Lived AD 809-873. Was a Nestorian Christian during the glory years of the Abbasid Caliphate in Iraq. He studied Greek and became known among the Arabs as the "Sheikh of the translators." He translated the Septuagint, Hippocrates, some of Plato and Aristotle, and other Greek works into Arabic, and almost all of Galen's scientific output into Syriac and Arabic.

He was also a great doctor and the Caliph al-Mutawakkil appointed him as his private physician. The Caliph once offered him a large reward to concoct a poison for an enemy, but Hunayn refused and so was thrown into prison for a year. When brought again before the Caliph and threatened with death his reply was, "I have skill only in what is beneficial, and naught else." The Caliph then claimed to be only testing his integrity, and then asked him what prevented him from preparing the deadly poison. Hunayn replied:

Two things: my religion and my profession. My religion decrees that we should do good even to our enemies, how much more to our friends. And my profession is instituted for the benefit of humanity and limited to their relief and cure. Besides every physician is under oath never to give anyone a deadly medicine.

A modern French historian has called him "the greatest figure of the ninth century."

Source: Phillip K. Hitti, The Arabs - A Short History, Chicago: Gateway, 1949, pp. 118-119.

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