The Medieval Islamic Hospital: Medicine, Religion and Charity
The Medieval Islamic Hospital: Medicine, Religion and Charity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

The first monograph on the history of Islamic hospitals, this volume focuses on the under-examined Egyptian and Levantine institutions of the twelfth to fourteenth centuries. By the twelfth century, hospitals serving the sick and the poor could be found in nearly every Islamic city. Ahmed Ragab traces the varying origins and development of these institutions, locating them in their urban environments and linking them to charity networks and patrons' political projects. Following the paths of patients inside hospital wards, he investigates who they were and what kinds of experiences they had. The Medieval Islamic Hospital explores the medical networks surrounding early hospitals and sheds light on the particular brand of practice-oriented medicine they helped to develop. Providing a detailed picture of the effect of religion on medieval medicine, it will be essential reading for those interested in history of medicine, history of Islamic sciences, or history of the Mediterranean.


Links, Publications and other Materials

Translation (to English and French) of Aḥmad ibn Khalaf al-Murādī’s “Kitāb al-Asrār fī Natāʿij al-Afkār”: The Book of Secrets in the Results of Ideas. Milano: Leonardo3, 2009

Books in Preparation:


In the name of God the Healer: Patienthood and piety in the medieval Islamicate world [Manuscript in preparation]


With Katharine Park, Knowledge on the Move: Cultures of Science in the Medieval World [In preparation for publication by Chicago University Press]



“In a clear Arabic tongue: Arabic, Science and the medieval Islamicate linguistic regimes,” Isis (Focus), 2017 (forthcoming)

“Rethinking Knowledge-Making: The Islamicate postclassical age and the making of decline,” Journal of Early Modern History (Forthcoming)

“Monsters and Patients: An archeology of medicine, colonialism and modernity,” History and Theory, 55:4, 2016

“One, Two or More Sexes: Sex differentiation in medieval Islamicate medical thought,” Journal of the History of Sexuality, 24: 3, 2015. Pp. 428-54.

“History of Science,” in Women and Islamic Cultures: Disciplinary Paradigms and Approaches 2003-2013, edited by Suad Joseph, Boston, Leiden: Brill, 2013.

"Prophetic Traditions and Modern Medicine in the Middle East: Resurrection, Reinterpretation, and Reconstruction,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 132:4, 2012. Pp. 657-73.

“Epistemic Authority of Women in the Medieval Middle East”, HAWWA: Journal of Women in the Middle East and Islamic World, 8:2, 2010. Pp. 181-216.

“Madman Walking: the image of the mad in Egyptian press”, Egypte-Monde Arabe, Troisième Série, 4, 2007. Pp. 227-246.

Book Sections

“Sira and asbab al-nuzul: Context as commentary; the text generating context; is chronology discoverable?” in The Routledge Companion to the Quran, ed. Daniel A. Madigan, and Maria Massi Dakake, London: Routledge (forthcoming)

"Hospitals" in 1001 Cures: Contributions in Medicine and Healthcare from Muslim Civilisation, Peter E. Pormann (ed.). Manchester: Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation, 2017

“Islam and Science” in Routledge Companion to Religion and Science, ed. James W. Haag, Gregory R. Peterson, Michael L. Spezio, London: Routledge, 2011.

Commentaries, Book reviews and Encyclopedia Entries


"Al-Andalus, Cosmological Ideas." In Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Ricardo Amils, et. al. (Eds). Berlin: Springer, 2015

"Planetary Theories and Cosmology, Islamic Theories." In Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Ricardo Amils, et. al. (Eds). Berlin: Springer, 2015

With Allyssa Metzger. "Ikhwan Al-Safa." In Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Ricardo Amils, et. al. (Eds). Berlin: Springer, 2015

With Allyssa Metzger. "Al-Tūsī, Nasir Al-Dīn." In Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Ricardo Amils, et. al. (Eds). Berlin: Springer, 2015

With Allyssa Metzger. "Al-Bīrūnī, Abū Rayḥān." In Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Ricardo Amils, et. al. (Eds). Berlin: Springer, 2015


Commentary on “Cycles of Cathay - Sinology, Philology, and Histories of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) in the United States by Christian de Pee,” Fragments: Journal of History, vol. 2, 2012.

Book review of “The World of Pharmacy and Pharmacists in Mamluk Cairo by Leigh Chipman,” Speculum, 87:1, January 2012. Pp. 196-97

Articles and Book Sections in Preparation

"Around the Clock: Time and Clinical Culture in the Medieval Near East" [Article in preparation]

"Islam as a postcolony: science, history and modernity in the making of ethnoreligious identity" [Article in preparation]

“Scientific Expertise and the making of Islamic legal opinions: an analysis of ‘scientific’ fatwas” [Article in preparation]



Selected Unpublished Lectures and Papers

“Names to Remember: Memory and Amnesia in Medicine’s Historical Epistemology,” Keynote Address, Medicine and Knowledge in the Middle East Workshop, City of New York University—Graduate Center, March 31st, 2016

“The Seed You Need: Generation, Reproduction and Female Orgasm in Medieval Islamic Medicine,” The Department of the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, February 23rd, 2016

“How to be a patient: Patienthood and medical thinking in the medieval Islamicate world,” The Yale Lectures in Medieval Studies, November 5th, 2015

“In the Search of a Good Story: Origins and Continuities in Writing the History of Science,” Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Minnesota, October 15th, 2015

"From Plague to Ebola: The Social Life of Epidemics and the Making of Global Health,” The Annual Da Vinci Lecture, Marshall University, November 7th, 2014

“A House for the Sick and Poor: Hospitals, Religion, and Charity in a Topography of Public Health,” Keynote address at “Religion as a Social Determinant of Public Health” conference at Emory University, November 6th, 2014

“Beyond Conflict and Harmony: Religion and Science in the Twenty-First Century” at Cleveland City Club, March 7th, 2014

“Knowledge Will Set You Free: Critique as an Ethic of Liberation,” Keynote address at Harvard Divinity School Diversity and Exploration Program, November 2013

“Religion and Global Health” at Harvard Global Health Institute, October, 2013

“Scientific Expertise and Islamic Legal Opinions” at STS-IGLP workshop on expertise in Science, Technology and Law, Harvard Kennedy School STS program, Harvard Law School, April 18-19, 2013

“Hospitals as Road Posts in an Urban Map” at Urbanism, Spirituality and Wellbeing Initiative Panel “Themes in History”, Harvard University, April 11, 2013

“Animals for People and People for Animals: Animals in Medieval and Early Modern Islamicate Sciences” at “Communities like You: Animals in Islam;” the Fifth Annual Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Conference at Harvard University, April 5-6, 2013

“‘So We May Learn from Our Predecessors’: Medical Biographies and the Arrangement of the Medical Community in the Medieval Middle East” at the annual conference of the History of Science Society, San Diego, November 2012

“Reading an Islamicate Hospital: Charity, Medicine and Tradition in Liminal Spaces” at Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program Faculty Seminar, Harvard University, September 2012

“Between Text(s) and Practice(s): Islamic Prophetic Medicine in Scientific and Religious Knowledge Regimes” the annual Isthmus lecture presented to the Isthmus Society of Science and Religion, University of Wisconsin-Madison, April 2012

“‘Disciplining and Persuading’: Science, Religion and the Making of Knowledge” the inaugural lecture of the Richard T. Watson Professorship of Science and Religion at Harvard University, Harvard Divinity School, March 2012

“Moving Sexes and Shifting Genders: Medicine, Religion and Law in the Making of Medieval Islamicate Bodies” invited lecture presented at Wesleyan University, February 2012

“Bodies in Transformation: Castration and Castrates in Medieval Islamic Society” presented at the Annual Conference of the American Academy of Religion-Queer Studies in Religion Group, San Francisco, November 2011

“Reiteration and representation: Asbab al-Nuzul & the Discursive Formation of the Quranic Narrative” presented at the Seventh Biannual Conference on the Qurʾān (The Qurʾān: Text, Society and Culture) at the School of Oriental and African Studies SOAS, London,

November 2011

“Laws, Ethics and (Hi)Stories from Distant Lands: Islamic Law and the Making of the Medical Profession in the Medieval Middle East” presented at the conference “Global Perspectives on the History of Chinese Legal Medicine,” University of Michigan Ann-Arbor, October 2011

“The Question of Anatomy: Towards a Different Understanding of the Interactions of Religion and Science in the Medieval Middle East”, presented at the Annual Conference of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), Boston, November 2009

“Prophets of Medicine and Medicine of the Prophet: Debates on Medical Theory and Practice in the Medieval Middle East,” lecture for Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Harvard Society of Arab Students, Harvard University, November 2009

“The Traveling Physician: Medicine in Travel Literature About Ottoman Egypt,” presented at the Biannual Conference of the European Association for History of Medicine, Heidelberg, September 2009

“Bīmāristān al-Manṣūrī: State, Religion and Medical Practice in Egypt 1285-1382,” presented at the 23rd International Conference of History of Science and Technology, Budapest, July 2009.

“Notes on Epistemological Debates in the Medieval Middle Eastern Science and Philosophy,” lecture for Early Science Working Group, the Department of the History of Science, Harvard University, April 2009

“On Methodology: New Approaches to the Study of Medieval Islamic Hospitals,” presented at The Meeting of the Three Societies, Oxford, July 2008

“How to Write the History of Medieval Islamic Hospitals?” keynote lecture at the celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Institute for History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, March 2008.