When we think of famous nurses throughout history, the first one that comes to mind is Florence Nightingale. However, many years before Florence Nightingale was Rufaydah Al-Aslamiyah, a famous Muslim nurse who established the first mobile hospital.
We hear many stories about how the women during the Prophet’s ﷺ time used to care for the wounded during the battles. All of these women used to work in Rufaydah’s Tent, and she was the head nurse. The location of Rufayda’s Tent was in an important location near (or in) the mosque and near the Prophet ﷺ and was known to all the Companions. The first time the Tent was mentioned, Mu’adh was struck in his brachial artery with a sword and the Prophet ﷺ said, “Let him stay in Rufaydah’s Tent so he will be close to me and I can visit him.”
During the time of the Prophet ﷺ most of the doctors were educated at a medical school in Jundisapoor that was established by the Chosroes in the sixth century. It is not known if Rufayda herself was educated there, but she had advanced knowledge and experience in the treatment of wounds and broken bones and in the mixing and applying of medications and drugs.
Everything in the tent was provided by Rufayda with her personal money. This included surgical instruments, autopsy materials, drugs and medications, special foods, bandages for wounds, and wages for the nurses who were the female Companions that were trained and supervised by Rufayda. She personally did not take any wages or rewards for her work. When you think about the number of battles fought under the leadership of the Prophet ﷺ you can imagine how much effort and expense she went through all for the sake of Allah.
Rufayda’s tent was one of the early foundations of Islamic civilization. After Rufayda’s Tent, mobile hospitals started to become more large and common. During the later empires, they were so large, they were transported by about forty camels and had everything the patients, doctors, and pharmacists needed.
Quṭb, Muḥammad ʻAlī. Women around the Messenger. Riyadh: International Islamic House, 2007. Print.
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04 Jan 2016
28 Oct 2015