Mu’tamar Ibn Sulayman said:”My father wrote to me while I was in Kufa, saying to me “O my son, buy books and write down knowledge for verily knowledge remains and money vanishes”
Islam calls us to learn all kinds of beneficial knowledge. Branches of knowledge vary in status, the highest of which is knowledge of shari’a, then knowledge of medicine (nutrition), then the other fields of knowledge. [Usool al-Deen al-Islami by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem al-Tuwayjri] The greatest calamity is a calamity in our deen. The second greatest is in our health. Not surprising, that Sharee’ah helps protect our deen and medicine (nutrition) helps protect our health.
Not all medicine is the same
Undoubtedly, I have benefited from modern medicine, yet it lacks the wisdom of thousands of medical history. Years of scientific knowledge from past doctors, dentists, herbalists, and scientists abandoned all in the name of modern medicine. Ibn Mas’ood said: “Whoever is seeking to follow someone, let them follow those who have passed away. For the living are not secure from trials (fitnah).”
This is a very important concept. Adhering to it means all food fads and trends would cease to exist. Honestly, the Raw Diet enthusiast who’s been eating like this for 10 years and feels great… how will she feel at 40 or 60 or 80 years old? Just because it may “appear” to be working for her now, doesn’t mean it will work for her for years to come. We don’t know how her body will degenerate with time and what new diseases might appear because of deficiencies in her diet. There is no historical data on “this diet”.
Fads and innovative ideas shape our future. Just look at Louis Pasteur who changed the concept of disease from humoural imbalance to the germ theory. He recanted his position about the germ theory upon his deathbed. His followers couldn’t turn back at that point because too much money gained to just abandon it. We are following a concept that even the creator of it himself stopped believing in.
History is slipping through our fingers!
Our understanding of food and how it nourishes our body is very important knowledge. Traditionally, nutrition was the sacred knowledge that a parent would teach their child, just as the parent would teach the faith. If we don’t understand food, and how it affects us both spiritually and physically, then how are we to prevent disease or heal ourselves when we fall sick?
“Gluttony is one of the greatest sins that lead to doom and it causes many diseases and sicknesses, both spiritual and physical, because it leads to sexual desire, then the desire for status and wealth in order to fulfil the first two desires. Then that generates spiritual diseases such as showing off, destructive envy (hassad), boastfulness and arrogance because of being focused on worldly matters. In most cases that leads to evil and immorality, all of it because of this desire. The Arabs of old said: The stomach is the home of disease and restraint is the basis of the remedy.”
Allah (swt) says: “Eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly, He (Allah) likes not Al‑Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance).” [7:31]
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not sent as a doctor or nutritionist, nor was the Qur’an sent as a book of medicine. Tibb Annabawi is not a complete science of how to practice medicine or nutrition. It is a guide that sets a standard of which practices to accept from the medicine of its time and which to discard. It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said: “Allah has not sent down any disease but He has also sent down a cure for it.” [Bukhaari, 5678]
The height of medicine
The height of medicine was at the time of Isa (Jesus); that was the medicine of Hippocrates. Modern doctors are sworn in with the Hippocratic Oath. Hippocrates: the father of medicine. So why then abandon his medicine?
I thought that naturopathy might be the closest to traditional medicine, but I was quickly disappointed. Instead of pharmaceutical drugs, they prescribed herbal drugs. There is no discussion of your body’s constitution or hot/cold, wet/dry imbalance. They are not even taught the history of Hippocrates or the medicine that he practised. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda are probably the closest medicines we can find that are congruent with Hippocrates’s medicine.
Picking up the reigns
We must revive traditional medicine in accordance with the knowledge we have from Prophetic Medicine and modern medicine. It is time for a new medicine to emerge that honours how Allah has created foods, herbs and spices as nourishment and medicine. It is time to go back to the original concept of disease and start treating and teaching patients to re-balance their bodies. A God-centered medicine is at the heart of healing.
by Aiman Attar