Sunnah and Science: Coming Full Circle


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Sadaf Farooqi is an award-winning blogger, freelance writer and home-schooling mother of three.

Latest posts by Sadaf Farooqi (see all)

Vol 5 - Issue 4 Sunnah & science

Scientists and their discoveries are considered as the most reliable sources of knowledge in today’s world. Notwithstanding the fact that even they upgrade or change their findings whenever a new research reveals new facts, educated Muslims tend to focus only on them – especially in medicine, health and psychology.

Believers tend to forget that the knowledge of human beings has limitations; only Allah (swt) has knowledge that knows no boundaries. Allah (swt) chose Muhammad (sa) as the recipient of His Divine Revelation and Hikmah. Scientists can attempt all they want to acquire this knowledge via humanly-limited endeavors, but Muhammad (sa) was chosen to receive it through Wahi (revelation). His entire life was, therefore, an epitome of success in health, hygiene, mental precision and human relationships.

It is amusing to note that modern science, medicine and even fashion have come full circle in reiterating what Muhammad (sa) did fourteen centuries ago. Some of these comparisons are highlighted below.

Health

Healing with the ‘black seed’

Kalonji, black cumin, or scientifically Nigella Sativa, is used in several modern herbal remedies, with absolutely NO side effects. It is used to treat a wide range of illnesses and disorders. Today, doctors suggest eating this seed for general good health, gastric, respiratory and mental ailments, or massaging affected skin with its oil to cure rheumatic ailments. It is said that devouring a teaspoon or 25 grams of black seeds in their original form everyday keeps all kinds of ailments at bay.

The Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Use the Black Seed, for indeed, it is a cure for all diseases except death.” (Sahih Al-Bukari 7:591)

Sleeping early and waking up before dawn

Prophet Muhammad (sa) is known to have slept very little in the night, after becoming Allah’s Messenger. He slept early, retiring after Isha, and woke up well before dawn.

Abu Barzah (rta) said: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) disliked sleeping before the Isha prayer and indulging in conversation after it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Modern science has revealed that the organs of the body are detoxified during the night. For ideal detoxification, a person should be done with the day’s work after 9 pm and be in deep sleep from 11 pm to 5 am. Developed nations follow this practice. This routine ensures maximum employee productivity as well.

Afternoon siesta

Narrated by Anas Bin Malik (rta): “Umme Sulaym used to spread a leather sheet for the Prophet (sa) and he used to take a midday nap at her home.” (Al-Bukhari)

Some organizations now provide ‘nap rooms’ at the workplace for enabling employees to take a siesta after lunch. Called ‘power naps’, afternoon siestas have shown to improve some memory functions of the brain, boosting the employee back to morning-fresh energy.

Personal Grooming and Hygiene

Oiling of hair

The Prophet (sa) would keep his hair generously oiled.

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Eat olive oil (Zayt) and anoint yourselves with it, for it is from a blessed tree.” (Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

Abu Hurairah (rta) also reported the Prophet (sa) as saying: “Whoever has hair should honor it.” (Abu Dawud)

Today, gels and creams are applied by young men to achieve the same oiled, sleeked-back look. Women in Asia regularly use oiling as a way of maintaining healthy, lustrous hair.

Kohl

Kohl powder is made of antimony sulphide, applied in and around the eyes as an ointment and cosmetic. It has traditionally been used in Eastern countries for centuries, by both men and women. Today, even the supermodels in the West grace covers of glossies adorned with ‘Kohl pencil’, while in the East newborn babies’ eyes are laced with this substance to strengthen their vision. Eastern women also use Kohl to achieve a dark-eye look.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) endorsed its use by applying it to his eyes regularly. Abdullah Bin Abbas (rta) quotes the Prophet as saying: “Use the antimony Kohl, for it makes eyesight clearer and strengthens hair.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Al-Nisai, Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

Oral hygiene

Toothbrushes, toothpastes, mouthwash, dental floss and breath sprays are commonly used today to achieve personal oral hygiene. So important is it to have a fresh-smelling mouth and sparkling teeth that anyone with even the slightest hint of bad breath, yellowed teeth or sickly gums is considered severely lacking in personal grooming and is socially ostracized.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) once gave up something he loved – honey – vowing never to consume it again, when he was told it made his mouth produce unpleasant odor. Despite efforts, his Companions could not count the exact number of times he used Miswak in a day – he did it so frequently. It was also one of the things he did just before he died.

Ibn Umar (rta) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Make a regular practice of the Miswak, for, verily, it is healthy for the mouth and it is a pleasure for the Creator.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Human Relationships

Husband-wife foreplay

Considered taboo in most of Asia, modern educational ‘intimacy guides’ for married couples stress the importance of foreplay before husband-wife Coitus. Science has identified several ‘erogenous zones’ on a woman’s body that harbor a high density of nerve-ends sensitive to stimulus. Our Prophet Muhammad (sa) stressed this aspect of intimacy in his advice to Muslim husbands during his lifetime, as illustrated in the narration below.

Imam Al-Daylami (rta) records a narration on the authority of Anas Ibn Malik (rta) that the Messenger of Allah (sa) is reported to have said: “One of you should not fulfill one’s (sexual) need from one’s wife like an animal; rather, there should be between them foreplay of kissing and words.” (Musnad Al-Firdaws of Al-Daylami, 2/55)

Not spanking children

It is known that Prophet Muhammad (sa) was tender and kind towards children, kissing them often, playing with them and allowing them to come to mosques during prayer time. Notably, he never hit a child in his life. Abstaining from spanking is Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) Sunnah.

Aisha (rta) has narrated: “The Prophet (sa) never hit anyone with his hand; not a woman, nor a servant, except during Jihad in Allah’s cause.” (Muslim)

Strassberg and others of Vanderbilt University analyzed the school behavior of 273 kindergarten children and their parents’ discipline methods at home. Observation of school behavior indicated that children, who were spanked at home, were more aggressive towards other children.

Each of us should reflect upon whether or not we are one of those ambivalent Muslims, who follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa) only when they are reinforced by scientific discoveries, endorsed by designers, or accepted as the status quo. Are we quick to emulate his actions because we love him more than our own self, logic, intellect and reputation? Does our love for him surpass that for anything else? Or do we wait in the sidelines until it becomes socially acceptable to follow his guidelines? Honest answers to these questions will show us where we stand as Muslims.

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