Possibly the earliest hospital in Islam was a mobile dispensary following the Muslim armies, dating from the time of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH); a tradition which remained throughout the centuries of Islamic Civilisation.
Decades elapsed, before the first hospital building was built in Damascus in 706 by Al-Walid, the Ummayad Caliph. It was to cater for all sorts of patients (including the blind, and even the lepers). Its equipment, staff and organisation, served as model for other hospitals to follow.
Both Caliphs Harun al-Rashid and Al-Mansur had hospitals built in Baghdad.' In Cairo, the first hospital was established at al-Fustat by Ibn Tulun, governor of the city in 872.
By the 12th century, the hospital had become a very advanced institution, witness al-Nuri hospital, built in 1156 by Nur al-Din Zangi, a hospital where patients were well fed, and cared for, and where there was a large library for teaching. In Cairo, in 1285, Sultan Qalaun al-Mansur built the largest of all hospitals, described by Durant: (see reference below)
`Within a spacious quadrangular enclosure four buildings rose around a courtyard adorned with arcades and cooled with fountains and brooks. There were separate wards for diverse diseases and for convalescents; laboratories, a dispensary, out-patient clinics, diet kitchens, baths, a library, a chapel, a lecture hall, and particularly pleasant accommodations for the insane. Treatment was given gratis to men and women, rich and poor, slave and free; and a sum of money was: disbursed to each convalescent on his departure, so that he need not at once return to work. The sleepless were provided with soft music, professional story-tellers, and perhaps books of history.’