The Health Benefits of Salah (Islamic Prayer)
Posted on April 4 2014
Islam is a healing and a mercy for all mankind.
And we send down of the Qu’ran that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism and act on it), and it increases the Zalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers) nothing but loss (Surah Al-Isra, 17:82).
Allah, Lord of mankind, remove the evil and grant healing, for You are the Healer. There is no healing except Your healing, which does not leave any sickness.
And when I am ill, it is He who cures me (Surah Al-Shuára, 26:80).
For every disease, there is a natural cure.
Abu Hurayrah narrates that The Prophet pbuh said:
“There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its remedy.”
Allah has never created a disease but created its treatment, that is known by some people and unknown to others, except death (At-Tabarani).
Islamic prayer has many health benefits including improving blood circulation, posture, and stretching. When we prostrate ourselves towards the Qibla, every movement has a health benefit including the exercising of our cheek muscles with the pronunciation of each word. Islamic salah resembles Yoga, which is also a form of prayer, and activates the Marma points of Ayurveda, improving our health and immunity and decreasing our chances of cancer. Ablution rids us of the germs, which collect in our oral and nasal cavities, hands, and feet.
O you who believe! When you intend to offer Salah (prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub your heads, and wash your feet up to the ankles. If you are in a state of Janaba, purify yourselves (wash your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey, or any of you comes after answering the call of nature or have been in contact with women and you find no water, then perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants you to purify you, and to complete His favor to you that you may be thankful (Surah al-Maidah, 5:6).
You should also rinse the mouth and nasal cavity three times. Rinsing the mouth protects the mouth and throat against infections and it protects the gums against ulcers; it also protects the teeth and cleans them by removing food waste that is left behind after eating in the gaps between them. Another very important benefit of rinsing the mouth is that it strengthens some of the muscles of the face and keeps the face looking fresh and radiant. This exercise also helps to give a sense of tranquility when a person moves the muscles of his mouth properly while rinsing the mouth.
Recent scientific research carried out by a group of doctors at the University of Alexandria has shown that most of those who do wudhoo all the time have noses that are clean and free of dust and germs. Nostrils are among the places in which many germs collect, but when the nose is washed all the time and water is snuffed in and blown out forcefully, the nostrils become clean and free of infections and germs, which is reflected in the state of health of the entire body, as this process protects the person from the danger of transmission of germs from the nose to other parts of the body. It has been proven that septicemia is caused by the growth of harmful germs in the nostrils, from which it spreads to the stomach and intestines, and then causes numerous infections and diseases, especially when it enters circulation. Hence, it is prescribed to rinse the nose three times in each Wudhoo.
Washing your face and hands up to the elbows brings great benefits because it removes dust and germs as well as removing sweat from the surface of the skin. It also cleans the skin of the oily substances that is secreted by skin glands, which usually provides a suitable place for germs to live and accumulate.
Washing the feet and rubbing the skin leads to feeling calm and tranquil, because in the feet there are connections to all parts of the body. It is as if the one who does Wudhoo is, at the same time, massaging each of the systems of his body on its own, while he is washing his feet with water and rubbing them carefully.
The circulation in the upper extremeties, the feet and legs, is weaker than in other parts of the body, because they are further away from the center, namely the heart. Washing them and rubbing them strengthens the circulation of the blood in these parts of the body, which increases a persons energy and effectiveness.
Every aspect of Islam has a health benefit and preserves our mental and physical health, individual, family, and community welfare as well as preserves the earth. The timings of prayer set you into the rhythm of a healthy and productive day.
And he said
Two Rakahs of Fajr are better than the world and everything in it (Muslim).
The Qu’ran encourages us to sleep early and to wake up at dawn.
Verily, the recitation of the Qu’ran in the early hours of dawn is ever witnessed attended by the angels in charge of mankind of the day and the night (Sura al-Isra, 17:78).
It is in the early dawn hours during which Allah scans the earth and listens to Dua’s. Furthermore, getting up at this time promotes an energetic day and gets you up during your most productive hours, which will increase trade.
The health benefits that a person gains by waking up at dawn include:
1. There is more ozone in the air at dawn, and it gradually drops until it diminishes at sunrise. This gas has a beneficial effect on the nervous system and energizes one for mental and physical work, so that he can reach his mental and physical peak in the early morning. When he inhales the beautiful dawn breeze, he feels a kind of delight that has no equal in any other hour of the night and day.
2. When the sun rises, its rays are closer to red color, and it is well known that this color has the effect of stimulating nerves and motivating people to wake up and start moving. The ratio of ultraviolet rays is also at its greatest at sunrise, and these rays stimulate the skin to produce Vitamin D.
3. Waking up early stops over sleep and it has been proved that the person who sleeps excessive hours non-stop is exposed to the risk of heart-disease, especially atherosclerosis, which paves the way for angina attacks, because sleep is no more than complete stillness, and if it lasts for a long time it leads to fatty residue collecting on the walls of the coronary arteries. Perhaps protection against one of the factors that lead to cardiovascular disease is one of the benefits obtained by the believers who wake up in the depths of the night in order to draw closer to their Creator by means of supplication and prayer.
It has been proven scientifically that the highest rate of cortisone in the blood occurs at the time of dawn, when it reaches a level between 7 and 22 u g per hundred milliliters of plasma. It is well-known that cortisone is the substance that provides the faculties of the body with the energy they need.
A Muslim starts his or her day in the early hours of the day, when his or her mental, psychological, and physical potentials are at their highest level, which leads to increased productivity.
In a saheeh narration related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, it says that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, said: “The Shaitan ties three knots at the back of the head of any one of you when he goes to sleep. If he wakes up and remembers Allah, one knot is undone. If he does Wudhoo, two knots are undone. If he prays, all the knots are undone, and he starts the day energetic and in a good mood. Otherwise, he starts his day in a bad mood and feeling lazy.”
Perhaps we do not need any scientific evidence to prove the Hadith of the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, and it is sufficient evidence for us to ask two men, one of whom gets up early and prays Fajr, and the other sleeps until after sunrise, how the one who prays Fajr feels energetic and happy all day long, whereas the other one will be the exact opposite of that.
Prayer is healing for the soul and effective for the body. Prayer is a physical activity, which improves the performance of mental and physical functions to the highest degree.
Salah is a spiritual bath, and you will feel cleansed after each salah, releasing negative emotions.
Recent studies have shown that the times of Islamic prayer are in complete accordance with the times of physiological energy in the body, which makes it seems as if they are a leader controlling the rhythm of all bodily functions.
At the time of Adh-Dhuha or the forenoon, as the levels of cortisone drop to their lowest level and one feels exhausted with the pressure of work and needs to rest. This happens nearly 7 hours after waking up early. At this point, the time for Dhuhr prayer begins and plays its role as the best source of comfort and tranquility for the tired heart and body. After that, the Muslim tries to sleep for an hour, to rest and renew his energy. That is after Dhuhr prayer and before Asr prayer. This is what we call the Qayloolah or siesta.
It has been proven that the human body becomes fatigued at this time. This happens nearly 7 hours after waking up early. So the body is at the lowest ebb of concentration and energy. If a person forgoes having a siesta at this time, his physical and mental coordination decrease greatly throughout the day. Then comes Asr prayer, after which the body resumes its activity once again and the level of adrenaline in the blood rises, which creates tangible energy in the physical faculties, especially the activity of the heart. Here, Asr prayer plays an important role in preparing the body and the heart in particular, to face sudden activity, because the heart is shifting suddenly from relaxation to physical activity.
Guard strictly (five obligatory) as-salawat especially the middle Salah (the best prayer- Asr). And stand before Allah with obedience and do not speak to others during the Salah prayers (Surah al Baqarah, 2:238).
Performing Asr and sunnah prayers that are done with it gradually energizes the heart and makes it work more efficiently after having been in a state of extreme relaxation and without becoming exhausted. Thus, all other faculties and senses in the body focus on the prayer, and it becomes easy for the heart, under the influence of this hormone, to control its natural rhythm, which reaches its peak with the passage of time.
Then comes Maghreb prayer, and the levels of cortisone decreases and the activities of the body start to decrease, while moving from light to darkness. This is the exact opposite of Fajr. The body emits melatonin, which encourages relaxation and sleep increases, thus the body becomes slower and the prayer is like a transitional stage. Then comes Isha, the final stage in the day’s journey, in which the body moves from a state of activity and movement to the state of one who has a complete desire to sleep as darkness spreads and the emission of melatonin increases. Hence, it is mustahabb (recommended) for the Muslims to delay Isha prayer until just before sleep, so that they can finish everything they have to do and sleep straight after it.
Hence, commitment to performing the prayers on time is the best method to guarantee that a person will be in complete harmony with his daily activities, which will lead to the highest efficiency in the functions of the human body.
Performing 17 Rakahs per day are the obligatory prayers. It is a cause of strengthening his bones and making them stronger and more sound.
This explains what we see in societies where people pray regularly — no curvature of the spine such as happens in old age. It also explains why Muslims who are committed to the teachings of Islam are distinct in health and physical well-being in general. For those who pray 5 times a day, a pious glow shall appear on their fact and constitutes a hidden beauty secret for a youthful glow on their skin.
It is well-known that prayer brings about important physiological relaxation in the body. Prayer also has a direct impact on the nervous system, as it calms it down and maintains a balance. It is also regarded as a successful remedy for insomnia resulting from anxiety.
Dr. Alexis Carrell stated, “I have seen many patients who failed to be healed by drugs, but prayer intervened and healed completely from their disease.”
Reciting Qu’ran carefully in prayer according to the rules of Tajweed regulates the breathing. The movement of the muscles of the mouth, which accompanies recitation reduces feelings of exhaustion and gives the mind energy.
Prostration plays a profound role in dispelling anxiety from the heart.
Other Medical Benefits:
- Prayer strengthens the abdominal muscles, because it prevents the accumulation of fat, which leads to obesity and weakness, and it prevents bad posture and increases agility;
- Prayer increases the movement of the intestines and reduces constipation as well as prevents it. It also strengthens the gall bladder.
- The postures of bowing and prostrating, and what happens then of pressure on the ends of the toes, leads to a reduction of pressure on the brain. This is like the effect of massaging the toes, which instils a felling of relaxation and calm;
- Lengthy prostration leads to a restoring blood pressure to its natural levels in the entire body and works to push blood to all parts of the body.
Furthermore, prayer helps one to focus the mind. Khushoo is a means of developing the ability to focus the mind, a quality, which will be of the greatest help in achieving success and prosperity. Khushoo makes the worshipper control his thoughts throughout the prayer, and this undoubtedly develops the ability to focus the mind and becomes the greatest help in all one’s actions. The ability to focus is a quality that is second to none to every prominent person.
Healing and Shifa from the Qu’ran and Sunnah Available from
Salat: An Islamic Yoga and Meditation by Atiqur Rahman
Available from Darussalam:
Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet by Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jauziyah
Islamic Guideline on Medicine by Yusuf Al-Hajj Ahmad
Islamic Medicine the Key to a Better Life by Yusuf Al-Hajj Ahmad