Quran - A Book of Shifa (Healing)
The Quran is a book of guidance and it was this guidance that revolutionized the hearts and minds of the early Muslims. It brought the ignorant Bedouins from the confinement of the Arabian desert lifestyle and made them powerful enough to bring down 2 major political powers of the time: The Byzantine Roman & the Persian Sassanian Empire. After them it was again the Quran that inspired the successors of those early Muslims in to bringing about one of the major scientific and educational revolution in the medieval world, centered in Baghdad during the Abbasid period, that impacted the entire globe for years to come. But the Quran’s message is not only what inspires its audience, its words also move people, even those who may not know a word of Arabic. Famous Egyptian reciter Qari Abdul Basit reportedly once accompanied then President Gamal Abdul Nasir to a meeting with the Soviet leaders. During a break in the meeting, Nasir asked him to recite the Quran before the top Soviet leaders. When he finished the recitation, Qari saw four of them shedding tears. “We don’t know what it was” they later explained. But there was something touching in those words! Allah ﷻ has said in Al Quran 17:82: “We send down the Quran as healing (shifa) and mercy to those who believe…” Of the many Divine Names of Allah ﷻ in the Quran, there is one called Al Shafi meaning “The Healer”, hence He has provided various sources on earth for curing of our physical, psychological and spiritual diseases, and one of the major sources is the Quran. The Quran are not just words of Arabic language, they are Divine words of Allah ﷻ, His Divine language in which He communicated to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It was Prophet Muhammad’s companions who were the first to use the Quran as a shifa (healing). One of them recited Surah Al Fatiha (The Opening), the first chapter of the Quran, over a person stung by a scorpion and helped him cure. They referred to this Surah as ruqyah (practice to treat illnesses, evil eye, magic) and Muslims have been reciting it as such since then.
Quran Recitation in Islamic Medieval Hospitals
During the Islamic Golden Age, when scientific research was at its peak in the Islamic world, Muslim Physicians were in the forefront of the medical field employing innovations and therapeutic techniques way ahead of their time. They treated mental illnesses by confining the patients in asylums with 21st century techniques of music therapy. Fez, Morocco, had an asylum built for the mentally ill as early in the 8th century, and for the insane asylums were built by the Arabs in Baghdad in 705 CE, in Cairo in 800 CE, and in Damascus and Aleppo in 1270 CE. In addition to baths, drugs, kind and benevolent treatment given to the mentally ill, music-therapy and occupational therapy were also employed. There were mainly 3 types of music and all were used for patient therapy. First was the regular musical instruments mainly inspired by the Turkish culture, second was the religious music which included zikr (remembrance of Allah), recitation of Quran, Adhaan (call to prayer) and third were natural sound system built within the hospital structure to produce therapeutic effects such as chirping of canaries from the main garden, sound of fountain water in the courtyard etc.
One of the amazing examples of healing the sick through music therapy was the Al-Mansuri Hospital in Cairo (1284 CE) and like 21st century hospitals it carried several amenities that assisted in healing the patients such as professional storytellers were appointed to narrate stories and jokes to patients which Radio, TV, and PC have replaced today. Additionally, a significant aspect of healing therapy was the recitation of the Quran, religious songs sung by muaddhin (prayer caller) in their melodious voices before the morning adhaan (call for prayer), so that afflicted patients might forget their suffering. 9th century physician also a musician, al-Kindi (Abu Yaqub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi), was the earliest known Arab Islamic scholars to use music therapy on patients and used the practice to cure a paralyzed child. From then onwards till Ottoman era, physicians such as 16th century Ottoman doctor Moses Hamun (Ibn Hamun), have applied music therapy even for toothache. An image of the Ottoman era medical text depicts jinns (devils) as a tooth cavity which implies importance given by Ottoman medical experts to spiritual cures through Quran and religious music (sufi music), along with medical cure.
Music Therapy in the West
In the last few decades an increasing number of doctors and medical experts in the West are agreeing and encouraging music therapy in healing patients as studies show evidence that the power of music can be tapped to heal the body, strengthen the mind and unlock the creative spirit. Reports published in International Journal of Arts Medicine, doctors and medical experts at Harvard Medical School, Stanford University School of Medicine, University of Louisville School of Nursing, Colorado State University, New York's Strang Cancer Prevention Center, Yale University School of Medicine etc. provide evidence that music therapy has its healing effects on patients suffering from numerous psychological and health issues. They offer dramatic accounts of how doctors, musicians, and healthcare professionals use music to deal with everything from anxiety to cancer, high blood pressure, chronic pain, dyslexia, even mental illness.
Quran Therapy by Muslim Doctors
As Western medical experts emphasize the use of music therapy for healing patients, we are noticing several doctors in the Muslim world, many of whom graduated from the institutions in the West, are simultaneously applying Quran recitation as a therapy for their patients and are seeing extremely positive results. Dr. Javed, is an MBBS, FCPS (Pakistan), FCCS (USA) and FDM (USA), head of the Services Hospital ICU in Lahore, and a consultant physician and intensivist. He plays the recitation of the Quran and according to him several patients of epilepsy, brain haemorrhage and organ failures have shown unbelievable recovery because of it. “I really don’t know how listening to these golden words works in the recovery of patients but my results say that this chapter of the Holy Quran not only works but works wonders,” he says, referring to Surah Al Rahman (Chapter 55) of the Holy Quran. He makes his point through data of patients he treated in the hospital. During his four-year stint at the ICU of the Services Hospital, he has treated 96 cases of wheat pill cases and 75 of them survived the poison, while the mortality rate of those consuming aluminium phosphide (what a wheat pill contains) in European and American hospitals is 90 to 100 per cent. His therapy has also been recorded by several local media channels in Pakistan.
Several studies in support of Quran’s therapeutic effect have also been published in Iran. A study published in the International Journal of Scientific Study by Iranian medical experts from Zabol city after clinical trial research on ICU patients provides evidence that Quran recitation influences the brain cells and restores their balance and coordination. It was effective in improving and stabilizing their vital signs. The study concluded that Quran recitations should be used beside other medical methods in ICU. The study also suggested that Quran recitation is cost effective (there is no cost for its use) and an alternative for excessive use of drugs. As Iran suffers from Coronavirus, in addition to years of brutal sanctions by Western countries that crippled many of its industries including medical, there are nurses assisting COVID-19 patients with Quran recitation.
What is most important to realize about this fact of Quran being a shifa (healer) is that Quran is linked with faith, with belief in One God i.e. Allah ﷻ and one can only benefit from its tremendous spiritual energy, if one truly had faith in their Creator and that what they are listening to are indeed His Divine Words: (Al Quran 41:44) Say, “It is guidance and healing for those who have faith, but the ears of the disbelievers are heavy, they are blind to it, it is as if they are being called from a distant place.”
 First Things First: For Inquiring Minds and Yearning Hearts, Miracle of the Quran, Khalid Baig, Open Mind Press (July 14, 2004)
 Sahih al-Bukhari 5736 – Sunnah.com
 Music Therapy, Ibrahim B. Syed, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc - https://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_1_50/music_therapy.htm
 What is Medical Music Therapy in Islamic Civilization? Siti Norhidayah Mohd Sufie & Roziah Sidik, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, International Journal of Business and Social Science, Vol. 8, No. 3; March 2017 - https://ijbssnet.com/journals/Vol_8_No_3_March_2017/20.pdf
 Ottoman Medical Text - https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DQXXLiJUEAIUu-x.jpg
 B. Syed, Music Therapy
 A doctor who prescribes a dose of Quranic verses, Dawn, Ahsan Raza 26 Mar 2012 - https://www.dawn.com/news/705440/a-doctor-who-prescribes-a-dose-of-quranic-verses
 Daily Pakistan Digital - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=666JmA1e7xQ
 Investigating Aid Effect of Holy Quran Sound on Blood Pressure, Pulse, Respiration and O2 Sat in ICU Patients, Ali Mansouri, Aziz Shahraki Vahed, Ali Reza Sabouri, Hossein Lakzaei, Azizollah Arbabisarjou, International Journal of Scientific Study, Vol 5, Issue 7, November 2017.
 Iranian nurses reciting Quran to COVID-19 patients in Ramadan, The Iran Project, https://theiranproject.com/blog/2020/04/28/photos-iranian-nurses-reciting-quran-to-covid-19-patients-in-ramadan/
I carry a passion for Researching, Learning & Writing on Various Islamic Topics. To read more of my work You can also visit my personal blog website www.rizqankareem.com. You can also follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rizqan_kareem/