Feeding the Sick – Tibb-e-Nabawi

Feeding the Sick

لَّا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

Prophet’s guidance concerning feeding the sick with what they like and not forcing them to eat or drink

روى الترمذى فى جامعه، وابنُ ماجه، عن عقبة بن عامر الجُهَنِى، قال: قال رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: لا تُكْرِهوا مَرضاكُم عَلَى الطَّعامِ والشَّرابِ، فإنَّ اللهَ عَزَّ وجَلَّ يُطْعِمُهُم ويَسْقِيهمْ.

Tirmizi and Ibn Majah reported that Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam said: “Do not force your patients to consume food or drink, for Allah, the Exalted and Most High, feeds them and gives them drink”.

Some doctors commented, “How beneficial and true is this statement by Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam that contains divine wisdom, especially for the doctors who treat patients. When the patient does not like eating or drinking, it is because the body is busy fighting the illness, or because the instinctive heat (or the appetite) becomes weaker. Either way, it is not allowed to give the patients food in this case.

The feeling of hunger results from the body’s appetite for food so that it refuels itself with the needed energy replacing that which the body has spent. The various organs of the body will spend the available energy until it runs low on supply, the stomach will alert the person, who would then feel hungry. Food with then be distributed from the stomach to the rest of the organs of the body starting with the closest ones. When one is ill, the body will be busy maturating and getting rid of the ailment, septic substances and does not require food or drink. When the sick person is forced to eat some food, the body’s energy will be divided between digesting the food and concentrating on fending off the invading septic substances that caused the ailment. The patient will be harmed in this ease, especially when one is suffering from acute ailments or lessening in the instinctive heat, as these conditions will only add strength to the ailment and bring about harm. The patient should only eat what is required to sustain his strength and should avoid what can aggravate his condition. The patient should consume light food and juices like Nilofar ~ Nymphaea lotus, apples and tender rosewater drinks, etc. As for the types of food the patient should eat, they should include aromatic chicken soup. In addition, the patient should refresh his body with good scents and listen to good news.

The doctor is the servant of nature, not he who hinders it or obstructs its path.

We should state that fresh, healthy blood provides nutrition to the body. We should know that phlegm is a type of blood that has not properly matured. Therefore, when the patient’s body has excess phlegm on an empty stomach, the body will lead the phlegmatic blood to maturity and then turn it into fresh blood that will supply energy to the organs of the body. The nature of the human body is the engine and vehicle that Allah Has Entrusted with preserving the body and its health and guarding it throughout its term.

Sometimes, compelling the patient to eat and drink becomes warranted when the ailments involve sanity.

The Hadith indicates that the patient could live without nourishment for longer than a healthy person could.

The Prophet’s statement: “For Allah Provides food and drink for them” entails more far-reaching implications than the doctors think. Only those who are experienced in knowledge of the heart and soul and in their effects on the nature of the body and vise versa will be able to uncover the implications of the Prophet’s statement.

It is a fact that when the heart is busy with such feelings as joy, sadness or fear, it will be busy attending to these feelings, thus ignoring the need to eat or drink. In this condition, one does not feel hunger or thirst or even the cold or the heat. Rather, the body in this case will be busy attending whatever made it concerned and whatever caused it pain. Every person experiences such moods and thus would agree that when the heart is busy attending to a concern, it will not feel the need for food.

When the concern is a matter that brings joy, the feeling of elation will be a substitute for the food. Jubilation will fill the body and will energize it and the blood will be pumped to the various organs until it appears under the skin. In this case, the face will radiate with delight and life. Indeed, happy feelings relax the heart and fill the veins with blood. The organs do not require food in this case because they are busy dealing with what is even better for their nature than food. When human nature acquires what it likes, then it will disregard what is less favorable or important.

When the concern entails sadness, anguish or fear, the body will be busy attending to such concerns and will ignore seeking food in this case, because it is busy conducting its own war. When the body wins the war against such feelings, the feelings of joy will re-ignite the body’s strength and will become a substitute for the regular energy through food and drink. When the war against these concerns is lost, the body will feel as low and weak as the size of defeat it suffered. If the war against such concerns is sometimes won and sometimes lost, the body will feel energetic at times and weak at other times. Certainly, this type of war resembles the actual war between two enemies, where the upper hand belongs to the victorious, while defeat entails suffering casualties, dead, wounded or captured.

The sick person receives supplies from Allah that provide nutrition for him, in addition to the nutrition that he receives through the blood which the doctors confirm. This divine help varies in amount according to the amount of submission and meekness that one shows before his Lord and which will earn him closeness to Allah. The closest the slave will be to his Lord is when his heart submits to Allah and in return Allah’s Mercy will draw closer to the slave. When the slave is one of Allah’s loyal supporters, his heart will receive sufficient support and aid that will nourish his body and strength more than the nourishment that his body receives through material nourishment. The stronger the slaves love, happiness, certainty, eagerness and contentment with Allah becomes, the more divine strength he will feel. This cannot be described with words, nor can any doctor explain or attain knowledge of it on his own.

Those who do not have sound comprehension and thus are unable to understand the aforementioned facts, let them observe the miserable condition of whoever covets a part of the material existence, whether a picture, a position, money or knowledge. Many people have discovered amazing facts concerning their own selves and other people by deep observation.

وقد ثبت فى الصحيح: عن النبىِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم، أنه كان يُواصلُ فى الصِّيام الأيامَ ذواتِ العددِ، وينهَى أصحابه عن الوِصال ويقول: لستُ كَهَيْئَتِكُمْ إنى أَظَلُّ يُطعِمُنى رَبِّى ويَسْقِينى.

In the Sahih, it has been stated that Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam used to continue fasting for days at a time, yet he would prohibit his Companions from imitating him, saying:

“I am not like any of you, my Lord Provides me with food and drink”.

The food and drink mentioned in the Hadith is not the type that people eat with the mouth. Otherwise, our beloved Prophet would not have been continuing the Fast. Rather, our Prophet said: “My Lord provides me with food and drink”, thus drawing a difference between him and the Companions in that he is able to bear what they cannot bear. If Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam was talking about the regular food and drink, he would not have said:

“I am not like any of you”.

Those who understand regular food and drink from this Hadith do not have a significant supply from the true nutrition that the heart and soul require. Nor do they have knowledge of this divine nutrition’s effect on the strength and revival of the body, along with providing it with the true sustenance that is much more powerful and sustaining than the material food.