The scholars such as Ibn Al-Qayyim used to say that from the greatest of all blessings that Allah has bestowed upon a person is good health. These days people quite often take for granted the good health that Allah bestows upon them. They are therefore shaken and shocked when a chronic illness strikes, and only then will they ponder about the blessings of good health, and only then will they look back and think about what they have been eating and putting into their bodies. We are living in times where we face an epidemic of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancers, heart disease, etc, even in children. How do we face these challenges in light of Islam?
The Messenger (SAW) said: “There are two blessings that many of the people lose out on, good health and free time.” Prevention of illnesses by maintaining good health through diet is a tremendous means provided by Allah.
Quran contains guidance that promotes good health and healing.
Islam takes a holistic approach to health. Just as religious life is inseparable from secular life, physical, emotional and spiritual health cannot be separated; they are three parts that make a completely healthy person. When one part is injured or unhealthy, the other parts suffer. If a person is physically ill or injured it may be difficult to concentrate on anything but the pain. If a person is emotionally unwell, he or she may not be able to take care of him or herself properly or find their minds distracted from the realities of life.
When speaking to his followers Prophet Muhammad spoke of the strong believer being better than a weak believer, in the eyes of Allah. The word strong here can mean strength in faith or in character, but it can equally mean health. Our bodies are a trust from Allah and we are accountable for how we look after our health. Although physical and emotional health is important, spiritual health needs to be the first priority in our lives. If a person is in spiritual difficulty then life can begin to unravel and problems may occur in all areas.
Injury and illness can happen for many reasons, however it is important to acknowledge and accept that nothing happens in this world accept with the permission of Allah.
“And with Him are the keys of the unseen; no one knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that is [written] in a clear record.” (Quran 6:59)
There is no doubt that the words and verses of Quran contain a healing for humankind’s woes and ills. It was narrated the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), that certain verses and chapters by the will of Allah could bring about healing from disease and distress. Slowly over the years, we have begun to rely more on medicines and physical remedies rather then the spiritual remedies prescribed by Islam. If faith is strong and unwavering, the effect of spiritual remedies may be fast and efficient.
In an incident, the prophet (SAW) set a man on a mission, “he camped close by to some people who did not show him any hospitality. When the leader of the nearby camp was bitten by a snake, they went to Prophet Muhammad’s companion for help. He recited the opening chapter of the Quran (Surah fatiha) over the afflicted man and he arose “as if released from a chain”.
It is important to seek a cure from the Quran, in the manner prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), but it is equally important to understand that it is permissible and at times obligatory, to seek help from medical practitioners. Our bodies are ours, only in trust; we are obligated to treat them with respect and to maintain them in the best way. In accordance with the holistic approach Islam takes to health, there is no contradiction in seeking a cure from both medical science and permissible spiritual means.
The Prophet said: “There is no disease that Allah (SWT) has created, except that He also has created its treatment.”
He also said: “There is a remedy for every malady, and when the remedy is applied to the disease it is cured with the permission of Allah (SWT).”
Quran is a healing for the body and the soul. Whenever life becomes too difficult or we are beset by injury, illness or unhappiness Quran will light our way and lighten our burdens. It is a source of solace and ease. In the world today many people have untold wealth and luxury but little contentment. Those of us in the West have access to doctors and medicine, to traditional healing, medical breakthroughs and alternative cures but many lives are full of emotional pain and listlessness. What is missing is belief, faith in Allah.
Even the prophet (SAW) when he was going through the trials of the death of Khadeejah; his wife, Abu Talib; his support system and uncle, in addition the Makkans has outcasted the muslims and taken away many of their rights, and then Allah reveals surah Yusuf in its entirety to him as a form of solace, and relation that Allah knows and that he is there, and that attitude is half the health battle.
The words and recitation of Quran can cure hearts and minds, as well as overcome illness and injury, however complete trust in Allah does not negate the healing effects of medical science provided we use them only in lawful ways. Indeed, Allah has power over all things, therefore we need to put our trust in Him, develop a lasting relationship with His book; the Quran, follow the authentic teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and seek a cure, wherever it may be.
The importance of maintaining a healthy diet.
Islam is a code of life. Muslims do not practice only during the weekends or festive seasons; rather religion is an ongoing part of daily life. Islam is organised in a spiritual and moral way, taking into account humankind’s innate needs and desires. The principles of Islam are derived from the Quran and the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Islam’s holistic approach to health includes treating our bodies with respect and nourishing them with, not only faith, but also with lawful, nutritious food. A major part of living life according to the Allah’s instructions is implementing a suitable diet. Choosing wholesome food and avoiding the unwholesome is essential to good health.
Allah says in the Quran,“Eat of the good things which We have provided for you.” (Quran 2:173) “Eat of what is lawful and wholesome on the earth.” (Quran 2:168)
The Quran contains many verses of advice about healthy eating that relate to the connection of physical and spiritual health. Encouragement to eat only good and pure food is often combined with warnings to remember Allah and avoid saytan. Healthy eating not only satisfies hunger but also has an effect on how well we worship, as mentioned in some of other blogs.
“O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.” (Quran 2:168)
If we become obsessed with food or indulges in too much unhealthy or junk food it may lead to us becoming physically weak or distracted from our other responsibilities in life to those around us and to Allah. On the other hand, if one is purely concentrated on spiritual acts and neglect’s their health and nutrition, weakness injury or illness would also result in failure to carry out even obligatory worship. The guidance found in the Quran and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) advise humankind to maintain a balance between these two extremes.
A healthy diet is balanced with a mixture of all the foods that Allah has provided for us (this also is a method of appreciations for the blessings he has bestowed upon us). The variety satisfies all the body’s needs for carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats and amino acids. Numerous verses of Quran mention the foods Allah has provided for us to nourish and maintain our bodies. It is not an exhaustive list of dietary requirements but rather a general idea of the types of food that maintain a healthy body and prevent illness.
Just to mention some examples:
“He created cattle that give you warmth, benefits and food to eat.” (Quran l6:5)
“In cattle too you have a worthy lesson. We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies, between the undigested food and blood: pure milk, a pleasant beverage for those who drink it.” (Quran l6:66)
“There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colours, in which there is healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought. .” (Quran 16:69)
“It is He who subdued the seas, from which you eat fresh fish.” (Quran 16:l4)
Fruit and Veg
“It is He who sends down water from the sky with which He brings up corn, olives, dates and grapes and other fruit.” (Quran 16:11)
“And it is He Who produces gardens trellised and untrellised, and date palms, and crops of different shape and taste (its fruits and its seeds) and olives, and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in taste). Eat of their fruit when they ripen…” (Quran 6:141)
“…and from it (the earth) we produced grain for their sustenance.” (Quran 36:33)
Does Islam forbid tasty deserts
While sweets and junk food are not forbidden they must be eaten sparingly as part of a balanced diet, designed to maintain optimum health. Many of the most common chronic illnesses today derive from unhealthy eating habits. Coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and depression have all been linked to inadequate diets. The Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) praise moderation as a way of maintaining good health and the Quran stresses the need to strike a balance between any extremes.
Take home message
True believers need healthy bodies and minds in order to worship Allah in the correct way. To maintain a sound mind, a pure heart and a healthy body special attention must be paid to health.
The heart and the mind are nourished by remembrance of Allah, and worship performed in a lawful way, and the body is nourished by partaking of the good and lawful food that the Razzaq (sustainer) has provided. Attention, action and concern towards diet and nutrition is a part of the holistic health system inherent in Islam.