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Convert: Can I Practice My Traditional Healing Arts?

Questioner

Jesus Ramirez

Reply Date

Apr 05, 2019

Question

I am very new to Islam, but there is something that has been weighing on me for a while.I have a very strong passion for genealogy and always wanted to be connected to my roots! When I looked into my African lineage I learned that I have a strong ancestral line rooted in North Africa and that led me to Islam, which I fell in love with! I read my Qur'an almost daily and I recite Bismillah now every morning and evening along with the names of Allah, however I have found that some people frown upon the healing practices that were passed down to me.I am part Native Puerto Rican and we have in our family a lot of healers or Curanderos. Part of our ancestral medicine path is using tobacco and other plants to heal people from sickness addiction etc. I've even been called demonic just for the simple fact that tobacco leaves are used to prepare medicine. I tried to explain that we are simply healers, we don't worship spirits or entities.So my question is, will these two paths clash? Are there Islamic healers? Can I be a Muslim and still use plant medicine for myself and others. So far I have only found intolerance when it comes to my Native American spirituality, which makes me sad. We are not evil, only healers. Thanks for any and all advice and opinions ♡

Consultant

Answer


curanderismo

Short Answer: It is indeed possible to be Muslim and practice your traditional ancestral medicine. In fact, I would personally recommend that you continue to do so as a way to preserve your Native American culture and your Puerto Rican culture, both of which are unfortunately so often undermined and disrespected in both American and Muslim communities. The only thing I would keep in mind while practicing this medicine is that Allah is the Ultimate Healer, and any cures and recoveries are thanks to Allah alone. One final thing I want to mention is the use of tobacco that you described.Since I am neither a scholar nor qualified to give legal rulings, I would suggest you ask someone who is qualified about whether the use of tobacco in your situation is permissible.

………….

Wa alaykum salaam, dear brother,

Thank you for your question.

I want to start off by saying congratulations on embracing Islam, and welcome to the ummah!

It is wonderful to hear how much you love Islam and the acts of worship you are doing.

May you continue to grow in your faith and love of Allah, and may Allah bless you abundantly in this life and the Hereafter, Ameen!

Islamic Cures & Physical Healing

Islamic healers absolutely exist, both in the past and the present day.

In fact, there is an entire field of study related to this, known as Al-Tibb al-Nabawi, or “Prophetic Medicine”.

There are many ahadith by our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) that discuss remedies and cures for various ailments.

For example, there are several narrations about the benefits of hijama (cupping); one hadith narrated by Abu Huraira says that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

If there is something excellent to be used as a remedy, then it is cupping.

Another hadith narrated by Abu Huraira mentions the use of black seed (also known as black cumin) as a medicine, where the Prophet says,

There is healing in black seed for all diseases except death.

Honey has been specifically stated in the Qur’an and in ahadith as being especially beneficial:

“…There emerges from their [bees’] bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.” (Qur’an 16:69)

Spiritual Healing

Islamic healing does use physical treatments like the ones mentioned above, but it also involves spiritual remedies.

Allah says, in reference to the Qur’an,

It is, for those who believe, a guidance and cure (Qur’an 41:44)

Since the Qur’an itself is considered a cure, there is a healing practice called ruqyah which involves reciting certain verses from the Qur’an over a person with the intention of it healing any ailments.

This can include blowing on the one needing healing after reciting these verses, or even reciting the verses over some water and having the person drink that water.

Keep Your Culture!

Given this evidence, it is indeed possible to be Muslim and practice your traditional ancestral medicine.

In fact, I would personally recommend that you continue to do so as a way to preserve your Native American culture and your Puerto Rican culture, both of which are unfortunately so often undermined and disrespected in both American and Muslim communities.

The only thing I would keep in mind while practicing this medicine is that Allah is the Ultimate Healer, and any cures and recoveries are thanks to Allah alone.

To believe that the medicine itself is healing us is a form of shirk, or false worship. Only Allah heals, and he gives us these tools.

I am not familiar with the practices of curanderos, but if any of the healing practices involve any kind of invocation of spirits or anything that goes against tawhid (the oneness of Allah), I trust that you will avoid participating in them.

A Word on Tobacco

One final thing I want to mention is the use of tobacco that you described.

Unless you are somehow specifically invoking demons while using the tobacco (which you said is not the case), there is absolutely no reason to call this practice “demonic”.

However, there is a difference of opinion on the permissibility of tobacco. Tobacco does contain chemicals that are harmful to people’s health, but it does also have medicinal properties (the same can be said for things like marijuana, narcotics, etc.).

Some scholars say that if something with harmful properties is being used in a medical situation overseen by specialists, then it is permissible to use.

On the other hand, other scholars say that the use of these substances, even for medical reasons, aren’t allowed because of the potential harm they could cause.

Since I am neither a scholar nor qualified to give legal rulings, I would suggest you ask someone who is qualified about whether the use of tobacco in your situation is permissible.

If it is not, you could continue to practice healing and creating remedies without tobacco.

And Allah knows best.

Thanks again for your question, and insha’Allah I hope this was of some help to you.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Traditional Medicine Finds Connection with Naturopathic Healing

Dear Converts, Don’t Give Up Your Culture

Is Quran a Cure for Every Illness?

Wearing Amulets with Qur’anic Verses: Permissible?

 

Healing Food: Islamic Tradition or Modern Idea? (Part 4/5)




About Anne Myers

Anne Myers is a proud Wellesley College graduate and holds a Master of Divinity focusing in Islamic studies. She has experience in pastoral care in hospital and university settings. Her passions include Islam, feminism, traveling, reading, watching cooking competitions, and her cats.

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