Does Hijama and Ruqyah really work? Isn’t it just the Placebo effect?

Some people who come across the remedies mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah for the first time, may think it is just the placebo effect. In other words it only works because people believe it will work. To investigate this we need to understand what exactly the Palcebo effect is?

The Placebo effect

The most well known placebo experiment was where patients were unknowingly given an empty pill and told that it will improve their condition. As such, some patients believed the treatment was real and this belief produced a perception of getting better. This phenomenon is known as the placebo effect. The key thing to note is that the medication given was inert, in other words empty or having no effect. And secondly it was the patients belief that they were being treated, that made them feel better.

The remedies mentioned in the Sunnah are not placebos as they have a very real effect. Removing blood for example is obviously not an inert action. If a Hijama therapist were to remove too much blood, a person would faint whether they choose to believe it or not. Similarly, foods mentioned in the Sunnah such as honey are known to have antibacterial properties and high natural sugar content. So when they are consumed, will increase a person blood sugar levels, whether they choose to believe it or not. Medically speaking, a persons belief regarding the remedies mentioned in the Sunnah does not matter as they will have an effect even if the person denies it.

Diet and illness

When discussing health, food and herbal remedies, it is important to remember that the most likely cause of many illnesses is usually imbalance in the diet. Most people’s illnesses are related to their diet, be it a stomach upset for a few days or longer issues relating to weight etc such as blocked arteries. We find sincere muslims following the Sunnah in many ways however most muslims seem to have forgotten the Sunnah of eating small amounts and only filling the stomach two thirds.

Allah the Most High said, “And eat and drink and be not excessive (therein)” (al-A’raaf 7:31)

Ibn Katheer commented upon this verse:
One of the Salaf said: Allah has combined the entirety of medicine (at-tibb) in half a verse, “And eat and drink and be not excessive (therein) “.

Al-Qurtubi commented upon this verse, after mentioning that excessive eating is makrooh (disliked), he mentions the benefits of eating little: “In eating little there are many benefits. From them that a man becomes of sounder body, of better memory, purer in understanding, (requiring) less sleep, and lighter in (his) soul”

Then Al-Qurtubi mentions the harms of eating excessively:
And in eating much there is the overstuffing of the stomach and putrefaction of undigested food, and from this the variety of diseases are produced, and thus he requires treatment more than what the one who eats little requires. Some of the physicians said, “The greatest treatment (dawaa’) is (appropriate) estimation of (one’s) food (intake).” And the Prophet (saw) has explained this meaning sufficiently and completely which does away with the speech of the physicians, so he said, “The son of Adam does not fill a container worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to take enough morsels of food to keep his back straight (keep him able-bodied). And if it is necessary, then a third for his food, a third for his drink, and a third for his breath.”

Al-Qurtubi also states:
And it is mentioned that (the caliph) ar-Rasheed used to have a shrewd Christian physician who said to Alee bin Hasan, “There is not in your Book (the Qur’an) anything of the knowledge of medicine and knowledge of is of two types, knowledge of the religions and knowledge of the bodies.” So he said to him, “Allah has combined all of medicine in half a verse in our Book.” So he said, “What is it?” He said, “The saying of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic: And eat and drink and be not excessive.”

Imaam ad-Dhahabi in his book “at-Tibb an-Nabawi” (p. 34-35) says:
The Prophet (saw) said: “The son of Adam does not fill a container worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to take enough morsels of food to keep his back straight (keep him able-bodied). And if it is necessary, then a third for his food, a third for his drink, and a third for his breath.” (An-Nasaa’ee and at-Tirmidhee)

Alee bin Hasan said: “And Allah, the Sublime and Exalted has combined the whole of medicine in (just) half a verse, so He, the Most High said, “And eat and drink and be not excessive “

We hope it is understood that part of seeking a cure requires a person not to just take medicine but also stop taking the foods which make a persons condition worse. Many people complain of a lack of energy and when asked when this is the most prominent – they state directly after having eaten food, usually too much. Some people state ‘no I feel lethargic even in the morning’, unfortunately as sad as it is, they have usually consumed so much processed food and calories late at night that their body is still trying to clear it in the morning and amazingly some people lie in bed until they feel hungry again and only get up to eat again!

Mental Health

Many cases of mental illness are not of possession but of mental health issues. However we find if we advise people that they are having issues in their life because they are far from the religion, some people can get upset. This is because they consider religion as something ‘separate’ from life. However this phenomena of people having mental health issues due to a lack of faith is observed by a famous psychologists.

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) who was a Swiss psychiatrist, an influential thinker and the founder of Analytical Psychology, states:
“I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life .”
(Jung, [1961] 1989:140)
“The majority of my patients consisted not of believers but of those who had lost their faith.” (Jung, [1961] 1989:140)

Reading a book of medicine and hoping to be cured

Muslim are the only fortunate people in the world today who have with them the Word of God completely preserved, free from interpolation and precisely in the same wording in which it was revealed to the Holy Prophet (saw). And these very Muslims are those unfortunate people in the world who have the Word of God with them and are yet deprived of its blessings and its countless gains. The Qur’an was sent to them that they would read it, understand it and act upon it and with its help, would establish on God’s earth a state which will function according to the law of God.

Sheikh Dr Ibrahim Dremali gives a short and valuable Naseeha on the importance of good health and free time. May Allsh (swt) grant him good health. He is a example for us, even at hospital he wants to do dawah. Jazakallah khair Sh Ibrahim. *

Dear reader if anyone being ill takes up the study of a book on Medicine thinking that by reading it he will get rid of his disease, when you know the purpose is to use the medicine as directed by it, what will you say about such a person? Will you not say that he is slightly off his head? However this is how Muslims are treating the Qur’an they read it and think that just by scanning it all the diseases will disappear, and that it is not necessary to follow the directions given in it, nor is it essential to abstain from things which it pronounces as injurious. What do you say about that man who considers mere reading of a book on medicine as enough for curing a disease?

Treatment with the Qur’an

Nowadays the Muslims do not seek guidance from the Qur’an in the affairs of their life. They do not consult it to know what should be our beliefs, what should be our deeds, how should we conduct transactions, what are the rights on us of our fellow-beings and of our own selves, what is truth for us and what is falsehood, whom should we obey and whom to disobey, wherein are honour, well-being and benefit for us and wherein lies disgrace, failure and loss? Muslims have given up ascertaining all these verities from the Qur’an. Now they ask these things from unbelievers, polytheists, misguided and selfish people and from the evil force in their own souls, and follow what these elements advise. Therefore what invariably happens on ignoring God and following the precepts of others, happened to them too, and we are reaping it today. As for the Qur’an, it is the fountainhead of supreme good. It will impart whatever and as much beneficence you seek from it. And if you wish to reach the pinnacle of spiritual glory, the Qur’an will take you there also. This is just a question of your own capability that you ask for two drops from the ocean, otherwise the ocean is ready to give you a gift as big as the ocean.

If you ponder over these facts, your heart will testify that the greatest possible injustice in this world is being done to this book of Allah and the oppressors are the very people who assert that they have faith in it and are ready to sacrifice their life for it. No doubt they have faith in it and regard it dearer than life, but the pity is that it is they who do the greatest injustice to it. And the result of perpetrating injustice on Allah’s Book is obvious. Please understand the fact thoroughly that Allah’s Word is not sent to man to embroil him into ill fortune, misery and suffering. “We have not revealed this Qur’an that you should fall into distress.” (Al-Qur’an 20:1-2)

The Qur’an is a fountainhead of auspiciousness and good fortune, not a source of viciousness and wretchedness. It is absolutely impossible that a nation be possessor of God’s Word and yet wallow in misery in this world, suffer under the yoke of others, be trampled and kicked, have its neck caught in the knot of slavery of others who lead it by the nose like animals in whichever direction they like. A nation meets this doom only when it commits injustice to the Word of God. The doom of Bani Israel is before you. Taurat and Injeel were sent to them and it was said: ” If they had observed the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed unto them from their Lord, they would surely have been nourished from beneath their feet.” (Al-Qur’an 5:66)

Dear Muslims I mention the above as a reminder to myself first and foremost and anyone seeking a cure from the Qur’an and Sunnah should be wary of just picking and choosing from amongst the verses of Allah for our own personal benefit in the most precious gift of Health and ignoring all the other verses as if they don’t exist or apply. I hope you do get the shifaa and cure from the Quran that you are seeking, but we should also make intention to act on the other verses too and inshallah the benefits will be more than one could imagine and I repeat: “…If they had observed the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed unto them from their Lord, they would surely have been nourished from beneath their feet.” (Al-Qur’an 5:66)

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