The importance of Fitness and Exercise in Islam
Think about how we treat a gift we receive from a loved one or from someone close to us. We treasure the gift and do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t become damaged or broken.
We must remember that Allah gave us our bodies as an amanah (trust), as our bodies are merely vessels that are on the journey of this temporary life. Therefore, it is crucial that we look after our bodies and strive to practise a healthy lifestyle in which we exercise and keep fit.
As Muslims, we believe that Islam is a complete way of life. This should remind us that there is no aspect of our lives in which we do not apply our faith and beliefs – including looking after our physical health.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help us to carry out our acts of worship properly, such as prayer, fasting and the Hajj pilgrimage.
There are many hadiths from which we can learn about fitness and exercise from the Islamic perspective.
Aisha (RA) said that, “I raced with the Prophet and I beat him. Later, when I had put on some weight, we raced again and he won. Then he said, “This cancels that (referring to the previous race).” ” (Sahih Bukhari)
Our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) once even took part in wrestling with a man named Rukhanah, who was known for being particularly strong, as reported by Abu Dawud.
Our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) used to walk quickly. The people who were accompanying him would struggle to keep up with his pace. In a hadith reported by Ali (RA), he described this way of walking of our Prophet Muhammad (SAW): “When he walked, because of the speed and force of the legs, it seemed as if he was descending from a high place.” (Tirmidhi)
Abu Huraira would describe our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in a hadith stating that, “I did not see anyone walk faster than him, as if the earth folded for him. A few moments ago he would be here, and then there. We found it difficult to
keep pace when we walked with him and he walked at his normal pace.” (Tirmidhi)
Ultimately, keeping fit will allow us to become more active in our worship. As we age, we know that our bodies will become weaker. Looking after our physical health should be something we are constantly striving towards. Doing so not only benefits us physically, but also spiritually.
We should remember that our resilience in trying to keep active and become physically healthy is actually a form of worship itself, when we do so with the sincere niyyah (intention) of pleasing Allah.
Our faith teaches us that our health is a gift from Allah, so this concept alone should be enough for us to understand the significance of looking after it. We should never forget that Allah – our Creator, our Protector, and our Lord – has given us this gift of health, so we should treasure it in the way it ought to be treasured.