Al-Razi (Alrazen) 854-925 (Chemistry, Philosophy)

Biographical article on the controversial theological career but distinguished science of Fakhraddin al-Razi (1149-1209) (PDF)

From Muslim Heritage Website:

Al-Razi the experimantal chemist

Someone these scholars do not refer to for very long is Al-Razi. He was a pure rationalist, no nonsense scientist, who only believed in experimentation and concrete evidence, and never refrained from demolishing all previous speculative and erroneous conclusions, and he did so in every science he touched upon. Al-Razi was born in Rayy in Iran (250-318 H/864-932). Before he left chemistry for medicine, where he became one of the leading authorities, and occupied eminent functions in Baghdad as physician, he was also the founding father of truly modern chemistry. Al-Razi eliminated the symbolic, occult aspects that plagued the so called alchemy, and set up the firm foundations of modern chemistry. He, most of all, set up the laboratory in the modern sense, designing, describing and using more than twenty instruments. Both Anawati and Hill provide a good account of Al-Razi’s elaborate laboratory [14], the precursor of the modern laboratory, and of which many parts are still in use today (although Hill mentions that, Anawati, like many others, chooses to ignore this fact, however important it is) [15]. This crucial contribution to science had amongst other impacts the development of modern pharmacy. Hence, Abu al-Mansur al-Muwaffaq mentions for the first time some chemical facts to distinguish certain medicines [16].

Al-Razi himself was interested in the medical uses of chemical compounds [17]. In his work Secret of Secrets, he made the very useful classification of natural substances, dividing them into earthly, vegetable and animal substances, to which he also added a number of artificially obtained ones such as lead oxide, caustic soda, and various alloys. He went further in the cataloguing and description of his experiments, describing first the materials he used, then the apparatus, and methods and conditions of his experiments [18]. In the Secret of Secrets, he describes in great detail such chemical processes which he performed, and which have their modern equivalent form of distillation, calcination, crystallisation etc [19].