SAHLAN IBN ‘UTHMAN IBN KAYSAN, a tenth-century Melchite physician of Misr (Old Cairo) and the brother of Abu Sahl KAYSAN IBN ‘UTHMAN. He served the Fatimid caliphs of Egypt, and reached the peak of his fame under the reign of al-‘Aziz (975-996). He died at Old Cairo, very rich and highly respected, in 991.
Ibn Abi Usaybi‘ah, the medical historian who died in 1269, mentions no work by Sahlan. Three were discovered by Paul Sbath, who spent dozens of years searching for manuscripts.
1. Kitab al-Aqrabadhin (Pharmacopoeia) survives in a single manuscript dated A.H. 472/A.D. 1079, in the possession of the family of Jurji ‘Aqqad, a Greek Catholic pharmacist of Aleppo. This work is still unpublished.
2. The Brief Account of Perfumes has been discovered in a single manuscript copied on 29 June 1093 by al-Rabban Dawud, at the Monastery of the Mother of God, known as the Monastery of the Syrians (Dayr al-Suryan). It was in the possession of Anba Isidhurus, a Coptic bishop of Syrian origin who died in 1942. Sbath published this Arabic text in 1944. M. Ullmann writes concerning this treatise, "In his Mukhtasar fi t-tib Ibn Kaisan gives, in a highly condensed form, a wealth of extremely interesting information concerning perfumes" (p. 315).
3. Mukhtasar fi al-adwiyah al-murakkabah fi akthar al-amrad (Brief Account of the Mixed Medicines Used in Most Illnesses) was published in Cairo in 1953, with a French translation, by Sbath and C. D. Avierinos. According to Manfred Ullmann (p. 309), this work is actually no more than a résumé of al-Dustur al-Bimaristani, composed by Ibn Abi al-Bayan al-Isra’ili (1161-1240) and published in 1933, again by Sbath; thus it would appear not to be the work of Sahlan. However, F. Sezgin expresses no doubts concerning its attribution to Sahlan.
KHALIL SAMIR, S.J.
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