Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Zakarya Al-Razi – renowned Alchemist

Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Zakarya Al-Razi celebrated alchemist, being the first to classify minerals into 6 categories and discovered chemicals such as kerosene and alcohol.

Al-Razi wrote over 200 books; half of them being medical books. His book, Kitab al-Mansouri, is amongst the most influential medical books of the medieval ages.

Al-Razi was born in Rey, Tehran – the capital of Iran in 853 AD. He has quite a long name, ‘Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Zakarya Al-Razi’.

After his basic studies, he moved to Baghdad to study medicine. He studied medicine at hospitals and translated the Greek books written on it. This enabled him to write books over two hundred. With much of the practice at a hospital in Baghdad, he returned to Rey. He was appointed the chief physician and the head of Rey hospitals by the ruling caliph (king) Mansur ibn Ishaq.Al-Razi’s long services in medicine and optics led him to lay the groundwork for Muslim Scholars to expand these subjects.

Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and Al-Biruni followed him and revised most of his works. Among many of his discoveries like chemical instruments to separate one chemical from others, creams for skin use, bottles, and flasks to use in laboratories.Al-Razi’s sincere work rewarded in the form of fame among Muslim and western scholars alike.

He is known for the following discoveries and contributions:He improved the distillation method of alcohol.Al-Razi was the first to first process the opium and give it as anesthesia to patients on which the surgery was performed.He wrote a book on alchemy, named ‘Al-Asrar (means the secret)’, which described the identification of chemicals obtained from minerals, animals, and plants for use in medical purposes. Also, he described various equipment used in chemistry and how to use them.

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