Aydın Sayılı

Professor of the History of Science, Ankara University

Keywords: Hospital in Medieval Islam, Emergence of Modern Hospital, Healing Temples, Damascus Hospital


Piety and Philanthropy cannot very well be divorced in medieval Islam, but by observing the Moslem hospitals and other institutions of charity and social welfare it is seen quite clearly that the idea of public assistance had developed beyond what piety alone could have produced. A discriminating and comprehensive consideration of the necessity of public assistance and social welfare, beyond mere religiosity, may be said to have been responsible for the qııality and quantity of the hospitals of Islam. Moreover, the humanitarian features of the Islamic medieval hospital must not be allowed to eclipse its high medical standing per se. The hospital was one of the most developed institutions of medieval Islam and one of the highwater marks of the Moslem civilization. The hospitals of medieval Islam were hospitals in the modern sense of the word. In them the best available medical knowledge was put to practice. They were specialized institutions. Unlike the Byzantine hospitals, they did not have a mixed function of which the treatment of the sick was only one part.