American University of Beirut


Dr Ahmad El-Hellani's sponsored research at the Farouk Jabre Center is related to the corpus attributed to Jabir Ibn Hayyan in an attempt to verify and authenticate the extent of the scientific knowledge and "experimental" spirit at work in the Jabirian corpus. To do so, El-Hellani will conduct experiments to assess the reproducibility of technical recipes mentioned in practical treatises of the Jabirian corpus, such as those dealing with coloring glass as mentioned for example in The Book of the Hidden Pearl (Kitāb al-Durra al-maknūna). Recently discovered, assessed and discussed by the late Ahmad Y. Al-Hassan (2012), the Book of the Hidden Pearl is part of the 'One Hundred and Twelve Books' collection (n°39) of the Jabirian corpus. This empirical work aims to continue Al-Hassan's efforts in showing that The Book of the Hidden Pearl (Kitāb al-Durra al-maknūna) represents a scientific operative chemical work responding to the needs of the society of the time. It aims also at challenging the claim of late renowned historian of chemistry Marcellin Bertholet that “one does not encounter in the Arabic works of Jabir precise formulae for the preparation of metals, or salts, or some other substances." If this experimental work proved successful, it will be extended to assess other treatises of the Jabirian corpus, that are still in manuscript format, like the Kitāb al-Khawāṣṣ al-kabīr or some treatises of the collection titled “The Book of Seventy" (Kitāb al-Sab'īn) of which one of the many manuscript copies is available at our very own Jafet library.

Dr. Ahmad El-Hellani (PhD Université Paris-Sud, 2012), is an organic chemist by training, and a senior ​analytical chemist in the AUB team working on the assessment of tobacco products, especially electronic cigarettes and water pipes, led by Dean Alan Shihadeh and Dr. Najat Saliba. Recently, El-Hellani and Saliba were awarded a 120K grant for a project entitled “Unveiling the Formation of Toxicants from the Pyrolysis of Flavoring Chemicals in e-Cigarette", which will assess the effect of flavor additives on toxicant emissions. The question of flavorants in electronic cigarette is an important topic for which several regulatory agencies, including the US FDA, are seeking answers. El-Hellani will be the main coordinator and investigator on this project (Co-PI). Being a full-time researcher, he will conduct his “Jabirian" experiments after-hours.

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