BIOGRAPHY AND RELIGIOUS VIEWS
Medieval authors have left confused and contradictory biographical accounts of Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Zakariyyāʾ al-Rāzī (Rhazes), the most original physician–philosopher among the Arabic-speaking peoples. He was born in Rayy (near modern Tehran) probably in 251/865. Physicians, he believed, should practise in great cities which abound in patients and skilful medical men; hence his sojourn in Baghdad, where, in his youth, he studied and practised medicine at its hospital (bīmāristān). Later he returned to Rayy, at the invitation of its governor, al-Manṣūr b. Isḥāq, to assume responsibility as director of its hospital. To this ruler al-Rāzī dedicated his al-Kitāb al-Manṣūrīfīʾl-ṭibb (Liber ad Almansorem) and al-Ṭibb al-rūḥānī (“Spiritual Physic”). These two books were meant to be complementary: the former treats of diseases of the body, the latter, diseases of the soul.
Having achieved fame in Rayy, al-Rāzī returned to Baghdad to become head of its newly founded al-Muʿtaḍidī hospital, named after al-Muʿtaḍid (reigned 279–89/892–902). On account of political events, and in relation to high-ranking positions he had held, he resided on several occasions either in Baghdad or Rayy, but spent the last years of his life in Rayy suffering from glaucoma (al-māʾ), until he became blind and died in his birthplace around 313/925 or 320/932.
Al-Rāzī's self-restraint and modesty are best expressed in his own words, in al-Sīrah al-falsafiyjah:
I have neither shown avarice nor extravagance; nor have I had any disputes or quarrels; nor have I ever acted unjustly against anyone. […]