Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. MB ChB, MPH, DrPH (Harvard) Professor, Kulliyah of Medicine, International Islamic University PO Box 70 Jln Sultan PJ 46700 Telephone 60 3 755 3433 fax 60 3 757 7970 (written for the seminar on Medical Interventions at Universiti Hospital, University off Malaya on 21ST JULY 1996)


Islam is a universal belief system. It therefore does not have a particular system of medical treatment peculiar to it. It has values and concepts that guide medical treatment. These can be applied to several medical systems that exist and those that will be discovered in the future. Islamic Medicine does not fit the classification of ‘alternative medicine’ like homeopathy, acupuncture, ayurdevic medical systems. This brief paper  will deal with 2 main issues (a) clarification of the concept of Islamic Medicine (b) Presenting some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad with relevance to medicine.



There is a semantic confusion between the adjectives 'Islamic' and 'Muslim'. 'Islamic'  refers to values, ideas, guiding principles, and application of the Qur'an and sunnah. 'Muslim' refers to people who self-identify as Muslims as well as their activities and institutions. They may not follow all the teaching of Islam. Thus Islamic medicine, the ideal, is not the same as Medicine of Muslim societies, which is the actual historical or contemporary experience of Muslim societies.


Islamic Medicine is defined as Medicine whose basic paradigms, concepts, values, and procedures conform to or to do not contradict the Qur'an and sunnah. It is not  specific medical procedures or therapeutic agents used at a particular place or a particular time. Islamic medicine is universal, all - embracing, flexible, and allows for growth and development of various methods of investigating and treating diseases within the frame-work described above.



Muslims do not look at disease always in a negative way. The following traditions indicate that there could be something positive in ill-health.


Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Masud: I visited Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) while he was suffering from a high fever. I touched him with my hand and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! You have a high fever.” Allah’s Apostles (PBUH) said, “Yes I have as much fever as two men of have.”  I said, “Is it because you will get a double reward?”    Allah’s   Apostle (PBUH) said,  “Yes,  no  Muslim  is  afflicted  with  harm  because  of  sickness  of  some  other  inconvenience,  but  that  Allah   will  remove   his  sins  for  as  a  tree  sheds  its   leaves.”


Narrated  Aisha (PBUH),  the  Wife  of  the  Prophet (PBUH):  Allah’s   Apostle (PBUH)  said,   “No  calamity  befalls  a  Muslim  but  that  Allah  expiates  some  of  his  sins  because   of  it,  even  though  it  were  the  prick  he  receive  from  a  thorn.”


Narrated  Abu  Sa’id   Al-Khuduri  and  Huraira: The  Prophet (PBUH)  said,  “No  fatigue,   nor  disease,   nor  sorrow,  nor  sadness,  nor  hurt,  nor  distress  befalls  a  Muslim,  even  if  it  were  the  prick  he  receives   from   a  thorn,    but  that  Allah  expiares   some  of  his  sins  for  that.



A Muslim is expected to be patient in illness and hope for cure and never give up hope and wish for death as indicated in the following tradition:


Narrated Anas bin Malik (ASW): The Prophet (PBUH) said: “None of you should wish for death because of the calamity of befalling him; but if he has to wish for death, should say : “O Allah keep me alive as long as life is better for me and let me die if death is better for  me”.



Muslims believe that ultimately cure of disease is from Allah. The physician makes attempts that could succeed or fail.


Narrated Aisha (A.S) Whenever Allah’s Apostle (P.B.U.H) paid a visit to a patient or a patient was brought to him, he used to invoke Allah saying, “Take a way the disease, O the Lord of the people ! Cure him as you are the one who cures. There is no cure but yours, a cure that leaves no disease.”



A Muslim has strong hope in the cure of his disease. All diseases are potentially curable with the grace of Allah. The cure may be known by some people and not by others. It may be known at a certain epoch and not another one. There must be a cure and if not known, the physicians are encouraged to search for it.


Narrated Abu-Huraira (A.S.W.) The Prophet (PBUH) Said, “There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment.”



A Muslim believes that death is pre-ordained and that its time, ajal, is in the hands of Allah and no human can postpone or prevent it. The purpose of medicine is to improve or maintain the remaining quality of life until the pre-ordained moment of death.


Narrated Abu-Huraira (ASW) I heard Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) saying, “ There is healing in black cumin for all disease except death.”



The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his medical teachings emphasized the concept of preventive medicine as shown in the following traditions:


Narrated Sa’d: The Prophet (PBUH) said , “ If You hear of an outbreak of plunge in a land, do not enter it, but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.”


Narrated Abu-Huraira (ASW) Allah’s Apostle  (PBUH) said: The cattle (sheep, cow camel, etc.) suffering from disease should not be mixed up with healthy cattle, ( or ( or said: “ Do not put a patient with  a healthy person ),” ( as precaution).



Muslims believe that besides physical therapies in the form of medicinal products and surgery, disease can be cured by prayer as the following traditions show.


Narrated Aisa (R.A) : During the prophet’s (PBUH) fatal illness, he used to recite the Mu’auwidhat (surat An-Nas and surat Al-Faraq) and then blow his breath over his body. When his illness was aggravated, I used to recite those two suras and blow my breath over him and make him rub his body with his own hand for its blessings.”


632 Narrated Abu Sad Al-Khudri (ASW) Some of the companion of the prophet (PBUH) came across a tribe amongst the tribes of the Arabs, and that tribe did not entertain them. While they were in the state, the chief of that tribe was bitten by a snake ( or stung by a scorpion ). They said, (to the companions of the Prophet (PBUH), “Have you got any medicine with you or any body who can treat with ruqya?” The Prophet’s companions said, “ You refused to entertain us, so we will not treat (your chief ) unless you pay us for it.” so they agreed to pay them with a flock of sheep. One of them ( the prophet’s companions) started reciting surat al Fatiha and gathering his saliva  and spitting it (at the snake-bite). The patient got cured and his people presented the sheep to them, but they said” We will not take it unless we ask the prophet (PBUH) (whether it is lawful).” When they asked him , he smiled and said, “How do you know that surat al -Fatiha is a ruqya? Take it (flock of sheep) and assign a share for me.


Narrated Al-Aswad: I asked Aisha about treating poisonous stings ( a snake-bite or scorpion sting) with a Ruqya.  She said, The Prophet (PBUH) allowed the treatment of poisonous with ruqya.”


Narrated Abdul -Aziz: Thabit and I Went to Anas bin Malik Thabit said, “O Abu Hamza! Iam sick “On that Anas said “shall I treat you with ruqya of Allah’s Apostle(PBUH) ? Thabit said,  “yes” Anas recited  “O Allah! The lord of the people, the remover of the trouble! ( please ) cure (Heal) (this patient), for you are the Healer. None brings about healing but you; a healing that will leave behind no ailment.”


639. Narrated Aisha (RA). The prophet (PBUH) used to treat some of his wives by passing his right hand over the place of ailment and used to say,  “O Allah , the Lord  of the people! Remove the trouble and heal the patient, for You are the Healer. No healing is of any avail but yours; healing that will leave behind no ailment.


640. Narrated Aisha. (RA) Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) used to treat with ruqya saying, “ O the Lord of the people ! Remove the trouble . The cure is in Your Hands, and there is none except  You who can remove it (the disease).

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule July 1996