Power of Prayer!
Recent scientific research indicates that affirming belief in God makes a positive contribution to our physical health.
In Surah Yunus, (10: 57) Allah says, “O mankind! there hath come to you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts, and for those who believe, a guidance and a Mercy.”
The latest research has confirmed the clinical benefits of religious belief, prayer and meditation, and so has our common sense, though molecular biologists are still trying to make that link between ‘thought’, and the bio-chemical malfunctions of disease.
“Anger kills,” says Redford Williams, director of Duke University Medical Centre’s Behavioural Medicine Research Centre. He has referred to studies of cancer and cardiac patients. He has also authored the book, “Anger Kills”.
And “Prayer saves lives,” says Harold Koenig, director of the Medical Centre’s Programme on Religion, Ageing and Health. “We are not talking about miracles or some type of super-natural phenomena. We are just looking at basic social, psychological and physiological parameters. That is all,” he adds. Recent scientific research indicates that affirming belief in God or Allah makes a critical contribution to our physical health. When people call upon faith, they activate neurologic pathways for self-healing.
The Muslim prayer consists of contact prayer (salat), Zikr (Dhikr) or remembrance of Allah and recitation of the Qur’an. These elicit the physiologic relaxation response. The Prophetic saying is: “Worship in the congregation is more excellent than worshipping alone, by 27 times.” Hajj and congregational prayers serve to buffer the adverse effects of stress and anger, perhaps via psycho-neuro-immunologic pathways. It is speculated that congregational prayers may trigger a multi-factorial sequence of biological processes leading to better health. Studies have shown higher degrees of social connection (through family and friends or congregational prayers in the Masjid), consistently related to decreased mortality.
Koenig has found that religious faith reduces stress, anxiety and depression, and that achieving serenity means lower adrenalin and in turn the enhancement of the immune system to fight infections, cancer, heart disease, stroke and stomach and bowel problems. Robert Felix, author of “The Partners Within,”(www.partnerswithin.com) has been educating on the healing power of prayer and meditation to overcome destructive emotions. The Wall Street Journal Science column featured studies from the University of Wisconsin confirming that, “meditation, might change the brain and, in particular, its emotional circuitry”. Robert Felix incorporated this in his book, which is a manual on prayer and meditation.
The current studies of Robert Feix focused on the amygdala - a little almond-shaped centre located deep in the brain. It has been shown to be involved with the negative emotions such as fear, anger, anxiety and depression. This emotional centre needs to be modulated by the prefrontal cortex. These studies have suggested that meditation strengthens the connections between the pre-frontal cortex and the amygdala. They said, “Inhibitory signals from the pre-frontal cortex appear to rein in the amygdala like a good yank on a kite string. The stronger or more numerous, those “stop firing” signals, the stronger the inhibition.” Prof. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin concluded, “It appears that the inhibitory signal reaching the amygdala can be modulated voluntarily.”
Dr. Robert G. White, a renowned neurosurgeon, writes, “I am convinced that the brain is the repository of the human spirit and the soul. For me, the practice of medicine and religious faith are inextricably interwoven. I pray a great deal, especially before and after surgery. I find prayer satisfying. I feel there are immense resources behind me, resources I need and want.”
Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was once asked whether or not remedies should be sought from medicines. He said, “Yes, you must seek remedy from medicine, because whatever disease God has created in this world, He has also created its remedy as well. But there is one disease for which He has not created any remedy, which is old age.”
Here are some examples of Quranic verses used in spiritual healing. “And God shall heal the breast of the believers.” Surah Taubah- 9:14
“Mankind there has come to you a guidance from your Lord and a healing for (the diseases) in your hearts, and for those who believe a guidance and a mercy.” Surah Yunus- 10:57
“There issues from within the bodies of the bee, a drink of varying colours wherein is healing for mankind.” Surah Nahl- 16:69
“And We sent down (stage by stage) of the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe.” Bani Israel- 17:82
“And when I am ill, it is God who cures me.” Surah Shu’araa- 26:80
(The writer can be reached at email@example.com)