Health: Our Most Precious Possession

To follow up with the post I wrote a few weeks back regarding the hadith that details the conversation Prophet Muhammad (saws) had with his companion Abu Dharr,  I just wanted to include the second piece of advice given.  The last post dealt with taking advantage of youth before old age, whereas the second admonishment was to take advantage of one’s physical health before illness.

Certainly health is something we all take for granted except when we lose it.  The older we become, the more conscious we are of how our bodies simply aren’t responding the way they used to.  I’m sure many of the middle aged, older, and elderly may look back with regret at the careless way they lived their lives and the flippant attitude toward taking care of their health.  Some may even look at today’s youth and shudder at the careless, unconcerned approach they hold regarding their health, knowing full well that despite popular belief, no one will escape the reality of aging and the inescapable downward spiral of our health.

I know each time I’m sick, I am constantly thinking to myself that when I’m well again I’ll always be thankful for each second of my wellness, and will be conscious of every healthy moment.  Yet inevitably, after some time has passed since I begin to feel better, the memory of my resolution begins to fade and I struggle to make a conscious effort to remind myself of the phenomenal blessing God has given me of such good health and the full use of all my limbs.

SubhanAllah, on the days when I feel most down and depressed, I try to always remind myself of all the numerous blessings I’ve been given (physical as well as mental) – I’m sure there are countless others who would love to trade places with me in a heartbeat, despite all my overwhelming and obvious shortcomings and failures.   As Imam Ali (as) mentioned, whenever we start feeling badly, we should look at those less fortunate than us to remind ourselves of all the blessings God has given us, and to help us put our vision of ourselves back into perspective.


Healing: Miracles or Medicine?

Found a very interesting hadith today and thought I’d share, especially in light of the fact that some people believe they do not need medicine or doctors as long as their faith is strong enough.  Others who take medicine are sometimes viewed as lacking in faith (particularly those who seek help for mental health issues).  Yet, Islam reminds us that all healing comes from God, whether directly or ‘indirectly’; through both miracles and medical advancements.

Imam al-Sadiq (as) said, ‘A prophet from among the prophets fell sick and said, ‘I will not treat myself [with medicine] until the One who made me sick heals me’. Then Allah revealed to him saying, ‘I will not heal you until you treat yourself [with medicine] for verily the healing is from Me.’

Bihar al-Anwar, v. 62, p. 66, no. 15

This serves to remind us that God has given humankind the intellect and curiosity to explore and research the universe in order to find cures for the diseases that afflict us.  Refusing the results of this blessing is not faith, but is ignorance.

With that being said, it also doesn’t mean to rush out and take medicine for any ailment your doctor or the commercials on TV say you have (the US is far too over-medicated as it is).  It is best to do your own research in order to have a thorough understanding of your condition, along with the various options for treatment, their outcomes, and side effects.  Understanding side effects is very crucial as sometimes the side effects are worse than the original condition!

The Benefits of a Smile

“A smile is charity.” -Prophet Muhammad (saws)

(Bismillah irrahman irraheem.)

“A smile is charity” – such a seemingly simple statement – it only has four words – yet it holds such a powerful message that requires one to stop and reflect.  What does that mean, exactly, that a smile is charity?  Essentially, when we smile at others, we are bringing something positive into their lives – a smile of only a few seconds can have a long-lasting impact. 

Yet, just like with the Islamic concept of charity (bringing both benefit to the receiver but also a great deal of blessing to the giver), a smile brings benefit to both the receiver and to the ‘smiler’.  Even research today has confirmed the numerous benefits of smiling ( 

First, smiling makes you attractive.  People are drawn to those who look pleasant and open, and repelled by those who are grim and frowning.  Thus, smiling attracts people to you. 

Further, smiling can change your mood.  It’s hard to feel grumpy when you have your face contorted into a smile – it takes a lot of effort to do that (in fact, many more muscles are used when smiling as opposed to frowning)!  Psychologically, our behaviors are tied into both our emotions and thoughts, so if we are physically doing something positive (smiling), inevitably our thoughts and feelings will follow suit and turn more positive.  Physically, smiling releases endorphins and seratonin, both of which cause positive, happy emotions.  So, the next time you are feeling down, try smiling – the most natural drug for curing depression!

Smiling has other positive health effects as well.  Our immune systems are boosted by smiling; it also reduces stress and high blood pressure.  Smiling seems to be a multi-purpose drug for ailments that afflict us all. 

Finally, smiling helps bring positive energy to another person’s day and helps to brighten their mood.  Think back to when you were having a bad day and someone smiled at you – how did that make you feel?  Undoubtedly, your mood lifted – at least for a moment – as a result of their act of charity.  No amount of words, no amount of money – nothing at all – can have the same effect as a genuine smile. 

All Muslims should follow the sage advice of the Prophet – smile.  Always strive to have a positive and cheerful demeanor.  Walking around with angry, judgmental faces will only push people away and create a negative environment. 

So the next time you’re out, trying smiling.  There are no negative side effects!  It’s rare to find something that practically everyone has the capacity to do that not only benefits you, but everyone around you as well!