The Power of Scent
June 23, 2006 § 2 Comments
It is said that the Prophet Sulayman (alayhi salaam) was one of the first people who learned to harness the medicinal properties of flowers and herbs. An old story of Al-Sawwuf (Sufi) relates his initiation to this:
"One day as [the Prophet Sulayman] was standing for prayer in the mosque, a flower sprang up before him and said, 'As-salaam 'alaykum, Hadhrat Sulayman!' Hadhrat Sulayman returned the greeting and then asked, 'What are you doing here? What are you for?' And the flower answered him that it was a remedy for such-and-such a disease. The next day, a different flower sprang up and told Hadhrat Sulayman the disease for which it was a remedy. Over a course of time, all of the medicinal flowers appeared and told Hadhrat Sulayman their healing properties. And he was the first to have this knowledge, which is of divine origin." (Shaykh M. Chishti)
As a result of stories like these it has inspired my interest in oils and perfumes as well as research on the Father of Modern Medicine Abu Ali Sina or Avicenna (Averroes). The essential oils (or attar in Arabic) is said to be the Soul of the flower or plant, which can be extracted one of several ways (pressing, distilling, etc.). Traditionally the addition of alcohol will destroy any beneficial properties the attar may have had. In other words alcohol destroys the Soul of a plant… kinda makes you question if it does the same to the Human Soul? Once the process is complete and the attar is pure it gives can give off the most wonderful aroma in the world… it will make you want to just stick your face in it and waheri… shem waheri (take a big wiff)!
"There are three things of this world that I have been made to prefer prayer, women, and scents." (Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s.)
It was reported in the Hadith of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he was particularly fond of musk oil. However, true musk is rare these days primarily because a musk-deer must be killed to obtain the essential ingredient, its sexual glands! But synthetic musks are readily available but I will say this… I have smelled a true musk and there is no substitute.
My particular favorite oil is Jannat al-Ferdus, it is an Old School Muslim thing passed down to me. I get many compliments on this fragrance and it suits me well. It should be known that some attar do not take to everone's skin type. For example my brother Mikael cannot wear Egyptian Musk, no matter how much he puts on you cannot smell it on him however when I wear it its fragrance is extremely strong. Mikael wear Rose very well and it suits him and I pray you find the scent that suits you, inshaallah.