On 26 July the world comes together to mark World Holistic Therapy Day. But what is it and how does it align with Islam?
For decades, people have been using an age-old approach to wellbeing and health which places emphasis on the individual as a whole: mind, body and spirit.
While the practice and names may differ, the approach itself, often dubbed as ‘Holistic Therapy’, is deeply rooted in Islamic traditions.
The globally recognised day is dedicated to honouring a timeless approach to health and wellness that focuses not only on the physical but also on the mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of an individual.
The holistic view: seeing the whole picture
Holistic therapy stems from an understanding that humans are more than the sum of their parts. This approach aims to maintain balance and wellness across all dimensions of health – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
Unlike conventional medicine which often focuses on treating symptoms, holistic therapy targets the root cause of the illness. It considers the impact of lifestyle, environment, and personal issues on the individual’s health.
By incorporating a variety of therapies like nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, meditation, psychotherapy and alternative healing practices like acupuncture, herbal medicine and massage, the holistic approach aims to heal the body, calm the mind and nourish the spirit.
Benefits: a sustainable wellbeing
Such a way of approaching the brain and healing the body has been proven efficient in ensuring the person’s health.
According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2019, holistic therapies can significantly reduce anxiety and stress, improve overall physical health and lead to greater life satisfaction.
The benefits go beyond mental health, as holistic approach can also play a critical role in managing chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, where lifestyle factors significantly contribute to the disease.
Holistic therapy and Islam: a symbiotic connection
The therapy’s approach to a healthy body and mind is very similar to that of the Islamic approach. In a way, the philosophy underpinning holistic therapy aligns perfectly with Islamic teachings.
In Islam, maintaining health and wellbeing is considered an act of worship. Similarly, the holistic approach promotes a balance between physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life – all of which are emphasised in the Abrahamic religion.
The religion encourages its followers to take care of their bodies, promotes mental health by encouraging community and spirituality, and highlights the importance of personal introspection for emotional wellbeing.
The connection between holistic therapy and Islam becomes even more profound when considering the Islamic concept of “tawheed” which is the belief of the oneness of Allah, which in extension is also the belief of submitting entirely in spirit, mind and body to God, thus internalising the holisticness of being.
Embracing holistic therapy in Qatar
Qatar, a country deeply rooted in Islamic traditions, is gradually integrating holistic therapy into its healthcare system.
In Doha, several wellness centres offer a myriad of holistic therapies such as yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine and reflexology, amongst others. While they do not directly incorporate Islamic teachings, the approach to healing the mind and body through meditation is considered somewhat similar to that of praying, by essentially training the mind to focus on submission, healing, and tawheed.
Sidra Medicine, a member of the Qatar Foundation, pioneers research and provides holistic care to women, focusing on both physical ailments and psychological well-being, including their Executive Women’s Health programme and Well Woman Health Centre.
These establishments not only mark Qatar’s progress in healthcare but also signify the growing acceptance of a well-rounded approach to health in line with its Islamic traditions.
As we mark World Holistic Therapy Day, it is important to acknowledge the growing importance of holistic therapy in fostering healthier and happier societies.
With promising research and growing global acceptance, the holistic approach to wellbeing and health offers an inclusive, comprehensive and sustainable way forward, one that resonates profoundly with the Gulf nation’s cultural and religious ethos.