Physical Wellness: Taking Care

This is the second 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.

Behind the ten keys related to physical wellness are certain principles. It is to be noted how the author approaches the subject. He does not call it physical health or taking care of health. Rather, he talks about Masalih al-Abdan. Maslaha is the best interest of something. Therefore, a verbose translation would be, “Attaining the Full Benefit of Bodies and Selves.”

The word maslaha has a sense of purposefulness behind it because it means that you plan strive and exert yourself to attain this benefit. This arises from consistency in attaining these desired benefits. This entails exerting your reason, acquiring knowledge of religion, and benefiting from the wisdom of how you take care of your body.

Wholeness. Your best interest as a human being comes from a rightful balance of your physical health, emotional health, and mental health. Each of these has facets. 


Good is balance rightfully sustained. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) expressed it beautifully:

“Give all who have a right their due right.”

Good arises from benefitting from wisdom. Wisdom is of two types: Revealed wisdom and human experiential wisdom. There is incredible prophetic teaching concerning health and wellness. 

To some extent, Imam Abu Zaid writing early in Islamic history keeps alluding to teachings of the Quran and the Sunna, going on the assumption that you would be as a believer aware of these teachings. 

We need to remind ourselves of these prophetic teachings, to benefit from religious wisdom. There are amazing teachings in the Quran and the Sunna about taking care of health, particularly in the Sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). 

Also, benefit from experiential wisdom. Human experience comes in various forms. We are in an age where people take conventional medicine or conventional science to be capital T truth, and there are benefits to conventional medicine and notions of health etc. However, this is experiential knowledge. It comes through testing. 

Humans through history taken care of their health. It is not just the taking of medicine. Rather, health is taking care of those things (both through religious wisdom and human experiential wisdom) that safeguard our wellness.

One benefits from wisdom where one finds it. 

10 Keys to Physical Wellness

  1. The Need to Take Care of the Body

The human body is a trust from Allah. Also, some opportunities arise from taking care of the body which is to be able to pursue its worldly and next-worldly interests. 

However, there are consequences to not taking care of one’s health. Human beings live in an environment where their bodies are affected by the elements such as the hot and cold. What we eat and drink can harm us. Our hunger and thirst can harm us. The wrong mixture of elements can harm us. If you go out in the cold insufficiently dressed, you will be harmed. If you go out in the heat overdressed you could be harmed. 

If you do not take care of your body, you will be susceptible to harm and you will forego a benefit. It will affect your state too.

  1. Taking Care of One’s Home, Water, and Environment

A smart person takes care of their house, similarly, the body has a purposeful taking care of it.

Health and Environment

The metaphor is rich. Some taking care of the body is just adornment. It could even be ostentation such as people who bulk up to show off. But also, part of taking care of your health is to take care of your environment. Frequently we neglect this component. 

How you set up your home will affect your eating and much of your living. Each person is only responsible to the extent of what they have the ability to control.  

Try to take care of beneficial good in the way things are arranged in one’s home. Take care of the quality of your water. In the old days, this was an important thing because people had to take care to procure clean water. Ensure that the water you drink is good, clean water, to the extent that you can. This is an important part of health.

Often we think taking care of our house is to decorating it. Decorating the house is the scene, it is just beautifying. But, taking care of your home is taking care of your necessities. You have religious and worldly necessities.

What Facilitates Health?

You have needs, What facilitates benefit and good in the way things are arranged at home? What facilitates good health? Even how you set up the kitchen and what food you have available are all from taking care of your home environment so it is an environment conducive to social health.

There are places where people can sit together and plan out their home life, people eat together at least one or two meals a day for example. These are things that are from proper planning of one’s household and bringing in elements of Sunna living into one’s life.

Prefer simplicity while having gratitude for Allah’s blessings. Maintain a balance. Stay clear from falling into ostentation in one’s worldly living. Direct your focus towards benefit and good in the way things are arranged at home. Thereafter, consider adorning it. 

The kitchen affects your health possibly more than other places. Also, consider how your bedroom is set up, does it facilitate good sleep? How are your living quarters set up, do they facilitate good social living for the family?

When one is choosing a home, choose an environment that is conducive to physical, social and religious health. Do not just choose a house because it is a good price, good rent, or good location. Rather, consider how it facilitates physical, social, and religious wellness.