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Islamic Culture and the Medical Arts Preface On the 30th of November 1094 AD (or to be more precise, the 19th of the month Dhu al-Qa`dah in the year 487 of the Muslim era), a scribe in Baghdad completed a copy of an Arabic treatise by one of the most important medieval physicians and clinicians -- Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya' al-Razi, who worked in Baghdad in the previous century and was later known to Europe as Rhazes. This manuscript is the oldest volume in the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the third oldest Arabic manuscript on any medical topic known to be preserved today.

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Interest in the Middle East and the Islamic world is at an all time high, generating a corresponding increase in demand for specialized teaching, learning and transmitting critical knowledge and perspectives on this part of the world. Understanding this region involves learning about the social, political, religious and cultural issues – past and present – that shape the Islamic world of today. Studying Middle Eastern cultures and peoples across all time periods provides a crucial framework for understanding the complex relationship between Islam and the West today.

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