Changing of habits takes time. Lifestyle modification according to the Sunnah requires a lot of effort, perseverance, and most importantly, Duas.
A renowned Arab doctor, Al-Harith, states that “diet is the head of medicine”. We should begin the change by incorporating whole wheat or multi-grain breads, Chapati (Roti), raw milk or natural dairy, cane sugar, rock salt or Himalayan salt, white butter and mustard oil, organic chicken and eggs in our diet. Olive oil should be used, but avoid overheating it, as it then becomes toxic.
Abu Hazim narrated: I asked Sahl bin Sad: “Did Allah’s Apostle (sa) ever eat white flour?” Sahl said: “Allah’s Apostle (sa) never saw white flour since Allah (swt) sent him as an Apostle, till He took him unto Him.” I asked: “Did the people have (use) sieves during the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle (sa)?” Sahl said: “Allah’s Apostle (sa) never saw (used) a sieve since Allah (swt) sent him as an Apostle, until He took him unto Him.” I said: “How could you eat barley unsifted?” He said: “We used to grind it and then blow off its husk, and after the husk flew away, we used to prepare the dough (bake) and eat it.” (Bukhari)
Imam Ibn al Qayyim, in the light of Prophet’s (sa) guidance, explained the phenomenon of preventive measures hundreds of years ago. There are two kinds of prevention strategies: first is to abstain from what might bring illness (for a healthy person); the second is restricting one’s self from something which might intensify the illness (for an ailing person).
Foods and healing
Imam Ibn al Qayyim says that the type of food that one finds tasty and is preferred by the person will be accepted by the body and, hence, digested in the best possible way. As recorded in Ibn e Majah, Ibn Abbas (rtam) narrates: “Once, the Prophet (sa) visited a sick person and asked him: ‘What do you have a taste for?’ The man said: ‘I have a taste for wheat bread, or I have a taste for a cake.’ The Prophet (sa) then said: ‘Whoever has wheat bread, let him send some to his brother.’ He also said: ‘When your ailing patients have a taste for something, give them some of it.’” (“Healing from Medicine of the Prophet (sa).
The two-meal concept
Extensive research has been carried out on the benefits of fasting. The two-meal concept is being embraced globally, especially by naturopaths, integrative medical doctors, and holistic nutritionists. The scientific roots of this lie in the body clock that Allah (swt) has placed in our brains, that is, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which regulates the peak times of dominant body functions. Breakfast should thus be consumed from four to nine in the morning, which marks the peak of digestion. From nine in the morning till four in the afternoon is the time for intellectual functioning, when the system is best for educational tasks, religious duties, household tasks, and office work. The harmony of mind, body, and soul enables a person to experience these peak timings. Lastly, dinner should be taken from six to seven in the evening. During the day, when the brain and body are performing intellectually, small snacks can be taken to boost the brain and maintain energy.
Hot and cold foods
Consumption of extremely cold or extremely hot foods is a grave error. Boiling soups and chilled drinks, for example, give a shock to the stomach. The temperature of the food is of utmost importance, as it helps in digestion. If we take very cold foods, the stomach contains them until the temperature is normalized, and, hence, digestion is delayed. We have to remember that Allah (swt) has naturally made the internal temperature warm.
During summers, most of us are in the habit of drinking juices and refrigerated water in large amounts. Excess water intake can be dangerous for the kidneys and skin, and can cause water retention. One should abstain from commercialized bottled water, and use filtered or boiled water at home instead. Water intake is healthiest if taken half an hour before meals and one and a half hour after meals.
Other lifestyle changes
Lastly, proper stress management and sleep is also very important for the overall health of an individual. Spiritual people have more healthy eating habits than others. We should apply the concept of Sabr and Shukr (patience and gratitude) while we make the necessary changes in our daily life. Also, we should contemplate over the Prophet’s (sa) way of eating, sleeping, and worshipping Allah (swt) in order to realize that our body is an Amanah and it has a right over us.
Adapted by Mariam Saeed from “Sunnah Living is Healthy Living” – A Webinar organized by Hiba Magazine and Fasiha.