Many people are unaware of the tremendous contribution to medical knowledge made in Islamic culture between the 9th and 13th centuries. It was Professor Ingrid Hehmeyer’s task to open up this chapter of medical history at the recent gala dinner held by the Canadian Islamic Congress in Ottawa. She teaches at Toronto’s Ryerson University. Hehmeyer began by pointing to the Qur’an’s emphasis on the importance of learning, with reading being the gateway to knowledge, rewarded here and hereafter. And as God created nature, an understanding of nature leads to knowledge of God. With this impetus, there was a flowering of science in the Islamic world at that time, even more than in the ancient Greek period. She described the Islamic experience in the following way. The Muslim world profited from the existence of a single legal system, which expanded trade. Trade leads to interchanges among peoples and consequently to the expansion of knowledge. As well, Arabic was the lingua franca. Many earlier scientific works, from the Greeks and others, were translated into Arabic, but Arabic scientists who translated them were not always satisfied with just translating. In some cases they made their own commentaries in the margins, elaborating, pointing to inconsistencies, and so on. In translating works, problems arose. When the Syrian-Greek Dioscordes’ De Materia Medica was translated from Syraic into Arabic in Spain, the scientists faced the problem that some of the plants he identified in Syria were not found in Spain. To resolve the matter, scientists had to do botanic field work. They had to get their hands dirty. An important figure in Islamic medicine, Hanein, was a 9th century Iraqi Christian. He was noted as a translator of works into Arabic from Greek and Syraic, his native language. But he was not just a translator. He also authored textbooks. Another figure, Ibn al Nafis, solved the mystery of the circulation of the blood in the 13th century. The ancient Greek Galen thought that there must be holes in the wall between the ventricles of the heart, allowing the blood to go from the left to the right. On the basis of dissections, al Nafis correctly described the path of the blood from the left ventricle through the lungs, and then into the right one. This knowledge was lost till rediscovered by Michael Servetus in the 16th Century and William Harvey in the 17th. Because of problems of pain and infection, Caesarian sections were usually performed only on dead mothers, to save the baby. Al-Zahrawi, a Spanish Muslim of the 10th Century, wrote a surgical textbook and developed surgical instruments, including forceps for removing a baby from the womb in Caesarian section. The procedure was controversial. Some Muslim scholars saw the operation and dissection in general as sacrilegious, a violation of a human, God’s most noble creation. Averroes’ retort was that dissection helps us to know God’s noble work better. In Arab medicine, progress depended on vigorous debate. While the culture in which the debate took place was Islamic, some of the participants were Christians and Jews. Southern Italy was Muslim, and the medical school there was founded by physicians of all three faiths. Maimonides, the Jewish philosopher and physician, went from Spain to become court physician in Egypt. He learned from Muslim physicians and scholars and taught them as well. Muslim doctors were so highly regarded that Medieval Latin texts often depicted doctors as Muslims. Because of the dominant position of Islamic medicine, Arabic works were translated into Latin. This procedure was less than satisfactory, because Arabic was actually the language of the people, while Latin was the language of a small educated elite. As well, some of the early translations contained serious errors. Islamic medicine has been a major contributor to medical knowledge, not least because of its emphasis on the importance of the play of controversy in developing knowledge. As a last example, let us consider the 11th century Iraqi scientist Ibn al-Haytham’s book on optics. The work was so seminal that it remained in use in translations right up to the 17th century.