Human beings are essentially made up of three basic parts: mind, soul and body. The human body not only comprises and connects the other two, it also depends on them. Taking care of the body would be incomplete without caring for the mind and the soul as well. Although the thought of caring for ourselves seems selfish in a way, it actually is not. Our own self is tied with many other lives. Allah (swt) created human beings in a way that makes it inevitable for them to be social. If you are sound and healthy, you will be able to look after your loved ones and society thereupon.
How do we know it is our religious duty to look after our body? Several references in the Quran and Ahadeeth either directly or indirectly point to this fact. The Prophet (sa) said: “Observe the fast sometimes and also leave (it) at other times. Stand up for prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you, and your wife has a right over you.” (Bukhari)
Although this is related to excessive praying or fasting, it also holds well in every other aspect of life. “Your body has a right over you” speaks for itself. We already know that everything bestowed upon us is a favour of Allah (swt), and we, as trustees, will be held accountable for it. That’s the reason why we have to give the body its due rights. Being indifferent to these rights is, in essence, a sin. How can we carry out this duty?
As mentioned in the above narration, the Prophet (sa) had to direct the Sahabah not to exceed human limits in worship. It is human psychology that in order to correct our souls and also to be thankful to our Lord (swt), we tend to go for long and tiring acts of Ibadah. This is apparently a very commendable act, especially in this time of Fitnahs (trials), when a man’s strong contact with Allah (swt) is needed. The purity of intention of our Sahabah is admirable, too. However, the teachings of our Prophet (sa) show that Islam requires us to keep a healthy balance between body and soul. Islam’s beauty is in the consistency of acts, no matter how small they may be. We can discern what our practice should be in the worldly matters like our education, jobs, businesses and household chores, when our religion stresses so much on maintaining moderation in worship.
The importance of purity and cleanliness in Islam is evident. We cannot stand for our prayers, unless we have performed Ghusl or ablution. According to a well known Hadeeth, cleanliness is half of faith. A clean body ensures good health. The second revelation of the Quran comprised the first few Ayahs of Surah Al-Muddaththir: “O you (Muhammad (sa)) enveloped (in garments)! Arise and warn! And your Lord (Allah) magnify! And your garments purify! (74:1-4)
We can see that the Quran instructs Muslims to observe cleanliness. Personal hygiene includes clean teeth and use of good scents. Our Prophet Muhammad (sa) used Miswak for his teeth.
In our daily routine, we can observe that we often neglect our health in different ways. Most of us don’t follow a timetable. This eventually leads toward a stressful and unorganized lifestyle. Getting up and staying up late (especially on weekends), delayed or skipped meals, delayed prayers and mismanaged or undone chores are sure to affect our health adversely.
Similarly, most of our Pakistani cuisine includes a host of spices and reckless use of oils or ghee. The only result coming forth is more obese, less active bodies and disturbed stomachs. One of my friends suffers from stomach ulcer. The doctor recommends her simple food and no carbonated drinks. However, being a fan of spices, she would not give up on them and says: “When death is obvious, why not die after having my favourite things instead of abstaining from them?” Her theory is misleading, because such an attitude kills you numerous times before the ultimate death. Also, indulging into such injurious habits as smoking, addiction to prohibited things and preferring to go against a sincere physician’s advice can all be suicidal. The fact that committing suicide is Haram also reflects that our body and life is Allah’s (swt) trust.
Another important component of our being is our mind. We all know the impacts of our thoughts on our bodies and, hence, our performance. It is very crucial that we understand the importance of positive thinking. If we look closely at the Prophet’s (sa) model, we come to know how positive his thoughts were. He always relied upon Allah (swt) and had complete faith in good or bad fate. As Muslims, we should never lose hope, as it amounts to Kufr (disbelief). The Quran states: “So do not become weak (against your enemy), nor be sad, and you will be superior (in victory) if you are indeed (true) believers.” (Ale-Imran 3:139)
Our dear Prophet (sa) has said: “Nothing can change the Divine decree except Dua.” (Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah) If we turn to Allah (swt) in all afflictions, we are sure to get His blessings and success. We witness around us numerous examples of how positive thinking saves someone in an impossible looking situation, whereas negative thinking makes people dull and weak even in the healthiest environment.
The Prophet (sa) taught us many supplications for seeking protection for the body. This Dua should be recited thrice in the mornings and evenings: “O Allah, make me healthy in my body. O Allah, preserve for me my hearing. O Allah, preserve for me my sight. There is none worthy of worship but You.” (Abu Dawood)
Allah (swt) created man with utmost love. Our life is a precious gift. We have to realize its value and be obedient slaves of Allah (swt) Almighty. Allah (swt) tells us He created man in the best form:
“Allah, it is He Who has made for you the earth as a dwelling place and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape and made your shapes good (looking) and has provided you with good things. That is Allah, your Lord, then blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).” (Ghafir 40:64)
Be thankful to Allah (swt) for His bounties by taking care of them, especially your bodies, so you may be rewarded!