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Cultural Traditions and Healthcare Beliefs in the Arab World

posted on: Aug 2, 2022

The western world has huge misconceptions about Islamic culture, Islamic beliefs and medicine in Arab culture. However, the fact is that, the health care system in the Muslim world modern and high-tech. you will find many high-tech medical centers and hospitals that can be compared with those in the west. Coronary bypass surgeries, organ transplantations, and in vitro fertilization treatments are common.

In this guide, we will take a close look at the Arab culture and healthcare beliefs.

History of Arabic Health

Roots of Arab healthcare and healing go back a long time. Arab culture in healthcare was formulated more than a millennium back. Throughout time, there has always been demand for improving health services in the Middle East. Muslim scholars like al-Razi (Rhazes), Hunayn ibn Ishaq al-Ibadi, and Ibn Sina (Avincenna), expounded the medical thoughts of Dioscodres, Hippocrates, Plato, Galen, and pioneered many elements of scientific medicine, which eventually led to the modern-day health practices. They were responsible for forwarding both application and theory.

A significant achievement was the emergence of hospitals. In the Islamic world, the first hospital to come up was in the 1th-century in Damascus. It was established to help the blind, lepers, and the disabled. It had sophisticated systems for admission, record keeping, discharge, and administration.

Healthcare professionals applied many therapeutic approaches for treatments. The health belief model relied mostly on baths, exercise, and diet. Arab culture beliefs were in favor of drugs too. Ibnal-Bitar, by the 13th-century was able to record more than 1300 drugs, which were obtained from minerals, animals, or plants.

The Muslim culture in healthcare widely follows western allopathic system and technological medicine now. It is widely available. However, most of the healthcare services are available in the urban areas.

Arabic Beliefs about Health Care

The health belief system in Muslim culture is perceived as a balance and imbalance, which is the Humoral Theory that comes from the ancient Greeks. Muslims believe in the Qur’an as a healing source but have always been open to the medical practices and rituals of other traditions, including the ones of non-Muslims.

Middle Eastern culture values have also been closely related with religion. However, there has always been an effort to improve practices like home-made medicinal and herbal tonics, amulets for warding off bad spirits, and dietary restrictions.

Arabic health history moved into the modern times by adapting European influences, while still retaining many useful Arab culture healthcare beliefs. In fact, the early science of Europe was also influenced greatly by the Greco-Arabic medicinal sciences.

The contemporary approach is still based on preventive measures. Many Muslim families opt for curative processes through medical or surgical means, which is why most Muslim patients are open to modern practices and even cosmetic treatments like the ones available at Body Med. The cultural and religious heritage of the Arabic world is also applied for addressing social, cultural, and spiritual needs.

  • Mental health, cognitive dysfunction – Islam absolves someone suffering from a cognitive dysfunction like an intellectual disability or mental illness.
  • Embryo experimentation, stem cell research – They are all acceptable under some conditions. For example, stem cell research can be conducted if the cells are derived from adults and frozen embryos obtained for in vitro fertilization.
  • Genetic testing, gene manipulation – This is acceptable for only therapeutic purposes.
  • Transplants, organ donations – There is strong division in the Muslim world about this.
  • Sexual and reproductive health – Temporary contraceptive methods can be used under some methods. Permanent methods like tubal ligation and vasectomy are allowed only when the health of the woman is at risk. Abortion is not permitted after 120 days.

Dietary Customs in Arabic Healthcare

The Islamic medical beliefs include dietary restrictions, personal hygiene, and avoiding addictive habits.

There is strong belief about the food that is allowed (halal) and the foods that are prohibited (haram). According to Arab health beliefs and traditions, pork and its by-products are all prohibited. Muslim women and men, its by-products, and animal fats cannot consume meat that hasn’t been slaughtered as per Islamic rites and customs. Disease-related dietary advice will be difficult to follow if it does not conform to the foods or cooking methods used by the patient.

The general health beliefs of Arab Muslims are to refrain from drinking alcohol. They cannot consume foods containing ethanol and should not wear perfumes with alcoholic ingredients.

Arab Religious Beliefs in Healthcare

Religious faith and spiritual beliefs may affect the behavior and willingness of people to accept specific treatments, which can restrict the health providers from offering the best services. 

However, most Arab religious beliefs and Arab American health beliefs are modern. They are open to modern theories and procedures, while still retaining faith in the traditions and the religious beliefs.

Interpersonal Customs in Arabic Healthcare

Good health is a gift of God. So, according to Arab health care beliefs and practices, it is the religious duty of Muslim woman and men to take care of their health. Both physical wellbeing and spiritual wellbeing are important. Muslim culture in healthcare is also influenced by religious beliefs.

Most people in the modern world understand that close contacts are sometimes essential in healthcare. Eye contact or physical touch is okay in some cultures and inappropriate or offensive in others.

Arab Healthcare System

Arab health beliefs and practices are based on traditions and Arab health religious beliefs but they have become very advanced in the recent years. This is why you will find some of the world’s most advanced medical centers and hospitals that offer advanced and high-tech treatments.

Please note that this post was written by a third-party and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arab America or its employees. These posts help allow Arab America to produce our wonderful original content, thanks for your understanding.

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