Saudi Arabia and Practice of Islamic Healing



I have observed that here in Saudi Arabia if someone is ill it is not unusual for family members to take turns reading the Quran over the sick individual.  By reading the Quran over them I mean that in some cases the Quran will be held over the head of the sick individual while verses are read.  In addition to the reading of the Quran, the person reading may blow air or spit over the top or at the ill individual after each surah is read as it is believed this is “healing from Allah.” 


I am a full believer in the power of prayer and faith in addition to traditional medicine.  I have difficulty though with the blowing or spitting on the sick individual but recognize it as part of the culture here.  And because it is part of the culture and anything associated with the Quran is considered sacred, it is a very sensitive and oftentimes difficult issue on how to tell someone who believes in this particular aspect of Islamic healing that he or she may be doing more harm than good to a very ill individual.


For example, if someone has a disease such as leukemia, as the individual goes through chemotherapy, the immune system of the individual will be brought down to zero.  As a result, the individual has no means to counteract any kind of germs which may find their way onto the body.  Therefore blowing or spitting on a leukemia patient between reading surahs of the Quran is a BIG no no.


allahs-healing-wayAs I understand physicians (Saudi and non-Saudi) have had at times to intervene when they have learned their critically ill patients are being subjected to faith healing.  In some cases the “culprit” may understand the associated risks and will abstain from future blowing or spitting.  In other cases the “culprit” may believe he or she knows better than the doctor in this sense and that blowing or spitting is part of Allah’s way towards healing their loved one.  He or she will not listen to the doctor and likely circumvent and/or ignore the doctor’s orders.  As a result the doctor will usually end up banning the individual from the patient if deemed necessary for the protection of the patient and his/her health.


With the exception of the blowing or spitting, the “faith healing” observed in Saudi Arabia reminds me of when individuals from other faiths are visited by a Minister, Preacher or Priest while ill.   Usually the religious representative will read from whatever book gives the patient comfort and related to his or her particular faith.


So I did become curious about islamic healing and what are its origins and background.  This link which appeared in Harvard Medical School’s Spirituality and Healing in Medicine provides some background on islam and faith healing.  However nowhere does the article make mention of the practice of spitting or blowing while reading the Quran over an ill person.


Then I found another link which discusses Quranic Spiritual Healing and even provides a list of different prayers depending on the situation.  To my surprise is also included a section on “Cures for all kinds of spells – black and white magic.”    I also looked at the links which instruct one how to pray when seeking assistance when ill or for curing someone.  These links provide detailed information on the prayer and how many times to say the prayer but nowhere does it indicate one should blow or spit.


In closing this post I am somewhat confused.  I am aware that some individuals in Saudi practice islamic faith healing to include spitting or blowing between the reading of surahs but in doing various searches on this topic did not find any information explaining why this is done.  I will look forward to readers comments which may shed more light on this subject.


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