Is dua (supplication/prayer) dependent on placebo effect?

The Details of the Question

Some enemies of religion attribute the fulfillment of dua to placebo effect. Will you explain it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The placebo effect is a concept that is generally used to describe the positive effect of drugs that are medically ineffective on the patient as a result of positive suggestion. A positive result based on suggestion is achieved with the ineffective substance that seems like a drug.

The placebo is also described as a “sugar pill” since it has no useful medicinal ingredient. Its effect originates from the person’s instructing his brain that he will recover when he takes the “sugar pill”, believing that it is a real medicine under the influence of the suggestion.

In fact, what happens is that the person benefits from a system that the Supreme Creator placed in the human brain in order to recover from a physiological or psychological illness or to alleviate his pains.

For example, the person who is given a “sugar pill” as a pain reliever has the expectation that “his pain will be relieved”. Then, the pain-relieving system of his brain becomes active and relieves his pain by releasing soothing hormones.

What is essential at this point is that the brain steps in for the body and the soul it owns, whether medicine is taken or not, and relieves the pain of the human body of which it is a part. Although the doctor giving the ineffective medicine seems to be giving a seemingly empty substance, it actually activates the person's brain by giving him the drug.

Besides, if a person sincerely believes in something positive or negative for his own life and future and makes an effort in this regard, the brain constructs itself accordingly, based on the command of the Supreme Creator again. If the belief of the person is positive, he can overcome the obstacles and solve the problems he encounters. If the opinion of the person about himself is negative, he may stumble in the face of the slightest obstacle because he has programmed his brain accordingly.

What the person does in that case is actually dua (prayer) in a kind of tongue of disposition because dua does not consist of begging Allah only with words; there are prayers said with the tongue of disposition, tongue of words, tongue of ability and tongue of need.

For example, it is a prayer made in the tongue of disposition for a student who wants to be successful at school to study, for women and men who want to have children to marry, and for the farmer who wants to produce to plant seeds in the soil. The person who goes to see the doctor and asks him to prescribe a drug, whether he knows it is a “sugar pill” or not, acts in accordance with a cause and prays with the tongue of disposition.

In conclusion, a person feels relieved with placebo by believing in causes and a system that the Supreme Creator has granted him. That is actually a part of prayer because people find peace and relax while praying.

However, the effect of prayer is not limited to it because when we cannot meet our needs on our own, when misfortunes, diseases, and troubles happen to us, and when we know that no one that we know can help us, we feel the need to open our hands to the Almighty Lord of the realms and pray to Him.

The goal and aim at that point should be to reach the following reality:

“The best, finest, sweetest, most immediate fruit and result of supplication is this, that the person who offers it knows there is someone who listens to his voice, sends a remedy for his ailment, takes pity on him, and whose hand of power reaches everything. He is not alone in this great hostel of the world; there is an All-Generous Being who looks after him and makes it friendly. Imagining himself in the presence of the One who can bring about all his needs and repulse all his innumerable enemies, he feels a joy and relief; he casts off his load, which is as heavy as the world, and exclaims: “لْحَمْدُ ِللهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (All praise be to God, the Lord and Sustainer of All the Worlds.” (Nursi, 24. Mektup)

As it is seen, the placebo effect is neither a prayer nor an alternative to prayer. It is a miraculous system that the Supreme Creator gives to man and in some cases also acts as a prayer.

Although that is the truth, as you state in your question, placebo is shown to be a system that human beings have found outside of Allah's knowledge and power. They try to devalue prayer in order to deny Allah.

Questions on Islam

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