Modern Medicine, Tibb-e-Nabawi

Differences Between Conventional Medicine and Tibb-e-Nabawi

There are numerous differences between conventional medicine and Tibb-e-Nabawi in their interpretation of health as well as in the practice of medicine. In conventional medicine, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as17: “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease, or infirmity” This definition does not pay attention to the emotional and more importantly the spiritual aspects of a person’s life. Muslims are aware that the human being is a combination of body and soul. Tibb-e-Nabawi emphasises the importance of maintaining a healthy body and a healthy soul, and provides guidance for both physical and spiritual health, the latter including emotional wellbeing. The practice of Tibb-e-Nabawi not only focuses on treatment, or the absence of disease but also places equal emphasises on maintaining or preserving health. This is evident in Ibn Sīnā’s definition of medicine.

“Ṭibb (medicine) is a branch of knowledge that deals with the states of health and disease in the human body for the purpose of adopting suitable measures for the preservation or restoration of health 18” In addition to this fundamental difference between conventional medicine and Tibb-e-Nabawi, the following table lists additional differences between these two systems in their worldviews and practice of medicine.

Tibb-e-NabawiConventional Medicine
WorldviewWorldview
  • Concept of creation in accordance with the Abrahamic scriptures.

  • Belief system in accordance with the Abrahamic scriptures, an Islamic ethos that emphasizes the responsibility of vice-regency which determines social and moral values in accordance with the Shari’ah
  • Creation based on the ‘big bang theory’ and to a certain extent on Darwin’s theory of evolution.

  • Does not consider religious or spiritual aspects significant; a secular approach based on materialism and existentialism that determines social and moral values.
Medial PracticeMedical Practice

  • Based on the principles of physis, humours, temperament and lifestyle factors

  • Illnesses are the result of temperamental and humoural imbalance

  • The objective of treatment is to support physis in restoring homeostasis with minimal side effects.

  • Based on the doctrine of specific aetiology, and the germ theory.

  • Illnesses are the result of physiological or bio-chemical malfunctioning or from microbial infection.

  • The objective of treatment is addressing symptoms, restoring bio-chemical imbalances and destroying microbes resulting in extensive side effects.

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