Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa Muʾaffaq al-Dīn Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad Ibn Al-Qāsim Ibn Khalīfa al-Khazrajī (Arabic: ابن أبي أصيبعة‎; 1203–1270), commonly referred to as Ibn Abi Usaibia (also Usaibi'ah, Usaybea, Usaibi`a, Usaybiʿah, etc.), was a physician from Syria in the 13th century CE. He compiled a biographical encyclopedia of notable physicians, from the Greeks, Romans and Indians up to the year 650AH/1252AD in the Islamic era.

Ibn Abi Usaybi'a
Damascus, Ayyubid Sultanate
(in modern Syria)
DiedJanuary 1270 (age 66)
Salkhad, Ayyubid Sultanate
(in modern Syria)
Resting placeSalkhad
LanguageClassical Arabic
Literary movementIslamic Golden Age
Notable worksLives of the Physicians



Ibn Abi Usaibia was born at Damascus, a member of the Arab Banu Khazraj tribe. The son of a physician, he studied medicine at Damascus and Cairo. In 1236, he was appointed physician to a new hospital in Cairo, but the following year he took up an offer by ruler of Damascus, of a post in Salkhad, near Damascus, where he lived until his death.[1] His only surviving work is Lives of the Physicians. In that work, he mentions another of his works, but it has not survived.[2]

Lives of the Physicians


The title in Arabic, Uyūn ul-Anbāʾ fī Ṭabaqāt al-Aṭibbā (Arabic: عيون الأنباء في طبقات الأطباء), is translatable loosely and expansively as "Sources of News on Classes of Physicians", commonly translated into English as History of Physicians, Lives of the Physicians, Classes of Physicians, or Biographical Encyclopedia of Physicians.[2] The book opens with a summary of the physicians from ancient Greece, Syria, India and Rome but the main focus of the book's 700 pages is physicians of medieval Islam. A first version appeared in 1245–1246 and was dedicated to the Ayyubid physician and vizier Amīn al-Dawlah. A second and enlarged recension of the work was produced in the last years of the life of the author, and circulated in at least two different versions, as shown by the extant manuscripts.



The text has been published five times in all. When the first edition by August Müller (Cairo, 1882), published under the pseudonym "Imrū l-Qays",[3] was found to be marred by typos and errors and a corrected version was subsequently issued (Königsberg, 1884).[4] Relying on Müller's work, Niẓār Riḍā published a non-critical edition of the text in Beirut in 1965, which was subsequently reworked by Qāsim Wahhāb for yet another edition issued in Beirut in 1997. ʿĀmir al-Najjār published his own critical edition (not based on Müller) in Cairo in 1996.

A team of scholars from the universities of Oxford and Warwick has published a new critical edition and a full annotated English translation of the Uyūn al-Anbā.[5] Their work is available in Open Access at Brill Scholarly Editions.[6]

In 2020, a new translation was published by Oxford World's Classics under the name Anecdotes and Antidotes: A Medieval Arabic History of Physicians.[7][8]

See also



  1. ^   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainThatcher, Griffithes Wheeler (1911). "Ibn Usaibi'a". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 14 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 223.
  2. ^ a b Roger Pearse (2011), Preface to the Online Edition -- the online edition of the Arabic-to-English translation of Ibn Abi Usaibia's History of Physicians, translated by Lothar Kopf.
  3. ^ "Lives of the Physicians". Library of Congress.
  4. ^ Uṣaybiʻah, Aḥmad ibn al-Qāsim Ibn Abī (December 12, 1884). "Ibn Abi Useibia". Selbstverlag – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "A Literary History of Medicine - Ibn Abi Usaybiah- The Best Accounts of the Classes of Physicians - Home". krc2.orient.ox.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 2015-08-05.
  6. ^ "Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah | Scholarly Editions". scholarlyeditions.brill.com.
  7. ^ https://www.waterstones.com/book/anecdotes-and-antidotes/ibn-abi-usaybiah/henrietta-sharp-cockrell/9780198827924 [bare URL]
  8. ^ Usaybi'ah, Ibn Abi; Gelder, Geert Jan van (June 25, 2020). Anecdotes and Antidotes: A Medieval Arabic History of Physicians. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-882792-4 – via Google Books.