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Modern medicine is rooted in the various previously used traditional medicine procedures that used sophisticated procedures as the individuals sought to combat the multiple diseases in history. The cost of medical care was free for all individuals irrespective of social class or religion, as witnessed around one thousand years ago when they emerged. Islam hospitals account for one of the oldest medicine development as documented by the Medieval Islam hospitals hence said to be forerunners of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.1 These Islamic hospitals were custom-designed and used sophisticated instruments that account for the various developments in medicine, such as surgical instruments. These hospitals also carried out multiple procedures such as internal stitching, bone setting, and regular vaccinations, which are still in use today. Therefore, the scope of this essay accounts for the history of the Islamic hospital developments.

Islamic hospital development is based on the 18th century as it was propelled by the charitable nature of the religious endowments. The Islamic hospitals were partly funded through charities alongside gaining the government’s maintenance costs, hence their superiority in scientific medicine. Cairo boasts of the first Islamic hospital built between 872- 874 and offered free medical services, therefore explaining the resemblance of the Islamic hospitals to the Byzantine traveler’s hotels, which used to take care of the lepers less privileged in the society. 3 This first Islamic hospital was unique as the patients entrusted hospital authorities with their clothing as they dressed in the special wards clothes and bed assigned as the hospital had both men and women wing in addition to psychiatric wing. Baghdadi was the second Islamic hospital constructed in 1982 and had more extensive expertise coverage (24 physicians) and larger hospitals with comprehensive healthcare practitioners in the subsequent centuries.

Islamic hospital success is accounted by the nature in which they competed amongst themselves to provide better and state of the art accommodative health care. Egyptian thirteenth-century ruler, Al- Mansur Qalawun, has received an exclusive and pleasing healthcare service at Nuri Hospital in Damascus following his diagnosis with renal colic, a feeling that motivated his passion for building the Al- Mansuri Hospital in Cairo in the 13th century. Through charitable endowments (waqfs), the hospital was equipped with modern fountains as the technology allowed, fountains, staffed with physicians as well as support staff to maintain the various wards.1 In addition, the various Islamic hospitals were well maintained through proper maintenance of patient registers, expenditures, and timely and executive delivery of healthcare services by the physicians.

The foundation of the Islamic hospitals led to the emergence of medical schools in the 12th century. The various universities used the newly built hospitals to teach the medical school students and provided firsthand practicals and theoretical studies. The different conference halls within the hospitals were used as lecture halls. 1 The development of the Islamic school led to the students gaining knowledge in patient history taking and prescriptions administration which later led to some of the students developing the skill and starting their private medical schools such as Al- Dakhwar with more medical teaching schools; being developed since 800 years ago. 

The modern surgical instrument has been modified from the previously Islamic discovered medical devices used in the surgery. These include; scalpels, knives, scrapers as well as forceps. Al-Zahrawi is credited as the Islamic surgeon who invented at least 200 medical instruments during his medical practice in Spain in the 13th century, spearheading the Islamic medical civilization. 3 In his 30 volume book, he has accounted and demonstrated the essentials and methods of use of the particular medical instruments with writings covering more of the various other inventions he made such as mineral, herbal and animal product-based drug discovery and the dental and surgical techniques. Some of his procedures are still in use today, such as the utilization of the catgut in the stitching of a patient internally following surgery, explaining the significance of his scientific discovery. 2 He is also credited to his medical procedures in revolutionizing the surgical procedures in the treatment of the urinary bladders stones in both genders. The Al-Zahrawi work is also accredited in gynecology through his input in the unusual birth deliveries as he trained the various midwives on how to undertake the procedures. Ibn Sina, an Arabic-based Muslim doctor in the 13th century, also advised on the different techniques used to treat the multiple tumors and malignancies, such as his advocacy for copper or lead oxide to prevent the spread of cancer rather than undertaking the breast amputation, which favored cancer spreading. 3 Sina’s input is also recognized in treating kidney stones. The various previous medical procedures were invented by Islamic doctors, hence having more success rates that revolutionized medicine.

The various postulations also accredit Islamic hospital developments on blood circulations. It had previously been believed on the Galen, Greek physician who postulated that the blood reached the right side of the heart had passed through the various pores until William Harvey’s discovery on blood circulation in the 17th century, which discredited earlier postulation. He discovered the heart is the center of circulation which correlated to the manuscript edited by Ibn al Nafis of Damascus and publicly advocated by the Egyptian physician, Muhyi al-Daneel Tattawi, on the pulmonary circulation. 5 Ibn Nafi’s work is dated to around 1210, and Andrea Alpago documents translate the physician works and inventions on blood circulation after almost 300 years since his discovery in Europe. However, the physician’s appointments were credited to his discovery in 1957. 

Islamic hospital developments are also aligned with the Islamic inventions by the Muslim doctors in history, such as the physiology works by Galen Greek-based physician. He has published various books based on medicine and was thus celebrated in 1980, one thousand years since his birth, as he revolutionized physiology. 3 Galen, alongside Ibn al Nafis, have revolutionized medicine through their works and discoveries on the medical principles, human diseases, traumatic injuries such as fractures and dislocations, and compound therapies. George Perkins, a physician based in London, pioneered the theory of delayed splintage following a fracture. 4 Bennett’s fracture of 1882 is also credited to Ibn Sina’s works as he undertook a thousand years before Bunnet’s publication. The various journal on the diseases and their epidemiology as developed by the different Muslim doctors have also been in use from the 12th to 17th century.

Muslim eye surgeons and researchers revolutionized the eye medical procedures and the vaccination program, respectively. Some eye-related medical procedures in use today are accredited to Arabic doctors, such as a hollow needle to remove cataracts by suctioning and freezing before suction. Al-Mawsili is also credited to the documentation on the eye diseases and is still in use today. 4 Ibn Isa is also credited for documenting almost 130 eye diseases. The vaccination process described as inactive dose containing disease-causing micro-organism was accredited for use in various Muslim countries in protection against multiple diseases since the 1700s after submitting the vaccination process to Royal society by Dr. Emmanuel Timoni.

Ultimately, the Islamic hospital developments are accredited to the various incentives granted to the hospitals and the charitable services offered to sustain the hospitals and the discoveries. The Islamic inventions in physiology, vaccination and surgical instruments have supplemented the huge investment made by the various princes in building multiple health centers. The high-end hospitals also pioneered the medical schools established by numerous doctors. Some Islamic inventions have revolutionized modern healthcare as modern medicine is based on the previous designs described above. Currently, more Islamic hospitals are being developed under charity funding and the finances accrued from the medical costs on patients globally.


Abu, Bakar, Nursalam Nursalam, Merryana Adriani, Kusnanto Kusnanto, Nur Qomariah Siti, and Efendi Ferry. “The development of Islamic caring model to improve psycho-spiritual comfort of coronary disease patients.” Indian Journal of Public Health Research and Development 9, no. 10 (2018): 312317. doi:10.5958/0976-5506.2018.01362.1.

Aligabi, Zahra. “Reflections on Avicenna’s impact on medicine: his reach beyond the middle east.” Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives 10, no. 4 (2020): 310-312. doi:10.1080/20009666.2020.1774301.

Fares, Jawad, Mohamad Y. Fares, Hussein H. Khachfe, Hamza A. Salhab, and Youssef Fares. “Molecular principles of metastasis: a hallmark of cancer revisited.” Signal transduction and targeted therapy 5, no. 1 (2020): 1-17. doi:10.1038/s41392-020-0134-x.

Qurrata, Vika A., Linda Seprillina, Bagus S. Narmaditya, and Nor Ermawati Hussain. “Media promotion, Islamic religiosity and Muslim community perception towards charitable giving of cash waqf.” International Journal of Monetary Economics and Finance 13, no. 3 (2020): 296-305. doi:10.1504/ijmef.2020.108825.

Roudgari, Hassan. “Ibn Sina or Abu Ali Sina (ابن سینا‎ c. 980–1037) is often known by his Latin name of Avicenna (ævɪˈsɛnə/).” Journal of Iranian Medical Council 1, no. 2 (2018). doi:10.21474/ijar01/10263.

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