Islam takes a holistic approach to health. Just as religious life is inseparable from secular life, physical, emotional and spiritual health cannot be separated; they are three parts that make a completely healthy person. When one part is injured or unhealthy, the other parts suffer. If a person is physically ill or injured it may be difficult to concentrate on anything but the pain. If a person is emotionally unwell, he or she may not be able to take care of him or herself properly or find their minds distracted from the realities of life.
When speaking to his followers Prophet Muhammad spoke of the strong believer being better than a weak believer, in the eyes of God. The word strong here can mean strength in faith or in character, but it can equally mean health. Our bodies are a trust from God and we are accountable for how we look after our health. Although physical and emotional health is important, spiritual health needs to be the first priority in our lives. If a person is in spiritual difficulty then life can begin to unravel and problems may occur in all areas.
Injury and illness can happen for many reasons, however it is important to acknowledge and accept that nothing happens in this world accept with the permission of God.
And with Him are the keys of the unseen; no one knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that is [written] in a clear record. (Quran 6:59)
This world is but a transient place, beautified for us by the things we covet, spouses, children, wealth and luxury. Yet these are just passing pleasures and temporary joys compared to the contentment and extreme beauty that is Paradise. To help us secure a place in Paradise God places trials and obstacles in our way. He tests our patience and gratitude and provides us with ways and means of overcoming the obstacles. God is also merciful and just, so we can be sure that whatever trials we face God designed them to help us secure a place of eternal bliss. Injury and ill health are trials and tests that we must face with patience, forbearance and above all acceptance.
Accepting a trial does not mean that we do nothing, of course we try to overcome it and learn from it. Accepting means facing the trial patiently armed with the weapons God has provided for us. The greatest of these weapons is the Quran, a book of guidance, filled with mercy and healing. The Quran is not a textbook or book of medicine, but it does contain guidance that promotes good health and healing.
“O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Lord (i.e. the Quran), and a healing for that which is in your hearts.” (Quran 10:57)
“And We send down from the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe…” (Quran 17:82)
There is no doubt that the words and verses of Quran contain a healing for humankind’s woes and ills. It was narrated in the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, that certain verses and chapters by God’s will could bring about healing from disease and distress. Slowly over the years, we have begun to rely more on medicines and physical remedies rather then the spiritual remedies prescribed by Islam. If faith is strong and unwavering, the effect of spiritual remedies may be fast and efficient.
From the traditions of Prophet Muhammad comes the story of the man whom the Prophet sent on a mission. He camped close by to some people who did not show him any hospitality. When the leader of the nearby camp was bitten by a snake, they went to Prophet Muhammad’s companion for help. He recited the opening chapter of the Quran over the afflicted man and he arose “as if released from a chain”.
It is important to seek a cure from the Quran, in the manner prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad, but it is equally important to understand that it is permissible and at times obligatory, to seek help from medical practitioners. Our bodies are ours, only in trust; we are obligated to treat them with respect and to maintain them in the best way. In accordance with the holistic approach Islam takes to health, there is no contradiction in seeking a cure from both medical science and permissible spiritual means.
The Prophet, may God praise him, said: “There is no disease that God Almighty has created, except that He also has created its treatment.”
He also said: “There is a remedy for every malady, and when the remedy is applied to the disease it is cured with the permission of Almighty God.”
Quran is a healing for the body and the soul. Whenever life becomes too difficult or we are beset by injury, illness or unhappiness Quran will light our way and lighten our burdens. It is a source of solace and ease. In the world today many people have untold wealth and luxury but little contentment. Those of us in the West have access to doctors and medicine, to traditional healing, medical breakthroughs and alternative cures but many lives are full of emotional pain and listlessness. What is missing is belief, faith in God.
In the past several decades, it has become widely accepted that religious belief and practices have a significant impact on both physical and emotional health. Medical and scientific research has demonstrated that religious commitment aids in the prevention and treatment of emotional disorders, disease and injury and enhances recovery. Belief in and submission to the will of God is the most essential part of good health care. The words and recitation of Quran can cure hearts and minds, as well as overcome illness and injury, however complete trust in God does not negate the healing effects of medical science provided we use them only in lawful ways. Indeed, God has power over all things, therefore we need to put our trust in Him, develop a lasting relationship with His book of guidance – the Quran, follow the authentic teachings of Prophet Muhammad and seek a cure, wherever it may be.