Conference Agenda

5C: Faith and Healing in the Middle East
Thursday, 09/Sept/2021:
9:00am - 10:15am

Session Chair: Prof. Javier Moscoso, CSIC


The Synergy between Religion and Medicine as a Method of Healing in Arabic Medicine

Atat, Ayman Yasin

FU Berlin, Germany

The relation between religion and medicine seems to be having a long historical aspect, in the Arabic civilization for instance, there were a branch of medicine called the prophetic medicine, and its rules were established upon the Hadiths of Prophet. Practicing this kind of medicine was completely depending on the faith level of the patient and even the physician himself. Therefore, it is ordinary to see some Arabic medical books written about using Hadiths or Quranic verses as a method for healing patients. However, we cannot say that the prophetic medicine was the main way of healing during the Arabic civilization, but honestly, physicians were faithful for the traditional method that relies on using simple drugs or compound ones.

On the 15th century al-ʿĀmirī ʿImād al-Dīn (d. 893H/1488 AD) who was a historian, a pioneer speaker, and has a knowledge of simple drugs; in addition, he served as a Shaikh in Yemen. He wrote a fascinating Arabic medical manuscript entitled (Al-Tuḥfah al-Jāmiʿah li-mufradāt al-Ṭibb al-Nāfiʿah; “the collective masterpiece for the beneficial medical simples”). It is interesting to note that al-ʿĀmirī treats some diseases by using the faith healing as a sedative method to work together with the simple drugs in healing the patients to be as a synergy between religion and medicine. Therefore, through this manuscript this talk is going to shed light on the phenomenon of using the faith of religion and traditional therapies together for healing aims in the Arabic medicine.

Contagion and Faith: between Prophetic Medicine and Science

Irannejad, Shahrzad

Orient-Institut Istanbul, Germany

The notion of contagion, now widely assumed as a medical problem, has historically been a point of contestation in the context of hadith scholarship and religious jurisprudence in the Islamicate tradition. Contagion has continually been a contested concept within an alternative mode of healing (active even today in contemporary Iran) widely labelled “Prophetic Medicine”. Prophetic Medicine draws on collections of Prophetic tradition (hadith) with medical content, while explicating pathophysiology using tenets of humoral medicine. In this body of knowledge, there is a twofold resistance to the integration of the concept of contagion: the resistance to contagion inherent in Galenic humorism and a number of transmitted Prophetic Traditions (hadith) that seem to deny the existence of contagion. The textual corpora of humoral medicine offer circumstantial knowledge, while prophetic medicine deals with eternal, revealed knowledge. As laid out by Ahmed Ragab (2012) in the case of modern Egypt, corpora of prophetic medicine keeps getting recreated in accordance with the contemporaneous, if I may, “scientific” views. Avoiding the trope of the supposed epistemological conflict between religion and science, this paper would explore the nuanced overlaps of the two discourses in Iran, using contagion as a conceptual node. Implementing discourse analysis of texts in Arabic and Persian on the problem of contagion within the tradition of prophetic medicine, the study would show how actors writing within this discourse have needed to constantly find a point of balance between two faiths: faith in contemporaneous “scientific medicine” and faith in the infallibility of Prophetic tradition.

Health amulets in ancient Egypt

Győry, Hedvig

Museum of Fine Arts and HEFS, Hungary

Ancient Egyptian medicine was famous at its time to be very effective. Indeed, the prescriptions contain many drugs used still today, although the way of use changed a lot. One of the big differences is the use of amulets, which were prepared and appllied by specific persons and special methods together with medical treatment or instead of it.

Amulets were used in ancient Egypt for various reasons by living and dead persons, gods or even animals, but always in the field of protection or prevention. They worked by the magical power given for them with the spells casted in sacred temple workshops, or places chosen by the wizard-priests; as they called them sau „amulet/protection-men”. The name refers to the aim or the way of their activity, namely they provided protection against accidents, bad intention of gods or people, hex such as evil eye, but also for fecundity,  recovery, succesfull medical treatment, providing good mother milk or prevention with the use of amulets – beside other magical means. Either physician or priest or amulet-man examined a patient, they all used for the medical treatment both drugs and magical tools – the proportions changed, however, significantly.

A group of the ancient Egyptain amulets were called „health amulets” by the ancient texts. The paper will discuss how such an amulet was chosen for the given medical purpose, what it was like and which way it was applied, based on ancient Egyptian texts and objects.