Herbal Healing Through Modern Translations

“Allah never inflicts a disease unless he makes a cure for it [Bukhari].”

In 610 A.D., when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) made this statement, herbalism became forever established as a respected method of healing in the Islamic world.

Three hundred and fifty years later, more than 700 herbs and their usages were listed in Avicenna’s book The Canon of Medicine.

Today, there are still hundreds of herbs commonly used, thanks to the channels in which they have been handed down to us – translation of classic works, passing down of tradition and records in the Hadith and Qur’an.

📚 Read Also: Exotic Herbs in Prophetic Hadith

However, the translation of classic works is often taken for granted. In this age of information, many people do not even stop to consider that most of the classic literature we read today was originally in Latin, Greek or French; most having to be translated into English so we could enjoy and learn from them.

Furthermore, the world of herbalism and medical translation is very challenging and complex. Translation of herbal literature often requires a person with an eclectic knowledge of many branches of science.

Scholars like Averroes and Avicenna were philosophers, pharmacists and physicians as well as herbalists. This has meant that many translators hold university degrees in a number of areas just to be able to understand enough of the subject they were translating (Blair).

Translation Challenges

The second problem in translation is: language changes and grows over time. Different words may evolve and attain different meanings over time. To complicate matters further, many herbs have acquired various names and in most modern herb books you will find up to fifteen alternative names of herbs listed (Shook).

In addition, even the script of a language changes. In Turkey, for instance, the official script of the country changed from Arabic to Latin, although the words remained the same.

The third problem in translating herbal literature is that many books are handwritten so the translator must not only decipher the language used, but also the particular handwriting style of that scribe. Last, but certainly not the least, is that many books have been lost over the years.

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About Dr. Karima Burns
Dr. Karima Burns has been counseling as a Home-path for over 9 years. From the U.S. she is a doctor in Naturopathy, a Master Herbalist, and teaches with inspiration from the Waldorf school. She uses art, health and education to heal others.