We all strive to live a well-balanced life, some due to health problems, and others for
personal goals. Some reach for self-help books while others turn to meditation. As Muslims, it is vital to indulge in some form of tazkiyah, or purification of the soul. Science teaches us how to achieve physical balance which is often hand in hand with the teachings and guidelines prescribed by Allah to mankind. However, Islam also provides one with spiritual cleansing, therefore resulting in a much greater balance.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School conducted numerous studies and provided the general public with guidelines for adopting a healthy lifestyle. The significant recommendations began with a focus on a healthy diet based on increased intake of healthy foods and limited intake of processed foods, along with at least 30 minutes of moderate/vigorous physical activity daily. Limiting alcohol intake to less than 15g/day for women and 30g/day for men while avoiding smoking to maximize healthy outcomes. These would aid one to obtain a healthy body weight
defined as a BMI (body mass index) between 18.5 and 24.9. Similar to modern day science, these five fundamental guidelines have been embedded into Islam in everyday practice. Islam’s version of these ‘lifestyle guidelines’ are as follows: For a
healthy diet, it is prescribed to, “...eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not those who waste by extravagance.” [7:31] This verse instructs Muslims to consume whatever Allah SWT has provided but refrain from committing excesses which includes eating too much or too little.
Neuroscientists have conducted studies that show that the brain transmits electrical signals to other bodily organs, in the case of the stomach, the transmission is delayed and therefore once an individual feels “full,” it’s already too late. In line with this, Islam preaches that the correct way to eat a balanced diet is to stop before one gets too full. Ibrahim ibn Adham said: “Anyone who controls his stomach is in control of his deen, and anyone who controls his hunger is in control of good behavior. Disobedience towards Allah is nearest to a person who is satiated with a full stomach, and furthest away
from a person who is hungry.”
The five daily prayers are prescribed and fulfill our physical activity requirements and help those battling with mental ailments such and anxiety and depression by providing a form of meditation. As Quran says, “And when you have completed the prayer, remember Allah standing, sitting, or [lying] on your sides. But when you become secure, re-establish [regular] prayer. Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon
the believers a decree of specified times.” (Surah Nisa, verse 103). What is important to note here is that Salah has been established five times a day.
On average if one were to take 6 minutes to pray each prayer, and spend a decent amount in each respective position, that would equate to 30 minutes a day of moderate movement and reflection (5 prayers x 6 minutes = 30 min/day). Salah is a unique way to achieve physical prerequisite alongside obtaining spiritual fulfillment. Given that the respective time for each Salah is intricately allocated, one can reflect throughout the day and night to find meaning of oneself and actions throughout their lifespan. In the moment of prayer, these self-guided reflections are a means to speak to Allah SWT and ponder on His Mercy, Grace, and Might.
It goes without saying that having a scientifically healthy body and BMI goes hand in hand with eating in moderation and refraining from foods that are harmful to the body. Our bodies will soon be returned to the rightful owner, Allah (SWT), and it is our duty to ensure that our bodies are in mint condition.
It is written in the Quran, “Oh you who have believed, do not approach prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying or in a state of janabah, except those passing through [a place of prayer], until you have washed [your whole body]. And if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and find no water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and your hands [with it]. Indeed, Allah is ever Pardoning and Forgiving.” (Surah Nisa, verse 43).
Though this verse is referring to the refrainment of alcohol it can also be used in the context of other drugs that deter the human mind from rationality. Again, Islam advocates for a healthy lifestyle and being cognizant of what we, as humans, are placing in our bodies.
Secular education alongside Islam has taught us how to live a balanced life in terms of our bodies. As Muslims we must be mindful of the fact that our soul must also live a balanced life. In the hustle and bustle of life, it is easy to forget that our final return to our Lord, our bodies will be nothing but a mere shell and it is our soul which will be at question. Most science answers the question of spiritual wellbeing with mediation, yoga, or in the form of a gratitude journal. I believe that Islam has a more applicable approach.
Noor Magazine II 2022
By: Suha Imran Moten