Both the Qur’an and Hadith contain descriptions of Paradise as being filled with green:
These it is for whom are gardens of perpetuity beneath which rivers flow; ornaments shall be given to them therein of bracelets of gold, and they shall wear green robes of fine silk and thick silk brocade interwoven with gold, reclining therein on raised couches; excellent, the recompense; and goodly, the resting place (18:31).
Reclining on green cushions and beautiful carpets (55:76).
Accounts in the Hadith mention that Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) turban was green as well as the flag of Islam. Even the Encyclopedia Britannica notes that, in some countries, a green turban usually denotes a “Sharif” or descendant of the Prophet (SAW).
While many people may brush away any significance of the mention of colors in the Qur’an, the colors that we choose are actually an important part of our lives. The Qur’an (30.22) gives us a hint of this when it says, “And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely, there are signs in this for the learned.”
One of the first things to be noticed upon entering mosques anywhere around the world is the green and blue surroundings. The mosques in Iran are famous for their blue tile work. In Saudi Arabia, blue and green stained glass is used in the more modern mosque designs while in the deserts of Egypt, some mosques are painted completely blue or green and are decked in green neon at night time. In Istanbul, the most famous mosque is even called The Blue Mosque.
Although the colors of these mosques were chosen for their religious significance or their symbolic meanings in ancient cultures, over time modern science has found that there is a sound basis for the choices of blue and green in places of worship.
In the Encyclopedia of Healing Therapies, Anne Woodham and David Peters relate that these colors have contained significant meaning for people since prehistoric times. In ancient history, green was the color of growth, and blue was thought of as the color of the sky and of heavenly peace.
An Indian named Dinshah P. Ghadiali is the first scientist to be documented as having tried to explain the power of color. He claimed that the secret to the power of colors lay in the fact that they transmit vibrations that in turn transmit certain moods as well as healing.
Modern scientists have built on this theory, and have discovered that the sun’s rays form an entire spectrum of electromagnetic radiation that forms visible white light. Light travels in wavelengths, and its different wavelengths are perceived as different colors. Each color also has a certain frequency at which it vibrates. When blind people claim to “see” color, what they really perceive is these various wavelengths and frequencies.
This is also what sighted people perceive on a subconscious level when they are affected by colors. In fact, many scientists believe that this perception can occur within the deepest levels of the interior of the body.
While doctors often agree on the psychological effects of color therapy, they typically ignore the physical effects. However, the science of color therapy has been exploring both psychological and physical effects of different colors. Color therapists believe that touching or being exposed to a color can provide the same benefits as looking at it since colors work according to their vibrational wavelengths rather than the brain’s interpretation of that color. The faster the vibration, the warmer the color; the slower the vibration, the cooler the color. Research into the effects of color has shown that people who are blind from birth can learn to differentiate colors through their fingertips by picking up on the vibration of the different colors.
Practitioners of color therapy also believe that the cells and organs of the body have vibrational frequencies that can be affected by certain vibrational frequencies in colors.
Professor J. L. Morton of the University of Hawaii’s School of Architecture who also serves as an international lecturer and consultant for companies such as Eastman Kodak reports conclusively that the skin CAN see color. She states that 4,000 years ago, the Egyptians built healing temples of light because they had learned that bathing patients in specific colors of light produced varying effects. Noted neuropsychologist, Kurt Goldstein, confirmed this fact. In his modern classic, The Organism, he notes that stimulation of the skin by different colors leads to different effects. He states, “It is probably not a false statement to say that a specific color stimulation is accompanied by a specific response pattern of the entire organism.”
Because of the findings of such research in color therapy, many studies have been done to demonstrate which colors produce which effects on the human psyche. Many people are familiar with studies conducted in 1948 in West Germany that showed that the use of the colors yellow, orange, and red in the classroom raises student IQ levels. Further studies in the U.S. in 1973 showed that red light causes the blood pressure and heart rate to rise and that orange causes hunger pangs; hence, many restaurants use the color orange in their decor and their dishes to stimulate appetite. Many advertisers also use the theories of color therapy to promote their products.
Blue and green are good choices for promoting a “spiritual life.” Blue is said to correspond to the throat of a person and green to the heart. Coincidentally, these are the two tools we use to worship when we recite and pray.
Blue has been shown in studies (U.S., 1973) to lower blood pressure and heart rate; decrease hunger; and inspire relaxation, peace, and tranquility. It is often used in color therapy to treat insomnia, an overactive thyroid, and panic attacks.
Blue is the color of honesty and loyalty. In fact, in the field of web design, blue is thought to be “the safest global color.” For Jews, it indicates holiness; in the Middle East, it signifies protection; for Hindus, it has a religious significance through Krishna; in China, it is associated with immortality and in Colombia, it is associated with cleanliness.
In The Ultimate Healing System, Donald Lepore says that he uses blue when he lectures because it energizes the vocal area, and causes people to respect what he says more. This may be one of the reasons that a ‘khutbah’ given in a blue mosque is so much more effective than one recorded on cassette tape.
Blue is also noble, as in the concept of “Blue Blood.” Mary (mother of Prophet Isa – AS) is usually portrayed in Christian icons as wearing a blue veil or robe for this is the color of serenity, perfection, and protection. It is also a cooling color that is good for wearing on very hot days, which may explain some of its significance in the Middle East. Physically, it is good for patients suffering from shock, inflammation, and nervous breakdowns. Blue helps control feverish conditions, stop bleeding, with nervous irritations, and with burns. However, too much blue can leave a person cold, depressed and sorrowful; therefore, it should be balanced with the use of orange.
Green invokes the feelings of harmony, balance, sympathy, and devotional love as well as relieving nervous tension. According to Dr. Lepore, green provides the natural balance between the powers of red and blue. Green also balances blue (a highly spiritual color invoking a sense of awe in most people as they gaze at the sky or sea) and yellow (said to be a very “mental” color that, in studies, affects subjects’ abilities to study and learn). As the combination of these two colors, it helps people to merge their spiritual “heavenly thought” with their earthly “mental thoughts.”
Green is the color of self-esteem. It may be disliked by persons just experiencing trauma because as it seeks to balance, it may cause aspects of the trauma to surface. Creating harmony and hope, it helps with the heart area and is good for tired nerves as it balances the emotions and brings a feeling of calmness. It stimulates growth so it is good for helping to heal broken bones, and re-growing tissue of all kinds. However, exposure to too much green can deprive us of the challenges that we need in order to evolve and thrive. Its bluer tones suggest optimism and hope and are more spiritual than its other tones.
Next time you visit the mosque, reflect on the healing inherent in the colors around you, for indeed, Allah has sent us cures in many things – even in many places where we would not expect to find them.
By Karima Burns