ILĀQI, SAYYED ŠARAF-AL-ZAMĀN (Bayhaqi; Šaraf-al-Din, in Ebn Abi Oṣaybeʿa) ABU ʿABD-ALLĀH MOḤAMMAD b. Yusof, follower of Avicenna and author in medicine, science, and philosophy. He died at an uncertain age in the battle of Qaṭvān, Sultan Sanjar’s catastrophic defeat at the hands of the Qara Khitay in 536/1141 (thus his contemporary and personal acquaintance Bayhaqi; erroneous dating in existing studies will have to be corrected accordingly).

Ilāqi’s nesba suggests a—possibly past—family connection to Ilāq, but the referent is uncertain. The best-known Ilāq was a district adjoining Čāč/Šāš and Farḡāna, the central place of which was Tunkaṯ (Ḥodud al-ʿālam, ed. Sotuda, p. 114, tr. Minorsky, pp. 117, 356; Yāqut, Boldān, Beirut I, pp. 291b-292a; Barthold, Turkestan2, pp. 169-95); several scholars hailed from there (cf. Sa-mʿāni, Ansāb, ed. Yamāni, I, pp. 412-13, no. 291). Alternatively, one might think of either of two localities of this name, a small town in the vicinity of Nišāpur and a village of Bukhara. Ilāqi’s second, admittedly late-attested, nesba ‘Naysāburi’ does not provide an answer either, in view of the frequent mobility of intellectuals in search of livelihood. According to Ẓahir-al-Din Abu Zayd Bayhaqi, Šaraf-al-Zamān himself was a resident of Bāḵarz before he was called to Balḵ by its governor ʿAlāʾ-al-Din b. Qomāj. Otherwise biographical information on Ilāqi is scarce, except for express confirmation of his being a descendant of the Prophet Moḥammad and for, at first sight stereotypical-sounding, fulsome praise for his combined excellence in theoretical and practical fields, his auspicious medical cures, and his scholarly exchanges with contemporary intellectuals, such as ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Torki (instructor in medicine and ḥesāb [arithmetic or astrology] at a neighborhood mosque in Bukhara; Bayhaqi, pp. 130-31), ʿOmar Ḵayyām (Bayhaqi, p. 132, l.8; cf. Fouchécour and Rosenfeld, p. 827), ʿOmar b. Sahlān Sāvaji, and Tāj-al-Din Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-al-Karim Šahrastāni (on Ilāqi’s relations with these two see below). As an author, Ilāqi dealt with topics from zoology and medicine to theoretical and practical philosophy (the latter meaning applied ethics); while his brief survey of philosophical definitions (ms. Beirut, Cheikho, no. 410,3) and correspondence with Šahrestāni (see below), his medical writings (see below), and possibly his (probably lost) work “on animals” (Ketāb al-ḥayawān, Bayhaqi), were composed in Arabic, his books of good counsel (Bayhaqi; lost?), Dust-nāma and Solṭān-nāma, by their very titles betray their Persian idiom.

In medicine, Ilāqi was among the first, if not the first, to epitomize Avicenna’s magisterial al-Qānun fi’l-ṭebb (the Canon), or rather certain sections of it, and to win recognition for his efforts (e.g., Ebn Abi Oṣaybeʿa, II, p. 20). Judging by the number of manuscripts and commentaries it elicited for several centuries, his Eḵteṣār of the first book (Kolliyāt) of the Qānun on theory was the more widely received of Ilāqi’s two revisions of parts of the Qānun; eventually it became known as al-Foṣul al-Ilāqiya (Şeşen et al., pp. 145-46). Among its students, the encyclopedist Moḥammad b. Maḥmud Āmoli (d. 1352) deserves special mention; furthermore, its diffusion in Asia Minor is illustrated by a commentary by Šams-al-Din Amāsi as well as by an anonymous Persian translation which was copied in Constantinople in 1476 (Şeşen et al., pp. 145-46). In a second epitome, clearly overshadowed by the Foṣul, Ilāqi summarized the Qā-nun’s third and fourth books on particular diseases (Şe-şen et al., pp. 144-45); by its title, al-Asbāb wa’l-ʿalāmāt (aetiology and symptomatology), it recalls, on the one hand, the Alexandrian combined edition Ketāb al-ʿelal wa’l-aʿrāż of four Galenic treatises (Ullmann, p. 42, no. 22; Sezgin, GAS III, pp. 89-90, no. 14; 148, no. 9) and, on the other, Najib al-Din Samarqandi’s (d. 1220) Ketāb al-asbāb wa’l-ʿalāmāt, which was based on the four great masters of Islamic medicine of the 10th-11th centuries, namely Moḥammad b. Zakariyāʾ Rāzi, ʿAli b. ʿAbbās Majusi, Abu’l-Ḥasan Ṭabari-Toronji, and Avicenna; and for centuries it enjoyed wide circulation, both in the original and in variously abridged and annotated versions (Ullmann, pp. 170, 339). Future study will have to clarify the relationship between Ilāqi’s and Samarqandi’s works of identical title.

By way of a student of Ilāqi’s contemporary ʿOmar b. Sahlān Sāvaji (Bayhaqi, pp. 132 ff., no. 74; Brockelmann, GAL SI, pp. 830-31, no. 8a), Ilāqi also figured in the transmission of Avicennian medical learning to Zangid and Ayyubid Syria, as represented by Šams-al-Din b. Lobudi (1174-1224; Ebn Abi Oṣaybeʿa, II, pp. 171, ll. 10-11, 184, l. -10).

Ilāqi’s philosophical interests, barely acknowledged by Ebn Abi Oṣaybeʿa, are further illustrated by his contacts with Tāj-al-Din Moḥammad Šahrastāni, with whom he exchanged epistles on the knowledge of the Necessary Being (Wājeb al-wojud; see Šahrastāni, 1956, editor’s introd., p. 14; idem, 1989, pp. dawāzdah-sizdah, no. 17; idem, 1990, cf. Monnot; idem, tr. and ed. Madelung and Mayer, pp. 7-8). A survey of philosophical definitions by his pen was referred to above.



Manuscripts of Ilāqi’s works. The fluctuating titles of his two revisions of the Qānun have led to some confusion in Brockelmann’s GAL (I, pp. 458, 485, no. 6; SI, pp. 825-26, 886-87); they are clearly distinguished in Şeşen et al. (pp. 144 ff., no. 114). See also: (1) For al-Foṣul al-Ilāqiya, Bankipore (Muqtadir, IV, pp. 61-62, no, 42); Berlin, Staatsbibliothek (Ahlwardt, V, p. 548, no. 6284); Gotha (Pertsch, III/3, pp. 471-72, no. 1931); London, Wellcome (Iskandar, 1967, p. 83-84, WMS. Or. 32); Los Angeles, University of California, Los Angeles (Iskandar, 1984, pp. 14, 42-43, nos. Ar. 11 and 12/1; Montreal, McGill University (Gacek, pp. 100-101 and fig. 32, no. 106; Rampur, Raza (ʿArši, pp. 248-49, nos. 3940, 3941 (1). (2) For al-Asbāb wa’l-ʿalāmāt (in some mss. the author’s name erroneously appears as Mohammed b. Moḥammadb. Yusof . . .), Alexandria, al-Maktaba al-Baladiya, no. 2063d (Šabbuḥ, III/2, pp. 12-13, no. 10); Beirut, Université de Saint Joseph (Cheikho, pp. 419-20, no. 309 (1); London, Wellcome (Iskandar, pp. 83, WMS. Or. 157); New Delhi, Institute of History of Medicine (Ghori, I, p. 24 ff., no. 1073; titled Moʿālajāt-e Ilāqi); Rampur (ʿArši, pp. 250-51, nos. 3941(2), 3942-43). His epistle to Šahrestāni is extant in MS in a collection at the Majles Library in Tehran, no. 599(10).


Bibliographical sources. Ẓahir-al-Din ʿAli b. Zayd Bayhaqi (Ebn Fondoq), Tatemmat Ṣewān al-ḥekma, ed. M. Kord ʿAli as Taʾriḵ ḥokamāʾ al-Eslām, Damascus, 1365/1946; repr., 1409 /1988, pp. 130, ll. 7 f., 131-32, no. 73.

Ebn Abi Oṣaybeʿa, Ketāb ʿoyun al-anbāʾ fi ṭabaqāt al-aṭebbāʾ, ed. August Müller, 2 vols., Cairo, 1884, II, pp. 20, 184, l. 10.

Kašf al-ẓonun, ed. Flügel, no. 8281.

Šams-al-Din Moḥammad b. Maḥmud Šahrazuri, Nozhat al-arwāḥ wa rawżat al-afrāḥ, 2 vols., Hyderabad, 1396/1976, II, pp. 55-56, no. 46.

Tāj-al-Din Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-al-Karim Šahrastāni, al-Melal wa’l-neḥal, tr. Afżal-al-Din Ṣadr Torka Eṣfahāni, ed. Sayyed Moḥammad-Reżā Jalāli Nāʾini, Tehran, 1956.

Idem, Mafātiḥ al-asrār wa maṣābiḥ al-abrār, ed. ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Ḥāʾeri, 2 vols., Tehran, 1989.

Idem, Do maktub, ed. Moḥammad-Reżā Jalāli Nāʾini, Tehran, 1990.

Idem, Ketāb al-moṣāraʿa, ed. and tr. Wilferd Madelung and Toby Mayer as Struggling with the Philosopher: A Refutation of Avicenna’s Metaphysics, London, 2001.

Modern references and studies. Maulavi Bahadur Khan Abdul Muqtadir, Catalogue of Arabic and Persian Manuscripts in the Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library at (Bankipore) Patna IV: Arabic Medical Works, Patna, 1910.

Wilhelm Ahlwardt, Verzeichniss der arabischen Handschriften der Königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin, 10 vols., Berlin, 1893.

Emtiāz ʿAli ʿArši, Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts in Raza Library, Rampur V: Mathematics, Medicine . . . , Rampur, 1975.

Louis Cheikho, “Catalogue raisonné des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque orientale de l’Université de Saint Joseph,” Mélanges de l’Université Saint Josephde Beyrouth 8, 1923, esp. pp. 419-20, no. 309; 10, 1925, p. 140, no. 410 (3).

Charles-Henri de Fouchécour and Boris Abramovich Rosenfeld, “ʿUmar Khayyām,” in EI 2 X, pp. 827-34.

A. Gacek, Arabic Manuscripts in the Libraries of McGill University Union Catalogue, Montreal, 1991.

Shabbir Ahmad Khan Ghori, Tazeemuddin Siddiqi, and S. A. Ali, A Catalogue of Arabic and Persian Medical Manuscripts in the Library of Institute of History of Medicine and Medical Research I, Tughlaqabad, New Delhi, n.d.

Albert Z. Iskandar, A Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London, 1967, pp. 51-52.

Idem, A Descriptive List of Arabic Manuscripts on Medicine and Science at the University of California, Los Angeles, Leiden, 1984.

G. Monnot, “Shahrastānī,” in EI 2 IX, pp. 214-16.

W. Pertsch, Die orientalischen Handschriften der Herzoglichen Bibliothek zu Gotha III/3, Vienna, 1881.

Ebrāhim Šabbuḥ, Fehres al-maḵtuṭāt al-muṣawwara . . . III/2: al-ṭebb, Cairo 1959.

Rudolf Sellheim, Materialien zur arabischen Literaturgeschichte, Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland, 17, A, 1, 2 vols., Wiesbaden, 1976, p. 147 (now obsolete doubts concerning the date of Ilāqi’s death).

Ramazan Şeşen, Cemil Akpınar and Cevad I˜zgi, Fehrest maḵṭuṭāt al-ṭebb al-eslāmi . . . fi maktabāt Torkiā, Istanbul, 1984, pp. 144-46, no. 114.

Manfred Ullmann, Die Medizin im Islam, Handbuch der Orientalistik I.VI/1, Leiden, and Cologne, 1970.

(Lutz Richter-Bernburg)

Originally Published: December 15, 2004

Last Updated: March 27, 2012

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Vol. XII, Fasc. 6, pp. 641-643