“The ḥarmal does not grow, whether from a tree, a leaf or a fruit, without there being an angelic guardian spirit attached to it.” ~ Muhammed (a.s)
“I believe that Shiism is the only school which has preserved for ever the link of the divine guidance between God and the creatures and has kept alive the rule of the divine authority. I believe that all religions pursue a fact but it is only the Shia school which has preserved this fact believing that this characteristic remains for ever between the human and divine world.” ~ Henry Corbin
The starting point of my excursions into Islam’s relationship with plant medicines and psychoactive plants, is this interview in Reality Sandwich with my husband, Wahid Azal. My husband, together with brothers, obtained in 2014 a Fatwa (legal ruling) by Grand-Ayatollah Rohani in Iran concerning the permission to use psychoactive plants (including Ayahuasca) for purposes of treatment and spiritual growth.
“The use of entheogens and psychoactive substances is licit and thus permissible (ḥalāl) for Shi’i Muslims provided it be under the direction and supervision of qualified experts (…)”.
Quote from the interview:
“To make a long story short, after well over a year and a half of back and forth discussions and correspondences between my friend (and one other individual) with the office of Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Sadeq Hussaini Rohani in Qom, Iran; in mid March 2014, via email, the Grand Ayatollah issued a formal legal ruling (that is, afatwa) determining the use of entheogens and psychoactive substances to be licit and thus permissible (ḥalāl) for Shi’i Muslims provided it be under the direction and supervision of qualified experts (ahl al-ikhtiṣāṣ), and that, moreover, such plant substances as a rule do not impair the mind.”
“In both its root and its branches there is a talisman. In its seeds there is a cure for seventy-two maladies, so treat yourselves with it, as well as with the olibanum [i.e. frankincense], for purposes of healing (…)”
This ruling is very encouraging in many aspects. It is a further step to reclaim Islamic and Iranian traditional medicine, identity, spirituality and the communion with the “plant spirit world” for humans and for holistic treatment. I have personally little experience with Haoma but study the world of herbs, flowers, grass and plants and I am a enthusiastic gardener and communicator with the “subtle plant realms”. It is further very encouraging to find that the prophet Mohammed (a.s) himself endorsed the use of a spiritual plant medicine such as the Harmal/Esfand/Syrian Rue:
“As far as the evidence in the Islamic period is concerned: in his monumental 110 volume collection of Islamic traditions and narrations attributed to the holy Islamic figures (i.e. the Prophet Muḥammad and the holy Imāms), and entitled The Oceans of the Lights (biḥār al-anwār), the Safavid narrator-traditionist and polymath Muḥammad Bāqir Majlisī (d. 1659) devotes an entire chapter of his 59th volume to the sayings of the Islamic holy figures regarding both the Syrian Rue and Olibanum (frankincense). Let me quote one of these here:
“The Messenger of God [i.e. the Prophet Muḥammad] said: (…) the ḥarmal [i.e. Syrian Rue/Esfand] does not grow, whether from a tree, a leaf or a fruit, without there being an angelic guardian spirit attached to it, until it reaches whosoever it reaches, or turns to waste. In both its root and its branches there is a talisman. In its seeds there is a cure for seventy-two maladies, so treat yourselves with it, as well as with the olibanum[ i.e. frankincense], for purposes of healing(…).”
I will further investigate the topic of spiritual plants in the Islamic tradition and will post my discoveries on this site. Please sign up to my newsletter to receive updates.