"The Believer is Never Impure": Islam and Understanding the Embodied Person
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This chapter presents Islam as a religion that gives substantial attention to the human body. Such regard can introduce significant challenges for the practice of medicine. For example, Mattson presents Islamic law, which requires purity for the performance of ritual acts. Such acts are rendered prima facie invalid by the expulsion of bodily excretions. This understanding could instill a sense of repulsion at persons in a certain state of impurity or uncleanness, such as due to certain medical conditions. But as Mattson explains, the prophet Muhammad declares that “the believer is never impure” fundamentally; in fact, the dominant Muslim tradition has extended this recognition to all of humanity. She adds that while traditional Islamic discourses posit “a degree of dualism between body and soul,” they still value the body, which has legitimate needs that ought to be satisfied and which is an essential component of the person even after death. Islamic traditions also suggest that we should seek the remedy that God has ordained for each illness, and they promote a “holistic approach” to healing that sees the person’s body, mind, and soul as closely related.
Citation of this paper:
Mattson, I. (2019). "The Believer is Never Impure": Islam and Understanding the Embodied Person. In J.J. Fitzgerald & A.J. Moyse (Eds.), Treating the Body in Medicine and Religion: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Perspectives (64-83). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351050876