“So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?” (55:38).
Your heart and corporeal self, are among the myriad of Allah’s favors towards us. Yet, it is the most neglected of His bounties. Allah ta’ala and His beloved messenger (PBUH) decreed that we impart clemency and gentleness towards all His creations. Including our own selves, for we are also the creation of Allah.
“Love for your brothers, what you love for yourself.”
A teaching integral to the core morals of a Muslim, however, love for yourself is just as vital when it comes to faith. The question of what do you love for yourself is seldom asked. Be that as it may, acts of loving yourself, maintaining your physical and mental self, do not in any way diminish or negate one’s magnanimity. If you are unable to recognize that you are comprised of infinite potentials, you will lack the strength to be of benefit to others. Being attentive and respectful towards your mind and body is not only necessary for survival, it is an act of immense gratitude to Allah, a form of ibadah. Partaking in activities that cause your heart to soar, cherishing your solitude, and offering your body rest, does not constitute selfishness or egotism.
In fact, these simple acts of self-care embody the very teachings of Islam.
Islam puts a great deal of emphasis on benevolence. Abû Hurayrah relates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever removes one of the hardships of a believing soul, Allah will remove from him one of the distresses on the Hereafter. Whoever solves someone else’s problem, Allah will make things easy for him in this world and the Hereafter… Allah is ever assisting His servant as long as that servant is helping his brother.” [Sahîh Muslim]. However, how can we even think to fulfill the rights of others, if we can not even fulfill our own rights? If you are too ill to be mindful of yourself, how will you come to the aid of your brothers and sisters? It is an obligation to be of service to others in Islam. Just as it required that you protect your body, which is an Amanah (trust) from Allah. Neither of these acts of worship can be consummated without the other. Allah’s commandments all come together in a most harmonious fashion.
How kind is Allah? All that He asks of us is only for our own success. As well as, the prosperity of the Ummah. We have a responsibility towards mankind and it begins with you.
Aisha RA reported The Prophet, peace, and blessings be upon him, sent for Uthman ibn Mazh’un and he came. The Prophet said, “O Uthman, do you not desire my practice?” Uthman said, “O Messenger of Allah, no by Allah. I seek your practice.” The Prophet said, “Verily, I sleep and I pray, I fast and I break my fast, and I marry women. Fear Allah, O Uthman, for your family has rights over you and your guest has rights over you. Verily, your own self-has rights over you, so fast and break your fast, pray and sleep.” Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 1369
Your body has a haq (rights) over you, treat it accordingly. A defining characteristic of a Muslim is loving and following the Sunnah. The best of mankind has instructed us to be mindful of our mind and flesh. So honor him by loving yourself.
Loving yourself is loving Allah.
Nurturing the mind and body are paramount. Take care not fill up your body with toxins of drugs, alcohol and the multitude of harmful substances available at a moment’s notice. Offer yourself the sustenance it requires, the exercise and rest it demands. All in moderation and with a stunning balance. The mind is another task in itself, copious with needs to maintain its vitality. Body and mind are interconnected, both must be tended in order for each to thrive. Designating some time to simply enjoy your own company can produce wondrous results. Solitude is an opportunity for self-reflection, a time to truly know your own self. This does not in any way allude to selfishness. Doing things that fill your heart, whether it is writing, or painting, are plentiful with therapeutic benefits. The hustle and bustle of everyday life can be heavy on the fragile soul. Allotting specific moments for repose is crucial in order to detox the heart and mind from Dunya, and refocusing it back on Allah. Not to mention, in moments of seclusion you learn to embrace your own scintillating being.
Overlooking your physical and psychological self is proportionate to omitting your spiritual self.
While the fact remains that eventually you will depart from your body and enter the grave, your final abode, that body is still a gift and an Amanah from our Lord. The body is as ephemeral as this world. Nonetheless, it is a means for us to achieve our true purpose of attaining the pleasure of Allah. If your mental health is forgotten, the will to do anything much less praying to Allah will cease to exist. Perhaps the will might be there, but, only as fickle and as visible as the air we breathe. Self-doubt will take life, questioning whether we are deserving or not? This is an affront to Allah, for surely man is the best of creation. We are more than capable, it is a matter of choice.
If we hold the belief that we are valueless, then, how can we give attention to our physical self?
Everything is stunningly correlated. We lack the mental fortitude to attend to our physical selves and find ourselves growing increasingly feeble. One can attempt to refute this, claiming that even in the state of disease and frailty, faith remains. How can it be detrimental to our spiritual welfare? It is one thing to be sick due to natural causes that are out of our control. But to be debilitated due to our own disdain is an entirely different case. Why would one choose to be the cause of their own destruction? Converse with any elderly figure and most will impart the same advice; take advantage of your youth, to do as much as you can in the way of Allah, for Allah. The stamina and vigor you have now, you will never again possess in old age. Standing in extra prayers will feel most strenuous in your later years. You will not have the same tenacity to remain standing for tahajjud. Inevitably the wear and tear of time will take its toll on the body. Indeed the Prophet (SAW) said,
“There are two gifts of which many men are unmindful about, good health and leisure.” (Bukhari).
The Lord of the universe assembled you with the most exquisite system. He molded you and made you replete with infinite potentials. Do not fall into ingratitude. So, be cordial to yourself in order to secure your akhirah. Egotism has no place in the deen of Allah, however, neither does self-loathing and bodily- neglect.
Remember this, you are a thread in the tapestry of Allah.
If that thread were to be pulled out, the tapestry would collapse, for Allah is perfect, everything He does is with wisdom.
He chose to weave you within His universe.
That alone makes you worthy.
Recognize the magnitude of your merit while simultaneously bearing in mind that it’s ALL from Allah.
Our journey in this life is composed of mere moments.
This does not mean it is not precious, or that you are not an inestimable entity. Your body is a miraculous vessel, teeming with the intricacies of human emotions and earth-shattering memories of sabr (patience) and resilience. It is your armor, enduring the merciless arrows of life. It is evidence of the Almighty, so loving it is a gracious deed and essential to your Islam.
Noshin Bokth is a freelance writer and content editor based in New York. She is a student of Islamic sciences, and currently the Chief Editor at Ramadanlegacy.com. Also, she has her own blog, which features inspiring Islamic content based on her experiences and reflections. She is deeply passionate about using her writing and life as means to provide people with comfort and remind them of the deen. Portfolio: noshinbokth.contently.com