Muslims are commanded to take care of their health and well-being, and they are encouraged to seek assistance from medical experts when they are faced with illness or disease. Our bodies are one of the blessings or trusts from God that must be cared for and respected.
Muslims strive to high standards of personal care. In Islam, cleanliness and purification are not only requirements for worship, but are part of a Muslim's daily life. Muhammad once said, “cleanliness is a sign of faith.” Cleanliness and purity are known in Arabic as tahaarah.
As a religious concept, hygiene is not just a matter of washing your hands and taking daily showers. A Muslim strives to be pure morally, spiritually, and physically. The Qur'an commends those people who keep themselves pure and clean (Qur'an 2:22).
In daily life, Muslims are encouraged to trim their nails, remove body hair, observe good dental hygiene, keep their clothes clean, and apply perfume. Also, their homes and places of prayer must be clean and free from impurities. Before prayer, Muslims should purify their body through ablutions.
The Practice of Circumcision
Male circumcision, a well-established tradition in Islam, is another aspect of tahaarah. Circumcision is not mentioned in the Qur'an, but it is an established Muslim tradition that Muslim boys are circumcised at birth to promote good health and cleanliness. In Islam, any qualified doctor may perform a circumcision.
Female circumcision is neither mandated nor condoned by Islam. It is a pre-Islamic cultural tradition practiced in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa by both Muslims and non-Muslims.
There is ongoing debate on the value of male circumcision. The American Academy of Pediatrics finds that “circumcision is not essential to a child's well-being at birth, even though it does have some potential medical benefits.” Some clinical studies have found a decreased rate of urinary tract infections and cancer in circumcised boys. Regardless of the outcome of the debate, Muslims are likely to continue the practice as a religious tradition that was practiced and approved by the Prophet Muhammad.
Just as Muslims acknowledge that all life comes from God, they also believe that death comes at a time appointed by God alone. Muslims believe that human life is sacred, a trust given to us by God. One should be patient in the face of death and respectful of the deceased. God Alone is the One who gives and takes life. The duration of life is not for us to determine or control. It is not permitted for a Muslim to give up and take his own life by any means. The deliberate ending of a life is suicide or murder, both of which are grave sins in Islam and are strictly prohibited.
Several Islamic councils and jurists have recently ruled that there is nothing wrong with organ donation in Islam, as long as the procedure poses no danger to a living donor and is performed respectfully on a deceased donor. The scholars agreed that saving a life is more important than preserving a body.
Many Muslims abhor the idea of disturbing the human body in death and believe organ donation to be forbidden. The traditional burial practices of Islam require Muslims to be respectful of the deceased and keep the body intact. However, many Muslims believe that in the case of organ donation, the good of helping another person outweighs the bad.