Bismillahi ir-Rahman ir-Raheem.

In the Name of God, the Universally Merciful, the Singularly Compassionate.


This is the full text of my speech at the International Conference on Cupping Therapy held in Istanbul, Turkey on September 2012


Dear ladies and gentlemen,

As-salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu. I want to thank the Natural Health Institute of Istanbul, including the diretors, staff and volunteers, for their kind invitation to attend this timely and momentous conference.

It is very encouraging to see Traditional Medicine (TM) receive the international recognition it deserves. TM has been practiced for thousands of years, and today it serves the majority of many countries in the world, and as much as 80% of some Asian and African nations, according to the World Health Organization. My hope is that connections will be made at this conference that will lead to the continued development of TM, including: the exchange of knowledge, the translation of classic and contemporary texts, the establishment of schools, clinics, and hospitals, and continued research.

My presentation is about the essence of TM that informs the many techniques it employs, whether we are talking about herbal medicine, nutritional science, subtle energy healing, acupuncture, manual therapies, cupping therapy, meditation, qigong, or yoga.

The four primary systems of TM in the world – Chinese Medicine, Indian Medicine, Islamic Medicine, and Tibetan Medicine – emerge from sacred cosmologies that trace back to prophets and sages. The Sacred illuminates their visions of health, well-being, illness, and disease. Man is understood to be a multidimensional, sentient being with a body, mind, and soul. TM is a sacred science precisely because it seeks to understand the manifest world in relation to the world of the unseen from which it springs, and in relation to the Divine Reality behind everything.

On the other hand, the ideology of scientism does not acknowledge the existence of the Divine Reality, the world of the unseen, or the soul. It leaves us with a material and mechanistic view of existence where the human body is considered to be nothing more than an assemblage of parts that is expected to function identically from one person to the next. What follows is the treatment of illness according to standard formulae, as if dis-ease could exist irrespective of the soul who is living the experience. Whether a patient is a theist or an atheist, the resulting dehumanization in medical settings built on this paradigm is a sad and painful reality. And what exactly is the “humanity” that even the atheist claims to feel, but something mysterious, precious, and sacred?

The human BodyMindSoul is a seamless whole with a Divine origin. Everything that happens in the soul is reflected in the body, from the grief that gives rise to tears, to the rage that leads to a brain hemorrhage. And everything that affects the physical body has a direct impact on the soul, from the menstrual blood that releases a torrent of pent-up emotions, to the mercury poisoning that gives rise to mania. Not only must a holistic evaluation of a patient consider his physical, mental, and emotional dimensions, but it must also do so in relation to the Sacred – the infallible point of reference by which all other levels can be understood and rectified. The deepest healing is the rectification of the soul, wherein the shadows of ignorance and illusion are dispelled by the light of awareness and knowledge. It is not accidental that the illumination of the soul moves the physical body towards health. Consider the example of one of my patients: a man in his mid-40s, with an inflamed, purulent, and painful forearm rash and bouts of intense chest pain; he was completely healed of his physical condition within weeks of resolving the long-standing anger and bitterness of his tormented past through a process of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Medicine is a science that is developed through reason, which is a faculty of the mind. Medical science consists of the various maps of physical structures and systems and their intricate interrelationships by which the physician or doctor of medicine is able to distinguish between natural function and pathology, formulate a diagnosis, and devise a treatment plan. Medical knowledge is pieced together through observation and study, which is primarily a mental process of accumulating information, which is then organized and developed through reason.

On the other hand, healing is an art that is transmitted through the heart, whose faculty is intuitive intellection. Through intellection, the healer engages reality directly and witnesses the very nature of things. As a result, the healer knows directly and does not have to resort to deductive reasoning to decipher circumstances. For example, we all know when we are being lied to, irrespective of seeing facial indicators or hearing vocal fluctuations. And we all know when we are lying to ourselves. In studies done at the Institute of HeartMath in California, the following discoveries were made.

The heart is the most powerful generator of electromagnetic energy in the human body. The heart’s electrical field is about 60 times greater in amplitude than that of the brain. This field, measured in the form of an electrocardiogram (ECG), can be detected anywhere on the surface of the body. Furthermore, the magnetic field produced by the heart is more than 5,000 times greater in strength than the field generated by the brain, and can be detected a number of feet away from the body, in all directions. The cardiac field is modulated by different emotional states. The electromagnetic signals generated by the heart have the capacity to affect others around us. One person’s heart signal can affect another’s brainwaves, and heart-brain synchronization can occur between two people when they interact. As individuals increase psycho-physiological coherence, they become more sensitive to the subtle electromagnetic signals communicated by those around them. Taken together, these results suggest that cardio-electromagnetic communication may be a little-known source of information exchange between people, and that this exchange is influenced by our emotions.

More and more, scientific investigation reveals what our ancient traditions had long ago described. Just as it was before, the healer’s ability is realized in communion with the Divine Reality through spiritual practice. It is cultivated by emptying oneself of the world and allowing heavenly influences to transmit themselves through the heart. When standing before the Divine, willpower and mental ability are only useful to the extent that they support the process of surrender.

From the perspective of a sacred medical, healing tradition, a practitioner’s insight into a patient can only be as clear and deep as his insight into his own soul. Of course, this insight is only possible through the means provided by the Divine Reality Itself – the heart. It is through the heart that the BodyMindSoul is integrated. Once the heart is illuminated, it can tame the mind and sharpen it beyond what it could realize for itself, by itself, thus situating the human being to be an instrument of something far greater than himself. For these reasons, spiritual cultivation was considered essential for practitioners of TM, who had always been healer-physicians, and not only one or the other.

The implications in clinical practice are profound. Science that is not grounded in the heart is left to impose its view of normal function onto the patient. And healing without understanding the intricacies of the body and skillfully working with them might feel good but still fail to address the health concerns of the patient, sometimes to the point of overlooking potentially life-threatening conditions. TM is the harmonious dance of the physician’s science and the healer’s art.

In conclusion, I emphasize a central point for all of us – whether you are a practitioner, patient, scholar, or student. The human being is endowed with the finest instrument in creation – the heart, a cosmic gateway that offers each soul the possibility of a private audience with the Divine Reality, and is capable of perceiving and knowing the nature of things, orienting itself precisely between heaven and earth, and transmitting the influences of heaven. The heart that has been purified and emptied for the Divine receives clear guidance; the clouded heart can only lead one astray. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:

Verily, there is a piece of flesh in the body of man
which, when sound, the whole body is sound;
and when corrupt, the whole body is corrupt,
and that is the heart.

The secret to the transformation of the heart lies in the cardinal virtues of the spiritual path – sincerity, humility, surrender, and patient perseverance. The realization of these virtues by the student of TM fuels the transformation from apprentice to practitioner. The inner senses are activated for diagnosis, healing abilities awaken, and life is realized as an offer of service.

May our hearts be purified and illuminated so that we might become true human beings and fulfill our destinies as servants of the Divine.

Thank you.

Ḥakīm Ilyās al-Kāshānī