A Welcoming Soil: Isamic Humoralism on the Malay Peninsula

Charles Leslie and Allan Young

in Paths to Asian Medical Knowledge

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 1992 | ISBN: 9780520073173
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520910935 | DOI:
A Welcoming Soil: Isamic Humoralism on the Malay Peninsula

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This chapter explores Islamic humoralism on the Malay Peninsula. Although Islam was successfully implanted in Malaya, and Islamic concepts are used by Malays to interpret and reinterpret empirical realities, the pre-Islamic aboriginal view of the workings of the cosmos, and the positive valence of coolness in the universe and its human microcosm, still fundamental to Malay thought, have radically altered the received theories of Islamic humoralism. Malaya proved a remarkably receptive soil for Islamic religion and medical theories. Their humoral theory provided Islamicized Malays with a new grammar with which to organize ideas about humanity and the universe. Medieval Greek-Arabic humoral theories concerning foods, medicines, and diseases whose etiology stems from the natural world appear in simplified but otherwise virtually unchanged form in contemporary rural Malaysia.

Keywords: Islamic humoralism; Malaya; aboriginal view; human microcosm; Greek-Arabic humoral theory

Chapter.  7549 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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