Preparation of Medicines
Most medicines in al-Tibb al-Nabawi are based on the dietary advice of the Messenger, upon him be peace. A simple illness requires simple medicine.
The cure for imbalance leaning towards heat would be something cold. In fact, the classic example is the fever. The Prophet said, “Fever is from the hell, put it out with water.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
A complex illness e.g. one leaning to hot-dry would require a complex mixture, in our example a cold-dry cure.
Every Illness Has Cure
The Prophet (PBUH) said “For every illness there is a cure. If the cure matches the illness, improvement will take place by the permission of God.” (related by Jabir in the book of Sahih Muslim) and “God didn’t send down an illness except that He sent down a cure.” (Bukhari).
The above sayings establish their important principles. Firstly, they encourage the administration of medicines. In fact, there is agreement among the majority of Muslim scholars that it’s a must.
Secondly, they imply that, if administering medicine is a compulsion, then searching for a cure must also be a compulsion. Finally, they emphasize the dependence on God.
In this modern age of ours, we tend to depend on the medicines and not on the True Curer. It is interesting to look at how few remember God in illness until they realize their illness is terminal and that there is no hope for a cure.
My own experience is that it is extremely upsetting and often devastating for both patient and doctor when the limitations of modern medicine dawn on them.
Spiritual & Physical Cures
Muhammad, upon him be peace, described specific cures which included the likes of honey for the chest and liver. He also described procedures and principles, e.g. ‘emptying the stomach and putting out the fever with water’.
In addition, he prescribed prayers and supplications for things like headaches and general sickness. You can find these in hadith books, traditions, as well as in the various books of prayers of the Prophet.’
Diet is Key to Good Health
Himya meaning both precaution and diet. Himya, with both of these meanings is the central pillar of Islamic medicine.
The principle is in the Qur’an which permits using sand in place of water in ablution and washing, if the latter is detrimental to health. There was an occasion when the Prophet came with his cousin, Ali, to the house of Um al Mandari bint Qays al Ansari.
They began to eat when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stopped and said to Ali ‘you are recovering.’ He took some barley and chard and gave it to him saying ‘this is better for you (related by Ibn Majah)’ The incident is an explanation of the principle of himya in its fullest sense.
Harith, described as the doctor of the Arabs, said ‘himya is the source of every cure, the stomach is the home of every illness.’ The Messenger said: ‘The stomach is the well of the body and the veins drink from it. If it is healthy, the veins pass on good health, if it is sick the veins pass on poison’.
You can use dietary precaution himya, in three stages: 1. As a cure. 2. To keep the body healthy. 3. To aid recovery. Based on the model of Ibn al Qayyim, hakims and traditional doctors have developed a sophisticated system of dietary medicine.
General Behavior & Basic Hygiene
The Messenger came to perfect behavior. He taught not only us what foods we should eat hut how they should be prepared. Things like covering food, washing hands before eating and boiling food thoroughly when cooking were all stressed by the Prophet.
In fact, the same is true of the etiquette of eating. The Messenger taught us to sit in such a manner that food would fill our stomach only to a third of its capacity.
The Messenger, upon him he peace, mentioned over seventy specific foods which he considered healthy. Modern science has confirmed that he was right. Among the foods mentioned were honey, dates, vinegar, fish, and ginger.
1- Al Bukhari (1980) Jami al Sahih. 2. Al Hakim (1965) Majmu’ Zawaid. 3. Ibn Al Qayyim (1987) Al Tibb al Nabawi al Taiba. 4. Muslim (1965) Jami al Sahih.