Islamic Medicine: 1000 Years Ahead of Its Times

  • Ibrahim B Syed School of Medicine, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Keywords: History of medcine, Islam, Muslims



Within a century after the death of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the Muslims not only conquered new lands, but also became scientific innovators with originality and productivity. They hit the source ball of knowledge over the fence to Europe.

By the ninth century, Islamic medical practice had advanced from talisman and theology to hospitals with wards, doctors who had to pass tests, and the use of technical terminology. The then Baghdad General Hospital incorporated innovations which sound amazingly modern. The fountains cooled the air near the wards or those afflicted with fever; the insane were treated with gentleness; and at night the pain of the restless was soothed by soft music and storytelling.

The prince and pauper received identical attention: the destitute upon discharge received five gold pieces to sustain them during convalescence. While Paris and London were places of mud streets and hovels, Baghdad, Cairo and Cardoba had hospitals open to both male and female patients; staffed by attendants of both sexes. These medical centers contained libraries, pharmacies, the system of interns, externs, and nurses.

There were mobile clinics to reach the totally disabled, the disadvantaged and those in remote areas. There were regulations to maintain quality control on drugs.

Pharmacists became licensed professionals and were pledged to follow the physician's prescriptions. Legal measures were taken to prevent doctors from owning or holding stock in a pharmacy. The extent to which Islamic medicine advanced in the fields of medical education, hospitals, bacteriology, medicine, anesthesia, surgery, pharmacy, ophthalmology, psychotherapy and psychosomatic diseases are presented briefly.

Author Biography

Ibrahim B Syed, School of Medicine, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville. KY; Professor of Nuclear Medicine, University of Louisville Health Sciences Center and VA Medical Center.
History of Medicine