Healing and Prayer

by | 25 Nov 21 | Mind

In times of hardship, pain and loss, many of us attempt to find solutions. We search for comforts in people and worldly objects and some of us find relief in medication and counselling. But at times, we may search within the very Dunya that caused that calamity to befall us in the first place. It is also important to remember that Allah (swt) has provided us with an additional and powerful tool to alleviate our distress, one which is less likely to be included within mainstream psychological services: Prayer.

“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah]“ [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 45].

Allah (swt) is the Almighty, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, so who better to call upon than Him? Who better to seek ease from pain and hardship than Him?

Now you may be thinking, ‘that’s nothing new!’ – We have all heard scholars, parents, and wise old men tell us this countless times. We all know that it is an obligation on us, and that the Prophet’s and Sahabah before us prayed, and equally urged their Ummah to pray. But how many of us know the real power behind prayer? How many understand the benefits of prayer beyond the obligation?

Here I invite science to show us just how incredible the act of prayer is, and to appreciate the deeper level of healing that goes on behind the scenes. Because surely it is not without wisdom that Allah (swt) says:

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest“ [Qur’an: Chapter 13, Verse 28].

Dr Andrew Newsberg of the University of Pennsylvania attempts to enlighten us with this hidden wisdom. He studied brain wave activity during prayer and found a direct impact on several brain locations. The benefits of prayer are incredible! Regular daily prayers halt the frontal lobe from shrinking with age, which is the part of the brain that regulates our speaking, reading and memory; therefore, this helps prevent memory loss in old age.

High activity was found in the anterior cingulate, the location that regulates our connectivity to others. A high activity in this part of the brain means a healthier and happier person. Our self-awareness is found in the parietal lobe, the overuse of which causes feelings of isolation and loneliness, and the limbic system is where negative emotions are stimulated. Prayer deactivates both of these areas of the brain, removing the negative emotions and allowing us to benefit from the frontal lobe and anterior cingulate. The result is a healthier, happier and longer life, In sha Allah. [1]

We need not look further to see that prayer is beneficial for us, making us healthier and happier. It is a healer in and of itself; activating regions of the brain that make us happier and ridding negativity. It is not just a form of worshipping Allah (swt), but also a form of meditation: A self-help tool to bring us to a state of tranquillity.

Dr Newberg revealed that prayer performed regularly and with a deep spiritual connection is the best formulation to gain the greatest benefits. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) gave the perfect example of this healing prayer, which he relied on as a source of comfort. The prayer of the Prophet (saw) was always with great humbleness, full concentration and sincere submission to the Almighty (swt). This is what is known as the state of Khushu’; a state of full awareness of the Almighty (swt) as we direct our minds and heart to our Lord alone. This is the state that we should aim to achieve in our prayers. It is in this state that we will find the biggest stimulations in the brain so we may reap the true benefits of prayer, In sha Allah.

Even more incredible about the mind, body and soul connection involved in prayer is the benefits of Sujood. Ibnul Qayyim described Sujood as the secret of prayer, the greatest pillar, and the seal of the Rukoo’. In this position, we are the closest to Allah (swt) and can truly submit ourselves to the Almighty (swt); and again, science expands on the wisdoms behind this position in prayer.

Dr. Ahmad Sakr found that the position of Sujood is one method scientifically proven to bring peace, tranquillity, and happiness to the one in prostration [2]. He explains that we are all exposed to electrostatic charges from the atmosphere and ridding ourselves of these extra charges is beneficial to one’s health. The best way to rid these extra electrostatic charges according to Dr Ahmad Sakr, is to prostrate with one’s forehead to the ground. This brings about a calming feeling and dissipates electromagnetic energy.

Once again, science enlightens us on the wisdom behind the prayer of the Prophet (saw). Not only do we find ourselves the closest to Allah (swt) in this position, but it also physically and psychologically brings us peace and tranquillity. Take your time in Sujood and let yourself embrace that closeness and be warmed and comforted by it.

The healing power of prayer is truly magnificent, giving us the ultimate starting point for our journey to healing. This is not to say that we should not continue with self-care or seek professional support; but rather that we should make prayer our starting point, and our ‘healing constant’. So that from here, we can begin healing and find peace and tranquillity through our Lord. From here, we can find the courage to seek assistance from the internal resources Allah placed within us, and the external resources He placed before us.

So whether you take it from science or take it from our beautiful religion, call upon Allah (swt) with full sincerity and submission, and you will find bliss, In sha Allah. Pray regularly, pray with Khushu, spend a little longer in Sujood, and pour your heart out to Ash-Shafee (The One who cures), As-Salam (The source of peace).

[1] Newberg, Andrew B.; Waldman, Mark Robert (2009). How God Changes Your Brain.
[2] Sakr, Ahmad H. (1997). Sujood (Prostration).

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