Bakhtshooa Gondishapoori (also spelled Bukhtishu and Bukht-Yishu in many a literature) were Persian Nestorian Christian physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

s from the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries, spanning 6 generations and 250 years. Some of them served as the personal physicians of Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

s. Jurjis son of Bukht-Yishu was awarded 10,000 dinars by al-Mansur
Al-Mansur, Almanzor or Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur was the second Abbasid Caliph from 136 AH to 158 AH .-Biography:...

 after attending to his malady in 765CE. It is even said that one of the members of this family was received as physician to Imam Sajjad
Ali ibn Hussayn
‘Alī ibn Ḥusayn known as Zayn al-‘Ābidīn was a great-grandson of Muhammad, as well as the fourth Shī‘ah Imām . His mother was Shahrbānū and his father was Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī. His brothers include ‘Alī al-Aṣghar ibn Ḥusayn and ‘Alī al-Akbar ibn Ḥusayn...

 (the 4th Shia Imam) during his illness in the events of Karbala
Karbala is a city in Iraq, located about southwest of Baghdad. Karbala is the capital of Karbala Governorate, and has an estimated population of 572,300 people ....


Like all physicians in the Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 courts, they came from the Academy of Gundishapur
Academy of Gundishapur
The Academy of Gondishapur , also Jondishapur , was a renowned academy of learning in the city of Gundeshapur during late antiquity, the intellectual center of the Sassanid empire. It offered training in medicine, philosophy, theology and science. The faculty were versed in the Zoroastrian and...

 in Persia (in modern-day southwestern Iran). They were well versed in the Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

 sciences, including those of Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, Pythagoras
Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable information is known about him...

, and Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

, which they aided in translating while working in Gondeshapur.

Their family was originally from Ahvaz
-History:For a more comprehensive historical treatment of the area, see the history section of Khūzestān Province.-Ancient history:Ahvaz is the anagram of "Avaz" and "Avaja" which appear in Darius's epigraph...

, near Jondishapur, however they eventually moved to the city of Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, and later on to Nsibin Northern Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, which was part of the Persian Empire in the Sassanid era.

Yahya al-Barmaki
Yahya ibn Khalid
Yahya ibn Khalid , yaḥyā bin ḫālid) was a member of the powerful Persian Barmakids family, son of Khalid ibn Barmak. Around 765, he was appointed to Azerbaijan by the Caliph Al-Mansur. Yahya's son Fadl ibn Yahya was born at Ar-Reiy, at the same time as Caliph al-Mahdi's son Harun...

, the vizier and mentor to Harun al-Rashid, provided patronage to the academy and hospital in Gondeshapur helped assure the promotion and growth of astronomy, medicine, and philosophy, not only in Persia but also in the Abbasid empire in general.


The name Bukhtishu according to Kitāb 'Uyūn al-anbā' fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbā (كتاب عيون الأنباء في طبقات الأطباء) of the 12th century for the Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 historian Ibn abi usaybia (ابن أبي أصيبعة) means "servant of Jesus" (في اللغة السريانية البخت العبد ويشوع عيسى عليه السلام) in Syriac language. However, the word "Bukht" is actually Middle Persian
Middle Persian
Middle Persian , indigenously known as "Pârsig" sometimes referred to as Pahlavi or Pehlevi, is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions as well. Middle Persian is classified as a...

, and Ishu is Syraic for Jesis and the word means "Saved through Jesus".


There are no known remaining records of the first two members of the family. And the remaining records of the chain start from Jurjis. But the genealogical sequence follows as:

Jurjis (جرجیس)

Jurjis, the father of Bukhtishu II and grandfather of Jibril ibn Bukhtishu, was a scientific writer and was the director of the hospital in Gondeshapur, which supplied physicians to courts in Iraq, Syria, and Persia. He was called to Baghdad in 765 CE to treat the stomach complaint of the Caliph al-Mansur
Al-Mansur, Almanzor or Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur was the second Abbasid Caliph from 136 AH to 158 AH .-Biography:...

. After successfully curing the caliph, he was asked to remain in attendance in Baghdad, which he did until he fell ill in 769 CE. Before allowing him to return to Gondeshapur, the caliph invited him to convert to Islam but he declined, saying that he wanted to be with his fathers when he died. Amused by his obstinacy, the caliph sent an attendant with Jurjis to ensure he reached his destination. In exchange for the attendant and a 10,000 dinar
The dinar is the official currency of several countries.The history of the dinar dates to the gold dinar, an early Islamic coin corresponding to the Byzantine denarius auri...

 wage, Jurjis promised to send his pupil Isa ibn Sahl
Ibn Sahl
This article is about the physicist. For the physician, see Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari. For the poet, see Ibn Sahl of Sevilla.Ibn Sahl was a Muslim Persian mathematician, physicist and optics engineer of the Islamic Golden Age associated with the Abbasid court of Baghdad...

 to the caliph, since his son, Bukhtishu II, could not be spared from the hospital at Gondeshapur.

Bukhtishu II (بختیشوع دوم)

Bukhtishu II was the son of Jurjis ibn Bukhtishu and the father of Jibril ibn Bukhtishu. He was left in charge of the hospital at Gondeshapur when his father was summoned to treat the stomach complaints of Caliph al-Mansur. Jurjis never intended for Bukhtishu II to go to Baghdad and tend to the caliphs and had offered to send one of his pupils in his stead. Nevertheless, Bukhtishu II was in turn called to the city to treat the Caliph al-Hadi
Abu Abdullah Musa ibn Mahdi al-Hadi was the fourth Abbasid caliph who succeeded his father Al-Mahdi and ruled from 169 AH until his death in 170 AH ....

, who was gravely ill. He was unable to establish himself in Baghdad until 787 CE, when Caliph Harun al-Rashid
Harun al-Rashid
Hārūn al-Rashīd was the fifth Arab Abbasid Caliph in Iraq. He was born in Rey, Iran, close to modern Tehran. His birth date remains a point of discussion, though, as various sources give the dates from 763 to 766)....

 was suffering violently painful headaches. He successfully treated Harun al-Rashid and in gratitude the caliph made him physician-in-chief, a post he held onto until his death in 801 C.E.

Jabril ibn Bukhtishu (جبرائیل دوم)

Alternate Spellings:
Djibril b. Bukhtishu’, Jibril ibn Bakhtishu', Jibra’il ibn Bukhtyishu, Djabra’il b. Bakhtishu

Jibril ibn Bukhtishu was the son of Bukhtishu II, who served the caliphs in Baghdad from 787 CE until his death in 801 CE. In 791 CE, Bukhtishu II recommended Jibril as a physician to Jafar the Barmakid
Ja'far ibn Yahya
Ja'far bin Yahya Barmaki, Jafar al-Barmaki was the son of a Persian Vizier of the Arab Abbasid Caliph, Harun al-Rashid, from whom he inherited that position. He was a member of the influential Barmakids family...

, the vizier
A vizier or in Arabic script ; ; sometimes spelled vazir, vizir, vasir, wazir, vesir, or vezir) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in a Muslim government....

 of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Despite the recommendation, Jibril did not succeed his father until 805 CE, after he successfully treated one of Harun al-Rashid’s slaves, thereby winning the confidence of the caliph.

During Jibril’s time in Baghdad, he advised Harun al-Rashid in the building of its first hospital. The hospital and connected observatory was modeled after the one in Gondeshapur where Jibril had studied medicine and served as the director. Jibril also served as the director of this new hospital, which Harun al-Rashid named after himself.

The Abbasid court physicians gained high standing and trust once accepted and employed by the caliph, as illustrated by the anecdote in which Harun al-Rashid used Jibril to try to humble his vizier Yahya al-Barmaki on an occasion when Yahya entered the caliph’s presence without first gaining permission. In his collection of prose, Tha'alibi
Tha'ālibī [Abu Manşūr 'Abd ul-Malik ibn Mahommed ibn Isma'īl] , Muslim philologist, was born in Nishapur, Iran, and is said to have been at one time a furrier. Although he wrote prose and verse of his own, he was most famous for his anthologies and collections of epigrams...

 cites a story he heard from al-Babbagha:
“Bakhtishu’ ibn Jibril relates from his father…Then al-Rashid turned to me and said, ‘Jibril, is there anyone who would come before you without your permission in your own house?’ I said: ‘No, nor would anyone hope to do that.’ He said: ‘So what is the matter with us that people come in here without permission?’”

After this exchange, Yahya skillfully reminds Harun al-Rashid that he had been granted the privilege of entering his presence without permission by asking the caliph if a change had been made in court etiquette.

Being a part of such court interactions, Jibril would occasionally approach the caliph with a level of frankness not allowed most attendants. During Harun al-Rashid’s final illness, Jibril’s matter-of-fact responses to the caliph won him disgrace and soon after he was condemned to death. He was saved from execution by Alfadl ibn al-Rabi and subsequently became the physician of al-Amin
Muhammad ibn Harun al-Amin , Abbasid Caliph. He succeeded his father, Harun al-Rashid in 809 and ruled until he was killed in 813.-Caliph:...

. After al-Ma'mun
Abū Jaʿfar Abdullāh al-Māʾmūn ibn Harūn was an Abbasid caliph who reigned from 813 until his death in 833...

 gained power, Jibril again faced imprisonment, but was needed to treat Hasan ibn Sahl and thus was released in 817 CE. Three years later he was replaced by his son-in-law, Mikha’il, but was again called to Baghdad in 827 CE when Mikha’il was unable to treat the caliph. He died in the favor of the caliph sometime between 827 and 829 CE and, being Christian, was buried in the Monastery of St. Sergius in Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Parthian Arsacids and of the Persian Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia.The ruins of the city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia...

 which is in modern-day Iraq, on the east bank of the Tigris.

During the ninth and tenth century, the Bukhtishus had a virtual monopoly on the practice of medicine in Baghdad. Jibril is estimated to have a career income of 88,800,000 dirham
Dirham or dirhem is a unit of currency in several Arab or Berber nations, and formerly the related unit of mass in the Ottoman Empire and Persian states...

s for serving Harun al-Rashid for 23 years and the Barmakids for 13, which does not include his fees from lesser patients.

Hunayn ibn Ishaq
Hunayn ibn Ishaq
Hunayn ibn Ishaq was a famous and influential Assyrian Nestorian Christian scholar, physician, and scientist, known for his work in translating Greek scientific and medical works into Arabic and Syriac during the heyday of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate.Ḥunayn ibn Isḥaq was the most productive...

 gained Jibril's his recommendation after studying Greek for several years, which allowed him to become known in later centuries in both the Near East and in Europe for his translations.

Jibrail III (جبرائیل سوم)

Jibrail III was the son of Ubayd Allah ibn Bukhtishu
Abdollah ibn Bukhtishu
Abu Sa'id Ubaid Allah ibn Bakhtyashu , also spelled Bukhtishu, Bukhtyashu, and Bakhtshooa in many texts, was an 11th century syriac physician, descendant of Bakhtshooa Gondishapoori. He spoke the Syriac language....

, a finance official for the Caliph al-Muktadir. After his father’s death, his mother married another physician. Jibrail III began studying medicine exclusively in Baghdad, where he went penniless after the death of his mother. After treating an envoy from Kirman, he was called to Shiraz
Shiraz may refer to:* Shiraz, Iran, a city in Iran* Shiraz County, an administrative subdivision of Iran* Vosketap, Armenia, formerly called ShirazPeople:* Hovhannes Shiraz, Armenian poet* Ara Shiraz, Armenian sculptor...

 by the Buwayhid
The Buyid dynasty, also known as the Buyid Empire or the Buyids , also known as Buwaihids, Buyahids, or Buyyids, were a Shī‘ah Persian dynasty that originated from Daylaman in Gilan...

 'Adud al-Dawla but soon after he returned to Baghdad. He only left Baghdad for short consultations, even declining an offer from the Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

 al-Aziz who wished to establish him in Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

. Jibrail III died on June 8, 1006.

Further reading

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