Qur'an, the Miracle of Islam
Disease transmission, be it a viral, bacterial, or parasitic, is not the actual cause of infection. It has been proven that infection spreads only by Allah’s leave. It is according to the will of Allah that germs spread and become active, or are dormant and controlled by the immunity system. Statistical studies have clarified that the symptoms of any given disease are visible only in few people amongst thousands who carry the same disease. Moreover, a person may be a carrier of a disease for many years without being subject to its symptoms, but they can suddenly appear, for no clear medical reason. Here, comes the inimitability of what Allah informed His Prophet (peace be upon him), i.e. that infection by itself is not the specific cause of disease.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
- “There is no infection, nor evil omen, nor hamah , nor bad omen in the month of Safar. Flee from a leper as if you flee from a lion.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
“There is no 'adwa (no disease is conveyed from the sick to the healthy without Allah's permission), nor bad omen in Safar, nor Hamah." A Bedouin stood up and said, "Then what about my camels? They are like deer on the sand, but when a mangy camel comes and mixes with them, they all get infected with mangy." The Prophet said, "Then who conveyed the (mange) disease to the first one?" (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
Yet, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) warned Muslims against associating with the sick:
"A sick person should not be taken to one who is healthy." (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
Also, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ordered Muslims to isolate those who have incurable diseases, so that people who have low immunity would not be infected (see Quarantine).
In addition to this, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ordered Muslims to wash their hands before and after having food, in order to decrease the possible spread of disease:
“The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to wash his hands before having food.” (Reported by An-Nasa’i)
“The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ate a shoulder of a ewe, then, he rinsed his mouth and washed his hands.” (Reported by Ibn Majah)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“If anyone spends the night with grease on his hand which he has not washed away, he can blame only himself if some trouble comes to him.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi)
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“And whoever wakes up from his sleep should wash his hands before putting them in the water for ablution, because nobody knows where his hands were during sleep." (Reported by Muslim)
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ordered the Muslims to cover food containers to protect it from insects and vermin:
“Cover up the utensils, and tie up the mouth of water skins.” (Reported by Muslim)
"Beware of dust, for it has microbes." (Reported by Al-Fayruzabadi, in Al-Qamus Al-Muhit)
It is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ordered the Muslims to tie up water skins and cover up food containers of. (Reported by Ibn Majah)
`A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated:
“I would prepare three covered containers for the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the night, the first for his purification, the second for his siwak (cleaning his teeth), and the third for drinking. (Reported by Ibn Majah).
Moreover, the Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited drinking from a broken cup, as it may retain dirt within the cracks. (Reported by Ibn Majah)
The Prophet (peace be upon him), who was raised in one of the poorest and most ignorant nations, taught Muslims that there is a cure for every disease, and that it is required of us to search and discover effective medicines. He also said that we should take medicines, but that it is Allah Who bestows the healing. In the past, treatment with magic and the like was widespread all over the world, until the rise of pharmacology, whose foundations were laid down by the Muslim scientists.
The following are some Hadiths that verify the wisdom and knowledge of Allah, Who revealed the Holy Qur’an to His trustworthy Prophet (peace be upon him):
“There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
“Allah has never created a disease but created its treatment that is known by some people and unknown to others, except death.” (Reported by At-Tabarani and Al-Bazar)
“Allah has sent down both the disease and the cure, and He has appointed a cure for every disease, so treat yourselves medically, but use nothing unlawful.” (Reported by Abu Dawud)
At the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), a man fell ill. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Summon the physician of the tribe so and so for him.” The attendants said: “O Messenger of Allah! Do you really mean the physician?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Yes.” (Reported by Ahmad)
Once, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) visited a sick person. He said: “Call a physician for him.” One of the attendants said: “Even you say this, Prophet of Allah?” The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) replied: “Yes.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and At-Tirmidhi)
Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) sent a physician to Ubayy Ibn Ka`b. He cut the vein and then cauterised it. (Reported by Muslim)
Cleanliness is one of the basic acts of worship in Islam. Islam was revealed in the Arabian Peninsula, the cradle of ignorance at the time of the revelation of the Holy Qur’an. This is a proof that the Holy Qur’an did not emanate from such an environment, rather, that it was a light revealed by Allah’s knowledge. Islam guided to every aspect related to personal cleanliness.
A- Major Ritual Ablution:
One of the signs of true Islamic teachings is the necessity of taking a ritual bath for purification after sexual intercourse. In this case, the bath is an obligation without which a Muslim is not permitted to pray or perform any of the rituals of pilgrimage. This major ritual ablution is a strongly emphasized ritual (a stressed Sunnah) prior to performing the Friday congregational prayers. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:
]يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا لاَ تَقْرَبُوا الصَّلاَةَ وَأَنْتُمْ سُكَارَى حَتَّى تَعْلَمُوا مَا تَقُولُونَ وَلاَ جُنُبًا إِلاَّ عَابِرِي سَبِيلٍ حَتَّى تَغْتَسِلُوا وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ مَرْضَى أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِنْكُمْ مِنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لاَمَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُوا بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَفُوًّا غَفُورًا[
Meaning: O you who believe! Approach not As-Salat (the prayer) when you are in a drunken state until you know (the meaning) of what you utter, nor when you are in a state of Janabah, (i.e. in a state of sexual impurity and have not yet taken a bath) except when traveling on the road (without enough water, or just passing through a mosque), until you wash your whole body. And if you are ill, or on a journey, or one of you comes after answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (by sexual relations) and you find no water, perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands (Tayammum). Truly, Allah is Ever Oft Pardoning, Oft Forgiving.” (Surah An-Nisa’ – Verse No. 43)
]يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلاَةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ مَرْضَى أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِنْكُمْ مِنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لاَمَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُوا بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُمْ مِنْهُ مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ حَرَجٍ ْوَلَكِنْ يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ[
Meaning: If you are in a state of Janabah (i.e. had a sexual discharge), purify yourself (bathe your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey or any of you comes from answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (i.e. sexual intercourse) and you find no water, then perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour on you that you may be thankful. (Surah Al-Ma’idah – Verse No. 6)
Consider the following Hadiths:
“It is the right of Allah upon every Muslim that he should take a bath (at least) on one day (Friday) during the seven days (of the week) and he should wash his head and body.” (Reported by Muslim)
“Bathing on Friday for every adult, and applying some perfume, that is available, these are essential.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
“Anyone of you attending the Friday (prayers) should take a bath.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Ibn Majah)
It was narrated that:
“The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would take bath on Greater Bairam (`Id Al-Ad-ha) and Lesser Bairam (`Id Al-Fitr).” (Reported by Ibn Majah)
“A time limit has been prescribed for us by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) for clipping the moustache and cutting the nails.” (Reported by Imam Muslim)
Modern dermatological studies clarified the importance of taking a bath to remove sweat and the dirt associated with it. Sweat additionally contains a lot of bacteria that infect the skin and the body in general and cause a foul smell.
B- Minor Ritual Ablution:
In the Holy Qur’an:
الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلاَةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ
وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ
Meaning: O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salat (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to ankles. (Surah Al-Ma’idah – Verse No. 6)
Modern medicine verifies the great benefits of ablution as it purifies the body and prevents the spread of diseases. Iit has been proven that the hands have a key role in the transmission of microbes. Experimental research has verified the effective role of ablution in limiting the numbers of bacteria on the skin.
In relation to this there are many Hadiths that call Muslims to perform ablution and explain how they should perform it:
“Purification is half of the faith.” (Reported by Muslim)
“The prayer of a person who does not perform ablution is not valid.” (Reported by Ibn Majah)
“The key to prayer is purification.” (Reported by Abu Dawud)
“Prayer is not accepted without purification.” (Reported by Ibn Majah)
“My people will come with bright faces and bright hands and feet on account of the marks of ablution, so he who can increase the lustre of his forehead (and that of his hands and legs) should do so.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
“If a Muslim performed ablution and rinsed the mouth and snuffed up water and cleansed the nose, his sins would come out from his mouth and nose. If he washed his face, his sins would come out from beneath his lids. If he wiped his head, his sins would come out from under his ears. If he washed his feet, the sins would come out from under his nails.” (Reported by Muslim)
“He who performed ablution well, his sins would come out from his body, even coming out from under his nails.” (Reported by Muslim)
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) prescribed ablution for acts other than the prayer also:
“Someone asked the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Is a person in the state of major impurity [i.e. after sexual intercourse] allowed to sleep, eat, or drink? The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: "He is allowed if he performs the ablution for prayers."” (Reported by Ibn Majah)
“When anyone amongst you has sexual intercourse with his wife and then he intends to repeat it, he should perform ablution.” (Reported by Muslim)
“When you go to bed, perform ablution as is done for prayer.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
It is Sunnah [i.e. following the way of the Prophet (peace be upon him)] to perform ablution in cases of anger, when reciting the Holy Qur’an, learning, and the like.
Modern medicine has clarified the benefits of rinsing the nose during ablution, as it prevents many diseases from infecting the body through the nose. Rinsing the nose is done to let water enter the nose and then let it be released again.
The following are some Hadiths that call for the rinsing of the nose:
“If one of you performs ablution, he should rinse his nose.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and Abu Dawud)
“Perform the ablution properly. Cleanse the base of your fingers and sniff [water into] your nose but be careful when you are fasting.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi)
It was narrated that `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) asked for water. He rinsed his mouth, and sniffed and cleansed his nose with his left hand thrice, and said: ‘This is the way the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) performed ablution.” (Reported by Ahmad and An-Nasa’i)
C- Cleaning oneself after defecation (istinja’):
This means to clean one’s genitals after urinating or passing feces. It is one of the prerequisites for performing ablution and it has an important role in limiting contamination and the spread of infective diseases. In the following we will review the Prophetic Hadiths, a source of a perfect public health education and for protecting the skin and its pores from disease:
Anas Ibn Malik narrated that:
“Whenever the Prophet went to answer the call of nature, I used to bring water with which he used to clean his private parts.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
“I have never seen the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) coming after answering the call of nature without cleaning himself with water.” (Reported by Ibn Majah)
`A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) would teach the Muslim women saying: “Order your husbands to clean themselves with water; for I am shy of telling them so, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would do this.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi)
“If one of you answers the call of nature, he should cleanse himself three times.” (Reported by Ibn Hazm)
D- Trimming the nails:
Centuries after the mission of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who ordered his followers to trim their nails, modern science discovered the importance of such an act for personal health. Trimming the nails prevents the accumulation of dirt that carries bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“The acts of fitrah (returning to a natural state) are five: circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, cutting the nails, plucking the hair under the armpits, and clipping the moustache. (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
“O, Abu Hurayrah! Cut your nails, for Satan sits on the extra parts of them.” (Reported by Al-Ghazali in Al-Ihya’)
The noble Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ordered Muslims to take care of all their body hair. He ordered them to remove their underarm hair, shave their pubic hair, and trim their moustaches. Modern science has verified that these acts are important to prevent the development of bacteria and foul smells resulting from the secretions of the sweat glands in the armpits and pubic area. Also, they prevent remnants of food, nasal secretions, and pollutants from accumulating on the moustache, as stated in the Hadith above of the recommended acts (Sunnahs) of natural disposition.
Islam as a culture made many leaps from the Arab era of ignorance. One of these leaps was that of proper adornment.
In the Holy Qur’an:
] يَا بَنِي ءَادَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِنْدَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا وَلاَ تُسْرِفُوا إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ * قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنَ الرِّزْقِ قُلْ هِيَ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا خَالِصَةً يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كَذَلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ [
Meaning: O Sons of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes) at every mosque, and eat and drink, and do not be extravagant; surely certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance). Say (O Muhammad SAW): "Who has prohibited the adornment of Allah, which He has brought out for His bondmen, and the good things of (His) providing?” Say, “They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) exclusively for them (believers) on the Day of Resurrection (the disbelievers will not share them)." Thus We expound the signs for a people who know. (Surah Al-A`raf – Verses Nos. 31 - 32)
It was narrated that a man came to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with unkempt hair and beard. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) signaled him to comb his hair. The man did and returned. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “This is better for one of you than coming with untidy hair as if he is a devil.” (Reported by Malik)
Abu Qatadah narrated that he said to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “O, Messenger of Allah! I have a forelock. Should I comb it?” The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Yes, and take care of it.” (Reported by Malik)
A man with disordered hair and beard came to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Prophet said: “Could this man not find something to make his hair lie flat?” (Reported by An-Nasa’i)
“Do the opposite of what the pagans (the Magi) do. Keep the beards and cut the moustaches short.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Circumcision prevents the accumulation of excretions that store bacteria and may cause inflammation, which could in turn affect the reproductive and urinary systems. Circumcision is one of the natural conditions for men, as stated in the Hadith, but female circumcision is not in principle, recommended nor obligatory in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) permitted it only for those who wanted to do it, but he ordered them not to remove a much, so that the bodily functions and marital relationships would not be affected.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“O, Umm Habibah! If you circumcise a female, do not cut a great deal, for, this makes the face more radiant, and makes her dearer to her husband.” (Reported by Abu Dawud)
G- The Siwak (tooth cleaning-stick) and Oral Hygiene:
It is due to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that Muslims knew the importance of cleaning the mouth and the teeth, centuries before the rise of dentistry and its schools.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“Were it not that I might over-burden the people, I would have ordered them to use a tooth cleaning stick at every prayer time.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi)
“Siwak [toothـstick] is a purifier of the mouth and a means of pleasing the Lord.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
“Gabriel has never come to me but he recommended me to use the siwak, to the extent that I feared that it would be imposed on me and my nation. Had not I found it hard for my people, I would have commanded them to use the siwak. I use siwak a lot to the extent that I fear that I would remove a part of my gum.” (Reported by Ibn Majah)
“If you perform ablution, you should rinse the mouth.” (Reported by Abu Dawud)
“Rinse your mouths after drinking milk, for it contains fat.” (Reported by Abu Dawud)
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his Companions set off for Khaybar. The Prophet asked for food. Nothing but suwiq was brought to the Prophet. So, they chewed it, and ate it, and drank water. After that the Prophet got up and washed his mouth. (Reported by Ibn Majah)
“The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would pray pairs of raka`at (prostrations) during the night, and then use a siwak.” (Reported by Ibn Majah)
“The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not get up by day or night but cleaned his mouth with a siwak before performing ablution.” (Reported by Abu Dawud)
“Whenever he (the Prophet) got up for prayer during the night, he cleansed his mouth with the tooth cleaning stick.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
All these Hadiths combine together to affirm that the source of the Sunnah (customary practices) of the illiterate Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the All-Knowing, Allah.
On the other hand, modern studies have discovered the medical benefits of the Arak tree, the source of siwak. It is a tree grown in the Arabian Peninsular, which contains chemicals that remove the yellowness of teeth and contain a fragrant purifying oil.