Honey Healing in the Quran Miracle
The Quran says that there is healing in "the drink from bee's belly" (that is honey). Some propagandists of "scientific miracles in the Quran" claim that this is a scientific miracle.
The "miracle" claim
1400 years ago people knew that honey was delicious and nutritious but nobody knew that it had healing properties. Today we know that honey is a natural antibiotic.
When honey is applied on wounds or burns it hinders the growth of microbes.
The healing property of honey is due to the fact that it offers antibacterial activity, maintains a moist wound condition, and its high viscosity helps to provide a protective barrier to prevent infection. Its immunomodulatory property is relevant to wound repair too. The antimicrobial activity in most honeys is due to the enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide. However, another kind of honey, called non-peroxide honey (viz., manuka honey), displays significant antibacterial effects even when the hydrogen peroxide activity is blocked. Its mechanism may be related to the low pH level of honey and its high sugar content (high osmolarity) that is enough to hinder the growth of microbes. US National Library of Medicine, Honey: Its Medicinal Property And Antibacterial Activity, 2011
Honey hinders the growth of microbes; less microbes leads to faster healing of wounds... This was only known recently. However this was portrayed in the Quran 1400 years before it was discovered.
[Quran 16.68-69] And your Lord (Allah) revealed to the bees: Build your hives in mountains, trees and in what they build. Then eat from every fruit and follow your Lord's enslaved paths, from its bellies exits drink of different colors, in it healing for man. These are signs for those who contemplate.
"Shefa شِفَاءٌ" means healing. Here the Quran is referring to the healing properties of honey (not the nutritious ones). Today we know that honey is a natural antibiotic.
How could an illiterate man who lived 1400 years ago have known that honey has healing properties?
It only says that in honey there is healing:
And your Lord inspired to the bee, "Take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees and [in] that which they construct.
Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you]." There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.
The verse said nothing about antibacterial activity, nothing about infections, nothing about hindering the growth of microbes. It basically says only that "honey is healthy", which doesn't seem to be more than 7th century medicine advice.
Honey-healing in Abrahamic tradition
Healing properties of honey were also mentioned in the Old Testament:
Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
So Muhammad brought nothing new to the tradition, he just repeated what was already written.
History of honey healing
Human use of honey is traced to some 8000 years ago as depicted by Stone Age paintings (32). The ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans employed honey for wounds and diseases of the gut (12). Here, some of the beneficial effects of honey which have been utilized by ancient races are summarized.
Honey in indian system of ayurveda
Ayurveda is a compound word i.e., âyus meaning ‘life’ or ‘life principle’, and the word veda, which refers to ‘a system of knowledge’. Hence ‘Ayurveda’ roughly translates as the ‘knowledge of life’ (33). The ancient vedic civilization considered honey one of nature's most remarkable gifts to mankind. Traditionally, according to the texts of Ayurveda, honey is a boon to those with weak digestion. Also it has been emphasized that the use of honey is highly beneficial in the treatment of irritating cough. Honey is regarded by Ayurvedic experts, as valuable in keeping the teeth and gums healthy (34). It has been used for centuries for the treatment of insomnia because it has hypnotic action. Additionally, traditional Ayurvedic experts recommend honey for skin disorders (such as wounds and burns), cardiac pain and palpitation, all imbalances of the lungs and anemia. Honey has a long history of Ayurvedic use for various eye ailments. Applied daily to the eyes, it improves the eye-sight. Moreover, honey is regarded as useful in the prevention of cataract (34).
Honey in ancient Egypt
Honey was the most popular Egyptian drug being mentioned 500 times in 900 remedies (12). Its prescription for a standard wound salve discovered in the Smith papyrus (an Egyptian text dating from between 2600 and 2200 B.C.) calls for a mixture of mrht (grease), byt (honey) and ftt (lint/fibre) as transliterated from hieroglyphic symbols (35). Almost all Egyptian medicines contained honey together with wine and milk. The ancient Egyptians offered honey to their deities as a sacrifice (36). They also used honey for embalming the dead. Honey was utilized for its antibacterial properties that helped heal infected wounds. Moreover, honey was used as a topical ointment (31).
Honey in ancient Greece
Oenomel is an ancient Greek beverage consisting of honey and unfermented grape juice. It is sometimes used as a folk remedy for gout and certain nervous disorders (31). Hippocrates, the great Greek scientist, prescribed a simple diet, favouring honey given as oxymel (vinegar and honey) for pain, hydromel (water and honey) for thirst, and a mixture of honey, water and various medicinal substances for acute fevers (35). Also he utilized honey for baldness, contraception, wound healing, laxative action, cough and sore throat, eye diseases, topical antisepsis, prevention and treatment of scars (32).
The article also mentioned that
However, it has a limited use in modern medicine due to lack of scientific support
Muhammad was a "medical doctor" of his time, because he advised people what to do when they are sick. We have a report of one instance where he prescribed honey as a medicine:
At other times Muhammad also prescribed drinking of camel urine. Drinking camel urine causes a deadly disease called MERS (see Camel Urine and Islam).