Yesterday I gave a speech at the Shaykha Fest and a woman stopped me as I was walking by and said “you hate fat people.” (As a statement not a question)- That really had me thinking about what I said and why I said it and here is my response to MUSLIM women.
I have been a health and fitness coach for 15 years. I have coached hundred if not thousands of women personally. I have heard their stories and their struggles. I have learned that part of job is to be straight forward in some instances. Especially with Muslims. Because the idea that Islam does not have an opinion of obesity is a wide spread myth. The idea that obesity does not effect the type of person you are, the type of Muslim you are is NOT true.
Islam is a physical religion. Four out of five pillars in Islam are physical actions.
Prayer is a physical action,
Zakat is a physical action,
Fasting is a physical action;
Making hajj is a physical action.
Our bodies were designed to worship Allah through movements.
We have a responsibility to take care of our bodies so that they can do what Allah has intended for them to do. What we place in our bodies is directly connected to our ability to worship Allah. This is not breaking news but it’s news we too often ignore. What and how much we eat is DIRECTLY connected to how we worship Allah.
Umar Ibn Khattab said : “Oh people beware of over eating because it makes you lazy in your salat, it makes your body weak and it makes you unhealthy and Allah dislikes the obese man. And you should be modest in your food, because that is closer to righteousness and further from excess and it makes you stronger in worshipping Allah, and you will perish when your desires becomes more likable to you then your religion“.
[Let’s be clear this is talking about obesity caused by overeating. Not by medical reasons. And we are NOT saying you are not a good Muslim if you are obese. Everyone is on their own journey and I respect that with no judgement.]
These are hard words to swallow as Muslims and I always have a debate with myself of rather or not I should say them to what ever particular crowd I am talking to. Then I think of the verse of Quran “Speak the truth even it be against yourself” When I do finally write it down as a note in the actual speech and I get on stage, I try NOT to look directly into the audience when I say these quotes so that no one feels I am speaking directly to them.
But I imagine that these words can sting if you struggle with your weight. I anticipate many people will misread this post as me saying overweight people are not good Muslims. That is NOT what I am saying. But what I am saying is WE have to start connected everything we do even the food we eat with our Iman and our Ibada. I often tell people exercise IS Ibada when you do it with the intentions of bettering yourself for the sake of Allah. When you intentions is to be able to worship Allah better.
It is narrated on the authority of Abdullah bin Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: “I asked Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) which deed was the best.” He (the Holy Prophet) replied: ‘The Prayer at its appointed hour.’ I (again) asked: “Then what?” He (the Holy Prophet) replied: ‘Kindness to the parents.’ I (again) asked: “Then what?” He replied: ‘Earnest struggle (Jihad) in the cause of Allah.’ I refrained from asking any more questions for fear of annoying him. (Sahih Muslim: 120)
There are 3 Ways Your Diet Is Sabotaging Your Religion
IF PRAYER IS YOUR WORSHIP
What we eat determines our energy, our mood, even our ability to thing. We know the benefits of prayer as a form of worship. The biggest struggle for many people is getting of for fajr (the early dawn prayer). Instead of brushing it off as “I’m not a morning person” you may want to look at your eating and sleeping habits. Tossing and turning at night paired with vivid dreams can start a cycle of being too tired to wake up at 4:30am for Fajr. Late night junk food snacking can be a culprit. If you are eating cookies and ice-cream before bed you have a surge of carbohydrates in your system with no where to go because you are laying down. The brain is the most active organ when you are sleep so carbs go there to party. People who eat simple carbs (ice-cream, cookies, soda) late at night report having more vivid dreams and less restful sleep. So if you find yourself tossing and turning at night you may want to choose a more healthful pre-bed snack.
IF KINDNESS IS YOUR WORSHIP
Some people are kind by nature but sometimes find that it drains them. Being kind is easy but saving some for your family and most improtnat yourself can be a bigger struggle. If this is your goal or your struggle look at your food and physical activity.
Processed foods, fried foods, simple carbs, sugars and unhealthy fats—can set you up for depression, anxiety, and mood swings according to studies.
Unhealthy white grains and sugar can cause a spike in blood sugar. Your body reacts by pulling your blood sugar down, causing you to feel lethargic. A Dunkin Donut sweet and light coffee and bagel in the morning may fill you up and make you feel better for a little while with a insulin spike, but 45 minutes later when your insulin hits rock bottom, you’ll run down and crankier than you were before you ate it.
Even if you think you want well so you don’t need to exercise you are not off the hook. The Center for Health Studies in Seattle looked at data from 4,641 women ages 40-65 and researchers found a strong link between depression and obesity, lower physical activity levels, and a higher calorie intake. Even without obesity as a factor the lower amounts of moderate or vigorous physical activity was associated with higher depression.
IF HELPING OTHERS IS YOUR WORSHIP
To help others you have to have the physical and emotional energy and endurance. Many women run themselves ragged trying to be “the one” every one can count on. If helping other is how you determine your value that is noble cause and avoided complete exhaustion and fatigue is important for you to continue your good works. Fatigue breaks us down physically and emotionally and wreaks havoc on the immune system, making us more susceptible to illness, depression, and even chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Not eating balance meal or worse skipping meals can be a major cause if you are struggling with your energy. Choosing foods that digest slowly and maintain a consistent insulin level is the key to creating lasting energy for all the running around that you do. Protein not caffeine is what you need to sustain you and keep you going.
Don’t limit your morning meal to Just protein or just carbs; breakfast needs to be balanced. Instead of having just yogurt, add some high antioxidant fruit, a good fat like nuts or seeds, and raw or toasted oats. And go for greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt to maximize protein and extend both your satiety and your energy.
Any thing wrong is from my own humanness and completely from me and anything good and beneficial is from Allah who is without fault or error.
May Allah give us all health, vitality and happiness in this life in the next and May Allah assist us in worshiping him in the best of manners.