Is Belief Beneficial to Health? Are there any scientific research done on the issue?
Belief brings about love of life and the feeling of adhering to life in man. A person who has belief looks at life and existence pleasantly; he thinks that life is a grace of Allah and he sees his social and natural environment as Allah's works of art and himself as a complementary part of them. Therefore, he regards it as his duty to continue his life until his duty ends and struggles to survive.
One of the most important spiritual foundations that regulate life in the Islamic community is belief. Allah’s orders and prohibitions are heeded by the believers.
In addition, belief gives man a high feeling of contentment and enables him to establish an arms-length relationship with worldly goods. The feeling of contentment developed by belief in man enables him to be content with few things and to feel happy when his needs are met at a low or reasonable level. Thus, it prevents a person from falling into stress and trouble.
There are two basic books on the benefits of belief on health: The first one is "the Handbook of Religion and Health"; it is a 712-page book consisting of the works selected among the studies that search the connection between religious practices and health. The other is "God, Faith and Health", which was written by Dr. Jeff Levin, who is one of the leading experts stating that the groups that have faith are in a better state than the others in terms of disease and death.
Dr. Levin emphasizes the following in his research: Members of religious groups who refrain from some deeds and who support a healthy lifestyle have less risk of heart attacks, hypertension and cancer. They have a better and longer life. The religions that prohibit alcohol and smoking, impose limited diets and do not allow extramarital sexual intercourse are more advantageous regarding the issues. These benefits cannot be attained without attending worshipping places and performing some bodily activities as worship.
Dr. Levin repeats that the three diseases - heart, cancer and hypertension - known as ‘North American killers’ are seen less frequently in religious people than irreligious people. For instance, he says women who are married to circumcised men suffer from cervical cancer less than the others. Similarly, the number of those who suffer from cervical cancer among Hindus who are not circumcised is a lot bigger than Indian Muslims, who almost never suffer from this disease.
Similarly, believers who are patient, who are not hasty and aggressive, who do not drink alcohol and who go to worshipping places regularly suffer from deaths due to hypertension 40 per cent less than the others.
However, we know that the real purpose of belief and worship is to show our loyalty to our Lord, who created us. These studies show us that our Lord does not only give us its reward in this world in the form of enthusiasm and peace in our hearts but also improves our health!
The news given by Associated Press on 24 August 2007 is quite interesting. The news agency declared the positive effect of religious ethics on young people as, “Belief is the key to happiness for many children.”
According to the information given in the news, the research results showed that religious young people are happier than irreligious young people. A comprehensive research done by Associated Press and MTV showed that among young people aged between 13 and 24, those who define themselves as religious were much happier than those who are not religious. 44% of the young people stated that religion and spirituality was very important for them and 21% of them said that they found it important. Among the different races that took part in the research, African Americans said religion was the most important element for them. Among those who said religion was very important in their lives, 80% described themselves as happy.
Sociologists attract attention to the fact that there is a direct connection between happiness and performing religious duties. Sociology Professor Lisa Pearce of South Carolina University says, “Religion contributes to happiness greatly.”
She said 68% of the young people stated that they practiced their religions and beliefs according to the research they did. 75% of the people who took part in the research said Allah had an effect on their happiness.