Imam Zijad’s Corner: Importance of Life and Health in Islam

Imam Zijad’s Corner:    Importance of Life and Health in IslamAs we read through the texts of Islam, we find that our faith promotes a set of values in all its teachings, rulings, laws and guidance. Behind all teachings, rulings, laws and guidance, Muslim classical and modern scholars found reasons, purposes and wisdom and thus draw our attention to their objectives.

These objectives are explicitly mentioned in the two main sources of our faith – The Qur’an and the Sunnah. These sources are implicitly understood through deep examination of the texts by great Muslim scholars such as Imam Al Ghazali, Imam Ash Shatibi, Imam Ibn Ashur, etc.

These objectives are:

1.      Nurturing and developing the righteous and caring individuals

2.      Establishing the healthy society of the righteous and caring individuals and

3.      Attaining real benefits for individuals and the society (Maslaha) by preserving:

·         Religion

·         Life

·         Intellect

·         Progeny and

·         Property

One of these objectives is preservation of life since it is the sacred gift/blessing of God. For that reason Muslims are commanded to take care of it, preserve it and are not allowed to harming it in any way, physically or symbolically. Any action against the sacredness of life is prohibited in Islam (Haram).

Consequently, Islam obliges Muslims to take care of themselves both spiritually and physically. Islam thus stresses that our health and well-being, as well as health and well-being of other human brothers and sisters, are each and everyone’s responsibility.

Contributions to saving life of a person is greatly acknowledged by the Creator who said:  “And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” (Qur’an, 5:32)

One of the objectives of Islam and its laws is preservation of life because life is a sacred gift of God and Muslims are commanded to preserve it. Harming it in any way, physically or symbolically, is prohibited (Haram).

Health is a necessary condition for the preservation of life. It is only healthy humans that could establish healthy societies and implement ethical and just system for all.

Al Ghazali points out: “A proper understanding and implementation of religion, from the standpoint of knowledge and worship, can only be arrived at through physical health and life preservation.”

Health is indeed important in human life as we were taught by our Messenger Muhammad (S):

“Second to faith, no one has been ever given a greater blessing than health.” (Tirmizi)

“To God-fearing (people), health is better than wealth.” (Ibn Majah, Al Hakim, Ahmed)

“Whoever of you gets up in the morning feeling physically healthy, enjoying security and having his/her food for the day, is like one who has the world under his/her fingerprints.” (Ibn Majah)

As Muslims, we are all responsible for our health and will be questioned “How did we spend our lives and in what pursuit we used our health?” (Tirmizi)

Why? Because health is a blessing of God bestowed upon us and we are asked to “seize it before we become sick.” (Al Bayhaqi) But unfortunately, “many of us become careless about it” (Bukhari), as stated by Messenger Muhammad (S).

From an Islamic standpoint, the responsibility to take care of health and its protection is a duty on each one of us by:

a) caring about our bodies (“Your body has right on you,” as our Messenger Muhammad (S), taught us) and

b) protecting ourselves and others from infectious viruses and diseases in the present and the future [la darada wa la dirar].

So, Islam gave us set of instructions regarding health and our well- being by first appreciating the gift of health, taking care of it and protecting it from any harm.