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‘Eat of what is lawful and wholesome on the earth.’ - Surah Al-Baqarah

Health, Diet And Exercise In Islam


As much as I would love deep- fried pakoras  – even at three in the morning during Ramadan – as much as the next girl, and as great as those loose djellabas and abayas are for covering the excess supply of fat that has accumulated around my middle, it’s time for us to face the facts– You and I, are obligated as Muslims to eat properly and keep ourselves physically fit and healthy.

Health, Exercise and Diet in IslamWe have to start taking responsibility for making nutritious choices about our meals, while going out of our way to keep our bodies in the best condition possible through exercise. Our bodies have been given to us as an amanah, a trust from our Creator. If our friend lent us their brand new car for a week, we would be ashamed to give it back to them scratched and dirty, as if we didn’t appreciate what they had given us. We need to take care of our bodies for the sake of Allah, and ensure we have enough strength to do our acts of worship and live a long and healthy life for our families. It’s time to make a choice…chips or salad?

Obesity can greatly increase the risk of developing many illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. A good way to check if you are overweight is by measuring your Body Mass Index – try it here. A good guideline for how we should be eating was described by the Messenger of Allah – may peace and blessings be upon him, who told us: ‘The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat a few mouthfuls, to keep him going. If he must do that (fill his stomach), then let him fill one third with food, one third with drink and one third with air’.  If you are overweight due to overeating, and not genetic factors, it is important to try and reduce your calorie intake, as well as choose nutritious foods.

Allah commands us in surah Al Baqarah:  ‘Eat of what is lawful and wholesome on the earth.’ Remember, that Allah did not just ask to eat what is halal or lawful, but also what is good for us, for many foods may be halal, but unhealthy for our bodies, such as too much salt or sugar. There are so many excellent foods that our Prophet – peace be upon him – encouraged us to eat, including dates and honey, which make excellent substitutes for biscuits and cakes and all the sugary things which call to us from the supermarket shelves.

In addition to changing our diets, we also need to keep ourselves physically active. Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) spoke about the races he ran with Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), as well as the benefits of archery, swimming and horse-riding.

So how do we get motivated to move? Try to keep in mind we can make even small things into an ibaadah with a sincere intention. If we change our thinking so that we envision looking after our health as an act of worship, then there is no need to feel as if focusing on what we eat and exercising is a waste of time. As well as this, taking care of ourselves, by trying to lose fat (if we are overweight) and by toning our bodies so that they are attractive for our spouse is also an act of worship that we can do to please Allah. InshAllah that’s two acts of ibaadah in one!

It can sometimes seem difficult to exercise as a muslimah, few gyms have women only sessions, and going for a jog in your abaya is not only impractical but, depending on where you live, might draw many unwanted stares (!) –so, my dear sisters, here’s three easy, low- cost ways to get started on your new exercise routine – make sure you do some gentle warm-up stretches before!

1. Make a home gym
In a class at the gym  you might see the instructor get ‘steppers’ out – an excellent of way of toning your thighs, calves, and bottom. You can do the same on the bottom steps of your stairs. As well as this, you can buy weights to strengthen your muscles at home. For a good cardiovascular workout, you may like to purchase an exercise bike or treadmill – make sure you place it directly in front of your television so you can watch or listen to some halal entertainment to distract you from leg cramp/boredom of running nowhere – while you exercise!

2. Buy a DVD
Scheduling a time on your calendar every week to do an hour of exercise using a DVD saves you time and money, as well as giving you the privacy of working out in your own home.
Pilates is an amazing way to strengthen the muscles deep inside your body that help support your spine, in addition to improving your posture, stability and flexibility.  Physiotherapists often recommend Pilates for people with injuries and/or back pain.

3. Find a local gym
Call around your local gyms to find any women only sessions. Some, but not all will have a timetable with fixed hours on certain days of the week where only women will be allowed to exercise in the gym, and you may even be able to have a swim as well – although definitely check that there will be no male pool attendants. Some mosques may even have exercise classes for women – no harm in asking!

Finally, if your hubby is not cool with giving up any of his samosas  in the name of your new healthy eating and exercise regime, then you can always share the following wisdom from Umar ibn Al –Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him):
Once Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with him) saw a man with a big belly and said, “What is this?!”
The man replied, “This is Barakah (a blessing) from Allah.”
Umar said. “No, it is a punishment from Allah!’’

How do you maintain good health and a good healthy body? Share your tips down in the comments section! 🙂

1. Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1381), Ibn Maajah (3349); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (2265)
2. The Quran ’ (2:168)
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cInMQv0GpGE

Authored by Guest Author Huda Tahiri
Edited by Unaiza Faiz ♦ To Read more about the Editor CLICK HERE

Prophet Muhammad - "Convey (knowledge) from me even if it is just one ayah" [Bukhari 3461]

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