Hospitals in Medieval Islam
Ayyubids and other dynasties
The lead given by Sultans Nuruddin Zangi and Salahuddin Ayyubi was enthusiastically followed by others and well-to-do people vied with each other in founding public welfare institutions. In 678 A.H., when Mansur Qalaun ascended the throne of Cairo, he built a magnificent hospital in Cairo, which was second only to the Azdiya Hospital in Baghdad. The hospital was housed in four big buildings, occupying an area of 10,600 square yards. A canal which ·flowed throwgh the-hospital supplied it with water. The ruler had set aside property yielding a million dirhams per annum for its expenses. This hospital which was open to all had separate apartments for the treatment of patients suffering from different diseases. A teaching institution was also attached to this hospital.
The biggest hospital-of the world of Islam which was equipped with all available medical facilities was built by Azud-al-Daulah in 368 A.H. in Baghdad. This hospital which, with its spacious buildings, up-todate medical instruments, excellent arrangements and efficient administration could rank with the best hospitals built until the middle of the 19th century was in reality a Medical University. Drawn from all parts of the Islamic world were the more than eighty medical specialists including Ibn Baksh, Abu Yaqoob and Abu Isa who treated patients and also delivered lectures on various medical subjects.
The hospital, which took three years to be built, employed skilful ophthalmologists like Abu Nasr Ibn-ul-Duhali, surgeons like Abul Khair and orthopaedic surgeons like Abul Salh. According to Al-Qifti, ibn Manduyah of Isfahan was summoned from Central Asia. "All these (hospitals) were overshadowed" says a European writer, "by the hospital that he founded in Baghdad, complete with equipment, numerous trust funds and a pharmacy stocked in drugs brought from the ends of the earth". A list of diets and drugs used in this hospital is preserved in the British Museum in London. The main dispensary of the hospital was housed in a palatiai building. Benjamm of Tudela, a Jew-who visited Baghdad in 1160 A.D. found no less than sixty medical institutions there. He writes:-"All are well provided from the king's stores with spices and other necessaries. Every patient who claims assistance is fed at the king's expense' until his cure is complete There is another large building called the Darul Maraphtan in which are locked up all those insane persons who are met with during the hot season, everyone of whom is secured by iron chain until his reason returns, when he is allowed to return home. For this purpose they are regularly examined once a month by the king's officers appointed for the purpose, and, when they are found to be possessed of reason, they are immediately liberated. All this is done by the king in pure charity towards all those who come to Baghdad, either ill or insane, for the king is a pious man and his intention is excellent in this respect".'