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Ibn Hindu - The Key to Medicine and a Guide for Students



Type of Spiritual Experience


Abū Al-Faraj ʿAlī ibn al-Husayn ibn Hindū d. 1019-1032, was a poet, a man of letters, and a practitioner of Galenic medicine coming from Rey.  His philosophical and medical training was extensive and he studied under Abu al-Hassan al-Amiri, Abū Al-Khayr al-Hasan ibn Siwār, and Abū al-Khayr ibn al-Khammār.  He wrote in Arabic.  He was more famous for his works of poetry, than as a physician however his medical books are not without interest.

Ibn Hindū -  Miftah al-tibb wa-minhaj al-tullab.  - The key to the science of medicine and the students' guide was later translated by Aidi Tibi as The Key to Medicine and a Guide for Students.

A description of the experience

As quoted in Charles Burnett – Spiritual medicine:  music and healing in Islam and its influence in Western medicine

The science of music also belongs to the medical art in some way or other. Relying on Hippocrates, Theon of Alexandria tells that the philosophers before Hippocrates would cure the sick by melodies and by playing the lyre and the aulos. However, that kind of therapy has decayed and vanished. Even Hippocrates, in spite of all his greatness, did not know it any longer; only those prior to him having practised it.  Should we undertake to revive it, it would be regained only after many generations and epochs.

Our discussion should, however, be based on the Hippocratic medicine that is still available. So we state the following: It is true that the subtleties and mysteries by means of which those physicians were able to cure, disappeared and are beyond our capacity. However, we still know its major and evident aspects. We know, for example, that there is a mode of melody and rhythm which arouses sadness, one which rouses joy, one relaxing and tranquilizing, another one disquieting and tantalizing, one which keeps awake and one which induces sleep. And whenever we order those who suffer from melancholy to be treated with the respective modes, it helps them.

The physician need not himself be a performer of the drum, the aulos or the dance, just as he does not need to be a pharmacist or a phlebotomist, but rather employs these people to aid him in his therapy.

The source of the experience

Healer other

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Extreme unhappiness


Listening to music


Music therapy