Exploring Historic Hospitals in the Heyday of Islam

In the era of Islamic glory, the capital of the caliphate kingdom continued to change from one dynasty to another. Each caliphate bequeathed hospitals in the capital’s faithful because it was considered an important thing to be developed first.

Thus, by the end of the 13th century, there were many health centers scattered throughout the Islamic world.

1. Historic Hospitals in Ash-Sham

Ash-Sham covered areas now known as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. Cities such as Damascus and Jerusalem are important cities.

In Damascus, there was the first Islamic hospital built in 706 AD by the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid. The most famous hospital in medieval Damascus was named An-Nuri around 1156 AD. The name takes the name Of King Nur Adl-Din Zinki.

Built during the Crusades, the hospital played an important role in meeting the need for a well-equipped medical room with good staff. In addition to serving as a place of care, the hospital is also a ‘modern’ medical school.

In the middle ages, students had to learn with limited books because printing was only known until the mid-15th century.

The king then donated many books on medicine from the palace library. An-Nuri hospital adopted such medical records, perhaps the first in history.

From medical school, many leading doctors graduated, for example Ibn ANL-Nafis. He was a scholar who invented the pulmonary circulatory system.

While in Jerusalem, the Crusaders built the Saint John’s Hospital in 1055 AD. In the late 11th century, the hospital was expanded into a palace for knights and monasteries for nurses.

After the liberation of Jerusalem by Salah ad-Din in 1187 AD, the hospital was renamed Al-Salahani Hospital. He expanded the hospital, which continued to serve the community until its destruction in the aftermath of the earthquake in 1458 AD.

2. Iraq and Persia

In 750 AD, Baghdad was elected the capital of the Abbasid Dynasty under Caliph Abu-Jaifar Al Mansur.

In 766 AD, he commissioned the principal of Jindi Shapur medical school, Judis Ibn-Babtishu, to become a palace doctor and build a hospital for the glory of Baghdad.

When Harun al-Rashid ruled (786-809 CE), he ordered Ibn-Babtishu’s grandson and his court doctor, Gabriel, to build a special hospital called baghdad hospitals.

The hospital developed into an important medical center. One of his famous heads was Al-Razi or Rhazes, a prominent internist.

In 918 AD, Caliph Al-Muqtadir built two hospitals in Baghdad. One is on the east side of the city, which he named Asl-Sayyidah Hospital. The other is on the west side of the city, which he named Al-Muqtadir Hospital.

Another important hospital is called Al-Adudi Hospital. It was built in 981 AD by King Adud Ald-Dawlah. It was the most magnificent hospitals built in Baghdad before modern times.

Al-Adudi was equipped with the best logistics equipment and hospital supplies ever known at the time. Al-Adudi was destroyed in 1258 when Mongol forces led by Genghis Khan’s grandson Holagu invaded Baghdad.

3. Historic Hospitals in Egypt

In addition to al-Fustat Hospital which was built in 872 AD, Egypt also has a hospitals in Cairo that is famous and grandest. In 1284 AD, King Al-Mansur Qalawun built a famous and important hospital called Al-Mansuri Hospital.

The construction of this hospital keeps an interesting story. King Al-Mansur Qalawun was an officer in the Muslim army during the Crusades. While in the Holy Land, he fell ill and was taken to An-Nuri Hospital in Damascus.

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After recovering, he swore that if he became ruler of Egypt, he would build a large hospital in Cairo, even grander than An-Nuri. He said the hospital would treat the poor and rich alike. The inauguration of Al-Mansuri Hospital is quite unique. Al-Mansur, now king, drank a cup of lemonade from the fountain, which is usually filled with water, as a sign of Al-Mansuri’s inauguration.

Travelers and historians who have passed by such as Ibn Battuta and Al-Kalkashandi say Al-Mansuri was the best hospital ever built at that time. Al-Mansuri has several different parts according to his patient’s disease. Music therapy is used to treat patients with psychiatric disorders.

Every day, Al-Mansuri serves 4,000 patients. They get free treatment, even get severance as compensation for not working during illness. Al-Mansuri served Cairo for seven centuries. Today, Al-Mansuri has been renamed Qalawun Hospital and transformed into an ophthalmology hospital.

In addition to Egypt, a fairly magnificent hospitals was also built in Morocco in 1190 AD. King Al-Mansur Ya’qub Ibn-Yusuf built a hospital in the capital Marrakech and named it marrakech Hospital. This is a beautiful big hospital decorated with gardens, fruit trees and flowers.

Patients are given special clothes, one for winter and another for summer. The pharmacy is managed by a specialist called Saydalah. The hospital also knows what is now called a VIP ward. This dedicated room has a rate that if assessed is currently equivalent to US$1,501 per day. A thousand years ago, this cost a fortune.

4. Historic Hospitals in Andalusian

In 1366 AD, Prince Muhammad Ibn-Yusuf Ibn Nasr built the Granada Hospital in Granada, Spain. Granada’s population at the time reached half a million. The hospital was built with the beauty of Islamic architecture and served patients until Granada fell to Christianity in 1492 AD.

 

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