The use of religious healing methods among Muslims is spreading due to limited health options but also high levels of trust in Islamic healers and their faith-based practices. In a report in Global Plus (July 31), a blog published by the Association of Religion Data Bases (ARDA), Algerian journalist Larbi Megari writes that shops selling medicinal herbs cited in Islamic scripture, as well as the practice of Ruqyah, where spiritual leaders recite the Qur’an and say supplications over the sick, are gaining favor in Algeria and other parts of the Muslim world. “For those who cannot make it to the mosque, there is an expanding amount of Arabic-language satellite television programming offering on-demand spiritual healing. On the Al-Hakika channel, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hashimi advises callers to stay next to their television sets for his healing prayers,” Megari adds. The wide interest in what is called “prophetic medicine” is evident in surveys of Muslims. A 2012 Pew survey found that four in 10 Muslims in Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia report enlisting the aid of religious healers.
The Pew study found that Muslims who pray several times a day are most likely to use traditional healers. The more devout turn to prophetic medicine because Muslim scriptures stress the importance of health; there are nearly 130 prophetic sayings on medicine and health. The widespead practice of “wet cupping” (using suction devices to draw out “bad blood” ) among Muslims is attributed to a recommendation given by the Prophet Mohammed, as are herbal remedies. Megari adds that in poor parts of Africa and Middle East where the health system is in disrepair, believers also find these methods safe and inexpensive. Studies also find that many doctors fear that the use of such practices may lead to some patients rejecting orthodox medical procedures. The concern is amplified by the popularity television programming “making extravagant promises for religious healing.” Al-Hashimi, who also founded his own centers selling natural herbs in 22 countries, suggests that such diseases as cancer, AIDS and diabetes can be cured through his methods.
(Global Plus, http://www.thearda.com)