I’ve been following the England cricket tour of South Africa and the successes of our football team in qualifying for the world cup. I can see why the physical strength and well being of the players is so important. Islam encourages us to look after our bodies and prohibits us from neglecting it or harming it by over indulgence. We are encouraged to eat of the good and wholesome things which God has provided. The Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) encouraged regular exercise such as running, swimming, wrestling, archery and horse riding. He stressed that overeating and gluttony are harmful. Excessive abstinence from food is also discouraged since it leads to weakness and incapacity.
The Qur’an commends work and activity and frowns on inactivity and sluggishness. Those who strive and exert themselves are better than those who are lazy and remain idle. However, it is important to remember that physical fitness and strength is not an end in itself and the body is not venerated or worshipped. Muhammad said, “God does not look to your appearances and to your bodies but He looks to your hearts and deeds.” For people of faith spiritual fitness has to be a priority. Recently, two million Muslim pilgrims exerted themselves to try and achieve this spiritual fitness as they underwent tremendous physical worship and hardship during the hajj. The circumambulating of the Ka`bah, the running between the hillocks of Al-Safa and Al-Marwa, the exhausting travel to Mina, Muzdalifah and the plains of Arafat trying to improve their spiritual fitness.
Dear God, save us from being lazy and idle. Bless us with good health and spiritual strength. We ask you God to cure all those who suffer from physical ailments. We ask you God to cure all those who suffer from spiritual ailments, amin.