MALAYSIA has come a long way since the 1980s in efforts to incorporate traditional medicine into the National Health Policy.
When a standing committee was formed to look into matter in 1998, it soon became the talk of the town, and following the announcement of the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Act (T&CM) 2013, Muslim faith healers were proud to have their representatives in Darussyifa, the pioneer of ‘Rawatan Perubatan Islam’ (Islamic medical practice).
Based on the Health Ministry website, Pengubatan Islam is directly translated into English as ‘Islamic Medical Practice’, and is part of T&CM.
It is the effort of seeking treatment for physical and spiritual problems through ‘pengamal pengubatan Islam’, or Muslim faith healer.
When the revised Act – T&CM Act 775 2016 – was enacted, Muslim faith healers slowly gained ground to make their practice mainstream as there is now clearer stipulation about the Islamic medical practice.
These Muslim faith healers use Quranic verses and ‘Hadith’ (words of wisdom by Prophet Muhammad), as well as the practices of pious and righteous scholars and venerated religious teachers. They are also skilled in the use of methods or materials permitted by Islamic law, and commonly known as or called ‘ustaz’ – an Arabic term for teacher.
Most people, including those in the medical fraternity, tend to equate Muslim faith healers with bomohs or shamans, which is totally wrong.
Bomoh, pawang or dukun is considered an individual who treats people, using folk medicines and traditional healing methods, whereas a Muslim faith healer has been clearly defined earlier. The former has been frequently associated with practices not in line with Islamic ‘akidah’ (creed) and the ‘syariah’ (laws) – known as ‘khurafat’ or ‘syirik’.
However, there is suspicion that due to the popularity of Muslim faith healers, even some bomohs are rebranding themselves as ustaz which, obviously, contributes to the confusing interchangeable use of the labels and this is one of the challenges true Muslim faith healers face.
According to Muslim faith healer Mohd Johari Hussaini of Persatuan Perubatan Islam Al-Husna Miri, patients are advised to go to the hospital or clinic for medical a check-up before using alternative treatment methods.
“Always go to the hospital or clinic first. Then, if the patient is diagnosed or not diagnosed with a medical problem, the healer will provide a solution to treat the illnesses that the patient is facing, using Islamic Syariah medical methods such as the ‘Rukyah’ therapy, cupping, or the ‘Al-Ayyub’ physiotherapy.
“This will depend on patients who can also choose to do both – hospital treatment and Islamic Syariah alternative treatment,” the 40-year-old explained.
Mohd Johari said his main challenge is gaining the trust and confidence of patients in using a truly Islamic method of medicine because many of the healers in Islamic medicine do not use syariah-compliant methods based on the Quran and the ‘Sunnah’ (exemplary words and actions of Prophet Muhammad).
“For example, the existence of ‘Uskun’, a combination of ustaz and ‘dukun’ (shamans). The obvious way of Uskun is to start treatment with Quranic verses solely to manipulate the patients and those with the patients.
“Another misleading method is the dukun method where they claim to be able to see supernatural creatures such as ‘jin’ and use this in the healing process.
“Yet another challenge is the effort to correct the akidah of patients and their heirs or family members who are more influenced by the hereditary customs passed down from their ancestors in their daily lives, leading to ‘syirik’ (ascribing to or the establishment of partners placed beside Allah),” he said.
Mohd Johari further explained syariah-compliant Islamic medicine is not solely related with jin disturbance, but it can cure medical illnesses through eliminating toxic blood and fixing the bone and the nerve problems in the human body.
“It’s also important to know the blood from the cupping process is not a measure to determine whether a person has been disturbed by jin.”
Mohd Johari added that the Islamic medicine method is suitable for all groups of people, regardless of age, race, or religion.
“The difference between Syariah Islamic medicine method and other complementary medicines is the (former’s) use of Quranic verses in the medical process and anyone can come for treatment.
“As I have mentioned earlier, patients must first refer themselves to the hospital or clinic to get the doctor’s opinion on their medical condition if they wished to use alternative medicine.”
He pointed out that Persatuan Perubatan Islam Al-Husna, founded by him and his friends in 2018, is a recognised association, registered with the Registrar of Societies of Malaysia (RoS) and his Al-Husna Islamic treatment has also been approved by the Health Ministry.
“In the early formative days, we had a problem with the word ‘Islam’ in the association’s name, which required the approval from the Islamic Affairs Department Sarawak (Jais) but it was all smooth thereafter and we have gained trust of Jais as well.”
On how he became interested in Islamic medical practice, the assistant engineer of Miri City Council (MCC) said it began in 2013 when one of his family members suffered from jin disturbance a year earlier, and at the time, it was difficult to find the true and syariah-compliant method.
“Back then, I admitted to learning and applying non-syariah-related medical knowledge such as shamans or ‘Uskun’. The healer said he could see the supernatural and predict the presence of jin in the patient’s body or home.
“This act is untrue and it can be said the healer does not have faith in Allah. This can be proven in the Quran, in Surah (Chapter) Al-A’raf, verse 27.
“I began to realise what I had been practising for four years was wrong – thanks to the various ustaz specialising in the field related to akidah who had enlightened me.
“Thus, four years later, in 2017, I began to study ‘Rukyah Syariah’ (Islamic medical practice) from Ustaz Eri Abdulrohim in Sabah. I continued to learn and travel all over Malaysia and also abroad, to Bandung and Medan in Indonesia, to learn about the true Islamic medical practice.
“Among the teachers who have greatly helped and guided me are Ustaz Eri Abdulrohim (Islah, Indonesia), Ustaz Nuruddin Al-Indunissy (Heart Rehab, Indonesia), Sheikh Abul Barra Usamah Yasin (a rukyah expert from Jordan), Ustaz Haris Moejahid (PAZ Al-Kasaw, Indonesia) and Ustaz Muhammad Rudi (Nur Furqan Syifa, Malaysia).”
Three medicine branches
According to Mohd Johari, a former imam at Darul Istiqamah Mosque in Kampung Luak, Miri, there are three branches in Islamic medicine – Quranic therapy, cupping and Al-Ayyub physiotherapy; in addition to practising sunnah (syariah-prescribed) food or diet as one of the healing methods, recommended by healers based on the disease.
From his research on patients who had come to see him, 60 per cent who recovered were the result of self-awareness.
“Somehow, the main problem that leads to slow recovery is the influence of the non-Syarie healers on the patients, or the latter’s belief in what these healers have told them, which eventually create stories that can interfere with their emotional distress and cause them greater suffering.
“Worse still, there were those who came to see me but were still under the hypnosis of the non-Syarie healers. This was the case with many patients I treated, especially in Miri,” he said.
Mohd Johari added that the aims of Islamic medicine were to carry out charitable works and services for all classes of society, as well as to uphold the Quran and the practice of medicine in accordance to the ‘sunnah’ of Prophet Muhammad in comparison with modern medicines.
“We also strive to curb the practice of syirik in people’s lives, as well as to help the community improve their akidah and put their whole trust in Allah,” he said.