This month’s post is about Rufaida, who was the first nurse and surgeon in Islam and her work was considered so important that it is still used today. She drafted the world’s first code of Nursing Conduct and Ethics for preventing sickness and it is still used today. While we are often taught about Florence Nightingale and the things she accomplished, Rufaida has been forgotten and even though she was doing incredible work even before Florence.
She lived in Medina and even before Islam she was already learning about the human body and treating people as her father was a doctor and she learnt from him. When she heard about the Prophet and his message she was one of the first people to go to him and become Muslim. Because of this she was present as a healer from the beginning of the call.
She took part in all the battles that happened and was in charge of taking care of the injured soldiers. She was given her own tent, which was essentially a mobile care unit, to treat those injured and the Prophet (pbuh) himself would praise her abilities and tell people to send the injured to her to treat them. Not only did she treat people herself she also trained other women and was in charge of them during battles too.
Outside of battles she continued to treat people regularly and was even given permission to set up a tent to work from in the Prophet’s (pbuh) masjid. She ran a clinic where she cared for everyone especially those who would not be able to go anywhere else to get help including the poor and orphans.
She was known to be kind, generous and empathetic, a great teacher and organiser and also trained Aisha (ra) in nursing. She taught many health education and even did social work going out into the community to help prevent the spread of diseases. She expressed the importance of hygiene and stabilising a patient before any surgical procedure and more.
She not only revolutionised how people were treated by creating new practices to prevent sickness but also taught many women so that they could continue her work. She was an incredible woman who empowered generations of Muslim women.