With such an
emphasis on being fit, looking good, and being healthy,
with almost no talk about spiritual well-being, consider
the following words of guidance from Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba
(peace be upon him): "I am surprised at the person who
thinks about what he eats (he makes sure that whatever goes
into his stomach is wholesome and healthy), how does such a
person not think about what goes into his head (the
knowledge which he takes in)! He ensures that no harmful
foods enter his stomach; however, his chest (mind) becomes
the rendezvous point of deviated, base teachings!"
The faith of Islam strongly promotes a "healthy
lifestyle"; however, it does not make a "healthy body" the
ultimate goal in life. In the 80th chapter of the Qur’an,
Suratul Abasa, verse 24, Allah says: "So then let the
person look towards his food…" One of the meanings of
this short, yet profound verse is that do we consider
WHAT we eat and WHERE it comes from (how it is grown,
under what conditions, etc…)?
In addition, in the 2nd chapter of the Qur’an, Suratul
Baqarah, verse 168, we are told: "O you who have true
faith! Eat from the Earth, that which is permissible (Halal)
and pure (Tayyib)…” Here, two conditions are given for
what we put into our stomach: it should be permissible –
according to Islamic law – and pure.
Islam also actively promotes physical fitness, and the
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) advised
his followers to engage in four specific forms of physical
activity (although we are not limited to only these):
horse-back riding, archery, swimming, and wrestling.
However the food we eat and the physical fitness we engage
in is not to be considered as the end, but rather a means to
something much greater.
In reality, Islam is all about a healthy balance between
"body" and "soul" – as they complement one another.
Islam is a holistic faith – not sacrificing the body for the
soul or vice versa. However, our body will not last for more
than 100 years – who lives longer than this? Not many
people… But the soul is eternal – either to live in
perpetual bliss in Paradise, or to be forever tormented in
Since this is the case, why do we not put a greater emphasis
on the life, health, vitality and strength of the soul?
We pay our personal trainer at the gym hundreds of dollars a
year to help us lose weight and stay in shape, but how much
are we ready to pay for spiritual guidance and instruction?
How much do we spend on inviting scholars and speakers to
our Islamic centers - paying their travel expenses and
granting them a generous "gift" for taking the time to
impart knowledge to us and helping our soul stay in shape?
When we get sick and need a doctor, we ensure we go to
one who has the credentials and license to practice. But
when it comes to Islamic teachings, ANYONE can come to the
center and be given the opportunity to speak and "guide" the
masses! The person may have never studied Islam in the
traditional centers of knowledge; their only contact with
Islamic teachings may be through reading a few books or
Goggling information on the Net, yet we feel that they are
worthy of guiding an entire community!
This is not to say that "self-taught" speakers should not
teach the community, but such "self-taught" people who are
able to impart the true teachings and address
contemporary issues are few and far between. In reality,
many "self-taught" Muslim speakers SHOULD NOT be addressing
the masses – just as some "officially-taught" Muslim
"scholars" should also NOT be addressing the masses.
How much do we contribute on an monthly or yearly basis
towards the publication and dissemination of Islamic
literature to benefit us and others around us? If only 300
believers were to give a yearly donation of $100.00 each,
they could fund the publishing of at least six books
dealing with Islam to be distributed throughout the
community and the general population! Has Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq
(peace be upon him) not said: "May the mercy of Allah be
upon those who keep our tradition alive. If people knew the
beauty of our teachings, they would have no choice but to
Are we ready to implement this challenge in our lives?
The prime question we need to ask ourselves is: How
much do I spend on spiritual fitness?
As we progress towards the advent of the Awaited Savior,
Imam al-Mahdi (may Allah hasten his reappearance), let
us begin by putting in place, in addition to our physical
activity, a strict spiritual regiment so that when the
Imam does call us, we are physically AND spiritually ready
to answer his call.
In a society where people spend billions of dollars on
healthy bodies, how much are we Muslims ready to spend on
In addition to working full-time for Canada's largest
manufacturer of smart phones, Shaikh Saleem Bhimji has also
written and translated numerous works on Islam and Shi'ism.
These can be read and purchased at
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