Before I start this post, I want to thank Amaat al-Kareem for inspiring me to write an entry on this topic. Alhamdulilah, it gave me an opportunity to educate myself. Insha'Allah you will find this information as interesting and awe-inspiring as I have. Subhan'Allah these women were amazing to say the least!
Much of what we know today in regards to medicine and surgery is due to the contribution of the Muslim world. Perhaps this is a topic that I will write about on another day.
We all know from the history of Islam that there were many battles and with all these battles it was inevitable for soldiers to be wounded and even killed. So, who took care of these wounded soldiers? Who helped them regain optimum health? This is where the Women come in! Islamic History is laden with stories of extraordinary women doing extraordinary things - Nursing the sick back to health is one of those things.
Rufaidah bint Sa'd was the first professional Nurse in Islamic history. Her father was a physician from who she learned her skills and knowledge by serving as his assistant. She lived during the life of the Prophet (SAW) and would tend to those who were sick or wounded in battle. Her tent was equipped with supplies necessary to perform surgery and administer first aide care. When Sa'd ibn Mua'dh was injured in the battle of the trenceh, the prophet (SAW) directed him to her tent to seek medical aide. Rufaidah bint Sa'd set up a tent outside of the Prophet's (SAW) tent and would tend to the ill who came to her. It is important to note that she didn't just limit her service to society through medicine, but also participated as a social worker helping the orphans, the disabled and the elderly. She worked to help solve the problems within society that would contribute to health problems. She would also care fo the orphans and teach them life skills.
Other women skilled in medicine and nursing included: Umm Muta', Umm Kabashah, Hamnah bint Jahsh, Mu'adhah, Laila, Umaimah, Umm Zaid, Umm 'Atiyyah, and Umm Sulaim.
Sources: London Met ISOC, Crescent Life
Unfortunately, I couldn't find a more throrough compilation of stories on these extraordinary women online. Perhaps there is a book or something of that sort somewhere. Insha'Allah I will keep my eye out for it. If any of you know of a book, website or even a CD set that has an in depth account of the lives of these women, please either send me an email or a comment.