Dr. John Andrew Morrow

Home » Uncategorized » The Wisdom of Prophetic Medicine: Honey

The Wisdom of Prophetic Medicine: Honey

Follow me on Twitter

Follow Dr. John Andrew Morrow on WordPress.com

Blog Stats

  • 32,086 visitors

The Wisdom of Prophet Medicine: Honey

By Dr. John Andrew Morrow

February 9, 2015

http://www.lastprophet.info/the-wisdom-of-prophetic-medicine-honey

In Surah al-Nahl, or “The Bee,” Almighty Allah alludes to bees and honey in the following verse: “there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colors, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a sign for those of thought” (16:69). The Qur’an also mentions honey directly on another occasion (47:15), describing rivers of honey in heaven.

The Prophet Muhammad once said, “By Him in whose hand is my soul, eat honey, for there is no house in which honey is kept for which the angels will not ask for mercy. If a person eats honey, a thousand remedies enter his stomach, and a million diseases will come out. If a man dies and honey is found within him, fire will not touch his body.” [i] He is also reported to have said: “The condiment of drink is honey. It guards the heart, and drives away cold from the chest.” [ii] It is also related that he said: “He who desires protection, let him eat honey” and recommended that: “If any of you buys a female slave, first feed her honey, for this is the very best thing for her.” [iii] The Messenger of Allah also said: “Healing is in three things: a gulp of honey, cupping, and branding with fire [cauterization]. But I forbid my followers to use branding with fire.” [iv] Regarding honey, the Prophet said: “It sharpens the sight and strengthens the heart.” [v]

The Prophet also told his followers: “There are two cures for you: honey and the Qur’an.” [vi] An Arabic writer, Ibn Majili, quotes the words of the Prophet: “Honey is a medicine for the body and the Qur’an is a medicine for the soul. Benefit yourselves from the use of the Qur’an and honey.” According to a tradition related by Ibn Ma‘sud, “You have two cures: the Qur’an and honey. The Qur’an is a cure for the soul, and honey is a cure for every illness.” [vii] The Prophet also said that “He who eats three radawat of honey per month will be protected from serious illness (‘azimah al-bala’, literally, catastrophe). [viii]

It is related in Bukhari and Muslim that a person came to the Messenger of Allah and told him that his brother’s bowels were loose. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger said: “Give him honey.” So he gave him that and then came and said: “I gave him honey but it has only made him worse.” He said this three times; and then he came the fourth time, and the Messenger of Allah said: “Allah has spoken the truth and your brother’s bowels are in the wrong.” So he made him drink (honey) and he was recovered. [ix] In another tradition, Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri complained to the Prophet that his son had a stomach ache. The Prophet told him to “Give him honey.” [x] The Prophet explained to him the importance of drinking honey because it was a cure from God. [xi] In another tradition, the Prophet explains that “Pain in the waist comes from the veins of the kidneys. Whosoever suffers from this ailment must treat himself with honey and hot, boiling, water.” [xii]

According to ‘A’ishah, the Prophet was very fond of honey. [xiii] He used to drink a beverage made of milk, honey, and raisins. [xiv] Every morning, he would consume a glass of water sweetened with honey. [xv] He also said that honey should not be refused: “Do not refuse honey when it is offered.” [xvi]

According to Imam ‘Ali ibn Abu Ṭalib, “When one of you suffers from pain, ask your wife for two or three dirhams to buy honey, mix it with rain water, and drink it. It will do you much good as it is a healing and blessed water.” [xvii] According to Imam ‘Ali al-Riḍa, “He who wants to prevent the cold during winter should eat three mouthfuls of beeswax (shahd). [xviii]

Issues in Identification. It is the consensus that ‘asal is the Arabic term for honey. Although not an herb, honey is an herbal by-product which is often used as an adjuvant.

Properties and Uses. Honey is a sweet and viscous fluid produced by honeybees from the nectar of flowers. Due to its high sugar content, it kills bacteria by plasmolysis. In fact, its single greatest medicinal property is its antibacterial activity which has been widely studied. [xix]

End Notes

[i] Chaghhayni M. Tibb al-nabbi. Trans. C Elgood. Osiris 1962; 14: 188; Chisti SHM. The Sufi Book of Healing. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International: 59.
[ii] Chaghhayni M. Tibb al-nabbi. Trans. C Elgood. Osiris 1962; 14:189.
[iii] Chaghhayni M. Tibb al-nabbi. Trans. C Elgood. Osiris 1962;14:198.
[iv] Bukhari M. Sahih al-Bukhari. al-Riyyad: Bayt al-Afkar al-Dawliyyah li al-Nashr, 1998; Muslim. Jami‘ al-sahih. al-Riyyad: Bayt al-Afkar al-Dawliyyah li al-Nashr, 1998.
[v] Ibn Habib A. Mujtasar fi al-tibb / Compendio de medicina. Ed. C Álvarez de Morales and F Girón Irueste. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1992:72.
[vi] Ibn Majah M. Sunan. Trans. MT Ansari. Lahore: Kazi Publications, 1994; Hakim al-Nisaburi M. al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-sahihayn. N.p.: n.p., n.d.
[vii] Ibn Habib A. Mujtasar fi al-tibb / Compendio de medicina. Ed. C Álvarez de Morales and F Girón Irueste. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1992:73.
[viii] Ibn Majah M. Sunan. Trans. MT Ansari. Lahore: Kazi Publications, 1994.
[ix] Bukhari M. Sahih al-Bukhari. al-Riyyad: Bayt al-Afkar al-Dawliyyah li al-Nashr, 1998.
[x] Ibn Habib A. Mujtasar fi al-tibb / Compendio de medicina. Ed. C Álvarez de Morales and F Girón Irueste. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1992:72.
[xi] Ibn Habib A. Mujtasar fi al-tibb / Compendio de medicina. Ed. C Álvarez de Morales and F Girón Irueste. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1992:73.
[xii] Ibn Habib A. Mujtasar fi al-tibb / Compendio de medicina. Ed. C Álvarez de Morales and F Girón Irueste. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1992:56.
[xiii] Bukhari M. Sahih al-Bukhari. al-Riyyad: Bayt al-Afkar al-Dawliyyah li al-Nashr, 1998.
[xiv] Muslim. Jami‘ al-sahih. al-Riyyad: Bayt al-Afkar al-Dawliyyah li al-Nashr, 1998.
[xv] Dhahabi S. al-Tibb al-nabawi. Bayrut: Dar al-Nafa’is lil Tiba‘ah wa al-nashr wa al-Tawzi‘, 2004.
[xvi] Chaghhayni M. Tibb al-nabbi. Trans. C Elgood. Osiris 1962;14:189.
[xvii] Ibn Habib A. Mujtasar fi al-tibb / Compendio de medicina. Ed. C Álvarez de Morales and F Girón Irueste. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1992:73.
[xviii] Rida ‘A al-. Risalah fi al-tibb al-nabawi. Ed. MA Bar. Bayrut: Dar al-Manahil, 1991:170.
[xix] Dustmann J H. Antibacterial effect of honey. Apiacta 1979;14: 7-11; Majno G: The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1975; Molan P C. The antibacterial activity of honey. 1. The nature of the antibacterial activity. Bee World 1992;73: 5-28; Molan P C. The antibacterial activity of honey. 2. Variation in the potency of the antibacterial activity. Bee World 1992;73:59-76; Aristotle. Trans. by Thompson DÕA W. Historia animalium The Works of Aristotle. Ed. JA Smith, and WD Ross. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1910: Vol. IV; Gunther RT. The Greek Herbal of Dioscorides. Trans. J Goodyear. New York: Hafner, 1959; Allen KL, Molan PC, Reid GM. A survey of the antibacterial activity of some New Zealand honeys. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 1991;43:817-822; Allen KL, Molan PC, Reid GM. The variability of the antibacterial activity of honey. Apiacta 1991;26:114-121; Zumla A, Lulat A. Honey: a remedy rediscovered. J. Royal Soc. 1989;82:384-385; Bulman MW. Honey as a surgical dressing. Middlesex Hosp. J. 1955;55:188-189; Hutton DJ. Treatment of pressure sores. Nurs. Times 1966; 62:1533-1534; Armon PJ. The use of honey in the treatment of infected wounds. Trop. Doct. 1980;10:91; Bose B. Honey or sugar in treatment of infected wounds? Lancet 1982:963; Dumronglert E. A follow-up study of chronic wound healing dressing with pure natural honey. J. Natl Res. Counc. Thail. 1983;15:39-66; Kandil A, Elbanby M, Abd-Elwahed K, Abou Sehly G, Ezzat N. Healing effect of true floral and false nonfloral honey on medical wounds. J. Drug Res. (Cairo) 1987;17:71-75; Effem SEE. Clinical observations on the wound healing properties of honey. Br. J. Surg. 1988;75:679-681; Farouk A, Hassan T, Kashif H, Khalid SA, Mutawali I, Wadi M. Studies on Sudanese bee honey: laboratory and clinical evaluation. Int. J. Crude Drug Res. 1988;26:161-168; Green AE. Wound healing properties of honey. Br. J. Surg. 1988;75:1278; McInerney R J F. Honey – a remedy rediscovered. J. Royal Soc. Med. 1990;83:127; Braniki F J. Surgery in western Kenya. Ann. Royal Coll. Surg. Engl. 1981;63:348-352; Brånemark P-I, Ekholm R, Albrektsson B, Lindström J, Lundborg G, Lundskog J. Tissue injury caused by wound disinfectants. J. Bone Joint Surg. Am. 1967;49:48-62; Knutson R A, Merbit L A, Creekmore MA, Snipes HG. Use of sugar and povidone-iodine to enhance wound Healing: five years experience. South. Med. J. 1981;74:1329-1335; Chirife J, Herszage L, Joseph A, Koh ES. In vitro study of bacterial growth inhibition in concentrated sugar solutions: microbiological basis for the use of sugar in treating infected wounds. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 1983;23:766-773; Rahal F, Mimica IM, Pereira V, Athié E. Sugar in the treatment of infected surgical Wounds. Internat. Surg. 1984;69:308; Middleton K, Seal D V. Sugar as an aid to wound healing. Pharm. J. 1985; 235:757-758; Trouillet J L, Fagon JY, Domart Y, Chastre J, Pierre J, Gibert C. Use of granulated sugar in treatment of open mediastinitis after cardiac surgery. Lancet 1985;ii:180-184; Shimamoto Y, Shimamoto H, Fujihata H, Nakamura H, Matsuura Y. Topical application of sugar and povidone-iodine in the management of decubitus ulcers in aged patients. Hiroshima J. Med. Sci. 1986;35:167-169; Lowbury E J L, Ayliffe G A J: Drug Resistance in Antimicrobial Therapy. Springfield: Thomas, 1974; Smith M, Enquist IF. A quantitative study of impaired healing resulting from infection. Surg. Gynecol. Obstet. 1967;125:965-973; Willix DJ, Molan PC, Harfoot CJ. A comparison of the sensitivity of wound-infecting species of bacteria to the antibacterial activity of manuka honey and other honey. J. Appl. Bacteriol. 1992;73:388-394; Hancock B M: Microbiology Dept., Waikato Hospital, Hamilton, New Zealand: unpublished findings; Mossel DAA. Honey for necrotic breast Ulcers. Lancet 1980;ii:1091; Huhtanen CN, Knox D, Shimanuki H. Incidence of clostridium botulinum spores in honey. J. Food Prot. 1981;44:812-814; Molan P C, Russell K M. Non-peroxide antibacterial activity in some New Zealand honeys. J. Apic. Res. 1988;27:62-67; Allen K L: U of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand: unpublished findings. Molan P C, Allen K L. The effect of gamma-irradiation on the antibacterial activity of honey. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 1996;48(11):1206-1209; Allen K L, Molan P C. The sensitivity of mastitis-causing bacteria to the antibacterial activity of honey. Submitted for publication; Al Somai N, Coley K E, Molan P C, Hancock BM. Susceptibility of helicobacter pylori to the antibacterial activity of manuka Honey. J. Royal Soc. Med. 1994;87:9-12; Haffejee I E, Moosa A. Honey in the treatment of infantile gastroenteritis. Br. Med. J. 1985;290:1866-1867; Rademaker M. Superficial dermatophyte infections. N. Z. Med. J. 1993;106:14-16; Cavanagh D, Beazley J, Ostapowicz F. Radical operation for carcinoma of the vulva. A new approach to wound healing. J. Obstet. Gynaecol. Br. Cmwlth. 1970;77:1037-1040; Blomfield R. Honey for decubitus ulcers. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 1973; 224:905; Burlando F. Sull’azione terapeutica del miele nelle ustioni. Minerva Dermat. 1978;113: 699-706.


Dr. John Andrew Morrow is a Full Professor at Ivy Tech. In addition to receiving his PhD from the University of Toronto, he has completed the full cycle of traditional Islamic seminary studies both independently and at the hands of a series of Sunni, Shi’i and Sufi scholars. He has published a number of articles and several books, including The Encyclopedia of Islamic Herbal Medicine, Islamic Images and Ideas: Essays on Sacred Symbolism, and The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World. Aside from his academic duties, Dr. John Andrew Morrow (Imam Ilyas Islam) is the Director of the Covenants Foundation, an organization dedicated to disseminating traditional, civilizational, Islam; promoting Islamic unity; protecting persecuted Christians; and improving relations between Muslims and members of other faiths. He regularly travels the world to promote peace and justice. For more information about Dr. Morrow and his work, visit johnandrewmorrow.com.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: