The Origins of Islamic Medicinal Knowledge

“I prefer a short life with width, to a narrow one with length.” ~ Ibn Sina (Avicenna)

After Muhammed’s (a.s.) death in 632/11 the young Islamic movement moved up North and passed the borders of the Arab peninsula into Syrian-Byzantian territory and into the areas of what is known as the Sassanid or Persian empire. The early influences of these cultures on Islam, stretched into architecture, art, and in particular also into medicine and patient care in hospitals. The medical school and hospital to Gondeshapur in the South of what is nowadays Iran was the very foundations of early Islamic hospital culture also known as Bimaristans, a Persian word.

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Healing with Islamic Meditation (Muraqaba)

"Allah is the light (nur) of the heavens and earth." ~ Holy Quran, Surat An-Nur

It is scientifically proven that meditation and prayer aid mental health and aid recovery from mental and bodily illness. In addition to various positive cognitive effects, such as raising awareness and attention, prayer and meditation have positive consequences for our emotional lives, with periods of practice resulting in ‘positive mood, emotional stability and resilience to stress and negative life events’. Many studies have demonstrated these effects using behavioural and social measures, and conclusions are reinforced by research using brain imaging techniques, which have shown that emotionally oriented meditation activates areas of the brain known to have important roles in emotion-related processing. (Source: Cognitive Neuroscience, Spirituality and Mysticism: Recent Developments, in: Psychosis and Spirituality, Ed. Isabel Clarke, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)

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Islam and Psychosis, Part 3: Exorcism – Sadqa Eats the Demon

“Say, [O Muhammad], “It has been revealed to me that a group of the jinn listened and said, ‘Indeed, we have heard an amazing Qur’an. It guides to the right course, and we have believed in it. And we will never associate with our Lord anyone.” ~ Surat Al-Jinn, Holy Qur’an

Throughout the Islamic world as well as other traditional cultures the influence of the occult (the unseen, the spirit world, the world of psychic forces) is frequently taken into the equation when it comes to the healing of  neurotic disturbances, psychotic issues and complicated social problems. Even the so called “rational scientific sciences” psychology and psychiatry are rooted in the occult traditions and demonology – both are direct offsprings from Mesmerism (after the German Franz Mesmer, who made popular a theory of the “universal fluidum” he called “Animal Magnetism” and then the use of suggestion – known also as hypnosis – in the treatment of “possessions”).

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Islam and Psychosis, Part 2: Islamic traditions of mental health care and treatment

"The different sorts of madness are innumerable." ~ Avicenna (Ibn Sina)

All of what is now-adays called modern medicine would not exist without the ground-work of Islamic scholars and scientists. This also true for mental health assessments, treatments and ongoing care. Beyond the common stereotype that Muslims are superstitious and believe that mental health problems are caused by Jinn (spirits made of smokeless fire), stands a well documented history of Islamic scholars and medical practisioners assessing illnesses, diagnosing them through identifying common symptoms and finding individual treatments and cures for patients.

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Islam and Psychosis, Part 1: The Psychiatric Dystopia

“I once read about a Muslim man who was locked up in a Psychiatric hospital by his family. He begged a young Psychiatrist for help and repeated the Fatihah over and over again. What really got to me was the response of the Psychiatrist. He brushed the man off and could not see how that the man was calling for spiritual help. The most disturbing part for me was that the Psychiatrist himself was a Muslim.”

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The Metaphysics of Light in Iranian Islamic Sacred Geometry

O God of all gods, come to the aid of the people of Light, give the victory to the people of Light, and guide the light unto the Light!” ~ Shihābuddīn Yaḥyā Sohravardī (a.s)

Iranian Art & Architecture not only is fascinating with it’s highly refinded interplay of colors, rythmic layering and it’s historical development, it is also deeply mystical in expression and vibration. A day in a mosque in Iran is doing many wonders for the soul and the imagination.  In this article Wahid Azal, my husband and a well known Sufi mystic dives into the metaphysical aspects of Iranian Islamic Sacred Geometry in Architecture and Art.

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Leech Therapy (Taleeq): History and Overview

“The colour should be greenish (like duckweed), and there should be two longitudinal lines having the colour of orpiment and ruddy; they should be rounded and liver-coloured. One may accept leeches which look like little locusts, or like mousetails, with very small heads. But do not accept those with red bellies and green backs, especially if they were collected from running waters.” ~ Avicenna on Leeches, from “The Canon of Medicine”

Leeches have been used for therapeutic purposes for millennia.  The earliest traces of the use of leeches appear to date back to 1600-1300 BC to a Greek named Nicander of Colophon.  The medical use of leeches is discussed by Avicenna ( Ibn Sina in The Canon of Medicine (follow this link for the Online Edition of The Canon of Medicine and the section on leeches), as well as by Abd-el-latif al-Baghdadi in the 12th century.

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Portraits of Plants as Healers: The Red Clover

There are two kinds of knowledge: knowledge of religion and knowledge of the body.” ~ Prophet Mohammed (a.s.)

Trifolium pratense (“3 leaf plant”, from Latin), red clover, is a herbaceous flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to Europe, the Levant, the Middle East (Western Asia) and northwest Africa, but planted and naturalised in many other regions of the world.

Due to it’s natural hormone and calcium content the Red Clover increases bone density, smoothes the skin, increases circulation and  helps to have a restful sleep. It is also very useful for the treatment of Asthma and Bronchities. I have also heard of people who drank Red Clover tea against mental health issues such as depression and they reported an easing of their symptoms. Red Clover is also known to be a blood purifier, expelling toxins form the blood and inner organs (liver).

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God’s Attributes and the Dhikr in Iatro-Theology and Theurgian Medicine

"Knowledge gives life to the soul." ~ Ali Ibn Talib (a.s)

It is interesting how words are made and how words are lost. It is through the lecture of German science historians such as Arthur Imhof and Robert Jütte that I un-earthed the words Iatro-Science, Iatro-Theology, Iatro-Magic and Theurgian Medicine. They give semantic criteria to various practises that were also part of European healing cultures and traditions but got lost over time.

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Spiritual Healing in the Sufi, Shi’i and Isa (Jesus) Tradition

“It is He who is revealed in every face, sought in every sign, gazed upon by every eye, worshipped in every object of worship, and pursued in the unseen and the visible. Not a single one of His creatures can fail to find Him in its primordial and original nature.” ~ Ibn Arabi

I have started this blog in August 2014 and populated it with varying subjects, ranging from herbal recipes to standard health advise, to historical anecdotes, and complex matters such as the works of Henry Corbin and Shi’i Illumination, and further to mental health issues and questions of natural healing.  I have seen through the statistics provided by WordPress that the most popular subjects on this blog are those relating to the occult, and mental health in general and specifically in Islam.

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