These days everyone wants to be fit and healthy; people from all age groups and professions actively strive towards it on a daily basis. The question now arises as to why there is such a need and an emphasis on fitness in today’s days and age rather than a century ago? Why is the obesity rate increasing every year, particularly in the Muslim Ummah? I have been in the fitness industry for over seven years, playing numerous sports that are physically demanding, including wrestling, soccer, tennis, swimming and volleyball. These sports are physically demanding and require massive bodily strength and endurance. In this article, I will share my experiences of the lessons that I have learned in all those seven years about fitness and strength.
Ahead of all else, a good diet is one of the most important parts of your everyday life, no matter what sports you play or what fitness program you are enrolled in, or any other health-related activity that you indulge in: the diet is one of the most crucial factors in maintaining your physique.
But does Islam offer us a diet plan to follow?
Despite the fact that there is an enormous amount of protein in fish, dates, olives and other real foods present in the grocery stores, people today still choose to go for protein shakes and protein pills. The protein powders, protein pills and other supplements might increase your muscle size, but will weaken your body from the inside, as there are numerous long-term side effects of supplement use, such as kidney disorders, an upset stomach, hormonal disruption, and the list goes on. It is an irony that Muslims these days pay hundreds of dollars to doctors and nutritionists to recommend a diet plan and seek advice regarding eating habits when Islam has to offer all of this eating related advice for free. It is astonishing to see obesity on the rise in the Muslim Ummah when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said,
“No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach…But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.”
In addition to this, modern research indicates that overeating leads to many stomach related problems and disturbs the digestion process. Furthermore, one of the main reasons for overeating is snacking continuously; people eat when they are watching movies, sitting, talking, walking and while doing other everyday activities, all in addition to the three meals they consume during the day.
The essence of real strength and fitness lies in the Sunnah diet, which is simply following the food and eating habits of our Prophet. It is important for every Muslim that in order to live a fit and healthy life, one must learn his eating manners; one of the most important aspects of eating that Prophet emphasized was eating the correct proportion of food and not overloading the stomach. The Prophet used to eat lamb, dates, vegetable, fruits, olives and nuts for a source of strength. One important here is that Prophet Muhammad used to consume meat moderately, eating excessive meat is not healthy for your stomach. There is a common trend in Muslim household to consume meat 7 days a week which is not the practice of the Prophet and his companions. These foods have an enormous amount of iron, protein, fiber, potassium and other vitamins in them that helps build inner strength and make muscles and bones stronger.
Prophet Muhammad’s favourite drink was water yet today we have come to live on all sorts of carbonated drinks and juices that have different types of preservatives and chemicals present in it. Consuming soft drinks is the reason for an increase in tooth decay, obesity, liver damage, weak bones and many other health-related problems. Another important habit of his was to use his hands to eat food and to clean the plate upon the completion of his meal. Both of these habits are praised by modern research on eating habits, as doctors have concluded that a food’s main protein and nutrition is present at the bottom of the plate. When the food is cooked, such nutrition cascades its way to the bottom of the plate, thus we often fail to utilize such important minerals. One of the many reasons why the licking of fingers is recommended after a meal is the fact that at the tips of the fingers lays digestive enzymes, which help in digestion and stomach health.
Also read: 5 reasons you should eat with you hands
Another crucial point that Muslims often ignore is breathing through the nose and using lungs rather than the stomach, as using the stomach to inhale and exhale is another important reason as to why people develop a belly as they start to age. Prophet Muhammad never used to use his stomach while inhaling or exhaling air, he used to use his lungs.
Finally, by implementing the recommended eating habits and foods of our Prophet Muhammad, an individual can strengthen his bones and muscle and maintain his body weight. Following the Sunnah diet can lead to the reduction of weight, may cure many stomach diseases and a healthier body. All the eating habits of Prophet Muhammad coincide with recent scientific research and discovery. Let us all work together to improve our health and our strength so that we can support and protect our deen and family and at the same time revive the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
by Tanzeel Raza