By Calisha Bennett
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۖ لَا يَضُرُّكُم مَّن ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ ۚ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُون
“O you who have believed, upon you is [responsibility for] yourselves. Those who have gone astray will not harm you when you have been guided. To Allah is your return all together; then He will inform you of what you used to do.” Quran 5:10
When it comes to protecting and looking after your well-being, there is no one who can take on that responsibility but you. As Allah SWT mentions in the verse above, you are the one who is responsible for yourself and that He will inform you of what you did with your life and the choices you made once you return to Him. My dear sister, the quality of your life and overall well-being is yours to take charge of and yours alone. At the end of your life and on the Day of Judgement there will be no excuses, no one to blame and no justification if we have let ourselves down and lived a life of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social damage and deprivation.
In order to take care and prioritise protecting our well-being, we must first ensure that we have an awareness of what it means to have true ‘wellbeing’ and what components make up this sense of well-being for ourselves. Human beings are made up of the body, the mind, the heart and the soul, so we have to ensure that we are taking care of our well-being in all of these spheres, as well as with our social connections – we are fundamentally social creatures, who are in need of social bonds throughout our lives which will give a sense of support, connection and belonging during our journey through this life.
At the same time, it is important to realise that the different aspects of our well-being operate in synergy and one aspect will often rely upon the others. Holistic all-round well-being is the greater aim as we actively take care of each of the different aspects of our well-being, and as we actively aim to protect each of the different areas from any elements which may cause harm or detriment.
The journey of life is a short one and it is imperative that we protect, nurture and preserve the many blessings of Almighty God whilst we are alive. It should not be enough for a believer to simply ‘live’, rather we should want to thrive.
Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.” Sahih (authentic according to Al-Albani)
Appreciating and taking advantage of our youth, health, wealth, free time and our overall lives whilst we still have these blessings should be a huge motivating factor in the path towards achieving an overall sense of well-being. In this article we will look into protecting one’s physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Protecting My Physical Well-being
No doubt we all know very well how important our physical health is, because without it, we cannot excel in our other endeavours nor achieve our greater potential in life: so protecting our physical health has to be given priority.
We should aim for daily moderate intensity physical activity (and at the very least 2-3 times per week). The World Health Organisation specifically recommends “at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week” in order to maintain good health.
We should be reminded that our Almighty Creator loves the strong, healthy believer more than the believer who is weak and feeble as Abu Huraira reported:
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The strong believer is more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, but there is goodness in both of them.”
( Sahih Muslim)
Knowledge and awareness of what a healthy diet consists of, what nutrients, vitamins and minerals the body needs for optimal functioning and an awareness of food portion sizes should be standards known by everyone.
My dear sisters, we have one body to last us for our entire lives, so let us give our physical health its due, let us give our body its right, lets make sure we don’t fail ourselves or our bodies in any way which makes us prone to fall ill due to our neglect of it.
“He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything”
Part of protecting our physical health and well-being lies in avoidance of that which will be harmful to it. Beware of making harmful choices, of falling intoharmful habits and of contaminants such as inactivity, poor nutrition, lack of sunshine, smoking, alcohol, drugs, pollution, environmental toxins, lack of sleep and hydration and exposure to harmful bacteria and viruses (among other things) as much as possible- we have the choice in many of these areas, and it’s up to us to make the best choice we can at any given moment. Active avoidance of these factors and habits is essential in protecting our physical well-being.
“Love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle.” Jules Robson
Protecting My Mental Well-being
According to the World Health Organisation mental disorders affect one in four people at some stage of their lives- this equates to some 450 million people at any point suffering from mental health conditions – alarming statistic that serves to remind us of the importance of taking care of and protecting our mental well-being.
Protecting our mental well being lies in avoiding mental distress, trauma, harm and triggers as much as possible and by reaching out for professional help and support with existing or past disturbances when we need to. Having said that, we should all be aware that some mental conditions are beyond the person’s control and so, whilst most people have a degree of being able to be responsible for their mental well-being, we have to be sensitive to the fact that others do not.
We can seek to protect our mental well-being through the avoidance of harms as much as possible, and recognising what those harms are doing to us, including:
- Social isolation and loneliness
- Severe or long-term stress
- Not addressing our struggles with a long term physical health condition
- Domestic violence, bullying or abuse
- Traumatic experiences or witnessing traumatic situations
- Denying or burying existing trauma, abuse or neglect (eg from childhood)
- Socially toxic relationships and environments
An important factor to be aware of when it comes to mental well-being is that it is directly related to our emotional well-being, since feelings always come from our thoughts in the moment : it is not always a situation or occurrence that creates mental distress but rather it is the meaning we create about if in our thoughts. For example, someone saying something hurtful to you doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a true statement (and more often than not, it will be an entirely untrue statement which says more about that person’s qualities than yours!) The mental distress arises, however, when we start to adopt and internalise such comments and identify with them in our thoughts. Taking on board negative meanings to things that happen to us, or are said and done to us in life is a common trigger for unhealthy mental states.
Protecting ourselves from such pollutants lies in being aware of our thoughts and ensuring that the way we are thinking and the beliefs we have about ourselves, others and the world around us are pleasing to Allah SWT and asking ourselves if they are indeed based on truth.
We have to try to ensure that we are equipped with effective coping mechanisms, support and strategies all the time- this is essential in maintaining and protecting our wellbeing. One of the most vital in this regard is to know and study the concept Qadr (Divine Decree) and to internalise the importance of faith and acceptance of God’s decree – we have to have deep trust that even though most circumstances will ultimately be beyond our control, but they occur only by the permission of Allah SWT, with His Knowledge, Mercy and Wisdom.
Protecting My Spiritual Health
“Spirituality in Islam is more than just a feeling. It is true knowledge of The Source of the Spirit, sincere pursuit of Him, persistent connection with Him and commitment to loving Him and remaining on His path until The Day we meet Him. So, it is a life journey of growth, sincerity, and commitment to The Creator (The Source of the spirit); not a fleeting moment of excitement or spiritual boost.”
Sister Dina Mohammad Basiony
As Muslims and as spiritual beings we know that our spiritual wellbeing is the key to true overall well-being and that it is the ultimate meaning and purpose of our lives. Without spiritual life we can have no true meaningful worldly life, as our spiritual selves are what will live on and exist beyond our physical selves. Our spiritual well-being revolves entirely around our connection with Allah SWT and in our efforts to worship Him through all that we do and strive for.
The spiritual nourishment required for maintaining well-being comes from consistent spiritual reflection and connection to the Divine through our study and implementation of His Word (the Quran) and the teachings of His final Prophet Muhammad SAW (the Sunnah).
Protecting that sense of spiritual wellbeing requires constant effort to:
- Purify the heart, thoughts and intentions
- Seek Allah’s forgiveness and mercy
- Seek more knowledge
- Avoid sins and disliked actions and habits
- Keep good company and avoid bad company
- Be consistent in prescribed worship and strive to do optional acts of worship
- Have excellent conduct and manners
- Be God-conscious and in His remembrance as much as possible
As mentioned previously, protecting our well-being requires a multifaceted approach, wherein the different aspects of our personal self and identity, as well as outward social factors, are taken care of, protected and maintained.
Remember, my dear sisters, you are in the driver’s seat in your life and will be questioned about every aspect of it. Your mission is to collect the essential knowledge, understanding and resources that you need for this short journey in the dunya (worldly life) and to ensure that you journey well and safely to the afterlife. So take care of yourself; your body, your mind, your heart, your soul. Stay connected to others who are of support and benefit to you and to whom you can also support and assist.
Remember that Allah has given you the potential for great strength and resilience when it comes to the affairs and trials of life: He has given you the tools to be successful, and our journey in this life is just to discover them and use them to the best of our ability.
About the author:
Calisha Bennett is the daughter of an Australian convert father and Cocos Islander mother. She is a home-schooling mother of 5 with over a decade of experience as an active speaker, community teacher and mentor of Muslim women, converts and youth. She has a background in Quran Tajweed, Islamic Shariah, youth work, education, coaching and fitness studies. She is the founder of Developing Diamonds which provides identity and success coaching, workshops, courses and retreats for Muslim women around the world. To find out more visit: www.developingdiamonds.com.au