Friday, 20 February 2009

Event: Talk by Hakim Archuletta – Prophecy and the Way to Good Health – Part 1

I recently attended a talk at the local Islamic Centre given my Hakim Archuletta of the US. I had never heard of him before, and went along expecting advice from the Quran and hadith, mainly about food. In actual fact he explained that he wanted to talk about something much deeper and more central relating to health and modern living.

He began by outlining his background and qualifications in homeopathy and his subsequent study of herbal and natural medicine under the hakims of Africa, the Middle East and Pakistan where he was certified a hakim after studying at the famous Hamdard Foundation funded by Hakim Mohammad Said. He concluded his summary of his background by saying that although his field was medicine, his concern was healing.

Hakim Archuletta stated that he wanted to find all those things that had a practical effect and cased real change in healing. He has dealt with chronic problems such as asthma and eczema and found that often when physical conditions or symptoms became apparent, underlying issues relating to psychological and spiritual state emerged. Following on from this, he indicated that homeopathy and prophetic medicine are useful because they are holistic.

He acknowledged that although the ingredients mentioned in the Quran are a high point in creation and extremely useful, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) brought healing and wholeness for the whole of mankind (he indicated that healing and wholeness are the same in the English language). This raised the question of HOW faith can be healing, and he stated that Salah and ibadah (prayer and worship) are spiritual and meaningful, but also incredibly healing if done correctly.

He went on to say that we have lost touch. Our perspectives have been turned upside down by the modern world; artificial light, the proliferation of images etc mean that our state has changed so that we have lost our common sense wisdom (hikmah). This is important because traditional hikmah involves gaining a correct perspective. This is also leaves us out of touch with our bodies, our selves and each other – which is really just our extended body, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

“The Muslim Ummah is like one body. If the eye is in pain then the whole body is in pain and if the head is in pain then the whole body is in pain” ~ Muslim and Bukhari

He highlighted that the modern world is easier and faster, but not necessarily more beneficial. We are now all further from our families, work, masajids and children. He quoted his sheikh in saying that in the time of Prophet Nuh (AS), the flood was of water, the flood today is of separation. He spoke about the need for each other to create our own identities and quoted a hadith whereby the Prohpet (PBUH) was asked how we recognise if we are good people and he responded with “ask your neighbours” [apologies, I could not find this hadith – pointers to source welcome]. He emphasised that we need to have a connection with each other and have council with each other – through meeting, greeting with salaam, sharing meals.

He gave the example of Aspen trees which may be five miles away from another Aspen, but which may still be connected to another Aspen by its roots. He also gave the example of animals and their social groups – a lion has it’s pride, but when the pride breaks, the lion does not behave like a lion. In parallel our social groups are broken, so how can we behave like humans? The remedy is in shariah, which is a pattern given to us by Allah (SWT) that suits us perfectly.

He also said that we have lost touch with being in our own bodies. As Muslims we accept our presence in this world; in salah seven points of our body touch the earth. We have vast nerve endings that allow sensitivity. He says that some hakims have said that the Prophet (PBUH) was the most sentient person ever and yet our senses, our sensibility and our common sense is diminishing. He illustrated this by describing a study in the 1940’s which found that in developed countries our ability to see colours and hear a range of sounds has diminished in every year. Our comforts have come at a price. We are becoming zombie-like and our bodies are dying or slowly freezing up.

He provided contrast by explaining human echolocation whereby the blind make clicking noises with their tongue and determine their surroundings and where objects are placed by their echo – an example of how intense and aware our senses can become.

This raises the question of why we are less in our bodies than 100 years ago. He said that we find our answer if we keep in mind that the inward and outward affect each other. Our condition affects the state of our being. When the stress and trauma of modern life become too much, our fight or flight reaction kicks in, but when the stress is extreme, our bodies reaction is to “freeze”, in effect we are slowly freezing. Years of war and trauma have caused us to freeze and shut down into a kind of depression (this is not just sadness, but something worse, it is to not care).

He went on to say that as Muslims we don’t believe in being monks. We believe in being present, alive, in engaging with others, in having families, in taking care of our world. Islam believes in being present. Often an asceticism or monkishness creeps into Islam that is not part of it and we dislike the physical (we get this from Christianity).

He described how he treated people who could not be helped entirely by homeopathy, their history of war or abuse has made their bodies go numb and shut down, they give up life and being present in their bodies. Symptoms of this are our hunched over our walk and our rigid postures when sitting and standard. Most people don’t know how to be present, on the ground, to even stand correctly (he notes that people lock their knees when they stand). We also need to look at our lifestyles seats, sofa’s, computers ruin our posture. We don’t breathe properly and because of this become anxious, this leads to panic attacks and feelings of suffocation.

This leads to the lack of flow of energy through the body and the build-up of blockages – he asserts this leads to the build up of plaque in our arteries and heart disease and can even lead to strokes. His suggestion is that people learn to come back alive by behaving like children

He went on to state that we don’t live in our bodies, we live virtually through the TV and computer. Illustrating with the Greek myth of Narcissus who is so beautiful he falls in love with his own image. Like Narcissus we are not in love with ourselves, but with an image outside of ourselves.

Part 2 here

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