Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Harawi

Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Harawi

Bahr al-Jawahir, a manuscript copied in 1758

Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Harawi (Persian: محمد بن یوسف هروی‎‎, fl. 1492-1518 and died 1542) was a Persian late 15th century physician from Herat, now part of Afghanistan.

In 1518 he composed, in Arabic, an alphabetical medical dictionary and encyclopedia. It covered anatomical and pathological terms and concepts, medicinal substances, and prominent physicians, with all the entries arranged alphabetically. This medical lexicon titled 'Jawahir al-lughah wa-Bahr al-jawahir'[1][2] has three chapters: the first explaining terminology for parts of the body (in alphabetical order), the second on the names of simple and compound drugs (also in alphabetical order), and the third on names of diseases, presented in order from head to toe according to their locations. An autograph copy of Jawahir al-lughah exists in which the author states that he completed the correction of the treatise in 1492 (London, Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, MS Arab. 143).[3]

His another work, “Ainul Hayat” is based on Ageing.[4] The original manuscript of Ainul Hayat was scribed in 1532 by the author in Herat. There are 4 copies of this old manuscript reported in various libraries of the world. It is stated that this is the first text on ageing in the world. After collation of these existed 4 copies of the manuscript, Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman edited and translated the manuscript in 2007. In the edited book, one can find how amazingly the author 500 years back discussed all types of behavioral and lifestyle factors including diet, environment and housing conditions related to ageing. He also discussed what drugs could increase and decrease ageing.


  1. ^ A.Z. Iskandar, "Jawahir al-lughah wa-Bahr al-jawahir: mu‘jaman mukhtalifan lil-tabib Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Harawi" [in Arabic], al-Mashriq, 1963, vol. 57, pp. 331–334 and 7 plates
  2. ^ Manfred Ullmann, Die Medizin im Islam, Handbuch der Orientalistik, Abteilung I, Ergänzungsband vi, Abschnitt 1 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1970). p. 237
  3. ^ A. Z. Iskandar, A Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library (London: The Wellcome Historical Medical Library, 1967), pp. 68–9
  4. ^  

Dr Ashfaq Ahmad of NIIMH Hyderabad has translated Ainul Hayat from Arabic to English in 2010

See also