Graduate Papers

The Physicians of Jundishapur

Gail Marlow Taylor

Once there was a poor physician of Baghdad named Asad ibn Gani who never had enough patients to make a living, even during an epidemic, because he lacked the three qualifications everyone sought: he was neither Syrian nor Christian and he was not from Jundishapur:
‘First of all,’ he answered, ‘to the patients, I am a Muslim; it was known before I was a doctor and even before my birth that Muslims do not succeed in medicine. In addition, I am named Asad instead of Salib, Gabra’il, Yuhanna or Bira. My honorific is Abu l-Harit, while it should be Abu Isa, Abu Zakariya or Abu Ibrahim. I wear a garment of white cotton although I should wear black silk. I speak Arabic instead of expressing myself in the language of the people of Jundi-Shapur.’