Why We Celebrate World Unani Day? History and Importance

World Unani Day – 11 February

When is World Unani Day celebrated?

On 11th February every year, World Unani Day is celebrated. This day is celebrated to mark the birth anniversary of Hakim Ajmal Khan. He was the great Unani scholar and social reformer. He was a well-known Indian Unani physician who was a great scholar, a versatile genius, a noted freedom fighter, a social reformer, an Unani medical educationist, and the founder of scientific research in the Unani System of Medicine. He was among the founders of the Jamia Millia Islamia, which is situated in New Delhi.

When was the First Unani Day celebrated?

In 2017, First Unani Day was celebrated at CRIUM, Hyderabad. During that event, the celebration included Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM) Awards distribution ceremony and cosmetology in Unani Medicine at that time, and a Two-day National Seminar on Skin Diseases.

In the year 2018, when 11th February was declared as Unani Day, the scheme of AYUSH Awards was also started by CCRUM in different categories for the Unani system of Medicine on the behalf of the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India.

As 11th February 2018 marked the 150th birth anniversary of Hakim Ajmal Khan, the ministry of AYUSH decided to celebrate the 2nd Unani Day as a big occasion. At Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, the event included a 2-day International Conference on Integration of Unani System of Medicine in Mainstream Healthcare, on 10th and 11th February 2018. AYUSH Awards for Unani Medicine were also distributed.

What is the main objective of World Unani Day?

Its main motive is to create awareness about health care delivery through the Unani system of medicine with its curative and preventive philosophy. In India, the Unani system of medicine has a long and quite impressive record. The Arabs and Persians introduced this system in India sometime around the eleventh century. Today as far as the practice of Unani medicine is concerned, India is one of the leading countries. The largest numbers of Unani educational, research, and health care institutions are situated in India.

Who is the father of Unani?

Unani medicine, well-known as Unani Tibb, Arabian medicine, or Islamic medicine, a traditional system of healing and health maintenance is observed in South Asia. The origins of Unani medicine are found in the doctrines of the ancient Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen. As a field, it was later developed and refined through systematic experiments by the Arabs, most prominently by Muslim scholar-physician Avicenna. During the Caliphate (the political-religious Muslim state that began in 632 CE), the bulk of Greek knowledge was translated into Arabic, part of that knowledge being the principles of medicine. With additional contributions of medical wisdom from other parts of the Middle East and South Asia, Unani medicine came to be known also as Arabian, or Islamic, medicine.

What is the meaning of Unani?

Unani is an Islamic healing philosophy that includes major elements of ancient Greek medicine. In Arabic Unani means “Greek”, which assumes four elements—earth, fire, water, air—and four corresponding humours: Blood (dam), Phlegm (balgham), Black bile (sauda), and Yellow bile (safra) respectively; it also includes minor elements of ayurvedic medicine.

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Hakim Ajmal Khan

Born on 11 February 1868, Khan descended from a line of physicians arrived in India under the rule of Emperor Babar of Mughal. His family was all Unani doctors who had practiced this ancient form of medicine since their arrival in the country. They were then well known as “The Rais of Delhi”. His grandfather, Hakim Sharif Khan, built a hospital-cum-college teaching Unani medicine named Sharif Manzil. He was a physician under Shah Alam, who was a Mughal Emperor.

Hakim Ajmal Khan as a child studied traditional Islamic knowledge including Arabic and Persian and learnt the Quran by heart, before getting involved in the study of medicine under the leadership of his senior relatives and they all were well-known physicians. To promote the practice of Tibb-i-Unani (Unani medicine), his grandfather had set up the hospital-cum-college Sharif Manzil, which known as one of the best philanthropic Unani hospitals throughout the subcontinent, where poor patients were treated free. He completed his Unani studies in Delhi under the guidance of Hakeem Abdul Jameel of Siddiqui Dawakhana.

In 1892, after getting qualified, he became the chief physician to the Nawab of Rampur. He then Hailed as “a king without a crown” and “Massiha-e-Hind.” Like his father, he was reputed to have possessed a “magical” medicine chest and also believed to affect miraculous cures, the secrets that were known only to him. It is said that with his medical acumen he could easily diagnose any illness by just looking at the patient’s face. Hakim Ajmal Khan used to give free treatment to the patient, irrespective of his position in society but he used to charge Rs. 1000 for an out of town visit.

Khan proved to be the most multifaceted and outstanding personality of his era with unprecedented contributions to the causes of Indian independence, communal harmony, and national integration.

He took great interest in the expansion and development of the native system of Unani medicine and to that end built three important institutions, the Central College in Delhi, the Hindustani Dawakhana, and the Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College also well-known as Tibbia College, Delhi, which expanded research and practice in the field and prevented the Unani System of Medicine from disappearance in India. His tireless efforts in this field have instilled a new force and life into an otherwise collapsing medical system of Unani under British rule. Khan proposed the absorption of Western concepts within the Unani system, a view diametrically opposite to that adopted by physicians of the Lucknow school who wanted to maintain the system’s purity.

Dr. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui was the chemist gave a new direction to Unani medicine with his subsequent research into important medicinal plants used in the field. His talents were recognized by Hakim Ajmal Khan.

On 22 November 1920, Khan was elected the first chancellor of the Jamia Milia Islamia University. Since he was one of its founders, he held the position till 1927 until his death. During this period, he oversaw the University’s move to Delhi from Aligarh and helped it to resolve numerous crises, including financial ones, when he raised a huge sum of money and also bailed it out using his own money.

Historical Background of Unani Medicine

The history of the Unani system of medicine can be traced back to ancient Egypt and Babylon. Medicinal plants were made as a remedy for ailments by Egyptians and also initiated surgery as a method of treatment. The ability of Egyptians in the field of medicine has been shown clearly by the studies of Papyri. Amenhotep (1550 BC) and Imhotep (2800 BC) were some noted physicians of ancient Egpyt. Babylonians also played a vital role in the history of Unani Medicine. During the Asclepian period (1200 BC), the Greeks developed this art of medicine draws upon the medical knowledge of Babylonians and Egyptians. Hippocrates (460-370 BC), freed Medicine from the realm of magic and superstition and gave it Science status. He was a leading figure in the classical period of Greek medical history. He set the ground for the medicine to develop it as a systematic science, by searching the natural causes of diseases and recording the existing knowledge. The foundation of this science was stabilized by a Roman scholar Galen (129-200 AD). Arab and Persian scholars and physicians like Al Razi (865-925 AD), Ibn-e- Sina (980-1037 AD), and Rabban Tabari (775-890 AD) raised the Unani System of Medicine to the great achievements.

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