Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Men and Jihad

The companions of the Prophet (pbuh) in the past were strong and brave men. They could wear extremely heavy armour, and fight through the hottest of weather. Their imans were firm, and belief in the Prophet (pbuh) unshakeable. And strength doesn't just come from being a Muslim. It takes a lot of training and a healthy lifestyle to achieve that.
I've come across several brothers who believe they've got it all right- That they'd stand up for their deen if the need arises, they observe their prayers, are active in the community and have even delivered speeches. Very cool? But these same people actually have very irregular or inactive lifestyles.
Some minor happenings got me thinking.

  • One brother, who (admitted many emails later) that walking from the Greyhound bus station to harbourfront and halfway back developed rashes on his legs. He was very proud of his 1/2 hr walk to the only Masjid in Waterloo for Maghrib. Also a gaming addict.
  • Another one, a young and aspiring businessman lost his breath well before he reached the 3rd floor as I showed him to the prayer space on campus, and commented, 'wow, haven't climbed stairs in ages... one gets so used to elevators in the corporate world'.
  • One had to carry a microwave up four floors and... he ventured never to do that again.
  • Brothers (and some sisters too) who proudly claim that they have maintained their weight for the last 5 years or more. Actually, that doesn't suggest much. First off, it just means you haven't been exercising enough (because muscles increase body mass) Your weight doesn't tell much about your actual health, or strength.
And so on.
Can such people really fight against injustice if it comes to that? I doubt it. They claim to understand the concept of 'struggle', but... would they really be able to struggle? More than strength, it requires a lot of self-discipline. Physical strength is directly linked to your beliefs.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) (on the authority of Abu Hurayrah) is reported to have said:

“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, while there is good in both.”

Ibn Taymiyya wrote that it is preferable and more virtuous for a Muslim to have the ability to properly perform their prayers. A contemporary scholar of our time, Salih al-Fawzaan has the following to say about physical strength and its relation to our belief and actions:

“The believer who is strong in his belief, body, and actions is better than the weak believer, the one who has weak belief, or a weak body or weak actions. That is because the strong believer is productive and accomplishes things for the Muslims, and thus they benefit from his physical strength, actions, and his strong belief."

The believer who has strong belief should more likely to be fit and in shape, because he understands the importance of striving and staying in shape in preparation for it, while the weak believer may easily become obese or out of shape, from his overeating and lack of activity.

The Prophet is also reported to have said:

“Teach your children swimming, archery and horse-riding.”

How many of us know 2 of the 3? (Being able to sit on a horse and take a picture doesn't qualify)

There is not a single circumstance when it is advantageous to be in a poor state of health. A stronger heart means your heart has to exert less physically to do the same amount of work, which means you've decreased the risk of acquiring cardiovascular diseases, which unfortunately in today's time are becoming quite common amongst children.

Of course, no recreational activity should ever take precedence over any obligation, nor should an individual burden themselves with so many responsibilities as to not allow any time for rest. We must keep our intentions pure when we engage in these activities if we want to earn the reward and blessings of our Creator. Which means, not spending countless hours in the gym in an effort to lose weight to attain a figure that would make it to a magazine's cover page, but rather strength training with significant goals that would please Allah (swt) in mind.

The Qur'an says:

“And we have made you a balanced community” (2:143).

We ask Allah to help us maintain a balance in our lives that will always enable us to improve our service to him, to ourselves and to mankind as a whole.

Part of our awakening requires us to be prepared physically as well. Remember, Islam is a complete way of life. And by being physically fit, you're helping yourself the most.

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