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Is it wrong for an Ahmadi to disbelieve in homeopathic medicine?

The first point that must be understood is that belief in the teachings of Islam that are related to secular matters, like medicine, cannot be separated from our religious belief. The fact is that Islam gives countless teachings on secular matters that have only to do with worldly knowledge, and they are a part of our religious belief. For example, something as specific as how to write a document when making a loan is taught in the Holy Quran (2:283), and any commentary on this by a Prophet or Khalifah is a part of shari‘ah. To disbelieve in this teaching of the Holy Quran, although it is a secular teaching, affects our religious belief in Islam. There are many other teachings of Islam that relate only to worldly knowledge. Prophets come not only to spiritually reform mankind, but also to reform mankind in many other ways. That is why Islam does not give only spiritual teachings, it gives secular teachings that dictate social, economic, medicinal, and legal aspects of life, and countless others. When a Prophet or Khalifah of God gives a commandment, whether it is related to spiritual or worldly matters, it becomes binding on the believers of that Prophet.

Here, it must also be kept in mind that a Prophet of God never gives any command that is outside of his authority. In the previous chapter, the incident of the farmers who stopped pollinating their trees on the suggestion of the Holy Prophet sas has been discussed, and it was shown that the Holy Prophet sas did not give them any command in the first place, and that he sas clarified for them that he had only generally expressed his personal opinion, which they were not obliged to follow. However, we find that whenever the Holy Prophet sas did give a command, whether it was related to a spiritual or secular matter, then Muslims were always obliged to obey it. For example, the Holy Quran speaks of medicine when it teaches that honey is a means of healing. Speaking about honeybees, the Holy Quran says:

There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying hues. Therein is cure for men. Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who reflect.

(Surah an-Nahl, 16:70)

Once, when someone complained to the Holy Prophet sas of his brother’s abdominal pain, the Holy Prophet sas prescribed drinking honey. When the Holy Prophet sas was repeatedly told that his sas prescription had worsened the condition of the patient, he said:

Allah has said the truth, but your brother’s abdomen has told a lie. Let him drink honey. As a result of further use of honey, the patient was cured.

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 76, Hadith 7; Sahih Muslim, Book 39, Hadith 122)

This specific prescription of the Holy Prophet sas for a physical illness had nothing to do with spiritual knowledge, but the Holy Prophet sas gave it on his authority as a Prophet of God. A prophet and a Khalifah have every right to give a command about medicine, and as part of our spirit of bai‘at, we are obliged to obey. About homeopathy, Hadrat Khalifatul-Masih III rta said:

God Almighty Himself has also taught the homeopathic method of treatment.

(Khutbat-e-Nasir, vol. 2, p. 232)

Hadrat Khalifatul-Masih IV rta said:

The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community is believed to be the Second Coming of the first Messiah by the Ahmadiyya Community. He put forth a unique discovery, to enhance the faith of homeopathic physicians in homeopathy. He claimed that it was revealed to him that if the diseases of the glands can be expressed to the exterior of the body i.e., in the skin, then the deep glands are spared from some grave conditions. He mentioned Mercury and Sulphur in this respect. In homeopathy also, these are the two remedies, which are commonly used for this purpose. He further said that he had a strong desire to proclaim the extreme usefulness of these two potentially curative medicines.

(Homeopathy “Like Cures Like”, p. 498–499)

Mentioning Jalsa UK, Hudur aba said:

A report was received once from Lajna that a woman refused to take the medicine (homeopathic medicine for swine flu). Perhaps she refused because she had not heard my sermon or she had not heard by guidance. The person in duty said to her, “Fine, if you do not accept what the Khalifah of the time said then it is your responsibility.” On this she immediately extended her hand so that the medicine be given to her.

These are the examples of obedience that exist among Ahmadis.

(Friday Sermon, July 31, 2009, p. 5)

If a Prophet or Khalifah chooses to give a command about any matter, then it becomes binding because they know their authority best. It is not our place to define what is in his authority because he was appointed to that authority by God Himself. When the Holy Prophet sas gave a personal suggestion based on his opinion, he never imposed it on his companions, but when he sas gave a command based on his sas knowledge from Allah Almighty, then there was no room for disobedience.

The second point that must be understood is that belief in the secular teachings of Islam do not depend on the scientific knowledge of any particular age. Muslims have been using honey throughout the centuries, even if they had no scientific evidence that ingesting honey can be a cure for certain abdominal illnesses. The Holy Prophet sas also taught that cupping has curative properties, saying:

If there is any healing in your medicines, then it is in cupping, a gulp of honey or branding with fire (cauterization) that suits the ailment, but I don’t like to be (cauterized) branded with fire… But I forbid my followers to use cauterization (branding with fire;).

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 76, Hadith 6; Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 74, Hadith 4)

Even up until today, there is very little research that has been done on the curative properties of cupping and it’s effectiveness. Despite the fact that it has not been submitted to clinical trials, Olympic athletes use it extensively and give testimony to its effectiveness. Muslims have used it and will continue using it believing that it has curative properties that will be discovered in the future. Similarly, Muslims have always refrained from cleaning themselves with bones or dung after using the bathroom because the Holy Prophet sas gave the command:

Do not perform istinja (Arabic term for cleaning one’s private parts after urinating or bowel movements) with dung, nor with bones. For indeed it is provisions for your brothers among the Jinn.

(Sunan at-Tirmadhi, vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 18)

The Holy Prophet sas had been divinely guided on the fact that bacteria feed on bones and dung, and to expose sensitive parts of our body to such bacteria would cause us harm. For centuries, Muslims did not have any scientific evidence to prove that hidden beings (jinn) fed on bones and dung, but obedience of this command was binding nonetheless.

In this day and age, seeing that many people in the scientific community consider homeopathy to be a placebo, some Ahmadis concede and instead argue that its effect lies in the tabarruk [blessings] of khulafa’. However, tabarruk does not come in prescriptions. To say that the effect of homeopathy is in the tabarruk of the Khalifah means that it is not a medicine, and that its various prescriptions are only placebos. Homeopathy is a medicine, and to try and defend it in this way is to deny the medicinal value of homeopathy itself. For example, honey is a medicine which comes in different prescriptions that are described in the Holy Quran as its “varying hues.” Different types of honey are cures for different types of illnesses. Also, allopathic medicine comes in prescriptions that are cures for different types of illnesses. In the same way, homeopathy is a medicine, and it comes in prescriptions that are cures for different types of illnesses. Tabarruk and the prayers of the Khalifah place blessings in honey and allopathic medicines, and they can be more powerful than the medicine itself, but to say that the effectiveness in honey or allopathic or homeopathic medicine is in tabarruk is to deny its medicinal value.

The third point that must be understood is that Allah Almighty does not allow His Prophets and Khulafa’ to remain on a mistake that can cause harm to their communities, and this is part of the sanctity of Khilafat. Hadrat Musleh Mau‘ud ra wrote:

It is possible that the Khalifah of the time makes a mistake in personal matters. But in such matters on which depends the physical and spiritual progress, even if he commits an error, Allah the Almighty safeguards His Jama‘at and somehow makes him aware of the error. In the terminology of sages, it is called “lesser sanctity.” That means, the Prophets enjoy a “greater sanctity,” but the khulafa’ have “lesser sanctity,” and Allah the Almighty does not permit any such major mistakes by them that may cause disaster for the Jama‘at. Their decisions may have partial and minor mistakes, but in the end, the result will be victory for Islam and defeat for its enemies. Thus, because the khulafa’ enjoy “lesser sanctity,” their policy will emanate from Allah’s policy. While it is true that they will be the one speaking, their tongues will be in motion, their hands will move, their minds will work, yet behind all of this will be the Hand of Allah. They can make minor errors in finer details. Sometimes their advisors can give them the wrong advice. But crossing these intermediary obstacles, they will be the one who will be victorious. And when all the links are put together, the resulting chain will be good and it will be so strong that no power will be able to break it.

(Tafsir-e-Kabir, vol. 6, p. 376–377)

A Prophet can make a mistake in both spiritual and worldly matters. For example, the Holy Prophet sas was mistaken in the spiritual realm when interpreting his vision to go for ‘Umrah at the time of Hudaibiyyah, and he sas was mistaken in the material realm when suggesting to date farmers that it may be better not to artificially pollinate their trees. Allah Almighty allows His Prophets and Khulafa’ to make these minor mistakes so that people do not begin considering them Divine and infallible. However, prophets and khulafa’ are never allowed by Allah Almighty to remain on a mistake that causes spiritual or worldly harm to their community. Such mistakes are quickly corrected by Allah Almighty Himself.

Now, when we turn to the subject of homeopathy in Jama‘at Ahmadiyya, we see that the organized promotion, distribution, and use of homeopathic medicine for the benefit of mankind has become an institution in the Jama‘at. Hadrat Khalifatul-Masih IV rta did not just believe in homeopathy personally, and he did not simply promote it as Miyan Tahir Ahmad. Rather, he established it in the Jama‘at with Jama‘at resources as the Khalifatul-Masih and with the authority of Khilafat. Huge amounts of resources have been invested in the Jama‘at by khulafa’ into the teaching and training of Jama‘at assigned homeopathy doctors, in preparing countless prescriptions, and in establishing homeopathic clinics and dispensaries throughout the world. If homeopathy is in fact meaningless and there is no actual medicinal value in it, that would be a catastrophic mistake (God forbid) on the part of khulafa’ that caused and continues to cause the Jama‘at huge financial losses and a vast wastage of time and resources. Pause for a moment and think about what the implications are of disbelieving in homeopathy; it is against the sanctity of Khilafat that Allah Almighty has guaranteed. Hudur aba said:

The institution of Khilafat has been established in the Community through the Promised Messiah as in accordance with the prophecies of the Holy Prophet sas. Now, therefore, all the decisions shall be made in accordance with the shari‘ah and the dictates of wisdom; and insha’Allah, those decisions would be always based on goodness. If at some point in time due to a miscalculation or misunderstanding on the part of a Khalifah, a decision is made which could possibly be harmful to the community, then Allah the Almighty Himself provides such measures that the ill-effects of such a decision are prevented, and insha’Allah shall never be experienced in the future

(Conditions of Bai‘at and Responsibilities of an Ahmadi, p. 202)

When a Prophet or a Khalifah institutes something in their community, they do not do so on their personal authority and based on their personal opinion, they do so based on divine guidance. When ordinary Ahmadis observe istikharah at the time of marriage and make decisions based on divine guidance, and when countless Ahmadi saints across the world receive revelation from Allah that guides them in the decisions in their personal lives, then what is left of Khilafat if one believes that the Khalifah of the time can set the entire Jama‘at down a path, and keep us on that path, without guidance from Allah Almighty? For an Ahmadi, the outright denial of homeopathy invariably affects aspects of our belief in Khilafat, because the Khalifah made homeopathy a part of the organization of the Jama‘at of Allah.

Although belief in homeopathy was not related to our faith before Khilafat-e-Rabi‘a, now, outright disbelief in it is disbelief in a Jama‘at institution. This is not the first time that a new institution has been established by a Khalifah in the Jama‘at of Allah. For example, Baitul Mal [Treasury] had not been established in Islam during the time of the Holy Prophet sas or Hadrat Abū Bakr ra because circumstances had not allowed for it. However, to deny the need for Baitul Mal after the Khilafat of Hadrat ‘Umar ra is to deny an institution established by Khilafat-e-Rashidah. Similarly, homeopathy had not yet been institutionalized in the Jama‘at during the time of previous khulafa’ because its time had not yet come. However, to deny its need after Khilafat-e- Rabi‘a is to deny an institution established by Khilafat-e-Rashidah.

There are many things that are outside of present day scientific understanding, but that does not mean it should be rejected. For example, the Holy Prophet sas said:

If a house fly falls in the drink of anyone of you, he should dip it (in the drink) and take it out, for one of its wings has a disease and the other has the cure for the disease.

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 59, Hadith 126)

In commentary of this Hadith, Hadrat Khalifatul-Masih V aba said:

What the Holy Prophet sas told us about flies 1,400 years ago, today scientists are researching it and are coming to the conclusion that there is something in flies that eliminates bacteria. One researcher has written that when a flies were submerged in ethanol and used on certain types of bacteria, they had an antibiotic effect and all bacteria were eliminated. A professor at a Tokyo university has also done research and says that in the near future, people will be surprised to see that flies are being used for antibiotic purposes in hospitals. Flies have also been found to carry something that can strengthen the immune system. One reason scientists turned to researching flies is because flies sit in filthy places and carry many diseases. They even have germs of cholera but they are not themselves affected by any disease. Because of this, their attention was turned to researching this and that is when they found that flies have something in them that is antibacterial. They have also found that when a fly falls into liquid, it ruins it with its germs of disease. The effect of the germs on its wings begins immediately. However, if that fly is submerged, then such enzymes are released that immediately eliminate the nearby bacteria.

(Friday Sermon, Dec 19, 2008, p. 11)

For centuries, there was no scientific evidence to validate this Hadith, but Muslims respected this teaching even though they could not scientifically defend it because they loved and respected the Holy Prophet sas. In the future, there will be no special reward in accepting the truth of this Hadith because at that time its truth would have been scientifically proven, but the Muslims who believed in it for centuries without any evidence were worthy of reward. Similarly, a time will come when homeopathy will be proven scientifically to be true, but in this age, our respect for homeopathy is worthy of reward because it is an expression of our love and respect for Khilafat.

Also, if our use of homeopathy leads us to abandon other forms of medicine, then our approach is incorrect. Hadrat Musleh Mau‘ud ra was once ill, and he took desi medicine, allopathic medicine, and homeopathic medicine. Someone asked him why he took three different types of medicine for the same illness. Hadrat Musleh Mau‘ud ra replied that he did not know which medicine Allah Almighty had placed the cure in, so he took all three (Hudur’s Mulaqat With German Lajna Ima’illah Students, May 30, 2015).

Our belief in homeopathy should broaden our knowledge of medicine; it should not make it narrow or lead us to ignorance.

Updated on January 4, 2019

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