The common notion about Islam is that it is a religion that commends its followers to be a servant to God only and live the worldly life in a way that it elevates the spirit of the person and helps gain religious benefits. Although this notion is a part of Islam but not the whole Islam, the whole Islam is complete in every sense and has instructions regarding each aspect of life.
Islam gives a complete and thorough framework of life, by following which a person can live life in the best way possible both from worldly and religious perspective. With every matter of life Islam gives a holistic and a specific solution. Therefore, a follower of Islam has all the instructions available and all he needs to do is to follow them.
Pertaining to general health, Islam takes a holistic approach and provides remedy and instructions regarding spiritual, emotional and physical health. The lines below give the perspective of Islam on the three levels of general health.
1. Spiritual Health:
Spiritual health is important in Islam and one of the key objectives of being a Muslim is to improve the health of the spirit. On a general level the spiritual health depends upon the kind of believe a person has and based on that believe how does a person respond to afflictions and adversities. The better the response of a person, the better is the spiritual health. The hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says:
“Indeed amazing are the affairs of a believer! They are all for his benefit. If he is granted ease then he is thankful, and this is good for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres, and this is good for him.” (Muslim)
This hadith shows the kind of belief a Muslim possess pertaining to the ease and difficulties in life. A Muslim who believes that all the eases and hardship is from Allah Almighty and rejuvenates and perseveres in the respective cases is the one whose spirit is healthy.
Further to the health of spirit, it is the external afflictions and sickness that puts this particular health to its test. In this regard also the hadith of Prophet (PBUH) gives the best model:
“Whenever a Muslim is afflicted by harm from sickness or other matters, God will expiate his sins, like leaves drop from a tree.” (Muslim and Bukhari)
From this hadith, it is obvious that all the physical afflictions sent by God help shed sins. All a Muslim needs to do is persevere and the afflictions become a blessing in disguise that remove all the sins associated with the soul of person, thus making spiritual health better.
2. Emotional Health:
In addition to the spiritual health, the second level of health that Islam addresses is the emotional health. The kind of emotions a person has has a great impact on the way a person lives life. Positive emotions bread a righteous and virtuous life, while negative emotions bring the vices of a person to the surface.
The emotion part of the health has a lot to do with the heart, if the heart is at peace, then all the adversities would seem like blessings as discussed earlier, and if the heart is not at its right place, then even the joyful moments would lead to a life that is transgressing and not commended by Allah Almighty.
In Quran, Allah Almighty says:
“O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Lord (i.e. the Quran), and healing for that which is in your hearts.” (10:57)
In this ayah of Quran, it is evident that Quran is solution to the problems of heart, thus reading, listening and understanding of Quran helps better the emotional health of a person. The more the heart of a person is grateful, peaceful and obliged better will be its health and more blessings would it receive from Allah Almighty, as He says in Quran:
“And when your Lord proclaimed, “If you give thanks, I will give you more; but if you are thankless, lo! My punishment is dire.” (14:7)
Hence, the emotional health of a person increases when the heart is content, obliged and thankful to all the blessings of Allah Almighty.
3. Physical Health:
The emphasis of Islam on physical health is another aspect of Islam about which people are oblivious. Islam commends its followers to pay attention towards their health and take good care of it. Pertaining to physical health, Islam addresses both the diet and exercise aspects of health. Allah Almighty says in Quran:
“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.” (2:168)
In this ayah, it is clear that Allah Almighty has allowed Muslims to eat whatever they want to eat in this world, except for the foods that are unlawful and the ones that take a person on the footsteps of Satan. Regarding the forbidden foods besides the intoxicants, Allah Almighty says in Quran:
“Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah, that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety…..” (5:3)
In this ayah, Allah Almighty has clearly described the foods that are unlawful for a Muslim and the eating of which is forbidden, all the other foods are lawful to Muslims and he can consume them in the way he likes.
Pertaining to the exercise part of physical health, Islam encourages its followers to indulge in sports and physical activities that improve the health and strength of the body. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in one of His hadiths:
“Any Action without the remembrance of God 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.” (Tabarani)
From this hadith it is evident that Prophet (PBUH) encourages playing sports that are healthy for the body.
In short, Islam like its own completeness and comprehensiveness addresses all the matters of life with on a complete and comprehensive level. For Islam, the spiritual, emotional, and physical health all are important and the presence of all makes a healthy believer and Muslim.