The Muslim and His Own Self

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Chapter 2


Islam wants the Muslim to stand out among people, readily distinguished by his appearance, dress, decent behaviour and good deeds, so that he will be a good example and worthy of the great message that he brings to people.

According to a hadith narrated by the great Sahabi Ibn al- hanzaliyyah, the Prophet (s) told his Companions, when they were travelling to meet some brothers in faith:

´You are going to visit your brothers, so repair your saddles and make sure that you are dressed well, so that you will stand out among people like an adornment, for Allah does not love ugliness.' 1

Note: 1. Reported by Abu Dawud, al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak. Its isnad is hasan.

The Prophet (s) considered an unkempt and careless appearance, and scruffy clothes and furnishings, to be forms of ugliness, which is hated and forbidden by Islam.

The true Muslim does not neglect himself, no matter how busy he is with his Islamic responsibilities, because the outward appearance of a man cannot be separated from his inner nature. A refined and pleasant appearance befits a noble and decent essence: this is how the Muslim who is to call others to Allah should be.

The smart Muslim is one who strikes a balance between the needs of his body, mind and soul. He gives each the attention it deserves, and does not exaggerate in one aspect to the detriment of the others. In seeking to strike the right balance, he is following the wise guidance of the Prophet (s).

'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn al-'As (r) reported that the Prophet (s) knew about his exaggeration in worship, because he told him ('Abdullah):

´Have I not heard that you fast all day and stay up all night in prayer?' He said, ´That is true, O Messenger of Allah.' The Prophet (s) told him: ´Do not do that. Fast and break your fast, sleep and get up. For your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you, your wife has a right over you, and your visitors have a right over you. (Bukhari and Muslim)

How can the Muslim achieve this balance between his body, mind and soul?

1- His Body

Moderation in food and drink

The Muslim takes good care of his body, actively promoting its good health and strength. So he is moderate in his intake of food and drink, avoiding greed and consuming only what he needs to maintain his well-being and energy. This is in accordance with the guidance of Allah in the Qur'an:

( . . . Eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.) (Qur'an 7:31)

Similarly, the Prophet (s) also advised moderation in food and drink:

´There is no worse vessel for the son of Adam to fill than his own stomach, but if he must fill it, then let him allow one third for food, one third for drink, and one third for air.' 2

Note: 2. A hasan hadith, narrated by Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi, et al., and authenticated as sahih by al-Hakim.

'Umar (r) said:

´Beware of filling your stomachs with food and drink, for it is harmful to the body and causes sickness and laziness in performing prayers. Be moderate in both food and drink, for that is healthier for your bodies and furthest removed from extravagance. Allah will hate the fat man (one who revels in a life of luxury), and a man will not be condemned until he favours his desires over his religion.' 3

Note: 3. al-Kanz, 8/47.

The Muslim avoids drugs and stimulants, especially those which are clearly known to be haram. He sleeps early and wakes early, and does not take medicine except for illness. Besides this, everything in his way of life is aimed at promoting his natural health and energy.

The smart Muslim knows that a strong believer is more loved by Allah than a weak one, as the Prophet (s) said, so he tries to strengthen his body through a healthy lifestyle.

He exercises regularly

Although the Muslim usually enjoys good physical health, because of his abstention from haram or harmful food and drink, and his avoidance of bad habits such as staying up late or indulging in activities that may be detrimental to his well-being, he must still make a concerted effort to improve his bodily strength.

The healthy eating habits that he practises are supplemented by an organized exercise program, appropriate to his physical condition, age and social status. This gives strength, energy and vitality to his body, and provides immunity to illness.

If he is to reap the benefits of exercise, he plans to exercise regularly and does not give up. All of this is done in an organized and systematic fashion, but in moderation, as this is the hallmark of the true Muslim in every place and age.

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