Select Page

Advice to Doctors

This is part ten of an eleven part series on the Baha’i Perspective on Disease.   In Part 1,  we looked at how I got interested in this topic and looked at some quotes on prevention of disease.  In Part 2, we looked at the reasons for disease.  In Part 3, we looked at the physical cause of disease, in Part 4 we looked at the spiritual causes, in Part 5 we looked at the effects of disease, in Part 6 we looked at the attitudes we want to strive for, when we are diseased, in Part 7 we looked at the spiritual treatments for disease,  in Part 8 we looked at the physical treatments for disease, in Part 9 we looked  at why people aren’t getting better, and in this part we look at advice given to doctors.

Study medicine:

Thou shouldst endeavour to study the science of medicine. It is extremely useful and serveth as the greatest instrument for the dissemination of the Cause. It is absolutely imperative that thou acquire this bounty. Strive day and night that thou mayest become highly qualified in this science.

And research:

These investigations you have so painstakingly pursued in the field of medical science, and on a subject which is still puzzling the minds of all the leading scientists in the world, cannot but be of a captivating interest and of a great value to all medical research workers.  It is significant that you as a believer should have undertaken a work of this nature, as we all know that the powers released by the Manifestation of Bahá’u’lláh in this day are destined, in the course of time, to reveal themselves through the instrumentality of His followers, and in every conceivable field of human endeavour.  That you should increasingly prove, through your confirmed researches in the domain of medicine, to be one of those instruments, is the fervent hope of our beloved Guardian.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 287)

Turn to God and ask for Help:

And when thou wishest to dispense treatment set thy heart toward the Abha Kingdom, entreating Divine confirmations.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 285)

When giving medical treatment turn to the Blessed Beauty then follow the dictates of thy heart . . . Indeed, such a heavenly breath quickeneth every mouldering bone and reviveth the spirit of every sick and ailing one.     (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 285)

Give God the credit:

Well is it with the physician who cureth ailments in My hallowed and dearly cherished Name.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Lights of Guidance, p. 284)

Diagnose then prescribe:

First diagnose the disease and identify the malady, then prescribe the remedy, for such is the perfect method of the skilful physician.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 269)

Know the spiritual causes as well as the physical:

Say to [Dr.] . . . . that “he studied physical medicine and he cured physical diseases. I beg of God that he may become a spiritual physician and heal the sickness of the ignorant ones.”  (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v3, p. 507)

Know the patient as well as disease and remedies:

Consequently, the doctor must be aware of, and know, all the members and parts, as well as the constitution and state of the patient, so that he can prescribe a medicine which will be beneficial against the violent poison of the disease. In reality the doctor deduces from the disease itself the treatment which is suited to the patient, for he diagnoses the malady, and afterward prescribes the remedy for the illness. Until the malady be discovered, how can the remedy and treatment be prescribed? The doctor then must have a thorough knowledge of the constitution, members, organs and state  of the patient, and be acquainted with all diseases and all remedies, in order to prescribe a fitting medicine.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 158)

Know the different remedies and medicines:

The skillful physician does not give the same medicine to cure each disease and each malady, but he changes remedies and medicines according to the different necessities of the diseases and constitutions. One person may have a severe illness caused by fever, and the skilled doctor will give him cooling remedies; and when at some other time the condition of this person has changed, and fever is replaced by chills, without doubt the skilled doctor will discard cooling medicine and permit the use of heating drugs. This change and alteration is required by the condition of the patient and is an evident proof of the skill of the physician.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 94)

Treat with foods:

When highly-skilled physicians shall fully examine this matter, thoroughly and perseveringly, it will be clearly seen that the incursion of disease is due to a disturbance in the relative amounts of the body’s component substances, and that treatment consisteth in adjusting these relative amounts, and that this can be apprehended and made possible by means of foods. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 154-155)

It is certain that in this wonderful new age the development of medical science will lead to the doctors’ healing their patients with foods . . .  Observe how an animal will graze in a field where there are a hundred thousand kinds of herbs and grasses, and how, with its sense of smell, it snuffeth up the odours of the plants, and tasteth them with its sense of taste; then it consumeth whatever herb is pleasurable to these senses, and benefiteth therefrom. Were it not for this power of selectivity, the animals would all be dead in a single day; for there are a great many poisonous plants, and animals know nothing of the pharmacopoeia. And yet, observe what a reliable set of scales they have, by means of which to differentiate the good from the injurious. Whatever constituent of their body hath decreased, they can rehabilitate by seeking out and consuming some plant that hath an abundant store of that diminished element; and thus the equilibrium of their bodily components is re-established, and they are rid of their disease.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 155-156)

At whatever time highly-skilled physicians shall have developed the healing of illnesses by means of foods, and shall make provision for simple foods, and shall prohibit humankind from living as slaves to their lustful appetites, it is certain that the incidence of chronic and diversified illnesses will abate, and the general health of all mankind will be much improved. This is destined to come about. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 156)

Use spiritual and material forms of healing:

O thou distinguished physician!…Praise be to God that thou hast two powers: one to undertake physical healing and the other spiritual healing. Matters related  to man’s spirit have a great effect on his bodily condition. For instance, thou shouldst impart gladness to thy patient, give him comfort and joy, and bring him to ecstasy and exultation. How often hath it occurred that this hath caused early recovery. Therefore, treat thou the sick with both powers. Spiritual feelings have a surprising effect on healing nervous ailments      (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 285)

Remedy the sick by means of heavenly joy and spiritual exultation cure the sorely afflicted by imparting to them blissful glad tidings and heal the wounded through His resplendent bestowals. When at the bedside of a patient, cheer and gladden his heart and enrapture his spirit through celestial power. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 285)

Circumcision:

The beloved Guardian says that the question of circumcision has nothing to do with the Bahá’í Teachings; and the believers are free to do as they please in the matter.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 289)

Euthanasia, birth control and abortion:

We are impressed by the spirit of your letter of 15 Sultan seeking guidance concerning certain aspects of the medical profession. Your desire to avoid doing anything in your study of medicine which would be contrary to the Bahá’í Teachings is most commendable.  As you have keenly observed, the Universal House of Justice may consider it untimely to make definitive rulings on certain matters to which no direct reference can be found in the Sacred Text. Among these are euthanasia and certain aspects of birth control and abortion, and until such time as rulings are made, these matters are left to the consciences of those concerned who must weigh the medical advice on the case in the light of general guidance given in the Teachings. Your National Spiritual Assembly has specific references regarding birth control and abortion which might be useful to you.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 289)

Organ Transplants:

We have not come across anything specific in the writings on transplants of hearts and other organs or regarding the time of death, and the Universal House of Justice does not wish to make any statements on these points at this time.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 289)

There is nothing in the teachings which would forbid a Bahá’í to bequeath his eyes to another person or for a hospital; on the contrary it seems a noble thing to do.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290)

Dissection:

When dissecting a human body for the purposes of medical study, should keep in mind that since the body was once the temple of the spirit it must be treated with respect even though there is no further connection between the two.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290)

Avoid commissions:

The Guardian feels that your attitude towards the corrupt practice of accepting commissions from fellow physicians and pharmacists is most admirable. The more upright and noble the Bahá’ís are in their conduct, the more they will impress the public with the spiritual vitality of the Faith they believe in.  (Shoghi Effendi,, Lights of Guidance, p. 287)

Ethical Conduct:

Knowledge is praiseworthy when it is coupled with ethical conduct and virtuous character; otherwise it is a deadly poison, a frightful danger. A physician of evil character, and who betrayeth his trust, can bring on death, and become the source of numerous infirmities and diseases.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Scholarship, p. 21)

Bahá’í Holy Days:

He thinks it is better for Bahá’í doctors not to work on our 9 Holy Days — but, of course, that does not mean they should not attend to very sick people and emergencies on these days.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 287)

For more in this series:

Part 1: Intro to Disease

Part 2:  Reasons for Disease

Part 3:  Physical Causes of Disease

Part 4:  Spiritual Causes of Disease

Part 5:  Effects of Disease

Part 6:  Attitudes towards Disease

Part 7:  Spiritual Treatment for Disease

Part 8:  Physical Treatment for Disease

Part 9:  Why People Aren’t Getting Better

Part 10:  Advice to Doctors

Part 11:  Prayers for Health