Indian Incense Heals Health And Environment (Oud Al-Hind)
In Islamic history, the noted Imam Bukhari reported that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said of illnesses: "Treat with In...
In Islamic history, the noted Imam Bukhari reported that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said of illnesses:
"Treat with Indian incense (`oud al-Hindi), for it has a healing for seven diseases; it is to be sniffed by one who has throat problems, and it should be put into one side of the mouth by one suffering from pleurisy (inflammation)."This medical prescription was given more than fourteen hundred years ago before aromatherapy was even considered an area of alternative medicine. Most Muslims are familiar with the perfumes of `oud and the wood burning incense `oud (pronouned "u-oodh". However, very few of us actually use these two items for other than basic perfumery.
The `Oud Tree
The tree from which `oud stems is Aquilaria agallocha and is also known as Aloes wood, Agarwood and Eaglewood.
That musky woody scent that most are familiar with is strangely obtained only after this tree has been infected with a fungal infection! Noninfected trees do not produce the highly fragrant oil or wood.
This tree is found in various southeast Asian forests, Bangladesh, Benghal, Bhutan, Burma, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. The scent is reminiscent of vetiver and sandalwood and is extremely long-lasting. Muslims use `oud on themselves, as a relaxant and to sweeten the airs in their homes.
What's That Smell?
It is important for us to note that the infected tree must be at least 50 years old to produce the oil. Although India was a major producer of this oil in the early 1900s, production has been banned because of the desctruction of these trees. It is not known if the tree is infected until after it has been cut down, an ecologically unsound practice. Vietnam has banned all trade in this oil as well. While this oil is extremely rare and costly, it can also be extremely beneficial.
Medical Uses For `Oud
Traditional medical uses for `oud include:
- Chest congestion
- Kidney problems
- Thyroid cancer
- Lung tumors
- And as a general tonic in China.
There is some belief that `oud oil may be useful in treating lymph system disorders, high blood pressure and as an antimalarial treatment due to its chemical composition ad components. Further research is required into the possible healing properties of this unique oil and to determine its uses in the "seven diseases" mentioned by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
However, we as environmental protecting believers must also ask ourselves if we wish to participate in the destruction and possible elimination of this species of trees.
Due to its widespread uses in Arabia, the prices for 1 kg. of 'oud in the form of oil or wood have risen as high as $10,000.00. As Muslims we have an obligation to follow the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and his sunnah (practice). But that must be in all aspects of his sunnah including the obligation to protect the environment.
If we are not using `oud as prescribed by God's Messenger, perhaps we should restrain from its use only in perfumery. It is quite possible that this oil may have great medical benefits, but if there are no trees available then we may never know.