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The greatest gift

Allah has blessed humanity with innumerable bounties to be grateful for. But the most important of them all is the human body itself. A body with all its organs intact and working efficiently is the greatest wealth of all.

The human body carries the Divine Spirit; but it is fragile in its constitution. It needs continuous care, protection and nutrients to remain healthy and in working order. It consists of many intricate systems whose proper functioning is fundamental to a happy and satisfactory life.

A healthy body enables one not only to enjoy all the bounties of Allah but also to strive for realisation of all inherent qualities and capacities bestowed by Him.

With a healthy body, one can pray with full concentration and submissiveness, thus cultivating spirituality in his or her life.

The Holy Quran enumerates a number of stages of development of the human body. It says: “He it is who has created you from dust, then from a nutfah, then from a clot, then brings you forth as children, then to reach the age of full strength and afterwards to be old, though some among you die before. …” (40:67).

This shows the human body is progressively constituted through multiple stages and every stage needs specific precautions. For example, a would-be mother has to remain careful throughout her pregnancy, and when a baby is born, the Quran directs that mothers should suckle their children for two whole years (2:233). This makes the baby’s body strong enough to survive the onslaughts of various diseases in the initial years of life.

The Quran also provides general guidelines to maintain health in all stages. It says “O you who believe! Take care of your own selves. …” (5:105). It emphasises that one should always live in harmony with nature.

The fact is that we are what we eat. The notion of health and wellness is all-encompassing. The human body depends fundamentally upon a daily diet but also requires simultaneous mental, spiritual and emotional nourishment.

If a person eats unhygienic food or remains stressed for a long period, this would have adverse effects on his entire body, mind and spirit. The Quran says: “O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and good on the earth and follow not the footsteps of Shaitan. …” (2:168).

The famous saying that a healthy body breeds a healthy mind is instructive. A healthy body is not something that can be achieved without effort. The fitness of the body depends on constant efforts, care, protection, nourishment and maintenance. Many of us tend to lead an easy life, not caring about the body till some affliction strikes. We then get depressed and question why it had to happen. Therefore, what is essential is to remember that prevention is better than cure.

A healthy diet, constant struggle for development and living in harmony with nature are important wellness principles. A body with less movement is more likely to deteriorate rapidly than a body in constant struggle.

Presently, every Pakistani faces severe challenges on the health front. Internally, many of us are least concerned about health precautions while overeating, lack of exercise and excessive consumption of oily and fatty foods is common in households.

Besides this, unhygienic food is freely available at roadsides, and in local markets. All this poses serious health hazards and is sure to affect people later in life.

On the external level, no city of Pakistan can claim to be pollution-free. The smoke-emitting traffic, garbage dumps, overflowing gutters and cesspools are making our health precarious, the atmosphere toxic and life miserable. The efforts of local authorities in this connection are perfunctory and inadequate. Therefore, it is for the citizens to take care of their own health.

Keeping in view modern research in medical sciences, there are many unhealthy patterns prevalent in society that need to be re-examined. For example, a person becomes obese if he continues to depend on junk food. There are various incurable diseases that have become increasingly common due to easy lifestyles and heavy intake of oily food as part of the daily diet.

Similarly, leading a sedentary lifestyle is a sure invitation to disease. A person, after having a hearty dinner rich in fats and sweets settles himself for hours in front of the television screen with a remote in hand and keeps munching on potato chips and chocolates all the while he is awake. His body copes with such a situation for some years but afterwards rebels and succumbs to one or more killer diseases.

Consequently, one can observe that all major or minor hospitals in and around the cities are full of patients. Thousands visit them daily to seek cure for their diseases. Some of the diseases, which were unknown in the past, have recently emerged and thousands of people are affected by them.

If a single family member is sick the whole family comes under pressure and suffers. Every family spends huge amounts treating members who are unwell. Though the medical sciences have progressed and are successful in identifying the causes of major illnesses, people at large have yet to realise the importance of health. They must be motivated to be careful in avoiding the triggers that cause illness.

It is our national duty to create a health-conscious society so that future generations may be healthier than the present one.

The writer is an educationist. valianiamin@gmail.com

Amin Valliani, "The greatest gift," Dawn. 2013-10-25.
Keywords: Social sciences , Social issues , Social needs , Social rights , Health crisis , Medical Sciences , Humanity , Children , Quran , Verses , Pakistan