Islamic Medical Institutions
By Ibrahim B. Syed, PhD
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462, USA
One word launched a section of the people on earth who were illiterate and disunited to become the greatest intellectuals in all endeavors of human knowledge and paved the way for European Renaissance. What was that magical word?
That word was "Iqra" (“read”) which was the first Divine Word revealed to the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) in the Cave of’ Hera on the night of Lailatul Qadr, about the 27th night of’ Ramadhan in 610 CE. The first five verses that revealed were:
1. Read: In the name of thy Lord who created.
2. Created man from a clot.
3. Read: And thy Lord is the most Bounteous,
4. Who taught by the pen,
5. Taught man that which he knew not.
Qur’an, The Clot, 96: 1- 5.
This Divine injunction gave the Muslims learning and erudition an elevated position in the Islamic Shari'ah. Acting on this Divine injunction the followers of Islam attained glories both religious and secular.
With this inspiration the Muslims focused their attention on discovering the secrets of nature and mysteries of the earth and heavens in the light of’ Qur’anic tenets. The attentiveness to these Qur’anic tenets made them leaders of the scientific thought.
It is imperative for Muslims to achieve a place of respect and honor in the world and excellence in the fields of learning and scholarship and to hold scholars in high esteem and to love them. It is the birthright of every Muslim and Muslimah to make advancements in the fields of learning. To accomplish this one requires self-confidence, purity of thought, love of our brothers and sisters, clean and clear conscience, Jihad (continuous struggle) and honorable deeds.
What is TIBB-E- ISLAMI or Islamic Medicine? Some define it as the medicine practiced by the eminent Muslim physicians during the glorious days of Islamic Medicine. To the general public it means Unani Medicine. Some even think of it as medical treatment by herbs, seeds, honey or other natural ingredients. Some want to including the healing power of the Qur’an, as QST or Qur’an stimulating system.
Modern medicine or Allopathic medicine caters to the body and mind and neglects the spirit. To me mind is part of the body. The definition of mind is it is a function of’ the brain. The Qur’an mentions both the Nafs and Ruh. The word Nafs is understood as soul, self, consciousness, I, ego, etc. whereas the word Ruh is understood as the spirit. After extensive research I have concluded that Ruh means Energy or more specifically Life Energy. When the Life Energy is gone then the life is gone. So the correct definition of Islamic Medicine then will mean it is the Medicine whose approach is all-embracing and it should cater to the body and the spirit. It, thus, enjoys a unique privilege over modern medicine, which lacks this property. The most comprehensive definition of Islamic Medicine is given by Dr. Ahmed El-Kadi (1):
"Although Islamic Medicine may include, among many others, all the modalities of modern medicine, it differs from modern medicine in that it fulfills all the following six criteria: It is excellent and leading among other brands of the healing arts. It is a medicine with faith and Divine ethics. It is guided and oriented. It is comprehensive, paying attention to body and spirit, to the individual and the society. It is universal, utilizing all useful resources, and offering its services to all mankind. And last, but not least, it is scientific.
While modern medicine proclaims these criteria, i.e. to be excellent, ethical, oriented, comprehensive, universal and scientific, it has failed to fulfill any of them. The big question is: Can Islamic Medicine overcome all the problems of modern medicine, and can it provide its missing ingredients? The answer is a confident "yes". In all the problem areas of modern medicine listed in this paper, the deficiencies are either lack of ethical and moral guidance, lack of standardized value system, disregard of certain restrictive or instructive rules related to ingested materials, or disregard of certain hygienic and social guidelines governing human relations and social life. These missing items, are the very one abundantly provided by Islamic teachings.
The detailed elaboration on the correlation between various Islamic teachings and the course or development of various diseases is beyond the scope of this paper and will be the subject of separate investigations. The combination of Islamic teachings and the existing technological advances, which are fully supported by the Islamic teachings, produces a unique blend of healing arts which qualifies as Islamic medicine, a medicine which is most up-to-date and progressive while in full harmony with divine teachings and guidance. The basic Islamic teaching asserting that there is a cure for every illness (and it is up to us to find it) is an unbeatable stimulus for study and research towards unparalleled progress and achievement. The establishment of such a healing art entails the total reevaluation and revision of all existing basic and clinical sciences. In addition to providing the new medical foundation, the revised texts and restructured curricula will reflect the link between the creator and His creation thus reinforcing the concept of oneness of God (Tawheed) and automatically improving the faith of the student through his own professional study. These texts and curricula will also reflect the oneness of creation by showing how the various systems of animated and non animated creatures follow very much the same laws of nature, or better stated, laws of God, thus broadening the horizon of the student which will in turn make him a better scientist and a better person. It will be a monumental task to establish, but a task worth undertaking."
For a Muslim seeking and learning knowledge is very essential and this could be achieved by both inductive and empirical methods. The Qur’an says:
Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know (39: 9)
Do they see nothing in the Government of the heavens and the earth and all that God
has created? (7: 185)
The Prophet (PBUH) said some inspiring words:
· Seeking knowledge is an obligation to every Muslim.
· A true scientist is one who applies knowledge to his work.
· The superiority of the scholar to the worshipper is like my superiority over the humblest of you.
He shunned at magical-practice, priesthood and idolatry and asked the people to seek medical treatment based on medical science; and he said:
Oh, servants of God, seek for medical treatment, God has put a remedy for every malady, clear to whoever knows it and unclear to whoever does not know it.
The foregoing words inspired the Muslims who pursued scientific research and that led them to their great achievements and they served as a lighthouse to the whole world for many centuries. These achievements in all branches of knowledge formed the foundation of the contemporary scientific awakening.
Goals of the Institute of Islamic Medicine
The First International Conference of Islamic Medicine was held in Kuwait from January 12 -16, 1981 (1401 A.H) and five hundred papers were presented under the following sections:
1. The search for our scholarly heritage in medicine; or, the history of’ our medical heritage.
2. Corresponding elements between Tibb and allopathy and the study of subjects occurring as common factors between Islamic Medicine and modern medicine,
3. Research investigation, and
4. The principles of Tibb and the correlation of ethics with the Islamic Shari'ah.
The International Institute of Islamic Medicine (IIIM) should have the following aims and objectives (2):
1. Reviving the Islamic medical sciences in the domains of heritage, scientific research, verification and applied studies.
2. Encouraging the scholars in the field of Islamic medicine by providing them with the necessary facilities to enable them in their researches, strengthening the link between them, and helping them to raise the standard of health.
3. Encouraging the establishment of national organizations with the same objectives all over the world and providing them with the necessary support to fulfill their missions successfully.
4. Working to develop educational curricula particularly in the domain of medicine, in an effective system which aims at leading the Muslim youth to know about their heritage and acquainting them with the values on which Islamic culture is based. Also, acquainting them with their true religion and its tolerant Shari'ah.
5. Working to unify the scientific and ethical Islamic concepts of the medical profession.
The Kuwait Conference declared the following Ethics of Medicine in the light of’ Islamic Constitution (3):
ISLAMIC CODE OF MEDICAL ETHICS
1. Definition of Medical Profession
2. Characterization of Medical Practitioner
3. Relation between Physician and Physician
4. Relationship between Physician and patient
5. Professional Secrecy
6. Physician’s duties in the time of war
7. The Sanctity of Human Life
8. Responsibility and Liability
9. Physician and Society
10. Physician and Biomed - Technological advances
11. Medical Education
12. Oath of the Muslim Physician
The basic religious criteria protecting the Physician are:
1. Recognized certification
2. Acceptance of the Physician by his patients
3. Good faith on part of the Physician and sole aim of curing his patient.
4. Absence of unacceptable fault as defined by medical By-Laws.
INSTITUTES OF ISLAMIC MEDICINE IN THE WORLD
The construction of the Centre for Islamic Medicine constitutes an additional asset to the edifice of health services offered by the State of’ Kuwait. In 1987 the Centre for Islamic Medicine for treatment by medicinal herbs was established. The Centre, inaugurated on 21 February 1987, took four years to construct at a cost of KD 6.5 millions and occupies a total area of nearly 15,500 sq. meters including a Mosque. The Ministry of Public Health pays full attention to the Centre. The building features fine Islamic architecture and art. It consists of two sections. The Centre for Islamic medicine and the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences occupy the right section. On the left stands Lulwa Alk-Nassar’s mosque on an area of 1,267 sq. meters, with a capacity for 1500 worshippers. The upper floor is reserved for women worshippers. The mosque resembles a museum filled with the finest Islamic art and Architecture.
Both the Centre for Islamic Medicine and the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences operate within the framework of common objectives for the revival of’ the Islamic medical heritage, fulfilled practically in the Centre through the treatment of’ patients by medicinal herbs, whereas the Organization seeks to revive this heritage through intellectual and informational means.
The Hamdard Foundation located and operated both in India and Pakistan is doing an excellent job in the cause of Islamic Medicine. Although their work primarily concentrates on Unani Medicinal herbs (botanical herbs), they are modernizing their facilities to cater to Islamic Medicine for the treatment of body and the spirit. The establishment of Madinatul Hikmah or the City of Wisdom in Karachi is a milestone achievement, which is unparalleled in any Muslim country. They have quite modern and impressive facilities with regard to library and research, equipped with the latest high tech equipment of computers, faxes, copying and transmission of information. They have collected invaluable original manuscripts written by Islamic scholars. The credit goes to the late Hakim Mohammed who single handedly achieved all of these.
The Islamic Universities in Malaysia are establishing Medical Colleges geared towards Islamic Medicine. This is a great departure from the Medical Colleges in vogue in many Muslim countries. Hope this trend should be a model to other Medical
Colleges, which are in existence and which, will come into existence in the near future, in other Muslim countries.
There are several Islamic Educational Institutions in USA and Canada. However Institutions of higher leaning are only two: the East-West University and the American Islamic College and both of them are located in Chicago, Illinois. They are still in the embryonic stages of development. There is no Islamic Medical School in America. Unfortunately there is no Muslim Hospital in the North America, although there are several Jewish, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, and other denominational Hospitals and Medical Schools in existence in North America. It is high time that Muslims in general and the Muslim physicians in particular to establish Muslim Hospitals and Islamic Medical Schools.
Dr. Ahmed El-Kadi, M.D., has taken a significant first step in establishing the first INSTITUTE OF ISLAMIC MEDICINE in North America in Panama City, Florida. He is also active in Islamic Medicine research and education. He has conducted research in a variety of clinical areas, presented his results at national and international meetings of Muslim physicians. He has also published his work particularly in the Journal of Islamic Medical Association. There is a great potential in p1aces like Long Island, New York and other places in North America for establishing Institutes of Islamic Medicine. It is sincerely hoped that the establishment of’ the INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ISLAMIC MEDCINE shall be a light-house in guiding and establishing Institutes of Islamic Medicines here in North America and over 60 Muslim Countries in the world.
IIIM (International Institute of Islamic Medicine) is a project of IMA (Islamic Medical Association of North America) dedicated to research and promotion of Islamic Medicine, its rich history, its impact on modern medicine and its applications in contemporary times. Formed by the action of IMA executive Council in February of 1993 the IIIM now functions under the able leadership of eminent Muslim Physicians who have served as Presidents of IMA and have dedicated themselves to this task. The secretariat of IIIM is presently based in Brandon, Florida under the Chairmanship of Dr Husain Nagamia past resident of IMA and past Editor in Chief of JIMA. IIIM sponsors research projects and publications of books on Islamic Medicine. IIIM also sponsors conferences on contemporary and classical issues in Medicine within the context of Islam. IIIM has also collected a large number of posters, illustrations of ancient and modern manuscripts on 'History of Islamic Medicine' these have been exhibited at both the Conferences held in Orlando FL and met with excellent reviews. It is an ongoing project and efforts are made to keep these updated. IIIM conducts International Conferences in different countries and exhibits the rare Islamic medical manuscripts. The conferences were held in USA, UK, and India.
1. Ahmed El-Kadi, M.D., "What is Islamic Medicine", on line at (www.islamset.com/hip/i_medicine/)
2. The First International Conference of Islamic Medicine Kuwait, 12-16, 1981, MEDICAL TIMES XVI (6): 22-23, June 1981. Published by Hamdard Foundation, Karachi, Pakistan.
3. THE KUWAIT DECLARATION: Ethics of medicine in the light of Islamic Constitution. Medical times XVI (6): 32, June 1981, published by Hamdard Foundation, Karachi, Pakistan.