Before we start, I should denote that the topic is wide and cannot be maintained with all its details in one article. Therefore, my review shall be abridged taking into consideration its comprehensiveness in order to give a sincere image about doctors in the Arabian Peninsula in the early period of Islam. Our topic shall be divided into two main sections:
The first section is: Doctors before the mission of the Messenger (peace be upon him):
There were two categories of people who practiced medicine in the Arabian Peninsula at that time: The first category depended on the prediction of causes of the disease, its secret, and cure, using stars, spells, Ruqyah, and magic. Each tribe had a clairvoyant whom was consulted by the members of the tribe concerning any disease or ailment, and they used to give him the status of the priest in terms of respect and appreciation as he treats their diseases with his special means and tell them about the unseen according to their beliefs.
Here, we should note here that these therapeutic means which we have mentioned were not only the customs of Arabs, but they were the common practices of all countries at that time and these are still the practices of some existing nations as well as some high-class societies.
The second category is the group which basically depend on the physical practices of treatment such as cauterization, amputation, bloodletting, cupping, diet, drugs, and medicinal herbs, and refused the effect of jinn on people. This kind of doctors used to mix with the members of the tribe in staying and travelling and used to observe the cases of pregnancy, birth, and disease to humans and to animals. That accompanying has taught them a lot of information about health and the properties of herbs and some information about animal anatomy, the places of body organs, and the functions of each organ and its effect in health and structure. The status of this category has increased over time and became famous until they have become examples for others to follow such as: Al Badry, Dr. `Abdul-Latif: Medicine at Arabs P. 28.
There were true information about medicine in the Arabian Peninsula before Islam, of which: “The drilling operation”
i.e., drilling the eye crystal or removing it ultimately in case it has been infected by cataract
and “the fertilization process” which Arabs invented to cure their cattle then applied it to their patients, and perhaps it was the basis which the Chinese used centuries ago until time being.
It is obvious that medicine was in urban areas in the Arabian Peninsula-particularly those were adjacent to the Persia and Rome such as Hirah, Busra, and the cities of Yemen- was more advanced than medicine inside the Arabian Peninsula because of their mixture with non-Arabs who were more knowledgeable with medicine. Moreover, the population of those cities needed medicine more than other which they learnt by study and imitation. Furthermore, some of them travelled to Yemen and Persia to learn medicine, and there they benefited from their knowledge, were trained for practicing it, and returned to their countries proud of their new knowledge. [Dr. Kamal As-Samirra’y in the summary of Arabian medicine history 1: 241 – 242]. It is weird that our information about doctors inside the Arabian Peninsula is more than doctors of the urban areas, on the contrary we should know those doctors who lived and worked in the cities adjacent to Persia and Rome. We shall prove that Arabs in the Pre-Islamic Period used to have a large knowledge of medicine and after the advent of Islam before the era of translation. The business of early Muslims with Jihad and conveying the teachings of the new religion made them detest from conveying the news of medicine. Most doctors who grow up inside the Arabian Peninsula from the Pre-Islamic Period until the Umayyad Era. However, the major gap in the Arabian medicine in compare to this era was the names of Yemini doctors who established the medical school to which students from all over the Peninsula headed.
That school had relations with the Pharaonic medicine which affected in and got affected by; the doctors which we could collect from historical resources are as follows:
1- Ibn Hidhyam: Who was one of Banu Taym Ar-Rabab. He was known for cleverness of medicine and was given as an example for people to follow. He lived until the time of the Messenger (peace be upon him).
2- Satih Al Kahin Adh-Dhi’by: Him name was Rabi` ibn Rabi`ah ibn Mas`ud ibn `Ady ibn Adh-Dhi’b, and his nickname was Satih who was a wise foreteller.
3- Zuhayr ibn Janab: He was the master of his people, sherif, orator, poet, and their physician.
4- Rabah Ibn `Ijlah who lived in Yamamah.
5- Al Ablaq As-Sa`dy who was from Najd.
6- Al Harith ibn Kildah Ath-Thaqafy: He was Abu Wa’il Al Harith ibn Kildah ibn `Umar ibn `Ilaj Ath-Thaqafy who lived in At-Ta’if. He learnt medicine in Yemen and Jundaysapour in Persia. He was the most famous doctor of Arabs before Islam and during the era of the Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs. He lived in the Pre-Islamic Era and in Islam. Al Qafty: He was Jamalud-Din Abu Al Hasan `Ali ibn Yusuf: Tarikh Al Hukama’[History of wise people] p. 163.
Most historians did not speak about his Islam and he had many known types of medicine which Arabs needed for cure, moreover he had good speech in regard of medicine and others.
Ibn Abu Usaybi`ah narrates the dialogue that took place between him and Khosrau (531 – 579 AD) during which medical advices were mentioned, some of them were known in the Arabian Peninsula before Islam and some form the extract of medicine which Al Harithlearned in Yemen and Jundisapour.
We should stress that the medicine of Al Harith according to this basis is a scientific revolution and a start to new horizons in the profession added to the already existent information of the Arab.
Al Harith left only one daughter her name is Azdah and he never got a child whose name was An-Nadr as Dr. Jawad said in Al Mufassal fi Tarikh Al `Arab Qablal-Islam [Details of Arab history before Islam], edition 2, vol. 8: 284.
There was a disagreement about the date of his death: It was said that `Umar and Mu`awiyah (may Allah be pleased with them) asked him about some medical matters, and perhaps that happened before their assumption of power because it is probable that he died before `Umar’s assumption of power. It came in Al `Iqd Al Farid: “Al Layth ibn Sa`d Az-Zuhry said: Some food was offered to Abu Bakr when Al Harith ibn Kaladah was with him and they ate from it. Thereupon, Al Harith said: We have eaten the poison of one year, and you and me shall die after one year. When the year elapsed, they died in one day because the Jews poisoned him as they poisoned the Prophet (peace be upon him) in Khaybar by putting poison in the ewe. [Ibn `Abd Rabbuh, Shihab Al Din Ahmad, Al `Iqd Al Farid, Dar Al Hilal publications, edition 1, 1986, 4:90].
7- Sa`d Al Aslamy: He was a priest, a foreteller, and a doctor who was very skillful in applied nursing, and he was the father of Rufaydah Al Aslamiyyah.
8- An-Nadr ibn Al Harith ibn Kaladah: Dr. Jawad Ali said: Some narrators mentioned the lineage of An-Nadr ibn Al Harth as such: An-Nadr ibn Al Harith ibn Kaladah ibn `Abdu-Manaf ibn `Abdud-Dar. They said: He was one of the nobel masters of Makkah and satated that he was a disbeliever. He was the Prophet’s cousin and was so hostile to the Prophet (peace be upon him). Therefore, he cannot be the son of Al Harith ibn kaladah Ath-Thaqafy ibn `Umar ibn `Ilaj according to the narration of narrators.
Furthermore, Al Harith ibn Kaladah did not have but one daughter who was called Azdah according to the narration of Abu `Ubaydah, so An-Nadr ibn Al Harith cannot be his son. Ibn Abu Usaybi`ah and others counted him among the polytheists who harmed the Prophet (peace be upon him) and mentioned that he was the cousin of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Moreover, he took part in the Battle of Badr and was captured therein and his sister Qatilah said poetry about his death. His name was An-Nadr ibn Al Harith ibn Kaladah ibn `Abdu-Manaf ibn `Abdud-Dar Al Qurashy whom you can find poetry about him in the book of Nasab Quraysh (the lineage of Quraysh) of Az-Zubayry who was well-acquainted with the lineage of Quraysh and headed ibn Abu Usaybi`ah. [IBID, edition 2, 8: 283].
9 – Ibn Abu Ramthah At-Tamimy: He was a doctor at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), a craftsman, and a surgeon. He descended from a family who knew medicine very well where it was mentioned in a long Hadith his saying to the Prophet (peace be upon him): “I am a doctor and my father was a doctor too, and we are a family who know medicine.” Musnad Ahmad, Hadith No: 6828.
10 – Ash-Shamardal ibn Qabath Al Ka`by An-Najrany: He lived until the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and embraced Islam.
11 – Dimad ibn Tha`labah Al Azdy: He lived until the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and embraced Islam.
12 – Al Harith ibn Ka`b: A doctor who lived in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and it was said that he witnessed the demise of `Umar ibn Al Khattab when he was stabbed and perhaps he participated in curing him.
The second section is: Doctors at the time of the Prophet and the time of the Four-Rightly Guided Caliphs:
Some of Pre-Islamic doctors embraced Islam and practiced medicine in the early period of Islam, and some of them were mentioned such as: (Al Harith ibn Kaladah, An-Nadar ibn Al Harith, Ibn Abu Ramthah At-Tamimy, Ash-Shamardal ibn Qabath, and Dimadah ibn Tha`labah).
In addition to those people, there were others who practiced medicine but historians overlooked their mention, of which are:
A – Doctors:
1 – Doctor Yazid ibn `Umar ibn Wa`lah: His lineage reaches up to Jusham ibn `Abdu-Shams, and he was the father of the famous poet `Abdah ibn At-Tabib who embraced Islam and died in 25 AH = 645 AD,” Ibn Al Athir: `Ezzudin: Al Kamel fi At-Tarikh, Dar Sader – Beirut, 1979, (1: 93).
2 – Athir ibn `Amr As-Sukuny, the Kufi doctor. Yaqut Al Hamawy said in Mu`jam Al Buldan: When Ali ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) was injured and doctors were collected to cure him, they brought Athir ibn `Amr As-Sukuny, the Kufi doctor who was known by Ibn `Umar. [Yaqut Al Hamawy: Mu`jam Al Buldan, Dar Sader – Beirut, 1958, (1: 93).
3 – As-Sa`idy, the doctor: “When Al Bark ibn `Abdullah hit Mu`awiyah with the sword, he sent to As-Sa`dy, the doctor, to cure him, and he did.” Ibn Al Athir: Ibid (P: 392).
B – Doctor women:
Medicine in the advent of Islam was not limited to men only but women practiced it as well and excelled in it, of those doctor women, we mention:
1 – `A’ishah, the daughter of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her): Hisham ibn `Urwahsaid: “I have never seen anyone know of medicine more than `A’ishah, so I said: My aunt, who taught you medicine?” She said: “I heard the description of people to one another and I used to memorize that.” He also said: I said to `A’ishah: O Mother of the Believers, I wonder at your excellence in medicine, who taught you that? She said: O my nephew, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) grow old, he became sick and delegations came to cure him and she heard their descriptions. Muwaffaq Al Din `Abdul-Latif Al Baghdady: Medicine from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, verified by Dr. `Abdul-Mu`ty Qal`ajy, Dar Al Ma`rifah, Edition 1, Beirut 1986 (P: 189). In another narration, she said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was sick and the Arab doctors were coming to see him and I was learning from them.”
2 – Asma’, the daughter of `Umays: She was the wife of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) who was famous for medicine.
3 – Sawdah, the daughter of Misrih: One of the Arab midwives who used to help Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in birth, and `Urwah ibn Fayrouz used to narrate from her. `Umar Rida Kahalah: Women celebrities, Ar-Risalah foundation, Beirut, 1977, (2: 272).
4 – Ash-Shifa’, the daughter of `Abdullah Al Qurashiyyah: She practiced medicine and she could cure a type of eczema. She died during the caliphate of `Umar in the year 20 AH = 640 AD.
5 – Rufaydah, the duaghter of Sa`d Al Aslamiyyah: “Some sources mentioned her name as Ku`aybah, whereas other resources mentioned Rufaydah. She was a doctor who skilled surgery. Dr. Rajy `Abbas At-Tikrity: Al Isnad At-Tibby fi Al Guyush Al `Arabiyyah [medical support in Arab countries], cultural affairs and publication section, Baghdad 1984 (P: 83). She learnt medicine from her father, the priest Sa`d Al Aslamy. After she had embraced Islam, she taught her friends nursing and taking care of the wounds, and established a tent in the Prophetic Masjid in Medina to nurse and cure people. Thus, Rufaydah, the daughter of Sa`d Al Aslamiyyah was the first nurse in Islam. Moreover, she established the first nursing school in the world, the pioneer of the first clinic in Islam, and the one who laid down the correct rules of nursing.” Dr. Su`ad Husein: The first nurse in Islam, a research submitted to the first international conference for Islamic medicine in Kuwait 1981.”
C – Nurses in the early period of Islam:
Arabs used to call nurses and doctors Asiyat, and history preserved for us the names of many of them, who wants more details, you may see our research: “A nurse in the Islamic Arabic legacy,” [Afa` Ath-Thaqafah: Number, A996].
1 – Nusaybah, the daughter of Ka`b Al Maziniyyah: She participated in Badr Battle, but she can be the first nurse in Islam according to some people.
2 – Umaymah, the girl of Qays Al Ghifariyah: She became the leader of nurses when she did not reach 17 years old in the Battle of Khaybar. The Prophet (peace be upon him) appreciated her work and gave her a medal after the end of battle that resembles those medals in our present time.
3 – Ar-Rubay`, the daughter of Mu`awwidh.
4 – Um Salim ibn Khalid.
5 – Um Sinan Al Aslamiyyah.
6 – Um Ayman (Barakah bint Tha`labah).
7 – Himnah, the daughter of Jahsh.
8 – Um `Atiyyah Al Ansariyyah.
9 – Ramthah, the duaghter of Hisham ibn `Abdul-Muttalib.
10 – Buhaynah, the daughter of Al Harith.
11 – Um Salit.
12 – Um Al Harith Al Ansariyyah.
13 – Um Ziyad Al Ashja`iyyah.
14 – Salma, the freed slave girl of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
15 – Safiyyah bint `Umar ibn Al Khattab.
16 – Um Ad-Dahhak, the daughter of Sa`d Ansariyyah.
17 – Um Mani` `Umar ibn Ady ibn Sinan.
18 – Mu`adhah Al Ghifariyyah.
19 – Layla Al Ghifariyyah.
20 – Um Waraqah, the daughter of `Abd Ibn Al Harith (the martyr).