A new version of the Bahá’í Reference Library is now available. This ‘old version’ of the Bahá’í Reference Library will be replaced at a later date.

The new version of the Bahá’i Reference Library can be accessed here »

Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
Go to printed page GO
Pages 105-107

The Prophet as Physician

We live in a world, however, where from time immemorial obedience to the commands of the Prophets has been the exception rather than the rule; where love of self has been a more prevalent motive than love of God; where limited and party interests have taken precedence of the interests of humanity as a whole; where material possessions and sensual pleasures have been preferred to the social and spiritual welfare of mankind. Hence have arisen fierce competition and conflict, oppression and tyranny, extremes of wealth and poverty—all those conditions which breed disease, mental and physical. As a consequence, the whole tree of humanity is sick, and every leaf on the tree shares in the general sickness. Even the purest and holiest have to suffer for the sins of others. Healing is needed—healing of humanity as a whole, of nations and of individuals. So Bahá’u’lláh, like His inspired predecessors, not only shows how health is to be maintained, but also how it may be recovered when lost. He comes as the Great Physician, the Healer of the world’s sicknesses, both of body and of mind. 106 Healing by Material Means
In the Western world of today there is evident a remarkable revival of belief in the efficacy of healing by mental and spiritual means. Indeed many, in their revolt against the materialistic ideals about disease and its treatment which prevailed in the nineteenth century, have gone to the opposite extreme of denying that material remedies or hygienic methods have any value whatsoever. Bahá’u’lláh recognizes the value of both material and spiritual remedies. He teaches that the science and art of healing must be developed, encouraged and perfected, so that all means of healing may be used to the best advantage, each in its appropriate sphere. When members of Bahá’u’lláh’s own family were sick, a professional physician was called in, and this practice is recommended to His followers. He says: “Should ye be attacked by illness or disease, consult skillful physicians.”—Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
This is quite in accordance with the Bahá’í attitude towards science and art generally. All sciences and arts which are for the benefit of mankind, even in a material way, are to be esteemed and promoted. Through science man becomes the master of material things; through ignorance he remains their slave.
Bahá’u’lláh writes:—
Do not neglect medical treatment when it is necessary, but leave it off when health has been restored. Treat disease through diet, by preference, refraining from the use of drugs; and if you find what is required in a single herb, do not resort to a compound medicament. … Abstain from drugs when the health is good, but administer them when necessary.—Tablet to a Physician
In one of His Tablets ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says:—
O seeker after truth! There are two ways of healing sickness, material means and spiritual means. The first way is through the use of material remedies. The second 107 consists in praying to God and in turning to Him. Both means should be used and practiced. … Moreover, they are not incompatible, and you should accept the physical remedies as coming from the mercy and favor of God Who has revealed and made manifest medical knowledge, so that His servants may profit by this kind of treatment also.
He teaches that, were our natural tastes and instincts not vitiated by foolish and unnatural modes of living, they would become reliable guides in the choice both of appropriate diet and of medicinal fruits, herbs and other remedies, as is the case with wild animals. In an interesting talk on healing, recorded in Some Answered Questions (p. 298), He says in conclusion:—
It is therefore evident that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments, and fruits; but as to-day the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits, and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature.
Even when the means of healing are material, the power that heals is really Divine, for the attributes of the herb of mineral are from the Divine Bestowals. “All depends upon God. Medicine is merely an outward form or means by which we obtain heavenly healing.”