Islam differs from other religions in that it concerns itself with both this life as well as the hereafter. It is the only religion that has built on earth a state and a society. Hence all the instructions for administrating such a society descended directly from heaven. Some concern the ruling system, others social and economic dealings in addition to the hygienic regime.
The purpose of the hygienic regime in Islam is to create a community that is healthy and immune against infectious diseases, and the healthy individual (in body and mind) who is capable of understanding and applying God's message and carrying it away to the whole world.
In this research we summarize Islam's instructions in the hygienic field and their efficiency in realising this objective
I. CLEANLINESS, PURIFICATION AND ABLUTION
1. Body: Islam recommends bathing for twenty-three reasons. Seven of them are compulsory and sixteen are preferable.
2. Hands: Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) says: “Wash thy hands before and after eating", and "Wash thy hands after awakening. No one knows where his hands lay during his sleep."
3. Islam recommends cleanliness and elegance in clothing "Ameliorate thy clothing and thy mount".
4. Food and drink: Orders for protecting food from dust and insects, the prophet says "Cover thy vessels and drinks"
5. Residence: "Clean thy courtyards and thy residence" as well as cleanliness of streets: "It is charitable to remove harms from the road."
6. Water sources such as wells, rivers and shores. Therefore, urinating and defecating are forbidden in any of them--- "Avoid three evils; defecation in water sources, shades and in the road.
If these instructions are followed accurately in the twentieth century, we can put an end to all gastrointestinal infections and exterminate harmful insects such as flies, cockroaches and others.
II. ISLAM'S INSTRUCTION IN EPIDEMIC DISEASES CONTROL
Having mentioned the role of cleanliness in preventing infectious diseases, we mention here Islâm’s instructions to combat epidemics.
1. Isolation: Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) says in this respect "Infectious cases should not contact the healthy"
2. Quarantine: on cases such as lepers "Leave a space of a spear or two between ye and the leper" 3. Islam also laid basic rules for dealing with an epidemic such as Cholera, plague and smallpox "Do not enter a land of which you hear there is a pestilence, and if ye are in that land do not try to leave it in escape" 2
4. Islam encourages every means of protection from infectious diseases such as immunisation. When the prophet (PBUH) was once asked whether such protective measures prevent God's fate, he (PBUH) said that it is a part of God's will.
III. NUTRITION IN ISLAM
Islam concerned itself with three aspects of the Muslim's food:
a. Forbidding the harmful food
b. Acquainting the Muslim with the beneficial food.
c. Rectifying his eating habits.
A. Forbidden Items:
God announces: -
“Forbidden to ye are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been invoked in the name of other than God. That which hath been killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a headlong fall, or gored to death; that which hath been partly eaten by a wild animal, unless you are able to slaughter it in due form”
Each of these forbidden items has an undisputable scientific argument for being prohibited. It is true there is a controversy around the harm of the swine flesh and the diseases it may cause to human beings because of its dirtiness and its unhygienic nutritional habits. Whereas some people claim that the swine in Europe is being bred in clean pans and under medical supervision there are still some harms in its flesh which science could not overcome such as the excess of cholesterol and its liability to Trichina and Salmonella more than any other animal.
Islam has also forbidden liquor in great as well as small quantities, the harm of which is undisputed. Moreover, its moral and spiritual harm is worse than its physical harm.
B. Un-forbidden Food:
Islam keeps pace with natural disposition. Hence, all food is allowed except what is harmful. But, there are certain foods that Islam recommends for their nutritional benefit such as meat, fish, honey and milk.
Islam is against vegetarian doctrines that forbid eating meat for religious reasons. The argument is that the human body won't be healthy depending only on vegetables because the human intestines are shorter than those of the herbivorous animals. Thus, it does not suffice its need for proteins from a vegetarian meal.
C. Timing and Quantifying Meals:
Islam prompts people not to be extravagant in eating The Prophet (PBUH) says "The stomach is the worst vessel to fill" The Quran says 4 “Eat and drink but beware of extravagance, God dislikes those who are extravagant.”
Islam originated Ramadan, a whole month of fasting yearly, the benefits of which cannot be denied whether physically or spiritually.
On the other hand, Islam is against doctrines that urge people to discard food or to over-fast to the extent of weakness. The prophet (PBUH) announces: "Fast for good is not proper fasting" He (PBUH) also declares "Every morsel a Muslim eats is a deed of charity"
Islam attaches much importance to sports in order to create a physically powerful generation capable of sustaining fighting and resisting diseases. Therefore, Islam advises Muslims to teach their children shooting, swimming, and horsemanship. "Teaching thy children writing swimming and shooting is a duty" He (PBUH) also adds "Teach thy children shooting and train them on horsemanship till they excel" and since these were the only sports known at the Prophet's time, then, Islam encourages all the sports known to us in the time being.
V. SEXUAL HEALTH IN ISLAM
Sex is one of the most important issues that may affect human behavior and health. Some scientists and scholars consider it the main motive behind most of human actions. Therefore, Islam did not exclude one triviality concerning this issue from discussion.
1. Sexual education: Quran discusses it in a refined style explaining to human beings sexual intercourse and the creation of an embryo ”Was not he a drop of sperm transformed into a clot of congealed blood then he hath created and further given order and proportion” (Quran)
This text indicates that the sperms are the decisive element in determining the embryo's sex. Quran also explains the composition of the sperms. “He is created from a drop emitted proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs.” 6 Then it illustrates the development of the embryo from a drop of sperm to a clot of congealed blood to a fetus lump etc.
2. Islam encourages early marriage and teaches the Muslim the particulars of marriage and helps him choose the proper wife. Moreover, it explains matrimonial relations and lays the conditions for separation and discusses its dealings.
3. Islam explains the proper sexual relation between husband and wife and how would each of them suffice the other's needs in order to establish a happy marital life. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) interdicted copulation before paying ones wife amorous court. The prophet (PBUH) also orders "Be fair to thy wife during copulation and if ye reach your excitement before she does do not hasten her"
4. Islam forbids homosexuality and copulating a woman through her anus for the diseases that may result.
5. It enjoins circumcising males and detests it for females
6. Adultery is forbidden while polygamy is allowed for men.
7. Cleanliness of sexual organs. Islam imposes rinsing after urinating or defecation. Moreover, it forbids intercourse during menstruation and requires cleaning after copulation and after menses.
VI. ISLAM AND PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH
Anxiety is one of the gravest problems in the twentieth century particularly in Europe. We often hear of millionaires committing suicide, of mothers and fathers becoming mentally deranged and killing their children or their spouses if not their whole family.
The slightest cases are of millions of people who live on sedatives and hypnotics in order to sustain their daily life. The reason for that is not the well-known primitive causes such as poverty, diseases and ignorance, for these countries enjoy easy living and a high standard of education and health. The reason is what we may call "Civilization Stress".
Many studies have been made on its causes. They may be summed up as follows: - Prevalent materialism - spiritual and religious vacuity - Lack of moral impulse and religious restraint - Lack of sympathy and cooperation in modern society - Excess of luxury in absence of human objective - City clamour.
This is the ultimate summary of all reports made by scientific committees that were formed in search for the origination of violence and anxiety in western societies.
It is quite apparent that the real cure for all these points is religion; and Islam in particular. Islamic society is the only one in which religious affairs are closely bound to worldly ones, and this life with the hereafter. Thus, if Islam is properly applied in our present time with proper understanding and knowledge, all the causes of anxiety would be eradicated.
1. Islam achieves love, cooperation, security and sympathy amongst its followers. 2. An Islamic society is vacant of cesspools of evil, liquors; gambling, drugs and adultery. 3. Islam rejects despair, despondence, and suicide, and urges people on patience, faith and struggle till victory.
VII. IDEOLOGIC METHOD IN HYGIENIC EDUCATION.
It might be claimed that we are not in need of religion in order to teach people hygiene, and that all the hygienic instructions that were mentioned in this study do not differ from what is in contemporary hygienic books. In answer to that we say that the difference is great. Distributing hygienic leaflets on people or sending them health inspectors is totally different from having these instructions in an ideological religious mould. These instructions in Islam are part and parcel of the dogma. They complement worshiping in a way that religious rites cannot be performed without having these instructions applied. This is the glory of Islam and its merit over any other regime. It makes health and cleanliness a dogma and a social and religious behaviour for all the classes of people rich or poor, educated or ignorant.
THE FRUITS OF THESE INSTRUCTIONS WHEN APPLIED
Contemporary Muslims suffer form hygienic degradation because they abandoned their religion's instructions. The defect is not in the religion itself of these instructions were applied during the periods of Islamic awakening and have proved their ability to create a perfect society.
In their flourishing days, Islamic capitals were models in cleanliness and elegance. The streets were paved and were daily swept and cleaned and illuminated by lanterns at night, Meanwhile, Europe was a dump full of insects and pigs. The Muslim was considered an ideal being preceeding his time, elegant in his costumes, his mount, his habits and his food.
Dr. Sigrid Konke mentions in her book "Alia's Sun on the West" 8 that the Andalusian explorer AI-Tartousi described the Europeans in the middle ages as "Their beards and hairs are long, they do not wash their clothes nor bathe more than once, or twice a year".
Historic references mention that early Muslims lived longer and healthier than the Muslims of today, that some of the prophet's companions participated in contention till the age of sixty or seventy. This is actually ascribed to following the hygienic instructions of Islam and the avoidance of corruption. Moreover, epidemics and diseases in the Islamic world were much less than they were in Europe at the same period. Even the plagues which exterminated quarter of the inhabitants of the European continent were nullified on the boarders of the Islamic world.9 In this respect, Bernard Shaw mentions in his book "The Doctor's Dilemma- that no sooner had Britain occupied the Sandwich Islands and managed to convert its inhabitants from Islam to Christianity than infectious diseases and epidemics spread among them, and that, says Shaw, is ascribed to abandoning the instructions of Islam which enjoin cleanliness even in trivial matters such as cutting the nails and burying the pairings.
In conclusion, we say that if only one Islamic nation in our present time would apply the instructions of Islam as a result of proper modern understanding, this country would become the first in the whole world in health standard, and it would be a model for other countries to follow and gracious is God as He says “Ye were the best nation of all people.”
We were, but when shall we become?!