Islam and Health and Burial

Since the horrific events of September 11, 2001, the American people, and indeed citizens of countless other nations have viewed those of the Islamic faith with a great deal of suspicion at best and hatred at worst. However, the fact of the matter is that not all of those of the Islamic faith, which is to say those who follow the tenets of the Quran and believe in Allah as a divine being (Lewis) are terrorists but are in fact highly devout people who follow their faith closely, and perhaps if more people understood these people and their religious observances, a great deal of misunderstanding and prejudice could be defeated (Khawaja, et al).

With this possibility in mind, this research will discuss Islamic health and burial beliefs and traditions so that ultimately, a better understanding of an ancient faith, rather than a half true suspicion of false information will prevail. A Brief Overview of the Islamic Faith If specific Islamic traditions are to be better understood, it is essential to first have in place a brief overview of the Islamic faith itself- a faith which is not adequately understood by many people.

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In brief, the Islamic faith is a monotheistic religion which is based on six basic principles: belief in one God, belief in angels, belief in prophets, belief in the scriptures (in this case, the Quran and the Psalms of the Holy Bible), belief in a judgment day for all of humanity, and belief in divine decrees, handed down by God (Islamic-Beliefs. com).

Thus, in many ways, the Islamic faith holds values and beliefs which echo those of Christianity, Judaism and others, although there are significant enough differences between these faiths to create the theological void which in honesty has led to extremist actions such as terrorism and the like; however, once again, the point needs to be reinforced that not all Islamic people are terrorists, just as all terrorists are not Islamic (Kelly).

With a basic understanding of Islam firmly in place, it is now possible to discuss some of the particular details of Islam which are worthy of further research and discussion, which will add to a better understanding of Islam overall. Islamic Health Practices Taking a deeper look into Islamic health practices and the way that people of this faith view life and health reveals a great deal about how these people view not only those of their faith, but indeed all of humanity.

To begin, it is essential to realize that for the Islamic faithful, life is viewed as a gift from God, along with many other things, and as such should be treasured as a valuable possession to be protected (Khan). For Islamic individuals, however, science and religion do in fact intersect on the question of the origin of life, as the Darwinian theories of evolution of the human race are not supported by the Islamic faith, much like many other world religions (Setia). Aside from the basic considerations of life, Islamic science has had its fair share of significant achievements throughout history (Mayer).

Most sources generally agree that Islamic science hit its apex during the Middle Ages, when the Islamic people of the Middle East were credited with scientific advancements which led to the invention of some of the most durable paper that existed up to that time, techniques for the refining of metals for a wide variety of products and uses, and the invention of a process for the weaving of cloth which was far superior to any other to be found up to that time (Sachedina, et al).

Overall, Islamic science has made sizeable contributions to humanity over the course of history. Islamic Burial Beliefs and Traditions Just as Islamic people have specific beliefs about life, they likewise have specific beliefs and customs regarding the burial of the dead at the end of life itself. While the funeral traditions vary slightly from one Islamic nation to the next, in general, the funeral process is essentially the same (Matsunami).

First, a comment on the actual reaction upon the death of a loved one- since the Islamic belief is that life comes from the mercy of God (Allah), the ending of life is accepted without much second guessing and the funeral moves forward rapidly. First, the body is washed with soap and water, and wrapped in a white cloth in preparation for burial. Middle class or higher individuals can afford the privilege of a ceremony at a mosque prior to burial, but lower classes generally proceed directly to the gravesite.

Overall, the funeral and grieving process within Islam is quick and direct, allowing those who mourn to return to regular everyday life quickly (Davidson). In the Islamic tradition, it can fairly be said, that there is a respect not only for life, but also for death, but both are seen as gifts which can, and do fade away without notice, thereby emphasizing the importance of the here and now (Renard). Conclusion This research has focused on specific facets of the Islamic faith, and has provided valuable insight into those specifics.

However, as the Introduction implied, something else on a larger scale has been accomplished- the provision of a better understanding of a much misunderstood group of people, and it is in that better understanding that one finds the seeds of a higher level of harmony in the world- something that is in short supply in an increasingly complicated world. Works Cited Conran, David. Sunjata. A West African Epic of the Mande People. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 2004. Davidson, Lawrence. Islamic Fundamentalism.

Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998. Farah, Caesar. Islam. New York: Barron’s Educational Press, 2003. Islam Guide. com. “The Scientific Miracles of the Holy Quran”. Retrieved April 1, 2009 from the World Wide Web: www. islam-guide. com. Islamic Beliefs. Suite 101. com. “What Do Muslims Believe? ” Retrieved April 1, 2009 from the World Wide Web: http://islamic-beliefs. suite101. com/article. cfm/what_do_muslims_believe. Kelly, Marjorie, ed. Islam: The Religious and Political Life of a World Community. New York: Praeger, 1984.

Khan, Faroque A. “Religious Teachings and Reflections on Advance Directive: Religious Values and Legal Dilemmas in Bioethics; an Islamic Perspective. ” Fordham Urban Law Journal 30. 1 (2002): 267+. Khawaja, Irfan, and Ibn Warraq. “Will Islam Come into the Twenty-First Century?. ” Free Inquiry Apr. -May 2004: 25+. Lewis, Bernard. Islam and the West. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Matsunami, Kodo. International Handbook of Funeral Customs. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998. Mayer, Ann Elizabeth.

Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics. 3rd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1991. Renard, John. Windows on the House of Islam: Muslim Sources on Spirituality and Religious Life. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998. Sachedina, Abdulaziz, Tamara Sonn, John O. Voll, and John L. Esposito, eds. The Islamic World: Past and Present. Vol. 1. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Setia, Adi. “Three Meanings of Islamic Science: Toward Operationalizing Islamization of Science. ” Islam & Science 5. 1 (2007): 23+.


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