Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Wonders of Honey: Healing for Humankind

“And your Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in habitations;
Then to eat of all the produce, and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men: truly in this is a sign for those who reflect.” 
[Qur’an 16:68-69] 

Honey is one of the greatest medicinal blessings which Allah has bestowed upon mankind. It is not only a great remedy, but also a great means of prevention against numerous illnesses. In addition to its vast range of medical benefits, it is also one of the most delightful sources of natural sugar, minus harmful side effects.

The Noble Qur’an informs of its remedial qualities in the above verse from Surah al-Nahl, meaning ‘the Bee’. It explains the bees’ submissive trait in following Allah’s instruction, to collect nectar and pollen and then travel straight back to its hive.

And then Allah says “Truly in this is a sign for those who reflect,” – Regarding this, as quoted from the tafseer of Hafiz ibn Kathir, it is explained; “Meaning, in the fact that Allah inspires this weak little creature to travel through the vast fields and feed from every kind of fruit, then gather it for wax and honey, which are some of the best things - in this is a sign for people who think about the Might and Power of the bee’s Creator, Who causes all of this to happen. From this, they learn that He is the Initiator, the All-Powerful, the All-Wise, the All-Knowing, the Most Generous, the Most Merciful.”

The Beloved Messenger of Allah, as reported by Sayyidina ibn Abbas, said, “Healing is in three things: a gulp of honey, cupping, and branding with fire (cauterizing). But I forbid my followers to use cauterization (branding with fire).” [Bukhari]

The Numerous Wonders of Honey

Extracted from al-Tibb al-Nabawi (Prophetic Medicine) by Imam ibn Qayyim al-Jawziya:

“Honey has tremendous medicinal value, because it washes away the harmful substances that might be collected in the veins and the intestines. Honey, in addition, dissolves excess moisture, is beneficial as a drink and as an ointment. It is of great value for the elderly, and those suffering from phlegm and cold moods or condition (chills). Honey is nutritious, softens one’s bowel movement and is a good preserving agent. In addition, honey reduces the bitter taste of other medicines, cleanses the liver and the chest, aids in producing urine, and dissolves the phlegm that is accompanied by coughing. When honey is consumed hot and mixed with rose oil, it cures animal bites and the effects of opium. Taking honey mixed with water helps against the bite of a rabid dog and the effects of eating poisonous mushrooms.

If fresh meat is kept in honey, it preserves its freshness for three months. Likewise if gourds, cucumbers and eggplants are kept in honey, they too will be preserved. Further, honey will keep some types of fruit fresh for six months. It preserves dead corpses, thus deserving to be called, “the true preserver.”

When honey is applied to someone that is infected with lice, it will kill both the lice and the eggs. Honey will, in addition, add softness and beauty to the hair while allowing it to grow longer. When honey is applied to the eye as a Kohl, it will strengthen weak eyesight. Honey also whitens the teeth, preserves their health and the health of the gums, opens the orifice of the veins along with causing the flow of menstruation.

Furthermore, licking honey on an empty stomach will help the body get rid of mucus and phlegm. It cleanses the stomach and rids it of harmful substances or mixtures, heats the stomach mildly and opens up the pores. Honey has similar effects on the kidneys, the prostate and the liver. Furthermore, honey is the least harmful sweet substance for congesting the liver and kidneys.

Adding to all these benefits that we mentioned, honey does not have any side effects, nor harm except for those suffering from bile and who should take it with vinegar to neutralize its harm.

Honey is, in addition, a food, a drink, a sweet, a remedy, a type of refreshment and an ointment, along with its numerous medicinal values. Therefore, there is no other substance that is more beneficial than honey or that even rivals its value. This is why the people of old relied on honey, for most of the books of old do not mention sugar, as this was discovered in modern times.”

Uses & Application of Honey

            • Stomach and abdominal illness

Regarding the application and usage of honey, one of its main uses is for abdominal maladies, as taught by the best of teachers to mankind, the Beloved Messenger of Allah. Honey is proven to ease and treat ulcers, acid reflux, cramps and other abdominal discomfort. The Prophetic medicine also teaches us its ability to cure loose bowels, as narrated in the following report:

Sayyidina Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
“A person came to Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and told him that his brother’s bowels were loose. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger said, ‘Give him honey.’ So he gave him that, and then came and said, ‘I gave him honey but it has only made his bowels more loose.’ He said this three times; and then he came the fourth time, and he (Allah’s Messenger) said, ‘Give him honey.’ He said, ‘I did give him, but it has only made his bowels more loose’, whereupon Allah’s Messenger said, ‘Allah has spoken the truth and your brother’s bowels are in the wrong.’ So he made him drink (honey) and he was recovered." [Bukhari; Muslim]

One profound aspect of this report is the scientific accuracy in the knowledge of Allah’s Beloved Messenger regarding the human body’s reaction to cure. Often, as a result of medicine, an illness will experience initial worsening before rapid relief and cure. This is due to the medicine cleansing out impurities and negative substances – in this case, more medicine is often prescribed to successfully complete this process. The Beloved Messenger’s repeated prescription of honey to the sufferer of loose bowels is from the certain knowledge that a greater amount of honey was needed, and that the illness would subside after its initial adverse reaction.

A very effective treatment which provides instant relief for general stomach pain and discomfort is to drink a mixture of warm water and honey. This causes the stomach to settle and soothes it almost immediately.

            • General well-being

It is recommended to drink and apply honey even when one is healthy for overall health benefits, and also because it is a great means of prevention from stomach problems etc, as described above in the extract from Imam ibn Qayyim.

Furthermore, the Beloved Messenger of Allah used to like honey and it was his Sunnah to drink it. This therefore increases the benefits and reward for one who implements its use with the niyyah of also following his blessed example.

Sayyida Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “The Prophet used to like sweet edible things and honey.” [Bukhari]

Sayyidina Anas b. Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, reported, “I served drink to Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, in this cup of mine: Honey, nabidh, water and milk.” [Bukhari; Muslim]

            • Skin care

Honey is a great natural antioxidant, making it extremely effective in improving skin condition and increasing the radiance in its complexion. It has also been proved as a truly effective treatment for burns, minor acne and for eliminating scars.

The different ways to apply honey for skin benefits range from simply applying it directly, either to the whole face or an affected area, or mixing it into a facial mask e.g. with natural yogurt, which should be left to work for 10-15 minutes before rinsing.

This natural process rejuvenates skin without any harm or side effects, and is ideal for every skin type due to its pure nature. This is very unlike many of the commercial products sold today, and still even more effective in boosting the skin’s condition.

            • Coughs and chest infections

Honey is again one of the oldest yet most effective remedies for coughs and chest infections. It clears phlegm and improves immunity levels, making breathing easier and treating such ailments effectively.

One of the most common ways to use honey for coughs or chest infections is to drink a mixture of several teaspoons in a mug of hot water. Another effective method is to take a teaspoon of honey several times a day, or with half a teaspoon of crushed ginger to further help ease coughs.

Healing for Humankind

The wonders of honey go well beyond that which is mentioned in the article above. Throughout the centuries, it has proven beneficial for a truly vast range of purposes, bringing to light the profound meaning in the Words of Allah, “…wherein is healing for men.” [16:69] Its goodness is not limited to one or two functions, nor is it limited only for ailments, as it is also beneficial to consume during good health.

If we do indeed reflect as the Qur’anic verse advises, “…truly in this is a sign for those who reflect.” [16:69], we are able to recognise the beauty and flawlessness of the blessings which Allah Most Kind has bestowed upon us through nature. We are given sustenance and goodness in the forms He provides us with, and these forms are of the best kind, as now made so evident after centuries of scientific research.

The goodness and purity of honey is significant evidence of how science is unable to rival nature at its best. As Allah has provided honey as a form of healing and remedy, we now see how man-made or commercial products are unable to compete with it. In comparison, commercial products are either limited in purpose or function, not as effective in treatment, cause harmful side effects, or have all of these stated flaws. The status of honey as a divine cure and remedy, and as a medicine prescribed and used by the Messenger of Allah himself, is completely unmatched in its excellence.

Truly, complete goodness for the body and the soul is found in the Words of Allah and the teachings of the Sunnah.
May He grant us the ability to implement the wisdoms of His Beloved Messenger in our daily lives so we may benefit thoroughly, thus attaining both internal and external purity.

And may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon the Beloved Messenger Muhammad, upon his Family and his Companions. Ameen.

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