Medical Ethics in Iranian Traditional Medicine, a Review of Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi’s Ethical Code

Document Type: Original Article


1 Medical Ethics Department, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

2 Research Center for Traditional Medicine and History of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran


Background: Qutb al-Din al-Shiraziis known as a Persian philosopher, physician, physicist, mathematician and astronomer from the seventh century AD as well as the pioneer of Shiraz Medical doctrine. He has several books on medicine, philosophy, Quran, Hadith, physics, geography and mathematics. His medical books are “TohfeyeSadyeh” ,”Treatise on vitiligo” , “Treatise on ophthalmic diseases” and “Description on Avicenna’s Medical Poem”. Qutb al-Dinhas had a comprehensive discussion on medical ethics in the third chapter of “Fi-Bayan-el-Hajateela al-Tebbeva al-AttebbavaVasayahom” [The need to medicine and physicians and their recommendations] that is the most comprehensive treatise on medical ethics in ancient Persia.Methods:In this article, we have reviewed the third chapter of “Fi-Bayan-el-Hajateela alTebbeva al-AttebbavaVasayahom” and made a comparison between Qutb al-Din’s recommendations on medical ethics and classic ethical code.Results: Qutb al-Din’s ethical recommendations for doctors are in ten groups which include believing in God and day of Judgment, recommending the good and prohibiting the bad, appreciating teachers, receiving no charge for medical education and medical practice, avoiding dangerous, fatal and abortive drugs, respecting the confidentiality and privacy of the patients, good interaction with the patients and justice in dealing with rich and poor patients and considering patients’ benefit.Conclusion: Multiple similarities, such as topics on confidentiality, justice and patient’s best interest, are present among these ethical systems. However, some differences also exist between the Qutb al-Din’s presented ethical code and classic one, mainly due to the difference in their philosophy of ethics.