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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES-03

0406-THE ROLE OF SALAT AND SPIRITUALITY IN HEALTH

Lecture for 2nd Year Pharmacy Students by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. on 7th June 2004

A. TAHARAT AND PHYSICAL HYGIENE

CONCEPT OF TAHARAT:

Protocol: Taharat is in itself a form of ‘ibadat as well as preparation for other forms of ‘ibadat. Since worship is direct communication with Allah, taharat can also be viewed as a protocol preparation for an important event. ‘Ibadat is direct communication with Allah. Protocol requires that humans do not present themeselves infront of the Lord unless they are physically pure and clean. Some forms of ‘ibadat like salat and hajj cannot be valid without taharat. Salat is not accepted without wudhu, ta tuqbalu salaat bi gahyr tahuur[i]. The holy Qur’an cannot be touched unless one is in a state of taharat. Physical purity for salat embraces the body, the clothes, the place, and the atmosphere. The prophet for example forbade eating of food with strong orders and then coming to the mosque in order to keep the mosque atmosphere clean and pleasant.

 

Duality of taharat: The concept of taharat in Islam refers to ritual, spiritual, and physical purity and cleanliness. It has social and civilizational dimensions. The Qur’an uses the term taharat in a physical sense[ii] and in a spiritual and ritual sense[iii].  There is a link between physical and ritual purity. Physical purity is ridding one-self of dirt and physical impurities, najasat. Being physically clean is conducive to ritual purity. In many cases both physical and ritual purity occur at the same time for example bathing, ghusl after sexual intercourse, at the end of menstruation, and after birth. Physical purity enhances feelings of self esteem and self confidence since deliberate and sophisticated acts of cleanliness are only found in adult sane humans. The high self esteem thus engendered translates into emotional and psychological good feeling in preparation for the act of worship.

 

General cleanliness, nadhafat: Taharat embraces cleanliness. The human has to be clean more and above the requirements of ritual purity, taharat, that is needed for salat. The concept of cleanliness is comprehensive including cleanliness of body, clothing, environment, as well as good general appearance. Cleanliness has a lot of merit, fadhl, in Islam[iv]. A clean environment and a clean body are part of aesthetic beauty and are also necessary for sanitation and health. There are some cases like tayammum in which taharat is achieved without cleanliness as usually understood by humans.  In tayammum the dust is blown off the hands before passing them over the face[v]. Cleanliness is part of iman. Cleanliness is a pre-requisite for successful and pleasant social intercourse. Since acts of worship are generally held in congregation, cleanliness will ensure that there are no unpleasant odors. Body and environmental hygiene will also limit the spread of infectious diseases in public places of worship.

 

Impurity, najasat: Physical impurity is due to excretory or secretory products of humans or contact with materials defined by the Law as impurities, najasat. Ritual impurity is as important as physical impurity. A person may be ritually impure and requires a purificatory bath even if there are no physical signs of impurity and this occurs in three instances: post-coital impurity, janaba;,  menstruation, haidh[vi]; and post-natal bleeding, nifaas. The polytheists are referred to by the Qur'an as impure, najas[vii] even if they are physically clean.

 

Cleansing agents: One of the unique bounties for the ummat is that the earth was made a purifying agent. The cleaning agents derived from the earth are water and solids like dust or stones. There are 3 types of water: not clean in itself and not able to cleanse, clean in itself but not able to cleanse, and clean in itself and also able to cleanse something else. Water that may appear clean may have filth, infectious organisms, or chemical pollutants that make it unsuitable for cleansing. The level or amount of impurity is important. A little impurity does not necessarily make water unsuitable for cleansing.

 

B. THE ROLE OF SALAT IN SPIRITUAL HEALTH

Salat is one of the pillars of Islam, al salat ahad arkaan al Islam[viii]. If a human knows that salat is an obligatory duty he is assured of entering paradise, man ‘alama anna al salat haqq waajib dakhala al jannat[ix]. Humans will be called to account for their salat in the hereafter before any other obligation, awal ma yuhasabu ‘alayhi al ‘abd al salat[x]. Salat is the most important formal act of ‘ibadat and is the summit of religion, ra asu al amr wa dharuwat sannamihi[xi]. It was ordained in heaven; the prophet had to make a special journey for this on the night of isra and miraa[xii]. Jibril taught the prophet the times and the number of prostrations, raka’ats, of each salat[xiii]. Establishing the 5 daily prayers is a source of reward, thawaab iqamat al salawaat al khams[xiv]. Observing the 5 prayers is a source of reward, ajr al muhafadhat ‘ala al salawaat al khams[xv]. The 5 daily prayers are also atonement, al salawaat al khams kaffaarat[xvi]. They are likened to river that flows by a house in which a person washes 5 times a day such that he is in a permanent state of cleanliness, nahar yaghtasilu fiihi khams marraat[xvii]. Salat is a cure, al salat shifaa’u[xviii]. Salat is direct communication with Allah[xix].

 

The 5 canonical salats are ordained at different times during the day and night so that the human can maintain regular almost continuous remembrance, dhikr, of Allah. The prophet used to stand in salat until his feet were swollen, kaana al nabiy yusalli hatta tanfakhu qadamaahu[xx]. He also found his calmness in salat, kaana qurrat ‘ayn al nabiy fi al salat[xxi]. Salat is so important that it is considered a distinguishing characteristic of Muslims. Salat is obligatory on adult, sane Muslims. True Muslims keep it all the time, muhafadhat ala al salat[xxii]. Deliberate refusal to pray puts the individual concerned outside the community of Islam. Neglect of salat is a great sin[xxiii]. Salat has advantages and a lasting impact on the individual[xxiv]. Regular salat protects the worshipper from committing evils ,fahishat &  munkar, and transgression[xxv]. Salat properly offered cleanses and expiates sins[xxvi]. The actions of qiyaam, sujuud, and rukuu[xxvii] are all direct actions of respect and reverence that the worshipper performs in front of the creator[xxviii]. Khushu[xxix] is necessary for validity of salat otherwise it becomes a series of routine physical movements with no purpose. The call for salat, adhan, has three elements: testimony of tauhid, testimonu of the message, risalat, and calling to success, falah.

 

C. THE ROLE OF SALAT IN SOCIAL OR COMMUNITY HEALTH

Social aspects: Salat has advantages for the society. Salat in congregation or in the mosque has the social advantage of bringing people together in worship and to strengthen their brotherhood. The call to prayer, adhan, is necessary to make sure that the whole community congregates[xxx]. The spirit of brotherhood and social organization is reflected in the requirement to straighten rows to stand shoulder to shoulder and to follow the imaam. The whole community meets five times a day in congregational prayer. The larger community meets once a week on Friday in salat al jum’at[xxxi]. An even larger gathering occurs during the 2 festival prayers, salat al eidain. Praying in congregation is so important that it is recommended that even if you have completed your obligatory prayer, you should repeat it as nafilat if there is a jamaat offering the same prayer. Facing the qiblat is a condition for validity of salat[xxxii]. The qiblat signifies the unity of the ummat and the unity of action since worshippers from all over the globe are acting in unison.

 

Warning of dire consequences for leaving or neglecting salat: The Qur’an has severe warning for thosw who are lazy with salat[xxxiii]. The prophet said that the difference between Muslims and non-Muslims is salat and that whoever abandons salat becomes a kafir[xxxiv]. He also said that salat stands between a person and shirk.

 

D. SPIRITUAL APPROACHES IN DISEASE TREATMENT

Among spiritual approaches to disease management is use of dua from the Qur’an[xxxv] and hadith as ruqiy. Dua was reported to have been used for madness, dua min al junoon[xxxvi] and for fever[xxxvii]. 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[xxxviii]. Dua is medicine[xxxix]. Asking for protection from Allah, isti’adhat, is medicine[xl]. A strong iman and trust in Allah, tawakkul, play a role in the cure of diseases. Salat is a cure[xli]. 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 and not negative ones 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.


[i] (MUKHTASAR BUKHARI110: Bukhari-E Vol1 H137)

[ii]  (Qur’an 2:222, 5:6, 8:11, 25:48, 56:79, 74:4, 76:21)

[iii] (Qur’an 2:232, 3:42, 3:55, 5:41, 7:82, 9:103, 11:78, 27:56, 33:33, 33:53, 58:21, 80:14, 98:2)

[iv] (MUKHTASAR BUKHARI )

[v] (MUKHTASAR BUKHARI226: Bukhari-E Vol1 H334)

[vi] (Qur’an 2:222)

[vii] (Qur’an 9:28)

[viii] (Bukhari K2 B34)

[ix] (Ahmad 1:60)

[x] (Tirmidhi K2 B188)

[xi] (Tirmidhi K38 B8)

[xii] (MUKHTASAR BUKHARI228)

[xiii] (Bukhari)

[xiv] (Nisai K5 B6)

[xv] (Darimi K20 B12)

[xvi] (Tirmidhi K2 B46)

[xvii] (Bukhari k9 B6)

[xviii] (Ibn Majah K28 B10)

[xix] (MUKHTASAR BUKHARI331)

[xx] (Bukhari K81 B20)

[xxi] (Nisai K36 B1)

[xxii] (Qur’an 2:238, 6:92, 23:9, 70:34, 107:4-5)

[xxiii] (Qur’an 107:4-5)

[xxiv] (Qur’an 23:1-2, 29:45, 31:4-5, 70:19-35, 87:14-15)

[xxv] (Qur’an 29:45)

[xxvi] (MUKHTASAR BUKHARI330)

[xxvii] (Qur’an 9:11248:29)

[xxviii] (Qur’an 23:1-2)

[xxix] (Qur’an 23:1-2)

[xxx]  (MUKHTASAR BUKHARI370)

[xxxi] (Qur’an 62:9-10)

[xxxii] (   )

[xxxiii] (Qur’an maun:4-5, maryam:54)

[xxxiv] (Ahmad)

[xxxv] (Qur’an 17:82)

[xxxvi] (Ahmad 1:302, Ahmad 1:302)

[xxxvii]  (Tirmidhi K45 B36, 111, 118)

[xxxviii] (Ibn Majah K31 B28)

[xxxix]  (Ahmad 2:446)

[xl] (KS338  )

[xli] (Ibn Majah K31 B10)

Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. June 2004