The Effects of Reading the Holy Quran on Muslim Students’ Heart Rate, Blood pressure and Perceived Stress Levels
The present study consisted of two studies which investigated the effects of reading the Holy Qur’an on Muslim psychology students’ blood pressure, heart rate and perceived stress levels. Perceived stress level is the degree to which situations in a person’s life are appraised as stressful.
The study was conducted because little research has examined the effects of reading the Holy Qur’an, and research that has been conducted is of low quality. For example, Vander Hoven (nd) a researcher from Netherlands hasn’t reported the findings from his research clearly. He briefly stated that “Muslims who can read Arabic and who read the Holy Qur’an regularly can protect themselves from psychological diseases”, but he gives no specific details of the evidence leading to this conclusion or the exact nature of the effects.
Also another researcher, Yucel Salih (2007) has reported contradictory findings from his research; therefore it is unclear exactly what was found. For example, the researcher stated that “there are statistical changes in body temperature and respiratory rate, but they are not significant enough to support the positive effects of prayer on physical well-being”. But in the summary the researcher stated that “the current study found statistically significant changes of physiological conditions, and the study supports the hypothesis that prayer does have positive effects on physiology”.
The sample consisted of 30 Muslim Psychology undergraduates from the University of Salford. There were 15 males and females. The sampling method used was convenience sampling. A two factor (2×2) repeated measures design was used.
In the first study participants’ took part in an experiment which was divided into two conditions. In one condition participants’ heart rate, blood pressure and perceived stress levels were measured before and after reading Surah Alam Nashrah and Surah Al Rahman from the Holy Qur’an. In the other condition participants heart rate, blood pressure, and perceived stress levels were measured before and after reading a non-religious material which was written in Arabic. The order of taking part in the two conditions was counter balanced. So half of the participants read took part in the non-religious material condition first and then the Surah condition. And the other half took part in the Surah condition first and then the non-religious material condition.
Data was analysed using two factor Anova and post hoc t-tests. It was found that participants’ heart rate, blood pressure, (systolic and diastolic) and perceived stress levels decreased after reading Surah Alam Nashrah Surah Al Rahman from the Holy Qur’an. In contrast no significant effects were seen from reading the non-religious Arabic material.
In the second study the researcher conducted semi-structured interviews to study participants’ subjective experience of reading the Qur’an. 10 Muslim psychology undergraduates were interviewed. A content analysis conducted on participants’ responses to questions found that the most mentioned benefit of reading the Qur’an was that it educates and guides the reader to living a good life. It reminds the reader of their faith and it relaxes them.
The researcher concluded that recitation of the Holy Qur’an appears to be psychologically and physiologically beneficial. It appears to reduce the readers perceived stress levels, heart rate and blood pressure. This effect cannot be found with the recitation of a non-religious material that is written in the same language as the Holy Qur’an.