The Strong Believer Article Two – Healthy Bodies, Minds, and Souls

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Article Two of Twelve in SeekersGuidance Scholar Shaykh Irshaad Sedick’s “The Strong Believer” Series: Being Healthy for Allah

The Strong Believer is a podcast (and now, a series of articles) for young Muslims seeking to improve their bodies, minds, and souls. This podcast series by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick is intended to assist Muslims aged 20 and up who want to live healthy, strong, active, and wholesome lives without compromising their faith.

Our goal is to encourage and guide Muslims with fitness and nutrition advice while also fulfilling their Islamic duties. We are motivated by the words of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) who said: “The Strong Believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, while there is goodness in them both…”

Being Healthy for Allah

عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما قال‏:‏ قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ ‏ ”‏ نعمتان مغبون فيهما كثير من الناس‏:‏ الصحة والفراغ‏.“‏ ‏[‏رواه البخاري‏]

Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “There are two blessings which many people are fooled by. (They are) health and free time.” [Bukhari]

Health – The Biggest Blessing

After faith, one of the biggest blessings from Allah is good health. We can easily say that after Islam and a sound mind, the biggest blessing is one’s health. The ability to see, hear, touch, walk, and work perfectly is a blessing from Allah that we cannot thank Allah for enough.

Ibn al-Qayyim in Zad al-Ma’ad said:

“Since health is one of the most precious favors Allah has given to His servants, the most generous of His gifts, and most plentiful of His bounties, nay even more. Absolute health is the most precious of all favors, without exception – it is fitting that whomever Allah grants a portion of this good fortune, to cherish, preserve, and guard it against harm.”

The Health Movement

More and more people realize that health is precious and taking care of it is essential. Many Muslims around the world have joined the health movement, and this is a beautiful development.

Living a healthy lifestyle with sufficient training and balanced nutrition is excellent for a plethora of worldly reasons, but is there a way for the benefit to extend beyond this world and benefit in the Hereafter where it matters most?

Based on observation, Muslims often struggle to find a connection between their health journey and their faith. Many Muslims, unfortunately, break the Sacred Laws of Allah “for the sake of health, sport, or balance.”

There is a way to live a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle, and it’s easier than one would think. It begins with a simple but profound intention – to be a healthy and strong believer for the sake of Allah.

Intention and Action

One of the most seminal and oft-quoted Prophetic traditions contains the two keys we need for “Being Heathy for Allah.”

عنْ أَمِيرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَبِي حَفْصٍ عُمَرَ بْنِ الْخَطَّابِ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ: ” إنَّمَا الْأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّاتِ، وَإِنَّمَا لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مَا نَوَى، فَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ إلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ فَهِجْرَتُهُ إلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ، وَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ لِدُنْيَا يُصِيبُهَا أَوْ امْرَأَةٍ يَنْكِحُهَا فَهِجْرَتُهُ إلَى مَا هَاجَرَ إلَيْهِ.“

It is narrated on the authority of the Leader of the Believers, Abu Hafs ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace), say:

Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended. Whoever migrates with an intention for Allah and His messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allah and his Messenger. And whoever migrates for worldly gain or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for.” [Bukhari; Muslim]

Intentions

There’s nothing wrong with intending to lose weight, gain weight, be fit, build muscle, or feel good through one’s health journey. The above narration teaches that we will get exactly what we intended – and nothing more.

A true believer will not settle for only that, though. True believers will first intend their health journey to becoming “Strong Believers” for Allah because they know that “the strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, while there is goodness in both.” [Muslim]

Through a noble intention, a believer stands to benefit from Allah’s pleasure and rewards in this life and the next.  The worldly benefits mentioned above are the natural byproducts of a health journey regardless of one’s intention.

By having a higher intention for one’s health journey, the believer attains a true win-win.

Actions

The second key to “Being Heathy for Allah” is actions. Intentions are necessary but not sufficient. The narration says, “Actions are by their intentions….” A believer can never reach a healthy lifestyle for the sake of Allah with good intentions alone. One must take action.

Taking action means doing the work, making an effort, and remaining consistent. For the believer, though, one critical point must come well in advance of deciding which actions or exercises to do. The believer’s actions must conform with their faith.

Every step in the health journey of a believer must be a step closer and pleasing to Allah. Without this necessary condition, the noblest intentions and most efficient training will never contribute to being a “Strong Believers.” Strong, perhaps, but not a “Strong Believers.”

With the two keys, divine intention and God-pleasing actions, the believer is now ready to live as healthy and strong believers for the sake of Allah while also attaining all the excellent worldly benefits sought after by the ever-growing health movement.

Tips

Intention

Each time you set out to exercise, first renew your intention. Write it down and say it out loud: “I intend to be a healthy and strong believer for the sake of Allah. I will uphold Sacred Law and never compromise my faith.”

Actions (before, during, and after Training)
  1. Dress to be prayer-ready & never miss a prayer;
  2. Lower your gaze and guard your chastity;
  3. Protect your eyes, ears, and tongue from the unlawful;
  4. Avoid that about which you doubt;
  5. Always ask, “Is Allah pleased with this?”

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others. He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid (ar-Rashideen), Mowbray, Cape Town. Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town. He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.