How to live Healthily using Islam

I have begun work on a non-fiction topic, ‘The Islamic way to a healthy lifestyle’, i.e. how to live healthily using Islam? To ensure order in my work, I can write about Islam for health from birth to death, from morning to night in the whole year, etc. What are some other ways in which I can proceed? But please remember – I want to keep my work as simple as possible so that it is understood by everyone. Let me know your thoughts about this introduction I have written so far.

How to live healthily using Islam
Islamic Lifestyle – The Healthy Way

Any problem – blame Islam??? Today, Islam has been maligned to such an extent that it has been equated with all the prevalent ills in the world. For any evil, Islam is held responsible. Is Islam really responsible? Not at all! I am quoting my interpretation of George Bernard Shaw’s view of Islam and its followers, “Islam is the best religion but (some) Muslims are its worst followers.” So why blame Islam for all the evils? I would like to add one more thing to this. Maybe, some Muslims are selfish. They probably don’t want to spread the true message of Islam which contains many hidden gems of wisdom. I don’t want to be one of such Muslims. Besides, the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said: “A person who leads others to do what is good shall earn the same reward as those who do it.”1

Peaks of Islamophobia!!! The problem of current days is ignorance and misunderstanding regarding the world’s youngest and most egalitarian (just look at a prayer congregation of Muslims – everybody stands beside each other irrespective of his status, color, origin, etc.) religion. While it might take a lot of time and effort to clear the misconceptions regarding Islam, here is my small and humble attempt at clearing its misconceptions. More importantly, in this book, I will throw light on leading a healthy lifestyle via the Islamic way.

            Islam is not just a religion; it is a complete way of life. It takes into account all the factors in the human lifestyle. The Islamic lifestyle is valid until Judgment Day when this whole world will be destroyed.

Benefits of Kalonji

Kalonji (Nigella sativa)

         I start with Kalonji (Nigella sativa) seeds which the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) prescribed as a cure for all diseases except death. There are so many benefits being discovered from this ‘wonderful cure-all’ that the list is nearly endless! Here are some of its major benefits – it’s full of anti-oxidants, possible cholesterol-lowering ability, cancer-fighting properties, stomach ulcers prevention, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, liver-protecting ability, blood sugar-regulating capacity, etc.2 There are a few caveats of Kajonji – reports of contact dermatitis when applied to the skin in oil form3, influence on blood clotting4, and slowing down of uterine contractions in animal studies when used in its oil form in large quantities5,6.

No patients for a foreign Physician!!! Once, a foreign physician visited a city in a Muslim kingdom. The physician set up his shop (clinic) and waited for his patients to arrive. On the first day, no patients turned up. On the second day, it was the same situation as the first. And so on for nearly a month. The physician was surprised as to why no one was getting ill in the city. He could not digest this fact.

So, he asked a Muslim in the city the reason for the ‘no show’ of patients in his clinic. The Muslim said that a true Muslim follows Prophet Mohammed’s Hadith (saying) regarding the consumption of food. There are two opinions regarding this – one says that half of the stomach should be filled with food, and the other half should be filled equally with water and air (left empty). The other opinion says that the stomach should be divided into three equal parts – food, water, and air (left empty). The Muslim told the physician that this was the reason for the good health of Muslims. The hapless foreign physician had to pack his bags and leave the city.

Benefits of Salaah/Namaaz (prayer) Besides food, there are several other aspects Islam stresses for a healthy lifestyle. Muslims perform five obligatory prayers every day. These prayers entail simple rituals in which the performer stands, bends, performs prostrations, sits, and finishes the prayers. Especially, the prostrations are useful as they promote blood circulation to the brain. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said that prayer is the coolness for his eyes. Almighty Allah has mentioned in the Holy Quran that he created human beings (from the soil) and jinns (created from fire and who have free will just like humans) solely for his worship.

The obligatory five prayers prescribed for Muslims help in several ways. First and foremost, prayers inculcate discipline in life. The nearly 30-50 minutes required for these five prayers are those moments when the Muslim forgets (or at least makes an attempt at) everything occurring inside and around him. During this time of prayer, the Muslim tries to concentrate on the Almighty – this provides respite from his troubles provided the human being attempts at making an effort to clear his troubles.

Prayers help in the lubrication of the 360 joints present in the human body. The Duha (forenoon) prayer is the thanksgiving or charity of all the 360 joints of the human body according to the seal of the prophets and the last messenger of Almighty Allah, Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him).

Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) never failed to perform these three prayers beside the five obligatory prayers prescribed for every Muslim every day – the Tahajjud (prayer in the last part of the night which has been divided into three parts), the Duha [forenoon – prayer in between the obligatory Fajr (prayer before sunrise) and the Dhuhr (afternoon prayer)], and Witr [the last prayer after the Ishaan (night prayer)].

            Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) sometimes used to perform so many Tahajjud prayers that his feet would be swollen. His beloved and youngest wife Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) would ask him why he used to strain so much when Allah had promised him Jannah (heaven). Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) would ask Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) whether he should not convey his thanks to Allah as his sincere slave?

Importance of good and nutritious food The food one eats determines our health including physical and mental. Hence, Islam stresses fasting for unmarried people – the reason being fasting will lower and keep in control the sexual desires of unmarried people, especially the young ones. You must have heard the saying, ‘A healthy mind resides in a healthy body’. Islam emphasizes the importance of good and nutritious food. Allah asks us to eat sheep, goats, camels, and cattle in the Holy Quran. All other nutritious types of foods too are allowed. Allah forbids these – food upon which His holy name has not been mentioned, swine, blood, and dead animals.

            It is not just good and nutritious food, but the timings of food consumption too are important. ‘Early to bed and early to rise’ is an important aspect of Islamic life. If a Muslim remains awake after the Ishaan prayer, it has to be only for the worship of Allah.

Circumcision The foreskin of the male penis is cut off in Jewish and Muslim males. Several studies have pointed out that circumcised Muslim males have a lesser incidence of penile cancer7–11. Also, ladies married to these Muslim males have a lesser incidence of cervical cancer12. Circumcision offers protection due to the elimination of smegma – this is one of the main reasons. There are several other reasons too.

            Circumcision is also responsible for sexual awareness among Muslims at a young age. Muslims sit and urinate and wash their private parts after urinating. This helps in several ways. When a person stands and urinates, he is acting against gravity. This repeated ‘anti-gravity’ posture is responsible for the weakening of the muscles (five) controlling the urinary bladder. In some cases, this might even lead to paralysis of the urinary bladder starting from the middle and increasing in old age. This results in involuntary urination while laughing, crying, movements, etc.

Holy month of Ramadan Talking about food and sexual activity, there is a month in the Islamic calendar where fasting and abstinence from sexual activity during the day (from dawn to dusk) are prescribed for all adult Muslims. This has so much importance in our daily lives that its importance cannot be overemphasized.

What do you do with your car or a two-wheeler? You take it for a periodic check-up, right? Similarly, the holy month of Ramadan is a time for introspection for all Muslims. The rewards for doing things are amplified nearly seventy times or even more if the ALMIGHTY wishes in this holy month. This was the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed. And Muslims tend to even give the Zakat (almsgiving of 2.5% on the value of gold, silver, cash/savings in hand, etc. which is compulsory if the gold, silver exceeds a certain limit – 85 grams of pure gold and 595 grams of pure silver)13 during this month. Here is an online Zakat calculator.

Benefits of Fasting There are innumerable benefits of fasting. A few of them are it helps in regulating ‘bad’ cholesterol, curbs appetite, provides excellent detoxification, and ‘supercharges’ the brain by increasing the growth and development of new brain cells14. Just imagine a vehicle continuously running without any stop. Of course, the heart is such an organ but it has been designed by the greatest designer of all, the ALMIGHTY. If a vehicle or any other thing runs continuously, it would soon run out of steam! Decay and destruction inevitably set in after a period of continuous running. Herein lies the importance of fasting – a chance for the body to rest and the trillions of cells to regenerate, overhaul their machinery, etc.

            Just imagine the enormous effect of fasting on our hearts and minds – no more TV (not at least the ‘dirty’ things on it!), no lewd or vulgar talk, no evil. ALMIGHTY ALLAH locks up Satan for this entire month. Despite this, if a wo/man wants to do evil, it’s her/his destiny and fate leading towards destruction!

The month-long daytime fasting gives a chance for the digestive system to rest and recuperate. For that matter, several other systems of the body are given the much-needed rest, at least annually. Hence the appetite is considerably reduced. Also, fasting not just uses up the fat reserves of the body but also helps in the elimination of any harmful toxins that would have accumulated in the fat deposits. Fasting seems to make the brain stress-resilient, more adaptive to change, and improve moods, memory, and also the learning capacity of an individual14.

Inculcation of good things in Children Muslim children are taught the importance of good hygiene (which is half the faith) and faith from a very young age. A Muslim child is asked to pray the five obligatory prayers from the age of seven years. And from ten years of age, a Muslim child should be mildly reprimanded with a small stick if the child doesn’t heed the word. Of course, there is no compulsion in religion. But one should also never forget that children follow their elders. Children need to be constantly reminded about the beauty of Islam and its benefits.

Halaal (Allowed) vs. Haraam (Forbidden) The basic premise of Islam is having a firm and unflinching faith in ALMIGHTY ALALH and saving oneself from associating any partners with Him. Everything in Islam revolves around Halaal (allowed) vs. Haraam (forbidden). This differentiation is very important in the Islamic way of living. Also, the differentiation applies to several aspects like food, earnings, clothes, etc/ encompassing the entire gamut of everyday living. A Muslim believes in his destiny. At the same tie, s/he is encouraged to strive for his livelihood actively.

            The basic and unflinching faith in Allah helps a Muslim to solely concentrate on doing his/her work. S/he doesn’t have to worry about anything as s/he’s destiny has already been written by Allah. Yes, destiny can be changed to an extent by one’s good deeds and sincere prayers.

Importance of Charity So much importance has been placed upon good deeds and good conduct that a Hadith says Sadaqah (charity) removes a Muslim’s sins like water extinguishes fire. Of course, the sins mentioned here are minor sins (Sageerah gunaah). The major sins (Kabeerah gunaah) require sincere repentance and a sincere intention and determination not to repeat the sin/s.

No charity is small! No Sadaqah is deemed small in the eyes of Allah. Even a smile towards your brother is a Sadaqah as stated by a Hadith. Another Hadith reminds a Muslim to save himself from hell-fire by giving even half a date to charity.

References:

1.        Hadith on Hidayah: Guiding to good rewarded like one who did it. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://www.abuaminaelias.com/dailyhadithonline/2012/11/02/guidance-like-one-who-did-it/

2.        9 Impressive Health Benefits of Kalonji (Nigella Seeds). Healthline. Published 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/kalonji-nigella-seeds

3.        Steinmann A, Schätzle M, Agathos M, Breit R. Allergic contact dermatitis from black cumin (Nigella sativa) oil after topical use. Contact Dermatitis. 1997;36(5):268-269. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.1997.tb00219.x

4.        Muralidharan-Chari V, Kim J, Abuawad A, Naeem M, Cui H, Mousa SA. Thymoquinone Modulates Blood Coagulation in Vitro via Its Effects on Inflammatory and Coagulation Pathways. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2016;17(4):474. doi:10.3390/ijms17040474

5.        Salarinia R, Rakhshandeh H, Oliaee D, Gul Ghasemi S, Ghorbani A. Safety evaluation of Phytovagex, a pessary formulation of Nigella sativa, on pregnant rats. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. 2016;6(1):117-123. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884224/

6.        Aqel M, Shaheen R. Effects of the volatile oil of Nigella sativa seeds on the uterine smooth muscle of rat and guinea pig. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 1996;52(1):23-26. doi:10.1016/0378-8741(95)01330-x

7.        Daling JR, Madeleine MM, Johnson LG, et al. Penile cancer: Importance of circumcision, human papillomavirus and smoking in in situ and invasive disease. International Journal of Cancer. 2005;116(4):606-616. doi:10.1002/IJC.21009

8.        Seyam RM, Bissada NK, Mokhtar AA, et al. Outcome of penile cancer in circumcised men. Journal of Urology. 2006;175(2):557-561. doi:10.1016/S0022-5347(05)00234-X

9.        Auvert B, Sobngwi-Tambekou J, Cutler E, et al. Effect of male circumcision on the prevalence of high-risk human papillomavirus in young men: Results of a randomized controlled trial conducted in orange farm, South Africa. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2009;199(1):14-19. doi:10.1086/595566

10.      Schoen EJ. Circumcision as a lifetime vaccination with many benefits. Journal of Men’s Health and Gender. 2007;4(3):306-311. doi:10.1016/J.JMHG.2007.05.005

11.      Morris BJ, Gray RH, Castellsague X, et al. The strong protective effect of circumcision against cancer of the penis. Advances in Urology. Published online 2011. doi:10.1155/2011/812368

12.      Gajalakshmi CK, Shanta V. Association between cervical and penile cancers in Madras, India. Acta Oncol. 1993;32(6):617-620. doi:10.3109/02841869309092439

13.      Minimum amount (nisaab) required to pay zakat in dollars – Islam Question & Answer. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://islamqa.info/en/answers/64/minimum-amount-nisaab-required-to-pay-zakat-in-dollars

14.      Benefits Of Fasting: Ways to Improve Health & Wellbeing During Ramadan. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://www.clevelandclinicabudhabi.ae/en/health-byte/pages/how-ramadan-can-boost-your-health-and-wellbeing.aspx