A Holistic Approach to Health

“Mirror, mirror on the wall? Who’s the fairest of them all?”

“You’d be, if you’d used fair & lovely!”

Oh dear, oh dear!  Let’s try that again.

Look at the mirror, smile and say: “O Allah, just as you have made my external features beautiful, make my character beautiful as well”

Subhanallah! That is confirming that Allah has created us in the best of forms and that our inside and outside matter!  It is the full package. It is the holistic way Islam approached health.


Why would a holistic approach matter?

I remember when I was first learning how to drive… it was an experience! Staying in one lane was incredibly difficult. Do you know why? Because energy flows where the focus goes. I would be so worried about hitting the car next to me I’d start driving towards it. I was too scared to hit the curb that I’d get dangerously close.

And so is our health or more specifically what we want from health. If our understanding of health is being thin then we can only think about calories and diets. If our understanding of health is a glowing skin then we’re the first in line in make-up stands. A very narrow view that does not see how that piece of makeup/diet etc fit in the jigsaw of our lives limits us.  If something does not go to plan, and inevitably it does, it pushes us off balance and off track.  However, if we are aware of the different elements involved and have a realistic system, then if one thing gets knocked off, something else is there to support our plan until we can replace or adjust what we need.


Let’s get to the nitty gritty

I personally think in pictures, images and colours. So to help me in making sense of the huge information we have about Islam and health I invite you to imagine a triangle. At the top we’ll have the soul. Coming down one side of the triangle we’ll have the mind and going across we put the body.


SOUL … MIND … BODY … each is a vital part of each one of us

The soul

{They ask you [O Muhammad (saws] concerning the Ruh (Soul). Say: ‘It is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord. And of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given very little.} Quran 17: 85

We don’t know exactly what it is but it is the life in us. It’s what glows inside us when we get an iman boost. It’s what suffers when we slip and sin. It’s what flutters when we marvel at the creation of Allah.

We aspire to have a tranquil peaceful soul

{O you, peaceful soul. Return to your Lord pleased with yourself and pleasing to Him. Enter among My servants. And enter My paradise} Quran 89: 27-30

Attain this peace by remembering Allah through what he prescribed of actions and beliefs: Adhkar, salah, making dua, loving Allah and his prophet, reciting the Quran.  keeping away from what he prohibited because we want to keep that connection with Allah.

{Indeed, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction} Quran 12: 28

When our souls are at peace our minds are stronger because I may not understand the reason for a calamity or difficulty but I believe it is by the decree of Allah and there is no need to panic or become depressed:

{No misfortune can happen on earth or to your soul but it is written in a decree before We bring it into existence. That is truly easy for Allah. In order that you may not despair over matters that pass you by, nor exult in favors bestowed upon you, for Allah loves not the vain boasters.} Quran 57: 22-23

Our bodies benefits as well especially at times when it is going through so much strain:

{Be sure, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, some loss of goods or lives or fruits of your toils. But give glad tidings to those who are patient. Those who say, when afflicted by calamity: To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.} Quran  2:155-156)

The Mind

The mind is one of the five things Islam has preserved and put in place laws to protect. The other four are: religion, Life, wealth and progeny. Islam has prohibited alcohol and drugs to protect the mind.

Allah has called to use our minds:

  • In contemplating upon the Quran, ourselves and other creations

{In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of night and day; in the ships that sail upon the sea with what is beneficial to the people; in the water which Allah sends down from the sky and with which He revives the earth after its death, and He spread in it from each moving (creation); in the movement of the winds, and in the clouds that are compelled between heaven and earth – surely, these are signs for people who understand} Quran 2:164

  • In fulfilling the trust of being khulufaa on this earth

{He has subjected to you whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth; all is from Him. Surely, there are signs in this for people who contemplate. (Quran 45:13)

The Islamic golden age was when Muslims used their minds under the guidance of the Quran and prophetic tradition and contributed to world civilization.  Just thinking about it gives me a sense of worth and productiveness and that is part of what makes for good mental health and wellbeing.

  • Another thing that Islam encourages and has a huge impact on our mental wellbeing is good company.

Things do not happen on their own, we need reminding, support and encouragement:

{By the time! Surely, the human is in a (state of) loss, except those who believe and do good works and charge one another with the truth and charge one another with patience.} Quran 103:1

The mind is not just the emotions and the thinking it is also an organ that is affected by what affects the body. If you are physically unwell, it is somewhat harder to be in a good mood. The same way, when you are in a bad mood you’ll find yourself lazier and not interested in taking action.

The body

The vessel for the mind and soul. It is not the most important thing but not looking after it will affect the mind and soul and vice versa.


{O mankind: Eat of what is lawful and good on earth} Quran 2:168

According to one Hadith of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) we are advised to leave one third of our stomach empty after finishing the meal. I got an exemplar of this hadith when I broke my blender after stuffing it to the brim and then turned it on. After all, what is a stomach, if not a blender, grinder, mixer and food processor, all in one!


We perform wudu (ablution) before performing our prayers. Washing the hands is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of bacteria


In the Islamic tradition there is an encouragement to teach children swimming, archery and horse riding. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to walk at a fast pace and even raced with his wife, Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her).


The prophet Mohammed loved perfume. He (peace be upon him) would not refuse a gift of perfume, as told to us by the companion Anas (may Allah be pleased with him). Narrated by Bukhari and Tirmidhi
Note: Muslim women can use perfume in their homes and not around non-mehram men.


A few weeks ago, I got a much needed haircut and not so needed styling. Yet, the styling and finish gave me such a boost: I got a head message, someone else fought with my hair and gave me gorgeous results. I was in a very good mood even though it was cold and raining all that weekend!

I ask you to think about your Soul Mind and Body.

What is the one thing you can do in one of these areas right now.

The size of the change is not the point. It’s its consistency.


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