At a time, when the Muslim girls have confusions about career choices, Rufaida Ansaria’s story can be an inspiration. She is the first Muslim nurse, who practiced nursing long before Florence Nightingale stepped up.
The Nursing Mujahida
After giving her pledge to the Prophet (sa), Rufaida (ra) chose a noble profession for herself. She dedicated her life to attending to the wounded soldiers and looking after their needs.
This was a period of numerous battles. Every year Muslims were being called for war. Rufaida (ra) felt the need of a nurse to look after the wounded soldiers. She set up her tent right next to the Prophet’s Mosque and equipped it with all the medical equipments and medicines of that time. And this was with the permission of the Prophet (sa).
Lessons to draw: We learn the lesson of not following the crowd or trends. One must analyse their own skills and gauge how they can positively contribute to the society. Many girls choose medicine, but do not practice it. Women do need female doctors at hospitals. Therefore, they should be encouraged to practice medicine even after marriage.
Some choose chartered accountancy or business studies, and then the corporate job, late sittings and frequent flying conflicts with their marital life. One should carefully evaluate his situation, interests and resources, and then pick a path. Our goal shouldn’t only be to earn money, but how we can contribute in the well-being of the society.
To pick this career, Rufaida (ra) must have obtained some kind of medical training. She was really confident and skilled in her work. We see that in her story there is no mention of a supervisor. She worked independently. Whenever one chooses a path they must strengthen their skills with all the necessary training required and then perform their task at the level of excellence. We should be confident in what we are doing and also ask Allah (swt) to make us strong, insha’Allah.
Rufaida (ra) and the Battle of Trench
When the Muslim soldiers left for the Battle of Trench, Rufaida (ra) also went with them. She erected her tent near the soldier camps so that she could attend to the injured on the spot. Being honest to her profession, Rufaida (ra) desired only two things. She wanted to lessen the pain of the wounded and to help them recover quickly. She wanted to see them back on their feet, laughing and smiling, going on with their work.
In the Battle of Trendh, Saad ibn Muath (ra) got wounded by an enemy’s arrow. His nerve had been cut. The Prophet (sa) instructed that his nursing tent be placed in the Prophet’s Mosque so that he himself could attend to his needs. The Prophet (sa) would visit Saad (ra) twice a day. Each time he asked Saad (ra) how he was doing, Saad (ra) replied that all praise belongs to Allah (swt) and he was feeling alright.
Frequents visits of the Prophet (sa) to the camp cheered Rufaida (ra). She felt she was especially favoured by Allah (swt) to meet the Messenger of Allah (sa) twice in a day.
Lessons to draw: We see honesty to one’s profession. For what else is the purpose of doctors and nurses than to treat their patients and provide them relief? Whatever path that we choose in life we shouldn’t solely look at it as a money-minting source. We should be sincere to our profession and to those that we are dealing with.
We also learn patience in pain. Considering the medical advancement of that age, one can imagine the pain that Saad ibn Muath (ra) must have been feeling. Yet each time that the Prophet (sa) asks him how he was doing, he replies with alhumdulillah. He does not utter a word of complain.
We also learn that in situations of emergencies and in the absence of a male practitioner, a female doctor is allowed to attend to the male patients. Imam an-Nawawi explains: ‘A woman may not touch the body of the person except at the place of necessity (i.e. the place of injury)’.
May Allah (swt) guide us all to the right path, and help us identify our special skills and how we can put them in good use for the larger benefit of the society, ameen.
(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)