From the symbolic dimension and aesthetic point of view, anointing head and feet at the end of the ablution could be counted as the symbol of whole body, from the head to the feet and from the scalp to the step, and it could be considered as a factor to constantly remind Muslims to clean the whole body. However, it can also be related to diseases in few points. Feet and head of human are among those body organs which are covered in a considerable part of the day so that even they, themselves, have a little attention to them. However, today, human knowledge is aware of a group of diseases that the beginning of their symptoms is from the skin of head and feet. For instance, some fungal diseases of skin start from the distance between the big toe and other toes of the feet that this exact place has obligatory anointing. Likewise, anointing head can also attract human’s attention to the infection or infectious lesion in hair and skin of head and thereupon, this stimulates human to act to remove them. Meanwhile, the obligation of anointing head and feet is an opportunity to take off the cover of them and in addition to freshness of skin, exposure of these organs to oxygen and air will prevent the growth of anaerobic organisms in the pores of skin.
Of course, this should be mentioned that many skin diseases (especially infections) can be prevented by various ablutions such as the obligatory and recommended ones which are being performed by the worshiper during his/her life. To make the long story short, we suffice to only mention the followings:
Influence of prayer on Asthma
One of the most common diseases of human is Asthma, so that its outbreak in Paediatrics is estimated to be as 5 to 10 per cent of all children. In many of them, this disease will continue to their adulthood. Hence, there are few people who do not face patients with Asthma and do not meet their different problems including shortness of breath, persistent cough, and wheezing that sometimes appear as attacks of severe disease.
Recent scientific studies on different age groups who are suffering Asthma show that three important factors play the main role in causing Asthma. These three factors are:
1- Microbes that may enter the human’s respiratory system.
2- Allergen factors including dust, smoke, pollen. These factors may be different in different people.
3- Mental issues including anxiety, anger, sadness, happiness, humiliation, laugh, and even pleasant expectation for accompanying in a desired social ceremony and in general, severe and chronic stresses. However, the role of mental factors has attracted the attention of physicians from another point of view and that is “influence of inculcation in Asthma”. Since in some cases inculcation may cause relief of Asthma attacks: “a well-known example in this regard is related to a physician who suffered Asthma and he has come to spend his weekend in a remote hotel in a rural region for a week. At midnight, he woke up with a severe Asthma attack and searched for the key to the light and when he was unable to find it, he desperately took off his shoes and went to the window and when he touched the window glass, he broke it and took deep breaths and his Asthma attack stopped and spent the night calmly. However, in the morning, he found with a great fear that he has broken the mirror instead of window glass.
Given such evidences, it could be said that Asthma is also among diseases which are discussed in psychosomatic diseases, and it can be concluded that if we create a sense of mental security in Asthma patients and if we expose them to effective dictations, a big step has been taken to relief their illness.
“Infections” which are among those factors that stimulate Asthma can be partly controlled by washing respiratory tract in ablution.
This point could also be somehow considered true in other allergen factors such as dust and pollens (that is, the second stimulating factor of Asthma).
However, what is undeniable about the influence of saying prayer on Asthma is the tension-removing effect of saying prayer and the deep feeling of mental security which is achieved due to it. Undoubtedly, saying prayer has a big healing effect on the emergence of the third stimulating group of Asthma, that is the mental factors.
Especially those influences of effective and life-creating inculcations along with prayer (2) are comparable with those mental inculcation groups that sometimes cause relief to Asthma or prevent the emergence of its attacks.
Meanwhile, the especial view of worshiper to life in his/her world and his/her stability of personality causes worshiper not to become so much happy and so much sad in unexpected ups and downs, and as a result, he/she tries to remove such emotional changes from his/her life that are emotional cause for Asthma.
Influence of prayer on blood pressure
High blood pressure is one of the most common reasons for visiting doctors all around the world. For instance, one of the most recent statistics which is issued in the U.S has specified that the most common illness that makes people to use medicine is high blood pressure. Due to the dangerous and various consequences of the mentioned illness on many of the body organs especially heart, brain, kidney, eyes ..., a lot of efforts have been done to prevent and control it in medicine.
In all credible scientific resources, it is recommended to heed some principles and use non-medicinal treatments in order to prevent catching high blood pressure and to control many patients who suffer light or medium blood pressure as well. While non-medicinal treatments do not incur high costs to the patient, they are effective in lowering blood pressure and preventing from the emergence and development of this illness.
Four primary and so important non-medicinal treatments which are considered in recent scientific resources in order to prevent high blood pressure are: 1) lowering anxiety and stresses, 2) lowering or not using alcohol, 3) losing weight, 4) doing regular light sports during the day.
However, according to the very important role that daily obligatory prayers perform in securing human against stresses and different problems during the life and also according to the commitment of not drinking alcohol that prayer puts on the person who says prayer, saying prayer can be interpreted as an effective step to prevent and control the blood pressure.
On the other hand, prayer is along with the harmonic movements and regular rising and sitting and prostration which are completely comparable with a daily light exercise the same as that which is recommended in non-medicinal treatments of blood pressure. Furthermore, if we remember that the Muslim worshiper says prayer facing a kiblah of a school whose God hates gluttony and gourmandizing, we understand that all four non-medicinal treatments which are mentioned above to prevent and control high blood pressure are hidden in luminous rules of prayer.
Influence of prayer on freshness of body and spirit
This statement from the Prophet Mohammad (S): “the believer is jovial and always wears smile on his lips and the non-believer is bad-tempered and moody” today has found a completely scientific meaning regarding this Iranian proverb “smile is a cure to all not curable ailments”. The medicine in the contemporary century clearly knows that those individuals who are idiomatically called people with a lip and a thousand smiles are fresher than those who are technically called as those who have broke up with themselves!
Thus, any factor that gifts freshness to human indeed contributes to the health of body and spirit of human. However, the important point which has been taught by the medicine to people is that freshness and depression of human are under the control of the change in chemical materials in human’s central chord system rather than to be under the control of his/her will.
It should be mentioned that, for instance, the increase of a substance named “dopamine” in body will cause human involuntary sadness, and its decrease causes involuntary happiness without his/her intention.
As an example, involuntary and unintentional morning anger and sadness whose severe form is known as the melancholy or melancholia (inner morning depression) takes place as a result of increase and decrease in this chemical substance.
One of the chemical substances which involuntarily causes happiness in human and gives him/her a unique delight and joy is called “cortisone” whose level in the human’s body severely increases and decreases in different morning times (2) and if human is awake at these times, he/she would take very deep delight and joy that undoubtedly affect his/her life during that day.
Increase in cortisone at morning times and its relation with morning delight, which is today among certainties of the medicine, in fact offers a considerable rationalization on all meanings which are introduced about “morning secrets” in culture and literature and theosophy.
We can find many of the instances of paying so much attention to morning happiness and delight and their influence on human’s life in poems of Hafez:
“Each welfare treasury that God has given Hafez
Was from the blessing of night and morning prayers”
A famous Iranian proverb which is attributed to Bozorgmehr, that is “early bird catches the worm”, also points out to the influence of waking up in the early morning on happy and blissful life. Therefore, it is obvious that the obligatory rule for saying the Morning Prayer grants human the joyfulness of body and spirit with gifting him morning awakening, and one of the important outcomes of this joyfulness will be prosperity of body and spirit.
Influence of prayer on reducing suicide rate
“Seek assistance in patience and prayer” AL-BAQARA, verses 153 and 445
The history of “suicide” is as old as the history of human beings. Throughout all written history of human, we can read some stories about the human’s suicide among which we can pint to the story of “Ajax’s” suicide in Iliad of Homer.
Approximately, there is no society in which no suicide is committed. Note that “committing suicide” is somehow different from “successful suicide”. For instance, it has been proved that serious suicides which usually happen through serious and violent ways (such as to fling down from high buildings, hanging, cutting the vessel, or using bullet ...) mainly happen successfully in old ages men.
In return, “committing suicide” through threatening or dramatic ways by the use of more low-risk methods such as using medicine are more common in young women and they are less successful, even though attempting suicide through threatening and dramatic ways should be taken completely seriously, because 70 to 80 per cent of those people who commit successful suicide have said their intention to someone that has not been taken seriously.
However, the things which are important to us are reasons to commit suicide or successful suicide which are mainly categorized into 3 groups:
1- Mental backgrounds
2- Social backgrounds
3- Personal crisis and those events which create mental pressure
A statistic survey about suicide on mental background in the U.S has showed that 72 per cent of successful suicides were due to depression, 13 per cent due to alcoholism, 8 per cent due to other mental illnesses, and 7 per cent were without any background or any especial mental illness. The same surveys show that those individuals who commit suicide and those who commit successful suicide have personality disorders along with alcoholism and/or drugs addiction.
However, of effective backgrounds to suicide, it has been pointed out to the social isolation (due to old age, retirement, moving house, and the family ties breakage ...)... as an example, the aging men have been known as the most vulnerable group that due to retirement and reduction of social relation and decrease or loss of income have caused a sense of loss of position into the society and loss of goal in their personal life. This sense can lead to the feeling of worthlessness and depression and it can finally end in suicide.
Among personal crisis (the third group), mental pressures which are due to bereavement, financial pressures, and disease in the family are of high importance.
With a general overview that we have had on causes of suicide, the role of prayer is in reduction or complete elimination of any of the surveyable factors. Regarding the influence of faith and “prayer” on mental backgrounds, we can point to the main influence of prayer on elimination of depression and creation of hope and motivation into individuals’ life, and these are beside the innate factors and antidepressant chemical neurotransmitters which are activated by prayer and they have been noted in the second point of this group of articles.
Moreover, it is clear that a true worshipper does not have any relation with “alcohol drinks and opium” (which are other stimulant factors in stimulating to suicide). We will also talk about the influence of prayer on elimination of personality disorders in the future.
Prayer has significant influence on social backgrounds as well, especially isolation of aged people. The spiritual and hereafter-oriented viewpoint of the worshipper causes him/her look at his/her old age period as an opportunity among his/her last opportunities to renew the covenant with God and to repent and get liberation from sin, and this is exactly due to this reason that the aged and wise people are the fixed group in the mosques. Though, the Islamic society and the worshipper consider necessary to have respectful relationships this group of people due to their Islamic background.
However, regarding the personal crisis, for instance in bereavement, it is again the resurrection prospective and repeat of “owner of day of judgement” by the worshipper that makes him/her away even from thoughts of suicide. Because, it is the worshipper’s resurrection prospective that reminds him/her this speech from Imam Ali (A): “think that a person who has died, has gone on a long trip and if he/she someday does not return from his/her trip, you will go on the same long trip to see him/her.”
Influence of prayer on practical obsessions
Many familiar samples of practical obsession can be found in the surrounding society. Among these samples, we can point out to those people who tend to do certain activities such as washing and cleaning repeatedly, and even after repeated washing, they still have doubt about the pureness of the cleaned object! Or those individuals who are not sure about the effectiveness of their baths or the correctness of their ablutions, those women who put on exaggerated makeup or frequently put on and take off a cloth, but they still have doubt about their beauty! those people who have irrational and obligatory desire about counting or collecting things, those who have radical and unexpected desire about being regular, or those ones who are always dubious about doing some works (for example whether they have switched off the light or not? Or whether they have closed the tap and gas valve or not?).
Even though the funny stories of such people allocate outstanding samples of comic literature of the world to themselves or even some scientific characters of the world are known as persons afflicted by this illness, it is obvious that sometimes life of such persons become so intolerable and annoying for themselves and the people who live with them.
Therefore, the necessity of paying specific attention to this illness in order to remove this disorder and combat against that is among today’s particular psychological and psychiatric subjects. Particularly that obsession (practical and mental) is also in close relation with other mental illnesses. For instance, it has become clear that one-fifth of cases of obsession situations have signs of depression and one-eighth of those have signs of stress.
Although Islam is the religion of regularity and the sect of cleanness and purity, when superfluity and exaggerate emerge and a phenomenon recede from “justice”, Islam (especially Shiite) disapproves that phenomenon and in order to make it close to equilibrium it suggests practical solution. “Obsession” is among those exaggerates (2) which is named as a temptation from the Satan in Islamic teachings and a considerable part of the Islamic teachings and especially its outstanding aspect that is “prayer” is allocated to eliminating obsession from the human’s life.
If we do an overview on the mores of purity in juridical treatises of the Shiite scientists, we understand that many of the orders have voided paying attention to obsession uncertainties about purity of body or cloth, for example, if someone doubts that whether his/her ablution has veined or not, he/she has to think it has not veined, or if he doubts that whether his cloth is unclean or pure, he/she thinks it is pure.
These orders are the same in the mores of prayer. For instance, among those doubts which always has to take disregarded is doubt of one who doubts very much. Or in many of the doubts of prayer (for example the doubt between 3rd and 4th part of prayer), in order to avoid obsession we have to put the basis on one side of doubt and act accordingly.
Thus, teachings of prayer are much more powerful than common methods of Western science in removing obsession (such as method of gradual elimination of sensitivity), because the worshiper who does anti-obsession teachings of prayer many times a day, he will surely live away from obsession in his daily life.
Influence of prayer on muscles relaxation
A group of Muslim writers has attempted to search some aspects of muscular practise and sport in movements during prayer including rising, sitting, bowing and prostrating and to compare it with other common practises that result to muscular relaxation and readiness. However, our viewpoint to muscular relaxation which results from prayer is from another point of view. Today’s medicine has proved that if someone sleeps around 10 p.m and wakes up around 5 a.m (that is, 7 hours sleep), some similar chemical substances to morphine which are named as a group of endorphins and angphalines sprinkles that those substances have direct influence on different parts of body including skeletal muscles and they result to convenience for that person during the coming day.
But if a person sleeps around 12 p.m and wakes at 10 a.m (that is, about 10 hours sleep), in contrast with the previous situation, endorphins and angphalines do not have extra sprinkle and as a result, even though this person has slept 3 hours more than prior person, he/she does not get enough calmness and muscular relaxation.
And this is exactly due to this reason that the more human sleeps (for example, 10 AM), the more the feeling of muscular tiresome will be after the sleep.
But “prayer”, with its bright and unique influence on establishing health in sleep (we have noted to some aspects of it in previous issuances), plays very effective role in this regard as well. Because “the morning prayer”, beside from creating necessity to wake up early in the morning, automatically leads human to a muscular relaxation which is resulted from the innate chemical substances.
The great scientists and thinkers had also set their life program on the basis to sleep around 10 at night and to wake up nearly half an hour before the time of morning prayer in order to take the most benefits from the divine and unlimited grants of prayer.
The expert to cultural affairs of Islamic Development Organization of the Saghez province
Sunday, March 11, 2012 - 9:39