We look around, and find a society with rising statistics in heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other sickness, in younger and younger generations. Many are now desperate to feel and look healthy, only to find their latest fad-diet, detox, or highly expensive protein shakes, meal replacement drinks, and prepared meals, are leaving them hungry, deprived, and moody. As Dr. Shaykh Waleed Basyouni summed up in the foreword of my book, Sunnah Superfoods:
“Many people are looking for a pill to fix everything in their life; a pill to lose weight, a pill to feel happy, a pill for depression, blood pressure pill, blood sugar pill, etc. There is no such pill. The secret is in the way Allah the Creator, has intended for us to live.”
Undoubtedly, the Qur’an and Sunnah are our blueprints to life. Whether it’s our character, our dealings with people, our careers, or ultimately our health, they are full of treasures that will certainly lead us to be at our peak. When the Creator informs us that there is HEALING in something, we shouldn’t hesitate to incorporate it into our lives. The Qur’an Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is filled with health benefits that we’ve just started to understand.
I begin with the answer to a question I’ve received consistently from clients, friends, at workshops, and conventions: Why should we care about what we eat? Shouldn’t we just focus on worship, prayer, etc.?” I spend a good ten to fifteen minutes covering this in my workshops now, nonetheless I compile the answer not from me, but from the Qur’an and Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (ﷺ).
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas (ra): The Prophet (pbuh) said “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good.” [Sahih Al Bukhari Book 81: Hadith 1]
Additionally, in Surat Al-Baqarah Allah says: “O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.” [Quran 2:168]
In another hadith, which is the opening of almost every Islamic book written, we are reminded that with proper intentions, we may turn almost any act (even sleeping) into an act of worship thus we gain reward, in shaa Allah.
Narrated ‘Ibn Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him), reported: Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intentions.” [Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim]
With that said, it’s very clear that first and foremost, yes, we should take care of our health, and our bodies as Muslims. This body is an amaneh, and this body, if nourished and energized properly, stands to worship Allah (swt), serve the community, and more. You can make your intentions that you want to adapt to a healthier lifestyle so that you can stand in prayer at night, fast during the day, or have energy to be a productive Muslim at home and work. You can make your intention to eat healthy food to be able to concentrate on memorizing the Qur’an, initiating projects to feed the hungry, or acquire knowledge. For that, I advise you take a moment and renew your intentions, and ask Allah (swt) to guide your way. With the proper intention, your focus suddenly becomes something bigger, farther, beyond looks and trying to show off. Your focus has happy ending, because suddenly your aim is not to please others. Your aim is to care for this amaneh, that will eventually leave this world one day. Take the Qur’an and Sunnah as the blueprints to life, and you’ll find yourself succeeding in every aspect.
Allah says regarding the Bees:
“Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you]. There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people. Indeed, in that is a sign for a people who give thought.” [Quran 16:69]
Nevertheless, most honey sold in popular grocery stores are diluted and mixed with other viscous substances, as was proven in numerous studies and investigations. Raw, organic honey, however, has countless benefits and numerous cures. It contains multiple enzymes and anti-inflammatory properties, is a powerful, natural antibiotic, and removes harmful bacteria from your system. It’s also an effective cough suppressant, heals the intestinal lining, and even balances your blood sugar. Per some nutritionists, there are over 100 benefits of honey, many of which we’re still discovering in the present. I recommend you purchase honey fresh from the farm, at farmer’s markets, or simply purchase raw unfiltered honey to ensure you’re getting the highest quality.
One of my favorite Sunnah Superfoods I cover in depth in my book, and use in most recipes, is extra virgin olive oil. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Eat of its oil and use it (the olives), for indeed it is from a blessed tree.” [Jami’ at-Tirmidhi Book 25, Hadith 69]
Olives and olive oil contain cardiovascular benefits, improve your skin and hair health, decrease inflammation in the body, grant satiety, decrease the risk of diabetes, aid in vitamin absorption, improve eye and cognitive health, relieve joint pain, and protect cells that line the blood vessels. These are just a few of a myriad of health benefits scientists and holistic doctors are only now discovering. Indeed, it’s incredible. Essentially though, I always advise my clients to try consuming extra virgin olive oil raw, or cooked on very low heat. High heat destroys the wonderful benefits of olive oil. The Prophet (ﷺ) advised us, in that hadith above, to also use it (i.e. rub of the oil) for your body. I recommend using it as a hair treatment, or rub it onto your hands and skin for softer and glowing results! It’s free of chemicals, works remarkably, and best of all, it’s a Sunnah.
I would have chosen to cover jaw-dropping health benefits of dates, but I found that butter is given a bad rep, thanks to many myths. Today we see an increase of margarines, “I can’t believe it’s not butter,” and butter mock spreads. They are labeled as fat-free, very popularly eaten, and deceived to the majority as healthy. We see parallel to these products’ fame, an obesity and heart disease crisis. Humans today are replacing natural and healthy fats with man-made spreads made of genetically engineered ingredients, food coloring, artificial additives, and hydrogenated oils. It’s no surprise that while people fear eating butter yet are consuming more of these substitutes, we see an increase of stroke, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
I always recommend that my clients use organic and grass-fed butter. It’s bursting with key health-supporting minerals like selenium, zinc, copper, iodine, lecithin and magnesium. Try using organic butter for baking, stir-fry, or even for your pastas.
These are just three of many more food items I cover in Sunnah Superfoods. As I tell my clients, at times it’s not that people are purchasing the wrong food, but they may be consuming and cooking them improperly. For that, it’s essential to seek knowledge for guidance in truly following the correct steps to a healthier lifestyle.
Disclaimer: modern research only validates what we know as haqq (the truth). Modern research keeps changing, our faith is SOLID. A very popular example: For the past 60 years scientists instilled the fear of fats like butter, eggs, milk, and oils, which turned people to man-made oils. These egg and butter replacement, fake cheese, and fat-free milk or cheese, are highly processed, many loaded with genetically engineered ingredients, and include harmful additives or preservatives. This lead to the obesity epidemic we see today, in which scientists came back to apologize for that research, claiming eating real butter, whole eggs, and full-fat milk is in fact much healthier.
May Allah (swt) grant us all good health, and bless us with knowledge and strength to take care of our bodies.
Noor H Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan.
Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.
Contact Noor H. Salem to learn more about Holistic Noortrition, and Sunnah Superfoods:
FB page: Holistic Noortrition, LLC.