Thursday, September 16, 2021

Jabir Ibn Hayyan – one of the founders of modern pharmacy

Abu Musa Jabir Ibn Hayyan Al-Azdi, sometimes called al-Harrani and al-Sufi, is considered the father of Arab chemistry and one of the founders of modern pharmacy.

He was known to the Europeans as Geber. He was born in the city of Tus in the province of Khorasan in Iran in 721 AD. His father Hayyan Al-Azdi was an “ Attar” (druggist or pharmacist) from the Arabian Azd tribe in Yemen, who resided in the city of Kufa in Iraq during the rule of the Umayyads.

After completing his education he started his career as physician under the patronage of Vizier of Khalifa Harun al Rashid. His connection to the Vizier later on cost him dearly, when the Vizier fell from grace of the Khalifa. In 803 AD he was arrested and spent rest of his life under house arrest, till he died in year 815 AD.
He was one of the first practical alchemists and discovered many useful chemical substances like nitric, sulfuric and hydrochloric acids.

He used weights and measures to classify substances as “spirits” (gases), metals, or non-malleable substances (such as rocks that could be powdered), laying the foundation for the modern periodic table. He also mastered glassmaking, distillation, and crystallization.

Jabir was instrumental in preserving alchemy's Greek heritage and transmitting it to Islamic culture; he is also believed to have written texts in Arabic on a wide range of subjects: mathematics and geometry, magic squares, astrology, medicine, military science, as well as alchemy.

Among his other significant books were Kitab al-Zuhra (Book of Venus) on the noble art of alchemy. Jabir dedicated this book to the Abbasid Caliph Haroun Al-Rashid. His books on chemistry, including his Kitab-al-Kimya (Book of Chemistry), Kitab Al Sabe’en (The Seventy Books), were translated into Latin and various European languages as well.

Jabir is credited with the introduction of experimental methodology into alchemy and the invention of several chemical processes used in modern chemistry. These include crystallization, calcinations, sublimation and evaporation, the synthesis of acids (hydrochloric, nitric citric, acetic and tartaric acids), and distillation using his greatest invention, the alembic (Anbaiq).

Jabir ibn Hayyan is widely considered as the father of Chemistry, but he was also an astronomer, pharmacist, physician, philosopher and engineer.
Jabir Ibn Hayyan – one of the founders of modern pharmacy

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