5 Actionable Sunnahs of the Prophet Backed By Science

 We’ve all heard about scientific evidence in the Quran, where modern science has found scientific discoveries that have been revealed in the Qur’an 1, 400 years ago! Only now, scientists of the 20th and 21st centuries have found scientific facts that confirms revelations of the Quran from the origins of life, the sky, sun’s orbit, oceans, iron, the expanding universe and many more. If anything, these scientific pieces of evidence should strengthen one’s faith in Islam as the true faith. 

So what about the Sunnahs of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)? He has been described as a walking Qur’an after all. For the devout Muslims, Rasullah is a role model and all his actions are to be followed and his manners to be imitated. So has Rasulallah’s (s.a.w) habitual actions (sunnah fi’lillyah) been confirmed by modern science too?

We did some research to find out. Due to time constraints, we’ve only limited our article to 5 actionable Sunnahs which we have found scientific studies confirming their benefits. 

Why Emulate the Sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w)

“You have a good model in the Messenger of Allah for one who hopes for Allah and the Last Day.” [Qur’an 33:21]. 

A role model is someone you would admire and would follow his actions, habits, and way of thinking. In this modern age, so many of us would cite successful businessmen, scientists or even celebrities as our role models, but the real role model recommended by Allah is none other than our beloved Prophet (s.a.w.). The great scholars of the past, such as Imam Nawawi, had even compiled books on the Prophet’s actions on eating, sitting, and sleeping in his famous book, Garden of the Believers, Riyadh u’Saliheen.  

1 – Smile: The Sunnah and The Science

Rasulallah (s.a.w) has been described as someone who would often smile. “I have not seen anyone who smiled more than Rasulallah (s. a.w)”, at-Tirmidhi   

A recent study at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Texas A&M found that simply smiling can make the person feel happier. The facial expression portrayed by the person impacts his emotions, so if you have a smile on your face, you will feel happier and if you have a frown on your face, you will feel angrier. 

Rasulallah (s.a.w) encourages people to smile, as it is considered an act of charity (at-Tirmidhi))

Another study found that when a person smiles at another person leads to a similar response. Really, when you smile at people, people will smile back at you. So smiling is also contagious!

2 – The Sunnah and the Science Eating While Sitting Down

The Prophet (s.a.w.) forbade us from drinking while standing. Qatadah reported: “We asked him: ‘What about eating?”‘ He said: “That is even worse, (or may be he said) more detestable.” (Muslim)

Today, it is now common to see people walking whilst drinking and eating. We live in a fast pace world, and so time is saved when we walk and do other things. In the West, there are now cafes which offer standing room only for drinking and eating. 

 A recent study at the University of South Florida found that people who ate while standing did not enjoy their meal as much. They felt their food to be less tasty than compared to people who ate while sitting down. People who ate while standing also ate lesser amounts compared to those who ate while sitting. This is because the standing position created greater physical stress on the body, which led to decreasing sensory sensitivity.

There are also many other studies which have concluded that eating while standing up is bad for your health

Also Read: Sunnah: a Good Example or a Superpower?

3 – Fasting Regularly: The Science Behind the Sunnah

Rasulallah (s.a.w) would often fast on Mondays and Thursdays (at-Tirmidhi) and recommended the fasting of prophet Dawud (a.s.) (Bukhari) where fasting is done on alternate days. 

This is now known as intermittent fasting and is practiced by health enthusiasts in the West, where food is not consumed for a period of 12-24 hours, followed by normal eating and the cycle then repeats.

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Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can lead to health benefits such as weight loss, lowering type 2 diabetes and reducing neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson and stroke

4 – The Sunnah of the Miswak – Dental Hygiene and Modern Science

Rasulallah (s.a.w) said: “If it were not that it would be difficult on my nation, then I would have ordered them to use the Siwak for each prayer.” (at-Tirmidhi)

Even 1,400 years ago, Islam showed the importance of body hygiene with the wudhu’ and dental hygiene by using the Miswak to clean the teeth. 

In today’s modern age, we now use toothbrush and toothpaste to maintain dental hygiene. The Miswak is often dismissed as just a twig, an old-age tool. But is it really?

The Miswak vs The Toothbrush

Norms would have it that the toothbrush and the toothpaste are superior in protecting our teeth when compared to a traditional, centuries-old tool, the Miswak. Nonetheless, there have been many studies to compare the effectiveness of the Miswak against the toothbrush in today’s society to confirm or dismiss such norms. So which is better?

A study had found that using the Miswak lowered gingival bleeding when compared to toothbrush users.   Another comparison study of Miswak vs toothbrush found that using the Miswak leads to reduced dental plaque and gingivitis.  Another comparison study also found that using the Miswak reduces dental caries when compared to using toothbrush and toothpaste. 

The Miswak, also known as Salvadora persica chewing stick in scientific communities has special properties: antibacterial compound, known as BICT which is found in certain plants. When the Miswak is mixed with the saliva, this antibacterial compound is released, according to this study. However, the amount of the antibacterial compound decreases gradually if the same piece of Miswak is used several times. Hence, the study recommends that the Miswak is cut prior to each use to ensure the freshness of the twig and new antibacterial compound is released at each teeth-cleaning session. Does this mean that you should ditch the tooth brush? Not necessarily.

Remember the path of moderation. While the Miswak has great benefits, so too does the toothpaste and toothbrush. The best practice would be to use the Miswak prior to the 5 obligatory prayer, just as Rasulallah (s.a.w) has recommended, and of course, to continue with the toothbrush each morning and night. 

5 – Sleeping Positions: The Sunnah and the Science 

Rasulallah (s.a.w) used to sleep with a sleeping position on the right side (Bukhari). He also forbade people from sleeping on the stomach (Abu Dawud). 

A study has found that sleeping on the side positions has benefits of reducing the chances of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases.

Sleeping on the belly is harmful as research have shown that sleeping on the stomach for babies can lead to a sudden death syndromes (SIDS). Another study found that sleeping on the front causes children to grind their teeth when sleeping. 

Wait, there’s more! Read about this sunnah backe by science here: Sunnah: a Good Example or a Superpower?

Reviving the Sunnah

As Muslims, our ultimate goal is to reach Jannah (paradise) and the ways to get there are plenty. Reviving the Sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w) is one such way. Allah has stated that he is the best role model, and what better ways to follow than Rasulallah’s way. If anything, these scientific studies have shown that Islam is the truth, in the Qur’an and even in the manners and habits of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).

For how could an illiterate man (Prophet Muhammad s.a.w) who lived 1,400 years ago have known about his sayings and actions have scientific benefits, if not for the One True God guiding him?

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