Hasdai ibn Shaprut born about 915 at Jaén; died about 975 at Córdoba in Spain, was a Jewish scholar, physician, diplomat, and patron of science.
His father, Isaac benjamin Ezra, was a wealthy and learned Jew of Jaén. Hasdai acquired in his youth a thorough knowledge of Hebrew, Arabic, and Latin, the last-named language being at that time known only to the higher clergy of Spain. He also studied medicine, and is said to have discovered a universal panacea, called Al-Faruk. Appointed physician to the Caliph Abd ar-Rahman III, he, by his engaging manners, knowledge, character, and extraordinary ability, gained his master's confidence to such a degree that he became the caliph's confidant and faithful counselor. Without bearing the title of vizier he was in reality minister of foreign affairs; he had also control of the customs and ship-dues in the port of Córdoba. Hasdai arranged the alliances formed by the caliph with foreign powers, and he received the envoys sent by the latter to Córdoba. In 949 an embassy was sent by Constantine VII. to form a diplomatic league between the hard-pressed Byzantine empire and the powerful ruler of Spain. Among the presents brought by the embassy was a magnificent codex of Dioscorides' work on botany, which the Arabic physicians and naturalists valued highly. Hasdai, with the aid of a learned Greek monk named Nicholas, translated it into Arabic, making it thereby the common property of the Arabs and of medieval Europe.