Nursing means taking care of and looking after the sick, the injured, the young, the old or the helpless, with love and sympathy. lt is difficult to say at what point in history nursing was organised in a scientific way. Yet it is easy to understand that it must be as old as man's feeling for his suffering fellow men. For only sympathy and love could move one human being to feel sorry for someone in distress, to look after him in sickness and try to do something for him and to restore him to health.

Islam regards nursing very important. Our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) visited the sick regularly, comforted them and spoke kind words to them. He would go, even to inquire after his ailing enemies. He urged the Muslims to help those who were sick or suffering. On the battlefield, all Muslim soldiers were always very kind to the sick, old and the injured. They never killed their wounded enemies. Muslim ladies were very active on the battlefield giving water to the soldiers and tending the wounded and the sick. Hazrat Ghifaria, who accompanied the Holy Prophet in the Battle of Khyber, was a very good nurse. When the battle was won, the Holy Prophet presented a necklace to her. In due course, the Holy Prophet established a hospital in Medina and placed it in the charge of a very competent nurse, Hazrat Rufaida by name. Among those who helped in looking after and nursing the patients in this hospital were Hazrat Fatima, the youngest and the dearest daughter of the Holy Prophet and Hazrat Asma, the daughter of Hazrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him).

Nursing was not at all popular in the beginning. Parents did not allow their daughters to become nurses. This can perhaps be best shown in the story of the girl, who in 1851, became the founder of modern nursing and one of the greatest women in history. Her name was Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale was born in the town of Florence in Italy in 1820. Her parents were wealthy and cultured English people, and expected her to marry into a noble family. But, she had other ideas. At seventeen, she felt that the aim of her life was to serve suffering humanity. When she was twenty-four she decided that she should become a nurse. "Nothing is nobler than nursing", she declared. Her family was shocked to learn this. Everybody opposed her. But she would not give in. At last, after seven years of struggle, she was allowed to go for training at the Kaiserswerth Institution of Nursing in Germany.

In 1853, she was given the management of a small hospital for sick women in London. In 1854, when there was a war between England and Russia, the British Government asked her to go to the Crimea to manage the military hospitals there. She played a great role in the Crimean war. The nation thankfully offered her a purse of 45,000. With this money she founded an institution for training nurses in London.

At present, there are many training institutes for nurses in our country. A large number of Pakistani girls from good families, after being trained in these institutes, are working in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.

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