While modern medicine has made tremendous leaps in the past few decades, western medicine owes much of its success from its encounters with the medieval Muslim world. This is a debt that has remained unrecognized and unrepaid throughout centuries. In this article, we aim to uncover the pinnacles and pioneering movement that led to the breakthrough of western medicine and materialized the idea of curing diseases by introducing foreign particles to the body.
The Damnation of Science by the Church
Nearly after 500 years after the Holy Prophet (S.A.W’s) passing, Western Europe was eclipsed into a dark age of ignorance that had severely stunted its socio-economic well-being. This was a time when the power of Church ruled the Christian empires and anything close to science was considered an act of heresy.
Medical Science Seen as Sin
Medical care involved ancient exorcist rituals and brutish amputations of afflicted limbs, a practice that required no surgical precision but only the consent of the dreading patient. Even the slightest rudiments of mathematics, science, philosophy, and sanitation were forgotten, and their preachers and practitioners often conveniently burnt for witchcraft. The celestial phenomenon of shooting stars, northern lights, and solar eclipses were damned omens – a work of the devil.
Hopelessness, Ignorance, and Abuse
Knights of the highest order openly boasted their ‘no-bath’ streaks while a crude form of soap was used but remained unintroduced to the general populace. There was a blatant disregard for a healthy diet, and rationing was almost monotonous even between the nobles.
Then suddenly the Black Death arrived and dealt a deadly blow to medieval Europe, that close to one-third of its population perished without knowing why. In these dark ages, there was no notion of contagion, better yet personal hygiene. These deaths caused massive social chaos followed by political turmoil that crippled Christian Europe’s ability to dispense adequate resources for learning and institutionalizing academia. To top it off, these were the times of Holy Crusades that now sold tickets to heaven for all kinds of sinners, from adulterers, thieves, and robbers, to homicides, perjurers, and cold blood murderers.
The Muslim Era of Scientific Progress
On the other side, these 500 years had fared quite well for the Muslim world, in terms of scientific progress, where the study of earth’s elements, laws of nature, new inventions, philosophy, and medical breakthroughs were a normal thing.
Two of the most famous incidents of that age have been witnessed and recorded by Usama ibn Munqidh, a Syrian princeling who saw the utter disregard of medical knowledge and common sense when treating patients during the crusade. In both incidents, the advice of local Muslim physicians was ignored, which ended up in a knight’s mildly infected leg being casually chopped off with an axe, and a cross carved into an ill woman’s skull carved before seasoning it with salt. The patients died in both procedures.
The Adaptation of Tib-e-Nabvi in Medieval Medicine
At the same time, the dietary regime, premium cleanliness, and surgical knowledge of the Muslim world marked a distinguished contrast. There were sophisticated public water projects, indigenous engineering, and a dedicated department for research and development that rose to its prime in Baghdad. All these practices were ingrained in Islamic law and supported by the ascribed saying and works of the Holy Prophet. One of the most famous later collated as the Tib-e-Nabvi, or ‘Prophetic Medicine’ that served as a general blueprint for living a healthy lifestyle and curing the most common illnesses of that time.
Even today, Tib-e-Nabvi provides numerous remedies to diseases and ailments that science keeps proving from time to time.
The Works of Muslim Scholars for Social Wellbeing of the People
With the growing emphasis on social well-being for Muslims through Tib-e-Nabvi, Muslim leaders of that era fostered significant advances in health, engineering, and physics, which transformed into early hospital complexes, public bath facilities, intricate systems of sanitation, and freshwater supply for drinking and irrigation. It was an era rich in academia, where Muslim physicians had learned to master diagnostics from listening to the pulse of the patient, to identify the color of the urine. Muslim physicians were the first to diagnose and research on the treatment of hemophilia, smallpox, and measles. Later on, the scholars and medical practitioners made several advances in pharmacology to treat eye ailments and problems with joints.
Spiritual Guidance Through Faith
But this was not just limited to practice, but also involved a deep spiritual bond with the creator. With the guidance of Tib e Nabvi, Muslim physicians excelled in the study of human anatomy and discovered the wonders of Allah in their medical research. This strengthened their conviction in Allah’s undisputed power and wisdom. Muslim physicians of the medieval era came by the Hippocratic Oath and became highly devoted to their traditions and art of surgery. It was believed that a good physician must have the qualities of a true philosopher, one that must be upright and pious. With Tib-e-Nabvi and guidance of the Holy Quran, Persian Polymaths, such as the famous Ibn Sina, wrote the Conon of Medicine, which elaborately covered the most key principles of general medicine of the time.
The Blessing of Tib-e-Nabvi
There is no doubt that the framework of modern medicine was founded on the Prophetic Medicine and perfected over time with faith, conviction, and knowledge blessed upon the Muslim Ummah. Since this conviction was closely tied with the person’s faith, Muslim scholars also succeeded in other fields of sciences, philosophy, and economics. Muslim philosophers devoted a huge amount of their attention to the classification of these sciences, which further developed in specialized fields. This helped distinguish speculative science with practical science but unite it under the broader spectrum of wisdom and knowledge.