Department: Traditional Herbal Medicine (طب یوناني)
July 21st, 2020
Lesson: Prevention better than cure
In previous lessons, of the Traditional Herbal Medicine department of Mahad’ad-Dawa, we have looked at the importance of prevention, mostly in the context of protecting against coronavirus.
In this dars – we would like to look at the concept of prevention in more detail. We will also be looking at the connection between prevention – in a physical sense – and piety – from a spiritual angle.
Let’s take the example of malaria. There are several measures one can take to effectively prevent malaria. Cure of malaria, however, is a laborious and precarious process. As with other diseases, in the case of malaria, prevention is much better than cure.
When we launched New Home, New Life for Afghanistan in the early 1990s, we ran a storyline about not leaving standing water, since it was a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The storyline was made all the more memorable due to the local magnate – Jabbar Khan – resisting requests to fill in the pond in his hujrah, since the pond was a breeding ground for malaria. Only when his own son became ill with malaria did he accede to the demands.
Jabbar Khan resisted efforts to fill in the pond in his hujrah. It was pretty, but it was also a breeding ground for mosquitoes
At that time, as Head of New Home, New Life, I remember a letter coming in from a listener in Khost. the morning after the storyline reached its climax, he wrote:
I myself saw tractors going out into fields, and filling in ponds and puddles of standing water.
The listener attributed this attention to eliminating standing water, directly to the storyline carried in New Home, New Life.
So that’s the first rule of prevention of malaria: do not leave standing water, not just outside, but particularly inside the home. I remember seeing a malaria awareness message on display in Delhi:
Most mosquitoes breed in water left standing inside the home,
So the message read. It made me think, how much water we leave lying around in our house, in buckets, in bowls left outside for pets and in the saucers beneath flowerpots, in pitchers left in the bathroom: in all sorts of places we leave standing water, that are perfect breeding area for mosquitoes.
So that’s the first line of defence against mosquitoes: stop the mosquitoes from breeding in the first place. But still, you will not be able to eliminate mosquitoes altogether. So the second line of defence is: keep the mosquitoes outside, while staying inside at night yourself.
The best way of doing this is by doing what Nek Mohammad did in New Home, New Life: assiduously applying iron meshing to your windows and doors, and keeping all doors shut.
Still some of you may not have electricity, and find it oppressively hot inside the home. If you are forced to sleep outside, where there is a cool, refreshing breeze, then do two things: for one, try to sleep in a mosquito net, if one is available:
All sorts of mosquito nets are available in Afghanistan.
In case you do not have a mosquito net, or find its suffocatingly hot to sleep inside a mosquito net – I did when I was little, then be sure to apply a mosquito repellent on your skin. A sachet of mosquito repellent cost next to nothing, and it is well worth it to apply one sachet, per person, per night.
So you see, there are multiple lines of defence against being bitten by mosquitoes. These mosquitoes can cause a host of dangerious diseases, including malaria and dengue fever.
Islam lays a lot of emphasis on prevention. It makes good sense, and is much more economical than cure. And it mirrors, on a physical level, the process whereby human beings protect themselves from sin. In fact, in Farsi, Urdu and Pashto, the word for warding off sin is the same as the word for warding off disease – parhaiz (پرهیز). Inshallah, we will look at the process whereby one wards off sin in our next dars. it is remarkably similar to the process of warding off physical disease.