Spiritual Values and Health
For Muslims, health is defined as complete physical, psychological, social and spiritual well-being (Al-Khayat, 1997). Muslims have a spiritual obligation to maintain their health therefore spiritual health is an essential component of the Muslim health belief model.
Islam beliefs influence health meanings and health behaviors of Muslims. The concept of Tawheed (the Oneness of Allah,”) and requires that a Muslim maintains ‘unity’ of mind and body. Therefore, a Muslim cannot separate spiritual health and physical health. Spiritual illness may lead to physical illness, and physical illness cannot be cured in the absence of spiritual health. The beliefs in predestination and in life after death following the Day of Judgment are integral to a Muslim’s view of and response to health, illness, curing and death.
The Qur’an provides guidance on caring for health and maintaining the body. Muslims believe that health is as a gift or rewards from God. There is a duty to care for their body through healthy practices such as maintaining cleanliness and personal hygiene, eating healthy food, avoiding forbidden substances that will harm the body, exercising and getting sufficient rest. There is also a need to maintain a balance and live well in preparation for the Day of Judgment.
Muslims should receive illness and death with patience, meditation and prayer as ill health, suffering and dying are all part of life. Illness and disease may be a test of faith, opportunity for atonement for sins or greater reward in the afterlife if accepted with patience. Disease may be beneficial if the person can achieve greater knowledge of God, or return their life to balance. Illness is considered qadar, meaning, preordained by God, and not a form of punishment from God.
Death is part of life’s journey to meet Allah and a The Qur’an teaches that it is Allah who gives life and causes death (Qur’an 3:156) and Allah who takes away the souls at death (Qur’an 39:42). The belief that illness, suffering and dying are all part of life is a continuous thread underpinning the health beliefs and the care perspectives of Arab Muslim patients.
Reading of verses from the Qur’an and use of ruqyah (Islamic prayer formulas) are healing methods used since the beginning of Islam. Different supplications (religious sayings) are used in the care of patients such as during labour and birth of a baby, to assist in healing, protection of the patient’s health, prior to giving medications and at end of life. Spiritual healing practices include the use of zamzam water (holy water) for taking medication or to bathe a patient. These spiritual caring actions support the patient’s belief in God as the ultimate healer.