ISLAM approaches the issue of good health in a holistic manner which is very striking in every regard!
The Life and Teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) clearly convey, amongst other things, the need to cherish health and truly realise its value as a blessing from Allah Almighty.
One must realise that the true way to thank Allah for the gift of health would be to preserve it in accordance with His Divine instruction as portrayed through His Last and Final Messenger, Muhammed (Peace be upon him).
In the first part of this topic, we discussed issues relating to cleanliness, hygiene, exercise, activity and the need to strike the balance in attending to the physical needs of the body.
Food is a fundamental requirement for sustaining the physical body of every human.
The correct intake thereof will ensure the healthy and sound growth and development of the body. Countless teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) provide appropriate guidance with regards to the quality as well as the quantity that one should consume. Needless to say, the Holy Qur’aan contains Divine instruction for humanity to consume only that which is pure and wholesome! (Qur’aan Ch 2 : v 168) and Qur’aan (Ch 2 : v 172).
Produce from the earth (vegetable, fruits, seeds, pulses, nuts, etc) is largely taken to be pure and permissible, on condition that it does not contain any poisonous or narcotic element.
Fish (in all their forms and species) are declared permissible too. The meat of domesticated animals and birds (beef, mutton and poultry) is only acceptable when the life of the animal has been taken by invoking the name of The Almighty (for He is the Giver of Life), by way of slaughter which has been carried out in the most humane manner, with the view to draining out all the blood. Blood is regarded as impure and cannot be consumed. Meat of dead animals would thus be unacceptable for consumption – death would have occurred due to some ailment or disease which remains trapped in the blood and body. Pork is forbidden as Islam regards the pig to be one of the greatest carriers of disease.
Even when one consumes only that which is pure, wholesome and permissible, over-eating and behaving in a gluttonous manner is unacceptable.
Not only is this indicative of a weak sense of discipline and a weak resolve but such practice is harmful to one’s health and general well being. The Prophetic teachings portray the need to give due regard for the operational system that Allah Almighty has endowed the human being with. For optimum performance, our system requires food (solids), water (liquids) and air (oxygen).
The correct balance must be worked out accordingly by each individual and maintained appropriately.
Islam’s prohibition of intoxicants strongly and clearly illustrates its concern for bodily health. Alcoholic drinks and drugs are prohibited under any name or in any form. Islam is very strict in the prohibition of intoxicants (here intoxicants include alcohol and drugs)
The consumers of intoxicants are not the only ones who suffer by such toxic intake but adverse effects spill out into their off-spring, onto their families and communities too.
Hence, any substance that causes harm for the body is prohibited by the Qur’aan and Sunnah (Prophetic teaching).
In the context of caring about physical health, Islam stresses the importance of both preventive and therapeutic medicine. It particularly cares about preventive medicine because prevention is better than cure.
A reasonable number of directives, pertinent to medicine and hygiene, are deduced from the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). An important one is to acknowledge medicines derived from natural and chemical extracts, developed through experience rather than turning to all kinds of superstitious potions or the spells and omens of soothsayers, and so forth.
Of great significance to every believer, in addition to acknowledging medicines as mentioned above, is the fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) constantly instructed the believers to value the “divine medication” (supplication to Allah – prayer). Having faith in The Almighty and conviction that He is the one who places cure in the medicines used.
The Prophetic teaching also cares a lot about the psychological health and mental well-being of people. In this context, the Prophet (peace be upon him) always evoked optimism and high hopes among his companions and followers. He always raised the hope of both physicians and patients that illnesses will be cured. Thus, he alleviated the terrible despair associated with what we call chronic, incurable diseases.
When patients feel that there is a cure for their illness, this would raise the hopes of recovery, push away despair, and open the door of anticipation.
Should their spirit get stronger, the warmth of their instinct is let out and that in itself provokes strength of natural psychological and vital spirits. Consequently, when these spirits get stronger, they will conquer the disease and drive it away. Undoubtedly, the psychological and physical state of people interchangeably affect each other.
Once again, in light of all the above , one can clearly understand the Prophetic statement “The strong believer is better in the eyes of Allah than the weak believer”.
As mentioned previously, strength here could be taken as strength in faith and character as well as strength in body and soul.
We need to recognise and acknowledge the bounties of The Almighty upon us and be grateful to Him for all these bounties. Gratefulness will not be complete if it expressed merely by tongue and not followed though by observing and maintaining sound practices towards ensuring firm faith and good health.
For further information on Islam or a free copy of the Holy Qur’aan, please contact:
Majlisul Ulama Zimbabwe, Council of Islamic Scholars
P.O. Box W93, Waterfalls, Harare
Tel: 04-614078 / 614004, Fax : 04-614003
e-mail: [email protected]
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