Continuing with the discoveries in ‘Fiqh of health’ authored by the late Dr Muhammad Haytham Al Khayyat, I would like to discuss another valuable point which is on storing up health to be used in case of sickness.
Dr Muhammad Haytham referred to a Hadith from Prophet Muhammad wherein the latter said: “And store up enough health to draw on during your illness.” This was another most magnificent and profound guidance coming from the last prophet of Allah for the goodness of humanity.
How do you store up health? The advice from Dr Muhammad Haytham is to have proper nutrition to enhance the immunity level and supplement it with physical fitness. I am not sure what measures people of that era must have adopted upon receiving the advice. One can imagine that they must have already been better than us physically as they walked a lot and burnt calories to the limit in day-to-day chores. I assume they must have improved on food intake, enhanced personal hygiene and took more rest.
On further exploring the ‘storing up health’ in the current environment, I could cite many steps one can take to remain healthy and strengthen his or her immunity. Starting from cleanliness on the personal and home levels to taking the flu vaccine and eating the right and Halal food to drinking enough water besides getting adequate sleep, all these steps could boost immunity; however, there is no guarantee that you will not fall sick. As mentioned earlier, there is also a benefit in falling sick at times to test the immunity level.
In addition to physical challenges, human beings are also required to combat the stress emanating from day-to-day life issues, such as hardship to earn enough money or maintenance of relationships. To manage the mental stress, Dr Muhammad Haytham urged reinforcing the relationship with the Lord of the Worlds. Thus, he believed complete health is not only the absence of diseases but the body enjoying the best conditions physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.
Dr Muhammad Haytham was of the opinion that the concept of accountability may work wonders for compelling human beings to preserve health. He quoted another Hadith from Prophet Muhammad the gist of which is that on the Day of Judgment, no one shall be allowed to move from his position until he has been asked by Allah the Most Exalted, on how he spent his life, used the knowledge bestowed on him, earned and spent money and on what pursuit used up his health. Here, ‘he’ also includes womenfolk.
The general perception among Muslims is that the accountability is only connected to wealth; nevertheless, it is clear from the Hadith that with Allah, the sphere of accountability is larger to cover every aspect of human life, including knowledge, earning and spending money as well as health. Dr Muhammad Haytham then described in detail the commandments from Prophet Muhammad on personal grooming and hygiene and their importance from a religious perspective as well as from the perspective of health.
A major cause which destroys health is overeating. Dr Muhammad Haytham quoted from the Quran, Chapter 20 (Taha) Verse 81: “Eat from the good things We have provided for you, but do not transgress in them, or My wrath will befall you. And whoever My wrath befalls is certainly doomed.” The wrath here could be taken to mean the loss of good health and onslaught of diseases.
In further explanation, Dr Khayyat also quoted another priceless and well-known Hadith in which Prophet Muhammad said: “No person fills a container to worse effect than he fills his own stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to have a few bites to keep himself fit. If he must eat, let him keep one-third of the stomach space for food, one-third for water and one-third for air (breathing).” Modern science has since concluded that a constantly full stomach is the center of illnesses whereas a relatively empty stomach on a regular basis is a sign of being healthy. Scientists have also recommended the same ratio of food, water and air which Prophet Muhammad had instructed his companions to follow in 7th century AD.
I remember an interesting discussion a doctor had with a not-so-literate taxi driver in my presence some years ago. The driver was concerned with his protruding tummy and needed to know if it was a disease. The doctor explained to him with a simple example that if you take four pieces of bread and perform physical efforts equal to two pieces of bread, the remaining two pieces of bread shall add on to your body, especially around the stomach. But if you take two pieces of bread and carry out the work equal to four pieces of bread, the result shall be the opposite. I think it was a gem of advice from the doctor, but I would not know if the driver acted on it.
Dr Muhammad Haytham concluded his article by saluting the Imam of a mosque in a village who teaches the small community on how to remain healthy by adhering to the Islamic teachings on cleanliness in what they eat, drink, wear and where they live.
The purpose of this educative series and the article is not to hurt any religious or commercial sentiments either consciously or even unwittingly.
Next week: Discussion on SDG 3 to continue.