World Health Day (7 April 2019)
Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah Radhiyallahu Anhu narrated that Nabi Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said, “Indeed [among] the first things a person will be asked about on the Day of Qiyamah is that it will be said to him, ‘Did We not make your body healthy and give you cool water to drink?” (Tirmidhi)
1. Feed your soul
We are commanded by Allah the Almighty, to pray five times a day. However, apart from the blessings and benefit we gain from Salaah in the Hereafter, does it have health benefits as well?
According to an article, during Salaah when you go into sujood, extra blood flows to your brain. Extra blood supply to the skin on your face helps prevent diseases, drains the sinuses and makes it less likely for you to get bronchitis. When a person breathes normally, only two thirds of the capacity of the lung is exhaled out and the remaining one third remains in the lung as a residual air. During sujood, the abdominal visra press against the diaphragm. The latter presses against the lower part of the lungs and the lower lobes. When you breathe during sujood, the remaining one third residual air is aired out, helping your lungs remain in a healthy state.
As Muslims, we do not pray with the intention of gaining these health benefits, but rather, to worship the Almighty Allah. These benefits are mere side dishes, while worshiping and getting closer to Allah is our main dish.
2. Feed your body
“Eat of the good things which We have provided for you.” (2:173)
It is established in the medical practice that we must have a balanced diet with all the right amounts of carbs, proteins, vitamins and minerals etc. in order to help our systems function to their optimal abilities.
We also know that eating excessively can cause numerous diseases such as diabetes, vascular diseases, stroke, heart attack etc., and that moderation is the key. “Eat and drink, but avoid excess”. (20: 81)
3. Feed your mind
Challenge your brain. Mental activity not only improves your intelligence, but your brain is the centre of everything in your body. If it is healthy, then you are less at risk to attract diseases.
The first word revealed in the Quran was “Iqra” which means “read”. Allah is sending us a direct message. We are encouraged to read, read, read! We should read every and anything we can get our hands on, as long as its halal. We should be learning from the cradle to the grave.
While what we deem traditionally as Islamic knowledge is at the forefront of what we should know, it is useful for us to realise that Allah is the creator of all things. So, when we are at school and are learning about plateaus and volcanoes in geography, or about protons, neutrons and electrons in chemistry, we are learning about the world in which Allah created us and we should not disregard the importance of this knowledge rather as Muslims we become more aware of the majesty of Allah’s power and grandeur.
4. Feed your heart
Research has shown that when you smile, your body releases endorphins which automatically make you happier, and in a brighter mood. Smiles are like high-fives to your immune system; your whole body thanks you just for smiling. The endorphins released during a smile also act as natural pain killers, so when you’re in physical, emotional or mental anguish, try smiling and see the difference it makes!
Smiling is Sunnah as well! Our beloved Nabi Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said, “Your smiling in the face of your brother is considered charity.” (Tirmidhi)
5. Feed your relationships
The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said, “The best of you is the best to his family and I am the best amongst you to my family”. (Tirmidhi)
In Islam, family matters. They are the people who will be there for you no matter what happens. They love you unconditionally and we all have a duty to keep our family relations in good order. We are taught to treat our parents with respect and to treat our children with kindness while leading them on the right path of Allah. Having good relationships with our family reduces stress and confusion which at times ages us and makes us unhealthy. We need to be positive and mend all broken relationships in order to have a truly successful and healthy life.
6. Feed your emotions
Contrary to popular belief, emotions are not a sign of weakness. It is actually a strength, in that it allows us to handle every and any type of situation thrown at us. We are not mere robots and we need to embrace that. Knowing ourselves allows us to embrace ourselves for who we are and to accept the way we feel.
Emotions are given their due place of importance in all Islamic teachings as fundamental elements of the human soul. Islam teaches moderation in everything, aiming to create equilibrium so that one is always at peace with one’s self, the universe, and most importantly, Allah.
In Islam, the concept of managing emotions is a pretty easy and simple one. The whole concept sums up in two easy points: looking at the people below us in worldly matters and looking at the people above us in religious matters.
This allows us to be focused and content with what we have, and to know where we are headed, rather than shy away from what we experience or feel inadequate about what we do possess.
Staying healthy can be really easy. All we need to do is stay positive and implement these few steps and we will, Inshallah, be on our way to a more healthy lifestyle!
Jamiatul Ulama (KZN)
Council of Muslim Theologians