The Al-Nuri Hospital

by FSTC Published on: 20th December 2002

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ln 1154 Nur-al-Din Zangi built a hospital in Damascus. It was called al-Nuri, or al-Zangi.


Nur al-Din al-Zangi was the first great leader to defeat the Crusaders, over half a century after they set foot on Islamic land. It was said of him that he was a just, pious and charitable monarch.

In 1154, Nur-al-Din Zangi built a hospital in Damascus which was called al-Nuri, or al-Zangi.

The revenues of the hospital, according to al-Maqrizi, were owed to the fact that Nur-al-Din had made prisoner a European king, and had planned to have him executed. But the king paid as his ransom, four forts and 500,000 dinars, and he was released. Nur-al-Din decided to use this ransom to build the hospital in Damascus that was named after him. Ibn abi Usaybi’ah wrote:

“When Nur-al-Din built the Grand Bimaristan he appointed as the director Abul Majd al-Bahilli. This physician went regularly to the hospital to care for the patients, to examine them and to give the necessary orders to the attendants and servants who worked under his direction. After that this physician went to the citadel to examine the dignitaries and the noblemen that were ill. This task completed he returned to the hospital, sat in the richly furnished liwan (vestibule hall), and commenced his lectures.”

Nur-al-Din furnished and endowed this hospital with many books on medicine that were kept in two great cases in the center of the liwan. The physicians and practitioners assembled before him to discuss medical subjects and to listen to the lectures that Abul Majd gave his pupils. These discussions and lectures lasted three hours.

Khalil ibn-Shahine al-Zahiri told about his visit to Damascus:

“I was accompanied by a distinguished and affable Persian. When he visited the al-Nuri hospital and saw the diets, the utilities and the comforts to be found there, he decided to see for himself, what being a patient was like in that hospital. He pretended illness and was admitted to the hospital. There the medical chief visited him every day and took his pulse and prescribed his diet, consisting of a variety of meats, fat chickens, candies and drinks and fresh fruits. On the third day the doctor told him that such patients were not allowed to stay more than three days, and asked him to leave.”

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