Healing: Miracles or Medicine?

Found a very interesting hadith today and thought I’d share, especially in light of the fact that some people believe they do not need medicine or doctors as long as their faith is strong enough.  Others who take medicine are sometimes viewed as lacking in faith (particularly those who seek help for mental health issues).  Yet, Islam reminds us that all healing comes from God, whether directly or ‘indirectly’; through both miracles and medical advancements.

Imam al-Sadiq (as) said, ‘A prophet from among the prophets fell sick and said, ‘I will not treat myself [with medicine] until the One who made me sick heals me’. Then Allah revealed to him saying, ‘I will not heal you until you treat yourself [with medicine] for verily the healing is from Me.’

Bihar al-Anwar, v. 62, p. 66, no. 15

This serves to remind us that God has given humankind the intellect and curiosity to explore and research the universe in order to find cures for the diseases that afflict us.  Refusing the results of this blessing is not faith, but is ignorance.

With that being said, it also doesn’t mean to rush out and take medicine for any ailment your doctor or the commercials on TV say you have (the US is far too over-medicated as it is).  It is best to do your own research in order to have a thorough understanding of your condition, along with the various options for treatment, their outcomes, and side effects.  Understanding side effects is very crucial as sometimes the side effects are worse than the original condition!

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12 thoughts on “Healing: Miracles or Medicine?

  1. Very wise indeed. It takes an act of Congress for me to take medicine stronger than aspirins but when I do, it works wonders because I’m not using them on a regular basis (or abusing them). It’s all about balance.

    The hadith reminds me of a joke my godfather (Lutheran pastor) tells. There’s a huge storm and the town starts to flood. One man’s neighbors all flee but he stays behind saying, “God will save me.” A police boat motors up but the man refuses to leave, saying again, “God will save me.” Finally, the water is lapping up at his rooftop and a helicopter drops him a ladder but the man refuses to budge. “God will save me!” Then the house is washed away and the man find himself in Heaven and he’s a little mad. “God,” he says, “I was faithful and never doubted you and you let me die. God replies, “I sent you warnings, I sent you a boat, and I sent you a helicopter. What more did you want?”

    I like this hadith a LOT. Going to write it down.

    • haha nice example! And all too true. Too many of us, regardless of religion, put God in a limited box by only accepting what WE want. When in reality, God has given us numerous opportunities that we refused to acknowledge from our own ignorance.

      And yes, it is all about balance, which is the core message of Islam: balance, moderation, taking the middle path. I also dislike taking medicine, but I’ll give in every once in a while. 🙂

  2. Hi Sakina,
    Just another question.
    I hope that you don’t mind me asking….?
    What about miracles?
    Does Islam support miraculous signs such as healings?
    What if there is no medicine to heal a particular disease?

    In the Christian community, there use to be healers of all kinds.
    As a disabled person, I can’t count the times a pastor or zealous Christian has stopped me, asked to pray

  3. I am sorry:
    something happened and my comment was submitted early.
    ….
    asking to pray for my healing.
    Of course, there are times in the Bible where someone was healed.
    And, there is a fine line in believing that God “can” heal me and that he desires to do so.
    But, I was wondering about specific verses in the Quran.
    What is your reaction when you see a person who can not be healed from their disability or disease?
    Do you pray for their healing? Do you see them as “broken?”

    • Hi Jamily, thanks for your comment! Yes of course Islam supports miracles! The point in this post, however, is to remind people that God works not only in miracles, but also through normal, everyday means. It is important to remember that because there are people who refuse to see doctors or take medicine because they think it is all a matter of faith, not science.

      A word on miracles: I have heard Christians wonder (as I did myself) why we don’t have miracles like there were in Biblical times. There are a few reasons for that: the first is that God doesn’t do ‘magic’ for miracles, He uses the system He Himself designed and already has in place. When we discover more and more of His system and understand how it works, such things that were miracles in the past are just common knowledge now (just as the author of Revelation could only describe his vision in miraculous terms, yet today we can look at it and easily imagine modern-day technology, like helicopters). Of course, since we are far from understanding God’s entire system, miracles still occur to this day. However, such miracles are often dismissed since people tend to be skeptical of the supernatural (in the US at least), and they also don’t receive much attention due to the attitude of the media and scientific world toward the unexplainable.

      I’m sure there are entire books written on the Islamic teachings regarding disability, but in short, we can always pray for their healing, because no condition is impossible for God. However, we should also realize that sometimes the condition is a test from God (to test our patience, to help us build our faith, to teach those around us important lessons, and so on) – or it could even be a gift from God (for example, if someone is blind, perhaps if they had eyes they would always be tempted to look at immoral things). So indeed, God may not want to heal someone because He knows what is best for them.

      Not all that the world sees as ‘broken’ or useless is really so in reality. This world is an illusion and a test, and our real life begins afterward.

      May I ask you a question:
      When people have prayed for your healing, have you ever experienced any actual physical change in your condition?

  4. Asalaamu Alaikum

    Islam says there is a cure for every disease we just have to look for it or find the people who know the cure. I think a lot of cures are being hidden from us so that we can continue to use the band aid approach. On a documentary(Future of Food) I watched it said that Monsanto owns a gene that scientists feel could cure breast cancer but they can’t test their theory. I think its scary; drug business is big business and they don’t have our best interests in mind.

    • Walaykum salam Aishah,

      Very good comment! Do you know the reference for that hadith by any chance? I’ve also heard it but don’t remember where. 🙂

      I agree with you that cures are being hidden – our world is fueled by greed, and the US (and increasingly the rest of the world) is owned by big corporations who do not desire what is best for humankind, but desire more money and more power. There are many plausible speculations on potential cures that may already exist (like AIDS, cancer as you’ve mentioned); it is also quite possible that some diseases have been invented and spread just for the sake of profit. It is a frightening world, and I take refuge in the fact that God will hold them all accountable.

      • Oh, and I also saw that documentary – Monsanto makes my blood boil! I also hate that the FDA is participating by making it confusing and difficult to figure out if a product is truly organic or not!! What has this world come to when even our very food and water (and air!) is altered and poisoned…

  5. who was he saying made him sick?? was he saying that God made him sick because if he was then this is a lie..sickness comes from satan..and if hes waiting on satan to heal him..that dont sound right either..as for medicine..i am not against it..i think it is good to help people and beleive that God gave us knowledge on how to use it..because he care for us and understands our lack of faith..but i dont think he intended for us to be dependant upon it..adam and eve chose fruit over God..this makes me wonder if medicine is really just us choseing something other than God too

    • Hi Chad, thanks for your comment!

      The hadith from the post does not say that all sickness is from God. Sickness comes from many sources. Sometimes it comes from Satan, as God has allowed Satan dominion over the earth as a test for those who believe in God. Sometimes it comes as the result of our own actions – or from the actions of others (food companies putting harmful chemicals into the food, for example). Other times it does come from God Himself, again as a test or as a gift to us. In the hadith I posted, the prophet is merely attributing his particular sickness at this particular time from God. It is a specific instance, not an overall, general truth.

      With your example of Adam and Eve, you are right that they chose worldly temptation over God. But this cannot be compared to taking medicine. God explicitly forbade them to partake of the fruit, yet God did not forbid us from taking medicine. Seeking healing through prayer is very important, but additionally using the valid options around us that God has blessed us with is important as well. Paul says in the Bible that faith without works is dead. This means that sitting around praying for healing isn’t enough. We should pray for healing and actively try to do something positive to help bring that about (i.e. researching our disease, trying to find existing remedies, and so on).

  6. This is a great post! I completely agree with you. Allah (swt) has given us so many gifts, one of them being giving doctors and such the knowledge of curing certain health problems so why not use those gifts? It seems like we don’t care about the life He gave us if we just discard it.

    • You are quite right Ellen. God has given us the gift of knowledge and the ability to seek it. If we just just sit around and wait for God to act only the way we want Him to, we are missing His blessings and are putting limits and constraints on Him.

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