Supremecy of Preventitive Medicine in Islam

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Islamic Medicine
Staff member
Supremecy of Preventitive Medicine in Islam
Abdulhamid Al-Qudah


In spite of the recent extensive progress of medicine concerning diagnosis and treatment, preventive medicine up till now has not had the same degree of attention. This has resulted in a wide spread of diseases caused by administration of drugs and engagement in unlawful sexual relations. This is happening despite the increased number of specialized hospitals and medical centres. This research shows the characteristics that distinguish between preventive medicine in Islam from this same field that was initiated in the West during the 20th century.

Preventive medicine was defined by Professor "Winslow" as : " The science related to preventing the spread of diseases and supporting the psychological and physical health of individuals and groups". Preventive medicine in Islam, provides a comprehensive Divine way, that incorporates commandments and restrictions that a Muslim abides by as an act of worship to Allah, The All Mighty. After the discovery of microbes, along with their means of transfer, their necessary living environment and conditions, some health facts and medical wisdoms that are included in Islamic preventive medicine became evident. Islamic preventive medicine is divided into two sections:

1.Instructions related to health of the individuals.

2. Instructions related to cleanliness of the environment and public health.

Instructions related to the health of the individual:

This is divided into :

A. Personal hygiene to prevent the spread of microbial diseases:

1. Performing ablution: Ablution cleans those parts of the body that are most exposed to microbes. Microbiologists proved that on each cubic centimeter (of the exposed parts), there are around 1-5 million microbes. To remove them, continuous washing of the skin is required and this is actually achieved through performing ablution which is constantly repeated during the day.

2. Cleanliness of the skin: In his book on "Microbes of the skin". Dr. "Kelgman" visualized the skin with all the bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites on its surface, as the earth with its existing living creatures and their differences. Professor "Vaindov" proved in his study, that bathing removes more that 200 million microbes from the skin. These microbes do not stop multiplying, so they must be removed continuously, in order to decrease their number, so that the body can resist them. One of the secrets of preventive medicine in Islam, is that it made cleanliness an act of worship. This gives it spiritual essence and a kind of continuity that no other law can provide. The Prophet (Peace be upon him), legislated for us more than 17 different total ablutions (an action of washing the whole body), to be performed after sexual discharge, end of menses, end of post childbirth confinement, on feast day.. and others.

It was reported on the authority of Al-Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "It is the right of Allah upon every Muslim that he should take a bath once every seven days, (of the week), and he should wash his head and body". He also said: "Taking a bath on Friday is obligatory on every sexually mature person (i.e. adult) and uses what ever scent available for him".

3. Cleanliness of the mouth: The mouth contains no less than 100 kinds of bacteria, that vary between 500-5000 million microbes in one millimeter of saliva. These microbes are nourished by food remnants between the teeth, and on the teeth themselves. Their growth and multiplication results in the production of several acids and secretions that affect both the smell of the mouth and the color of the teeth. If these microbes are not removed several times a day, they cause tooth decay and other gum diseases. Modern science proved that the Miswak (A branch of a tree used as a tooth brush which Muslims use following the tradition of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), has the effect of protecting the teeth, as it removes the microbes on its fibers, and even kills some of them chemically. Therefore, it prevents accumulation of food and microbes on the teeth.

4. Characteristics of the Fitra (instinct): The Prophet (Peace be upon him), commanded Muslims to adopt those characteristics that he considered to be of the Fitra and are important in keeping the body clean. In a tradition by the Prophet he said: "Five are the acts of the Fitra: shaving the pubes, circumcision, clipping the mustache, plucking the hair under the armpits, and cutting the nails".

In his book "The role of the nails in transferring diseases", Dr. "Saman" explained how nails cause diseases. He explained that microbes gather underneath the nail which leads to transfer of many diseases. As for leaving the hair of the pubes without shaving, this leads to the spread of "Pubic Pediculosis" in Europe. Modern science has also proven the relation between the spread of cancer of the uterus and uncircumcized men.

5. Washing oneself after urination: Urine is but a group of toxic substances, that the body removes through the urine. Urine is also full of microbes, so washing with water after urination, is a very important hygienic process.

B. Personal care in order to prevent physical diseases:

1. Food regulation, and ordinance of fasting: It is known that excessive food leads to obesity, atherosclerosis, gout and other illnesses. It has been proven that fasting and taking less food, is the best treatment as the stomach is the vessel of all diseases. Allah The All Mighty says: "And eat and drink, but do not waste by extravagance. Certainly He (Allah) likes not the extravagants". (7:31). Fasting also relieves the stomach and dissolves fats.

2. Urging sports: The Prophet (Peace be upon him), said: "A strong believer is better and is more lovable to Allah than a weak believer and there is good in every one". Therefore, teaching children archery, swimming , horse riding, and all that leads to the strength of the body and the will, are loved by Allah and His Prophet (Peace be upon him). A person with a strong will is more capable of performing his duties towards Allah S.W.T., and towards his family and society. He is also more capable of Jihad (Divine war).

C. Urging seeking treatment and taking the right medicine:

Allah The All Mighty, created the disease, and the cure of that disease. A Muslim is commanded to search for the right treatment, and take all the necessary measures to be cured. Imam Muslim reported on the authority of Jabir (May Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "There is a remedy for every disease and when the remedy is applied to the disease it is cured with the permission of Allah, the Exalted and glorious ", i.e. the suitable medicine is chosen.

D. The effect of belief in curing diseases:

Belief has a great impact on the human psychology, protects it from disturbances and strengthens the immunity system, thus, increasing the resistance of the body towards diseases. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: " When a Muslim falls ill, his compensation is that his minor sins are obliterated just as leaves fall (in autumn)". Reported by Muslim. Dr. "Paul Adolf", proved the effect that the psychological and moral states have in curing diseases

Instructions related to cleanliness of the environment and to public health:

This is divided into four sections:

A. Cleanliness of the environment and its protection from pollution:

1. Cleanliness of houses and courtyards: The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said this himself.

2. Cleanliness of the roads and congregation places: This includes schools, playgrounds, public parks, hospitals and mosques. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: " Avoid the practice of the two things which provoke cursing. They said: "O'Messenger of Allah, what are they? He said: "relieving oneself in roadways where people walk and in their shelter". Modern science proved that one gram of human feces contains more than a thousand million microbes.

3. Prohibition of possessing dogs except for necessities: This act of prohibition, does not mean that Islam is not concerned about animals, but it is more concerned about mankind. It was also proved that dogs transfer many diseases, most of them the cure of which is unknown. The Prophet (Peace be Upon him) said: "Whoever keeps a dog which is neither meant for hunting nor for watching the animals or the fields would lose two inches every day out of his reward".

B. Warning against means of infection:

The Prophet (Peace be upon him ) said: " "Cover the vessel (if it contains food or drink), and waterskins (i.e. tie around its neck), for there is a night in a year when pestilence descends and it does not pass an uncovered vessel or an untied waterskin but some of that pestilence descends into it".

C. Hygienic rules to stop spread of epidemics:

1. Isolation: There are some diseases that require the isolation of the patient from the others, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) says: "The ill should not go to those who are healthy".

2. Quarantine: It was reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said about plague: "When you hear that plague has broken out in a land, don't go to it, and when it has broken out in the land where you are , don't run away from it".

D. Prohibition of some food, drinks, adultery and homosexuality:

1. Prohibition of eating the flesh of the dead animal, blood and the swine: Allah The All Mighty says: "Forbidden unto you are the flesh of the dead animal, blood and swine flesh". (5:3).

2. Prohibition of alcohols and drugs: Allah The All Mighty says: "O' You who believe, Truly, Alcohol, gambling, idols and divination by arrows are only an infamy of Satan's doing. Avoid it in order that you may be successful" (5:90).

3. Prohibition of adultery and homosexuality and all that leads to them: Liberal societies suffer nowadays from the spread of venereal disease that are actually at the head of the infectious diseases existing there. More than 750 million young men and women are infected each year. Allah the All Mighty has prohibited all forms of great sins in order to protect individuals and societies. He said :"and do not come near adultery, indeed it is an abomination and an evil way" (17:32). The Prophet (Peace be upon him) warned against this saying: " When adultery appears among people who announce it, plague and diseases that were not known before, will spread among them".

Characteristics of preventive medicine in Islam:

1. Precedence: The basics of preventive medicine in Islam were set 14 centuries ago.

2. Authenticity: Even though the fundamentals of Islamic preventive medicine are rather ancient, they are still sought to be reached by modern science.

3. Simplicity and easiness: They are simple and easy to carry out.

4. Hygienic qualifications: Its implementation does not need a vast amount of knowledge, on the contrary, each Muslim is qualified to do them.

5. Individuality of implementation: A Muslim fulfills these commands as an act of worship towards Allah, and he does not need anyone to watch over him. So the Muslim society does not need government supervision for the implementation of these rules.

6. Comprehensiveness: The basics of preventive medicine in Islam deal with mankind, on the basis that he has a body and soul, which gives it a distinction over the other systems.

7. Protection against Venereal diseases: Islam neither suppresses nor sets free sexual desire. The approach of Islam is to offer the chance for sexual satisfaction within certain laws and regulations, which by doing so destroyed the very sources of venereal and social diseases.

8. Concentration on protection: Islam concentrates on prevention rather than treatment . It does not wait until people catch diseases and then seek treatment.

9. Continuity: Abiding by these regulations is not restricted to a certain age or time, rather they should be fulfilled as long as the individual is still capable of performing his worships.

10. Rules of preventive medicine in Islam: They protect the person from several diseases of the heart and soul, by catering to his physical and spiritual needs.
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