Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Solah and Psychological Health

The Quran contains many verses that tell us the important of prayer or Solah. Why does the Quran stresses upon Solah? Since the mid-1990s, a series of studies has explored the association between self-reported frequency of prayer and psychological health. Results interpreted as indicative of better levels of psychological health. This consensus is supported by data from the UK reported by Francis and Wilcox (1994) among two hundred and thirty 16- to 18-year-old female school pupils, by Francis and Wilcox (1996) among two hundred and thirty-six 16- to 19-year-old female A-level students, by Smith (1996) among one hundred and ninety-one 11- to 15-year-old school pupils, by Francis and Bolger (1997) among 50 retired members of an ex-civil servants association, by Francis (1997) among three samples of 378, 458, and 292 undergraduates, by Francis and Johnson (1999) among 311 primary school teachers, and by Fearn, Booker, and Francis (2001) among 157 adult artists. This consensus is also supported by data from the USA reported by Maltby (1995) among 92 female university students, by Lewis and Maltby (1996) among 100 male undergraduates, and by Maltby, Talley, Cooper, and Leslie (1995) among 324 adults, by data from France by Lewis (2000) among 462 female university students, by data from Australia by Kaldor, Francis, and Fisher (2002) among 1033 adults, and by data from Norway by Lewis, Francis, and Enger (2004) among 479 school pupils.

According to these researchers, individuals who pray are, consciously or unconsciously, acknowledging and relating to a transcendence beyond themselves. Acknowledging such a transcendence and relating to that transcendence through prayer places the whole of life into a wider context of meaning and purpose. Furthermore, the practice of prayer implies both a cognitive and an affective component. The cognitive component assumes at least the possibility, if not the certainty, of a transcendent power. Such a belief system is likely to support a purposive view of the nature of the universe. Living in a universe which itself has meaning and purpose is likely to lend a sense of meaning and purpose to the individual who is part of that universe. The affective component assumes at least the possibility, if not the certainty, of that transcendent power being aware of and taking an interest in the individual engaged in prayer. The affective component supports the relational potential of a personal rather than an impersonal transcendent power. Living in relationship to such a personal transcendence is likely to support a sense of value and purpose for the individual.

What draws my attention to all these studies are that people who participated in all these studies are limited to those who frequented their religious premises only once a week regardless whether they’re muslims or not. In Islam, muslims are obliged to pray a mandatory five times daily prayers. Imagine the amount of benefits muslims would be able to bag once they dutifully perform their daily prayers. But why muslims abscond from praying?

The other benefits of prayer are that when a muslim keep the prayers on time, he/she therefore help the biological clock in the cells of the body to work efficiently in an amazing stability, and therefore the immune system will grow, and equips the body with ability to resist various diseases from forming. In other words, prayer is a useful tool for human being in maintaining their “factory default” psychologically and physically. Wallahu a’lam.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Circumcision, and Islam

Circumcision helps protect men from HIV. Three large trials that allocated heterosexual men from the general population in South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya to either have circumcision or not, found the procedure lowered their risk of HIV infection. When the trials’ results were combined, the data showed circumcision lowered the risk of acquiring HIV by 50% after one year.
Male circumcision is among the rites of Islam and is part of the (in Arabic): fitrah, or the innate disposition and natural character and instinct of the human creation.
As-Shawkani said in his book Nayl al-Awtar (1/184):
"What the Prophet (s.A.w.) means by Fitrah is that if these characteristics are followed by a man, he would be described as a man of Fitrah, which Allah (s.w.t.) has gifted his servants with, and encouraged them to follow, so that they attain a high degree of respectability and dignity."
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "Five are the acts quite akin to fitrah:Circumcision, clipping or shaving the pubes, cutting the nails, plucking or shaving the hair under the armpits and clipping (or shaving) the moustache." (Reported in Bukhari & Muslim)
Allah ordered Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to follow the religion of Ibrahim (peace be upon him). When Allah says:
"Then We inspired you: 'Follow the religion of Ibrahim, the upright in Faith'."
(Qur'an 16:123)
And part of the religion of Ibrahim is circumcision.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "The Prophet Ibrahim circumcised himself when he was eighty years old and he circumcised himself with an axe." (Related by Bukhari, Muslim & Ahmad.)
Ibn Abbas (r.a.) was asked "How old were you when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) died?" He replied, "At that time I had been circumcised. At that time people did not circumcise the boys till they attained the age of puberty (Baligh)." (Bukhari)
Most Fuqaha' (Islamic Jurists) say that circumcision is obligatory upon the men and this is the opinion of Jumhur (the majority of the scholars). If it were not obligatory, then Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) would not have troubled himself at such a later stage of his life.
In sum, Islam as dinul fitrah knows what’s best for mankind.

Thursday, April 23, 2009





Monday, April 13, 2009

Health and Congregational prayer

Congregational prayer or solah al-jamaah is an important concept in Islam. Islam encourages the Jama’ah prayers. The Prophet (SAW) in an agreed Hadith states that the Jama’ah prayers is worth 27 times the prayers of a person by himself.

In another Hadith, the Prophet (SAW) mentions that if three Muslims are present in a community, they need to establish Jama’ah prayers, or Satan will get to them, as we are weakened by being separate, and strengthened by the Jama’ah. In fact, establishing Jama’ah prayers is a definite Sunnah, to the extent that we are informed in another Hadith, that if we leave the Jama’ah prayers, we are actually abandoning an established Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW).

Other examples of the reward for attending the mosque for Jama’ah prayers are the following Hadith. The Prophet (SAAWS) said who ever attends the mosque and returns, God prepares for him paradise on every occasion he attends and leaves. The Prophet (SAW) also says when you witness a person that regularly attends to the mosque for prayers it is a testimony of his faith.

There is always more reward when we pray together. The rewards that we are obtaining are not limited to the hereafter but we are benefiting it here and now, continuously. Unfortunately we are not aware of it.

In congregational solah, we are actually connecting with other people. It's a scientific fact that people who connect live longer. Lawrence Katz and Manning Rubin in their gem of a book, Keep Your Brain Alive, quote studies by the McArthur Foundation and the International Longevity Center in New York and at the University of Southern California. These studies show that people who stay socially and physically active have longer life spans. So, don't just go to the mosque to perform prayer and leave. Mingle around. Help to set the prayer hall for prayer.

When we make new connections in the outside world, you make new connections in the inside world— in our brain. This keeps us young and alert. Edward M. Hallowell, in his very savvy book Connect, cites the 1979 Alameda County Study by Dr. Lisa Berkman of the Harvard School of Health Sciences. Dr. Berkman and her team carefully looked at 7,000 people, aged 35 to 65, over a period of nine years. Their study concluded that people who lack social and community ties are almost three times more likely to die of medical illness than those who have more extensive contacts. And all this is independent of socioeconomic status and health practices such as smoking, alcoholic beverage consumption, obesity or physical activity!

During the prophet time, we hardly heard from the sirah that the companion died because of heart attack, obesity or diabetic but most of them syahid in jihad. Be healthy by praying together. Wallahu A'lam

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Drinking hot tea?

There is something about a hot cup of frothing tea or teh tarik to soothe a tired soul. Wait at least four minutes before drinking hot tea, is the advice from researchers who have found drinking very hot tea can increase the risk of throat cancer.

Cancer of the oesophagus has causal links to smoking and alcohol consumption, but previous studies have suggested hot drinks may also be a risk factor.

An international team of researchers, reporting in the British Medical Journal, examined the theory that repeated thermal injury to the oesophagus might initiate cancer. They studied a population in northern Iran, which has one of the highest rates for oesophageal cancer in the world, yet consumes very little alcohol or tobacco.

The researchers found people who drank their tea within two minutes had a five times higher risk of oesophageal cancer compared with those who waited more than four minutes before drinking their tea. Queensland Institute of Medical Research senior research fellow David Whiteman said the study was the most compelling test to date of the thermal injury hypothesis.

''It's interesting for us to be aware of, because it gives us an insight potentially into other ways in which cancers might arise,'' Dr Whiteman said. We know about smoking and alcohol being causes for these cancers. But this idea that chronic irritation from hot things in the oesophagus might also lead to cancer has long been suspected. The research team led by Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Farhad Islami, studied 300 people with oesophageal cancer and compared their tea drinking preferences with a control group of more than 500. Almost all participants drank one litre of tea a day.

They found the cancer patients were eight times more likely to drink their tea very hot or more than 70 degrees, compared with the control participants. The findings were similar for how quickly they drank the tea- people who drank their tea within two minutes had a five times higher risk than those who waited more than four minutes.
The researcher reported there was no significant association between the risk cancer and the amount of tea consumed.
By Nyssa Skilton, The Canberra Times