Seeking medical treatment for bodily disorders is not only permitted, but also strongly recommended in Islam. Medicines obtained from plant, animal and mineral matter have figured among Muslim peoples for ages and have been used to treat a variety of ailments.

Much of this could be said to have been inspired by religious motivations. God’s Benevolence after all is manifested in His Creation and to make the best use of created things is to recognize His Mercy to mankind. Islam goes further and even enunciates the principle that there is a cure for every disease. It is up to man to make the best use of creation to realize this. This becomes evident when we consider the statement of the Prophet: “There is no disease that God has sent down save that He has also sent down its cure”.


The Moors have since time immemorial known of kai-marundu or handy medicines such as decoctions prepared with ginger, coriander and coscinium fenestratum for fever, ginger, sour orange and palmyra jaggery for colds and the juice obtained from the crushed bittergourd for diabetes. These were well known in Moor homes in the olden days and may still be resorted to, especially in the rural areas.  

Such kai-marundu are particularly well known in the eastern districts such as Amparai and Batticaloa whose Moor community has for long relied on traditional medical lore.

Among these remedies may be included ground karuveppilai (Murraya koenigii) leaves formed into a paste and rolled into little boluses which are taken as a cure for heartpain (nenjavali) and blood pressure (retta aluttam), and the juice obtained from the crushed bittergourd (pavakka) which is drunk as a treatment for diabetes (niralavu viyadi) whose symptoms include faint feelings, leanness and frequent urination.

The ground leaves of the kuppameni (Acalpha indica) are applied on those parts of the body affected by itch while the green liquid that exudes when grinding together the leaves of the kaipuravalli (Anisochilus carnosus) and nacciraham (white cummin) is said to be an efficacious remedy for colds, cough and phlegm.

Another well known cure for childhood phlegm is to burn camphor (katpuram) while holding over it betel (vettila) leaves until they turn an olive green. These are then attached to the chest and on the back of the affected child before he goes to bed.

Jaffna Moor folk are also known to have resorted to the use of cow bezoar, a dark yellow biliary calculus found in the gall-bladder of the cow (korosana kulusai) which is often mixed with breast milk and given to infants and children as a remedy for cough and phlegm and for strength.

Such handy medicines were also resorted to by the Moors of Colombo. For instance. I.L.M.Noordeen Hadjiar who became trustee of the Grand Mosque in 1900 is said administered to the children of his family a favourite decoction of his extracted from the shoe flower which was meant as a blood purifier.


The Parisaris are largely hereditary physicians and are commonly found in areas where substantial settlements of Muslims are found, such as the Amparai and Batticaloa Districts. These Parisaris have their own brands of herbal oils and other medicines which they prepare themselves.

Among these herbal preparations may be included sandanadi tailam, a fragrant medicinal oil in which sandal (Santalum album) figures as the chief ingredient, and ponnangani tailam, a greenish oil made out of an edible leaf known as ponnangani (Alternanthera sessilis) which is used to cure headaches, stimulate hair growth and stop greying.

Other well known herbal oils include mandaikarappan ennai, a blackish oil used for curing headaches and erandati ennai prescribed for all types of stomach complaints. Peacock Oil (mayil ennai) obtained  by heating the bird over a fire till its fat forms into an oil that drips forth is said to be very efficacious in healing fractures while the oil obtained from the Monitor lizard (vella uḍumbu) is not uncommonly used to cure wheezing.

Pills are also employed, among them pedimattira (Lit.purgative pill), a little round black pill more properly known as nervalam kulusai (Croton tiglium pills) which is drunk with hot water for stimulating the bowels in case of constipation.  

A few Parisaris known as Pambu Parisari are known to be experts in treating snakebite, which they do by sucking out the blood from the wound of the victim, which is quickly spitted out, tying a bandage tight round the affected limb to block the venom from reaching the other parts of the body and pressing on to the bitemark a special stone known as visakallu (bezoar stone) to absorb the venom.

Pic shows a prominent Ceylon Moor Physician of old, Mira Lebbe Maestriar Sekadi Marikkar 
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