A Brief History of Islam & Chinese Medicine

By Justin Penoyer

In Islam, the word “Qi”  is translated as “Qudra”, and should be a familiar concept to Muslim healers. In a paper presented at Harvard Medical School, “Spiritual Healing in the Islamic Tradition,” Shaykh Hisham Muhammad Kabbani, MD, states that:

“The spiritual healing technique involves the energy field that exists around each of us. Everyone has an energy field or an aura that surrounds and interpenetrates the physical body. This field is intimately associated with the health of the human being…The healing spiritual energy (Qudra) is analogous to a waterfall. If a waterfall is channeled in the right way, it can be harnessed to produce energy and give light. Similarly, if our blood flow is properly channeled through a balanced, equilibrated system, the driving force of that energy will augment the energy of the weak organs.”

Energy channels and acupuncture points are also familiar to the Islamic world through the process of cupping.

Cupping, known as “hijamah” in Arabic, is just another method of applying acupressure to the pressure points. However, it achieves this goal not with needles but with cups. These cups can be glass, plastic or bamboo and they create a vacuum on the skin over the pressure point. Cupping is used in Chinese medicine as well as Islamic medicine and has been used to treat a wide number of complaints such as bronchitis, pneumonia, back pain and much more.

The Prophet Mohamed was an advocate of cupping and often used the method himself. It is stated in the Hadith that “Whenever somebody came to the Prophet Muhammad with complaints of a headache he directed him to undergo cupping.” He was known for his personal fondness of receiving cupping on the back of his neck (Du14 in TCM) and the top of his head (Du20).

The Prophet Muhammad also advised cupping for a number of other complaints. Interestingly, he advised that women should not be cupped on the 19th, 21st, and 23rd days of the month.

Cupping is further documented in Islamic Medical history. Abu Qasim Al-Zahrawi (936-1013 AD), an Arab Andaulsian surgeon known to the west as Albucasis, was the greatest Arab surgeon of his time. He authored a 30-volume medical encyclopedia which mentions cupping, its technique and tools, along with more than 200 illustrations of other medical instruments used during his time. Al-Zahrawi also listed several points at which cupping is performed. Although the points he mentioned are much fewer than the thousands of acupressure points the Chinese document, the principal of healing using pressure points and meridians is still the same.

Another interesting connection between the Chinese and the Muslim world is in the area of self-defense. To understand how this relates to healing you first need to know that in China, self-defense also utilizes the concepts of meridians and Chi. One of the most familiar representations of this today is Tai Chi, which has evolved into a form of meditation rather than a method of self defense.

In their varied interactions with the Chinese, Muslims were often placed in the dangerous position of bodyguard because of their relatively non-affiliated status with other Chinese citizens. Rising to this occasion they developed the beautiful and powerful style known throughout the world as Pa Chi (eight extremes). The Chinese emperor, Chien Lung, stated in the 19th century, “For health we have Tai Chi, for protection Pa Chi.” Or as Sheikh Kabbani notes:

“This unknown spiritual energy (Chi) is behind the life of every drop of blood in animate beings, the motion behind every living cell, and the driving force of constellations and galaxies. It carries unlimited perfect and complete powers which are real, active and continuous. The action of this force is genuine because nothing can grow or live in the entire universe without its influence.”

One response to “A Brief History of Islam & Chinese Medicine

  1. Pingback: Science Finally Agrees our Meridians Exist* | Hwaairfan's Blog·

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