(Edited by Shahid Athar , M. D.)
Islam And Medicine
Hasan Ghaznawi, M. D.
lslam is the religion of all times and places.It is a perfect system of
temporal values. By practicing its laws Muslims all over the world not only
attain spirituality but the pinnacle of all other glories and gain the wealth of
There is a great inter-relationship between modern medicine and some
of our Islamic teachings.
Every word of Qur'an is in fact an experience of great reality and
science is just an effort made towards this reality. Knowledge is limitless
and its horizons are constantly expanding with every strike of progress
disclosing fresh informations and according to Qur'an knowledge is a
comprehensive text and it involves all branches of science, religion, technology, agriculture, engineering and medicine. It is definitely a miracle of our
sacred religion that it expands on all branches of human knowledge. This
is known from the following quotation from Qur'an:
"We have revealed to you the Scripture so that it might be a clear
evidence for every thing."
In the following paper I have tried to elucidate that the guide lines given
in the Quran and Sunnah concerned with the promotion of physical health
of humans have been duly proved by years of modem medical science
research all over the world. Some of them I am going to deal with in this
In Sura Moon "God deprecates those who are careless in their prayers
offer them only for show." The blessed Prophet told us "Prayers are
certainly health promoting."
Although the real purpose of prayers is the worship of God yet there is
a large number of additional benefits also.
As we eat three times daily we need exercise to lessen the cholesterol in
the body which increases in blood after meals, thickens blood and leads to
the deposition of slit in the arteries.
In addition to saving us from the sins and elevating us to the heights of
spirituality prayers are great help in maintaining our physical health. They
keep our body active, help digestion and save us from muscle and joint
diseases through regular balanced exercise. They help the circulation of
blood and also mitigate the bad effect of cholesterol. Prayers play a vital role
in acting as a preventive measure against heart attack, paralyses, premature
senility, dementia, loss of control on sphineters, diabetes mellitus etc.
Collateral circulation plays a major role in decreasing the danger of
heart attack in patients. Patients above 55 years of age in which this type of
circulation is developed have less severe attacks. It is possible to speed up
the development of collateral circulation by regular and balanced exercises
which is present in the prayers are not only potent, preventive measure
against coronary heart diseases but also help in the development of
collateral circulation in those people who have already suffered from a heart
attack or are prone to it.
Heart patients should offer-the five obligatory prayers regularly as they
get the permission from their doctor to leave bed.
The arrangement of prayers is such that those at the time of empty
stomach are brief but those after meals are longer and give more exercise
to the body.
During the month of Fast (Ramadan) the additional twenty Rakaat
(Tarawih) are added to the late evening prayers because more than normal
food is usually consumed after breaking fast.
The performance of prayers put almost all muscles of the body in action.
Different groups of muscles are activated while performing prayers.
During Sajda blood supply to the brain is improved. One of the useful
methods to strengthen the muscles of the knee joints to mitigate the strain
on knees in osteo arthritis is the regular exercise of these muscles during
This vital organ of the body has to be always healthy and efficient as it
is responsible for the circulation of blood. Diseased heart results in deterioration of the healthy body. This knowledge we obtained after centuries of
scientific research yet it was simply told to us fourteen hundred years ago
by our great Prophet (peace be upon him).
"Verily in the body there is such apiece of flesh that if it remains alright
the whole body keeps well but if this piece of flesh develops some defect the
whole body becomes unhealthy. Behold,- this piece of flesh - it is heart."
(Bokhari, Muslim ...
It was the habit of our blessed Prophet to sleep for a while after lunch,
his companions also followed this practice. This short nap gives relief to the
vital organs of the body like heart and brain.
MODERATION IN FOOD:
Both Qur'anand Hadithhave touched this topic, Qur'antells us in Ayah
30 of Sura Al Airaf:
"O children of Adam, look to your adornment of every place of
worship and eat and drink but not prodigal Lo! He loveth not the prodigals."
Strenthening this order, the Prophet has strictly forbidden over eating in
the following Haith:
"It is enough to eat few morsels of food to keep one's back straight."
"If you must eat more, be sure that only one third of your stomach is
filled with food, one third is left for water and the remaining one third for
"A Muslim eats in one intestine (stomach) whereas a non believer eats
in seven intestine."
It has been proved beyond doubt that over eating is the root of many
diseases and also responsible for premature senility. It produces obesity,
predisposes to dangerous diseases like diabetes, Menitus, hypertension,
coronary heart disease and paralysis.
This is due to insulin deficiency. Overeating gets the special cells of the
pancreas (islets of Langerhans) over worked so it cannot meet the increased
demand for insulin . Those cells may get tired, atrophy and causes difficiency of insulin .
PARALYSIS, CORONARY HEART DISEASE & PREMATURE
Their basic course is the narrowing of the coronary arteries. Paralysis
is the natural result of blocking of an artery in the brain, should this happen
in the heart Myocardial infarction results. Premature senility is installed
when majority of the arteries in the body get narrowed.
Slit in the form of cholesterol and triglycerides is deposited in the
arteries. Over eating increases blood cholesterol levels. Pork and beef
contain high cholesterol values while on the other hand birds have the least
amount. Qur'an mentioned that birds meat is one of the specialties of
Olive has been repeatedly mentioned in Qur'an, and statistics shows
that heart attacks occur more in Northern Italy where they use butter and
margarine for cooking than in Southern Italy where olive oil is generally
Patients suffering from narrowing of the coronary artery usually
develop the heart attack after a heavy meal.
FORBIDDEN ARTICLES OF FOOD:
Ingested blood on reaching the intestine is acted upon by various
bacteria normally present there resulting in poisonous products like ammonia which is toxic to the liver.Therefore,God has forbidden us to eat or drink
blood and has prescribed such a method for slaughtering animals that most
of their blood is shed.
There are two harmful worms harbored by pigs, one is "TAENIASOLIUM" which on ingestion passes to the brain and causes epilepsy.
The other one is"TRICHINELLASPIRALIS"which passes to the muscles
and brain causing muscular swelling and pain and also epilepsy. Pork has
more fat and cholesterol than any other meat.
Numerous diseases have been attributed to alcohol like dyspeptic
trouble, peptic ulceration, cancer stomach, pancreatitus, cirrhosis liver,
vitamin deficiency and coronary heart disease.
One of the criteria of Islam is that every Muslim should be circumcised.
This is medically suggested now a days as a toxic substance called Smegma
may collect under the redundant skin causing cancer of the genitalia in both
man and his wife, inflammation of the penis, phthisis, sticking of the
redundant skin over the urethral opening leading to difficulty in urination.
WASHING AFTER DEFECATION:
This beneficial habit saves us from Pilonidal sinus which is an abscess
with hair inside occurring near anal opening.
Pylonephritis: This is more in women due to the proximity of the
urethral opening to the anus so toilet paper while being used may bring
germs like E. coli to the urethra.
A pre requisite of prayers yet one of the most hygienic procedure as it
usually keeps the exposed parts of our body clean and also the parts of entry
like mouth and nose thus avoiding Infection.
PREVENTION OF INFECTION:
Infection may be transmitted through dirty hands or dirty food.
Hands: It is essential to wash our hands before and after meals. Our
blessed Prophet told us:
"It is a blessing to wash your hands before and after meals" (Abu Daud
He has also advised us not to clean our hands with a towel before meals
as they may convey infection from one person to the other particularly viral
diseases like infective hepatitis or bacterial infection like Typhoid dysentries and cholera.
Or Prophet said "Whosover gets up from slumber should not dip his
hand in any utensil unless he washes them three times, who knows what
things he has been touching during sleep." (Bokhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood,
ARTICLES OF BEVERAGES:
These articles should be handled with great care. If the food is in open
utensil they should be covered to avoid contamination. Stressing this our
Prophet said "Cover up the utensils and tie the mouth of the water skins."
He said, "Why did you not cover the utensil carrying the milk even if-it
was with a piece of wood."
Particular stress has been laid by our Prophet on this as it is very
important in the prevention of disease. He attached great importance to
"Miswak" a twig of a tree used for brushing teeth. "If I had not thought this
to be an unbearable hardship for my followers I would have prescribed the
use of Miswak before every prayers." (Bokhari, Muslim)
According to modern dentistry the best method of using a Miswak or
a tooth brush is up and down the length of the teeth and this exactly the way
our Prophet used his Miswak.
The blessed Prophet said "Whosoever eats should pick bits and pieces
from in between his teeth."
It is beneficial act so that those do not rot and produce disease.
Covering the head and neck as our Prophet used to do, mitigate the
danger of hyperpyrexia which is due to imbalance of the heat control centre
situated in the hind brain, which may lead to death.
TREATMENT OF FEVER:
Death occurs if the temperature of the body exceeds 106 degrees irrespective
of the cause. Medically speaking the first line of treatment is to lower the
temperature by cold water, ice sponging or even immersing the patient in
cold water. On this Prophet said:
"The fever is related to the Hell. Application of cold water keeps it
away." (Ibne Maja)
The blessed Prophet advised that while defaecating keep pressure on
the left foot (Tibrani). In squatting position this maneuvers will cause
pressure on the descending colon. Medically this helps evacuation of feaces
from the descending colon thus relieving constipation, particularly when
muscles of the abdomen are weak.
DISEASES OF DIGESTION:
Several Hadiths pertaining to this were said:
"It is unbecoming to eat in the Bazar (Market)."
"Whosoever eats earth aid his death." (Tibrani)
" Use curry with food even if it is in the form of water. " (Tibrani).
"Vinegear is a very good curry."
"The best curry is common salt."
Salt depletion through perspiration during summer is increased thus it
is obligatory to use common salt during this period.
Our Prophet liked pumpkin (one of the vegetables) as it is easily
digested and less likely to produce flatulence.
Our Prophet said. "It is not right to eat your food quickly, besides this
one should eat from what lies nearest to one" (Bokhari, Muslim)
Hygiene is very important. Cleanliness prevent infection entering the
citadel of human body and this guards us against ill health and epidemics-
God ordered our Prophet in Sura Al-Muddassir:
"O, Prophet keep your apparel clean and meticulously avoid filth and
Our Prophet said, "God Almighty is himself pure and likes purity, God
himself is clean and likes cleanliness."
"God Abnighty dislikes dust, dirt and disheveled hair."
"Avoid three things which are cursed. To urinate at the source of water,
in the shade, in the pathways."
"No one should pass water in standing water."
(Bokhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood)
"If any one of you yawns,,cover your mouth with hands."
(Muslim, Abu Dawood)
One should avoid coughing, sneezing, yawning or laughing with fully
open mouth near other persons as the breathed out bacteria may spread in
the atmosphere and be conveyed to other persons.
STREET AND ROADS:
Town planning is based on broad and airy roads so that there is no
obstruction to the flow of traffic and to avoid congestion which helps of
communicable diseases. Our blessed Prophet fourteen hundred years ago
said "keep the breadth of the streets seven arms length.
Ibis was mentioned in the authenticated Hadith as an effective treatment of several disease. Research work is being carried out in China and
other parts of the world to use acupuncture as a method of treatment.
There are other aspects of medicine which have been dealt with in Islam
1. Quacks should not treat patients.
2. Treatment and prevention of disease have been recommended and
practiced by the Prophet.
3. When you visit a patient do not stay long.
There are many priceless gems of knowledge in the Qur'an and Hadith
from which man can benefit immensely. These are but brief facts of
medicine which have been mentioned before in Qur'an and Hadith and there
is a lot more to be discovered and studied.