Health in Islam (P. 1)

By Aisha Stacey

When God created the world He did not abandon it to instability and insecurity, quite the contrary, He sent guidance.

When God created the world He did not abandon it to instability and insecurity, quite the contrary, He sent guidance.

Islam comes from the root word “sa-la-ma”, as do the words Muslim (one who follows the message of Islam) and “salaam” (peace). The root word “Sa – la – ma” denotes peace, security, safety as it does submission and surrender to Almighty God. This security is inherent in the submission to the One God. When a person submits to the will of God he will experience an innate sense of security and peacefulness. He must also understand that God is the Creator of all that exists or will come to exist, and has power over all things. With this surrender and understanding comes peace – real, easily attainable, and everlasting peace.

From the beginning of time, God has revealed Himself through Prophets and Messengers, who have come with one message. Worship God, without partners, without offspring and without intermediaries. The rules and laws were sometimes different, because they were applicable for the people of a particular time or place, but the creed of each Messenger was the same. Worship Me, and your reward will be contentment in this life and in the hereafter. When Prophet Muhammad came, in the 7th century, BCE, his message was slightly different. He called to the worship of the One God, but his call was for all of humankind. The message was now complete and revealed for all places, and in all times.

Islam was completed for the benefit of all who will exist, until the final Day of Judgment. It is not a religion belonging to the Arabs, although Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was an Arab, nor is it a religion for the Asian countries or the third world. Muslims exist in all continents and come from all races and ethnicities. There are Muslims in New York, Sydney, Cape Town and Berlin as well as Cairo, Kuala Lumpur and Dubai. Muslims are as diverse as this magnificent planet. Islam is also not a religion that accepts part time or halfhearted commitment. Islam is a way of life; Islam is a holistic way of life.

When God created the world He did not abandon it to instability and insecurity, quite the contrary, He sent guidance. He sent a rope, firm and steady, and by holding tightly to this rope an insignificant human being can achieve greatness and eternal peace. A Muslim strives to obey God’s commandments and does so by following God’s guide to life – the Qur’an, and the authentic teachings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad.

The Qur’an is a book of guidance and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad explain and in some cases expand on that guidance. Islam, as a complete way of life, stresses the importance of maintaining good health and offers the ways and the means to cope with ill health. The Qur’an is a book of wisdom. It is a book full of the wonder and glory of God, and a testament to His mercy and justice.

Through His infinite mercy, God has provided us with a holistic approach to life, one that covers all aspects, spiritual, emotional and physical. When God created humankind, He did so for one purpose – to worship Him.

“And I (God) created not the jinn and humankind, except to worship Me (Alone).” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

The comprehensiveness of Islam allows every aspect of life, from sleeping and washing, to praying and working, to be an act of worship. One who is truly submitted to God is grateful for the countless blessings in his or her life and wants to thank and praise God for His generosity, kindness and mercy. Prophet Muhammad explained that we should be thankful to God in every situation, whether we perceive it to be good or bad. The reality is that God is just, therefore, whatever situation a believer finds himself in, he knows there is goodness and wisdom embedded in it.

Indeed amazing are the affairs of a believer! They are all for his benefit. If he is granted ease then he is thankful, and this is good for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres, and this is good for him.” (Muslim)

The life of this world is not stable. Every person goes through stages and phases; happiness is followed by sadness and then relief or joy, ones’ faith is strong and unconquerable, and seemingly, for no reason it plummets, next, by the will of God it slowly rises again. Periods of great fitness and health are followed by injury or, sickness, but with each twinge of pain or suffering a true believer feels some of his sins fall away.

Whenever a Muslim is afflicted by harm from sickness or other matters, God will expiate his sins, like leaves drop from a tree.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam teaches us to be concerned, about the whole person. Following the guidance and commandments of God allows us to face illness and injury with patience. Complaining and bemoaning our situation will achieve nothing but more pain and suffering. Our bodies and minds have been given to us as a trust, and we are responsible for them. The guidance of God covers every aspect of life and there are specific ways of dealing with health issues, which we will begin to explore in the next article.

Qur’an is a Healing

Islam takes a holistic approach to health. Just as religious life is inseparable from secular life, physical, emotional and spiritual health cannot be separated; they are three parts that make a completely healthy person. When one part is injured or unhealthy, the other parts suffer. If a person is physically ill or injured it may be difficult to concentrate on anything but the pain. If a person is emotionally unwell, he or she may not be able to take care of him or herself properly or find their minds distracted from the realities of life.

When speaking to his followers Prophet Muhammad spoke of the strong believer being better than a weak believer, in the eyes of God.[1] The word strong here can mean strength in faith or in character, but it can equally mean health. Our bodies are a trust from God and we are accountable for how we look after our health. Although physical and emotional health is important, spiritual health needs to be the first priority in our lives. If a person is in spiritual difficulty then life can begin to unravel and problems may occur in all areas.

Injury and illness can happen for many reasons, however it is important to acknowledge and accept that nothing happens in this world accept with the permission of God.

“And with Him are the keys of the unseen; no one knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that is [written] in a clear record.” (Al-An`am 6:59)

This world is but a transient place, beautified for us by the things we covet, spouses, children, wealth and luxury. Yet these are just passing pleasures and temporary joys compared to the contentment and extreme beauty that is Paradise. [2] To help us secure a place in Paradise God places trials and obstacles in our way. He tests our patience and gratitude and provides us with ways and means of overcoming the obstacles. God is also merciful and just, so we can be sure that whatever trials we face God designed them to help us secure a place of eternal bliss. Injury and ill health are trials and tests that we must face with patience, forbearance and above all acceptance.

Accepting a trial does not mean that we do nothing, of course we try to overcome it and learn from it. Accepting means facing the trial patiently armed with the weapons God has provided for us. The greatest of these weapons is the Qur’an, a book of guidance, filled with mercy and healing. The Qur’an is not a textbook or book of medicine, but it does contain guidance that promotes good health and healing.

“O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Lord (i.e. the Qur’an), and a healing for that which is in your hearts.” (Yunus 10:57)

“And We send down from the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe…” (Al-Isra’ 17:82)

There is no doubt that the words and verses of Qur’an contain a healing for humankind’s woes and ills. It was narrated in the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, that certain verses and chapters by God’s will could bring about healing from disease and distress. Slowly over the years, we have begun to rely more on medicines and physical remedies rather then the spiritual remedies prescribed by Islam. If faith is strong and unwavering, the effect of spiritual remedies may be fast and efficient.

From the traditions of Prophet Muhammad comes the story of the man whom the Prophet sent on a mission. He camped close by to some people who did not show him any hospitality. When the leader of the nearby camp was bitten by a snake, they went to Prophet Muhammad’s companion for help. He recited the opening chapter of the Qur’an over the afflicted man and he arose “as if released from a chain”.[3]

It is important to seek a cure from the Qur’an, in the manner prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad, but it is equally important to understand that it is permissible and at times obligatory, to seek help from medical practitioners. Our bodies are ours, only in trust; we are obligated to treat them with respect and to maintain them in the best way. In accordance with the holistic approach Islam takes to health, there is no contradiction in seeking a cure from both medical science and permissible spiritual means.

The Prophet said: “There is no disease that God Almighty has created, except that He also has created its treatment.”[4]

He also said: “There is a remedy for every malady, and when the remedy is applied to the disease it is cured with the permission of Almighty God.”[5]

Qur’an is a healing for the body and the soul. Whenever life becomes too difficult or we are beset by injury, illness or unhappiness Qur’an will light our way and lighten our burdens. It is a source of solace and ease. In the world today many people have untold wealth and luxury but little contentment. Those of us in the West have access to doctors and medicine, to traditional healing, medical breakthroughs and alternative cures but many lives are full of emotional pain and listlessness. What is missing is belief, faith in God.

In the past several decades, it has become widely accepted that religious belief and practices have a significant impact on both physical and emotional health. Medical and scientific research has demonstrated that religious commitment aids in the prevention and treatment of emotional disorders, disease and injury and enhances recovery.[6] Belief in and submission to the will of God is the most essential part of good health care. The words and recitation of Qur’an can cure hearts and minds, as well as overcome illness and injury, however complete trust in God does not negate the healing effects of medical science provided we use them only in lawful ways. Indeed, God has power over all things, therefore we need to put our trust in Him, develop a lasting relationship with His book of guidance – the Qur’an, follow the authentic teachings of Prophet Muhammad and seek a cure, wherever it may be.

To be continued…



[1] Sahih Bukhari.

[2] For Muslims heaven and Paradise are not the same place. Heaven (sa ma, in Arabic) is part of the sky above us that will be destroyed on the Day of Judgement. Paradise (al Jennah in Arabic) is what Muslim’s believe is the opposite of Hell; an eternal abode of everlasting peace and contentment. .

[3] Sahih Al-Bukhari

[4] Sahih Al-Bukhari

[5] Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim

[6] Matthews, D. (2000) Is Religion Good for Your Health in Stannard, R. (Ed) God for the 21st Century Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press.


Taken with slight editorial modifications from

Aisha Stacey is an Australian revert to Islam. She currently spends her time between Australia and Qatar. Aisha works as a writer at the Fanar Cultural Islamic Centre in Doha, Qatar while studying for an Arts/Psychology degree.



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