Prayer : a healing for the spirit and the body
Allah says; “Seek help with patience and prayer: it is indeed hard, except to those who are humble.” (2: 45)
وَاسْتَعِينُواْ بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلاَةِ وَإِنَّهَا لَكَبِيرَةٌ إِلاَّ عَلَى الْخَاشِعِينَ [ سورة البقرة 45].
Health benefits in prayers:
- Prayers help release the burden of the soul and expand the chest. In prayers, which are the best deeds, the heart gets connected to Allah the Almighty. The Prophet (PBUH) said, as narrated by Ibn Majah and Al Hakim on the authority of Thawban; “Be it known to you that your best deeds are prayers.”
- Prayers are surely a healing for the soul. It is confirmed that the Prophet, if afflicted with grief, would hurry to prayer: “ prayer forbids indecency and dishonour. Allah’s remembrance is greater; and Allah knows the things you work.” (29: 45)
إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ [ سورة العنكبوت 45].
- Prayers help adjust the ‘rhythm’ of the body. Modern scientific research proved that Moslems’ prayer timings correspond with that of the physiological activities of the body. Thus, prayers are considered as the orchestrator that adjusts the ‘rhythm’ of the whole body. In his book ‘Seeking cure from prayers’, Dr. Zaheer Rabeh indicates that cortisone is the hormone of activity that starts to increase acutely in the human body with the approach of dawn time, and is associated with the rise in blood pressure. Man feels greatly active after dawn prayer between 6-9 a.m. Thus the time after prayer is considered the best time for hard work and seeking livelihood. The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was quoted saying; “O Lord, give benediction to my umma (nation) at the early morning time.” Ozone, which has an invigorating effect on the nervous system, and muscular and mental activity, reaches the highest levels in air at such a time.
Contrary to this is the forenoon time (Dhuha), in which secretion of cortisone reach the minimum limits; leading man to feel exhausted with the stress of work, and the need to have rest. This is almost after 7 hours of early get-up. Here comes the time of noon (Zuhr) prayer, which gives complacency and quietness to the exhausted heart and body, and following which man seeks to get an hour of sleep that gives him rest and reinvigorates his activity, in what is termed as Qailulah (nap) before (Asr) (afternoon) prayer. Such a short sleep was mentioned in the Prophet’s saying; “Get help with Suhoor (meal before dawn time) for fasting, and with Qailulah for Qiyam (night) prayer.” He also said; “Have Qailulah, as satans do not have it.” It has been proved that the human body at this period generally encounters a hard time, where an increase occurs in an anesthetic chemical substance secreted by the body that has the effect of tranquilizing, and incites man to sleep. The body, after 7 hours of early wake-up, is at the lowest levels of concentration and activity. So if man ignores sleeping at that time, much of his neuromuscular compatibility decreases all day long. Then comes the Asr (afternoon) Prayer to reinvigorate the body once again. Adrenalin then raises in the blood; causing activity in the body functions particularly the cardiac one. Asr prayer has thus a great effect in preparing the heart and the body to accept this sudden state of activity, which can cause serious troubles to cardiac patients due to the sudden transfer of the heart from the inert state to the active state. Allah says; “Be you watchful over the prayers, and the middle prayer, and do you stand obedient to Allah.” (2: 238)
حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَى وَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَانِتِينَ، [ سورة البقرة 238].
Most of the Quran Commentators agreed that the middle prayer is Asr prayer. With the discovery of the increase of Adrenalin hormone at this time, the reason behind this Quranic remarkable command of the keep-up of Asr prayer becomes crystal clear. Performing Asr prayer at designated time, alongside with other extra prayers, reinvigorates the heart gradually to function more effectively after an inert state. So the rest of bodily organs and senses are in deep concentration in prayer, making it easy for the heart and the hormone to adjust the normal rhythm of the body which reaches the climax at that time.
Then comes the Maghreb (sunset) prayer. In contrary to what happens early in the morning, Cortisone decreases and the activity of the body starts to diminish. With the transfer from daylight into night darkness, melatonin increases encouraging relaxation and sleep, and causing laziness to the body. Here prayer comes as a transitional station.
- Prayer of Isha (early night prayer) is the last station in the course of the day, wherein the body is transferred from the state of activity and mobility to a state of seeking sleep with the spread of darkness and the increase of melatonin secretion. Therefore, it is commendable to delay Isha prayer to the time before sleep so that all man’s preoccupations are finalized, and sleep comes next. The regular secretion of melatonin is closely related to the sexual and mental maturity, which is the consequence of following a fixed programme and a way of life. Therefore, we find that adherence to perform prayers on time is the best way that guarantees an integral compatibility with daily activities, thus leading to highly efficient functions of human body systems.
- Prayer is a prevention from varicose. Legs varicose is a common dysfunction in the legs veins, which takes the shape of big and zigzag veins filled with blood of a changed colour all along the lower limbs. Dr. “Tawfiq Elwan”, a Professor in Alexandria Faculty of Medicine (Egypt), indicated that with the meticulous observation of prayer movements, it was found out that prayer is distinguished with a wonderful measure of smoothness, harmony and coordination, represented in standing, kneeling (Ruku’), prostration (Sujood) and sitting between every two prostrations. With a scientific study of the measure of pressure exerted on the walls of the saphenous vein at the ankle joint, it was found out that the great decrease in that pressure during kneeling reaches almost the half. As for the state of Sujood, the average pressure becomes very slight. Naturally, this decrease is a full rest to that vein, which is greatly exhausted due to the severity of pressure all along the periods of standing. The position of Sujood helps the blood circulation work in the same direction of earth gravity, as blood which always suffers the bitter creep from the feet soles to the cardiac muscle, now pours smoothly and easily from top to bottom. This process reduces much of the vein pressure over the feet dorsum around 80 times (from the state of standing to the state of Sujood). Consequently, the risks of having varicose, which rarely affects those performing prayers regularly and properly, are diminished.
- Prayer for strengthening bones. Bones pass with two consecutive stages : the stage of anabolism followed by the stage of catabolism and so on in a continuous manner. In the phase of youth and growth, man’s anabolism increases, so bones become longer and stronger. After the phase of maturity and with the advance of age, catabolism takes the lead, with the amount of bone decreasing and becoming more fragile, and the spine bows due to the vertebra’s collapse, shortness and weakness. The activity and the strength of bones are the outcome of :
- Powers of pressure and pulling exercised by the muscles and tendons, which sticks to bones, during flexion and extension.
- It has been recently proved that an electric current with two different poles runs inside the bones; affecting the distribution of cells functions such as anabolism and catabolism cells. The current also determines at large the aspects of these cells activities. The experiments proved that in case of laziness and rest, the electric current is diminished, leading the bones to lose the componential materials, thus they become thin and weak. Experiment also revealed that during travel to space where gravity is totally absent, muscles become weak and bones become thin due to the inability to resist the burden of the earth gravity. It is therefore deduced that complete rest causes the bones to shrink, as the absence of movements activates catabolism cells, and weakens anabolism cells, hence a reduction of the bony material occurs.
- The performance of 17 units (Rak’ah) of obligatory prayers, and some more of extra prayers, strengthens man’s bones, and forces him to do a bodily movement not less than one hour daily. This happens all along the life of the Moslem, who never abandons prayers.
- Prayer is a regular simple exercise at different times, and helps keep the viability of the body specially the cardiac system and blood circulation.
- Prayer is a psychological therapy that helps calm the soul and relieve all tension for many reasons, of which the most significant is: man feels that all his problems are very small in the face of the Greatness and Capability of the Creator Who handles this large universe. The Moslem, after finishing his prayer, has thrown all he has of problems and worries, as he has deputized the Merciful Lord to manage and relieve him of such troubles. Prayers help remove all sources of tension due to the constant change of movements. It is known that such a change leads to an important physiological relaxation, therefore, the Prophet commanded that the Moslem when afflicted with a state pf anger, should resort to prayers. It has been proved that prayer have an immediate effect on the nervous system, as they calm agitation and maintain balance. They are as well a successful treatment for insomnia resulting from the nervous dysfunction.
Medical benefits of fasting Ramadan
Fasting Ramadan is an obedience to Allah the Almighty, Who said in His Honourable Book; “O believers, prescribed for you is the fast, even as it was prescribed for those that were before you- haply you will be Allah fearing.” (2: 183)
ياأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ [ سورة البقرة 183].
Fasting is a prescribed duty, and a private relation between man and his Lord, which Allah has guaranteed to reward for it. It was narrated in the Qudsi Hadith that Allah says; “Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting. It is meant (exclusively) for Me and I give reward for it.”
In 1994, the first conference on health benefits of fasting Ramadan was held in Casablanca, Morocco. Around 50 research papers from all over the world incorporating the health benefits of fasting Ramadan were discussed by Moslem and non-Moslem researchers.Of the health benefits of fasting Ramadan are :
- Giving rest to the digestive system. Ramadan is the period of rest for the digestive system, which is responsible for the metabolism process of food. Consequently, the liver also takes rest as it is the main factory of food metabolism. To achieve this benefit, Moslems should adhere to the tradition (sunnah) of the Prophet by abstaining from having too much food after breakfast. The Prophet (PBUH) said; "The son-of-Adam never fills a bowl worse than his belly. Some bites are enough for man to prop his physique. Had he wished otherwise, then one third for his food, and one third for his drink, and one third for his breath." It is of benefit to the body that the break of fasting starts with some dates (as indicated in the Prophetic tradition). Dates are rich in Glucose and Fructose, which have a great caloric benefit specially for the brain, and are useful in raising the level of sugar gradually in blood, thus reducing the feeling of hunger and the need for large quantities of food.
- Moderate loss of weight. During fasting, the consumption of sugars decreases, and so does the level of sugar in blood. This makes the body rely on providing the needed calories for metabolism by burning sugar stored in the body. Glycogen stored in the liver, and fats in tissues are decomposed and transferred into calories and energy needed by the body. This results in moderate shortage of body weight. Therefore, fasting is considered of great value for overweight persons and stable non-insulin diabetes.
- Decrease of cholesterol level in blood. Several studies proved that cholesterol level in blood during fasting, as well as the rate of precipitating on the walls of arteries have decreased. This in turn reduces the chances of cardiac and cerebrovascular accidents, and prevents the raise of hypertension. Shortage of fats in blood helps reduce stones of gall and choledocus. The Prophet (PBUH) said; “Fast! You will be healthy.”
- Rest of renal system. Some studies revealed that abstaining from drinking water for about 10-12 hours is not necessarily bad; it is rather useful in many cases. Concentration of liquids in the body causes moderate dehydration that the body can tolerate, as there is a sufficient liquid reserve, and as long as man has no complaint of renal lithiasis, both kidneys get rest of the process of waste disposing. The prophetic tradition mandates that Suhur (a meal before the dawn) be delayed and Fotoor (the breakfast meal) be expedited, thus reducing the time period of dehydration as much as possible. Shortage of liquids leads in turn to moderate decrease of blood pressure that the normal man can tolerate and be of use to those complaining of hypertension.
- Educational and psychological benefits. Fasting Ramadan is useful as it has a restraining power over the soul’s whimsies, and an urge to abandon bad habits, specially when the smoker is obliged to abstain from smoking even if for a temporary period, on the hope such abandon will be permanent. This is also applied to drinking too much coffee and tea. The psychological benefits are numerous. The fasting person feels complacent, attains mental and psychological rest, refrains from all that disturbs the integrity of his fasting, and maintains the proper behaviour controls, that all reflect positively on the general community. The Prophet said; “Fasting is restraining. When anyone of you is fasting, he should refrain from obscene language or any acts of ignorance. And if anyone slanders him or quarrels with him, he should say; ‘I am fasting, I am fasting.’” Several studies revealed that crime rate in Islamic countries decreases during Ramadan .
Quran is a healing and a mercy !
Allah the Almighty said; “And We send down of the Quran, that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers, and the unbelievers it causes not except loss.” (17: 82)
وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۙ وَلَا يَزِيدُ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلَّا خَسَارًا [ سورة الإسراء 57].
Quran restores soul calmness:
The results of researches conducted over a group of volunteers from USA who were subject to a recitation of the Holy Quran were striking. A trace of a tranquilizing effect was recorded at a whole rate of 97%. Although many of these volunteers do not know Arabic, yet involuntary physiological changes that led notably to alleviate the acuity of tension they had before were observed in their nervous systems. Furthermore, an experiment of EEG during Quran rehearsal revealed that while listening to Quran, the encephalic waves moved from the fast pattern of vigilance (12-13) wave/ second to the slow pattern (8-18) wave/ second; indicating the state of deep calmness. Non-Arabic speaking persons felt reassured, quiet, and complacent during the process of listening to Quranic verses, in spite of their inability to understand the meanings. This is one of the miracles of the Holy Quran. The Prophet revealed that miracle when saying;
“No people assembled in one of the houses of Allah (mosques), and recite and study the Book of Allah (among themselves), except that tranquility would prevail over them, and mercy would encompass them, and the angels would surround them, and Allah would make a mention of them in the presence of those near Him.”
A healing from diseases:
It is commonly known that Quran removes the causes of tension and cover the soul with tranquility and complacency. But was that effect of Quran limited to the souls only? When Allah says; "And We send down of the Quran, that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers..” (17: 82)
وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۙ
Then how could the Quran be a healing for the bodies? It is medically asserted that tension and worries lead to a deficiency in the immunity of human body in the face of all diseases. The more the psychological and nervous condition of man is not stable, the more the chances to face the invasion of diseases. Hence, the explanation becomes crystal clear- the Quran is a healing for bodies as it is a healing for the souls and spirits. The Quran regains the balance of nervous and psychological systems for the believer who constantly recites and listens to it, and contemplates its meaning, thus leading to increase his bodily immunity and safeguard his internal defenses. Man becomes in constant safety against the penetration of diseases. With the Quranic prevailing luminous powers, all microbes and germs attacking the body in consecutive waves are resisted.
Dr. Ahmed El Kadi conducted a research in USA on three groups of Americans who do not speak or understand Arabic. He connected them to instruments for measuring biomedical functions such as blood pressure, heart pulses, EEG, myography, and sweat test. He recited some Quranic verses for the first group, and ordinary sentences of everyday Arabic for the second group while the third group was a control group resting in a state of relaxation. He found that the physiological changes for the first group listening to Quran recitation have more significantly improved than the other two groups (These results were announced by the Islamic Organization for Medical Science).
Verily said the Almighty Allah; “If We had sent down the Quran upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled, split asunder out of the fear of Allah. And those similitude- We strike them for men; haply they will reflect.” (59: 21)
لَوْ أَنزَلْنَا هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَىٰ جَبَلٍ لَّرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعًا مُّتَصَدِّعًا مِّنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَتِلْكَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِبُهَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ [ سورة الحشر 21].
The Quran cannot be produced by any creature. It is the word of the Almighty God, the Originator of everything and the One Who encompasses everything with His knowledge. As how could any creature reveal such scientific facts and signs, as indicated above in some Quranic verses, that were impossible to be known with the level of knowledge at the time of revelation? The Quran, with the description of all these scientific facts in accurate terms that fit with the modern rules of science, affirms that this is revealed by Allah. Man only unfolded these signs so many centuries after it had been revealed by Allah, with the help of modern technology. The Quran is the word of Allah Who has created everything and knows the slightest details of His creation.
Who can inspire to the Prophet Mohammed, other than Allah, such scientific truths in such a noble and well contrived language ?
Although they possessed and knew the tools of the Arabic language, the unbelievers of Makkah were challenged to produce one verse of such Quran. Yet, up to date and till doomsday the challenge still stands: “If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Quran, they would never produce its like, not though they backed one another.” (17:88)
قُلْ لَئِنِ اجْتَمَعَتِ الْإِنْسُ وَالْجِنُّ عَلَى أَنْ يَأْتُوا بِمِثْلِ هَذَا الْقُرْآَنِ لَا يَأْتُونَ بِمِثْلِهِ وَلَوْ كَانَ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ ظَهِيراً [ سورة الإسراء 88].
Allah also says in the Holy Quran; “If it had been from other than Allah, surely they would have found in it much inconsistencies” (4:82)
وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِنْدِ غَيْرِ اللَّهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلافًا كَثِيرًا [ سورة النساء 82].
With the passage of ages, every word of Quran still reveals the divine and miraculous nature of this Holy Book. For the believers of Quran, this is a message to hold fast to this divine book and receive it as their only guide in this world and the Hereafter: “And this is a Book We have sent down and blesses, so follow it and have fear of Allah so that hopefully you will gain mercy.” (6:155).
وَهَـذَا كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مُبَارَكٌ فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَاتَّقُواْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ [ سورة الأنعام 155].
For the unbelievers, it is a call to open their minds and hearts to word of Allah, the Holy Quran, and contemplate and ponder the last revelation to mankind. Yet, Allah remarks; “Say, ‘The truth is from your Lord; so let whosoever wishes believe, and let whosoever wishes disbelieve.” (18: 29)
وَقُلِ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ فَمَن شَاء فَلْيُؤْمِن وَمَن شَاء فَلْيَكْفُرْ [ سورة الكهف 29].
And; “No Indeed! It is a reminder, and whoso wills, pays heed to it” (80:11-12)
كَلَّا إِنَّهَا تَذْكِرَةٌ ، فَمَن شَاء ذَكَرَهُ [ سورة عبس 11-12].
“And say: ‘Praise be to Allah, Who will soon show you His signs, so that ye shall know them’ ” (27: 93)
وَقُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ سَيُرِيكُمْ آيَاتِهِ فَتَعْرِفُونَهَا [ سورة النمل 93].
and Who also says; “Soon will We show them our signs in the furthest horizons, and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth” (41: 53).
سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ [ سورة فصلت 53].