Medicine and Arabic literary production in the Ottoman Empire during the nineteenth century

Nicole Khayat*, Liat Kozma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The selection of nineteenth-century Arabic texts on medical education, medicine and health demonstrates the significant link between the revival of the Arabic language and literary culture of the nineteenth century, known as the nahda, and the introduction of medical education to the Ottoman Empire. These include doctor Ibrahim al-Najjar's autobiographical account of his studies in Cairo (1855), an article by doctor Amin Abi Khatir advising on the health and care of infants (1877), questions and answers in the major popular Arabic journals al-Hilal and al-Muqtataf (1877-1901) and an article about a new tuberculosis treatment by doctor Anisa Sayba'a (1903). Taken together they contribute to our understanding of the bottom-up production, reproduction and reception of global scientific knowledge, as well as to a social and intellectual history of science. We argue that the engagement with science during the nahda was a multi-vocal and dialogical process, in which doctors and patients, journal editors and their readers, negotiated the implications of scientific knowledge for their own lives and their own society. The texts of the original documents and their translations can be found in the supplementary material tab at

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)515-524
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal for the History of Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022

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