THE HISTORY OF UNANI MEDICINEHakim Ajmal Khan
Not much was known about Unani Tibb although there were thousands of books and literature talking about various alternative herbal medicine and their contributions to the medical world. Public started paying attention to it when it was brought to India and some other southern Asian countries where it has been emerging very rapidly ever since. Unani medicine is one of the most effective alternative methods to help people cure diseases and treat their health problems by empowering the patients’ body and soul. Unani-Tibb was not really famous because before, most people only knew that alternative healing could give cheap, easy and less painful medication compared to chemical medicine obtained at the hospitals. They were not fully aware that many types of alternative and natural healing really existed. One of the used-to-be-less-known alternative medication which starts growing into fame is Unani-Tibb, the Greek medication. Unani-Tibb or Greek medication was actually originated in Egypt long time ago, when Imhotep was ruling the country. Yet, it was not until Hippocrates time from 460-377 BC that it was admitted as part of science. Hippocrates, the Greek philosopher, included Unani healing in his teaching, making people more interested in medicines. In ancient times, illnesses and diseases were always related to superstitions, black magic and other supernatural things, so was the medication system used to heal the diseases. All problems in health, be it an individual sickness or an endemic illness, were always related to witch, curses, bad deeds and similar things. Hippocrates, followed by more Unani-Tibb physicians made the breakthrough and separated medical world from those supernatural things.
After Hippocrates, more Greek scholars joined into the teaching and learning of Unani medicines and they helped a lot in the development of this self-empowering and natural healing method. Galen who lived from 131-210 AD established several foundations which later on influenced and inspired the physicians from Arab countries such as Rhazes and more prominently to Ibn Sina (Avicenna) who lived from 980-1037 AD. These two doctors built a very imposing edifice of Unani medicine in the world. Soon afterward this self-empoweringmedication became widely known, given, taught, and learned in more countries. What makes Unani healing get even better is that in each of the countries where it is developed, it is adapted and enriched with the best local medication such as in China, Egypt, India, Iraq, Persia, Syria, and more countries in Far East and Middle East. It is, however, in India in Mughal period that Unani healing thrived very quickly and attained its biggest achievements. It was firstly introduced by the Arab visitors and well-accepted by the locals as it was proven to be very effective to heal diseases without giving side effects to human’s body. More and more physicians and scholars studying Unani medicines from Shiraz, Galan and Tabrez moved to India when Mongols wreaked havoc on the areas and it definitely made the development of Unani enhanced so rapidly. Those scholars and physicians were even given very good positions in the governments by the emperors in India such as the Sultan of Delhi, the Khiljis Emperor, the Mughal Emperor and also the Tughlaqs Emperor. Unani medicine reached its golden moment between 13th until 17th century in India from the contribution of great physician such as Sadruddin Damashqui, Abu Bakr Bin Ali Usman Ksahani, Akbal Arzani, Muhammaf Hashim Alvi Khan and many more. The development of Unani medicine in India is not without any obstacles. In the period of British rule in India, the progress of this natural healing was nearly hampered as a result of government patronage withdrawal. Luckily, the support from the influential people including the Azizi family from Lucknow, the Sharifi family from Delhi and the Nizam family from Hyderabad enabled this Unani to survive and flourish even more.