ARZĀNI, MOḤAMMAD AKBAR (d. 1134/1722), an Indian author of works on medicine. His main Persian works, which circulated also through several Urdu translations, gained considerable diffusion among later physicians. According to his own statement in the Ṭebb-e akbari, he had been a recluse in a convent (zāwia), later on he studied the religious doctrines and finally dedicated himself to the study of medicine. He probably took part in the Mughal military campaign in the Deccan under Awrangzēb.
Arzāni’s early main works are two Persian commentaries of Arabic books. One is the Ṭebb-e akbari (1112/1700-01), a Persian amplified adaptation of Nafis b. ʿEważ Kermani’s commentary on Najib-al-Din Samarqandi’s (d. 619/1222) Ketāb al-asbāb wa’l-ʿalāmāt; it was later translated into Urdu and Sindhi. The other commentary is the Mofarreḥ al-qolub, which became the most diffused Indo-Persian commentary on Maḥmud b. Moḥammad Čaḡmini’s Qānunča. Later Arzāni composed the Mizān al-ṭebb, a Persian manual in three parts on pathology and treatment, on which Moḥammad Šarif b. Moḥammad Boḵāri Naqšbandi wrote a Persian commentary titled ʿOmān al-ṭebb, šarḥ-e Mizān al-ṭebb, 1259/1843); several Urdu translations have appeared since the 19th century. Arzāni wrote in Arabic the Ḥodud al-amrāż, a dictionary of medical terms on which Abu’l-Qāsem Mir Qodrat-Allāh Khan (d. 1254/1838) wrote a commentary in Persian.
Arzāni was initiated into the Qāderiya Sufi order, and he named his last main work, the Qarābqdin-e qāderi (1130/1718), a Persian pharmacopoeia of compound drugs, after the eponym founder of the order, ʿAbd-al-Qāder Gilāni (1166; see ʿABD-AL-QĀDER JILĀNI).
His first work had been a Persian treatise on the medicine of the prophet, Talḵiṣ-e ṭebb-e nabawi, sometimes wrongly considered (Elgood, p. 63) as a translation of Soyuṭi’s treatise, Manhaj al-sawi. His other works include Mojarrabāt-e akbari, a collection of tested treatments, Ḵayr al-tajāreb, a revised abridgment of Ṭebb-e akbari, Ṭebb-e hendi, a work on Indian prescriptions. The only non-medical work ascribed to Arzāni is a translation of a treatise on music by Tan Sen, a court musician at the court of the Mughal Akbar.
Abdul Bari, “Ḥakīm Muḥammad Akbar Arzanī,” Studies in History of Medicine and Science 18/1, 2002, pp. 17-34.
Moḥammad Akbar Arzāni, Mizān al-ṭebb, Kanpur, 1268/1851.
Idem, Qarābādin-e qāderi, Bombay, 1277/1860.
Idem, Ṭebb-e akbari, Bombay, 1279/1863.
Idem, Mofarreḥ al-qolub, Lucknow, 1303/1886.
Idem, Ḥodud al-amrāż, Delhi, 1313/1895.
Ḥakim ʿAli Čāndpuri, Aṭebbāʾ-e ʿahd-e moḡliya, Karachi, 2nd ed. 1960, pp. 51-54.
ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy Ḥasani, Nozhat al-kawāṭer wa bahjat al-masāmeʿ wa al-nawāẓer VI, 2nd ed., Hyderabad, 1978, pp. 281-82.
Cyril Elgood, A Medical History of Persia and the Eastern Caliphate from the Earliest Times until the Year A.D. 1932, Cambridge, 1951.
D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey, Bombay etc., 1967, pp. 301-2.
Fabrisio Speziale, Soufism, Religion et médicine en Islam indien, Paris, 2010, pp. 21, 31, 57-58, 203-4, 237-38.
Originally Published: January 1, 2000
Last Updated: August 16, 2011