Is It an Innovation to Recite the Qur’an Seeking a Cure?
Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally
Question: I am slowly losing hair on my head, I believe it is hereditary. In any case, I was thinking to recite the three Quls (Ikhlas,Falaq and Nas) three times and blow it on water and wipe my hair with that water in hope to seek blessing and Baraka, and to prevent hair loss by Allah’s word. Would this be blameworthy or bid’ah (innovation)?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
May Allah grant you and your family good health.
Reciting or using the Qur’an, as well as the Divine Names and other supplications, for purposes of seeking a cure, either for oneself or for others, is not blameworthy, nor considered a blameworthy innovation. It is rather considered a Sunnah [Sharh Sahih Muslim].
This is because of the following:
The Qur’an Describes itself as a Cure
The Qur’an describes itself as a cure, saying of itself:
We have sent down of the Qur’an what is a cure and mercy for believers [Quran; 17.82];
Say: It is for those who believe, guidance and a cure [Qur’an; 41.44].
Hadith texts Establish using the Qur’an as a Cure
Numerous narrations establish the permissibility of using the Qur’an to seek a cure. For example:
Aisha (may God be pleased with her) reported that “the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him would recite the Mu’awwidhat [the three final chapters of the Qur’an] over a member of his family who had fallen ill” [Muslim].
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri and Ibn ‘Abbas (may God be pleased with them) both relate narrations that establish that the opening chapter of the Qur’an, the Fatiha, can be used to seek a cure. In it, Abu Sa’id recites the Fatiha to successfully cure a man who had been stung by a scorpion, which they later inform the Prophet (peace be upon him) of. The Prophet (peace be upon him) confirms its use for this purpose, asking rhetorically, “What gave it away that it is an incantation for cure (ruqya)?” [Bukhari].
What about Using other Portions of the Qur’an?
Although these narrations only mention the first and last three chapters of the Qur’an, scholars such as Imam al-Nawawi have understood implicitly from them that it is praiseworthy to use any part of the Qur’an or other supplications as incantations to treat sickness and ills [Sharh Sahih Muslim]. Nawawi reasons that the Prophet’s specifically making use of the Mu’awwidhat was because of their comprehensive natures; in them, a person seeks refuge in God from all undesirable things. It does not, as ibn Hajar also notes, preclude using something else from the Qur’an or supplications that are Prophetic, or do not militate against the spirit of transmitted supplications [Fath al-Bari].
Moreover, one does not need a specific piece of evidence for an act that is does not run contrary to the spirit of the law. Sh. ‘Abd al-Ilah al-‘Arfaj and Dr. Sayf al-‘Asri both note in their works on innovation into the religion that the hadith of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri clearly indicate that he did not have specific guidance from the Prophet (peace be upon him) on using the Fatiha for a cure before choosing to do so, but was not reprimanded for doing so [Mafhum al-Bid’ah; al-Bid’ah al-Idafiyyah].
For that reason, there is no harm in choosing a portion of the Qur’an or other supplication that one feels inclined towards, and using it to seek a cure, by reciting it or reciting it over oneself or another.
Other Uses of the Qur’an as a Cure
Aside from reciting the Qur’an and blowing over oneself or another, our scholarly tradition allows for other related uses that do not militate against the spirit of the tradition. Ibn al-Qayyim holds that many early scholars considered it permissible to write verses of the Qur’an on paper, the wash the ink off in water and drink it, or give it to another, seeking a cure. They considered this to be part of the cure that God had said he placed in the Qur’an [Zad al-Ma’ad]. He mentions that he once fell ill in Makkah, and found himself without access to doctors or medicine. He would take some zamzam water, recite the Fatiha over it, and drink it; he found that this cured him [al-Tibb al-Nabawi]. Nawawi also mentions the permissibility of doing using the Qur’an in this manner [Majmu’].
It is also permissible to pour such water over the body. It is reported that the Prophet visited Thabit b. Qays, who was ill, and recited, “Remove all harm, Lord of all, from Thabit b. Qays al-Shammas,” then mixed some dirt with water and poured it over him [Sunan Abu Dawud]. Ibn Hajar also favorably records a point Ibn Battal had made regarding reciting the Throne Verse over water and then drinking it or pouring it over a sick person [Fath al-Bari].
Based on the foregoing, it is not blameworthy or an innovation to use the Qur’an in the manner in any of the ways described, seeking refuge in Allah through the recitation, his assistance, blessing, and cure of all ills.