Traditional Islamic Medicine (Prophetic Medicine)
Muslims turn to the Quran and the life prophet Mohammad (ﷺ) for guidance in all areas of life, including health and medical matters. The Prophet Muhammad once said that “Allah did not create a disease for which He did not also create a cure.” Therefore Muslims are encouraged to benefit from traditional and modern forms of medicine and to have faith that any cure if from Allah only.
Advancement in science with research is only recently identifying with these prescriptions.
Some of the major principles and recommendation of Islamic way of treatment come directly from Quran and prophetic sayings. Some important principles and advices are as follows.
Divinely Prescribed Healthy Routines and Habits
Personal Hygiene & Cleanliness
Islam emphasizes on purity; physically and spiritually. Formal cleansing (ablution before prayers) is recommended five times a day. In Islam it’s important to keep clean and be presentable at all times.
Use of Perfume
Perfume in the muslim world has an exceedingly spiritual character. Ibn al Qayyim, a muslim scholar explained the link between the perfume and the soul in Islam: “the fragrance feeds the soul which is a source of inner strength and power. Perfume is good for the brain, the heart and all internal organs. It satisfies the heart and makes the soul happy and blissful.
By spiritual cleansing it means to keep ones heart clear of jealousy, arrogance, anger, greed, lust which promotes negative emotions and actions.
Oral hygiene is highly valued. Siwak or miswak is a natural tooth brush. The root of the Salvadora Persica, a wild desert plant is promoted to for its medicinal benefits as well as the roots or branches of various other trees and bushes. The major advantage of the miswak is that it is environment friendly, strengthens the gums and prevents tooth decay, assists in eliminating toothaches. Eliminates bad odor and improves the sense of taste, keeps throat clean and protects from bacterial and viral infections, assists in digestion and clears the voice. Miswak is recommended before taking first meal of the day and basically after all meals, before sleeping and after awaking, before going to gatherings and after coming back home.
The purpose of fasting is Islam is to learn self-restraint and discipline. From indulgence not only from basic needs in everyday life but from permissible and lawful pleasures excessively, for self-discipline, to develop God-consciousness, to develop self-control, to purify the body and mind. One nurtures gratitude, empathy and compassion through fasting. Muslims ascribe a feeling of deep contentment, peace and self regulation through the practice of fasting. Restraining anger, doing good deeds, the actions and qualities usually attributed to healthy emotional quotient.
Although fasting often and regularly is prescribed. The three consecutive days rule is backed by science gaining a lot of favor in recent times. Among many health benefits fasting is said to improve insulin and leptin sensitivity, lower the risk of chronic diseases, help lower blood pressure. Fasting for a considerable period of time may increase cancer treatment efficacy. Resets metabolism and improves digestion. MIT biologists recently conducted a study on the benefits of fasting. The researchers found that fasting dramatically improves stem cells’ ability to regenerate which means that it over hauls the immune system increasing your ability to fight disease.
Proper sleep habits like going to bed at night and rising up early in the morning are called to attention for a healthy routine. Too much sleep is said to make ones heart devoid of motivation and ambition. While waking up early morning is said to be a healthy way to start a day. Sleep helps to sharpen the memory and decision making ability. Sleep has a major role in boosting reproduction of cells that are responsible brain repair. Restful sleeps is crucial to flushing the toxic metabolites and also repair our DNA.
Short nap during the day is prescribed to keep up the energy level.
Emphasis on Eating In Moderation
“All Disease Begins in The Gut.” – Hippocrates. Gut is considered to the source of health and disease in almost all healing systems.
There is a saying of Mohammad Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: ‘A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it), then one third of food, one third for drink and one third for air.’
The idea is prevent overstuffing one’s self and that also with really feeling hungry which can be detrimental for health.
Cupping or Hijama
The word ‘hijama’ means ‘drawing out’ in Arabic . It is now being recognized as an alternative way of treating different diseases and bodily disorders.
Hijama is non-surgical procedure in which toxic blood is drawn out from the body by a special method. Hijama points are identified on the body according to the disorder. On such selected points, blood is collected and then sucked out by using a little vacuum system which is usually sterilized glass cups thus the name ‘cupping’. This method is vastly different from other cupping methods. The superficial blood containing toxins is made to accumulate on the surface of the skin. Slight incisions are made so the blood comes out from the incisions and is collected in a cup and is removed. Hijama promotes the flow of energy in the blood. It removes toxins and other waste material from the blood. It speeds up the recovery time for people recuperating from certain diseases. Hijama when done, can be considered one of the best preventive measures against many diseases.
Treating Disease with Food
Date is one of the many fruits mentioned in Quran. Dates contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial compounds, which means they have a role in combating infectious diseases. Research has shown that dates contain many antioxidants, including carotenoids, polyphenols (e.g., also possess anti-fungal properties like phenolic acids, isoflavons, lignans, and flavonoids), tannins, and sterols.
Dates provide about 18% of the daily goal for fiber, which regulate digestive function properly.
Dates provide protection to brain due to their ability to combat inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain thus have promising therapeutic potential against Alzheimer’s disease.
You won’t have to take vitamin supplements if you have a few dates every day because dates contain vitamins such as B1, B2, B3 and B5, as well as A1 and C.
Dates also contain iron and can easily counter iron deficiency. Pregnant women are advised to take dates to keep up with the extra need of iron in the body.
Dates are rich in selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium, and all of these are required to keep our bones healthy.
Mohammad Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Eat olive oil and anoint yourselves with it, for it is from a blessed tree.”
Olive oil consists of 75% monounsaturated fat and only 13% saturated fat that contribute to cardiac health. Olive oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which are important in preventing cardiovascular disease. Oleic acid in olive oil is an anti-inflammatory compound. This acid may be able to help fight cancer as it has beneficial effects on the genes linked to cancer cells.
Fatty acids in olive oil help to perform tasks and think clearly. It also improves our focus and memory. They have ability to help balance hormones, which, along with anti-inflammatory properties, prevent neurotransmitter dysfunction. Healthy fats that are naturally part of olive oil help control excess insulin in the blood and therefore help in controlling weight.
Research shows that olive oil may contribute to preserve cognitive functions in the older people.
Quran states in chapter 16 (Surah al-Nahl, the Chapter of the Bee), verses 69-70:
“And thy Lord has inspired the bee, saying, ‘Make thou houses in the hills and in the trees and in the trellises which they build. Then eat of every kind of fruit, and follow the ways of thy Lord that have been made easy for thee.’ There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying hues. Therein is cure for men. Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who reflect.”
Honey is packed with powerful antioxidants, which fight against cell damage.
Free radical damage is associated with aging, inflammatory disorders, and diseases including cancer. Honey can help combat these consequences. As free radicals try to attack healthy cells through a process called oxidative stress, antioxidants forfeit an electron to keep your cells safe. One study found that buckwheat honey increased in vitro antioxidant activity in healthy adults.
Honey is famous for its antibacterial properties and its ability to combat many types of bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli.
Mohammad Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said about Nigella sativa that “Hold on meaning use this seed regularly Because it is a remedy for every disease except death.”
Modern science has proved it through research after 14 centuries. Due to its miraculous power of healing Nigella Sativa has secured a place among the top ranked evidence based herbal medicine. Research shows its ability to improve glucose tolerance, enhance liver health, decrease inflammation, and regulate glucose levels. It is effective in helping the body return to a normal weight. Studies have also highlighted that Black seed oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-cancer activities
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) treated illnesses with three types of medicine:
(1) Natural medicine
(2) Spiritual medicine, and
(3) A combination of natural and spiritual medicine.
Islamic traditional medicine emphasizes on a holistic approach towards health. Spiritual health has as much weight as physical health. In fact morals and values are set as grounding rules for healthy individual and society.