Rufaida bint Saad Al-Aslameya: The First Muslim Nurse


Arab pioneers in medicine were not only physicians and surgeons, but Arab nurses played a valuable part too. One of the most famous names in Arab nursing is Rufaida bint Saad Al-Aslameya, the first nurse in the Islamic and Eastern world.

Rufaida accompanied Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during his wars, participating in many battles, such as Badr, Uhud, Khandaq, Khaibar, and others. She was responsible for taking care of the wounded and dying soldiers, establishing a field hospital that had a system of movable tents to assist the wounded and diseased warriors. She highly focused on hygiene and the environment; she also led a group of volunteer female nurses during wars.

Her role did not stop after wars. She continued practicing nursing and health care in her tent in peaceful time by taking care of diseased and disabled persons. She was an advocate for health care, health education, and disease prevention. Rufaida designed codes of ethics for nursing and medical care, and she established new rules and traditions for nursing that can be considered precursors for the modern nursing techniques.

Rufaida was a pioneer in nursing in her era. Her achievements encouraged other women to follow in her footsteps. Since she received her clinical expertise from her father who was a physician, Rufaida decided to pass her knowledge to young women to follow her path. Thus, she established a school where she taught Muslim women nursing, first aid, and emergency care; this school was the first nursing school in the Middle East.

Rufaida Al-Aslameya proved that Muslim and Arab women were able to contribute to science and pursue hard jobs. She had the courage to integrate this field and distinguish in it; her work must be admired, and young Arab women have to consider her a role model.

Theoretical Nursing: Development and Progress by Afaf Ibrahim Meleis

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