This example and the verses like it give special licenses to one who is sick. These licenses include delaying the compulsory fast and not having to fight during wartime.
The jurists set out the basis for practical diagnosis. They identified the means by which one could judge illness which included irregularities in the blood, urine, stool, and semen; imbalance in patterns of sleep, eating and drinking and the appearance of wind, sneezing and vomit.
Illness was defined as being ‘out of balance’. This encompassed both physical and mental states. The mental or emotional state is the second usage of the word marad in the Qur’an. ‘In their hearts is a disease (marad)’ (Surat Al-Baqara 2.15).
The heart (qalb), here, refers to ‘the seat of the emotions’, Physically, one is considered to have an illness if one is ‘out of balance’. Likewise, one is emotionally sick if one is out of the natural and pure state that we were created in.
Doctors are needed for some of these emotional and physical illnesses; for others they aren’t. Tiredness is a symptom of being ‘out of balance’ which can be rectified simply by sleeping.
Islam sees the ultimate curer of these states to be the One who created them. He sent doctors to His creation such as Jesus who cured the leper as well as those suffering from pride and inflated egos.
The last of these great doctors was Muhammad, upon him be peace, who, through his advice and practice, set out principles for curing both types of illness.
State of Balance
Common to many systems of alternative medicines is the concept of ‘balance/imbalance’. One’s natural healthy state is a balance between the four qualities of dryness/wetness and hot/cold. The reason a person may have left this state can be either ‘material’ or ‘consequential’.
Material sickness is where a substance has entered the body and has caused its balance to shift in one of several directions. Once the substance is gone the body will return to its natural mizaj, the model of balance.
A ‘consequential’ illness is where the effect of a substance in the body remains after it has left the body. The body is left with an excess of heat/cold or dryness/moisture.
Prophetic medicines perceive illness as being caused by either this state of imbalance or damage to an organ or to the natural weakening caused by old age.
The doctor’s first job is to discover the cause of illness, consider its cause, think what might encourage it to return it to its correct state act upon that and then depend on the Creator.