Patronage, Medicine, and Piety in Ayyubid Damascus

The Medical Madrasas and the Muslim Defence of Medicine. Part 1.

In: Endowment Studies
Ignacio SánchezClassics and Ancient History, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK,

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This is the first of a two-part article that aims at discussing the creation of medical madrasas for Muslims in 7th/13th-century Damascus. This part briefly examines the relationship between medical practitioners and rulers, especially in the Ayyubid period, and studies a number of works written by religious scholars and physicians —often addressed to their patrons—, in which they tackled problems affecting the practice of medicine and its scientific status. I particularly focus on the polemics against pietistic groups who adhered to the doctrine of tawakkul (reliance on God), the emergence of the genre of “prophetic medicine”, and the denunciation of those physicians who impugned the universality of medical principles. This article will provide a wide contextualisation for the discussion of the phenomena that lead to the creation of medical madrasas, which will be analysed in detail in the second part.

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