Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease (HD), is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Left untreated, leprosy can be progressive, causing permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. Contrary to folklore, leprosy does not cause body parts to fall off, although they can become numb or diseased as a result of secondary infections; these occur as a result of the body's defenses being compromised by the primary disease. Secondary infections, in turn, can result in tissue loss causing fingers and toes to become shortened and deformed, as cartilage is absorbed into the body.
Prophet Muhammad taught others to "run away from the leper as one runs away from a lion." He also put an end to two of his relationships with women on account of them being afflicted with leprosy. Amra bint Yazid, whom he divorced in circa 631 before consummating the marriage when he saw she had symptoms. And Jamra bint Al-Harith, whose own father informed Muhammad in circa 631 that she suffered from the disease, whereupon Muhammad broke off the engagement (later chroniclers claim her father lied but arrived home only to find that she really had been afflicted with leprosy).
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- Sasaki S, Takeshita F, Okuda K, Ishii N (2001). "Mycobacterium leprae and leprosy: a compendium". Microbiol Immunol 45 (11): 729–36. PMID 11791665.
- "New Leprosy Bacterium: Scientists Use Genetic Fingerprint To Nail 'Killing Organism'", ScienceDaily, 2008-11-28, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124141047.htm.
- "Lifting the stigma of leprosy: a new vaccine offers hope against an ancient disease" (May 1982). Time 119 (19). PMID 10255067.
- Kulkarni GS. Textbook of Orthopedics and Trauma (2 ed.). Jaypee Brothers Publishers. p. 779. ISBN 81-8448-242-6, 9788184482423, 2008.
- "Do fingers and toes fall off when someone gets leprosy? No. The bacillus attacks nerve endings and destroys the body's ability to feel pain and injury. Without feeling pain, people injure themselves on fire, thorns, rocks, even hot coffee cups. Injuries become infected and result in tissue loss. Fingers and toes become shortened and deformed as the cartilage is absorbed into the body.", "Q and A about leprosy", American Leprosy Missions, http://www.leprosy.org/leprosy-faqs
- "Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, '(There is) no 'Adwa (no contagious disease is conveyed without Allah's permission). nor is there any bad omen (from birds), nor is there any Hamah, nor is there any bad omen in the month of Safar, and one should run away from the leper as one runs away from a lion " - Sahih Bukhari 7:71:608
- Ibn Ishaq, cited in Guillaume, A. (1960). New Light on the Life of Muhammad, p. 55. Manchester: Manchester University Press
- Ibn Hisham note 918 (here he has apparently confused her with Asma bint Al-Numan).
- Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 139; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 187-188.
- Bewley/Saad 8:100-101.
- Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 140-141