Arabs took the lead in the field of Medicine and their contributions were staggering. Much attention devoted to Medicine by first caliphs, especially Harun Ar-Rashid and his son, Al-Ma’mun, took the form of decrees to translate classical medical works of Greek physicians. In the meantime, there were hospitals where physicians had used to make clinical observations while treating their patients. It is said that, by 850 AD, there were 34 hospitals in the Arab World, some of which caliphs had used to endow with surplus funds. In 978, there were 24 resident physicians in Damascus Bimaristan (Hospital). Moreover, there were women-only hospitals, and special clinics for providing written prescriptions.
Annexed to hospitals, there were also medical schools where students could receive clinical training in treatment of all diseases besides surgical practice. They attended lectures and visited superb medical libraries to study. Those who were permitted to practise as doctors were to pass exams after which they were awarded diplomas.
Doctors were highly respected in both the Court and society. Some of them succeeded in building up vast fortunes. It is said that Dr. Gabriel Bakhtishu’ (died circa 830 AD) made a fortune of 88,800,000 Dirhams during the Abbasid, Ma’mun’s reign. Later, Europeans probably knew more about Eastern Bimaristans, and the Knights Hospitaller in battlefields of crusades complied with earlier Arab models.
The remarkable figure of the golden age of Arab Medicine was Abu Bekr Muhammad bin Zakaria Al-Razi (865 - 925), a Muslim Arabist knight from Ruy City, near Tehran, who was knowledgeable about Greek, Persian, and Hindi Medicine. Moreover, he studied Alchemy, and science. Eventually, he became one of the authours of this age whose writings are abundant. He wrote no less than 200 books half of which deal with Medicine. His most well-known original contribution was his paper on smallpox and measles in which he gave an accurate diagnosis of each of them and warned of their infections.
Moreover, it seemed that he recommended a type of vaccination. This paper was first translated into Latin and then into other languages in several editions after the invention of the printing press. Regarding his great book dealing with general clinical Medicine, Al-Hawi, which runs into 20 volumes, it was translated into Latin and was the curriculum of the European Medicine schools till the 17th century. Al-Razi methodically went through the Greek, Seriani, and Persian observations. He actually was a man of great knowledge and deep insight.