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Can Holistic Medicines Practically Help Someone In The Religion? by Shaykh Jamir Meah

In his last article, Shaykh Jamir Meah discussed the concepts of health and disease within an Islamic framework. He also looked at the law of vibration. In the final article of this series, Shaykh Jamir looks at how holistic treatment and its principles practically benefits the believer and can help in their relationship with Allah Most High.

As we’ve mentioned previously, true health occurs when the whole person is functioning harmoniously on all levels, and is able to fulfil his or herself socially and spiritually. The goal of every true physician should be to guide each patient to this point as much as is possible through medicine.

How can holistic medicines help someone in their religion?

Holistic therapies such as homeopathy and traditional Chinese acupuncture reach the dynamic level of the human being, the level of pure energy, the Vital Force or Qi in Chinese Medicine. The Vital Force or Qi is where the real disturbance is, and when healing takes place on this level, the curative effect ripples throughout the whole organism, from centre outwards.

Given the above, it is natural to ask, how can holistic medicines practically help someone in the religion?

There is a strong connection between medicine and religious practice, and both are obviously invaluable in our lives. Just as we need this world in order to succeed in the next, we need medicine to grant us the ability to have mental and physical health to be able to fulfil our religious objectives.

This is why Imam al Shafi’i (May Allah be pleased with him) said, ‘Indeed, knowledge is of two types: knowledge of the religion and knowledge of the world. The knowledge of religion is to achieve understanding (fiqh) and the knowledge of the world is medicine.’ [Adab al Shafi’i].

Holistic medicine can greatly assist someone in the religion and in spirituality, or even someone who may not be particularly spiritual, but seeking more profound or alternative meanings in an overwhelmingly materialistic world.

A basic example from a real life case

Mr Ahmad comes for treatment for multiple sclerosis. During the consultation we find that since childhood he has always had a fear of poverty. During his twenties, he developed a tendency to buy useless items and hoard them. He has a fear of the dark and is terrified of death. He describes himself as religious though very materialistic. He finds it a struggle to progress in the religion in the way he feels he should. He finds faults with others very easily, has a very suspicious nature, and admits that he backbites people all the time. At the same time, he never desires to be alone and needs company. He feels an inner restlessness but doesn’t know why. This has caused many difficulties his personal and work.

After the 5 weeks of treatment, the patient reports in the first month an inner sense of calm as opposed to his restlessness. Over the course of treatment, the improvement steadily continues and Mr. Ahmad doesn’t feel the fear of poverty so intensely, though it is still there and can be quite crippling. The MS is still there but not as intense. At the eight month follow up he declares that he has started to get rid of some of his hoarded goods, and genuinely feels much more energetic and positive. Others have also noticed a change in his character, describing him as more affable and cynical.

Just over a year later, he states that he no longer senses a fear of poverty, and any thoughts of darkness and death are few and far between, and almost negligible. This has made a big difference in his whole outlook to life, work and his relationships, and most importantly his religious aspirations. He states that whereas reading the Qu’ran previously felt like a chore, he now was eager to read it daily, and he has started feeling some of the old zeal for the religion slowly coming back. His MS has disappeared completely.

These types of cases are very common. What happened is that the treatment affected the patient’s deepest being, and this in turn created an awareness within him of his diseased state. By becoming inwardly aware that his fears, delusions, and reactions, were disproportionate to real life, he was able to subconsciously let go, so that he no longer feared poverty, and was no longer terrified of the dark and of death, which was no doubt in this case a fear of losing material wealth, after all what is death but a step into the unknown, the dark, and a parting from the worldly possessions?

The treatment had an effect on all levels of his being, healing the physical manifestation of the inner disease (MS in this case), and changed his whole perception and dealings with everything and everyone around him.

One may view the role of such treatment as a ‘clearing out,’ ‘getting rid of unwanted baggage’ and ‘putting things in order.’ This is usually very difficult for people to do on their own. You can tell a person to get over an abnormal fear, to snap out of depression, or find ways to deal with chronic anxiety, but more often than not, they simply can’t. They just don’t have the will power or creativity to move forward, and so they remain stuck.

Because correct treatment reaches the higher planes of a person, it instigates the person to rouse up from the rut they find themselves in and see the reality of their situation. The person’s perceptions and reactions change, and they find themselves with a new inner strength and self-confidence, which enables them to think and decide with new found clarity, far-sightedness and purpose. When his takes place, the person starts to make the necessary changes in life they need in order to move towards their goal, productively and creatively.

In summary, it frees up the person to be open to, as Samuel Hahnemann said, ‘the higher purpose of our existence’.

Hering’s Law

Hering’s Law, named after Constantine Hering, the physician who observed and formulated the law, refers to the direction in which the symptoms of the patient will disappear during a cure under natural treatment. It is indispensable in practice. The Law states that real cure takes place:

From within outwards.
From above downwards.
From a more important organ to a less important one.
In the reverse order of their coming.

There’s a lot that can be said in regards this Law and how it aligns one’s natural vibration (discussed previously), however what is worth deducing from it for our benefit here is that it is applicable in the cure of us as individual believers and as an Ummah.

Allah Most High tells us in the oft quoted verse, ‘God changes not what is in a people, until they change what is in themselves’ [13:11]. In order for change to occur, it has to start within. As individuals and as a nation, we have to look at the ills that we have as a community and work towards improving and finding solutions to those issues. When we change as individuals, as communities, and as an ummah, then this will have an effect on everything around us. Inner order leads to outward order, healing is from within outwards.

Likewise, a just leader who takes himself into account and sets a good example, instils goodness into his subjects and guides them to goodness in both worlds, and in this way, whole nations are healed and guided. Like a father and mother guiding their children, from above downwards, the more senior figures set the standard in their own lives and through their own behaviour, and this has a rippling effect on those under their care. Such were the leaderships and guidance of the Prophets, the Rightly Guided Caliphs, and the pious leaders of our communities.

Why can families, communities and nations grow so strong when pulling together in the same direction? Because everyone’s vibration is in tandem. And when this harmony occurs, ‘The similitude of believers, in their love, mercy, and compassion for each other, are like one body.’ [Muslim]

Allah is the Healer

Finally, we should end this series with the reminder that while discussing the many benefits and wonders of natural holistic medicine, it is ultimately Allah alone that heals, and not through any power of the medicine, nor any ability of the physician.

Just like fire does not have the intrinsic power to burn, nor the knife the inherent ability to cut, it is our belief that no substance has healing properties in of themselves, but rather, it is Allah who creates the relationship between the medicine and the healing effect through his Will and Power.

O Lord of the people! Remove the difficulty and bring about healing as You are the Healer. There is no healing but Your Healing, a healing that will leave no ailment.’ [Sahih al Bukhari]

[cwa id=’cta’]

The Rights of Our Hearts

hand-over-heart

By Abu Aaliyah (Surkheel Sharif), originally published on The Humble “I”

Writing about the marvels of the human heart (‘aja’ib al-qalb), al-Ghazali states: ‘The honour and excellence of man, by which he outstrips all other creatures, is his ability for knowing God, transcendent is He. It is man’s beauty, perfection and glory in this world, and his provision and store in the world to come. He is prepared for [receiving] such knowledge only via his heart, and not by means of any other of his bodily organs. For it is the heart that knows God, works for God, strives towards God, draws near to God and reveals that which is in the presence of God. In contrast, all the other organs are merely followers, servants and instruments that the heart uses and employs … For it is the heart that is accepted by God when it is free from all except Him; it is veiled from God when it is totally absorbed in other than Him … The heart is that which, if a man knows it, he knows himself, and if he knows himself, he knows his Lord. But it is that which, if he knows it not, he knows not himself, and if he knows not himself, he knows not his Lord … So knowledge of the heart and of the true nature of its traits is the root of religion and the foundation of the path of the seekers.’1

Given the above, it is no wonder that the Qur’an says about man’s responsibility to his heart: The day when wealth and sons will benefit not, save he who brings to God a sound heart. [26:88-9] The status and preeminence of the heart (qalb) is also borne out by the following five considerations:

1. The heart is where intentions reside: The Prophet (pbuh) stated: ‘Indeed, actions are by intentions and each person will have that which they intended.’2 Scholars stipulate:al-niyyah mahalluha al-qalb – ‘Intentions reside in the heart.’ Thus, if the intention of the heart is sound, the act will meet with divine acceptance. If, however, it is corrupt or insincere, the act will be rejected by Allah. The eminent scholar and pietist of early Islam, ‘Abd Allah b. al-Mubarak, once remarked: ‘How many a small act is elevated by an intention, and how many a great act is diminished by an intention.’3

2. It is where the Divine Gaze is focussed: God looks at our hearts to see if they have sound intentions and sincerity to Him, and He also looks at our deeds, to see if they conform to the Sunnah of His Prophet (pbuh). A celebrated hadith declares: ‘Indeed, God doesn’t look at your forms or your appearances, but He looks at your hearts and your actions.’4

3. It is where the Qur’an, the Divine Word, is understood: One Quranic verse states:Will they not meditate on the Qur’an, or are there locks upon their hearts? [47:24] Sins and exposing the heart to trials and temptations may seriously diminish the heart’s clarity or understanding. Sufyan al-Thawri said: ‘I was granted understanding of the Qur’an. But when I accepted a gift [from the sultan], it was removed from me.’5

4. It is where piety (taqwa) is located: The Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘Piety is here, piety is here, piety is here’ – pointing to his chest three times.6 The Prophet (pbuh) was once quizzed: Who among people are the best? He replied: ‘Those with a clean heart and a truthful tongue.’ They inquired: We understand what a truthful tongue is, but what is a clean heart? To which he (pbuh) said: ‘It is one that is pious and pure, in which there is neither sin, nor rancour, nor jealousy.’7

5. It is God’s vessel on earth: In one hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) declared: ‘Indeed God has vessels from the people of the earth, and the vessels of your Lord are the hearts of His righteous servants: the most beloved of them to Him are those which are the gentlest and softest.’8 So what we fill these vessels with – faith or disbelief; piety or profanity; submission or transgression; God’s invocation or worldly distractions – is indeed our choice and we alone shall bear the consequence.

A person’s spiritual life seldom unfolds in an orderly fashion, instead it has its ups and its downs. For the spiritual life is subject to the many sensitivities of the heart which, in turn, is subjected to many diverse influences, both negative and positive. The heart, by its nature, is constantly flipped one way, then another, by these influences. In fact, Imam al-Ghazali wrote: The Prophet (pbuh) struck three smilies for the heart: ‘The heart is like a sparrow, turning about every hour.”9 He (pbuh) also said: “The heart’s example in its constant change is like a pot when it boils.”10 And he (pbuh) stated: “The heart is like a feather in an open land, which the wind keeps flipping one way then the other.”11‘12 Such is how the states, moods and sensitivities of the heart change from one moment to the next.

This is why Revelation urges that we each tend to our hearts above all else, and accord them the inalienable rights they were created to have. From the most critical of these rights are:

1. Adorning the heart with faith: A person possesses nothing of greater worth than his heart. And the heart cannot contain anything more cherished by it or more necessary to it than faith (iman); sound beliefs; and internalising the reality and requirements ofla ilaha illa’Llah. For hearts were created to worship and adore Allah, and to be filled with faith. The Prophet (pbuh) would say in one of his du‘as: ‘O Allah! Endear faith to us and beautify it in our hearts, and make unbelief, immorality and disobedience odious to us, and make us of the rightly guided (Allahumma habbib ilayna’l-iman wa zayyinhu fi qulubina wa karrih ilayna’l-kufra wa’l-fusuqa wa’l-‘isyan waj’alna min al-rashidin).’13

2. Illuminating it with the Qur’anO people! There has come to you an exhortation from your Lord, and a healing for what is in the breasts, and a guidance and a mercy for those who believe. [10:57] So the Qur’an declares itself to be a counsel to heal hearts and cure them of doubts, darknesses and anxieties. Its message consoles, reassures and revives hearts mired in desperation, desires and disbelief.

3. Bringing to it tranquility: One hadith informs: ‘Detachment from the world (zuhd) brings relief to the heart and the body, while desire for [worldly] increase brings worry and anxiety.’14 Despite scientific studies revealing, and continued human experience proving, that an increase in material things, above subsistence living, doesn’t increase our overall happiness, we moderns are obsessed with worldly acquisitions. Whether it be living way beyond our means, racking up huge personal debts, pinning our whole sense of self-esteem on wearing the right brand names, anxious about whether or n0t we’re keeping up with the latest trends – all this has pushed us moderns to the mental brink.15 Despite the tech and material comforts that now embrace us, ours is a society ridden with depression, angst and discontent; desperately seeking fulfilment in what can never truly fulfil us: materialism/consumerism. In contrast, the Qur’an offers us this simple truth: Indeed in the remembrance of God do hearts find tranquility. [13:28] In one hadith we are reminded of this timeless insight: ‘Richness lies not in possessing many things, but it lies in contentment of the soul.’16 Simple living, then, lived out in the remembrance of God, is the key to tranquility. Such is the heart’s right.

4. Nurturing in it tenderness and humility: The Prophet would exhort others to bring into their lives those deeds that would have a profound effect on softening hearts and removing hardness from them. One such example is the saying of the Prophet (pbuh): ‘I used to forbid you from visiting graves, but now visit them. For doing so softens the heart, brings tears to the eye and reminds one of the Afterlife.’17 As we saw earlier, tender hearts filled with faith are the hearts most beloved to Allah: ‘Indeed God has vessels from the people of the earth, and the vessels of your Lord are the hearts of His righteous servants: the most beloved of them to Him are those which are the gentlest and softest.’18

5. Guarding it from the poison of sins: Endeavouring to keep our hearts free from sins is the heart’s right over us. For sins stain the heart and poison it. The Qur’an says: By no means! That which they have done has veiled their hearts. [83:14] This veil (rayn) has been explained as: atharu’l-ma‘asi ‘ala’l-qulub – the traces of sins upon the hearts. The following hadith sheds further light on this matter: ‘Temptations will be presented to the heart, just as a reed mat is interwoven strip by strip. Any heart that soaks it in will have a black stain upon it. Any heart that rejects it will have a white mark on it. Thus hearts will be of two types: one white, like a smooth stone, that will not be harmed by temptations as long as heavens and earth endure. The other, black and corroded, like a jug with cracks, neither recognising good nor rejecting wrong; rather being overrun by its desires.’19

6. Keeping it free from diseases: The day when wealth and sons will benefit not, save he who brings to God a sound heart. [26:88-9] Keeping the heart sound entails guarding it against two types of sickness or diseases: the disease of doubts (amrad al-shubuhat) and that of desires (amrad al-shahawat). About the first: That He may make what Satan has caste a trial for those in whose heart is a sickness. [22:53] The second type: Be not soft of speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease aspire to you. [33:32]

7. Praying constantly for the heart’s guidance: This is another essential right (haqq) of our hearts upon us, to pray for its guidance, rectitude and wellbeing, and that it not swerve from faith. This right must never be thought little of, trivialised, or neglected. The Prophet (pbuh) would often supplicate: ‘O Turner of Hearts, turn our hearts to your obedience.’20

O Lord, cause not our hearts to swerve after You have
guided us, and bestow upon us mercy from
Your Presence. Assuredly you
are the Bestower.
[3:8]

1. Al-Ghazali, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din (Jeddah: Dar al-Minhaj, 2011), 5:9-11.

2. Al-Bukhari, no.1; Muslim, no.1907.

3. Cited in Ibn Rajab, Jami‘ al-‘Ulum wa’l-Hikam (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risalah, 1998), 1:71.

4. Muslim, no.2564.

5. See: Ibn Jama‘ah, Tadhkirat al-Sami‘ wa’l-Mutakallim (Hyderabad: Da’irat al-Ma‘arif al-‘Uthmaniyyah, 1933), 19.

6. Muslim, no.2564.

7. Ibn Majah, no.4462. It was graded sahih by al-Albani, al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib(Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 2006), no.2889.

8. Al-Tabarani, Musnad al-Shamiyyin, no.840; it is hasan. Consult: al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1988), no.1691.

9. Al-Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman, no.740; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, 4:329 where he stated: ‘It is sahih according to the conditions of Muslim.’

10. Al-Tabarani, Mu‘jam al-Kabir, 20:252, but with the following wording: ‘The heart of the son of Adam stirs far more intensely than a pot that has reached boiling point.’ It is sahih, as per al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, no.1772.

11. Al-Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman, nos.736-38; al-Baghawi, Sharh al-Sunnah, no.88. One of its chains is graded hasan in al-‘Iraqi, al-Mughni ani’l-Haml al-Asfar (Riyadh: Maktabah Tabariyyah, 1995), no.2676.

12. Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din, 5:161.

13. Al-Nasa’i, Sunan al-Kubra, no.10370, and it is sahih. See: al-Albani, Sahih al-Adab al-Mufrad (Saudi Arabia: Dar al-Saiddiq, 1994), no.538. This du‘a echoes the Qur’an when it says: But Allah has endeared faith to you, beautifying it in your hearts, making unbelief, immorality and disobedience odious to you. Such are they who are rightly guided. [49:7]

14. Al-‘Uqayli, al-Du‘afa, no459; al-Tabarani, al-Awsat, no.6256. Examining its various routes of transmission and supporting chains, al-Albani declared the hadith as weak (da‘if). Instead he considered it to be the statement of one of the people of knowledge of the past. Consult: Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Da‘ifah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1988), no.1291. The hadith does, nonetheless, state a general spiritual truth about the human situation.

15. See: Layard, Happiness: Lessons from a New Science (England: Penguin Books, 2004), p.4.

16. Al-Bukhari, no.446; Muslim, no.1051.

17. Abu Ya‘la, Musnad, no.3705. The hadith is sahih, as per al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami‘ al-Saghir (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1986), no.4584.

18. See footnote no.8 above.

19. Muslim, no.144.

20. Muslim, no.2654.

 

About the author: Abu Aaliyah (Surkheel Sharif) is a scholar of the Hanbali school of thought and a translator of a number of titles, including, The Exquisite Pearl (2000). He is the author of More Fish Please & the Earth’s Complaint (2011) and Fussing Over the 15th of Sha’ban & the Golden Rule of Differing (2011). Based in East London, United Kingdom, Abu Aaliyah is a regular khateeb and plays a pastoral role in his local community.