Abū'l‐ḥasan ˓Alī ibn Sahl Rabbān al‐Ṭabarī was born in the environs of the city of Marw, in the province of Khurasān in Persia (presently Mary, in Turkmenistan), about AD 783, before the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Hārūn al‐Rashīd (786–809). His father Sahl was a prominent citizen of great learning and a highly placed state official. As a religious leader in the Syriac‐speaking community, he was reverently called Rabbān (from the Aramaic for teacher), and had far‐reaching knowledge in theology, philosophy, and medicine.
Sahl took a special interest in his son's upbringing, providing him with the best available educational opportunities. ˓Ali read the best Syriac books and excelled in learning. When he was 14, he turned to medicine. He concentrated there, because he realized he could help the sick and the needy.
From the Marw region, he moved to Tabaristān (Māzandarān, south of the Caspian Sea). Thus he became known as al‐Ṭabarī. He was appointed counselor‐secretary‐scribe to the...
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