The medicinal uses of attar (I) [Archives:2005/868/Health]

August 15 2005

By Qazi Shaikh Abbas Borhany
Attorney At Law
Member, Ulama Council of Pakistan
[email protected]

Short history of the Attar: Attar is a specific type of fragrance product, first produced by the celebrated great Muslim physician and distinguished dignitary of the illustrious Fatemi Empire, “Al Shaikh al Raees”, Abi Ali al Sina, generally regarded as the noble individual Doctor who ever lived. From the early days Attar has used in medicines as a main ingredient. Attar includes some individual essential oils, which are known as suitable for fragrance use, such as Sandalwood, Anbar and Patchouli (a kind of mint, available in Indian Subcontinent & China). If oil was made by cold rolling or traditional Daigh steam distillation, we call it true Attar. Attar is an Arabi word, which meaning “fragrance, scent, or essence”. Historical records mention that the floral group primarily used for Attar manufacture was Rose, Bela, Jasmine, Champa, Molesari, Tuberose, Myrrh (especial kind of gum, use as fragrance in the Bukhur), Anbar, and Khus. The magnificence of its oriental fragrance takes the wearer to the world of magnificence and comfort, indulgence and passion, delight and fulfilment. It has a mesmerizing lasting effect and its overall oriental feel lasts long after it has gone. Its diffusive nature leaves a pleasant after effect. There are three important aspects of purchasing and using Attar and essential oils:

– Quality & purity

– Depth & elegance

– Safety in application & use

Oud/Agar/Aloes wood

“O fragrance of Jannat! Created by Oud”; “In Masajid & Mashahid; you are frequently used”

Oud/Agar/Aloes wood comes from trees that largely grow in Southeast Asia that have either died or been damaged. The very best Oud comes from trees that have been down for decades and sometimes even centuries! Oud is used in religious oriented ceremony almost by all religion. Tradition on Oud is that it is always being treated as a gift, even when purchased, because of its originality and rareness. It is coveted and traded between Unani, Chinese and Ayurvedic healers and exotic oil traders. It is a rare and limited attainment in any case. It seldom travels outside of the reach of a small group of traders and religious leaders. The standard quality of the Oud started with 200 US $ per 10 grams. Oud of Assam is the superior amongst other origins. Rasulullah (S.A.W.A.) used it on occasions. The tree is a large evergreen, 18-21 meters tall and 1.5-1.8 meters in girth, which grows in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand. The magnificent prince and cousin of celebrated Suleyhi Queen of Yemen; Mufaddal bin Abil Barakaat has mentioned its curative medicinal values in his celebrated work,” Al Risalah Fee Khawaasil Attar”. He described the use of Oud for medicinal purposes. It is used in various purposes. Some are following uses:

– As a stimulant

– As tonic and a calmative

– Against rheumatism

– Body pains

– Heart palpitations

– Cough

– Asthma

– Tuberculosis

– Breathing problem

– Stimulates the energy & boasts the spirit

– Cure of cold

(“Al Risalatil Nadirah Fil Attur al Fakhirah”, Syedi Abdulqadir bin Qazi Habibullah, Hiraaz, Yemen).


Along with Rose it was one of the Attar most preferred by Rasulullah (S.A.W.A.).A large quantity of Mushk was available in the Khazana of Imam Husain, in Karbala. He offered Mushk to Ahl ul Bait and Ashaab on the night of Aashura, along with glad-tidings. For men, Jumua is the best day to wear Mushk. Magnificent and eminent Queen of Yemen, Syeda Arwa Sulayhi was an expert Attar creator. She introduced some rare fragrances, which became renowned soon among the monarchs of Arabia. She created a rare variety of Attar of Mushk, with the blend of rose and Oud. Mushk normally available in Tibet, Nepal and remote parts of Africa. Attar of Mushk has several medicinal values. Such as:

– Dizziness

– Fainting

– Heart palpitations

– Women have also used Mushk for a few days following the menstrual periods to repel Removal of the any negative imbalances of the psychic phase

– Re-balancing of the internal environment.

(“Al Risalatil Nadirah Fil Attur al Fakhirah”, Syedi Abdulqadir bin Qazi Habibullah, Hiraaz, Yemen).


As the masculine counterpart to the Rose, Amber is known as the prince of scents. It is made to grind in the oil of Sandalwood (up in the bottle). It is produce in the low at right, the tail of the small fish. It is found on the beaches, and lighter than sea water, and before human work transforms them, looks like little attractive crude and dirty blocks. A few medicinal uses of the Unbar are following:

– It promotes a balanced action of all of the life-activating forces

– It has a moving force to divert the nerves towards relaxation.

(“Al Risalatil Nadirah Fil Attur al Fakhirah”, Syedi Abdulqadir bin Qazi Habibullah, Hiraaz, Yemen).


One of the fragrances presented to the infant Essa Nabi and always found in use during religious ceremonies, amongst the people of the Books is Bukhur. History is rich with accounts of use of Bukhur in Biblical literature. Bukhoor is the name of the fragrance smoke created by the burning chips of Agarwood or pieces of mix fragrance ingredients bind by sugar-syrup, when burnt slowly, produces a more concentrated smell. These chips are burnt in Bukhur burners to perfume the surrounding and clothing specifically on occasions in all seasons. Not only Anbiya Bani Israeel, but Rasulullah (S.A.W.A.), his Ahl ul Bait and Ashaab used Bukhur regularly and on the day of Jumua more specifically. Through the powerful Nabawi institution this Sunnat was largely promoted first in the nook and corner of the Arabia and afterward in the vast territory of Muslim world. It is traditional in Arabian Peninsula to pass Bukhoor around to the guest. The original location of the Bukhur preparation for centuries is exclusively the beautiful region of Yemen. It comes from the highest peak of Yemen, Shibaam, where famous shrine of celebrated Sirat-writer and historian, Syedna Idris Imaduddin is located. According to the valuable source of “Qaratees al Yamaniyah”, during the period of Suleyhi Power, first from Sanaa and later Zeejiblah, a larger quantity of costly Bukhur along with other fragrances were regularly presented to the Al Haramyn al Sharefyn, Kabah and Rauzat al Nabawi. It was illustrious Queen of Yemen, Syedah Arwa Suleyhi, who sent loaded large wooden boxes of Bukhur to Najaf, Karbala and Misar in Ramazan, Muharram and Milaad occasions. When it was burnt the atmosphere of the sacred cities became very pleasant and people knew that the Gift of Yemen reached its destination. Similarly, while learned Suleyhi Queen Syedah Arwa conducted series of lectures on Science of Islam, behind the curtain, among the erudite scholars of Arabia as well as Indian Subcontinent, the Agarwood burner spread the fragrance, which created the atmosphere pious. Learned students achieved both the benefits simultaneously, spiritual knowledge with precious fragrance. Recently scholars of the West reported that uses of Bukhur for deep concentration provide the right mood for one successfully and people can concentrate for long periods at a time. Regular Bukhur users burn it in the morning, to set the mood and fresh the atmosphere. Also, after a meal, it relaxes and allows people to loosen-up & lighten-up. Some 225 years ago, a distinguished Intellectual of Yemen, Shaikh Abdulqadir bin Qazi Habibullah revealed in his book several benefits of Bukhur:

– Bukhur alters the moods to bring peaceful, tranquil, refreshing, uplifting & inspiring feelings

– Bukhur burning opens the mind to spirituality & divert from worldly impurities

– Bukhur burning wakes up the mind & encourages it in solitude

– Bukhur burning affords the mind leisure when it is busy

– Age does not affect the efficacy of Bukhur & its hhabitual use causes No harm

– Burning Bukhur is a soothing & uplifting activity.

– It is a good haemostatic, antiseptic and a good healing agent

– Applied on wounds & internally subsidies the inflammation of UTI & respiratory tract infections

– It dispels malicious & distressing psychic forces

– Improves memory

(“Al Risalatil Nadirah Fil Attur al Fakhirah”, Syedi Abdulqadir bin Qazi Habibullah, manuscript, Hiraaz, Yemen).

Roman and Greek used it in religious rituals. Once transported over a thousand miles up to the Mediterranean, before it could be traded on to Europe. Bukhur was used in vast quantities by the ancient Egyptians, and also by the Romans. History is rich with accounts of use of Bukhur in Biblical literature. It was one of the fragrances presented to the infant Essa Nabi and always found in used during religious ceremonies; amongst the People of the Books is Bukhur. After the fall of the Roman Empire the newly established Christian Church adopted several ceremonies -including the ritual burning of Bukhur. It is well recorded that it was the practice of all kings of England once a year to offer Bukhur and Myrrh on the Feast of Epiphany (Jan. 6th). In addition, Bukhur was widely used for important ceremonies, such as the consecration of churches and bishops. The Crusades brought a wide range of Arab and Barbers traditions and adopted as a beneficial. Then of course Spain was ruled for centuries under Muslims, again giving a most magnificent opportunity to spread the Muslim customs. Later on the Ottomans promoted the cultural heritage of Islam in the west through their military expeditions, which signs are still visible today. Bukhur formula has a different cleansing, healing or purifying effect. Using Bukhur is a powerful science or art of cultivating positive states of mind. Burning Bukhur is not just a way of masking unpleasant smells, but a way to refresh your heart and mind. Scent has a deeply subconscious impact, bringing back positive memories, or cultivating good thoughts and feelings. The Bukhur recipes are hundreds and even centuries old created from natural plant ingredients. Agarwood is prized as one of the finest aromatic woods burned for Bukhur purposes. There is nothing like Agarwood chips. It grows and is harvested in the wild in Southeast Asia. It is also known as Oud, Eaglewood, Jinko, or Kyara. One ounce of wood chips, chunks or larger pieces lasts a long time.

Sundhi Mitti:

The simplest example of aromatherapy is Attar Gill or Attar Khaki, known also as Sundhi Mitti, drawn from mud, which has the aroma of the first monsoon showers. It is also use as a medicine:

– Cure blood pressure and the flow of blood through nose owing to intense heat

(“Al Risalatil Nadirah Fil Attur al Fakhirah”, Syedi Abdulqadir bin Qazi Habibullah, Hiraaz, Yemen).


“Zaafran (Saffron) Attar” is a blend of Zafraan and Sandalwood. It is also used as an ingredient in many famous internationally renowned medicines. It has been used thousand of years by therapists and medical practitioners in herbal formulations and Ayurvedic medicines. Amongst them are:

– Favoring digestion and strengthens the function of stomach

– A sedative which combats cough & bronchitis

– Mitigates colic

– Insomnia

– Calming effect on infants during teething fits

– Favoring expulsion of gases accumulated in digestive tract

– An anti-spasmodic

– Regulates menstrual disorders

– Used in weakness for rejuvenation

– Excellent against headaches, when applied to the forehead

– As an anti-depressant

– As aphrodisiac for impotency

– Prolongs vitality