Islam and Medical Sciences (Last Part)

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By: Qurratulain Bashir  Jamea Fatima tuz Zahra, Mansehra

Hazrat Abu Hurairah رضی اللہ عنہ reported: Rasoolullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم said:
Verily, Allah does not look at your appearance or wealth, but rather He looks at your hearts and actions.
For every person can give something from his wealth, time, and energy. At the very least, Muslims can refrain from harming others and that is also charity.
Hazrat Abu Huraira رضی اللہ عنہ reported: Rasoolullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم said:
Charity is due upon every joint of the people for every day upon which the sun rises. Being just between two people is charity, and helping a man with his animal and lifting his luggage upon it is charity, and a kind word is charity, and every step that you take towards the mosque is charity, and removing harmful things from the road is charity.
Source: Sahih Muslim 1009, Grade: Sahih
When a Muslim commits a sin, his or her heart is covered by a stain but it is removed by repentance and good deeds.
HJazrat Abu Huraira رضی اللہ عنہ reported: Rasoolullah صلی اللہ علیہ  وسلم said:
Verily, when the believer commits a sin, a black spot appears upon his heart. If he repents and abandons the sin and seeks forgiveness, his heart will be polished, but if he increases in sin, the blackness increases. That is the covering which Allah has mentioned in his Book: Nay, but on their hearts is a covering because of what they have earned. (83:14)
(Source: Sunan ibn Majah 4244, Grade: Sahih)
Therefore, a Muslim must continue to perform supplications, prayers, charity, and good deeds until his heart is purified from sin.
In conclusion, the salvation of a Muslim depends upon purification of the heart and soul from vices and adorning the heart with virtues. Purification is achieved through performing sincere supplications, prayers, and acts of charity toward others. We must remember that we will be judged on the Day of Resurrection according to the purity of our hearts and the righteousness of our deeds.
All the above-mentioned verses and Ahadith concern spiritual purity and its care and safety, now we are going to see whether Islam deals with physical health and its care or not.
In recent years, health professionals around the world have become increasingly concerned with the spread of infectious diseases.  Outbreaks of swine flu, avian (bird) flu, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) have meant that infectious diseases have taken on a global context and are now on the agenda of world leaders and health policy makers alike.  In developed and developing countries, health officials are focusing on infectious disease research and linking it to policy-making and infrastructure.
The scope of infectious diseases is progressively more challenged by globalization.  Easy and frequent air travel allows diseases to spread rapidly between communities and countries.  Infectious disease control will continue to be confronted by 21st century issues including global warming, conflict, famine, overpopulation, deforestation, and terrorism.  
Due to ongoing media attention, most of us are aware of the dangers associated with swine flu and bird flu and in 2003 -2004 the world held its collective breath when 8098 people became sick with SARS before the global outbreak was contained.  These three diseases have led to renewed interest in infectious diseases by the public, however, Gideon Informatics, the world’s leading global infectious disease database, has tracked and documented more than 20 major infectious diseases since 1972.
Some basic measures are appropriate when trying to control the spread of any or all infectious diseases.  These include meticulous hand washing, covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, proper disposal of tissues, staying at home and away from public places and in extreme cases such as SARS, quarantine.  Islam is a religion concerned with creating a community of healthy believers.
Islam is a holistic (complete/dealing with all) belief system and it takes into account the physical, emotional, and spiritual well being of individuals and societies.  Although care of the individual is important, safeguarding communities, including its weakest members is of paramount importance.  More than 1400 years ago,Rasoolullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم taught his followers hygiene practices that are still applicable in the 21st century.
From the traditions of Rasoolullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم we find evidence that clearly indicates Islam’s stance on coughing and sneezing openly. Rasoolullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم instructed the believers to cover their faces when sneezing. The most obvious effect of sneezing and coughing without covering the mouth is the spread of airborne bacteria and viruses, in addition, droplets invisible to the naked eye, may fall onto surfaces or other people.
The virus that causes SARS is thought to be transmitted most readily by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  What is known as droplet spread can happen when droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled a short distance (up to 3 feet) through the air and deposited on the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, or eyes of people who are nearby.  The virus also can spread when a person touches a surface or object contaminated with infectious droplets and then touches his or her mouth, nose, or eye. The SARS virus might spread more broadly through the air (airborne spread).
Islam is referred to as the religion of cleanliness.  “Truly, God loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.”  (Quran 2:222)  In the traditions of Rasoolullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم cleanliness is mentioned as half of faith, therefore, it is important to keep the body fresh and clean and Islam insists on several practices to facilitate this.  The private parts are washed after using the toilet and Muslims must pay particular attention to being clean before praying.  They wash their hands, faces, (including rinsing the mouth and nose) arms and feet, a minimum of five times per day.  Rasoolullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم insisted that the believers wash their hands, before praying, before and after eating and upon waking up in the morning.
When trying to stop the spread of any type of influenza, including swine flu and bird flu, the first line of defence is frequent hand washing.  Both the World Health Organization and CDC recommend the following precautions.  Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue in the trash after use.  Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, germs spread that way.  Stay home if you get sick.  CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Infection control in Islam includes isolation and quarantine. Rasoolullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم instituted strategies that are today implemented by public health authorities.  He commanded his followers not to travel to places known to be afflicted with illness and he advised those in the contaminated areas or communities not to leave and spread the disease further afield.  He said, “If you hear that there is a plague in a land, do not enter it; and if it (plague) visits a land while you are therein, do not go out of it.” He also counseled ill people not to visit healthy people.
The teaching and principles of Islam are designed to benefit all of humankind.  Rules and recommendations for personal hygiene and cleanliness promote the well-being of individuals and communities.  Infection control is inherent in Islamic hygiene behaviour.  Washing the hands, covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, voluntary isolation, when one is feeling unwell and restricted travel is an effective and comprehensive public health strategy.  Measures taken in the 21st century to prevent the spread of infections and viruses conform almost exactly to the hygiene and infection control practices taught by Rasoolullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم.