Defining a Healthy Lifestyle
In today’s world, a healthy lifestyle is described as a way of living that lowers the risk of illness and death. Health is considered as just a tool to add years to life, and this modern healthy lifestyle helps in achieving as well as attaining that “dream-celebrity-style-body.” That’s the reason why many companies that sell health supplements, gym memberships, and other redundant “good health” promoting products are earning billions just by offering this dream of a healthy lifestyle.
In Islam, first and foremost, health is a blessing from Allah ﷻ, which the Prophet ﷺ has said to be one of the two blessings people often lose. The Prophet ﷺ has informed us to take care of ourselves before we are stricken with illnesses. This health should be used as a medium to worship Allah ﷻ and thank Him at the same time for this blessing.
In terms of promoting a healthy lifestyle, the Prophet ﷺ has said,
“A strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah ﷻ than a weak believer.”[Muslim 2664]
Although this Hadeeth has interpreted strength to mean belief and character, it can also be understood in terms of physical health and fitness. So, if a Muslim has a healthy lifestyle, it gives him the strength and immunity to perform Ibadah in the best way possible, and what better and healthy lifestyle than the one prescribed by Allah ﷻ and His beloved Prophet ﷺ.
Components of a Healthy Lifestyle
According to the Harvard Medical School, there are five major components for a healthy lifestyle; diet, physical activity, level body weight, no smoking, and moderate alcohol intake. Let’s give an Islamic perspective to these five.
Healthy Diet and Body Weight
Consuming wholesome and nutritious food is a major part of acquiring good health. Allah ﷻ has bestowed upon us this great blessing which He has mentioned in the Qur’an,
“O people! Eat of that which is lawful and good on the earth…”[Qur’an 2: 168]
“O you who believe! Eat of the lawful things with which We have provided you…”[Qur’an 2: 172]
In today’s world, a balanced diet, with different types of foods in adequate proportions necessary for good health, is everything. Likewise, our Prophet ﷺ always enjoyed nutritious food, especially fruits; he used to combine two fruits for a collective benefit, such as watermelon and dates. However, our beloved Prophet ﷺ approached this matter differently,
“A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it); then one- third of food, one-third for drink, and one-third for air.”[Sunan Ibn Majah, vol4, book 29, Hadeeth 3349, Graded Sahih by Darussalam]
This was informed about 1400 years ago, but it is very much applicable and effective today despite all the modern diet charts.
Although there wasn’t any concept of body weight or BMI (Body Mass Index) during the Prophet’s ﷺ era, he and his companions were naturally fit and active due to their livelihood, which was simplistic and energetic enough to do Ibadah. The saying of the Prophet ﷺ about considering the stomach as the worst vessel to fill can defeat any body-mass calculations.
Although our five daily prayers are like an exercise routine, Prophet ﷺ always encouraged his followers to be energetic and active. He encouraged activities for a healthy body; for instance, in one narration, he said,
“Any action without the remembrance of Allah ﷻ is either a diversion or heedlessness excepting four acts: walking from target to target (during archery practice), training a horse, playing with one’s family, and learning to swim.”[At- tabarani]
Even though our Prophet ﷺ did not live in the age of gyms and fitness centres, his lifestyle included endurance and strength training activities like hiking, wrestling, or walking, as evidenced by reports where he ﷺ and his companions hiked on many journeys, and employed walking when going out for daily activities like going to the Masjid or to the marketplace place for trading.
In this new age, couples’ exercise is the new thing, which is quite efficient for achieving fitness goals. But centuries ago, our Prophet ﷺ was the biggest example for that, as he used to race with his wife Aisha رضي الله عنها. Such examples of the Prophet ﷺ must motivate all the active people who admire the fitness experts.
Smoking and Drinking
When it comes to smoking, research by Harvard says that a complete no-smoking policy can result in a healthy lifestyle. Although there is no direct statement against smoking in the Qur’an and Sunnah, it is harmful to one’s body, and Allah ﷻ states,
“And do not throw yourselves into destruction.”[Qur’an 2:195]
The WHO has classified tobacco and cigarette smoking as ‘addictive weakening substances,’ thereby strongly indicating that smoking eventually leads to one’s destruction.
Harvard’s research allows a moderate intake of alcohol, but Allah ﷻ has prohibited it only for our own betterment, as He states,
“O you who believe! Intoxicants [all kinds of alcoholic drinks]… are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. So avoid [strictly all] that [abomination] in order that you may be successful. Satan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants...”[Qur’an 5:90-91]
Many medical experts have affirmed to the destruction that alcohol causes to one’s body, and this proves that the prohibition from Allah ﷻ is for the benefit of all mankind.
“Islam is a code of life.” This statement is repeated in every book and lecture, yet we Muslims fail to implement it in our lives. Our greatest role-models should be our Prophet ﷺ and his companions, who had the healthiest lifestyles of all time, much better than the flawed modern-day lifestyle. They were fit, active, and always ready to do any act of Ibadah, yet it is impossible for us to even wake up for Fajr!
They never forgot their purpose of life, which added blessings to their lifestyle. This should be our goal and motivation to perform Ibadah as much as possible and to worship to our best capacity, and this will be the best lifestyle anyone can ever attain.
Written by: Musmirah
Edited by: The Editorial Team
© The Islamic Reflections Blog
- Healing body and soul by Amira Ayad, International Islamic Publishing House
- Health in Islam – article from islamhouse.com
- Hygiene and Health in Islam by Muhammed Ibrahim al-Hamad – www.Islamway.net