Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah (2:153) – Medical and Psychological Benefits of Patience (Sabr) and Prayer (Salat)


 

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اسْتَعِينُواْ بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلاَةِ إِنَّ اللّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ

O you who believe! seek assistance through patience and prayer; surely Allah is with the patient

M Shakir's Quran Translation

Take help from patience

What is Patience? Patience is when a person restrains himself from being fearful during hard times. Also, a person who is patient restrains himself from doing prohibited acts and does what is obligated and righteous.

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim said, "There are three types of patience: Firstly, practicing patience to fulfill the obligations and to do righteous. Secondly, abstaining from evil and prohibited acts. And thirdly, practicing patience during times of hardship without complaints."

It is a well-known fact that most of the ailments and diseases are some what related to stress according to medical science. In addition, the only remedy to it is Patience. This is what the holy Qur'an stresses in this particular ayat. Moreover, many other verses in the holy Qur'an also speak about patience. Exactly same message has been repeated "And seek assistance through patience and prayer, and most surely it is a hard thing except for the humble ones" (Surah Baqrah 2:45)

Further on importance of patience:

Surah Ale Imran(3:120), Surah Ale Imran (3:200), Surah Al Nisa (4:25), Surah Al A'araaf(7:126), Surah Al Mudassir (74:7), Surah Al Asar(103:3)

The word صبر is mentioned in the Qur'an no less than 73 times.

There is no doubt, whatsoever that patience helps us in many ways.

Take help from prayer

For a Muslim it is easy to understand that how the prayer helps him in the upcoming life. This is the most important duty for the Muslims which they have to perform five times daily. His next life depends a lot on the prayer his says in this life and also it's the most important source of spiritual contemplation for him. But there are many medical, psychological and spiritual benefits of prayer as well. Before prayers Muslims perform ablution (an act of purifying the body) which has many medical benefits as well which has been discussed separately under Surah Al Maida 5:6.

The total number of minutes of the 5-daily Prayers in Islam are approximately 15 to 20 minutes, except for Friday, where the noon Prayer lasts for about 1/2 hour, because Muslims spend most of it listening to the Sheikh's preaching. 

Anyway, the Wisdom of Prayer in Islam is to (1) Create a Spiritual connection between Allah Almighty and the person; (2) To relief the person's mind completely from life's stress and issues, by taking a mental and physical break

Having said all of that, let us now look at what psychologists have to say about taking a daily 15 to 20 minute mental and physical break:

Psychology and Prayer

As discussed above most of the ailments are related to stress some how.

Let us see what stress actually is:

'Stress is a normal physiologic response to help us meet threat or danger, real or perceived. The stress response sends blood away from our skin and digestive systems and to our muscles and brain mobilizing our energy to attack or move away.' The stress response becomes problematic when it is chronic, when there is never a time or a place that feels safe for us to relax and resume the normal pattern of our lives. When our nervous and hormonal systems stay in a constant state of hyper vigilance to danger we begin to burn out.

Humanity has known for thousands of years that there are certain techniques or skills that help us relax as human beings. It was not until the 70's that more formal research was being done. Herbert Benson MD from Harvard who is a cardiologist and others started doing pioneering research on relaxation techniques including meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, imagery/visualization, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness repetitive Christian prayer autogenic training, and repetitive exercise. He found all of them, if done over time had similar physiological responses, and reversed the effects of the stress response.

1-Relaxation Response as a Self Care Technique:

Dr. Benson found that the common characteristics of these interventions was a focus of attention on something of neutral or positive value, and the passive disregard for the normal thought that would arise. By training your internal attention to focus away from the mental and physical patterns of stress and move towards something of neutral or positive valued the pattern of the stress response was broken and a relaxation response would develop. Benson coined the term Relaxation Response to describe this self care technique.

How to practice


Choose a word, sound, phrase, prayer, image, or physical activity of neutral or positive value. Keep your attention on this focus; i.e. silently repeating the word peace, or going for a walk and saying right or left silently to yourself during your outing
Passively disregard your everyday thoughts when they occur during your relaxation practice, and bring yourself back to your focus. Do this 1-2 times daily for 10-20 minutes to break patterns of stress response on mental and biochemical levels.

Practice in Prayer

ALLAH gave the Muslims a natural way to achieve this: 5 times Prayer. What can be more positive then talking to ALLAH and presenting all your problems in front of him? When a Muslim prays he forgets all the worldly matters and thinks he is standing in front of the Lord of the lords. It helps us to break this stress for a few time and hence reducing its intensity.

2-Self Recognition:

Since our mind is a survival mechanism, it naturally seems to focus on danger and problems, often to the exclusion of what is going well! This tendency is called negative selection in cognitive psychology.
Life brings us negative, neutral, and positive moments of experience. Our daily lives are a combination of these moments of experience, although they may feel to be mainly negative. By taking time to recognize positive moments of experience we can change the perception of our lives without the circumstances being different.
Since many of us are now focusing on fear and a lack of safety, it could be helpful to begin to recognize moments of happiness to counter this negative focus.

How to practice


Before bedtime, record in a notebook three moments of happiness that occurred during the day. Remember to include the small things. Do this for one week. (Exercise from Self Recognition by Radha Conrad, M.A. ) .

Practice in Prayer


We Muslims thank ALLAH in the prayers. That is from where the prayer starts.

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds
(Surah Fatiha 1:2)

Thanking ALLAH for all his blessings. Positive thinking!! Just as the Prophet advised us in a hadith that in the worldly matters we should look at the person below us.

Surely I am Allah, there is no god but I, therefore serve Me and keep up prayer for My remembrance
(Surah Taha 20:14)


 

3-Physical Exercise:


Physical exercise can help prevent stress from becoming chronic or severe. It gives an outlet for the energy produced by the body in the stress response, and can also be a relaxation response. So remember to stay active and design an exercise program that honors your physical capacities and conditions.

Practice in Prayer

In 24 hours, Muslims pray a minimum of 17 obligatory prayers in which they make about 119 poses (7 poses per Rakah). Moreover, the poses are such that people of all ages can perform and it is an exercise that causes no exertion or tiredness instead it earns us an internal bliss. This is the great physiological benefit in prayer as well.

Another article says: "Exercise, especially if it is aerobic (demands oxygen intake), helps increase tolerance for stress, improves cardiovascular fitness, and improves general health, mood, and well-being. Exercise should consist of brisk workouts for at least 15 minutes at least 3 times a week. Even though exercise is touted in society as desirable, American children are becoming physically unfit in greater percentages than even 10 years ago. Health is an active achievement toward which we need to work. "

Again, we see what the modern psychology tells us is what Qur'an tells us to do and what ALLAH orders us to do. This is the beauty of Islam. Whatever ALLAH tells us to do is in our own benefit and whatever ALLAH stops us from is in our own harm.


 

Medical benefits of Prostration

(by Dr.Zakir Naik)

Normally when you stand erect, blood does flow into the brain but it is not sufficient for a healthy brain. During Salah when you go into sujood (prostration) extra blood flows into the brain, which is very important for a healthy brain. When you do sujood, this extra blood supply to the skin on the face [helps] prevent diseases such as chilblain etc.

When you do sujood there is drainage of sinuses and there are fewer chances that a person will have sinusitis, that is inflammation of the sinus, this drainage of module sinus, of the frontal sinus, and a person has less chances of having inflammation of the sinus, that is sinusitis. When a person does sujood even the bronchitis's, the secretion of the bronchitis, they get drained, there are less chances of having bronchitis.

When a person breathes normally only two thirds of the capacity of the lung is exhaled out, the remaining one third remain in the lung as a residual air, now when you do sujood the abdominal visra, they press against the diaphragm and the diaphragm presses against the lower part of the lungs, the lower lobes, and when you breath during sujood even this one third residual air is aired out and that's very important for a healthy lung. There are less chances of having diseases of the lungs.

Research at a Malaysian University

(See Middle East times or World Wide Religious News WWRN 13 December 2006)

A top Malaysian university has discovered that the postures used during the Muslim prayer, or salat, have significant physical benefits, according to a report.
Initial results from a research project by University Malaya's biomedical engineering department show that the Muslim style of praying benefits the heart and spine, while increasing the capacity for memory and attention.
Muslims pray five times a day, with each salat beginning in a standing posture, followed by a deep bow and then progressing to a sitting position on knees. The person then touches their forehead to the ground, sits up and repeats the process before finally standing again.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that the study affirmed the power of prayer in a person's life, the New Straits Times reported.
"The study investigates the physiological interactions and effects of the salat postures on the human body," said Abdullah, who likened salat postures to those practiced in yoga.
"Since the majority of our population is Muslims, it is both of interest and importance that we not only understand the spiritual benefits of salat, but also ... its biological and medical effects," he said.

Other Benefits of Prayer

The fact of the matter is that if we start mentioning all the benefits of the prayer we need a separate book for that, in fact a book of several volumes is required. Prayer is a divine exercise for a healthy body. Pose and Posture
a book written by Dr. Khurshid Hussain is a good book written on medical ethics of prayers. Prayer is an important source of physical fitness, mental peace, spiritual bliss and it acts as a remedy for all evils. It acts as a recharger of belief. It has a positive effect on the functioning of many organs and the skeletal system. The different postures of prayer have hidden physiological benefits in them. Physiological and biological rhythms are also important features of the prayers. There are social advantages as well of praying in congregation. Physiotherapy and prayer is a separate topic. Psychotherapy and prayer is another important feature. Ashraf Nizami wrote in his book Namaz (Prayer) the Yoga of Islam ". Some Yogacharyas to whom the offering of prayer was explained, expressed the view that prayer consists short simplified and concise postures of the 84 yogaasans "


 

Such are the benefits of prayer. That is why ALLAH says "And seek assistance through patience and prayer, and most surely it is a hard thing except for the humble ones" ( Surah Baqarah 2:45)

The word صلاة
has been used about 67 times in the holy Qur'an. It is because of these great spiritual and medical benefits, that ALLAH stresses so much on prayers in the holy Qur'an and orders us to perform prayer properly to derive full benefit from it.


 


 


 

See the complete list of Scientific Miracles in Surah Baqarah here


 

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3 comments:

Amatul Wadood said...

In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
Peace and blessings be on our beloved Prophet, his family, his companions and all the righteous believers.

Salamualaikum wart wabrt!

MashAllah! SubhanAllah!
very nice article..may Allah SWT accept it from u!

By the way...it would be nice if you could show the difference between a mechanical prayer and a focused, spiritual prayer...i mean, most of the Muslims dont understand the meaning of the words that they utter in prayer and are often quite distracted...

JazakAllah Khair!

ayesha ali said...

subhanalah mashallah,an eyeopener as well as truely informative article,jazakallah khair!

kal islam said...

Ma Sha Allah

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