Dissertation Was Authored by Imam Ridha (a.s.)
Despite all of this, we see no reason to doubt that it was authored by the Imam if we apply the criterion generally applied to derive legislative verdicts (ahkam), or to be familiar with the principles of the creed (usool), for in that case there are conditions which are not required here; otherwise, doubt would have necessitated the attribution of authorship to a large number of books due to the lack of a method which would assure us of the reliability of such an attribution. Yet the fame which many verifiers consider as a means towards confirmation can by itself prove to us the accuracy of attributing this dissertation to the Imam (A.S.).
If it is proven for us that al-Najjashi meant this same gold dissertation when he was quoting al-Nawfali saying that he narrated one text from al-Rida (A.S.), the knot would surely be untied. What supports this assumption about al-Najjashi is that some scholars have said that the library of allama al-'Askari in Samarra (Iraq) contains a copy of a manuscript dealing with the medical knowledge of Imam al-Rida (A.S.) narrated by Abu Muhammad al-Hassan ibn Muhammad al-Nawfali149, provided there is no other copy by al-Nawfali in which he quotes the Imam (A.S.) other than this dissertation; otherwise, we would be confused and we would not be able to reasonably understand why al-Najjashi did not provide sufficient details about the books which he attributed to their respective authors or narrators, or at least indicate their titles!
This dissertation is one of the most precious pieces of Islamic legacy dealing with the science of medicine. This inclusive, scientific and invaluable dissertation is a summary of a number of medical sciences such as anatomy, biology, physiology, pathology and the science of health care. It provided most of the knowledge related to the science of protective medicine, nutrition, chemistry, and a large portion of other sciences as well.
The Imam (A.S.) sent this dissertation to the caliph al-Mamoon around the year 201 A.H. when medicine was a primitive science and its research was not conducted scientifically but based on practice alone rather than on scientific discoveries, and when the science of bacteriology was not discovered yet, nor was there any significant knowledge of nutritional supplements such as vitamins, or other significant medical discoveries for fighting microbes such as penicillin, streptomycin, oromycin, etc.
On the surface, the dissertation seemed to be very simple in order to be in line with the mentality of that time, but it is quite deep and complicated in its implications and it needs a scientific study and lengthy researches to unveil its secrets and uncover its treasures, and it should be compared with modern scientific facts.150
149 Tibb al-Rida ("Medicine of al-Rida"), "Multaqa al-'Asrayn" series, issue number 2, p. 130
150 Ibid., pp. 19-20
Adapted from: "Imam al-Ridha (a.s.), A Historical and Biographical Research" by: "Muhammad Jawad Fadlallah"
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