A Tree Of Life At Bursa

HOSPITALS ARE ONE OF THE MOST MEANINGFUL MANIFESTATIONS OF THE TURKISH ISLAMIC CULTURE OF CHARITABLE FOUNDATIONS. AND BURSA IS HOME TO THE FIRST OTTOMAN EXAMPLE OF THIS DEEP-ROOTED TRADITION.

Bursa’s Yıldırım Darüşşifa (House of Healing) is the first hospital and first medical school in Ottoman history. The building, which houses Bursa’s first eye hospital today, came to light as an element of the Yıldırım Bayezid Complex, constructed between 1390 and 1394 at the behest of the fourth Ottoman sultan, Yıldırım Bayezid I. According to the sources, a team consisting of a chief physician, two other physicians, two pharmacists, two makers of medicinal syrups, a cook and a bread baker provided medical services to the people of Bursa in the period. The hospital quickly gained recognition in the treatment of diseases of the mind and nerves in particular. And Berkuk, sultan of the Mamluks, the Middle Age’s other great Turkish Islamic civilization centered in Egypt, sent one of his most prominent physicians to the Bursa Darüşşifa at Bayezid I’s request. The building sustained serious destruction in an earthquake in the second half of the 19th century and, ceasing to function as a provider of health services, was used as a gunpowder magazine.

A ROOTED CULTURAL HERITAGE
The science of medicine is an area to which Islam and the eastern world gave special importance throughout history. Acquiring knowledge of ancient Indian, Iranian, Assyrian and Greek medicine, Muslim medical scholars soon took it to a very advanced level.

CONTRIBUTORS TO KNOWLEDGE
The existing medical knowledge of the period was obtained as a result of the translations from Greek into Arabic that got under way in the Abbasid period especially. Muslim medical scholars made some very valuable discoveries and advances in their field between the 9th and 14th centuries C.E.  Syria, Egypt, Andalusia and Iran were places where advances in medicine enjoyed a golden age.

NAMES FOR ALL TIME
Among Islamic medical scholars, Ibn-i Sina (Avicenna) is a name known to almost everyone. His work, The Canon of Medicine, was studied as a textbook in Europe for centuries. The Andalusian surgeon and anatomy expert Al-Zahravi (Albucasis), Al-Razi (Rhases), who penned dozens of works, Ibn al-Nefis, Farabi, Ali bin Abbas, and Akşemsettin are just a few other Islamic medical scholars who leap to mind.

THE INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF MEDICINE
This rapid proliferation of medical knowledge in the Islamic cultural realm led to the establishment of hospitals and asylums for the treatment of mental illness. These houses of healing continued to develop in our culture as part of the charitable foundation concept. Architecturally oriented towards the practice of medicine and the examination and treatment of patients, hospitals were institutions that preserved and protected human health. Baghdad under the Abbasids, Cairo under the Mamluks, Damascus and Aleppo under the Ayyubids and Zangids, and Konya, Kayseri and Sivas under the Anatolian Seljuks and Atabegs were some major cities with hospitals.

FAR BEYOND THEIR TIME
Islamic hospitals provided services in almost every branch of medicine from general surgery to eye and heart surgery. Methods such as music, the sound of water and songs of birds, and Kuranic chants were used in the treatment of mental patients. Cordoba, Granada, Murcia and Sevilla also boasted major medical centers in the period of Muslim Spain.

OTTOMAN HOSPITALS
Houses of healing were a prominent feature of the Ottoman mosque complex system. Besides the hospital at Bursa, hospitals at Edirne, Manisa and Istanbul were other major centers of Ottoman medical studies. These hospitals, where, in addition to treating patients  new doctors were also trained, began to give way to western-style hospitals and medical schools beginning in the 19th century.

ON THE MEDICINE TRAIL
The works of the Greek physician Galen, who is regarded as the founder of ancient medicine, were translated into Arabic by Huneyn bin Ishak in the Abbasid period. Transmitted from Arabic into Latin via Sicily and Andalusia, this knowledge eventually reached Europe.
Music was a method of treatment used at the hospitals.

MEDICAL BUILDINGS
As well as the word darüşşifa, other names such as bimaristan, maristan, darülsıhha, darulafiye, darulmerza, şifaiyye and bimarhane also referred to Ottoman hospitals.

BURSA DARÜŞŞİFA TODAY
Restored to its original condition by the Bursa Regional Directorate of Charitable Foundations between 1997 and 2002, the Darüşşifa building remains in service today as Bursa Darüşşifa Eye Center, run by the Foundation for the Protection of Eyesight.