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Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences [IOMS]
 

A SYNOPSIS OF
THE ISLAMIC ORGANIZATION
FOR MEDICAL SCIENCES (IOMS)

 


Dr. Abdul Rahman Abdulla Al-Awadi
The IOMS President

Praise be to Allah Who has guided us to Islam and bestowed upon us the blessing of faith. And  peace be upon His Apostle Muhammad and upon his family and companions.

The idea of establishing the IOMS emerged as  one of several other ideas put forward at a time when the Islamic World was bustling with preparations for celebrating the advent of the fifteenth Hijri century, and when the Islamic awakening was at its zenith. It was a moment of contemplation and pondering over the life conditions of Muslims all over the world. Questions came up one after the other in a rapid succession: How can we best celebrate this  great event? Can we, Muslims, make some prominent and quite distinguished contribution? Where is Islam's role in sciences in general and in medicine in particular? Where do Muslims stand in respect of world civilization now, and what was their place in  past civilizations? What is Islam's view concerning modern medical innovations?
      
There have been persistent attempts, by both East and West, to undermine Islam and Muslims and to deliberately raise doubts about its role. One of. these attempts by the enemies of Islam is to claim that it is only a part of the overall world civilization that  flourished for a certain period of time then declined. This is a flagrant falsity meant to obliterate the truth; for Islam is an eternal message from Allah to the whole of the human kind to guide them to the right track. It is not the result of human development as is the case with the rest of civilizations. This cannot be more evidenced than by the fact that for long twelve years after the revelation descended on the Prophet (pbuh) Muslims were not issued with any legislations. During those years, Islam focussed its  attention on man qua man in terms of bringing him up for a life of virtue and developing in him the upright Islamic manners. Then legislations came one after the other to organize his life and map out his relationships with his God, with himself, with his family and with the whole of his community.

The culmination of all this was the emergence of  the Muslim who believes in his God and in his religion, and the dawning of an Islamic civilization  which was destined to change many things in man's  history. For five centuries under the umbrella of Islam, sciences, and medicine in particular,  flourished and Muslims prolifically produced what  later became the spring from which Europe gulped during its renaisance. Names started to shine as brightly as the sun among which were those of Al-Razi, Ibn Sina, ibnil Bitar, Ibnul Nafees'and Al-Zahrawi. It was their strong and unwavering faith that formed the solid foundation for their magnificent edifice of wisdom and knowledge. Their works were  translated into all the living languages at that time.Thus Europe began to feast upon them and thrived in the process. Unfortunately, however, it later denied Islam and the Muslims their due credit as European writings appeared void of any mention of indebtedness to Arab merits. What is more aggravating, these European writings contained such malicious attacks against the Arabs and Muslims in general that it becomes incumbent upon us to stand up to these attacks. 

It is deplorable, however, that while the European  body was growing stronger and stronger thanks to the blood of knowledge flowing into its arteries from the Arab and Muslim fountain of science and wisdom, the Islamic nation was dwindling into the position of mere subordination to and dependency on its glorious past. Muslims have become so captivated by the models created by their great ancestors that most of their works now are helpless and repeated imitations of those models. Our ability to create new thoughts has come to a standstill. Our religion has been confined to mere rituals to be performed. We have disregarded the value of reason and thinking so esteemed by Islam. Look at what our great Prophet (pbuh) said: "One hour of thinking is far better than sixty years of worship". Our young people, therefore, are confused! Is Islam a religion of rituals and worships only, or is it a religion and a State which can lead its followers to the right way of living if they adhere to it? If it is the latter, where then is its role? How did we get to where we are now?

This was one side of the issue which made us concerned, i.e. the tradition of Islamic medicine and what should be done about it including our duty to attract the attention of future generations to it and to make it the subject of careful study with a view to unravelling the reasons behind its growth and decline so that it may become a model set for us and for our young men and women. Heritage to the nation is like milk to the suckling baby; the stronger the mother, the more full-bodied the milk is and the more healthy and immune against diseases the baby becomes. 

The other side of the issue is the emergence of the twentieth century giant of genetic engineering with its amazing findings that entice scientists into applying them to man, particularly as research on this subject takes place in the laboratories of the West where religion has been separated from science, and because we Muslims have nothing effective to contribute to this research. So we settled for dependency upon Western scientists and confined our efforts to following up news about their discoveries.

There are also the deafening outcries of secular medicine demanding that religious teachings stay away from medical sciences and medical conduct, and the desperate attempts to spread these heresies in the world under the guise of freeing man's mind from the fetters of religion.

This has aroused men of philosophy, sociology and religion in the West to counter this tide of attempts to alienate people from religious loyalty.  They put forward ideas, representing their view of the matter, in answer to such heresies, and a lot of  emerging organizations have adopted these ideas.

Meanwhile, the efforts made in the Islamic world to stand up to those heresies were sporadic and almost ineffective. At best, they did not exceed  some individual contrivances which looked so weak and wane that enemies exploited them in distorting the image of Islam. Yet, there was not one single Islamic organization to repel these wrongs. Silence in the face of all this must be looked upon now as a  crime against Islam and Muslims.

One of the modern scientific innovations that has achieved great success is the matter of test-tube babies. It is true that humanity stands to gain a lot from this medical feat as it offers a practical solution to the problem of childlessness faced by many  families. Islam's attitude towards this innovation is quite clear: it approves it provided that the sperm and the ovum should be taken from the husband and wife without the involvement of a third party. Yet, there is another side to this bright coin. There are attempts to exploit this success in an immoral way, which portends a disaster when family lineages get mixed up, unless this problem is put under an Islamic microscope to put apart what is permitted and what is prohibited.

This was the second side of the matter at issue: the need for a doctor who is conversant with Islam paralleled with the need for a man of religion who is conversant with medicine. Thus modern scientific innovations can be submitted to the scrutiny of Islamic Sharia.

The third field of interest was the applied one, i.e. what is important for Muslims' health, whether at the individual or the national level. This is the concern of therapeutic and preventive medicine. Islam is a religion that has given special attention to public as well as private hygiene. But its followers have neglected these teachings.

Islam in which marriage is permissible while adultery is prohibited has saved its followers from venereal diseases that have spread like an epidemic in all developed countries despite the great progress achieved in antibiotic industries. It has also protected Muslims against the prevalence of vile deeds that have given rise to a fatal disease which plays havoc with many Western countries now, namely, AIDS.

As for liquors and various alcoholic drinks, it is well known that many countries in the world have been against prohibiting them. Yet, it is equally well known that such countries are up against the monstrous problem of alcoholism to grapple for which they allocate budgets that exceed those of many Third World countries. The losses in the national economies brought about by this problem have become of such magnitude that many developed countries have embarked upon issuing laws and regulations to curb the marketing and use of liquors. Research abounds about the harmful effects of drinking which has been prohibited in the Holy Quran.

Concerning drugs, they have become a dangerous weapon with which many countries nowadays fight each other as drugs sap the addicts and turn them into an idle and unproductive force.

Prohibiting such harmful things as adultery , sodomy, drinking, drug addiction, etc. are essential in Islamic teachings which have always been, the corner stone of preventive medicine, particularly in the field of quarantine. But the lamentable thing is that these teachings have been neglected by Islam's followers whereas they were made full use of by Islam's enemies; for they have studied them thoroughly and returned them to us as if it was of their own making. So, we have accepted and adopted them just because everything coming from the West must be good.

In the therapeutic field, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ordered his followers to seek medical help and stay away from quacks and charlatans. One of his authenticated Traditions on this point is: "Seek treatment, O slaves of Allah; for He has not created a disease without a way of curing it, known to some and unknown to others". Our great ancestral scholars left us with a treasure of medical knowledge characterised with precision and accuracy as a primary criterion in observing its basic facts and in recording its findings. Europe used this vast knowledge to its own advantage and kept applying its findings in curing diseases up till the nineteenth century when chemistry emerged as a full branch of  science. Then they tried to substitute it for medicinal plants and managed to persuade us to follow suit. Thus, our countries have turned into a big market for their products in this field. At this juncture, it was necessary for us to go back to our rich heritage and study the potentials of benefiting from medicinal plants in treatment in view of their low costs and less likelihood of side effects. Moreover, these plants do not require much experince as is the case with chemical materials, in addition to the obvious fact that they are abundant in the Arab and Islamic countries.

In view of all these innovations, there was a dire need for the emergence of an organization to shoulder the responsibility of this enormous undertaking. The drive was the words of God in the Holy Quran: "Do you not see how Allah compares a good word to a good tree? Its root is firm and its branches reach the sky; it yields its fruit in every season by Allah's leave. Allah gives parables to men so that they may take heed".

The idea was nurtured in Kuwait and embraced  by its good people. Thus Kuwait was the base and  point of departure for this great project. Right from the start, the aspirations for the organization transcended limited local effort or regional confinement.  His Highness the Amir of Kuwait extended his kind  patronage to this organization and encouraged its  establishment. Hence, the Amiri Decree No.18 for  1984 that set the idea off the ground and the Islamic  Organization for Medical Sciences emerged into full existence to launch unswerving efforts in nurturing the tree of medical sciences that had ceased to bear any fruit through long negligence. This great tree will  hopefully spring back to full life if we are keen to feed it well; for its roots are still alive.

The IOMS has emerged to adopt Islamic medicine which is characterised by viewing man in his capacity as Allah's deputy on earth and considering him as one indivisible whole: body, soul, and spirit. It is a type of medicine that derives its teachings and practices from Islamic Sharia and abides by its provisions of what is permissible and what is prohibited and the grey area between the two. It touches upon everything related to man's health in a clear and logical language, whether about diet or drug which is almost free from side effects.

Allah's benevolence was great. So, the idea was enthusiastically received by some dear brethrens upon whom Allah has bestowed freely of His limitless bounties and whose hearts have been filled with faith. These are the Marzouqs represented by their sons, Mr. Khalid Al-Marzouq and his brothers. They promptly took the initiative of ordering a building for the Centre of Islamic Medicine to be implemented with an Islamic architecture and planed with Islamic use in mind. The building was meant to be the base of the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences, an Islamic edifice and a centre for Islamic culture. They have dedicated this building to Kuwait and to the whole of the Muslim community in application of Allah's words in the Holy Quran: "He that gives his wealth for the cause of Allah is like a grain of corn which brings forth seven ears, each bearing a hundred grains. Allah gives abundance to whom He will; He is munificent and all-knowing."

May this offering be accepted from them by Allah; May they be credited for it on the day of Reckoning; and May they be sufficiently compensated for it both  in this world and in the Hereafter. 

The world today needs to be reassured and saved   from the talons of those who let loose hideous conflicts and struggles that lean on no religious,  mental or spiritual basis.

The relationship between man and his God is  most sublime and most noble. It is this kind of  relationship that motivates him to do good and stay away from evil. This is exactly the way of Islam.

The tree of the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences that took root in Kuwait is beginning to  bear fruit with its achievements and propagation of the idea in the Arab, Islamic and even non-lslamic countries. The idea has been well received in the East as well as in the West, and Islamic conferences are being held here and there raising the Islamic voice to be heard in international and universal quarters, and organizing man's relationships with his God and his environment, and holding high the  banner of Arabism and Islam: "The scum is cast  away, but that which is of use to man remains behind. Thus Allah coins His parables".

These are our achievements in the balance: if we have done right, we thank Allah; and if we have fallen short of that, we ask for His forgiveness.