“[The Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, remember My favor upon you and upon your mother when I supported you with the Pure Spirit and you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and [remember] when I taught you writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and when you designed from clay [what was] like the form of a bird with My permission, then you breathed into it, and it became a bird with My permission; and you healed the blind and the leper with My permission; and when you brought forth the dead with My permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from [killing] you when you came to them with clear proofs and those who disbelieved among them said, “This is not but obvious magic.” (Surah Maidah 5 v. 110)
I once noticed a sign in my 3rd year of medical school while rotating at an Adventist Hospital that claimed the hospital’s aim was to “continue the healing ministry of Jesus.” At first, I treated it with a mild neglect: Am I really supposed to believe a hospital functions as an outlet on propagating the message of Jesus? As I continued through the night however, I could not shake the sign or its meaning from my head, and the inevitable question raced through my mind:
“Can physicians really continue the healing ministry of Jesus?”
The hospital is a “healing ministry” for physical illness- illnesses can be chronic or acute, lethal or mild, treatable or untreatable- but the hospital is one of the few places where treatments of physical illness can be properly and thoroughly addressed.
Among the many miracles of Jesus was that he could – by the will of Allah- cure the leper and the blind. While these miracles are not in a physician’s job description, he is obligated to attempt to cure- by the will of Allah- physical ailments similar to these. The difference of course, is that Jesus did not require IV medication, surgical instruments, or long hospital stays with unbelievable costs to ensure recovery.
Although Jesus may have been famous for curing physical illness, his healing ministry was also a vessel by which to provide treatment for spiritual illness, such as greed, hate, and oppression. His message was meant for the soft of heart and the hard of heart- but its potency would shake those who were against him the most- even if they didn’t show it. He achieved this with kindness, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness; traits that are often lost in the hustle bustle of daily living and- more often than not- in the hearts of the medical providers who claim to continue his healing ministry in the hospital setting.
Although the hospital is not the setting in which to provide spiritual healing via preaching, it is a place where physicians connect with patients on issues that arguably no other career can claim. For example, patients facing imminent death sometimes present with desperate families hoping for a cure to a presently incurable disease. It is in those trying times that the physician is often counted on to provide peace to a dying patient and distraught family- a job description that to some people may sound like spiritual healing.
During these difficult times, Muslims can often lean on the stories of our prophets, including Jesus, for inspiration. However, this is simply not feasible in the neutral hospital setting where people from all different faiths (or lack of) and cultures present. How then, can Christians and Muslims continue the healing ministry of Jesus without offering the “Word” to patients in the efforts to “save them?”
The answer lies in our daily interactions. Continuing the healing ministry of Jesus is to touch the hearts of the people the way he did. It means showing compassion to the ill, grace in times of intense work, patience in healing, humbleness amongst trials, forbearance in times of annoyance, forgiveness for those who wrong us, and comfort for those passing.
Continuing the healing ministry of Jesus is more than just providing treatments for physical illness, but it even goes beyond mercy and compassion while providing those treatments. It is living the prophetic characteristics in all walks of life – physician or not- and it is these characteristics that attract those looking for purpose.
Christian physicians have long claimed to be continuing the healing ministry of Jesus in the medical setting, and admittedly have been doing a great job in extending that level of care. However, it is time for the Muslim physician to also grab this amazing opportunity to aim towards curing physical and spiritual illness; and it is in this capacity that a Muslim physician should also aim to continue the healing ministry of Jesus.