What do pious and expert scholars say about living healthy lifestyle, what does Islam say about it?
A healthy and happy life is no accident, in addition to healthy genes it depends on good habits of mind and body. By following Islamic teachings, one is already adopting good habits of mind and body. Take for example the beliefs how they nurture positive attitudes, worship and rituals how they train a person to take seriously social responsibilities and moral values how they help in building personal relationships. Similarly, by expressly forbidding drinking alcohol, smoking, gambling and eating pork Islam has laid solid foundations for healthy lifestyle, a safe and hygienic way of living. Let me give few more examples to make the point even clearer;
- The cleaning of teeth, the washing of hands, face and feet five times before ritual prayer promotes secure of health and hygiene.
- The practice of cutting nails, trimming moustache and shaving public hair are important step towards hygiene.
- The prophet encouraged people to have a good breakfast early in the morning, to always have a light super in the evening and discouraged over-eating. He would say “Fill the stomach one third with food, one third with water and leave one third empty.” The Quran in fact forbids overeating: “eat and drink but do not over-eat” (Quran).
The prophet constantly preached the message of health, he knew that healthy bodies carry healthy souls. On one occasion he said, “The example of stomach is like a pond. There are outlets in all directions from it. If the stomach is healthy then the rest of body will be healthy.”
He also said, “Stomach is place of diseases” meaning diseases start from here and thus emphasising the kind of food we eat and the amount we consume. The best policy he suggested was to eat little when you are really hungry.
- The prophet taught how we need to be careful with the food we eat. He said! “Always keep covered the food” so its protected from airborne germs.
- Anyone who met leper (a contagious disease) was told to stay a metre away from them to avoid catching the disease. Similarly, he taught “that people from an area of plague should not go to another area that was free of plague.” Thus, laying foundations for idea of “Quarantine”.
Some healthy foods recommended and eaten by the Prophet
He was fond of oat and barley breads. Haleem was his favourite soup this was meat gravy with pieces of bread in it. He relished eating dates and preferred “dinner table that was green” meaning it had salads. The Quran repeatedly talks about the fruits that the people of Paradise will enjoy in grapes and pomegranate.
The Quran in several places mentions the “blessed” nature or beneficial nature of olives and fig. similarly; honey is acclaimed for its healing qualities. This was another of the Prophets favourite food. These foods are known to boost the immune system and help in maintaining health.
The Prophet liked Physical activity
He rode horse, donkey and camel regularly and kept himself active. It is narrated that when the famous Makkan wrestler challenged him to wrestle with him, he took up the challenge and twice laid him on the ground. This shows he was physically fit and strong.
He would race with his wife Aisha. On one occasion he won the race and on another she won – he remarked “we are equal now”.
The Health Benefits of Fasting
Although the primary purpose of fasting is ‘so that you may develop taqwā’, it carries health benefits as well. The obvious is weight loss, for thirty days a whole meal and a snack or two are taken away from our daily food intake. This is equivalent to about 1,000 calories per day, 30,000 calories in a month, roughly the amount needed to burn off eight pounds (3kg).
Fasting in the month of Ramaḍan is a great blessing for the overweight and can be used as a way to lose weight healthily. Nibbling biscuits and chocolate between meals are amongst the two main reasons for obesity – by fasting, one easily rids oneself of such compulsions. In fact, the practice of fasting should really help all of us to develop the good habits of moderation, simplicity and attentiveness, which will ensure that we do not over indulge in eating. As Allāh, Most High, says:
﴾Eat and drink but do not squander. Indeed, Allāh does not love the squanderers.﴿ 
 Sūrah al-ʿArāf (Q7:31).
And Allah knows best.
Dr Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari
Director of British Fatwa Council