Child Health and Islam
Lessons for health promotion
Nicola Ruck MSc DHEd
Health & Development Consultant,
Bradford, UK
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Objectives of the
Students will have a greater
awareness of:
 the Islamic contribution to health
 the importance of child care in
 methods of health education
and health promotion for Muslim
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History of health education
and prevention of illness
G reco -R o m an m ed icin e an d p h ilo so p h y
u p to 600 A D / 0 A H
A rab an d Islam ic p reven tive m ed icin e
610 -1610 A D / 0 - 1000 A H
M o d ern h ealth p ro m o tio n
to th e p resen t
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Islamic concepts of prevention
from the 12th century
Importance of personal hygiene
Disease as an imbalance of
natural processes
Avoidance of alcohol and
excess food
Recognition of environmental
pollution as a cause of disease
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Health promotion through
Islamic Lifestyles :
The Amman Declaration 1409/1989
Produced by WHO EMRO and Islamic
organisations to promote good health in
Islamic communities.
Key points:
 responsibility of professionals for
health education
 Islamic context helps understanding
 Islam advocates consultation,
cooperation and self-reliance.
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Health promotion through
Islamic Lifestyles:
The Amman Declaration 1409/1989
See notes for the full text of
the Amman Declaration
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World Health Organisation
series of publications
Health Education through religion
series: The Right Path to Health
1. Islamic Rulings in Smoking
2. Water and Sanitation in Islam
3. Islamic Ruling on Animal Slaughter
4. Health Promotion through Islamic Lifestyles; the Amman Declaration
5. The Role of Religion and Ethics in the Prevention and Control of AIDS
6. Health an Islamic Perspective
7. Environmental Health an Islamic Perspective
8. Islamic Rulings on Male and Female Circumcision
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Community-based health
promotion : Islamic concepts
Zat al bain : essential bonds within a
Fard el kifaya: Collective duty to care 
about others
Duty to help communities to be self- 
Responsibility of professionals to apply
their knowledge to improve health
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Community: what does it
A group of people living in one
a group who share beliefs
a group who share interests
communities are not homogeneous:
they contain contain rich and poor,
old and young, weak and strong
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Child Care in Islam
Islam emphasises the importance of
children’s health. The book “Child Care
in Islam” by Al Azhar University, Cairo
summarises Islamic principles on:
 state and right of the child
 child survival and development
 nutrition and health
 child rearing in Islam
 hygiene
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Child Care in Islam
Islamic principles and messages
from religious texts.
For example:
 “There is no bigger sin than neglecting
your dependents”
 “Eat and drink but waste not by excess.”
 “Educate your children for they are born
for a time that is not yours.”
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Child Care in Islam
More examples of relevant
messages from religious texts:
“…...start with the girls first”
“Cleanliness is half the faith”
“Islam has instructed us to wash
(hands) before and after our meals, as
well as during ablutions”,
and many other instructions to wash
regularly and keep the body clean.
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Translating messages into
health education
The messages are not enough on
their own.
To achieve understanding and
changes in behaviour, a good
communication process is needed.
Health educators need to consider
 Who delivers the message?
 and How ?
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Components of a health
education programme:
consultation with communities involved
agreeing target groups
objectives of the programme
the priority messages
appropriate health educators
suitable locations
the type of communication
the method of evaluation
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Islamic structures can enable
appropriate health education
Shura is consultation between people and
their leaders
Waqfs are contributions to welfare
Health authorities cooperate with Shura
Responsibilities of communities, mosques
and madrasas
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Example: components of a health
education programme for Muslim women
on healthy infant feeding
Consultation: health team consult the local Shura
council, religious leaders. Female health workers
consult older women and women’s organisations.
Male leaders are asked to consult and represent
female family members. Use of Waqfs resources for
Objectives are agreed, such as:
 to provide support to every mother who wishes to
 to ensure all women know the best local foods for
weaning infants.
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Example of health education
programme on infant feeding continued
Messages: for example
 “Mothers shall suckle their children for two years”
(Quran II 233)
 Rice is a good weaning food
Health educators: women over 25 yrs and wives or
sisters of leaders and health workers. Their training
emphasises the value of Fard el kifaya, collective
duty to care about others.
Locations: health authorities, Shura and religious
leaders help to provide locations. Suitable for
women: homes, hospitals and health centres, water
sources, social gatherings.
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Example of health education
programme on infant feeding continued
Communication of the messages by female health
educators; individual and group discussions;
two-way communication rather than lectures; listening
to women’s problems; audio-visual materials such as
stories, pictures, calendars, demonstrations of
weaning foods.
Evaluation by
 survey of breastfeeding and weaning, acceptable
to women
 interviews to assess satisfaction of mothers
 review by health team and Shura council.
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Health education planning
Evaluation community Objectives
health educators
and women
in locations
for women
Islamic values
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Islamic scholarship made a historical
contribution to health education 
Today Islam can contribute messages,
structures and policies  
Combining systematic planning and
Islamic structures can improve health
education for Muslim communities 
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