Honey: Revelation & Scientific Paradigm

Islamic medicine is a comprehensive subject, one of the best known facets of Islamic civilization.
Honey:  Revelation & Scientific Paradigm
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Islamic medicine is a comprehensive subject, one of the best known facets of Islamic civilization. It might be difficult to confine this civilization to a particular region, given the diverse geographical distribution of those, who subscribe to all that is Islamic in essence.

Even, it might not be possible to encase it in a particular historical time period. However it took and continues to take inspiration from what the Muslims world over believe to be the mother of all books that is AL-QURAN, also called, besides other attributes, Quran-ul–Hakim. Hakma in Arabic means wisdom and the one who is vested with wisdom is called Hakim. In many a verses of Quran, there is a spirit of enquiry on matters of health and hygiene. Remedies are suggested, the importance of honey as a dietary supplement, being an example.

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) often called embodiment of Quran/the moving Quran/spoken Quran (Quran-al-Natiq) proposed various tips on health and hygiene. The study has been compiled in what is known as 'Tibb-al-Nabvi [the medicine of Prophet (PBUH)]'. Arabs in fact did have a simple medicine of their own in the pre-Islamic era and were reluctant to accept any foreign brand. With the advent of Islam, the home grown medicine of Arabia was enriched by time tested health tips of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). The health tips thus provided, with Quranic advisories on health were put into practice by Muslims all over the world with religious fervor. It provided the healing touch and comforted the soul. The medicine in Islam thus acquired a rich flavour, with observance of health and hygiene becoming a routine norm. Honey as a dietary supplement as laid down in Quranic chaper—Al-Nahl is a much quoted health advisory. 

Al-Nahl [the Bee] chapter 16th of Al-Quran states in its verse 68 [And thy Lord taught Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men's) habitations]. Abdullah Yousuf Ali, in his famous commentary on Quran characterizes honeycomb with its hexagonal cells, geometrically perfect, a wonderful structure and is well called buyut (homes, the pleural of 'bayt' home in Arabic) and the way the bee finds out inaccessible places, in the hills, in the trees, and even among the habitations of men is one of the marvels of nature i.e. of Allah's working in His creation. Working to what end in case of Bee is elucidated in the verse following, 69, of the same chapter {Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth) and find with skill the spacious path of its Lord; there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men, verily in this is a sign for those who give thought}. Commenting on this verse, Yousuf Ali says "The bee assimilates the juice of various kinds of flowers and fruits, and forms within its body the honey which it stores in its cells of wax. The different kinds of food from which it makes its honey give different colours to honey. It is dark brown; light brown, yellow, white and so on. The taste and flavor also varies, as in the case of heather honey, the honey from scented flowers and so on. As food, it is sweet and wholesome, and it is used in medicine."  

Dr. Haluk Nurbaki, the Turkish oncologist, a specialist in Radiobiology who has made expounding science in Al- Quran, the mission of his lifetime counts the medicinal properties of honey as:

 (a) Production of Ribose, the basic substance of DNA– our lifeline. Ribose, one of the basic structure materials of bees, perhaps the most important, is in fact a cyclic sugar. Whenever the body is in particular need of manufacturing new cells-after illnesses, during growth and in blood fabrication, ribose is very valuable for it. The marvel is that since reproduction is prohibited for all bees except the queen bee, the bee has absolutely no use for ribose.

(b) Presence of soluble vitamins

(c) Presence of vital substances, such as phosphorus enzymes and folic acid, which have a major role in bone and blood fabrication.

(d) Presence of {royal jelly} a growth and synthesis hormone in honey, the most enigmatic of biological substances. Though it is prepared for the queen bee, however the hormone secreted is several hundred times the amount required by the queen bee. Furthermore all other bees do not consume this hormone.

(e) Providing vital nutrients to cardiac muscle in the form of group B vitamins, ribose and laevulose sugars, besides benefiting the nervous mechanism of heart from group B vitamins and phosphorus.

(f) Providing invaluable food for brain in the form of phosphorus, ribose, folic acid and group B vitamins.

Whatever is contained on honey in Al-Quran has been aptly termed "Statement from Allah" by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Dr. Nurbaki concludes by stating that bees produce honey like a mind boggling pharmaceutical and biochemical factory by special divine inspiration!

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

(Author is a doctor in medicine, a social activist & a senior columnist)


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