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Kitāb al-Aġḏiya (Le livre des aliments)

Ibn Halsun


Texte intégral

1Ibn Khalṣūn's (xiiith century) treatise is one of the many works that bear witness to an important preoccupation of Arab medicine : that of enabling man to ensure the harmonious development of his physical and mental being in every facet of his personality and his full range of activities. His medical prescriptions, while aiming at establishing a sound hygiene of life (dietetics being here considered the main aspect of hygienics), constitute the substance of his treatise. Ibn Khalṣūn presents these in concrete, precise and practical terms that can be easily applied to everyday life while at the same time explaining how life operates and thus demystifying it.

2The author's project is an exhaustive one : he begins by considering man himself in terms of his constitution and vital functions. He then observes him in his natural habitat, that is in society, and then provides him with the advice necessary to make these living conditions as salubrious as possible. nutrition plays a fundamental role in his project since food not only guarantees one's nourishment but also prevents illness and restores health if need be. Ibn Khalṣūn subscribes wholeheartedly to the Hippocratic precept : « Let thy food be thy medecine... », and sets as a principle that man should feed himself according to his temperament as well as in relation to climate, seasons, and factors affecting the specifics of his own health.

3The fifth and final section of the treatise provides valuable historical information for it reviews the various foods known and used at that time in Muslim Spain and which constitute a vital aspect of man's life. The description of the nature of aliments, among which cereals figure most prominently, of accompanying condiments and spices, and of the different ways in which they are prepared, serves the reader with a fuller understanding of western Muslim culture.

© Presses de l’Ifpo, 1996

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