Most Narrations on Islamic Medicine Have No Chains

⚡️ 85% narrations on Ṭibb do not have a chain of narration
⚡️From 6000 narrations, only 60 have to do with treatments
✔️- Sayyid Kāzim Ṭabatabā’ī – head of Dār al-Ḥadīth, Qom 🔻

🔹 I am against the term “Ṭibb Islāmi” (Islamic Medicine). Meaning, I do not believe that the purpose of religion and the Sharī’ah was to come and set up a medical system. A medical system was not the purpose of the Sharī’ah, and if it were the case then it should have provided us with all the tools to be able to identify different diseases, the causes of various illnesses, and as well as a complete guide on how to diagnose and cure these diseases. We do not find any such thing in our narrations. The deceased ‘Allamah Ṭabatabā’ī was of the belief that the responsibility of religion is guidance (hidāyah). Our approach is also as such, that religion is responsible for our guidance, and nothing else.

🔹 There is a difference between sunnah and ḥadīth. Sunnah is that which was done or said by an infallible, and Ḥadīth is a report describing the Sunnah. The difference in Ḥujjiyyah (i.e. when they become binding) of sunnah and ḥadīth is that, since Sunnah does not have a medium of transmission, it is on its own Ḥujjah. However, ḥadīth have a medium of transmission, and thus their Ḥujjah is dependent on the trustworthiness of the reporters.

🔹 There are around 400 Shi’i ḥadīth works, but not all of them are of the same value. If someone wishes to enter into Shi’i ḥadīth, they must become familiar with their sources. Therefore, if someone happens to say they love Islamic medicine and quote a narration from the work Ṭibb al-Ā’immah by Ibn Basṭām and then later quote a narration from in al-Kāfi on Ṭibb – they should know that there is a significant difference between these two works. In fact, there is no way to treat all the ḥadīth works with the same degree of reliability.

🔹 A group of people came to Imām ‘Ali (s) and asked him, why do you not dye your beard while the Messenger of Allah (p) had said: All of you should dye your beard. The Imām replied: The Prophet (p) said this on two occasions. Once was when he arrived in Medīna, and since a lengthy white beard was one of the apparent signs of the Jews, he asked the Muslims to dye their beards so they do not resemble the Jews. The second time was during the battle of Badr; in order to intimidate the enemies by showing them that the Muslim soldiers were young, he (p) had asked them to dye their beards.

In reality, Imām ‘Ali (s) is saying that this narration of the Prophet (p) was not a general legal preference (istiḥbāb) for all times, rather it was for a specific situation.

🔹 At the institute of Dār al-Ḥadīth, we have gathered all of the narrations – authentic and otherwise – which total to about 6,000 (unrepeated) on the topic of Ṭibb. This is irrespective of them having a chain or not, and whether they are correct or incorrect. So, we find that we have around 6,000 narrations on Ṭibb. From these 6,000 narrations, around 15% have a chain of narration. Meaning, less than a 1000 narration have a chain of narrators – once again, irrespective of whether these chains are authentic or not. So around 85% narrations on the subject of Ṭibb do not have a chain of narrators to begin with. From those 15% that have a chain, around 5% have an authentic chain. So, from all the narrations on Ṭibb, less than 5% have an authentic chain, and most of these are found in al-Kāfi. Most of these narrations have to do with eating specific type of foods, and so do not help us in identifying diseases, nor curing any of them.

🔹 If we are to approach these from the perspective of their chains, we cannot establish the reliability of any more narrations than this. Though, we do have an approach other than the chain-approach for determining the reliability of medicine-related narrations, which we will mention at a later time. With regards to the topics of these narrations, we have very few narrations on curing illnesses, and in fact the least amount of narrations in our works have to do with curing illnesses and majority of them have to do with foods, or general advice on staying healthy and taking preventive measures.

🔹 From 6,000 narrations, if we are to separate those reliable narrations that have to do with curing illnesses, they are less than 1% – meaning less than 60 narrations on the subject of treating/curing. So you can see why we do not have such a thing as “Islamic Medicine”. Because the task of religion was not to take on the responsibility of curing the bodies of people.


🔹 – Ustad Rafi’pour adds (on his own channel Sayyid Kāzim seems to have taken a lighter approach when it comes to accepting the chains of narrations, and if one were to take a more stricter approach such as that of Sayyid Khoei, then we would have even fewer reliable narrations.

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