Medicine and Religion in the Life of an Ottoman Sheikh
Al-Damanhuri’s "Clear Statement" on Anatomy, 1st Edition
In 1768, Aḥmad al-Damanhūrī became the rector (shaykh) of al-Azhar, which was one of the most authoritative and respected positions in the Ottoman Empire. He occupied this position until his death. Despite being a prolific author, whose writings are largely extant, al-Damanhūrī remains almost unknown, and much of his work awaits study and analysis. This book aims to shed light on al-Damanhūrī’s diverse intellectual background, and that of and his contemporaries, building on and continuing the scholarship on the academic thought of the late Ottoman Empire.
The book specifically investigates the intersection of medical and religious knowledge in Eighteenth-Century Egypt. It takes as its focus a manuscript on anatomy by al-Damanhūrī (d. 1778), entitled "The Clear Statement on the Science of Anatomy (al-qawl al-ṣarīḥ fī ʿilm al-tashrīḥ),". The book includes an edited translation of The Clear Statement, which is a well-known but unstudied and unpublished manuscript. It also provides a summary translation and analysis of al-Damanhūrī’s own intellectual autobiography. As such, the book provides an important window into a period that remains deeply understudied and a topic that continues to cause debates and controversies.
This study, therefore, will be of keen interest to scholars working on the "post-Classical" Islamic world, as well as historians of religion, science, and medicine looking beyond Europe in the Early Modern period.
‘Medicine and Religion in the Life of an Ottoman Sheikh is a brilliant work. This book is a much-needed contribution to the history of medicine and intellectual life in the late Ottoman Empire. The translation is elegant and finely wrought and the accompanying chapters bring to life the intellectual milieu of Shaykh Ahmad al-Damanhuri, one of the most significant intellectuals of late Ottoman Egypt.’ – Jennifer L. Derr, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
Piety and Patienthood in Medieval Islam. London: Routledge Press, 2018.
How did pious medieval Muslims experience health and disease? Rooted in the prophet’s experiences with medicine and healing, Muslim pietistic literature developed cosmologies in which physical suffering and medical interventions interacted with religious obligations and spiritual health. This book traces the development of prophetic medical literature and religious writings around health and disease to give a new perspective on how patienthood was conditioned by the intersection of medicine and Islam.
The author investigates the early and foundational writings on prophetic medicine and related pietistic writings on health and disease produced during the Islamic Classical Age. Looking at attitudes from and towards clerics, physicians and patients, sickness and health are gradually revealed as a social, gendered, religious, and cultural experience. Patients are shown to experience certain sensoria that are conditioned not only by medical knowledge, but also by religious and pietistic attitudes.
This is a fascinating insight into the development of Muslim pieties and the traditions of medical practice. It will be of great interest to scholars interested in Islamic Studies, history of religion, history of medicine, science and religion and the history of embodied religious practice, particularly in matters of health and medicine.
The Medieval Islamic Hospital: Medicine, Religion and Charity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
The first monograph on the history of Islamic hospitals, this volume focuses on the under-examined Egyptian and Levantine institutions of the twelfth to fourteenth centuries. By the twelfth century, hospitals serving the sick and the poor could be found in nearly every Islamic city. Ahmed Ragab traces the varying origins and development of these institutions, locating them in their urban environments and linking them to charity networks and patrons' political projects. Following the paths of patients inside hospital wards, he investigates who they were and what kinds of experiences they had. The Medieval Islamic Hospital explores the medical networks surrounding early hospitals and sheds light on the particular brand of practice-oriented medicine they helped to develop. Providing a detailed picture of the effect of religion on medieval medicine, it will be essential reading for those interested in history of medicine, history of Islamic sciences, or history of the Mediterranean.