Health Guidelines based on Qur'an
by Shahid Athar M.D.
This article is not about the
glory of Islamic Medicine of past 1000 years
which produced great physicians like al-Razi and
Ibn-Sina. This article is also not about virtues
of honey, the center point of discussion in most
of the articles written these days on Islamic
Medicine. This also is not an article saying
that since science has now confirmed certain
Qur'anic statements, therefore Quran must be a
divine book. To the contrary, we begin with the
belief that all Quranic statements are true,
science has confirmed some of them in the past,
and will confirm the rest in the future. If
science has not confirmed it yet, it needs to
examine its data more deeply, or may be repeat
the experiment, rather than question the
authenticity of Quran.
The Quran is not a book of medicine or of health
sciences, but in it there are hints which lead
to guidelines in health and diseases. Prophet
Mohammed (s) has set as an example to the
mankind so his traditions in matters of health
and personal hygienic are also a guide for his
We start our discussion with the following
"Everything good that happens to
you (O Man) is from God, everything bad that
happens to you is from your own actions". 4:79
Therefore, the pathology
(disease) is defined by the famous pathologist
William Boyd as physiology (natural state) gone
wrong. It is our tampering with natural process
that leads to unnatural outcomes.
Human body can be compared to some degree with a
machine created by man. The fascinating tape
recorder has many mechanical and electronic
parts but life does not come to it till
electrical current is passed through. Similarly,
in the components of human body there arc the
anatomic parts and fluids but also the spirit
(the soul). As the care of a machine requires
keeping it clean, giving it some rest, and
passing electricity of proper voltage, and using
it carefully and wisely, so are the requirement
for the body and of the body as whole.
Before we come to the physical care of human
body, let us talk about the spiritual care.
The spiritual care involves the acts of worship.
The problem is that Iman cannot be translated
into belief, nor Salaat into prayer, Nor Wadu
into washing hand, face and feet nor; Sawm into
fasting nor Sakat into charity nor Haii into
pilgrimage to Mecca. T'hey are entitles in
A. Iman:The belief in God is the first
and foremost important need for spiritual
stability. Belief in God includes belief in his
aU attributes, his angels, his books, the day of
judgment, the heaven and hell and belief that -
all good and bad is within his reach. Imam Rumi
has called faith being superior to prayers. In
illness, according to Imam Ghazai, the awareness
of God increases and man becomes closer to God
by realizing his own weakness. Without true
belief, neither our prayer, nor charity, nor
fasting nor pilgrimage will be accepted. The
essence of belief is to rid ourselves of all
false Gods around us, or within us, and to
worship no one except God alone.
B.Salat: There are three health aspects
I. Wadu: Washing all the exposed areas of
the body, hand, feet, face, mouth, nostrils etc.
5 times a day is a healthy preventive procedure.
Hand washing is being emphasized more and more
in hospitals now in order to prevent spread of
germs. However non-Muslims did not know that
hand- washing is so important - it has been
ordered in Qu'ran (5:7) 1400 years ago. And for
complete cleanliness bathing is advised (4:43)
2. Recitation of Quran: Has a healing
effect on body, mind and heart. These healing
effects are due to the effect of sound (Echo)
and the meaning. The letter Alif resounds unto
the Echoes to heart and the letter YA resounds
unto Echoes to the pineal gland in the brain.
"O Mankind: There has come to
you a direction front your Lord and a healing
for the (disease) in your hearts - and for those
who believe a guidance and mercy !!"10:57
"We sent down in the Quran that which is
healing and a mercy to those who believe: to the
unjust it causes nothing but loss after loss".
The movement in Salaat are mild, uniform, and
involve all muscles and joints. The caloric
output is desired to keep the energy balance."
17:82: Zakat (Charity):
The word itself means purification and growth.
Here it is meant to imply the purification of
legitimately earned wealth. Many of our crimes
are committed with money or for love of money,
and in the love of money one becomes violent in
behavior.and he is violent in his love of
100:8 In Islam the ownership of
wealth belongs to God. We are the disposer of
that trust. Therefore, this concept establishes
peace at heart and our behavior in the loss of
money or unusual gain, In either way, we thank
D. Sawm: The Islamic fasting: Islamic
fasting is prescribed as way training of our
mind, and body in self-restraints.
"O you who believe is prescribed
to you, as it was prescribed to those
before you, so that you can learn
Therefore, during the period of
fast one may not only get rid of nibbling food,
coffee, smoking but also of anger and excessive
In fact, the fast not only gives rest to stomach
but also stabilizes the secretion of harmones
which control our behavior.
E. Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca): The morale
is Prophet lbrahim's submission and absolute
surrender to God's will, the opportunity for
repentance, and the social and political
gathering of the Ummah depecting brotherhood,
and equality. However this can be used for
programming and testing us for physical
endurance, a requirement for all able men and
women. The long walks, the heat, the sun, the
thirst, the physical exercise, etc. is to remind
us of the day of judgement. We should perform
Hajj when young and physically well rather than
wait for the old age. We should keep ourselves
in good shape before and years after the Hajj.
After describing pillars of faith as a basis for
the spiritual health, let us talk about the
maintenance of the physical structure in which
the spirit resides.
(A) Nutrition: Allah loves his creations
so much that he is concerned even with what we
eat and put in our body. Our muscles, bones,
lungs, liver, brain and secretions are made from
the raw product we feed it. If we provide the
factory with junk raw products, the factory will
not produce tough bones, strong muscles, good
pump (heart) and clean pipes (vessels).
"O you mankind: Eat of what is
lawful and good on earth. 2: 168
"Eat of the things which god has
provided for you lawfuland good, but fear God in
whom you believe". Forbidden to us are dead
meat, blood and flesh of swine (5:4) and
intoxicants (5:93 and 2:219). 5:91
Science so far has not confirmed
any beneficial effects to the prohibitions.
The blood and meat of the dead could be full of
germs and other harmful elements like
antibodies. The pork meat is high in
cholesterol, salt and may have worms, and
alcohol and other intoxicants cloud our
mentation, our inhibition and interfere with our
normal capacity of judging good and bad.
Therefore, a person under the influence of
alcohol may want to take off his dress, engage
in unlawful sexual acts, become violent and
abusive without even knowing what he is doing.
On medical damages due to alcohol, whole books
have been written.
The second component in nutrition (after
Permission of the lawful and probation of the
unlawful) is the moderation in the lawful.
Obesity is a major American tragedy, a form of
malnutrition, affecting million of people, of
all age. 99% of obesity is due to overeating.
Allah advises as to be moderate in quantity.
" But waste not by excess for
God loves not the wasters." 7:31
"Eat of the good things we have
provided for your sustenance, but commit no
excess therein, lest my wrath should justly
descend on you, and those whom descends my wrath
do perish indeed." 20:81
According to one Hadith of
Prophet Mohammed (s) we are advised to leave one
third of our stomach empty after finishing the
meal. I understood this Hadith only when I broke
my blender/mixer in the kitchen after stuffing
it to the top and then turning the machine on.
After all, what is stomach, if not a blender,
grinder, mixer and food processor, all in one !!
Certain types of food i.e. fruits are especially
emphasized in Quran (36:57, 43:73, 16:67, 50:68)
"And the fruits of date palm and
grapes you get wholesome drink and nutrition:
Behold in this is a sign for those who are
Fruits are low in calorie, high
in vitamins and minerals, and fiber and sugar is
fructose and not sucrose. In a recent study by
Dr. Anderson fructose has been shown to cause no
rise in blood sugar and even lowers the high
blood sugar of diabetics. Honey is fructose.
(3) Cleanliness: Allah is pure and likes
purity. He is clean and likes cleanliness.
Therefore, cleanliness of body and mind is
stressed in Quran (4:43, 5:7). Miswak (brushing
teeth) is not a new invention of last 200 years.
This was stressed as part of our daily routine
by Prophet Mohammed (s). He also advised us on
flossing (khilal) as now being advised by all
the dentist. In fact, he is known to have said
that if it was not hardship for Muslims, he
would have advised miswak before each prayer
i.e. 5 times a day. Cleanliness of our mind is
prerequisite for total creaminess (body and
Value of exercise in
Though we do not find much in
Quran about specific exercise, recommendation,
the Prophet's (s) Iife was full of
recommendations. advised all Muslims to teach
their children swimming, archery and horse
riding. He, himself used to walk at fast pace
even race with his wife, Ayesha (Ra). Most
importantly, he used to work with his hands
whether at home, in the kitchen, or with his
companions collecting wood for fire, or fighting
during wars etc.
It is a pity that Muslim men and women have
become sedentary and, I because of excessive
consumption of starches, obesity has crept into
them. We should keep ourselves fit to go for
jihad, and feel healthy in peacetime.
The State of disease: Many of
the common chronic illnesses, coronary heart
disease, hyper-tension, diabetes, peptic ulcer
disease, obesity and depression have also common
man-made etiology, that is rich food, too much
food, too much salt, too much sugar, smoking,
stress and alcoholism. If we give up excessive
salt, sugar and cholesterol from our diet, and
do not drink and smoke, and be active, it is
possible that - the pump (heart) won't be rusted
What should a Muslim do when
disease is confirmed
A. Accept it as a will of God as
kaffara for his sin, and ask him to remove the
"If God touches thee with
affliction, none can remove it- but He: if He
touches thee with happiness He has power over
all thing." 6:17
B. Many Muslims won't seek early
medical attention, contrary to the Prophet's
practice and teaching. In Christianity there is
a sect believing in faith healing who have let
their members die rather than go to the
Usamah Bin Shareek (Ra) Reports "I was with the
Prophet (s) and some Arabs came to him asking "O
Messenger of Allah, do we take medicine for any
disease.-"-He said, "Yes, 0 You servants of
Allah take medicine as Allah (SWT) has not
created a disease without creating a cure except
for one. They asked which one, he replied old
C. Increase your knowledge of health and
disease, of medications and side effects. This
knowledge is not a monopoly of doctors. You can
have it, and use it in preventing the illness,
recognizing it early when symptoms appear,
seeking early medical attention, then monitoring
the course of disease, implementing the
treatment (i.e. knowledge of diet for diabetics)
and recognizing side effects of the medicine.
Those of my patients who do as the above, make
me very happy that I can trust their health to
them as they do trust it to me.
In summary, our healthy body is a gift from God,
we are the trustees, we should not misuse it,
nor provide wrong raw product for the factory.
and should keep superb maintenance of this
delicate and sensitive machine, in order to
enjoy it will be the container of our soul.