Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Overeating and Keeping Fit in Islam

Lately, I have been turning to random motivational sayings for eating right and working out. They are mostly sayings from trainers, authors and others who have had success leading a healthy life. They are awesome, and really do inspire me.

But, then it occurred to me...whenever I have a problem or need an answer to any other lifestyle-related question, the first thing I turn to is the Qu'ran and hadiths.
So, why wouldn't I do the same for inspiration to lose weight and eat right?

(Not sure what a 'hadith' is? Click here to find out!)

I knew that we as Muslims are not supposed to overeat and that we are supposed to keep our bodies healthy and not harm them. I mean come on, we are the only religion that fasts (no food OR water during the day) for 30 days straight in Ramadan, mashaallah!
But, after reading the actual hadiths and verses from the Quran, I feel even MORE responsibility to keep myself healthy and fit.

This is a sahih (sound) hadith that was related by Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn Majah and An-nasaa'i:
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Food for one is enough for two and food for two is enough for three and food for three is enough for four.”

It is SO true. I don't know how many times I have stretched one large plate of food between me and one of the boys, and even though at first it didn't seem like there would be enough, there turned out to be PLENTY, and we all had our bellies full.
Reminds me of the saying 'this is enough food to feed an army'. Because it probably could...a small army, anyway! :)

Another great hadith from our Prophet is this one. It's a great reminder for how much we should eat and drink.

On the authority of Al-Miqdaam ibn Maadiy-Karib who said: I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying: “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.” (sahih hadith- Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa'I, Ibn Majah)

It is SO hard in our society today to stop eating when we are full. Sometimes we even think about what we are going to eat next, while we STILL have food in our mouths. These hadiths teach us to eat to get rid of the hunger, and to give our bodies what they need, but don't go beyond that to the point of feeling extremely full.

Besides not over-doing it with the food, Muslims are also taught to eat GOOD and healthy foods, that do not harm our bodies.

“Eat of the good things which We have provided for you.” (Quran 2:173) “Eat of what is lawful and wholesome on the earth.” (Quran 2:168)

“And it is He Who produces gardens trellised and untrellised, and date palms, and crops of different shape and taste (its fruits and its seeds) and olives, and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in taste). Eat of their fruit when they ripen...” (Quran 6:141)

“It is He who sends down water from the sky with which He brings up corn, olives, dates and grapes and other fruit.” (Quran 16:11)

So, those are just a few of many verses in the Qu'ran that describe {generally} the good things that were put on this Earth for all of mankind to eat and take benefit from.

Not only do these scriptures and hadiths teach us to eat moderately and healthy, but also to keep our bodies fit and healthy.
Exercising and keeping active does not only improve your muscles and joints, it also improves your thinking and attitude. When you finish a workout, it's like a natural high, and you all of a sudden have new blood circulating all throughout your body. One good choice leads to another, and the next thing you know, you are making better choices in ALL aspects of your life, including prayer and worship.

If you have ever seen a Muslim pray, you know we don't just sit still and hang our heads low. Even our prayer is a precise motion that could really be considered a form of exercise. We go from a standing position, to putting our hands on our knees in bowing position, to prostrating on the ground, and coming back up. This is repeated anywhere from 2-4 times, depending on the prayer.

So, here are some examples of keeping fit in Islam:
A sahih hadith from at-Tabarani says:
 Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), said, “Any action without the remembrance of God is either a diversion or heedlessness excepting four acts: Walking from target to target [during archery practice], training a horse, playing with one’s family, and learning to swim.”

And this is one of my favorites, a hadith that is narrarated by Aisha, a wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
She said, “I raced with the Prophet and I beat him. Later when I had put on some weight, we raced again and he won. Then he said, ‘this cancels that (referring to the previous race)." (sahih, bukhari)

Some people probably ask themselves why Muslim women want to work out and look nice. I mean, we wear really loose clothing and cover from head to toe, so why bother to have a nice body? For those that don't know, we do not cover when we are at home, or when we are around our male family members. It's only when we are out in public, or among men whom we are not related to that we cover. So, we want to look nice not only for ourselves and our female friends, but also for our husbands. This is true for the man as well, as Islam encourages love between spouses, and having physical beauty and attraction is important in a Muslim marriage as well, for both the husband and the wife.

So, in closing, I hope this helped anyone who is looking to better themselves. Not only the outside, but the inside too. Remember to keep everything in moderation and not be extreme in anything (another lesson from Islam) and make sure it's for the sake of Allah alone.


RJ said...

Anyone who would ask why you would want to work out as a Muslim woman who keeps herself covered is not a very smart person. Whether you wanna run around buck naked, or cover yourself from head to toe- fitness is about being healthy. Good for you for working at it!

Nicole said...

LOL! You'd be surprised at how many people think we dress like that at home! I was asked why I bother to work out one time when I was buying a yoga mat. It never occurred to me that people would think that, but I guess there are those that do.

RJ said...

well, think about what YOU thought about when you saw someone dressed the way you dress, before you knew anything about it. I never knew better before I knew any muslims. I think the thought is "well, I wear the same thing at home as I do going out, so they must too". I think thats probably the number one reason that Westerners in general view Muslim women as oppressed- they just assume that you are required to be covered ALL of the time. They don't realize its a choice you make. I still get pissed here when I hear someone say that a Muslim woman who lives here should adjust to being here and NOT cover her head. Aside from that being a religious thing, I ask them how they feel after a long winter of being covered head to toe- how exposed do they feel when its time for a bikini? Not that everyone has my body issues- but I prefer winter, with the long pants and the sweaters. I am more comfortable that way. I can't imagine that someone could move to the Netherlands and suddenly just feel comfortable exposing their bodies just because everyone else does. Its completely ridiculous!