By: Adline A Ghani
Although health and wellness may be on everyone’s minds these days, attention to wellbeing is by no means a new concept. People have been searching for ways to ‘stay in the pink’ since the dawn of civilisation. In the Islamic world, early Muslim scientists and physicians played an essential role in developing healthcare practices, tools and ethics that continue to affect our lives to this day. Among the most significant developments in healthcare brought forth by the Islamic world was the introduction of hospitals. In the 8th century, Al-Walid bin Abd Al-Malik, a Caliph (chief Muslim civil and religious ruler) of the Umayyad Caliphate (Islamic system of government of the 7th and 8th centuries ruled by Prophet Muhammad’s descendants, the Umayyad dynasty), was the first to construct a purpose-built health institution, called the bimaristan. Derived from the Persian words ‘bimar’, meaning disease, and ‘stan’, meaning place, such institutions not only looked after the sick; they also actively pioneered diagnosis, cures and preventive medicines.
Five years ago, veteran cooking writer Mark Bittman didn’t want to discuss policy. But these days it’s impossible to talk about food without bumping into healthcare, regulation, labor and the environment. So for the past several years, Bittman has been exploring these issues as a columnist for the New York Times. He spoke with Vox’s Ezra Klein about what he’s learned.