(6) Keeping fit and healthy as advised by Islam (Part 1)

Keeping fit and healthy as advised by Islam

Part 1:  Eat rightly

By:  Shaik Kadir

Islam advises Muslims to eat right and moderately to stay healthy.  As they say, health is wealth.

Every year, Ramadan has given us the opportunity to make significant changes in our lifestyle in positive ways through self-control and discipline, one of which is eating correctly and moderately.

However, from Syawal onwards, we have been shocking our stomachs with the amount of food we allowed to enter our stomachs!

Instead of applying and continuing with the “skills” we have acquired from the Ramadan “training”, the moment the blessed month of Ramadan ends, we abandon the eating discipline “skill” acquired.  As a result, many people have complained of getting all sorts of health problems.

On Hari Raya Aidilfitri itself, we tend to eat as if we are taking “revenge” for controlling our food intake in Ramadan. Rarely do we hear the Hari Raya visitor declining to eat with a good Islamic excuse.  On the other hand, if he visited five houses on that day, he would eat five times.

Islam recommends eating only when hungry, and that too not to over-eat. According to a hadith of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), we are advised to leave one-third of our stomach empty after eating. This means that if our stomachs are always full of food, then it is bad as we can be assailed by any health ailment.  However, we do not seem to follow this advice too.

Then, after the month of Ramadan, there is the beginning of the “wedding season” when you are invited by your friends and relatives for wedding receptions, at least two or three receptions a month.

In modern times, with buffet facilities, people are tempted with all sorts of food spread out for them to take any food and in any quantity.

The guests would line up at one end of the food table with empty plates and when they reached the other end, their plates would be filled with briyani rice, dalca meat, fried chicken, fish cutlet,  shrimp, sambal goreng, pineapple acar, cucumber acar, and vegetable rojak complete with its thick peanut-sambal toppings.

After eating the main dish, they would approach the dessert table, and take some of the variety of sweet kuih-kuih, bubur caca, bubur kacang, fruit cocktail, suji, teh-tarik and even sometimes, ice cream.

Often, as they had taken too much, whether the main dish or the dessert, much food would be left on their plates uneaten.   They forget that there are so many poor people and children in many Asian and African counties who do not have proper meals at all.  Hungry and under-nourished children even picked up food-scraps from dustbins and rubbish dumps.  (Parents would need to teach their children about such realities to ensure that no food is wasted at home or at functions.  Tell them that food wastage is a sin too.)

Allah does warn us: “Eat and drink but waste not in excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” (Surah Al-A’raf, 7:31)

As Muslims, we ought to follow the advice given by Islam not to waste food, but to eat nutritious food and eat moderately.

The Quran says: “And eat of the things which Allah has provided for you, lawful and good, so fear Allah, in Whom you believe.”  (Surah Al-Maida, 5:88)

Certain types of good food, like fruits and honey (Surah Al-Maida, 16:68-69) are repeatedly emphasised in the Quran.  One of the verses on fruits says: “And from the fruits of date palm and grapes you get wholesome drink and food: Behold in this also is a sign for those who are wise” (Surah An-Nahl, 16:67).

The word “wise” or “use the intellect” (ya’qiluna) in the verse above, advises us to be wise in choosing food. Not all food, even when “halal”, is appropriate for every individual.  Mutton, for example, because of its fats content, is not good for those with high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Our body is a gift from God. So we need to keep it healthy and functioning properly so that we can have the will and energy to enjoy life and perform our various ibadah and be worthy Muslims.

(Continued – Part 2: “Exercise regularly”.)

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