Prophet Muhammad and scientific developments

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Did The Prophet Muhammad encourage scientific research?

God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, also made many predictions concerning developments in various branches of science. Some of these predictions have already come true. Out of the many examples, we will cite only a few to illustrate that the Prophet Muhammad was also accurate in his predictions concerning scientific developments.

● As related by Bukhari, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, declared:

God did not send down an illness for which He did not send a cure.14

This hadith, in addition to declaring that every illness is curable, is the most comprehensive statement encouraging research in the field of medicine. In another Tradition, the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, pronounces that there is a cure for every illness.15 Another version tells us:

Do not neglect having your diseases treated, for God does not send a disease for which He will not send a cure except for old age.16

Mankind may discover a cure for every illness, but they will never be able to stop man’s journeying from the world of spirits to the material world and then on to either Paradise or Hell through the stations of embryo, babyhood, childhood, youth, old age, the grave, and the Resurrection. The ‘Prince of the two worlds’, upon him be peace and blessings, thus, on the one hand, encourages mankind to undertake every kind of research possible to find cures for illnesses, he also warns them, on the other hand, not to neglect preparing for the next world.

God Almighty encourages mankind to strive in the development of sciences by presenting in the Qur’an the miracles of the earlier Prophets to their attention and thereby showing the limits to which they should aspire. By allowing the Prophet Jesus, upon him be peace, as an inimitable miracle, to bring the dead back to life, He points out that mankind will be able to find a cure for every illness but that death will inevitably catch hold of them. In the story of Prophet Moses’ staff, the Qur’an tells mankind that they can, and will be able to, employ inanimate things in different ways like obtaining water from the depths of the earth by using devices as simple as a staff, like a centrifuge, but they will never be able to cause a rock to flow abundant water by striking it with a staff, or to change a staff into a snake, both of which the Prophet Moses did.

The Qur’an, being the greatest miracle of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, marks the farthest limit in literary style and eloquence and implies that writing and eloquence will have the greatest importance towards the end of time. However, mankind will never be able to match the eloquence of the Qur’an.

The Prophets set examples and showed us the limits to which we may go in material as well as spiritual progress.

● We can trace the principle of quarantine to God’s Messenger, who said:

If you hear that there is pestilence in a place, do not enter it; if the pestilence breaks out where you are, do not leave it to escape the pestilence.17

According to Ahmad ibn Hanbal, he also declared:

Keep away from the leper as you do from a lion.18

In this hadith, God’s Messenger advises us to fight with leprosy and to search for the ways to be protected against it. Quarantine is again suggested here as a way to prevent the spread of leprosy.

● Imam Muslim narrates in his Sahih that God’s Messenger declared:

When a dog has licked a bowl of yours, clean it seven times, first time with earth, the other six with water.19

This hadith contains the following medical principles:

• Dogs may be carrying the microbes of certain diseases possibly communicable to human beings, a fact which has only recently been discovered.

• The saliva of dogs, like their excrement, may contain substances greatly injurious to man’s health.

• At the time of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, neither disinfection nor sterilization was known. Nevertheless, God’s Messenger, being a Prophet taught by the All-Knowing, recommends earth to clean a bowl licked by a dog. We know today that earth is a good antiseptic containing substances like tetracycline.

● As recorded by Sahih al-Tirmidhi and Sunan Abu Dawud, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, declares:

The blessings of food lie in washing hands before and after eating.21

In this hadith, God’s Messenger emphasizes the importance of cleanliness. As we use our hands, germs accumulate. Only by washing hands can they be removed.

In another hadith, God’s Messenger advises us to wash our hands after we wake up since You do not know, he says, where your hands have moved in sleep.22

● As recorded in all of the six of the most authentic books of Tradition from as many as forty Companions, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, established the principle of dental care, saying,

If it did not place an excessive burden upon my community, I would command them to clean their teeth with miswak [a tooth stick] before each of the five daily prayers.23

Cleaning of teeth is of great significance for both dental care and the health of the whole body. Despite this, even dentists do not brush their teeth five times a day, but God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, urged his community to clean their teeth before every prayer. This was a practice of God’s Messenger himself and is thereby a sunna, a strong Prophetic recommendation, for all Muslims.

● In relation to health and digestion, God’s Messenger recommended:

In eating, apportion a third of your stomach to food, another third to water, and leave the last third empty. The bowl most distasteful to God is a full stomach.24

In another similar hadith, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, also says:

What I fear concerning my community is a large paunch, oversleep, idleness and the lack of certainty.25

All of the points mentioned in the hadith are each an antecedent to or result of the other. A man who spends an idle life of heedlessness with no self-control and self-criticism is apt to get a paunch, which, in turn, causes him to eat more and more. A full belly naturally causes excessive sleeping. Lastly, the one who is addicted to overeating and excessive sleeping will never be able to acquire certainty and deep conviction about the principles of faith. This is the case with most people in today’s world, a fact that provides another decisive proof of the Prophethod of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings.

● Another Tradition concerning health is as follows:

Treat your eyes with kohl, for it nourishes eyes and eyelashes.26

Many medical authorities state that kohl is useful for the nourishment of eyes and eyelashes.

Another substance, recommended by the Prophet, upon him be peace and blesings, and useful for health as an antibiotic and for its dermatological effect, is henna.27 Henna is better and more effective as an antiseptic and as a sterilizing agent than substances like tincture of iodine.

● Bukhari relates from Abu Hurayra that once God’s Messenger said:

There is in this black seed [black cumin] a cure for every illness except death.28

This hadith contains many truths concerning therapy. A patient needs, particularly during the time of convalescence, foods rich in proteins, calories, and vitamins, and which are easily digestible. Scientific investigations have recently shown that all these properties are found in black cumin, a fact which shows that Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was a Prophet taught by the All-Knowing.

● As related by ‘A’isha, Mother of the Believers, once a woman named Fatima, the daughter of Abu Khubash, came to God’s Messenger and said:

‘O God’s Messenger, my blood does not stop; shall I abandon the prescribed prayers?’ No, you must not, for it is not the menstrual blood, it is a haemorrhage, God’s Messenger replied.30

Except by Prophethood, how could Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, have distinguished between a normal haemorrhage and menstrual blood, and how could he have known that menstrual bleeding is a kind of haemorrhage?

● God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, once proclaimed that ten things are intrinsically necessary for men and therefore ordered by the Prophets. Circumcision is one of them.32

Today, scientists admit that the loose fold of the skin at the end of the male sex organ is exposed and susceptible to infections and even to cancer.

We have so far tried to explain the truthfulness of the Prophets, emphasizing the truthfulness of God’s Last Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. As reiterated several times, they never lied, to the extent that all their predictions either have come true or will do so in due course. They came to guide men to the Straight Path and lead them to Paradise. Had they displayed a single trace of dishonesty, they would have guided no one to the truth. However, their truthfulness, especially the truthfulness of the Last Messenger of God, upon him be peace and blessings, will be manifested as brightly as the sun in the Hereafter, where people will see everything clearly, and all the tidings they gave concerning the next life, the Resurrection, the Place of Gathering, the Final Reckoning, the Bridge, Paradise and Hell will be realized.

 

14. Bukhari, Tib, 1.

15. Abu Dawud, Tib, 10; Muslim, Salam, 69.

16. Tirmidhi, Tib, 2; Ibn Ma’ja, Tib, 1; I. Hanbal, 4.278.

17. Bukhari, Tib, 30; Muslim, Salam, 98.

18. Bukhari, Tib, 19; I. Hanbal, 2.443.

19. Muslim, Tahara, 91.

20. Abu Dawud, Adahi, 21; Ibn Ma’ja, Sayd, 2; I. Hanbal, 4.85.

21. Abu Dawud, At‘ıma, 11; Tirmidhi, At‘ıma, 39; I. Hanbal, 5.441.

22. Muslim, Tahara, 87; Abu Dawud, Tahara, 49; Tirmidhi, Tahara, 19.

23. Bukhari, Jumu‘a, 8; Muslim, Tahara, 42; Abu Dawud, Tahara, 25; Tirmidhi, Tahara, 18; Nasa’i, Tahara, 6; I. Ma’ja, Tahara, 7; I. Hanbal, 1.80.

24. Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 47; I. Hanbal, 4.132.

25. Kanz al-‘Ummal, 3.460.

26. Abu Dawud, Tib, 14; Tirmidhi, Tib, 9.

27. I. Ma’ja, Tib, 29; Tirmidhi, Tib, 13.

28. Bukhari, Tib, 7; Muslim, Salam, 88.

29. Bukhari, Bad‘u l-khalq, 17; Tib, 58; Abu Dawud, At‘ima, 48.

30. Bukhari, Wudu, 63; Muslim, Hayd, 62; Abu Dawud, Tahara, 109.

31. Muslim, Ashriba, 12; Ibn Ma’ja, Tib, 27.

32. Muslim, Tahara, 49; Abu Dawud, Tahara, 27.

33. Said Nursi, Tarikhca Hayat (Biography), 56.

 

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