Physical Wellness: Intercourse, Care, and Listening

This is the fifth in a series of articles on physical wellness based on Abu Zayd al-Balkhi’s work. The full seminar can be accessed here: Physical Wellness Workshop: Balkhi’s The Health of Bodies and Souls.

Abu Zayd also wrote at length about the relationship between health and sexual intercourse. The Sunna is to see that our physical relations are a blessing from Allah. One is rewarded for one’s intimacy with one’s spouse because if one directed it in impermissible ways, one would accrue sin. If one directs it towards good ways, in the permissible, fulfilling one’s need for the sake of Allah, fulfilling one spouse’s need for the sake of Allah and out of avoiding the impermissible, there are numerous rewards.

The Sunna in intercourse is to take care not only of one’s own physical desires but those of one’s spouse. That too is a means of reward as it satisfies another and keeps them from harm. This is something that men in many parts of the world historically neglected. One should not approach one’s wife like an animal approaches an animal. It just mounts the animal and fulfills its desire. Rather, have preliminaries to the fulfilling of desire.

Physical Needs

Take care of the desire of your spouse. This is particularly an instruction for men but it applies both ways. One channels this physical need in good ways and in ways of benefit that bring the husband and wife together.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

ّّWhoever guarantees for me what is between their two jaws (i.e. their speech) and what is between their two legs (meaning their sexual desires) I guarantee for them paradise.” 

Channelling one’s physical desires in a good way purposefully entails planning it out in a good manner.

One should be careful of the lustful gaze, the lustful thought, and the lustful hearing. Much music stirs lust. Practice restraint except with one’s spouse. 

Abu Zayd shares elements of planning. Amongst them is to plan the right times because if you do not plan when you have intercourse, it becomes difficult to sustain. One scholar realized that a lot of his students under a certain age were complaining about bedroom issues. He told all his students under 40 that they should, by default, engage in intercourse three times a week. Many people are not able to establish good habits related to their sexual relations. 

Have gratitude for this as well as a sense of responsibility. It is something you owe your spouse. 

Taking Care of Health

On this topic, Abu Zayd gives a few keys. He mentions that one of the important things in guarding one’s health is the need for movement. You need to keep active and have movement throughout your day in general. Lack of motion is physically detrimental. 

Furthermore, you need to have some physical exercise where you exert yourself in the ways of movement. The ways of exercise are many such as horse riding, wrestling, swimming, and other purposeful beneficial ways of physical exercise. 

As part of taking care of one’s health, Abu Zaid talks about massage and the various ways that one can massage oneself and he established that the companions, on occasion, massaged the Prophet’s back or feet and so on (Allah bless him and give him peace).

Taking care of one’s health is part of taking good care. Do so purposefully with a plan. 


Abu Zayd also mentions about listening. Listening is important to one’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. 

Listening affects you physically. What you hear affects your physical state. If you hear happy things your vitals change. If you hear some really good news, you experience physical change. When people hear shocking news, bad news, or stressful news, they are affected physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

If someone said, “Someone took your computer and your phone and smashed it to bits and then they hacked into your bank account and withdrew all your money,” your vitals would change.

Be careful of what you listen to and how you listen. One seeks a peaceful environment. One of the names for a house is maskan which means a place of serenity. Seek calm, it is praiseworthy. Do not raise your voice excessively. 

Also, in a discretionary manner, be purposeful about what you listen to worldly listening and spiritual listening. It can either procure good in your life or result in harm. There is worldly uplifting listening which is by good company. Listen to the good, rather, say good to people. 

Guard Your Ears

Listen to good things that facilitate benefit, and uplifts, but we have to realize that there is harmful listening also. This is listening to the sinful or listening to the distressful. Many people follow much news that is emotionally distressful for them and that is not good. 

Be purposeful in what you listen to and likewise, what you see of news and other things. Take it as a source of gaining understanding and awareness of what is going on so one can pursue the good. That is the only purpose of news: What good can I do?

Most news is negative and most of it will wear people down. Pray for the good and relieve yourself. Do not spend time listening to unnecessary things. Just think of how many thousands of people are dying every day. If we listen to how every single one of those people died we would be depressed unless we are purposeful in when we listen by taking heed from it. 

Listen to the Quran. Listen to beneficial religious knowledge. Listening to other wholesome things. Cut out music as it is not permissible. Listen to spiritual music (nasheed) instead. Listen to other things that are uplifting and wholesome.