What is Tibb – Islamic Medicine?
Tibb (medicine) is a system of medical practice based on whole person medicine. It originated from some of the most ancient communities in the Middle East. Based on the time-tested evidence, it aims to bring balance and harmony to an individual’s life and bring it back to its’ fitrah (natural state).
What is the perfect lifestyle?
It’s widely acknowledged that most chronic diseases stem from unhealthy lifestyle factors. Yet no one knows what this perfect lifestyle should be. The Quran eloquently answers this question. The perfect lifestyle is described throughout this revealed book. Furthermore, its practical application is shown through the Sunnah.
The principles in the Quran are universal, how to live according to the Sunnah. However, it is clear from these sources that we are created quite unique. Therefore a one size fits all method towards health care will not do. Furthermore, our individual experience of any given situation will be quite distinct. For example in a gathering of people in the same room, one person may be feeling warm and another feeling cold. Being in the same place, having the same temperature of the room, same speaker, however each person experiences this differently. These differences are described by Imam Ibn Al Qayyim Al Jawziyyah’s in Tibb- e – nabvie as temperament.
Tibb (Islamic medicine) is based on inference from the Quran and Sunnah. Imam Jawizjyyah uses evidence from the Quran and Sunnah to describe temperaments. Everyone is unique and has distinct combinations of physical, emotional and spiritual qualities, which are dynamic. Therefore a unique set of needs must be addressed for each person. Each person’s life is made up of a bunch of interlinked behaviours and preferences, which in turn have an impact on their health and well-being.
Any change from these perfectly balanced internal and external factors will result in ill health. As you move away from the fitrah (natural balance) illnesses occur.The need to bring yourself back into equilibrium arises. Though using adjustments to lifestyle factors and being intuitive to your body’s needs, you can achieve better health.
For chronic diseases related to lifestyle factors, Tibb as an alternative medicine is really effective. It allows you to take health into your own hands through this time-tested method of ensuring a balanced and healthy lifestyle. This is not a fast fix and certainly not purely a diet system. It involves evaluating a number of lifestyle factors from a personal perspective.
The Connection Between Holistic Medicine and the Islamic Faith
Mind, body, soul connection
How the mind body and soul connect is key to treating chronic diseases.
The Quran and hadith mention both the inward state of a human and how this affects the outward state of a person. From the earliest times, there has been an acceptance that healing needs to be for both the body and the soul. We can see this in a modern context when you tackle emotional factors, which have a follow-on effect on physical factors, e.g. Emotional eating (eating for other reasons than hunger) results in overeating and obesity. How you utilise the mind, body, spirit connection in treating chronic diseases is key in assessing the cause of disease. As in the cases of diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and IBS. Whole person balance is only achieved when the state of all 3 components of a human being are addressed.
History of Tibb
The historical development of modern medicine stems from being disenfranchised with the dogma attached to Christianity. When people were not allowed access to the religious texts themselves it bred a sense of disillusionment with religious authority and a and a shift away from considering the unseen – God `and the human soul, to focus on the material matters – what you can see, like the physical body.
This shift away from considering the mind, body and soul connection has built a modern medical system that negates the existence of a soul at the expense of neglecting its role in a person’s health and well-being.
In the past (just 100 years ago) the medical system in the West was based on the cannons of Ibn Sina known as Avensinna. However, now, a thousand of years old evidence-based tradition has been relegated to the position of CAMS, (Complementary Alternative Medical System,) at best and quackery at worst.
This little-known tradition is sometimes known as Unani medicine or Islamic medicine. This tradition of medicine although originating from ancient pre-Islamic practices was adopted by Muslim doctors, after removing any non-Islamic elements. In the time of the Prophet PBUH some of the practices such as cupping which was already practiced were used and hence became part of Islamic medicine. However, nowadays It is regarded as inferior to the symptom-based approach of allopathic medicine.
Finding the cause and then the cure for chronic diseases has not being considered. When in the East this tradition has been healing people without the need for modern medical proofs. The belief in the religious texts has been put aside to give preference to scientifically tested methods only.
It’s evident that modern medicine needs the support of alternative medical practices.The need and benefit of modern medicine lie in emergency medicine however it is ill-equipped though time and resources to address chronic diseases.
Prevalence of Obesity
The dissected approach of allopathic medicine means that you will be referred to a number of doctors. Because a disease can have several symptoms, each doctor deals with his or her specialty. The poem by Rumi a 13th-century poet highlights just this point.
A group of men who have never seen an elephant before, go into a darkened room. Feeling one part of the elephant each, they conclude that: the leg is a pole, the ear is a fan and the trunk is a rope … but it’s forgotten that actually, the whole of it is, in fact, an elephant. It’s the same for humans if we look at the person as a sum of its separate parts then we will miss the connection between those parts.
We see in nature there is a balance in all that Allah has created. The human body also has a balance which we need to preserve and try and bring back into its natural state.
This bitty bit approach to health needs to be addressed. Interestingly the single assessment practice, alleviating repetition to both NHS and the social care systems have been proposed in a BBC news correspondence in 2014. More recently, The Better Care Fund March 2017 highlights the need for NHS organisations to jointly plan… to provide local services. It’s a little late in coming but highlights what an evidence-based, non-scientific approach has been doing for centuries.
Adopting a holistic approach to Health
What we need to do is remember that God created as with all 3 aspects, body mind, and soul. Disregarding any one of these will leave us to manifest it in disease, either in mental illnesses, physical illness or diseases of the heart. Allah has in the Quran quite clearly indicated that we need to keep everything in balance. Drowning out the cry for help in the form of symptoms means that the cause and cure can’t be addressed. The spiritual aspects, intellectual and physical are very much interlinked and so a holistic approach to balancing and curing any disease is required.
It’s part of the Sunnah to seek medicine and cure for an illness.
Although the Quran and Hadith are quite distinct, there is a role for using the inferences laid out in Tibb e nabive to prevent illness and look deeper than just the symptoms of a disease.Working with the natural fitrah and makeup of the human will give the greatest benefit. The current symptom-based approach actually suppresses the real imbalance in the body, mind and the soul. Tibb e nabvie addresses all three aspects to bring us closer to balance. Tibb plays a key role in preventive and curative medicine and can be the missing link in the solution to chronic illnesses.
As part of our journey to obtain good health it’s important to consider the health of all three aspects of our being: body, mind, and soul. Tibb or Islamic medicine can be used in conjunction with the guidance given to us in the Quran and Sunnah. I hope that reviving this way of nourishing body mund and soul will bring us closer to our creator and allow us to fulfil our purpose.
Allah Hafiz for now