Health and Healing:
A Bahá'í Perspective

By Arsalan Geula

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #102
Bosch Baha'i School: Santa Cruz, California, USA
May 18–22, 2011
(see list of papers from #102)

    There are two ways of healing sickness, material means and spiritual means. The first is by the treatment of physicians; the second consisteth in prayers offered by the spiritual ones to God and in turning to Him. Both means should be used and practiced.
    The most important teachings of the major religions of the world of the past were in regard to one's relationship with God. Their social teachings were limited to time, place and level of the development of the society where the revelation took place. Most of the teachings about health consisted of dietary and sanitary instructions. For example Jewish and Islamic dietary laws, laws of burial and marriage, relationship between a man and a woman, just to mention a few.

    Healing as we know it today was unknown. It was believed that diseases were caused by demons or were consequences of one's sin. Healing could only occur if one could restore his relationship with God through repenting and prayers or bring sacrifices (material or animal) to please God.

    The Bahá'í Faith, being the latest revelation from God, teaches the unity of human spirit and body. They are two complementary aspects of human live. The illness and disturbance of one can cause disease of the other. Therefore the Bahá'í Faith not only teaches prayers for the sick, but also asks the Bahá'ís to seek the help of a physician and modern medicine.

    The teachings of the Bahá'í Faith about the role of the modern medicine in health and healing is unique in the history of religion.

    Bahá'u'lláh, the Prophet founder of the Bahá'í Faith advises His followers in the Most Holy Book (the Kitáb-i-Aqdas):
    Resort ye, in times of sickness, to competent physicians; We have not set aside the use of material means, rather have We confirmed it through this Pen, which God hath made to be the Dawning-place of His shining and glorious Cause.
    'Abdu'l-Bahá in His many writings and talks further describes the relationship of the physician to his patients, and the spiritual character that a physician must have in order to be an effective physician. He recommended the study of medicine and send many of the Bahá'í student to Medical School at His own expense. During His time, 'Abdu'l-Bahá oversaw the running of a clinic at Abú-Sínán, a Druse village near Akká. This clinic was manned by Bahá'í physicians and nurses and was open to everyone, regardless of their religious or ethnic affiliation, and would treat many free of charge.

    In this session the following topics will be reviewed:
    • Definition of health.
    • Life expectancy then and now.
    • Scientific advances in health and healing.
      • Dietary.
      • Hygienic.
      • Medical therapy.
        • Preventive. Vaccination.
        • Treatment of infection and other diseases.
    • Spiritual means of healing.
      • Prayer.
      • Physician.
        • Character.
        • Relationship with the patient.
    "This science (of the healing arts) is the noblest of all sciences. It is indeed the most potent instrument for the protection of the bodies of men provided by Him who breatheth life into bones. He hath given it the foremost rank among all sciences and the pursuits of the learned. However, this is the day for thee to arise to help My Cause, while fully detached from all the worlds." (Provisional translation of the Tablet of Tib [Tablet to a physician] by Bahá'u'lláh.) Thy Name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-bountiful, the All-knowing, the All-wise. Bahá'u'lláh

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