Rainstorm, Prophetic Medicine, Dar al-Islam

Issue 560 » December 18, 2009 - Muharram 1, 1431

Living The Quran

Al-Baqarah (The Cow) Sura 2: Verse 19

"Or like a rainstorm [sayyib] from the sky where there is darkness, thunder and lightning. They put thier fingers in their ears by reason of the thunderclaps for fear of death. And God encompasses the non-believers."

The word sayyib signifies the 'driving rain' that falls from the sky, and is a similitude for the Quran, by which springs the life of hearts, just as the life of the earth - its plants and animals - springs forth after a rain. When it reaches the believers, they know that it gives life, and does not endanger it. They are not repelled by its thunder and lightning, or its warnings, descriptions of punishment and similitude, by which God exhorts those who break His commandments and describes the place of those who reject His Prophet. Nor are they repelled by its rigorous commandments, such as combating enemies or patiently enduring. They are not repelled by those commandments which are hardest on the ego because they oppose its desires: 'darkness, thunder and lightning'. Anyone who knows about rainstorms and what life they bring, is not driven away by dark skies, thunder or lightning. In fact, he is drawn to them, and he rejoices in their promise of life and fertility.

On the other hand, the heart of the hypocrites is blind, and his vision cannot get beyond the zone of darkness. He sees only the lightning, and the mighty thunder and darkness, which repel and frighten him. He 'puts his fingers in his ears' in order not to hear the thunderclap, and is so startled by the lightning flash, its intensity and magnitude. In his ignorance he does not know that these things are common to rainstorms, which support not only earthly and plant life, but his own life. All he knows is the thunder, lightning and darkness, with no notion of what is behind them. And so a feeling of estrangement clings to him, and terror and apprehension will not leave him.

Compiled From:
"The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, pp. 68, 69

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Prophetic Medicine

A common concern among some students of the Sunnah is with the 'medicine of the Prophet'. They focus their energy and concern on the medicines, nutriments, herbs, grains, and other things from what the Prophet, peace be upon him, described as being medicines in the treatment of some bodily defects or illnesses. They quote well-known hadiths in this regard, for example:

"The best of what you can use as medicine is cupping." [Al-Tabarani]

"[It is incumbent] upon you [to treat] with this black seed, for in it there is healing for every ailment except al-sam, and that is death." [Ibn Majah]

"Wear kohl with antimony for it clears the vision and makes the hair grow." [Al-Tirmidhi]

These prescriptions and their likes are not of the spirit of the Prophetic medicine. Rather, its spirit is preservation of the life and health of the human being, and soundness of the body and its strength, its right to rest when tired, to food when hungry, and to treatment when ill. Its spirit is that the seeking of treatment does not contradict faith in predestination (al-qadr), nor reliance upon God. Its spirit is that for every ailment there is a cure, and confirmation of the law of God (sunnat Allah) in respect of contagion; the legitimization of quarantine for health reasons; the concern for hygiene of the person, the house and the road; and the prohibition of pollution of water and land; the emphasis on prevention above cure; the stipulation of relaxation to preserve bodily well-being; and the preservation of the health of the mind alongside bodily health - and other teachings which represent the reality of the Prophetic medicine, in those aspects of it which are true for every time and place.

The means change at times, from age to age, from one situation to another. Indeed it is inevitable that they should change. So, when a hadith stipulates a particular means, that is only to be taken as an explanation of the reality of its time: we are not bound by it, and we are not restricted to it.

Compiled From:
"Approaching the Sunnah: Comprehension & Controversy" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 139-141


Dar al-Islam

According to Abu Hanifah, a country or a territory becomes a Dar al-Islam if it satisfies two conditions: (a) the Muslims must be able to enjoy peace and security; and (b) it must have common frontiers with some Muslim countries (other places of Dar al-Islam). This view, which makes no reference to the supreme rule of Islamic law, allows greater freedom of movement to, and residence in, places around the world, so long as these are not too far from the heart of the Islamic world. Probably the second condition is intended to offer the possibility of a safe retreat in the eventuality that Muslims are, unexpectedly, subjected to hardship or persecution. According to this view, Muslims can take residence in such proximate lands, so long as they can earn their living in peace and practise their religious duties without affront to their dignity.

A contemporary version of Abu Hanifah's view can be envisaged by extending the concept of proximity, which is for him, quite understandably, exclusively territorial. Given the revolution in communications, proximity becomes increasingly relative. 'Accessibility' may be a more relevant term for modern times. The more open a society is in allowing free movement of its residents across its national frontiers, the more 'accessible' it is.

Abu Hanifah's view has important consequences for the position of Muslim minorities the world over. His definition of Dar al-Islam would encourage them - so long as, of course, their security is not endangered - to adopt a more constructive and vigorous attitude to residing in countries whose dominant culture is non-Islamic. Islam is, after all, a universalist religion, recognising no boundaries of race or language. The earth as a whole belongs to God, and Muslims have an important message to convey to mankind - it is their privilege to be trustees of this universal mission. Abu Hanifah's view, permitting greater movement, encourages at one and the same time a spirit of wonder and exploration and desire to communicate the ideals of Islam.

Compiled From:
"Hijrah: Story and Significance" - Zakaria Bashier, pp. 93, 94