain
body; the unnatural indicates disease [of the power and body].
Because both of the animal souls [the second and third of the three
powers] which are in man, especially the carnal one of the two,
often harms the rational soul to attain pleasure in a persistent
fashion, it is essential that the pleasure be of limited duration
and of a moderate amount. When it exceeds this amount, it is harmful
and causes illness. For this reason, the intelligent soul will stop
this corruption by determining and limiting their periods to act
and their amounts. The situation being so, he must know the action
of each one of these souls, first separately without being, affected
by the other two, and then how it acts with their help. The action
of the rational soul is [to determine] the existence of the correlation
of things and their difference. An example of this is that when
you hear two statements you notice their difference from another,
you know the real one and the untrue one. As to its action with
the help of another, it is that when the physical desires, it may
some movements which are strengthened by the soul of anger. This
is the [soul of the] animal since this soul has strength and courage.
If these were not, it would be impossible to make a stand and attain
any aim. Galen said that the essence of this soul, by which is meant
the soul of anger, is the natural beat. Galen said, "The essence
of this power by which man is strengthened in endurance and patience
in work, in my opinion, is the natural heat since whenever the movement
of the natural heat is stronger, the man is more hot; also coldness
causes laziness and quietness, and thus heat causes willingness,
movement, and power for action. Thus, youth and wine arouse movement
and courage in man, and age and cold remedies cause laziness and
weakness. The latter corrupt action and movement."
Moderation of the rational soul indicates that it is sagacious,
has much understanding and a good memory, and has a longing for
When it is not in moderation, the opposite is true.
Galen said, "It is true that if the rational soul is silly, of little
understanding and memory, and not desirous of meritorious actions,
and both the animal souls are strong but not very obedient, then
it [i.e. the rational soul] is not moderate. The rational soul needs
to be prepared for perspicacity and for what is correct, and to
be expert in attuning, to things and their differences. If the power
of the soul of an-er, an animal one, is of easy obedience, the carnal
soul, a vegetable one, is weak. It is because the latter is not
dependent on the rational soul." Plato described it and likened
it to the predatory beast, saying, "Whoever needs to be straightened
up has a weak vegetable soul for this should not hinder the rational
soul from its actions. Since the powers of these souls from its
actions. Since the powers of these souls are dependent on the complexity
of the body, whatever happens to their actions and characters in
the events which change them and remove them from moderation and
a satisfactory state, occurs only because of bodily change. This
may be seen in what happens to one who is anxious, excited, or steals,
drinks wine and other drinks." He, whose complexion is changed by
any of these causes, the examples alone, changes in his character
as a result and in the states of his souls which were previously
healthy - when his soul was quiet without movement and without that
event. Therefore, the physician must be trained to recognize the
types of these complexions so as to know in certain people's complexions,
if they wish preservation, what is good in one's character and the
powers of his souls, and also the rectification of that which is
out of line. It is also necessary to investigate further what has
happened to the souls if it may be determined for the bodies. In
some people who are sensitive to shame there may be a natural inclination
which is not the state of the soul nor the complexion. One exception
to the word "naturally" is that nature may be somewhat changed by
If you wish to examine what is in the [irrational] nature of man
and the events of the souls and their characters, examine those
who are the uneducated - the unimproved with virtues and sciences
- as, for example, children. You will find these events and characters
separately especially in those who do not have good habits and have
no one to educate them. These do only what is in their nature.
Galen has described some of these characters in children. We must
relate it in his words. The observation was made by one of intelligence
and a good mind. Galen said, "There are children who do not lie
at all and children who do not speak the truth at all. Some feel
ashamed and others do not. Some are timid and some bold; some are
voracious and some are not. Some are generous and help one another
and some are avaricious and do not help one another. Some of them
like cruelty and anger, some like justice. Some have mercy on any
sympathy for children who are beaten and some advise to beat them
and laugh about it. They differ from one another; the differences
are in their characters.
"If this is so, then the physician must know the [irrational] natural
character and the difference between it and the educated character
so as to examine the condition of the souls and the events [associated
with them]; the character is improved with good education and good
habits do not cause him to err."
"Just as association with good and virtuous ones causes the soul
to acquire the virtues and goodness of the [good] souls, so associating
with evil ones and those with bad habits spoils the character of
many people. They lose their good temperament for the other [evil
one]. For this reason, the physician must first take care of the
soul by improving the soul of the patient and the events [associated
with it]. He must care for the soul more than anything else since
the completion of man is in his soul; completion is dearer than
that which is completed."
From these conclusions mentioned, one must know that purpose of
the book, to encourage it, and to read what Galen and others have
stated. Galen explained it in his book On Natural Powers and in
his book On the Opinions of hippocrates. Plato described [it] in
his book On the Characteristics of the Soul and in his writing where
he explained that the powers of the soul are dependent -on the complexion
of the body, the actions of the soul and its characteristics, and
other events relating to it. He also explained that each of the
three powers which many ancients called the souls, i.e. that rational,
animal, and vegetable souls, has a dwelling and a place special
to its actions. The place of the rational soul is the brain; the
place of the animal soul is the heart, and the place of the vegetable
soul, which is carnal, is the liver. Undoubtedly, upon the health
of these organs will depend the health of the souls in action. If
they are sick, then [the souls will be] ill. Thus, it is necessary
as previously mentioned, that the physician understand the states
of these organs if he wants to recognize "physical events." The
latter are mentioned as part of the natural matter previously numbered;
they are the attributes of the air, motion, quietness, food, drink,
discharge [of excesses] and congestion, sleeping, waking, physical
events, the countries, occupations, and other matters mentioned
We mentioned the importance of these natural matters to maintain
completely the health of the body and to maintain the health of
organs and their parts. We began, by example, teaching the friends
of the medical arts to show how the physician uses them for the
maintenance of health. Our example for this was the brain since
it is the most important of bodily organs. We set down in each chapter,
what we mentioned of the statements on these natural matters, the
summations and principles which encourage students. We recall for
the learned ones what was said regarding, every meaning. We did
not finish them all but discussed some of them, For this reason,
we returned to the rest, as we did previously, for a statement on
treatment of the brain which is the example here for all organs.
Then we went on to mention treatment of one organ as distinguished
from another by brief descriptions. God is the helper with His generosity.
Statement on Habits
Habit is very important in the preservation
of health and in the treatment of the ill. This is because in mankind
people are accustomed to things in [certain] measures and times.
[Accordingly], their complexions develop to endure them and their
bodies are healthy with them. When they [i.e. the habits] stop,
then their health is affected, they become ill and their bodies
are troubled. Also inhabitants of countries located in different
situations are accustomed and grow used to different activities,
different foods and drinks, different dwellings, and so on. For
them, these are natural and necessary for maintenance of the body
rather than being unnatural. Through these habits, the body retains
its health. Though some may become accustomed to the morals of others
and some consent to the actions of others, there are some people
for whom these actions and morals are not praiseworthy and satisfactory.
An example of this is that some people are accustomed to the eating
of barley bread and to eating curd and cheese. Also you find that
some people are accustomed to drinking much pure wine for their
complexion is hot, their bodies accept it, and it suits their health.
We also observe that some whose complexions are hot cannot drink
that amount of wine and drugs. This is so because of habit. Also
we find that some people since childhood have been in heavy occupations
of a difficult type so that their bodies are weak and thin from
going through that toil and weariness continually. You will also
find that some who are stouter and stronger than these cannot endure
these occupations since they are not accustomed to them. When one
who is accustomed to food in a certain amount increases this quantity,
then it is harmful. Thus, he who is accustomed to eating once [at
a certain time], eats twice, then he is harmed to the point of illness.
Hippocrates said much concerning this. I shall give two of them
[i.e. his statements]. One concerns the change of habits of people.
The second is general, and example of which is the case of different
people who are accustomed to certain things which are very natural
for them. It is not good to give these up.
As to the statement of Hippocrates in regard to the habits of people,
he said, "It is obvious that unwise management in eating and drinking
is harmful for the preservation of health. This is easily seen in
the change from one kind of regimen to another. The change in one
who was accustomed to eating once [a day] to a contrary [system]
causes harm and weakness. If one eats at an unaccustomed time, it
weakens him immediately, overburdens his body, and makes it lazy
"Some may be exposed to the softness of nature. The cause of this
is that one's stomach is exposed to the contrary of what is the
natural state. This may be because his habit was to have an empty
stomach and not be filled twice, and not to digest food twice. It
may become accustomed to being filled twice, i.e. in the transition
period from one habit of eating to another, if the bowels had been
exhausted in the [double) eating period. For this, it is required
that one sleep the entire night after the evening meal, if it is
winter avoiding the cold, and if it is summer avoiding the heat.
If it is not possible for one to sleep then he walks gently a great
deal without stopping. After that he does not eat or eats only a
little. A little does not harm one; having the same effect is also
a drink not mixed with water."
This statement of Hippocrates is sufficient to explain and serve
as an example for what we mentioned of the change in the body with
the change in habits for anyone. If you wish to listen to all that
Hippocrates has related on the subject of habits and also what Galen
has said in his commentary on it, then delve into Hippocrates' book
and Galen's commentary on it.
As to a general example, Hippocrates said, "I shall give you a demonstration
from the best of proofs as to the softness of one's body. This is
that you find many Scythians, all of whom are in agriculture, who
are heavy in their shoulder blades, in their upper arms, wrists,
haunches, and in their chests. This is due only to the softness
of their nature. They cannot string a bow or shoot javelins with
their shoulders because of their softness and weakness. If they
are steamed, the moistness in their joints dries and they become
stronger than previously...
"They are not bound in clothes in childhood as is practiced in Egypt.
This is not their usual custom since they ride the horse constantly.
Those males who cannot ride the horse but sit on the cart rarely
hasten in walking because of their heaviness; their females are
stronger than they in breadth and thickness."
He also said, "I declare that because they ride the horse, they
are affected by an illness called qadmata in Greek . This is because
their feet are always suspended on the horse. When the illness is
strongly evident, they become lame. They treat themselves in this
manner. When their illness begins, they cut open two veins behind
the ears bilaterally. When the blood is shed, sleep overpowers them
because of weakness. So they complete the treatment; some of them
recover and some do not."
I believe that the seminal fluid is corrupted by this treatment
since whoever is bled in these two veins behind the ears becomes
sterile. Most are bled only in those two veins.
Thus, I have related to you these statements once again and improved
the way for you to recognize the changes due to habit in healthy
and ill people. If you wish to listen to the words of Hippocrates
on habits, and how the inhabitants of [various] countries acquire
them depending on the change of air, water, and countries, read
what he wrote in his book on countries, water, and air. By means
of it, you will be in a position to judge many factors related to
habits. I finish [here) what I mentioned to you [hoping to] awaken
and encourage [you].