This is a post inspired by the second lesson of Qibla on Islamic Medicines. It is not a verbatim summary as references have been pulled from Medicine, and the Quran and Sunnah in addition to what was taught.
HOW DOES EXERCISE AND REST ALLOW MUSLIMS TO FULFILL THE PRINCIPLES OF HUMANITY
Imam Ghazali defined the principles of humanity as defined in Islam as five (these principles are also called the blood, the bones and the flesh of Islam or the Shariah of Islam)
In order to safeguard humanity we have to protect five things:
Protect our Deen (Both the quality and quantity and what we do for the sake of Allah)
Protect Human Survival
Protect our offspring
Protect our wealth
What is the relationship of Exercise and rest in fulfilling these five principles of Islam pertaining to humanity?
EXERCISE AND PROTECTING THE DEEN
The practices of Deen require both the physical and mental vigor for actualization of our connection with Allah and maintain clarity and punctuality in our ebadaat.
A. SALAH In Salah a body that is well exercised and rested will be much more amenable and suitable for the postures required in Salah. Such a body and mind will be able to focus on the Salah and its connection with Allah, better than an unexercised body with a weak back supporting a flabby belly. Such an unexercised body tires quickly on standing.
Exercise tones the muscles all over the body such that when we sit in Salah and Dhikr, the toned muscles protect the deep nerves from compression. Muscles with poor tone are unable to do so resulting in compression of the nerves. This may cause pain (sciatica) or at least numbness followed by tingling when one uncoils from jalsah to iqamah.
A well-exercised body provides good circulation to the brain in all positions, thus focus can be maintained without feeling faint on bending in rukuh or falling asleep in sajdah.
A well exercised body allows stillness in the body, prevention of scratching body parts, shifting feet or hands due to the weightiness of limbs with poorly toned muscles that cannot support a posture for Salah for even a short time.
You will often hear men complain how long the surah was for which they had to stand or how long the dua was after Ramadan in which they had to stand and keep their hands raised in the Dua (begging) position. These discomforts come from a body that has not been fed halal and tayyab has been overindulged in food and drinks and has thus become lazy. Coupled with this is a lack of exercise both internal and external depriving important parts of the brain and body from optimal delivery of oxygen and blood carrying nutrients.
The exercised body when standing in Salah does not call attention to itself because of its weakness or difficulties. It clears the way for the mind to be free of physical discomfort and focus on listening and reciting the words of Allah with full attention and thus absorbing them at a conscious and subconscious level, further strengthening the mind and body.
Good tests of whether your body responded well to a long Salah are whether you were energized after it or you were tired after it.
In a well exercised body where internal exercises have been done including breathing exercises and abstention from harmful toxins such as cigarette smoke and street drugs, one finds ease of breath and comfort (tutmaina quloob)
People with chronic lung problems, asthma, COPD, or even just couch potatoes will find it difficult to recite an ayah to its completion with correct tajweed as they will run out of breath or stop at the wrong stops. ((CDC in Atlanta reports that the most chronic and irreversible lung disease comes from being exposed to smokers in the family as a child)
Thus evaluating the environment of our homes and our workplace and removing harmful factors becomes important for the internal health of our bodies.
Exercise improves both internal and external body health, facilitating the recitation of the Quran and performance of Dhikr, which further strengthens our bodies and minds, and elevating us spiritually making it a circle of healing.
C. ZAKAH: An exercised body both externally and internally can work harder, longer and more efficiently bringing halal money and is able to help others through zakat and sadaqa, thus improving the lot of others around him and spreading comfort, happiness and peace as well as earning the duas of others.
Sahih Hadith: “ Allah is helping his servant as long as the servant is helping his brother”
Exercise encourages good health, facilitates hard work, and allows the believer to give zakah and sadaqa as he is working efficiently enabled by his good health.
D. SAWM; A believer is rewarded endlessly for fasting. Allah states there is a designated door especially for those who fast called Ar Rayann. Fortunately with exercise and rest one can maintain a body state, which allows one to fast, it is a true blessing from Allah. Those who cannot fast can make reparation, but are deprived of a huge blessing of the experience of the fast on the mind and the body.
Thus a huge incentive to exercise and rest and stay healthy is to be able to fulfill the fasting in Ramadan, a pillar of our faith that is rewarded manifold.
In Ramadan the extra prayers tarawih also require additional stamina, which can be built in by regular exercise and rest (and halal and tayyab food)
E. HAJJ: This act of ebadah is rigorous in both physical and mental tests. One is placed in unforeseen, unfamiliar circumstances with millions of human beings from all parts of the globe, exposed to many different types of viruses and infections. In this milieu certain specific arkaan of hajj have to performed at a designated time and place. This requires both physical strength and mental discipline. Both of which come from a regular diet of exercise, rest and halal and tayyab food.
Thus to safeguard humanity and successfully fulfill the first principle of doing so which is Protection of our Deen we have to examine what goes into protecting our Deen. Are we able to fulfill the arkaan of our Deen in the manner and method prescribed by the Quran and Sunnah?
How does exercise and rest or lack of it affect the preservation of our Deen and the safeguarding of humanity?
In every step of our Deen if we are healthy in mind and body the spirit follows. Exercise and rest are both essential to being able to protect our Deen and fulfill both quality and quantity what Allah has commanded us as part of being human and practice humanity.
Allah knows best!
More later Allah willing!
Photo courtesy***: http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/book/walking-distance