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Is It an Innovation to Recite the Qur’an Seeking a Cure?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: I am slowly losing hair on my head, I believe it is hereditary. In any case, I was thinking to recite the three Quls (Ikhlas,Falaq and Nas) three times and blow it on water and wipe my hair with that water in hope to seek blessing and Baraka, and to prevent hair loss by Allah’s word. Would this be blameworthy or bid’ah (innovation)?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

May Allah grant you and your family good health.

Reciting or using the Qur’an, as well as the Divine Names and other supplications, for purposes of seeking a cure, either for oneself or for others, is not blameworthy, nor considered a blameworthy innovation. It is rather considered a Sunnah [Sharh Sahih Muslim].

This is because of the following:

The Qur’an Describes itself as a Cure

The Qur’an describes itself as a cure, saying of itself:

We have sent down of the Qur’an what is a cure and mercy for believers [Quran; 17.82];

Say: It is for those who believe, guidance and a cure [Qur’an; 41.44].

Hadith texts Establish using the Qur’an as a Cure

Numerous narrations establish the permissibility of using the Qur’an to seek a cure. For example:

Aisha (may God be pleased with her) reported that “the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him would recite the Mu’awwidhat [the three final chapters of the Qur’an] over a member of his family who had fallen ill” [Muslim].

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri and Ibn ‘Abbas (may God be pleased with them) both relate narrations that establish that the opening chapter of the Qur’an, the Fatiha, can be used to seek a cure. In it, Abu Sa’id recites the Fatiha to successfully cure a man who had been stung by a scorpion, which they later inform the Prophet (peace be upon him) of. The Prophet (peace be upon him) confirms its use for this purpose, asking rhetorically, “What gave it away that it is an incantation for cure (ruqya)?” [Bukhari].

What about Using other Portions of the Qur’an?

Although these narrations only mention the first and last three chapters of the Qur’an, scholars such as Imam al-Nawawi have understood implicitly from them that it is praiseworthy to use any part of the Qur’an or other supplications as incantations to treat sickness and ills [Sharh Sahih Muslim]. Nawawi reasons that the Prophet’s specifically making use of the Mu’awwidhat was because of their comprehensive natures; in them, a person seeks refuge in God from all undesirable things. It does not, as ibn Hajar also notes, preclude using something else from the Qur’an or supplications that are Prophetic, or do not militate against the spirit of transmitted supplications [Fath al-Bari].

Moreover, one does not need a specific piece of evidence for an act that is does not run contrary to the spirit of the law. Sh. ‘Abd al-Ilah al-‘Arfaj and Dr. Sayf al-‘Asri both note in their works on innovation into the religion that the hadith of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri clearly indicate that he did not have specific guidance from the Prophet (peace be upon him) on using the Fatiha for a cure before choosing to do so, but was not reprimanded for doing so [Mafhum al-Bid’ah; al-Bid’ah al-Idafiyyah].

For that reason, there is no harm in choosing a portion of the Qur’an or other supplication that one feels inclined towards, and using it to seek a cure, by reciting it or reciting it over oneself or another.

Other Uses of the Qur’an as a Cure

Aside from reciting the Qur’an and blowing over oneself or another, our scholarly tradition allows for other related uses that do not militate against the spirit of the tradition. Ibn al-Qayyim holds that many early scholars considered it permissible to write verses of the Qur’an on paper, the wash the ink off in water and drink it, or give it to another, seeking a cure. They considered this to be part of the cure that God had said he placed in the Qur’an [Zad al-Ma’ad]. He mentions that he once fell ill in Makkah, and found himself without access to doctors or medicine. He would take some zamzam water, recite the Fatiha over it, and drink it; he found that this cured him [al-Tibb al-Nabawi]. Nawawi also mentions the permissibility of doing using the Qur’an in this manner [Majmu’].

It is also permissible to pour such water over the body. It is reported that the Prophet visited Thabit b. Qays, who was ill, and recited, “Remove all harm, Lord of all, from Thabit b. Qays al-Shammas,” then mixed some dirt with water and poured it over him [Sunan Abu Dawud]. Ibn Hajar also favorably records a point Ibn Battal had made regarding reciting the Throne Verse over water and then drinking it or pouring it over a sick person [Fath al-Bari].

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, it is not blameworthy or an innovation to use the Qur’an in the manner in any of the ways described, seeking refuge in Allah through the recitation, his assistance, blessing, and cure of all ills.

Shuaib Ally

Can I Apply Zamzam Water for Healing Purpose? [Shafi’i School]

Answered by Ustadh Shuaib Ally

Question: Asalamualaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,

I have some redness and a burning sensation around the vaginal area. Would be all right to apply ZamZam to the redness around that area? I’ve personally used it with the intention of healing before elsewhere and subhanAllah witnessed the Barakah in it!

Answer: Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

May Allah cure you of all illness and grant you a healthy life.

Using Zamzam on the Body

Applying Zamzam to a specific area of the body is permissible.This falls within the general ruling of using Zamzam for wudu or ghusl (washing the body), neither of which is disliked. It is better not to use Zamzam for removing filth, because it is sacred, but is otherwise permissible.

Drinking Zamzam for Cure

If you have witnessed the benefit of using Zamzam in this manner, it is permissible to continue using it in that manner. At the same time, drinking Zamzam while praying for a cure is recommended. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Zamzam is for what it is drunk for.” Mujahid (a prominent Successor) said: This means that if a person drinks it desiring a cure, Allah will heal him; if he drinks it due to thirst, Allah will pour for him; if he drinks it for hunger, Allah will cause him to be filled.

Sources: al-Hawi al-Kabir; Tuhfat al-Muhtaj

Shuaib Ally

Taking the Means and Supplication for Cure and Well-Being

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: I’d like a du’a to say so Allah can bless my mother with good health. She has painful swelling and an infection in her arm and it isn’t getting better. Also, I develop cysts on my body and I don’t want them to get worse.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

May Allah give you and your mother well being (`afiya) in this life and the next.

First of all, I’d highly recommend seeking out expert medical opinion. We are obligated to take the means, relying upon Allah, and realizing that it is He who cures.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to say, “O Allah take away the hardship, O Lord of mankind, give shifa, You are the One who cures, there is no cure except Your shifa, a cure that will not leave any sickness. (Allahumma adhibil ba’sa Rabb an-naas Ishfi antash-shaafii la shifa’aa illa shifa-uka shifa-an la yughadiru saqaman).”

أَذْهِبِ الْبَأْسَ رَبَّ النَّاسِ وَاشْفِ أَنْتَ الشَّافِي لَا شِفَاءَ إِلَّا شِفَاؤُكَ شِفَاءٌ لَا يُغَادِرُ سَقَمَاً

 

 

It would also be recommended to rub the area with one’s right hand — whether the sick person is oneself, or another. [Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]

Strive to supplicate with one’s own words too, remembering that you will be answered, and realizing the words of Allah “Believers, be patient; outdo others in patience; remain resolute; and be mindful of Allah, in order that you may succeed.” [Qur’an, 3.200]

Please also see:

[1] Prophetic Supplications to Cure Illness

[2] Advice to a Young Cancer Patient

[3] A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Does Modern Science Confirm the Hadith that Says There is an Antidote in the Wing of a Fly?

Answered by Shaykh Gibril F Haddad

Question: Is modern science in agreement with the hadiths that indicate there is a cure in the wing of a fly?

Answer
: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Only in modern times was it discovered that the common fly carried parasitic pathogens for many diseases including malaria, typhoid fever, cholera, and others. It was also discovered that the fly carried parasitic bacteriophagic fungi capable of fighting the germs of all these diseases.

The Prophet Muhammad – upon him and his House blessings and peace – alluded to both facts 1,400 years ago when he said, as narrated from Abu Hurayra and Abu Sa`id al-Khudri by al-Bukhari and in the Sunan:

<< If a fly falls into one of your containers [of food or drink], immerse it completely (falyaghmis-hu kullahu) before removing it, for under one of its wings there is venom and under another there is its antidote. >>

A version from Abu Hurayra in Abu Dawud, Ahmad, and al-Tahawi’s Sharh Mushkil al-Athar (8:341 #3293) adds:

<< And it [al-Tahawi: “always”] protects itself (yattaqi) with the wing that carries the poison, so immerse it completely.>>Ahmad and al-Tahawi add: << Then remove it. >>

A sound-chained version in Ahmad, al-Tahawi, al-Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah (the latter two mention only the second half) states:

<< Sa`id ibn Khalid said: I went in to see Abu Salama. He brought us some butter and date pastry. A fly fell into the dish. Abu Salama began to submerge it (yamquluhu) with his finger. I said, “Uncle! What are you doing?” He said: “Truly, Abu Sa`id al-Khudri told me that the Messenger of Allah said, ‘In one of the fly’s two wings there is poison and in another, its antidote. If it falls into food, submerge it in it; for it sends the poison first and keeps the cure last.'”>>Al-Tahawi in Sharh Mushkil al-Athar (8:339 #3289) has, << Uncle! Allah forgive you! What are you doing? >>

Al-Bazzar in his Musnad and al-Diya’ al-Maqdisi in al-Ahadith al-Mukhtara (5:206) narrate from Thumama ibn `Abd Allah ibn Anas through trustworthy narrators according to Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (10:250) and al-Qastallani in Irshad al-Sari (5:304):

<< Thumama said: We were with Anas and a fly fell into a vessel. Anas motioned with his hand and immersed it (faghamasahu) three times then said: “Bismillah” and he said that truly, thus did the Messenger of Allah order them to do. >>

Shah Wali Allah al-Dihlawi mentioned in Hujjat Allah al-Baligha that this hadith shows God-given knowledge of the many diseases a fly potentially carries as well as illustrates the Creator’s wisdom in giving every venomous species some immunity or antidotal protection to its own poison insuring its survival. Shaykh Muhyi al-Din Ibn `Arabi in one of his Wasaya specified that the fly always keeps its “antidotal wing” off the substance in which it finds itself mired so as to try and use it to fly away. The Ulema said that this behavior is Divinely-inspired instinct similar to that of the bees, the ants, the hoopoe, and the earth in the Qur’an cf. al-Tahawi, Sharh Mushkil (8:343-344) and al-Khattabi, Ma`alim al-Sunan (4:459).

Ibn Hajar wrote in his commentary on this hadith:

“I found nothing among the variants to pinpoint the wing that carries the antidote but one of the Ulema said he observed that the fly protects itself with its left wing so it can be deduced that the right one is the one with the antidote…. Another said that the poison may be that of pride (takabbur) occurring in one’s soul causing him to disdain eating that food or avoid and discard it altogether, while the antidote takes place by subduing the soul and forcing it to be humble.”

Ibn Hajar also cited al-Jawzi’s remark that flies pounded with antimony (stibnite) benefit eyesight but al-`Ayni in `Umdat al-Qari (7:304) cites Ibn al-Baytar al-Maliqi’s recipe as flies pounded with egg yolk.

Dr. Ghyath Hasan al-Ahmad in his book al-Tibb al-Nabawi fi Daw’ al-`Ilm al-Hadith (“Prophetic Medicine in the light of Modern Science”) (1995 2:188-189) mentions that a Dr. Nabih Da`ish ran an experiment at King `Abd al-`Aziz University in Riyadh in which he created ten bacterial cultures from samples of sterilized fluid into which a fly fell without being immersed; ten more bacterial cultures from samples into which a fly fell and was immersed once; ten more from samples into which the fly was immersed twice; and ten more from samples into which the fly was immersed three times. The results showed that bacterial colonies thrived in the first set but were stunted and depleted in the second, more so in the third, and most in the fourth set.

It is established that house flies are carriers of dangerous pathogens of animals and humans. Even the muscaphobic critics of this hadith are forced to admit that no one at the time of the Prophet, upon him peace, knew that flies carry such harmful organisms. Whence the observation that “under one of its wings there is venom”?

Second, from the perspective of logic, if the fly did not carry some sort of protection in the form of an antidote or immunity, it would perish from its own poisonous burden and there would be no fly left in the world.

Further, the transmission of what the fly carries in or on its body is not an automatic fact. For example, the microbe responsible for ulcers and other stomach ailments can live on houseflies, although it remains to be seen whether flies transmit the pathogen.
http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc97/6_7_97/ref1.htm

There has long been evidence of bacterial pathogen-suppressing micro-organisms living in houseflies. An article in Vol. 43 of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Journal of Experimental Medicine (1927) p. 1037 stated:

“The flies were given some of the cultured microbes for certain diseases. After some time the germs died and no trace was left of them while a germ-devouring substance formed in the flies – bacteriophages. If a saline solution were to be obtained from these flies it would contain bacteriophages able to suppress four kinds of disease-inducing germs and to benefit immunity against four other kinds.”

Cited in `Abd Allah al-Qusami, Mushkilat al-Ahadith al-Nabawiyya wa-Bayanuha (p. 42).

More recently, a Colorado State University website on entomology states, “Gnotobiotic [=germ-free] insects (Greenberg et al, 1970) were used to provide evidence of the bacterial pathogen-suppressing ability of the microbiota of Musca domestica [houseflies] …. most relationships between insects and their microbiota remain undefined.

Studies with gnotobiotic locusts suggest that the microbiota confers previously unexpected benefits for the insect host.”
http://lamar.colostate.edu/~insects/systems/digestion/plenuryrd.html

So then, flies are not only pathogenic carriers but also carry microbiota that can be beneficient. The fly microbiota were described as “longitudinal yeast cells living as parasites inside their bellies. These yeast cells, in order to perpetuate their life cycle, protrude through certain respiratory tubules of the fly. If the fly is dipped in a liquid, the cells burst into the fluid and the content of those cells is an antidote for the pathogens which the fly carries.” Cf. footnote in the _Translation of the Meanings of Sahih al-Bukhari by Muhammad Muhsin Khan_ (7:372, Book 76 “Medicine,” Chapter 58, Hadith 5782).

These fly microbiota are bacteriophagic or “germ-eating”. Bacteriophages are viruses of viruses. They attack viruses and bacteria. They can be selected and bred to kill specific organisms. The viruses infect a bacterium, replicate and fill the bacterial cell with new copies of the virus, and then break through the bacterium’s cell wall, causing it to burst. The existence of similar bacteria-killing mechanisms in two bacteriophages suggests that antibiotics for human infections might be designed on the basis of these cell wall-destroying proteins.
Science 292 (June 2001) p. 2326-2329.

Bacteriophagic medicine was available in the West before the forties but was discontinued when penicillin and other “miracle antibiotics” came out. Bacteriophages continued to flourish in Eastern Europe as an over-the-counter medicine. The “O1-phage” has been used for diagnosis of all Salmonella types while the prophylaxis of Shigella dysentery was conducted with the help of phages.
Annales Immunologiae Hungaricae No. 9 (1966) in German.

“Phage therapy” is now making a comeback in the West:

“First named in 1917 by researcher Felix d’Herelle at France’s Pasteur Institute, bacteriophages (or just phages for short) are viruses that prey upon bacteria. They have a simple structure – a DNA-filled head attached by a shaft to spidery “legs” that are used to grip onto the surface of a bacterium. Once a phage latches onto a bacterium, it injects its payload of genetic material into the bacterium’s innards. The bacterium then begins to rapidly produce “daughter” copies of the phage — until the bacterium becomes too full and ruptures, sending hundreds of new phage particles into the open world.

“Doctors used phages as medical treatment for illnesses ranging from cholera to typhoid fevers. In some cases, a liquid containing the phage was poured into an open wound. In others, they were given orally, via aerosol, or injected. In some cases, the treatments worked well – in others, they did not. When antibiotics came into the mainstream, phage therapy largely faded in the west.

“However, researchers in eastern Europe, including the former Soviet Union, continued their studies of the potential healing properties of phages. And now that strains of bacteria resistant to standard antibiotics are on the rise, the idea of phage therapy has been getting more attention in the worldwide medical community. Several biotechnology companies have been formed in the U.S. to develop bacteriophage-based treatments – many of them drawing on the expertise of researchers from eastern Europe.”
http://www.sciencefriday.com/pages/2000/Jul/hour1_072100.html

Research on the medical application of bacteriophages is now considered to be in its most promising stage. A University of Pittsburgh researcher said in June 2001, “Given the sheer number and variety of bacteriophages lurking on the planet, the viruses may represent a sizable untapped reservoir of new therapeutics.”

Science 292 (June 2001) p. 2326-2329.

Possibilities for use of bacteriophages in disease control is discussed in the article “Smaller Fleas… Ad infinitum: Therapeutic Bacteriophage Redux” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America [PNAS] Vol. 93 No. 8 (April 16, 1996), 3167-8.
http://www.pubmedcentral.gov/tocrender.fcgi?iid=1253

The fact that the fly carried pathophagic or germ-eating agents was known to the ancients, who noticed that wasp and scorpion stings are remedied by rubbing the sore spot with a decapitated fly as mentioned in al-Antaki’s Tadhkira (1:140), al-`Ayni’s citation of Abu Muhammad Ibn al-Baytar al-Maliqi’s (d. 646) al-Jami` li-Mufradat al-Adwiya wal-Aghdhiya in `Umdat al-Qari (7:304), and al-Sha`rani’s Mukhtasar al-Suwaydi fil-Tibb (p. 98).

Avicenna preferred the use of a live chicken slit in two and applied to the wound cf. Ibn al-Azraq, Tas-hal al-Manafi` (1306 ed. p. 171=1315 ed. p. 147). A similar use is current even today for camel urine according to a University of Calgary website.
http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/islam/beginnings/camels.html.

In the two world wars the wounds of soldiers exposed to flies were observed to heal and scar faster than the wounds of unexposed soldiers. Even today, fly larvae, or maggots, are used medicinally to clean up festering wounds. They only eat dead tissue and leave healthy tissue alone.

Is the fly ritually filthy (najis)? No. The Jurists concur that the fly is pure (al-dhubab tahir) and does not defile a liquid even if its quantity is small and even if it dies in it except, according to al-Shafi`i, if one of the aspects of the liquid is affected (smell, color, taste) cf. al-Baghawi, Sharh al-Sunna (11:260-261) and al-Qastallani, Irshad al-Sari (5:304-305).

The Prophetic Sunna is an endless manual of healthy living and practical husbandry for people of all walks of life, especially the poor. The Prophet, upon him peace, at all times directed his Umma to avert waste and penury even in unsanitary conditions. Just as the hadith on camel milk and urine reveals knowledge of dietetics and natural medicine, so does the hadith of the fly reveal knowledge of preventive medicine and immunology. In this respect the command in these hadiths, as in many others, denotes an advisory Sunna of permissibility, not a literal obligation. “The command [of immersing the fly] denotes counsel (al-amru lil-irshad) so as to counter disease with cure.” Al-Qastallani, Irshad al-Sari (5:304).

Despite the abundance of supporting evidence for the authenticity of these medicinal narrations (camel and fly) on the one hand and for their scientific viability on the other, certain voices continue to reject them on both counts.

Principle skepticism of authentically transmitted narrations that pertain to facts demonstrated by ancient and modern science, or whose scientific worth is just now coming into view, is the wont of stagnant minds and diseased hearts for which there is no cure save the mercy of our Lord.

Hajj Gibril