We say, and Allah is the helper Who provides the means and controls the actions, that there are two types of illnesses stated in the holy Qur’an:
1. Illness of the hearts and,
2. Illness of the body. As for the illness of the heart, it comprises two types, the first is suspicion and doubt, and the second desire, allurement and sin. In that regard, Allah, the glorious and magnificent, says: ? Their hearts are sick, and Allah has caused their sickness to intensify ¤ (Qur’an 2:10). He also says: ? Those whose hearts are sick and the unbelievers say: What does God mean with this parable?¤ (Qur’an 74:31) He, the most magnificent then says concerning those who refuse to accept the criterion of the Qur’an and the prophetic traditions: ? When they are invited to Allah and to His Messenger to judge between them, a group of them will object, though if they were right, they would walk to him flagrantly. Are they sick at heart or do they have doubt, or do they fear that Allah and His Messenger will defraud them? Nay, but such are the unjust ones ¤ (Qur’an 24:48).
This is the sickness of doubt and suspicion. As for the sickness of desire, allurement and wantonness, this is the sin of adultery. Admonishing the believers, Allah, the magnificent and most exalted, addresses the wives of His Prophet h who had to serve and attend the needs of the ever growing number of people visiting and soliciting the advice of His Prophet h, saying: ? O ye consort of the Prophet, you are not like any other women if you heed with piety. Therefore, be not too complaisant of speech lest someone whose heart is sick should be moved with desire ¤ (Qur’an 33:32).
As for the illness of the body, Allah, the magnificent and most exalted, says: ? A blind person is not subject to blame, nor is the lame or the sick ¤ (Qur’an 48:17). He, the Almighty Lord, also mentions physical illness, the health advantages embodied in the pilgrimage, fasting, and the hygienic properties of taking ablution, besides other benefits, to illustrate the practical as well as spiritual wealth that is hidden in the glorious Qur’an for those who read it, act upon it and fathom its mysteries. This will help one to satisfy his utmost needs by pursuing the divine guidance. Such guidance in physical wellness is better defined in pursuing three avenues including: preventive medicine, abstaining from what is harmful and cleansing the body and flushing out pernicious toxins. God Almighty mentions these three principles in the verse of ‘fasting’ saying: ? Fasting is prescribed for a fixed number of days; however, if any of you is ill or traveling, then the prescribed number of days should be made up on later days ¤ (Qur’an 2:184). Thus, He otherwise permitted the sick to postpone his fast until he recovers from his illness, and for the traveler to temporarily delay the prescribed fast to preserve his strength, because of the strain and movement involved in travel. As for the verse of ‘pilgrimage’, He says: ? If any of you is ill or has an ailment in his scalp (necessitating shaving, he should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice ¤ (Qur’an 2:196). Here again, God Almighty gives permission for a sick person or someone suffering from a serious itch, dandruff or lice, for example, or from other scalp disease to compensate by shaving the head during the sacrament of Ihrãm, which is otherwise not permitted, to eliminate harmful vapors that would congest over the scalp, hindering the breathing of the pores and perhaps causing infection of follicles. Once he shaves his head, the pores open and such vapors are emitted, allowing a natural cleansing process. Thus, in interpreting Qur’anic verses, and as one may understand from the divine explanations, they provide guidance in handling the lesser illness to help treat the more serious illness, and therefore, a deductive method called qiyãs is developed for purging harmful toxins and other congestions. This method deals with ten areas of the human body when excited, including: the blood when it boils, semen when it abounds, urine, feces, gas, vomit, sneeze, sleep, hunger and thirst. Each one of these ten elements causes an illness when congested and henceforth necessitates purgation.
As for the aspect of dietetic abstinence (himyah), the divine guidance provided in the verse of ‘ablution’ says: ? If you are ill, or on a journey, or if one of you comes from offices of nature, or if you have been in contact with women and find no water for washing your whole body, then use a clean surface (sand or earth) and rub your faces and hands with it, for God blots out sins and forgives again and again ¤ (Qur’an 4:43). In this case, God Almighty permitted a sick person to substitute tayammum for the regular ablution and avoid the use of water when its external use is harmful. Again, this guidance indicates the need for abstinence to alleviate questionable health complications. In such a way, God Almighty instituted the basic principles of medicinal remedies and their constitutions.
In this study, we will also introduce the medical guidance which is instituted by God’s messenger Muhammad, upon whom be peace, and surely there is no better way to apply such knowledge than through their guidance. As for the medicine of the hearts, it can only be acquired through God’s prophets, upon all of whom be peace and blessings, and to correct one’s heart and wash it from impurities one must recognize his Creator and Cherisher, His divine Names and attributes, observe His actions, contemplate His wisdom and adopt the criteria He instituted for His creation. Such hearts also must beseech His blessings by consenting to what He commands and loves, and by abstaining from what He forbids and abhors, and one’s heart will know no trueness or experience true life otherwise. Such knowledge can only be learned from the teachings of His messengers, upon all of whom be peace, and thinking otherwise will be completely wrong and unfruitful. Therefore, should one think that he can do oppositely, it means that he merely fosters the health and strength of his animal mind, desire, lust, carnality and wantonness. His life will be meaningless and similar to that of animals, while a true heart of piety is free from such base associations. One who cannot discern the difference between these two types of hearts should cry for his losses, for a true heart is alive, and a heart that is blinded with carnality is dead, and a true heart is filled with light while a dead heart is submerged in the abyss of darkness.
God’s Messenger h, indicated that there are two types of knowledge: (A) Knowledge of religion, and (B) knowledge of the body. The medicine for the illness of the body is also of two types: (1) one which, innate in both human and animal lives, necessitates no diagnosis of a physician to attend to it, such as hunger, thirst, cold and fatigue, and has its own natural remedies and antidotes; and (2) a second type of illness which does require diagnosis and treatment, and affects one’s temperaments and humors, whereby heat, cold, dryness or moisture in the body exceed their natural balance, and the effects of combining any two of them exacerbates discomfort. Such effects produce one of two types of illness, that is, either somatical or collateral. Hence, for example, somatical illness manifests in the form of agitation of the blood or spillage of an element, while the collateral illness manifests as a result of such excess spillage and after the elimination of the original causes. Thus, the illness-causing matters are expelled and the after effects remain to influence one’s temperaments and humors.
A somatical disease carries its own stimulus that arouses further complications. Hence, if the disease carries its own stimulus, one must first diagnose the cause, then the effects, then find the medicine—that is recognizing the disease, then the illness, then prescribing the cure. Somatic diseases manifest in the form of physiological changes, such as a cavity in an organ, narrowing or expanding of ducts, organ deformation (enlarged heart or small stomach for example), rough or soft uterine-wall tissue, dislocated bones or displaced organs as well as other diseases. When organs correlate and operate harmoniously, they form a healthy body, while if they are abnormal, discordant or malfunctioning, they produce the synchronous effects of an illness, some of which are organic and others relate to bodily temperaments and humors.
Common diseases are the result of malfunction of the humors. This intemperament is called ‘illness’. When its harm is felt, it manifests in eight areas: (1) four of them are compound, and (2) the other four are primary. The latter can either be cold, hot, moist or dry and they manifest at the site of the liver. The compound temperaments manifest as hot and moist, cold and moist, hot and dry, and cold and dry. This is caused with or without spillage of a component, and if the disease does not reach further complications and produces mere discomfort, it indicates an unhealthy balance of one’s body.
Thus, the human body sustains: (1) three natural healthy conditions, (2) one abnormal condition, and (3) a mild condition. The natural healthy conditions demonstrate the standard functions and constitution of the human body, otherwise, one is sick, and the third condition known as mild identifies an in-between state that is consented to and is treated by the person as tolerable, without the need for a physician, by taking a simple pain reliever for example. Such an in-between state of “not healthy” and “not sick” can only linger in the same category, for negative does not become positive, but rather remains constant or invariable.
The cause of such body abnormality can either be internal or external. The internal causes manifest because of the four humors: (1) hot, (2) cold, (3) moist, and (4) dry, and as for the external causes, they manifest because of the nutrients one takes in, and those can either be agreeable or disagreeable to the body. Thus, the harm or illness that results thereafter produces such imbalance and discomfort, or could be the result of malfunction of a specific organ, or a general malaise of the body, or even weakness of the spirits that bear the body. This general condition is caused by: (1) increase in passivity of what must be balanced when it does not compensate for losses; or (2) by decrease of needed adjustment of balancing factors of the humors when they do not compensate for saturation; or (3) by the hindering of agents that are supposed to facilitate the flow of balancing factors; or (4) by the linking of agents whose binding interferes with creating the correct balance; or (5) by the acceleration of what should be moderate; or (6) by the deformation of molecules; or (7) by the displacement of an organ. The experienced physician or hakim can identify such disorders and either eliminate the causes that infringed upon the proper constitution of a healthy body, or he maybe able to stabilize them and gradually, with the proper treatment, deal with the disease by using the correct antidote. Hence, the proper diet (himyah), moderating excess and abstinence prove to be the best cure as we shall see later in this study of guidance in natural healing with Tibb medicine of God’s Prophet (uwbp).
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya