The next time somebody tells you Muslim women are uneducated, mention one name – RUFAYDAH AL ASLAMIA.
The first ever Muslim Nurse and the first ever woman to implement mobile care units which were able to meet the medical needs of the community.
Rufayda Al Aslamia was a woman from the tribe of Aslam in Madinah. She was among the first people in Madinah to accept Islam and was one of the Ansarwomen who welcomed Muhammad ﷺ on arrival in Madina.
Rufaydah’s father was a physician. She learned medical care by working as his assistant. Her history illustrates all the attributes expected of a good nurse. She was kind and empathetic. She was a capable leader and an organiser, able to mobilise and get others to produce good work. She had clinical skills that she shared with the other nurses whom she trained and worked with. She did not confine her nursing to the clinical situation. She went out to the community and tried to solve the social problems that lead to disease. She was both a public health nurse and a social worker.
She had a tent by Muhammad’s ﷺ mosque where she used to treat the sick as reported by Al-Bukhaari. When Sa’d Ibn Mu’aath was injured in the battle of Al-Khandaq (The Trench), Muhammad ﷺ ordered that he be placed and treated in her tent.
During war she used to guide groups of helper nurses who went to the battlefield and treated the wounded. Rufaydah had trained a group of women companions as nurses. When the Prophet’s army was getting ready to go to the battle of Khaibar, Rufaydah and the group of volunteer nurses went to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. They asked him for permission to go out to the battle and treat the injured and help Muslims; the Prophet ﷺ gave them permission to go.
Rufaydah and her team members of nurse volunteers did such a good job. They were able to keep several tasks during the war; provided water for the sick and wounded, caring for wounded and offering medicine for them, and taking care for the deed and transporting them to the Madinah as postmortem care. As appreciation for her efforts, the Prophet assigned a share of the booty to Rufaydah, equivalent to that of the soldiers who had actually fought.
Today, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland at the University of Bahrain awards one student annually the coveted and prestigious Rufayda Al Aslamia Prize in Nursing for the student who consistently excels in delivering superb nursing care to patients.