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A Hakim’s Tale

A Physician’s Reflections from Medieval India

In: Asian Medicine
Author: Shireen Hamza1
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  • 1 Harvard University, Department of the History of ScienceCambridge, MAUSA
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Abstract

In the fourteenth century, the physician Shihāb al-Dīn Nāgaurī added an autobiographical chapter to the end of a medical text, describing his experiences learning and practicing medicine in India. Because this text is not easily accessible, especially when compared to autobiographies of physicians written in Arabic, I present the Persian text and translation of this chapter here. It is the final chapter of Cure of Illness (Shifāʾ al-maraẓ), composed in 1388 CE, and is one of the few texts of ṭibb (often known as Greco-Arabic medicine or Islamic medicine) from the early centuries of its spread in India. Nāgaurī reflects on the pluralism of his environment. He studied medicine with a ḥakīm (a practitioner of ṭibb) from Kabul as well as with local jogis (who taught him Ayurveda). He preferred his Hindu patients to his Muslim patients, finding the latter lacking in faith. The themes raised by Nāgaurī’s tale can help us study hybridity in Indian medicine before the European colonial encounter.

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