Health care and hospitals in Medieval Islamic world

The first „bimaristan” was founded in the late ninth century, by leading physician and polymath Muhammad Ibn Zakarya al-Razi, in the city of Baghdad. „Bimaristan” is a word of Persian origins, meaning „hospital”. The Baghdadian bimaristan was staffed with twenty five doctors, optometrists, surgeons and bonesetters. For a deeper understanding of how health care services were provided inside Medieval Islamic settlements, let’s check a policy statement of the bimaristan of al-Mansur Qalawun in Cairo, c.1284 CE: „The hospitals shall keep all patients, men and women, until they are completely recovered. All costs are to be borne by the hospital, whether the people come from far or near, whether they are residents or foreigners, strong or weak, low or high, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, blind or signed, physically or mentally ill, learned or illiterate. There are no conditions of consideration and payment; none is objected to or even indirectly hinted at for non-payment. The entire service is through the magnificence of God, the generous One”.

An impressive example of bimaristan inside the Islamic world is „The Nur al-Din Bimaristan”, a hospital and medical school in Damascus, founded in the 12th century. Today the building is the Museum of Medicine and Science in the Arab world.

Rain in Beirut

 „And this is how I forgot to love you. I was watching you one morning and I suddenly knew, clearly, with no doubt, that I no longer love you. You will complain that I am bad, that I am selfish and that mistakes have always come from my side, because you, as a man, always have excuses, motives, circumstances explaining” THAT” behavior. The woman is hysterical. The woman is in that period of the month. The woman’s got „movies in her head”. The woman is thus guilty for being as she is, you do not bother, of course, to wonder how she ends up like it. Suddenly, the woman who did not sleep at night until she knew you arrived safe in a certain place, who did not sleep until she got a message from you, the woman who forgot to mix the sugar in her coffee when she saw you sleepy, entering the kitchen for the steamy coffee, wincing just to satisfy you, that woman is forgotten somewhere in a corner, insignificant, unimportant, with no chances to survive, and clearly too weak to be able to protect herself against the new ME. The hysterical, the selfish and who does not love you anymore. Today I am drinking my coffee just the way I like. With two teaspoons of sugar, slowly boiled, relaxed, and I am watching the rainy streets of Beirut, listening to one of Elissa’s songs. I no longer find magic in the artist’s lines, I find them senseless, written for dreamers. Your cup is a little further on the table. You are still sleeping and probably in a quarter of hour you will be looking for me to make a coffee for you also. The sugar is almost over and more than ever, I do not feel like going down to the supermarket. I am good the way I am, on this rainy weather, which „matches” my soul. All idle talks, that I am no good, that you cannot imagine how I could manage without you, all your nights out when it was „men’s time”, all those psychical intimidations making me guilty for any look I attracted in public, the hysterical, ungrounded scenes, all of which have become a millstone, and then your victimization, forgetting about her, the weak, crying woman after the „manliness” excesses. The hangman needed the victim’s protection. I am coming to you in the bedroom. I do not like you anymore. It is not because you are ugly, you have always been handsome, and there are enough jays who want you near them at a glance (I was one of them, when it smelled like Lebanese spring flowers). Our apartment is a simple, cozy one. White, cheerful, nothing Oriental in it, we are a young couple after all, influenced by our trips around Europe. But today, in the scenery of this rainy Beirut, our house seems to me more like a hospital. The patient is you, of course. It is normal like that; given that you are an innocent man. But, curiously, a powerful patient, with no wounds, if you read my minds. I am the exhausted doctor. But I will not give you any more pain killers. As from today, I will take care of myself only. And this is how I forgot to love you. You are fussing me. And I will free myself from you. I will flow as the river, on the moving staircases of the building, and I will hear your reproaches that I am selfish and hysterical fainter and fainter. You are so small in my eyes… You will probably let your family know that I left you. Yes, the guilty left the virtuous.”