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Paper presented at the Second Universiti Malaya Medical Center Conference on Medicine from the Islamic Perspective held at Sheraton Subang on 11-13 October 2002 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. e-mail: Website: http://omarkasule,



Humans are enjoined to search for cures for diseases. Treatment modalities can be spiritual, physical, or a combination of the two types. Spiritual modalities of treatment do might be mediated through physical processes. The Law prohibits use of physical modalities of treatment whose harm exceeds the benefits. Haram material is prohibited as medicine. The Islamic concepts of tauhid, wasatiyyat, and shumuliyyat guide the manner of use of physical modalities of treatment.



Every disease has a treatment. The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in an authentic hadith that Allah did not reveal any disease, bau, without also revealing its cure, dawau[i]. Humans are encouraged to seek treatment, al hatthu ‘ala al dawaa[ii]. The Qur’an described cure, shifa[iii]. The Qur’an is itself a cure[iv]. Honey is described in the Qur’an as a cure[v]. Some people may know the cure and others may ignore it but it nevertheless exists. The Qur’an described disease in prophet Ayyub (PBUH) and its eventual cure[vi]. The Qur’an described how Isa cured chronic diseases[vii].



Humans try, but it is Allah who cures, allah huwa al shafi[viii]. Humans should not be arrogant by attributing cure to themselves and not Allah. In the same way humans cannot refuse to take measures to cure disease claiming that Allah will take care of it. It is true that Allah cures but in some cases that cure operates through the agency of humans. Sometimes the measures that humans take to cure a disease may not be sufficient on their own to alleviate the condition; it is Allah’s divine intervention and mercy that brings about the complete cure. Disease treatment is part of qadar[ix]. Seeking treatment does not contradict qadar or tawakkul. Disease treatment is  part of qadr. The principle that applies here is reversal of qadar by another qadar , rad al qadr bi al qadr.



Among spiritual approaches to disease management is use of dua from the Qur’an[x] and hadith as ruqiy. Dua is medicine[xi]. Dua was reported to have been used for madness, dua min al junoon[xii] and for fever[xiii]. The formulas for ruqy reported from the prophet, al ruqiy al mathuur, consist of the following chapters of the Qur’an: al fatihat, al falaq, al naas, ayat al kursi, and the various supplications reported from the prophet, dua ma’athurat. The Qur’an is the best medicine[xiv].. Asking for protection from Allah, isti’adhat, is medicine. A strong iman and trust in Allah, tawakkul, play a role in the cure of diseases. Salat is a cure[xv]. The spiritual approach to cure is mediated through the physical processes. Psychosomatic processes affect the immune functions and other metabolic functions of the body. A believer who is spiritually calm will have positive psychosomatic experiences because he or she will be psychologically healthy and at ease. Faith can change the very perception of disease symptoms. Pain is for example subjective. A believing person who trusts in Allah may feel less pain from an injury than a non-believer with the same injury.



Among physical approaches to disease management are: diet, natural agents (chemical, animal and plant products), manufactured chemical agents, surgery, jiraha, and physical treatment e.g. heat. Physical approaches can reverse disease pathology, mitigate its effects or just stop farther progression. All therapeutic agents and procedures are allowed unless they contravene a specific provision of the Law. This provides a wide scope for the practice of medicine. Bad medicine is forbidden[xvi]. Bad medicine causes more harm than benefit. While seeking treatment, the moral teachings of Islam must be respected. The end never justifies the means. Haram material is not allowed as medicine except in special circumstances where the legal principle of necessity, dharurat, applies. Alcohol is for example not an accepted cure for any disease; it is actually itself a disease.


The side effects of medication must be considered alongside the benefits. The discovery of antibiotics and other powerful agents and procedures effective against disease has changed the face of medical care for the better in the past 50 years but has brought with it many iatrogenic problems. Drugs are associated with side effects or unwanted effects that a good physician should be aware of and should look out for. These problems are two-fold: (a) introduction of new molecules in drugs into the body and the environment. The long-term effect of such ‘unnatural’ molecules is not known. (b) Invasive technology makes drastic changes to human anatomy and physiology with its long-term consequences still unknown.


Harmful treatments are not allowed in situations in which the cure is worse than the disease. Choice of what treatment modality to use should involve a careful weighing of benefits and possible harm or injury. It is a principal of Islamic Law, sharia, to give priority to preventing harm over accruing a benefit, dari’u al mafasid muqaddam ‘ala jalbi al masalih. The equilibrium between benefit and harm of treatment modalities should be looked at using three Islamic principles: tauhid, wasatiyyat, & shumuliyyat. The concept of tauhid motivates looking at the patient, the disease, and the environment as one system that is in equilibrium; thus all factors that are involved with the three elements are considered while making decisions. The concept of wasatiyyat motivates the need for moderation and not doing anything in excess. The concept of shumiliyyat extends the tauhidi principle by requiring an overall comprehensive bird’s view of the disease and treatment situation.



There should no dichotomy between spiritual and physical modalities of treatment. Both approaches should be used for the same condition; they are complementary. Each cures the disease each using a different pathway. There is no contradiction but there is always synergy. It is a mistake to use one and reject the other.

[i]  (MB1962

[ii] MB1962

[iii] Qur’an 3:49, 5:110, 9:14, 10:57, 10:69, 17:82, 26:80, 41:44)

[iv] Qur’an 17:82

[v] Qur’an 16:69)

[vi] Qur’an 21:83-84, 38:41-44

[vii] Qur’an 3:49, 5:11

[viii] Qur’an 21:83-84, 26:80, 38:41-42

[ix] Tirmidhi K26 B21

[x] Qur’an 17:82

[xi] Ahmad 2:446

[xii] Ahmad 1:302

[xiii] Tirmidhi K45 B36

[xiv] Ibn Majah K31 B28

[xv] Ibn Majah K31 B10

[xvi] Tirmidhi K26 B7

Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. October 2002